Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – December 20, 2018

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Q.1) When India is facing substantial paucity of drugs especially with regards to its affordability and accessibility, how far do you think can e-pharmacies be a game changer?

Answer:

Poor adherence to medical treatment not only compromises patient outcomes but also increases patient mortality, thereby impacting the economic growth of the country.

Accessibility, affordability and lack of awareness are the major challenges for last mile access to medicines. These barriers could be effectively overcome by adopting technology, specifically the Internet, into the healthcare system.

E-pharmacies – benefits:

  1. Rising number of people with unmet medical needs due to large population.
  2. E-Pharmacy improves consumer convenience and access. This will most importantly benefit chronic elderly patients living in nuclear families, and patients who are not in a condition to go out to find a pharmacy.
  3. E-Pharmacy also offers competitive pricing which thereby enables less affluent people to afford medicines.
  4. There are a lot of technology advancements that are coming up in the form of applications which help in bringing price transparency, create awareness, find an appropriate healthcare service provider, medicine reminders, and pregnancy alerts to the consumers.
  5. e-Pharmacy models are well aligned to address key known issues in pharmacy retail for tracking authenticity, traceability of medicine, abuse prevention, addressing consumption of drugs without prescription etc.,
  6. Jan Aushadhi Program is an integral part of the country’s plans to create awareness and enable access of affordable medicines to the general population across the country without compromising the quality of medicines. The operating model of e-Pharmacy that has been envisaged will have a mobile and a web-based application, directly linked to the inventory at existing Jan Aushadhi stores, which would help consumers procure their medicines.

 

Q.2) Do you think Japan’s ‘Partnership for Quality Infrastructure’ poses a better opportunity for India vis-à-vis China’s Belt and road Initiative?

Answer:

PQI was announced to finance infrastructure projects across the Indo-Pacific. It has the twin aim of elevating Japan’s regional influence and strengthening strategic network, on one hand, and creating new engines for Japan’s economic development by exploring new frontiers of growth in the international infrastructure market.

How it is better over the BRI:

  1. It enables India as an international manufacturing hub by building world-class infrastructure and facilitating industrial networks and regional value chains.
  2. Japan has already played a critical role in redefining Indian infrastructure – high speed rail, industrial corridors, and urban mass rapid transport systems – through its Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans granted at favourable rates of interest.
  3. India is pursuing the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (HSR) Project in cooperation with Japan at an interest rate of 0.1% to be repaid over the next 50 years, with a principal payment moratorium of 15 years. The Jakarta-Bandung HSR Project, financed by the China Development Bank (CDB), considered as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), 60% of the loan paid in US dollars is at 2% interest rate while the balance 40% in Chinese yuan is at 3.4%interest rate.
  4. The World Economic Outlook, published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), projected that the Indian economy is expected to grow by 7.8% in 2019, making it one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. To sustain such economic dynamism, India urgently needs to upgrade its infrastructure.
  5. According to the Twelfth Five-Year Plan, India requires investment of approximately $1 trillion in the infrastructure sector. Japan’s EPQI could play an important part in augmenting its infrastructure.

 

Q.3)  ‘Wage’ is the fuel which moves an employee and the falling rate of wage growth in India, as per an International Labour Organisation (ILO) report, merits immediate government attention. Discuss.

Answer:

While India’s economy in the past two decades has seen an annual average GDP rate of 7% – low pay and inequality persist according to the ILO’s India Wage Report: Wage policies for decent work and inclusive growth.

Reasons for falling wage growth:

  1. A substantial proportion of workers (47%), continue to be employed in the agricultural sector.
  2. More than 51% of the total employed in India, as per 2011–12 data, were self-employed and 62% of wage earners are employed as casual workers.
  3. While the organized sector has seen a rise in employment, many jobs in this sector too have been of casual or informal nature.
  4. The decline in overall wage inequality has been largely due to the doubling of the wages of casual workers between 1993–94 and 2011–12.
  5. The gender wage gap however is still steep, as per international standards, despite having declined from 48% in 1993-94 to 34% in 2011–12.

Though India was one of the first countries to introduce minimum wages through the Minimum Wages Act in 1948, there exist challenges in providing a universal wage floor for all workers.

Way ahead:

  1. Extending legal coverage to all workers in an employment relationship
  2. Undertaking regular evidence-based adjustments
  3. Progressively consolidating and simplifying minimum wage structures
  4. Stronger measures to ensure a more effective application of minimum wage law
  5. Collection of statistical data on a timely and regular basis
  6. fostering accumulation of skills to boost labour productivity and growth for sustainable enterprises
  7. promoting equal pay for work of equal value
  8. formalizing the informal economy
  9. strengthening social protection for workers.

 

Q.4) Citizen’s charters try to bridge the mismatch between public demand and government service delivery. In the light of this statement suggest how citizen’s charters can be made more outcome oriented.

Answer:

The Citizens’ Charter is an instrument which seeks to make an organization transparent, accountable and citizen friendly. A Citizens’ Charter is basically a set of commitments made by an organization regarding the standards of service which it delivers.

Challenges with working of charters:

  1. Poor design and content
  2. Lack of public awareness
  3. Inadequate groundwork
  4. Charters are rarely updated
  5. End-users and NGOs are not consulted when Charters are drafted
  6. needs of senior citizens and the disabled are not considered when drafting
  7. Resistance to change

To make them more effective:

  1. Should clearly spell out the remedy/penalty/compensation in case there is a default in meeting the standards spelt out in the Charter
  2. Internal restructuring should precede Charter formulation
  3. One size does not fit all
  4. Wide consultation process
  5. Periodic evaluation of Citizens’ Charter
  6. Include Civil Society in the process
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