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Daily Category  (Indian Society)

Har Ghar Jal State

Context:

Goa has become the first 'Har Ghar Jal' State in the country. The state successfully provides 100% Functional Household Tap Connections in the rural areas covering 2.30 lakh rural households.

  • Now, all rural homes in the State have a tap water supply. 

Details:

  • The state has utilized the benefits of the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) which aims to improve the quality of life and bring 'ease-of-living' to rural communities.
  • The two districts of Goa I .e.North Goa and South Goa are fully saturated with assured piped water supply through tap connections.
  • To strengthen the water testing facilities, the State is in process of getting 14 water quality testing laboratories NABL accredited.  
  • Jal Jeevan Mission mandates training 5 persons in the very village especially women to be trained in using Field Test Kits, so that water can be tested in the villages.

Goa's Annual Action Plan:

  • Objective: To provide 100% Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTCs) in rural areas by 2021.
  • Accordingly, fund allocation from the Union to Goa in 2020-21 has been increased to Rs. 12.40 Crore for the plan.
  • The convergence of Schemes: The State explored through the convergence of various programs like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen), 15th Finance Commission for rural local bodies, etc. for the strengthening of drinking water sources, water supply, greywater (any domestic wastewater excluding sewage) treatment & re-use and operation & maintenance.

Jal Jeevan Mission:

  • It envisages the supply of 55 liters of water per person per day to every rural household through Functional Household Tap Connections by 2024.
    • It aims to integrate demand and supply-side management of water at the local level.
  • Funding Pattern: 90:10 for Himalayan and North-Eastern States, 50:50 for other states, and 100% for Union Territories.
  • The total allocation to the scheme is over ?3 lakh crore.
  • Creation of local infrastructure for source sustainability measures as mandatory elements, like rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge and management of household wastewater for reuse, would be undertaken in convergence with other government programmes/schemes.
  • The key components of the mission: A community approach to water, Education, and Communication, a Jan Andolan for water, thereby making it everyone’s priority.

Source: PIB

Global Hunger Index 2020

Context:

According to the Global Hunger Index 2020, India has the highest prevalence of wasted children under five years in the world.

Key findings:

  • India ranks 94 out of 107 countries in the Index, lower than her neighbors such as Bangladesh (75) and Pakistan (88).
  • In the region of the south, east, and south-eastern Asia, the only countries which fare worse than India are Timor-Leste, Afghanistan, and North Korea.
    • Child stunting: Although it is still in the poorest category, however, child stunting has actually improved significantly, from 54% in 2000 to less than 35% now. 
    • Child wasting: It has not improved in the last two decades, and is rather worse than it was a decade ago.
    • Child mortality rates: India has improved in both child mortality rates, which are now at 3.7%, and in terms of undernourishment, with about 14% of the total population which gets an insufficient caloric intake.

The worldwide scenario of food security:

  • Worldwide nearly 690 million people are undernourished which warns that the COVID-19 pandemic could have affected the progress made on reducing hunger and poverty.

SDG Goals progress: 

  • The 2020 Global Hunger Index report presents a multi-dimensional measure of national, regional, and global hunger by assigning a numerical score based on several aspects of hunger.
    • It then ranks countries by GHI score and compares current scores with past results.
  • The 2020 report considers a One Health approach to linking health and sustainable food systems in order to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030.
  • The world is also not on track to achieve the second Sustainable Development Goal — known as Zero Hunger for short — by 2030. 
  • At the current pace, nearly 37 countries will fail even to reach low hunger, as defined by the Global Hunger Index Severity Scale, by 2030.

The Global Hunger Index (GHI):

  • It is a tool that measures and tracks hunger globally as well as by region and by country.
  • It is calculated annually, and its report issued in October each year.
  • The GHI was initially published by the US-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Germany-based Welthungerhilfe.
  • In 2007, the Irish NGO Concern Worldwide also became a co-publisher

Calculation of GHI Scores:

  • The Global Hunger Index measures hunger on a 100-point scale, with 0 being the best score (no hunger) and 100 being the worst.
  • The GHI combines 4 component indicators:
    • the proportion of the undernourished as a percentage of the population;
    • the proportion of children under the age of five suffering from wasting, a sign of acute undernutrition;
    • the proportion of children under the age of five suffering from stunting, a sign of chronic undernutrition; and
    • the mortality rate of children under the age of five.

Source: Indian Express

Chapter Proceedings

Context:

The Mumbai police have begun “chapter proceedings” against Republic Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami.

Chapter proceedings:

  • Chapter proceedings are preventive actions taken by the police if they fear that a particular person is likely to create trouble and disrupt the peace in society.
  • These proceedings are unlike punitive action taken in case of an FIR with an intention to punish.
  • In chapter proceedings, the police can issue notices under sections of the Code of Criminal Procedure to ensure that the person is aware that creating nuisance could result in action against him. 
  • Chapter proceeding is not a legal term. All the sections related to preventing of crime fall under a single chapter, it was colloquially called “chapter proceedings” and has since been used to refer to actions of this nature.

Sections:

  • A notice is issued to a person under section 111 of the CrPC whereby he is asked to present himself before the Executive Magistrate.
  • The person has to explain why he should not be made to sign a bond of good behaviour.
  • If the Executive Magistrate is not satisfied with the answer, the person is asked to sign a bond of good behaviour and produce sureties vouching for his/her good behaviour.
  • A fine amount is also decided in accordance with the crime and the person’s financial capability which the person would have to pay if he violates the conditions set in the bond.
  • The section states that any person who disseminates information that could lead to ill will among communities and castes should be served this notice.

Options to appeal against the notice:

  • On receiving the notice under section 111, a person can appeal the notice before the courts.
  • In 2017, the Bombay High Court mentioned that “chapter proceedings cannot be initiated on the basis of an incident of trivial nature”.
  • In 2018 the Mumbai sessions court also mentioned that chapter proceedings cannot be used with the purpose of punishing a past offence.

Use of chapter proceedings:

  • When an ACP receives information that any person is likely to commit a breach of the peace or disturb public tranquillity or do any wrongful act that may probably occasion a breach of the peace or disturb the public tranquillity he may in the manner hereinafter provided, require such person to show cause why he should not be ordered to execute a bond.
  • There is no need for even an FIR against a person for issuing a notice under section 107 of the CrPC.

Source: Indian Express

Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States Project

Context:

The Union Cabinet has approved the implementation of the Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) Project under the New Education Policy to support States in strengthening the school education system.

  • Objective: To focus on initiatives of PM e-Vidya, Foundational Literacy, and Numeracy Mission and National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.

