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Q.1) Despite several attempts of eradication of manual scavenging by government, practice prevails. Discuss the various government measures to eradicate the manual scavenging in India and what are the reasons behind prevalence of manual scavenging despite several measures? (GS-1)

Ans.) There are possibly over 12 lakh manual scavengers across India despite launching several acts and initiatives.

Acts against manual scavenging

Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993

  • This act banned employment of people as manual scavengers.
  • The act made employing a manual scavenger a cognisable offence with imprisonment and fine.
  • The 1993 Act made it the responsibility of citizens, organisations and the state to maintain sanitary toilets.
  • Act also prohibited the construction of dry toilets

Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013

  • It Prohibits the engagement or employment of anyone as a manual scavenger
  • Act made the states responsible for identifying and rehabilitating manual scavengers by providing them training, giving assistance, loans and even houses.
  • It further prohibits dry latrines and other forms of insanitary latrines.

Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan

Some of the features of mission that promotes prohibition on manual scavenging are:

  • Conversion of insanitary toilets to pour flush toilets,
  • Eradication of manual scavenging,
  • Spreading awareness among the citizens about sanitation and its linkages with public health.

Why does it still exist?

There are many reasons behind prevalence of manual scavenging, such as:-

  • Presence of insanitary latrines: Majority of this type of latrines require cleaning by hand.
  • Disinterest of state governments: Despite legal obligations, state governments are not keen to demolish or rebuild old facilities lacking sanitation.
  • State governments have not conducted a full census of both the latrines and the people engaged in clearing such waste.
  • Budget crunch: Central government has reduced fund allocation for rehabilitation of manual scavengers from 448 crore in the 2014-15 budget to Rs. 5 crore this year.
  • Social norms: Many communities still regard the inclusion of a sanitary toilet as ritual and physical pollution of the house.
  • Denial to change by manual scavengers: Some official data shows that manual scavengers are reluctant to leave their present occupation and take up the self-employment because of illiteracy and lack of confidence in running self-employment projects.
  • No administrative accountability: 2013 act does not outline administrative measures beyond conduct rules, that can be imposed if officials do not implement the Act.
  • Presence of informal ways: Contractors that are being provided with the sanitary projects are employing manual scavengers off the official record.

 

Q.2) Rising cases of mental health disorders in India needs a more proactive approach from the government. What are the major reasons and issues concerning the rise? (GS 1)

Answer:

Introduction:

  • Almost 7.5% of Indians suffer from major or minor mental disorders that require expert intervention.

What are the rising factors that affect the mental illness?

The rising factors that affect the mental illness are as follows:

Depressive disorders:

  • Depressive disorders are characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness, and poor concentration.

Anxiety disorders:

  • Anxiety disorders refer to a group of mental disorders characterized by feelings of anxiety and fear.

Other rising reasons of mental illness are:

  • a fast-paced lifestyles,
  • high stress  because of complexities of living,
  • a breakdown of support systems, and
  • challenges of economic instability.

Major issues with mental health disorders in India:

The major issues concerning mental health are as follows:

  • Due to the social stigma associated with mental disorders, nearly 80 per cent of those with mental disorders had not received any treatment.
  • There is a scarcity of mental health services in the public health services.
  • Poor utilization of available services by the patients in the rural areas is a common phenomenon.
  • There is a limited and poor understanding of psychological distress.
  • Limited acceptance of modern medical care for mental disorders among the general population is.

How should the mental health care in India be strengthened?

The measures to be taken in the country are as follows:

  • Patients should be able to access health care without humiliation of proving their financial status or bitterness of social stigma.
  • Within families and across social groups, a mutual sense of responsibility and affiliation towards each other must be reinforced, through rituals and culture, social training or self-learning.
  • There is a need to constitute a national commission on mental health comprising professionals from mental health, public health, social sciences and the judiciary to oversee, facilitate support and monitor and review mental health policies.
  • Targeted social interventions such as the disability allowance, mandated by the Mental Health Care Act and the Rights of Persons with Disability Act, must adopt an integrated single window health and social care system that will minimize cumbersome bureaucracy.

 

Q.3) What do you understand by term ‘net neutrality’? What are the significance of TRAI’s recommendations in this regard? (GS-3)

Meaning of net neutrality:

  • The term “net neutrality” was coined to represent the idea that a maximally useful public information network aspires to treat all content, sites and platforms equally.
  • This term has acquired a central place in many global debates on Internet policy and governance.
  • The term net neutrality coined by an American professor Tim Wu. According to him the term net neutrality signifying an internet that does not support an application over other. It means ISPs doesn’t discriminate on content, traffic and speed when it provides services to users.
  • In India there is a debate to whether to favour, net neutrality or let the ISPs manipulate the network. Telecom Regulatory TRAI has come with the following recommendations.

Key highlights of the TRAI recommendations:

  • Discriminatory treatment of content is prohibited like blocking, degrading, slowing down or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any contact.
  • Content delivery network (CND) is kept out of regulation.
  • Internet of things is not kept out of regulation but critical services like Telemedicine and B2B is kept out.
  • It recommended watch for enforcing net neutrality and measure of traffic management.
  • International treaties, courts orders and government orders are exempt from this regulation.
  • Internet access services should be governed by a principle of non-discrimination.

Significance:

  • It will provide level field to Startups who are mostly depended on internet.
  • Customers will get freedom to use internet.
  • It will promote innovation.
  • It will help prevent unfair pricing practices.
  • It will drive entrepreneurship.
  • IT will stimulate ISP competition.
  • It will uphold right to free speech and right to communicate freely without any restrictions.

 

Q.4)More than a year after Parliament passed the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act 2016 (CAF), the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) is yet to roll out the mandatory rules to implement it.  In this context discuss the implications of delaying the implementation? (GS-3)

Ans) More than a year after Parliament passed the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act 2016 (CAF), the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) is yet to roll out the mandatory rules to implement it.

What is happening in the absence of rules?

In the absence of the rules, forest departments in at least 15 states are undertaking afforestation as per the state CAF guidelines released by MoEF&CC in 2009, which are silent on the fundamental question of what kind of land—forest or revenue—can be used for carrying out the drives.

As a result they are using the funds under CAF to take charge of forestlands that are being considered for community ownership and management, under the Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA).

At present, the fund under the Act, which makes afforestation compulsory to compensate for the forestland diverted for non-forest purposes, has Rs 42,000 crore of which 10 per cent should be with the National CAMPA and the remaining with the state CAMPAs.

For instance, Odisha forest department is using CAF to fence land over which local communities have claimed rights. Then they are using the land for plantations.

Several hectares were compensated there, but only with patchy outcomes: healthy monoculture plantations having low biodiversity value came up in some places, while others resulted in unhealthy plantations with few trees.

The exploitation by the state forest departments could have been avoided if the ministry had released the rules in time.

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