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- Women and women leadership
- Vulnerable section – Homeless people and their mental health
- Pandemic Helping To Recognize Real Education
- Culture of Secrecy
- COVID-19- A spotlight on democracy
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1.Women and women leadership
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS-1- Women
Context: It is necessary to get rid of inborn biases about the efficiency of women in roles of authority.
How did countries with female leaders do during the pandemic?
- Countries with women leaders:Germany, Taiwan and New Zealand are the countries that have women heading their governments and have managed the pandemic much better than their neighbours.
- Female leaders more effective: A recent study by researchers in the United States reports that States which have female governors had fewer COVID-19 related deaths, possibly relatively because female governors acted more decisively by issuing earlier stay-at-home orders.
What are the roles of women in India’s gram panchayat?
- Effectiveness of female leadership:they perform significantly better than men in implementing policies that promote the interests of women. This was proven in another study conducted by Nobel Laureate Esther Duflo and co-author Raghabendra Chattopadhyay.
- State’s mandate:Their study was made possible by the 1993 amendment of the Indian Constitution, which mandated that all States had to reserve one-third of all positions of pradhan for women.
- Role of pradhans:The study concluded that pradhans invested more in rural infrastructure that served better the needs of their own gender.
- For instance, women pradhanswere more likely to invest in providing easy access to drinking water since the collection of drinking water is mainly the responsibility of women.
When did women get voting rights globally?
- Voting rights in India: Women were allowed to vote from 1950 onwards and so could participate on an equal basis with men from the first general election of 1951-52.
- This is in striking difference to the experience in the so-called “mature democracies” of western Europe and the United States.
- Voting rights in the US:
- Voting rights in Europe:During the First World War.
- This is in striking difference to the experience in the so-called “mature democracies” of western Europe and the United States.
Are women in India underrepresented?
- Female representation in India:The current government at the Centre is not very far from the typical gender composition in Indian central and State governments. Female members make up only about 10% of the total ministerial strength.
- The underrepresentation of female Ministersin India is also reflected in the fact that Ms. Banerjee is currently the only female Chief Minister.
- The underrepresentation of women in Indian legislatures: The 2019 election sent the largest number of women to the Lok Sabha. Despite this, women constitute just over 14% of the total strength of the Lok Sabha.
- India ranks 143 out of 192 countriesfor which data are reported by the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
What is the status of women’s bill in India?
- Establishment of quotas for women: Since women running for elections face numerous challenges, it is essential to create a level-playing field through appropriate legal measures.
- Mandated reservation for women in gram panchayats was established in all major States since the mid-1990s.
- Women’s reservation bill:The Bill was first presented to the Lok Sabha by the H.D. Deve Gowda government in 1996 and male members from several parties opposed the Bill on various grounds.
- Afterwards, various governments have reintroduced the Bill in successive Parliaments, but without any success.
What are the steps needed to reduce prejudice?
- Third of party nominations for women:The major party constituents of the NDA and UPA alliances can sidestep the logjam in Parliament. This will surely result in increasing numbers of women in legislatures and subsequently in cabinets.
- Increasing female representation in policy making: This will go a long way in improving perceptions about female effectiveness in leadership roles.
- This decreases the bias among voters against women candidates, and results in a subsequent increase in the percentage of female politicians contesting and winning elections. Such quotas have both a short-term and long-term impact.
2.Vulnerable section – Homeless people and their mental health
Source- The Hindu
Syllabus- GS 2- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections
Context- In the current situation of COVID-19, the most affected are homeless persons and the ultra-poor.
What are the challenges faced by the homeless persons with mental illness?
Homeless persons living with mental illness have following challenges-
- Abject poverty, conflict, natural or man-made disasters.
- Lack of access to health and mental health care.
- Lack of adequate nutrition.
- Social hardships, disruptions in care-giving, domestic violence which led to shunning of them by their family and kinships.
- Ridicule by the society, which lead to isolate them from mainstream society and occupying a lowly place in society’s hierarchical structure.
- Risk of sexual violence, violent victimisation, assault and long-term incarceration.
- Their experience of loneliness and hyper-segregation contributes to their low sense of self-worth, shrunken group identity and weakening their collective ability to influence change.
- They are the most long stay patients in State mental hospitals.
What are the actions taken for the homeless persons?
- The UN set up a fund of $2 billion to alleviate the distress of the ultra-vulnerable, including those living with disability or chronic illness.
Best Practices – Tamil Nadu Government-
- Taking cognisance of the mental health needs of homeless persons, the government will take to scale Emergency Care and Recovery Centres(ECRC)
- District level-ECRC will support the treatment and community inclusion of this vulnerable section in 10 districts (in addition to the five districts where ECRCs were set up in 2018).