STARS Project:

  • The project covers 6 States namely Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, and Odisha.
  • The identified States will be supported by tor various interventions for improving the quality of education.
  • It is a World Bank-financed project.
  • It would be implemented as a new Centrally Sponsored Scheme under the Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education.

Significance:

  • The STARS project seeks to support the states in developing, implementing, evaluating, and improving interventions with direct linkages to improved education outcomes and school to work transition strategies for improved labor market outcomes.
  • The overall focus and components of the STARS project are aligned with the objectives of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 of Quality-Based Learning Outcomes.
  • The Project envisions improving the overall monitoring and measurement activities in the Indian School Education System through interventions in selected states.
  • The project shifts focus from the provision of inputs and maintaining outputs to actual outcomes by linking the receipt and disbursement of funds to these outcomes.
  • The project also includes a Contingency Emergency Response Component (CERC) under the national component which would enable it to be more responsive to any natural, man-made, and health disasters.

PARAKH:

  • It is a national assessment center for Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development (PARAKH).
  • It will be set up as a standard-setting body under the Ministry of Education.

Source: The Hindu

India to have highest working age population by 2100: Lancet

Context:

India is estimated to have the largest working-age population by 2100, according to a study published in Lancet recently.

Major finding of the Study:

  • India is estimated to have the largest working-age population by 2100, followed by Nigeria, China, and the US, despite a huge decline in the number of workers.
  • Huge declines in the number of workers are seen in China and India by researchers who projected the number of working-age individuals (aged between 20 and 64 years) for the 10 largest countries by population in 2017.
  • The researchers estimated the population from 2018 to 2100 for 195 countries and territories with the standard cohort-component method of projection using estimates from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2017.
  • The global population will peak in 2064 at 9·73 billion and then decline to 8·79 billion in 2100, considering statistical models of fertility, mortality, and migration.
  • India, Nigeria, China, the US, and Pakistan are likely to be the five largest countries by population in 2100.
  • Between 2017 and 2100, 23 countries, including Japan, Thailand, and Spain, are projected to have a population declines greater than 50%.
  • China, whose population is expected to decline by 48%, is projected to become the largest economy by 2035 before the US overtakes it in 2098.
  • Calling a decline in total world population in the latter half of the century as potentially “good news" for the global environment, the study said, fewer people on the planet in every year between now and 2100 than the number forecasted by the UNPD would mean less carbon emission, less stress on global food systems, and less likelihood of transgressing planetary boundaries.
  • However, despite the lower population, environmental and climate change might still have major and serious consequences in the intervening years unless preventive action and mitigation is vigorously pursued.

About Fertility Rate:

  • By 2050, 151 countries are projected to have a total fertility rate (TFR)—the average number of children born per woman—lower than the replacement level (TFR <2·1), and 183 nations will have a TFR lower than replacement by 2100.
  • “Replacement level fertility" is the total fertility rate at which a population replaces itself from one generation to the next, without migration. This rate is roughly 2.1 children per woman for most countries, although it may vary with mortality rates.
  • The authors said the findings suggest continued gains in female literacy and access to contraception will hasten declines in fertility and slow down population growth.
  • A sustained TFR lower than the replacement level in many countries, including China and India, will have economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical consequences. Policy options to adapt to continued low fertility, while sustaining and enhancing female reproductive health, will be crucial in the years to come.
  • “In our model, in a population where all females have 16 years of education and 95% of females have access to contraception, the global TFR was projected to converge at 1·41".
  • One important determinant of population growth is the rate of fertility decline in high-fertility countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa. This rate of decline was driven largely by improvements in access to education and modern contraceptives.

People Migration:

  • The researchers projected that 118 of 195 countries and territories will have net migration rates between −1 and 1 per 1,000 population in 2100, with an additional 44 countries having net migration rates between −2 and 2 per 1,000.
  • The countries with the largest immigration forecasts in absolute numbers in 2,100 are the US, India, and China, whereas emigration was projected to be highest in Somalia, the Philippines, and Afghanistan.
  • Net immigration rates are likely to be the highest in Canada, Turkey, and Sweden, whereas emigration rates will be at the highest in El Salvador, Samoa, and Jamaica.

Source: Livemint

The network of things

1. CONTEXT OF THE NEWS

The coronavirus is reshaping our understanding of the world around us.

Life sciences are compelled to revisit the very idea of life and living organism because of the culture and structure of the formation of the virus.

This editorial discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing humanity to view differently out social world and borders.

2. COVID-19 RESHAPING OUR UNDERSTANDING

2.1 Coronavirus reshaping life sciences discipline

  • The coronavirus is unlike any other virus. It has altered the very basics of our understanding of man and his social interactions. 
  • The coronavirus might force disciplines such as microbiology and biochemistry to reorganise and reorient their disciplinary configuration due to issues such as
    • mutation of the virus
    • the manner in which it intrudes into the human body
    • afterlife of the virus
    • the human immune system vis-a-vis the virus
    • other biological crisis due to the virus

2.2 Coronavirus reshaping humanities and social sciences discipline

  • However, not only life sciences but the social sciences and humanities too need to reorganise and reassemble their disciplinary configuration in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis since the pandemic has had a devastating impact of whole of humankind in some way or the other.
  • The most important dimension that need to be the new focus of study in the humanities discipline is the power of the non-human over the human.

3. A NEW APPROACH TO SOCIAL INTERACTIONS

3.1 The Actor Network Theory (ANT)

  • During the 1980s and 1990s, scientists in France undertook inquiries as to how various human activities are affected by the non-human and non-living actors. 
  • These scientists, during their study of the life of science and scientists stumbled upon what is known as the Actor Network Theory (ANT).
  • This new insight suggested that nothing is outside the network, and everything is connected in the social.

3.2 How classical social scientists see the social world?

  • The classical social scientists view the social world merely as a conglomeration of people.
  • This loose understanding of the social world by the classical social scientists was challenged by the ANT Theory.

3.2 How ANT sees the social world?

  • The ANT suggests that the social world is an aggregation of human, non-human and non-living entities, caught in the network of associations.
  • The COVID pandemic has drawn the attention of the social scientists to marginalise their anthropocentric assumptions and instead shift the spotlight on these associations of things.
  • Among the various aspects of the ANT, the editorial focuses on the interface between the human and the non-human in context of COVID-19 pandemic.

4. HUMAN AND NON-HUMAN INTERACTIONS

4.1 Non-human and non-living entities

  • The proponents of the ANT are of the view that human society has evolved over the period of time and in this process of evolution numerous objects like pen, camera, telescope, airplane, cellphone, and non-human entities like microbes have come to constitute the social.
  • Human life is entwined into the network of these things.
  • In this network, the non-human entities who unlike humans have no will, consciousness and intention yet make a difference to the human life.
  • Hence, un the ANT framework, apart from humans, viruses like corona and objects like airplanes have also become active agents of change with the capacity to alter this network.

4.2 New Social Actors

  • Since these non-human and non-living entities are capable of bringing about a change in the network of the social, they are termed as actors.
  • Hence, some social scientists expand the definition of globalisers from more than MNCs to include non-human actors as well, with social scientist Bruno Latour even suggesting the virus to be the real globaliser.

5. POWER OF NETWORK AND CHALLENGES

5.1 Non-human actors and power of network

  • However, these non-human actors cannot make any difference in the network on their own, their capacity to alter the network is not intrinsic to them.
  • These non-human actors become influential in their association with the larger network of things including humans.
  • Hence, the capacity of these non-human actors depends on the power of the network and as the power of the network gets lesser, the impacts of these non-human actors gets minimal.
  • The coronavirus has appeared on the global scene at a time when entire network of the world has been thick and closely knit due to globalisation. 
  • In the pre-modern world where mobility and human connections were limited, the COVID-19 would have had much less impact and the world would have been in a much better position that what it is today.

5.2 New challenges from the network

  • The present globalised world is made up of complex associations and assemblies and this explains the intrusion of the coronavirus into every nook and corner of the globe.
  • Hence, the greatest challenge in front of mankind is to reconfigure the network of things without holding it back.
  • To address the problem of the pandemic effectively, it is imperative that we have a clear understanding of how close the world is today and how the forces of globalisation have formed a global village.
  • The sociology of associations propounded by the ANT helps us to better understand the reality of human interactions and the larger network of association and grasp the problem of the pandemic.

6. WAY FORWARD

6.1 Need of introspection

  • ANT compels us to introspect and reassemble the social sciences and humanities apart from our social world.
  • ANT shows that the natural, social and technological are not separate domains and they intimately entwine to create the reality around us through networking.
  • This new understanding of the social calls for a reorganisation of our knowledge systems based on a new interdisciplinary thinking.

6.2 Interdisciplinary Approach

  • Interdisciplinary thinking can only be achieved through breaking the borders of narrow knowledge compartments and increasing integration of disciplines.
  • Such an approach calls for discarding the traditional approaches when learning in compartmentalised and done in silos and approach towards interdisciplinary thinking through integration of the sciences with arts and humanities, and social sciences.
  • The editorial suggests various approaches as
    • assimilation of the history of sciences in the study of pure sciences
    • inclusion of scientific narratives in the discipline of historical studies
    • encouraging film and literary texts on ecological crises in environmental sciences
    • expanding the scope of life sciences to  include social history of epidemics
  • Such an approach would enable us to have a clear picture of the actors in this network and empower and equip us to deal with new challenges arising out of this network in a better and more efficient way.

Rules for the protection of Good Samaritans

Context:

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has notified the rules for the protection of Good Samaritans.

  • A “Good Samaritan" means a person, who in good faith, voluntarily and without expectation of any reward or compensation renders emergency medical or non-medical care or assistance at the scene of an accident to the victim or transports such victim to the hospital.
  • India witnesses around 1.5 lakh deaths every year due to road accidents which are the highest in the world.

Background:

  • Earlier, In the Save life Foundation and another V/S, Union of India case Supreme Court directed the Central Government to issue necessary directions with regard to the protection of Good Samaritans until appropriate legislation is made by the Union Legislature

New guidelines:

  • The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, inserted a new section 134A, named "Protection of good Samaritans" which provides that a Good Samaritan shall not be liable for any civil or criminal action for any injury to or death of the victim of an accident.
  • The people helping the road accidents victims on the spot can no longer be put through legal quagmire at the hospital or later by law enforcement authorities.
  • The rules provide for the rights of good samaritan which include that the good samaritan is treated respectfully without any discrimination on the grounds of religion, nationality, caste, or sex.
  • No police officer or any other person shall compel a Good Samaritan to disclose his/her name, identity, address, or any other personal details. However, he may voluntarily choose to disclose the same.
  • The rules also provide that every public and the private hospital shall publish a charter in Hindi, English, and vernacular language, at the entrance or other conspicuous location, and on their website, stating the rights of Good Samaritans.
  • If a person has voluntarily agreed to become a witness in the case in which he has acted as a Good Samaritan, he shall be examined in accordance with the provisions of the new law.

Source: PIB

Tribes India e-Marketplace

Context:

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has decided to launch the 'Tribes India e-Marketplace' on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti.

Tribes India e-Marketplace:

  • It is a pathbreaking initiative of the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
  • It is an ambitious initiative through which TRIFED aims to onboard 5 lakh tribal producers for sourcing of various handicrafts, handloom, natural food products across the country.
  • It is a state-of-the-art e-commerce platform that can be accessed on the web and also mobile for both customers and the tribal vendors registered.
  • It will showcase the produce and handicrafts of tribal enterprises from across the country.

Significance:

  • The suppliers comprise of individual tribal artisans, tribal SHGs, Organisations/ Agencies/ NGOs working with tribals.
  • The platform provides tribal suppliers with an Omni-channel facility to sell their goods through their own retailers and distributors.
  • It will facilitate Business-to-Business (B2B) trade connecting tribals dependent on Minor Forest Produces and Medicinal plants to large buyers /manufacturers.

Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED):

  • It was established in 1987 under the Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, 1984.
  • The objective is the socio-economic development of tribal people in the country by way of marketing development of the tribal products on which the lives of tribals depend heavily.
  • TRIFED is a national-level apex organization functioning under the administrative control of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. 
  • It was established as a National level Cooperative body under the administrative control of the then Ministry of Welfare of India.

Source: PIB

Ambedkar Social Innovation and Incubation Mission (ASIIM)

Context:

Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has launched the Ambedkar Social Innovation and Incubation Mission (ASIIM) under Venture Capital Fund for SCs.

  • Objective: To promoting innovation and enterprise among SC students studying in higher educational institutions.

Venture Capital Fund for SCs:

  • The Ministry of Social Justice had launched the Venture Capital Fund for SCs in 2014-15 with a view to developing entrepreneurship amongst the SC/Divyang youth and to enable them to become 'job-givers’.
  • Objective: To provide concessional finance to the entities of the SC entrepreneurs.

Ambedkar Social Innovation and Incubation Mission (ASIIM):

  • Under this fund, 117 companies promoted by SC entrepreneurs have been sanctioned financial assistance to set up business ventures.
  • Under the ASIIM initiative, 1,000 SC youth would be identified in the next 4 years with start-up ideas through the Technology Business Incubators (TBIs) in various higher educational institutions.
  • They will be funded @ Rs. 30 lakhs in 3 years as equity funding so that they can translate their start-up ideas into commercial ventures.
  • Successful ventures would further qualify for venture funding of up to Rs. 5 Crore from the Venture Capital Fund for SCs.
  • The Ministry has also decided to launch ASIIM through the Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Castes (VCFSC).