- Facilities available-Three hundred bed spaces will be earmarked for homeless persons in psychosocial distress, with a capacity to service more than 1,000 people a year, in smaller and integrated care units in district hospitals and/ or social care centres.
- Better living-Early enrolment into care may result in reduction of exposure to harm, injury and starvation, and better prognosis.
- Removal of stigma-An integrated approach may also help address stigma associated with this group.
- Reducing homelessness-Facilitation of social needs care and livelihoods may reduce the recurrence of episodic homelessness, critical to sustaining and enhancing well-being gains.
- Three sectors— the government, development and corporate sectors — will partner to ensure that the lives of those who live on the fringes matter.
- The mental health team-That anchors the Centre may also lend further support to the District Mental Health Programme, and offer counselling support to address mental health issues in the context of the pandemic.
The action taken by UN Secretary is a powerful start to acknowledge the need to focus on minority mental health. The need for the homeless persons at the present situation is to incorporate heterogeneity of experiences and multimodal approaches to care and nurture them in an environment of patience, love and affection, not by out-casting them.
3.Pandemic Helping To Recognize Real Education
Syllabus: Gs2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Context: The Pandemic disruptions have revealed the core of education and highlighted the invaluable role of true learning in fulfilling aspirations.
How brutal inequity, fragility and injustice in School education exist?
- For the vast majority of children, the shutting down of schools is a change in the trajectory of their lives.
- Losses of education is much longer and even permanent.
- Deprivation arising from shut schools is also a loss of assured meals.
- Innumerable girls face social pressure to drop out of school and get married.
- Uncertainty is also eroding the hard-won social consensusthat sending children to school must be the norm.
How education is a social-human endeavour?
- Physical presence, attention, thought and emotions, all must be sewn towards learning goals, step-by step, often back-and-forth, and differently for each student.
- Online education is ineffective because of the absence of intense verbal and non-verbal interactions.
- Lack of access to the net and online resources.
- There is deep realization of the social-human nature of education.
- State after state that was enthusiastic about online education in May this year has backtracked and tried to implement other modes of student engagement.
- Such as teachers systematically going to the communities where students live and organizing classes with small groups, usually out in the open.
How pandemic has revealed usurious face of Private schools?
- Most private schools are bothered about making money and not about education or people.
- Commercialisation of schools have pushed every lever to squeeze money.
- For instance, demanding fees for “re-admission”, insisting on parents buying net-access devices, lobbying for the charade of online education, and more.
- Private schools have exploited their teachers even more than usual, cutting or not paying their salaries arbitrarily.
- Public school have attempted a range of things to keep their students engaged because their goal is public service.
- Only a small percentage of schools run and owned by private bodies, which are truly public spirited.
- Education is effective only when it is truly animated by the spirit of public service
Why teachers are central to education?
- With teachers, education can happen anywhere, even under a tree without any other resource, as thousands of dedicated public-school teachers have shown.
- Teaching is not only about subject knowledge and pedagogy.
- It is about patience and dedication, about empathy and judgment, and also about balancing all this in the service of the overall development of the child.
- Teaching is a matter of deep human relationships and bonds.
- Pandemic have also made many realize how poorly we do for our teachers.
Why an education system is the most precious of things for any society?
- It shapes the future of a society and at the most basic level, the education system is also a vast child-care system too.
- The disruptions in our rhythms of social and economic life have made it clear that for the aspirations and promises of our society to be fulfilled, education is the fundamental social process.
India does not need a once-in-a-century pandemic with its devastating human toll to reveal all this about education. India needs to focus on basic character of education to make us more humane, and more together.
4.Culture of Secrecy
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: Gs2: Important Aspects of Governance, Transparency and Accountability
Context: Paradoxically, In India the culture of secrecy is growing and sometimes justified in the name of transparency.
How culture of secrecy is evolving in India?
Examples of Culture of secrecy in different areas:
- Judiciary: Sealed envelope has become a modus operandi
- Case1: Related to political funding: a three-judge bench headed by the then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in 2019 directed political parties to submit the details of donations received to the ECI in sealed cover.
- Case 2: Related to National Register of Citizens: The Assam administration to show the progress it was making in the implementation of the National Register of Citizens submitted reports in sealed covers to Justice Gogoi.
- Case 3: Related to Sexual harassment at workplace: Justice Gogoi was accused of sexual harassment. The panel formed by the SC found “no substance in the allegations” on the basis of a report it had received in a sealed cover.
- Electoral bonds:
- Introduced in 2017, it allowed anonymous donations to political parties and to protect the privacy of the donors.
- However, The Election Commission of India (ECI) criticised the opacity of this financial mechanism and described it as “a retrograde step”.