It’s objectives include:

  • To promote entrepreneurship among the SC Youth with special preference to Divyangs;
  • To support (1,000) innovative ideas until 2024 through a synergetic work with the Technology Business Incubators (TBIs) set up by the Department of Science and Technology;  
  • To support, promote, hand-hold the start-up ideas until they reach the commercial stage by providing liberal equity support; and
  • To incentivize students with an innovative mindset to take to entrepreneurship with confidence.

Eligibility:

  • Youth who have been identified by the TBIs.
  • Students who have been awarded under the Smart India Hackathon or Smart India Hardware Hackathon being conducted by the Ministry of Education.
  • Innovative ideas focusing on the socio-economic development of the society identified in the TBIs.
  • Start-ups nominated and supported by corporates through Corporate Social responsibility (CSR) funds.

Significance:

  • This initiative will promote innovation in the SC youth and would help them to become job-givers from job-seekers, and would further give a fillip to the ‘Stand Up India’ initiative.

Source: PIB

 

Annual Crime in India Report

Context:

According to the annual Crime in India 2019 report, a crime against Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) saw an increase of over 7% and 26% respectively in the year 2019 compared to 2018.

  • The report is published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

Cases against SCs:

  • A total of 45,935 cases were registered for committing a crime against SCs, showing an increase of 7.3% over 2018 when 42,793 such cases were recorded.
  • At 11,829 cases, Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of crimes against SCs in 2019, followed by 6,794 cases in Rajasthan and 6,544 cases in Bihar.

Rape cases:

  • In the number of cases of rape of women belonging to SCs, Rajasthan topped the list with 554 cases, followed by Uttar Pradesh at 537 and Madhya Pradesh at 510 cases.
  • A total of 8,257 cases were registered for committing a crime against STs, an increase of 26.5% over 2018 when 6,528 such cases were registered.
  • Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of cases against STs as it recorded 1,922 cases, followed by Rajasthan, which recorded 1,797 cases and Odisha-576 cases.
  • The highest number of incidents of rape of tribal women- 358 was registered in Madhya Pradesh, followed by 180 incidents in Chattisgarh and 114 in Maharashtra.

Cognizable crimes:

  • A total of 51,56,172 cognizable crimes comprising 32,25,701 Indian Penal Code (IPC) ones and 19,30,471 Special and Local Laws (SLL) crimes were registered in 2019. It showed an increase of 1.6% in the registration of cases over 2018 (50,74,635 cases).
  • A total of 4,05,861 cases of crime against women were registered in 2019 compared to 3,78,236 cases in 2018, showing an increase of 7.3%.
  • Cybercrimes increased by 63.5% in 2019. A total of 44,546 cases were registered under cybercrimes, compared to 27,248 cases in 2018. In 2019, 60.4% of cybercrime cases registered were for the motive of fraud (26,891 out of 44,546 cases), followed by sexual exploitation, with 5.1% (2,266 cases), and causing disrepute with 4.2% (1,874 cases).

CHRI statement:

  • The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), a police reform advocacy group, highlights a few cases that were being registered for specific discriminatory action against SCs and STs.
  • Crimes against SCs and STs include the following categories- atrocities committed by non-SC/ST members under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989 (hereafter POA Act), the Indian Penal Code, and the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955.

National Crime Record Bureau:

  • NCRB was set-up in 1986 under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • It was set up on the recommendations of the National Police Commission (1977-1981) and the MHA’s Task Force (1985).
  • Objective: To function as a repository of information on crime and criminals so as to assist the investigators in linking crime to the perpetrators.
  • NCRB publishes the Crime in India report.
  • Headquarter: New Delhi.

Source: The Hindu

Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (PMNCH)

Context:

The Union Ministry for Health and Family Welfare participated in the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (PMNCH) ‘Accountability Breakfast’ to discuss the issues of maternal and child health.

  • Theme: Protecting gains in Reproductive, Maternal, and Child Health from the COVID pandemic.

Details:

  • At the national level, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued guidance to the States to ensure that women, children, and adolescents continue to get all the healthcare services even under severe strain due to the COVID pandemic.
  • Further, the government has included COVID in the medical conditions covered under the Ayushman Bharat – PM-JAY insurance package provided by the government.
  • The government has tried to reduce out-of-pocket expenditure through its policy of no denial for essential services, like-

Reproductive Maternal Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH):

  • It was launched in 2013 to address the major causes of mortality among women and children as well as the delays in accessing and utilizing health care and services.
  • It mainly focuses on tuberculosis, chemotherapy, dialysis, and healthcare of the elderly, irrespective of the Covid-19 status.

LaQshya program:

  • It aims to reduce preventable maternal and newborn mortality, morbidity, and stillbirths associated with the care around delivery in the Labour Room and Maternity Operation Theatre (OT) and ensure respectful maternity care.

Safe Motherhood Assurance (SUMAN) initiative:

  • It aims to achieve zero preventable Maternal and Newborn Deaths.
  • According to the NITI Aayog data, Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) has dropped by 8% in India to 130 per 100,000 live births. The aim is to get it in line with the Sustainable Development Goal of 70 per 1,00,000 live births by 2030.

About PMNCH:

  • It is founded in 2005 as a global health partnership.
  • It is hosted at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland which joins the maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) communities into an alliance.
  • The Accountability Breakfast aims to convert talk into action for the health and rights of women, children, and adolescents.

The White Ribbon Alliance:

  • It is founded in 1999 as a nonpartisan, non-profit and non-governmental membership organization.
  • Its main objective is to decrease maternal and newborn death globally.
  • Headquarters: Washington, D.C., USA

Source: PIB

Health in India Report

Context:

The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has released the report of a survey titled ‘Health in India’.

  • Objective: To gather basic quantitative information on India’s health sector.

Details:

  • The report contains health information for separate religious communities, including estimates of their susceptibility to ailments.
  • The report is based on information collected through NSS Schedule 25.0 (Household Social Consumption: Health) spread across the country.
  • Data were collected through a sample survey of 1.13 lakh households covering 5.55 lakh persons.

Illness in the religious group:

  • The Zoroastrian community remains the most susceptible to ailments. As per the report, 31.1 % of Zoroastrians reported that they were suffering from an ailment at the time the survey was conducted.
  • This number for other communities is Jains, 11.2 %; Sikhs 11 %; Christians 10.5 %; Muslims 8.1 %; Buddhists 8 %; and Hindus 7.2 %.

Ailment:

  • The survey defines ailment as any deviation from a person’s state of physical and mental well-being.
  • The ‘Proportion of Persons who Responded as Ailing’ in a 15-day period when they were approached by the surveyors, were registered as those suffering from ailments.

Division in terms of sex:

  • The survey shows that women remain more susceptible to suffering from ailments than men. In rural India, 6.1 % of males said that they were suffering from ailments, while 7.6 % of rural women said the same.
  • Around 7.5 % of Indians reported that they were suffering from ailments, as per the survey. The difference in people suffering from ailments in rural and urban India was stark. 

Zoroastrianism:

  • It is one of the world's oldest monotheistic religions and the Parsi community is a follower of it
  • It was founded by the Prophet Zoroaster in ancient Iran around the 6th-7th century.
  • Zoroastrians believe in one God called Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord) who created the world. Their holy scripture is called the Avesta.
  • Nowruz is the Iranian New Year which is celebrated on March 21 in India by the Parsi community.
  • In India, Maharashtra has the highest Parsi population followed by Gujarat.
  • Zoroastrians (Parsis) are among the six religious communities notified as minority communities in India.
    • The other five are Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains.

Source: Indian Express

Striking a blow against Assam’s inclusive ethos

1. CONTEXT OF THE NEWS

Recently the Assam government promulgated a law mandating the Assamese language to be taught from Classes I to X in both public and private schools including the KendriyaVidyalayas.

This editorial discusses on how Assam's language law is indicative of a homogenised nationalism overtaking minority linguistic and cultural aspirations.

2. STATUS OF THE LAW

Current scope of the law

  • The Governor of Assam has already given a formal assent to the Cabinet’s decision.
  • The law however will not be applicable in Barak Valley, Bodoland Council and other Sixth Schedule areas, where Bengali, Bodo and other indigenous languageswill take precedence respectively, over Assamese.
  • The law has risen the spirits of ‘Assamese nationalists’, who demand the extension of the law to the exempted areas as well.
  • There is little debate over how the law will affect other communities like Misings, Deoris, Rabhas and the other smaller tribes and their mother tongues.

3. DATA AND POLITICS

3.1 Misusing statistical data for homogenization

  • Politicians have been using statistical data to construct a linguistic hierarchy and homogenisation in a region.
  • Such moves are motivated to construct and stabilise the regional political economic hegemonies.
  • The census-driven communal split of Hindi and Urdu in North India, which presumes Muslims to be Urdu speakers, while Hindus to be Hindi speakers, most evidently manifests the above idea.
  • This politicization has led to the marginalisation of other regional languages such as Magadhi, Awadhi, Bhojpuri, Garhwali which are now deemed as mere dialects of the Hindi language.
  • It is to be noted that these so-called dialects of Hindi language have their own rich literary and linguistic traditions.
  • The writer is of the view that this was a political demographic move to ensure dominance of Hindi and Hindi-Hindu elites at the national level.

3.2 Similar Exercise in Assam

  • A similar political demographic plot based on language is being hatched in Assam as well, where the census data is used to project a ‘danger’ to the Assamese language, of which the ‘infiltration’ of Bengali-speaking communities is considered to be the primary reason.
  • The number of speakers of Assamese in 2011 consensus was 48.38% of the population, while in 1971 consensus was 60.89%.
  • This shows a considerable decline in the number of Assamesespeakers in four decades.
  • However, upon a closer and empirical look one notes that  most tribal communities have their own mother tongues, while simultaneously speaking  Assamese not because of school education but due to the fact that Assamese is the dominant market language, especially in the Brahmaputra Valley.

4. CONCERS OF TRIBAL COMMUNITIES

4.1 Impact on tribal languages

  • The forced imposition of Assamese on tribal languages has had an adverse effect on the latter especially those tribal languages, which do not enjoy any constitutional protection.
  • The census data shows a steady decline in the number of speakers of tribal languages.
  • The Mising tribe saw an increase of 41.13% in the number of speakers in the 2001 Census while by 2011 census the numbers reduced to 14.28%. Similarly, the Deorisspeaker fell from 56.19% in the 2001 Census to 15.79% in 2011 census.
  • The Rabhas community have almost completely obliterated their language.
  • Other tribes such as the Sonowal-Kacharis and Tiwas have almost completely lost their languages.

4.2 Plight of tribal communities

  • Tribal communities have been demanding linguistic and territorial protection and attention from the Assam State Government for a long time.
  • The State Government of Assam, after a long struggle by the Mising community introduced the Mising Language as an additional subject in Classes 3 and 4 in the Mising-dominated areas through a gazette notification.
  • The Mising Language was also to be the medium of instruction at the primary level and other initiatives such as appointing Mising language teachers, translating books into Mising, and introduction of Mising textbooks were also planned.
  • By 1994, only 230 teachers were appointed after which the whole process came to a halt.
  • The clause of introducing Mising as the medium of instruction was never implemented.

4.3 Forced Homogenization

  • The attempts of forced homogenisation have always been resisted by the Tribal Communities.
  • The Protest of the Khasi along with other tribal communities against the Official Language Bill in 1960 led to the formation of Meghalaya.
  • The origin of the Bodo movement for autonomy also lie in the same bill.
  • Tribal communities has frequently highlighted that the discourse of ‘Assamese Nationalism’ has a very narrow and limited outlook with almost no scope for other communities.
  • Despite this negligence, tribal communities in Assam like Misings, Deoris, Rabhas, etc. have always supported the Assamese movement against the imposition of Bengali language or Hindi in Assam.
  • However, in return of their support to Assamese, these communities have found themselves consistently marginalised.
  • The State governments and the hegemonic forces in the region have always derecognised the rich linguistic and cultural heritage of these tribes.

4.4As a job requirement

  • In addition to the legislation in question, according to the Home Minister of Assam, the Assam Government is pondering over a separate legislation making the learning of Assamese language until matriculation, a mandatory condition for government jobs in Assam.
  • Such moves indicate precedence of a non-inclusive homogenised Assamese nationalism over inclusion of minority linguistic and cultural aspirations.
  • Legislations like this alienates the linguistic identities of various tribes of Assam like the Misings, Deoris and Rabhas, etc. and restricts the definition of ‘Axomiya’ to just the speakers of Assamese.

5. THE EFFECT OF CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT

  • During the course of anti-(CAA) movement in Assam, a new definition of 'Assamese indigenous' emerged, which was inclusive of tribal and other non-Assamese communities and was based on domicile rather than language alone.
  • Demands regarding protection of indigenous land, culture and languages was raised during the struggle.
  • The anti-(CAA) movement could have been a point of departure in the ‘Assamese Nationalism’ discourse.
  • The government's decision to make Assamese language compulsory in schools has weakened heterogeneous aspirations and anti-hegemonic build-up in the anti-CAA movement in Assam.