- As per ECI, it would prevent the statefrom ascertaining whether a political party has taken any donation in violation of provisions under Section 29B of the Representation of the People Act. (Sec 29B prohibits the political parties from taking donations from government companies and foreign sources).
- Limiting CIC powers: In 2019, government amended the RTI Act to limit the power of the CIC. The five-year fixed tenure for the Chief Information Commissioner and information commissioners was abolished.
- Dilution of the Whistleblower’s Protection Act: Whistleblowers can now be prosecuted for possessing the documents on which the complaint has been made.
- Non-publication or alteration of some statistical information:for instance, the National Statistical Commission and the Chief Statistician of India faced a credibility crisis when the new GDP series was released. The 75th round survey of consumer expenditures was not released which had found that the percentage of citizens living below the poverty line had increased between 2011-12 and 2017-18.
What are the implications of growing culture of secrecy ?
- Vaguely defined Public interest: Issues flagged by whistleblowers have to be in “public interest” and should not be “affecting the sovereignty and integrity of India”, related to “commercial confidence” or “information received in confidence from a foreign government”.
- Reducing institutional independence:growth rate figures were changed and the National Crime Records Bureau has been affected by delays and deletions. For instance, lynchings and “religious killings” are no longer enumerated and the number of members of religious communities in the police forces is not listed.
- Weakened the Right to Information Act: the government did not appoint a Chief Information Commissioner for a year and did not fill vacant information commissioner posts in the Central Information Commission (CIC) between 2016 and 2018.
- Huge pendency: The backlog of pending appeals had reached 30,000 cases in late 2019 as the CIC has become a rather dysfunctional body.
- Refusal of information: For instance, queries about phone tapping are not responded. In 2016-17, the home and finance ministries rejected close to 15 per cent of the applications they received while the RBI and public sector banks rejected 33 per cent.
- Reduces accountability: For instance, RBI refused to give any information about the decision-making process that led to demonetisation.
- Secrecy affects decision making: To conceal the truth would make things worse because the actors in the economy would not be in a position to adjust to the real situation.
Transparency is necessary for making the economy work and to maintain democratic polity.
5.COVID-19- A spotlight on democracy
Source- The Hindu
Syllabus- GS 2- Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
Context- The unprecedented COVID-19 crisis has resulted in major social, political and legal challenges globally.
What is international day of democracy?
The International Day of Democracy provides an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world. Democracy is as much a process as a goal and only with the full participation of and support by the international community, national governing bodies, civil society and individuals, can the ideal of democracy be made into a reality to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere.
- Declared on– The International Day of Democracy is celebrated around the world on 15 September each year.
- Observed by– It was established through a resolution passed by the UN General Assembly in 2007, encouraging governments to strengthen and consolidate democracy.
- Theme for 2020– COVID-19- A spotlight on democracy.
What are the main concerns in many countries in the context of COVID-19?
- Liberty issues– Measures to control the flow of information, crackdown on freedom of expression and press freedom against an existing background of shrinking civic space.
- Arrest, detention, prosecution or persecution of political opponents, journalists, doctors and healthcare workers, activists and others for allegedly spreading “fake news”.
- Aggressive cyber– Policing and increased online surveillance.
What are the key features of Indian Democracy?
India democracy credited as world’s largest democracy with following key features-
- There are multiparty elections with universal suffrage.
- The smooth changeover in government after election.
- The existence of an independent press and judiciary, and the guarantee of civil liberties justiciable in courts of law.
However, to an extent it amounts to admiring a form of government for its own sake without concern for the socioeconomic outcomes that are produced.
Why there is dystopia in India’s democracy?
Dystopia– Dystopia was imagined as a place where the people experience great suffering as they fend for themselves under the watchful eyes of an authoritarian state.
Life satisfaction– An important metric as it is based on people’s perceptions on what matters most, including the responsiveness of the government to their needs.
- UN’s World Happiness Report 2020– India ranked 144 out of the 153 countries evaluated.
- UN’s Human Development Index 2019– India ranked 129thout of 189 countries in which the main element of ranking were Health and Education.
- The criterion that in a democracy the people must be satisfied with their life is given very little thought these days.
Ways to be free democracy-
- Build by the people itself– The institutions that enable persons to lead fulfilling lives are built by the people themselves.
- Example- United States in 1960s-Saw movements for black empowerment, women’s emancipation and sexual liberation. These movements were remarkably successful in the outcomes they achieved, while receiving no support from the U.S. state.
- Role of the states- Laws must not constrain liberty when it is self-affirming and must change when it is realized that they do.
Liberty and capability are conjoined as the ultimate aspiration in a democracy so that people can participate in their own governance and government should do some endowment of individuals with capabilities that allow them to undertake the functioning or do the things that they values.
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