6. CONCLUSION

The tribal communities of Assam acknowledge the threats posed by infiltration to the native languages and culture but they are also apprehensive about the Assamese hegemony and homogeneity.

This law will only further increase the marginalisation of these communities and fuelling ethnic tensions and triggering social conflicts once again.

The progressive sections in Assam must overcome the politics of fear and work towards a more inclusive ethos of Assam.

Shuchi Scheme

Context:

The Karnataka government has not allocated funds to the Shuchi Scheme (a menstrual hygiene project), in its budget for 2020-21.

  • Now, the distribution of sanitary napkins has come to a halt as no funds have been allocated.
  • The State Budget has detected Karnataka had not made allocation for ‘Shuchi’, which is now affecting over 17 lakh school and college girls.

About the scheme:

  • The scheme was introduced by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in 2012.
  • The scheme aims to promote menstrual hygiene among adolescent girls in the age group of 10-19 year in rural areas.
  • Earlier the scheme was Centrally-sponsored however, the Centre asked States to take over the scheme from 2015-16.
  • Every year, the State government has been spending a little over Rs 49 crore on the scheme. It was aimed at instilling awareness about menstrual hygiene even among girls in rural areas.

Objectives:

  • To increase awareness among adolescent girls on Menstrual Hygiene
  • To increase access to and use of high-quality sanitary napkins to adolescent girls in rural areas.
  • To ensure safe disposal of Sanitary Napkins in an environmentally friendly manner.

Coverage:

  • The scheme was initially implemented in 2011 in 107 selected districts in 17 States wherein a pack of six sanitary napkins called “Freedays” was provided to rural adolescent girls for Rs. 6.
  • From 2014 onwards, funds are now being provided to States/UTs under the National Health Mission for decentralized procurement of sanitary napkins packs for provision to rural adolescent girls at a subsidized rate of Rs 6 for a pack of 6 napkins.
  • The ASHA will continue to be responsible for the distribution, receiving an incentive @ Rs 1 per pack sold and a free pack of napkins every month for her own personal use. She will convene monthly meetings at the Aanganwadi Centres or other such platforms for adolescent girls to focus on the issue of menstrual hygiene and also serve as a platform to discuss other relevant SRH issues.

Source: The Hindu

Protest Against Three Ordinances

Context:

Farmers in Punjab and Haryana and other parts of the country have been protesting against three ordinances promulgated by the Central government.

  • The government has introduced three Bills to replace these ordinances and recently Lok Sabha passed these bills.

Three ordinances:

  • The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020
  • The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020
  • The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020

Details:

  • Indian farmers are protesting against all three ordinances.
  • Their objections are mostly against the provisions of the first. And their concerns are mainly about sections relating to “trade area”, “trader”, “dispute resolution” and “market fee” in the first ordinance. 

Trade area:

  • Section 2(m) of The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020 defines “trade area” as any area or location, place of production, collection and aggregation including:
    • farm gates; factory premises; warehouses; silos; cold storages; or any other structures or places, from where the trade of farmers’ produce may be undertaken in the territory of India.
  • The definition does not, however, include “the premises, enclosures and structures constituting:
    • Physical boundaries of principal market yards, sub-market yards and market sub-yards managed and run by the market committees formed under each state APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) Act”.
    • It also excludes “private market yards, private market sub-yards, direct marketing collection centres, and private farmer-consumer market yards managed by persons holding licences or any warehouses, silos, cold storages or other structures notified as markets or deemed markets under each State APMC Act in force in India.

Concerns:

  • The existing mandis established under APMC Acts have been excluded from the definition of trade area under the new legislation.
  • As per the government, the creation of an additional trade area outside of mandis will provide farmers with the freedom of choice to conduct trade in their produce.
  • Farmers mentioned that this provision will confine APMC mandis to their physical boundaries and give a free hand to big corporate buyers.

Trader:

  • Section 2(n) of the first ordinance defines a “trader” as “a person who buys farmers’ produce by way of inter-State trade or intra-State trade or a combination thereof, either for self or on behalf of one or more persons for the purpose of wholesale trade, retail, end-use, value addition, processing, manufacturing, export, consumption or for such other purpose”.
    • Thus, it includes processor, exporter, wholesaler, miller, and retailer.
  • According to the Ministry of the Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, “Any trader with a PAN card can buy the farmers’ produce in the trade area.”
    • A trader can operate in both an APMC mandi and a trade area.
      • However, for trading in the mandi, the trader would require a licence/registration as provided for in the State APMC Act. In the present mandi system, arhatiyas (commission agents) have to get a licence to trade in a mandi.

Concern:

  • Arhatiyas have credibility as their financial status is verified during the licence approval process. “But how can a farmer trust a trader under the new law?

The provision on ‘market fee’ :

  • Section 6 states that “no market fee or cess or levy, under any State APMC Act or any other State law, shall be levied on any farmer or trader or electronic trading and transaction platform for trade and commerce in scheduled farmers’ produces in a trade area.
  • As per the government, this provision will reduce the cost of the transaction and will benefit both the farmers and the traders.
  • Under the existing system, such charges in states like Punjab come to around 8.5% — a market fee of 3%, a rural development charge of 3% and the arhatiya’s commission of about 2.5%.

Concern:

  • This provision does not provide a level playing field to APMC mandis. 
  • The provision of dispute resolution under Section 8 does not sufficiently safeguard farmers’ interests.
  • In case of a dispute arising out of a transaction between the farmer and a trader, the parties may seek a mutually acceptable solution through conciliation by filing an application to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate. 
    • The Sub-Divisional Magistrate shall refer such dispute to a Conciliation Board to be appointed by him for facilitating the binding settlement of the dispute.
  • Farmers fear the proposed system of conciliation can be misused against them. They say the ordinance does not allow farmers to approach a civil court.

Source: Indian Express

Human Capital Index

Context:

World Bank has released the annual Human Capital Index. The Index benchmarks key components of human capital across countries.

About the index:

  • The 2020 Human Capital Index update includes health and education data for 174 countries – covering 98% of the world’s population – up to March 2020.
    • The index provides a pre-pandemic baseline on the health and education of children, with the biggest strides made in low-income countries.
    • The analysis shows that pre-pandemic, most countries had made steady progress in building the human capital of children, with the biggest strides made in low-income countries.
  • Despite this progress, and even before the effects of the pandemic, a child born in a typical country could expect to achieve just 56% of their potential human capital, relative to a benchmark of complete education and full health.
  • The pandemic puts at risk the decade’s progress in building human capital, including the improvements in health, survival rates, school enrollment, and reduced stunting.
  • The economic impact has been particularly deep for women, poor families, and COVID leaving many vulnerable to food insecurity and poverty.

Key findings:

  • India has been ranked at the 116th position in the latest edition. However, India’s score increased to 0.49 from 0.44 in 2018. 
    • In 2019, India had raised “serious reservations” over the Human Capital Index, wherein India was ranked 115 out of 157 countries. This year India finds itself at 116th from among 174 countries.
  • The Index provides a basis on which the government can prioritize and a dimension to support human capital. 
  • Data also shows disruptions to essential health services for women and children, with many children missing out on crucial vaccinations.
  • Eighty million children are missing out on essential vaccinations. More than a billion children have been out of school due to Covid-19. And that could lose as much as USD 10 trillion in lifetime earnings because of the reduced learning, the school closing and the potential for dropping out of school, and the disproportionate impact on girls.

Impact of COVID:

  • The coronavirus has deepened inequality globally, in addition to increasing poverty and distress. 
  • Due to the COVID, more than 1 billion children have been out of school and could lose out half a year of schooling.
  • The impact of Covid-19, on developing countries particularly has been hard, there is the collapse of the formal and informal market, and also there is a very limited social safety net. The World Bank estimates a 12% drop in employment.
  • There has been a major decline in remittances and total income is going down by 11 or 12%. All this is likely to have a disproportionate effect on the poor and on women.

Source: Hindustan Times

Scheme for Health Workers

Context:

The ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package insurance scheme for health workers fighting COVID-19’ has now been extended for another 180 days.

  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has collaborated with the New India Assurance (NIA) Company Limited for providing the insurance amount based on the guidelines prepared for the scheme.

About the scheme:

  • In March 2020 the scheme was announced for 90 days and was extended for 90 days (up to Sept. 25).
  • It is a central sector scheme and provides an insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh to healthcare providers, including community health workers, who may have to be in direct contact and care of COVID-19 patients and therefore at risk of being infected.
  • It also includes accidental loss of life on account of contracting the infection.
    • It covers private hospital staff/retired/volunteer/local urban bodies/contract/daily wage/ad-hoc/outsourced staff requisitioned by States/Central hospitals/autonomous hospitals of Central/States/UTs, AIIMS & INIs/hospitals of Central Ministries drafted for COVID-19 related responsibilities.
  • The insurance is over and above any other insurance cover being availed of by the beneficiary.
  • There is no age limit for this scheme and individual enrolment is not required. The entire amount of premium is being borne by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
  • The benefit/claim is in addition to the amount payable under any other policies.

PM Garib Kalyan Package:

  • It was announced by the Finance Minister to reduce the loss caused by the outbreak of Covid-19.

Benefits:

  • For Health worker: An Insurance Cover of Rs. 50 Lakh for any health worker in government hospitals and healthcare centres who are treating Covid-19 patients.
    • These health workers include Safai karamcharis, ward-boys, nurses, ASHA workers, paramedics, technicians, doctors, and specialists.
    • All government health centres, wellness centres, and hospitals of Centres, as well as States, would be covered under this scheme.  
  • For poor people: The government provides free 5 kg wheat or rice and 1 kg of preferred pulses for 80 crore poor people for the next three months.
  • For farmers: The Government to front-load Rs. 2,000 paid to farmers in the first week of April under the existing PM Kisan Yojana which will benefit 8.7 crore farmers.
  • For wage earners in organized sectors: The PM Garib Kalyan Package also helps the Wage-earners who are earning below Rs. 15,000 per month in businesses that are having less than 100 workers.
    • The wage workers who are at risk of losing their employment will be provided with 24 % of their monthly wages into their PF accounts for the next three months which would prevent disruption in their employment.

Source: The Hindu

The Commission on Status of Women (CSW)

Context:

India has been elected as a member of the Commission on Status of Women (CSW).

  • India beats China to become a member of the UN's Commission on Status of Women.

Details:

  • Duration: India will be a member for four years from 2021 to 2025.
  • It is a ringing endorsement of India's commitment to promoting gender equality and women's empowerment in all the endeavors.
  • India, Afghanistan, and China had contested the elections to the Commission on Status of Women. While India and Afghanistan won the ballot among the 54 members, China failed to cross the half-way mark. 
  • The CSW is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The Commission on Status of Women (CSW):

  • CSW is a body of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). 
  • CSW is a functional commission of the ECOSOC, it was established by ECOSOC resolution 11(II) of 21 June 1946. 
  • 45 member states of the United Nations serve as members of the Commission at any one time.
  • It promotes women’s rights, highlights the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and helps in shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The United Nations Economic and Social Council:

  • It is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations, responsible for coordinating the economic and social fields of the organization, specifically in regards to the 15 specialized agencies, the eight functional commissions, and the five regional commissions under its jurisdiction.
  • ECOSOC serves as the central forum for discussing international economic and social issues and formulating policy.
  • In addition to a rotating membership of 54 UN member states, over 1,600 nongovernmental organizations have consultative status with the Council to participate in the work of the United Nations.
  • Headquarters: New York, United States

Source: The Hindu

The Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework

Context:

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched the Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF) 2.0, along with the ‘Streets for People Challenge’ under the Smart Cities Mission.

  • Objective: To provide a clear roadmap for cities towards combating Climate Change while planning and implementing their actions, including investments.

The need for the Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework:

  • In the last decade, an increasing frequency of cyclones, floods, heatwaves, water scarcity, and drought-like conditions have had adverse impacts on many cities.
  • Such extreme events and risks cause loss of life as well as impact economic growth.
  • In this context, the CSCAF initiative intends to inculcate a climate-sensitive approach to urban planning and development in India.

Details:

  • This assessment framework was developed after a review of existing frameworks and assessment approaches adopted throughout the world followed by a series of extensive consultative processes with more than 26 organizations.
  • Implementation: The Climate Centre for Cities under the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) is supporting MoHUA in the implementation of CSCAF.
  • The framework has 28 indicators across five categories namely:
    • Energy and Green Buildings,
    • Urban Planning, Green Cover & Biodiversity,
    • Mobility and Air Quality,
    • Water Management and
    • Waste Management.
  • Currently, cities face many challenges in providing safe, affordable, and equitable modes of transport that enable social distancing.
  • Limited public transport options, narrow, crowded sidewalks particularly in the market places and deterioration of mental health, are key issues that must be addressed on priority. The pedestrianization of streets for walking and creating public spaces is a crucial step towards mitigating these issues.
  • Cities around the world, such as Bogota, Berlin, and Milan have responded by transforming streets for walking and cycling, to ensure safe mobility during COVID-19.

The Streets for People Challenge:

  • Objective: To inspire cities to create walking-friendly and vibrant streets through quick, innovative, and low-cost measures.

Details:

  • All cities participating in the challenge shall be encouraged to use the ‘test-learn-scale’ approach to initiate both, flagship and neighborhood walking interventions.
  • It is the response to the need for making cities more walkable and pedestrian-friendly.
  • The Challenge builds on the advisory issued by MoHUA for the holistic planning for pedestrian-friendly market spaces.
  • It will support cities to develop a unified vision of streets for people in consultation with stakeholders and citizens.
  • Adopting a participatory approach, cities will be guided to launch their own design competitions to gather innovative ideas from professionals for quick, innovative, and low-cost tactical solutions.

Source: PIB

Smothering the housing rights of the urban poor

CONTEXT OF THE NEWS

A three Judge bench of Supreme Court directed State authorities to remove the thousands of slum dwellings along the railway tracks in the national capital within a period of three months.

ALL ABOUT THE CASE

  • An affidavit was filed by additional Divisional Railway Manager at DRM Office of Northern Railway about the presence of jhuggies’ in Delhi along the 140 km route length of track in the region of NCT of Delhi.
  • This is the region where the railway tracks take off in different directions and also include a ring connecting the takeoff of all these routes
  • About 70 km route length of track is affected by large jhuggie jhopri’ clusters existing in close vicinity of tracks.
  • These clusters have about 48,000 numbers of jhuggies in the region adjacent to railway tracks.
  • Earlier a report was filed by the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA), in which it sought direction to Railways to present a time-bound plan for solid waste management in the northern region, starting with Delhi and its vicinity.

SC VERDICT:

  • Made comprehensive plan for removal of jhuggies be made and executed in a phased manner.
  • Remove the jhuggi jhopri clusters in the railway safety zone within a period of three months.
  • No Court shall grant any stay with respect to removal of the encroachments and in case any such interim order is granted ‘that shall not be effective’.
  • No interference, political or otherwise, should be there
  • The action taken should be reported to the Court within a period of one month.

A FLAWED ORDER

  • The orders for the demolition of the informal settlements of poor urban residents have raised serious legal questions.
  • The order has been criticized for ignoring the principles of natural justice, judicial precedents on the right to shelter, and state policies governing evictions.

Violation of Natural Justice:

  • The decision of the demolition of slums (jhuggi jhopris) has been taken by the apex court without even hearing the affected party, the jhuggi dwellers. It is the violation of principles of natural justice and due process.
  • The verdict was passed in the long-running case, M.C. Mehta vs. Union of India & Ors., regarding pollution in Delhi and was also in response to a report by Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority for the National Capital Region on the piling up of garbage along railway tracks.
  • It is important to note that the case or the report do not concerns itself with the legality of informal settlements and still the Court made an unconvincing connection between the piling of garbage and the presence of slums and gave an eviction order without giving the residents a fair hearing.

Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN)

  • It is an independent organization based in New Delhi, India, works for the recognition, defence, promotion, and realization of the human rights to adequate housing and land, which involve gaining a safe and secure place for all individuals and communities, especially marginalized communities, to live in peace and dignity.
  • It is registered as an Indian charitable trust works on research, education, and advocacy related to housing and land rights.

Right to livelihood and shelter

  • The following two cases proved that why the present order of the Supreme Court is opposite to its long-standing jurisprudence on the right to livelihood and shelter upheld in various judgments:
    • Olga Tellis & Ors vs. Bombay Municipal Corporation & Ors (1985): In this landmark decision which concerns pavement-dwellers, a five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court stated that the right to life also includes the ‘right to livelihood’ and that no eviction shall take place without notice and hearing those affected.
    • Chameli Singh vs. State Of U.P. (1995): In this case Supreme Court recognized the ‘right to shelter’ as a component of the right to life under Article 21 and freedom of movement under Article 19(1)(e).

Policies and case laws on slum eviction and rehabilitation

  • Sudama Singh & Others vs Government Of Delhi & Anr. (2010): High Court of Delhi held that prior to any eviction, a survey must be conducted and those evicted should have a right to “meaningful engagement” with the relocation plans.
    • The procedure laid down in this judgment formed the basis for the Delhi Slum and JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy, 2015.
  • Ajay Maken & Ors. vs Union Of India & Ors. (2019): This case was about the demolition of Shakur Basti on railway land. Here Delhi High Court invoked the idea of the ‘Right to the City’ to uphold the housing rights of slum dwellers.
  • This case led to the framing of a Draft Protocol for the 2015 Policy on how meaningful engagement with residents should be conducted. However, neither the case laws nor the state policies were referred to by the Court.
  • So, the Court also failed to consider the policies and case laws on slum eviction and rehabilitation in Delhi.

Ignoring Humanitarian Moral grounds

  • Supreme Court’s order of removing lakhs of people and making them homeless came amid the health and economic emergency is callous and unconscionable.
  • The pandemic has already makes urban informal livelihoods more vulnerable. It is the reason UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing has called on member-states to declare an end to forced evictions.
  • As per a report of the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), over 20,000 people were displaced in 45 incidents of forced evictions in March and July, when India was under lockdown.
  • Over the last three years, over five lakh people have been evicted, most often for various “city beautification” projects.

HOUSING IS A RIGHT, NOT A COMMODITY

  • Housing is the basis of stability and security for an individual or family. It is the centre of social, emotional and sometimes economic lives.
  • Increasingly viewed as a commodity, housing is most importantly a human right. Under international law, to be adequately housed means having secure tenure not having to worry about being evicted or having ones home or lands taken away.
  • In its most recent report to the UN Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur explores the financialization of housing and its detrimental impact on human rights, in particular, the right to housing.
  • The Special Rapporteur called for governments to ensure markets serve housing needs rather than investment priorities, and reminds states that they are first and foremost accountable to human rights.

CONCLUSION

The courts are admitting Public Interest Litigation (PIL), relying on reports of court-appointed committees and ignoring the specific issues. These are ignoring the specific issues and without even hearing the affected populations ordering the demolition of slums. This represents a dangerous turn of PIL jurisprudence whereby its procedural relaxations are used to deny principles of natural justice to the most marginalised groups. The promise of the right to housing offered by Sudama Singh and Ajay Maken is now being undone by an insidious and legally dubious order that pre-empts other courts from giving orders to stop the eviction. However, residents need to employ a combination of political and legal strategies to protect their housing rights and ensure that no eviction or rehabilitation is conducted without their prior informed consent.

Source: The Hindu

Five Star Villages Scheme

Context:

The Department of Posts has launched a scheme called Five Star Villages.

Objective: To ensure universal coverage of flagship postal schemes in rural areas of the country.

About the Scheme:

  • The scheme seeks to bridge the gaps in public awareness and reach of postal products and services, especially in interior villages.