Comprehensive News Analysis – 27 August 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. Indians spend 8 times more on private hospitals than on governmentone’s.

2. Women can enter Haji Ali sanctum, rules HC Bench

3. Government charts road map for Prime MinistersBaloch policy

4. MEA terms Pakistan as prime perpetrator of terror

C. GS3 Related:

1. Feud over Bt cotton licensing gives birth to industry body

2. Centre likely to announce labour sops ahead of strike

3. New norms on bonds to widen investor pool

4. Centre sets up panel to suggest steps to promote card payments

D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials : A Quick Glance

The Hindu

1. Surrogacy regulation is long overdue

2. Weighing the burden of proof

The Indian Express

1. Taming TB

2. Draft surrogacy bill

PIB

1. Task Force to prepare action Olympic Games

2. Indian Warships Visit Port Victoria (26 – 28 august 16)

3. Ministry of Railways Promoting Railway Related Education in The Country in Collaboration With Premier Educational Institutions

4. Ministry of women and Child Development launches POCSO e-Button for children to file complaints of sexual abuse.

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
H. Archives

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Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here today folks!

 

B. GS2 Related


1. Indians spend 8 times more on private hospitals than on governmentone’s.

Topic: Healthcare

Category: SocialSectors

Key points:

  • Indians spent eight times more on private hospitals and twice as much on transporting patients compared to costs in government hospitals, according to the National Health Accounts (NHA) Estimates for the financial year 2013-2014.
  • The data was recently released by the Health Ministry after almost a decade.The NHA monitors the flow of resources in the country’s health system and provides details of health finances.
  • The estimates say that households spent Rs. 64,628 crore on private hospitals compared to just Rs. 8,193 crore on government hospitals. A total of Rs. 18,149 crore was spent on patient transportation services, like use of an ambulance.
  • Considering all revenue sources, including government funding, expenditure on private hospitals — Rs. 88,552 crore — was double that on government hospitals — Rs. 41,797 crore.
  • India spent a total of Rs. 4.2 lakh crore on healthcare in 2013-14 at 4 per cent of the GDP, of which Rs. 3.06 lakh crore or 73 per cent came from households. Public spending is abysmally low, constituting around 29 per cent of the total health expenditure — 1 per cent of GDP. There has been a marginal improvement from 2004-05, when the share of government spending was just 22 per cent
  • Preventive care gets just 9.6 per cent of the total money that flows in India’s healthcare system. The current expenditure on preventive care is estimated at Rs 40,627 crore. All the government-funded national health programmes such as the National Disease Control Programmes are covered under this category.
  • Indians’ out-of-pocket (OOP) expenditure on healthcare, which is the money individuals pay on their own rather than being covered by insurance or health benefits, has been estimated to be around Rs. 2.9 lakh crore or 69 per cent of total health expenditure (THE) in the country. This is alarmingly high and India stands among the highest in this metric worldwide.
  • Half of all the household money that is spent on healthcare — around Rs. 1.5 lakh crore — goes to pharmacies. This includes chemists, community and independent pharmacies.

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2. Women can enter Haji Ali sanctum, rules HC Bench

Topic: Fundamental rights

Category: Polity

Key points:

  • In a land mark verdict, Bombay High Court ruled that Women should be permitted to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the Haji Ali Dargah at par with men, allowing the entry of women up to the mazar in the revered Sufi dargah in south central Mumbai.
  • The court was hearing a public interest litigation petition filed by Dr. NoorjehanSafiaNiaz and ZakiaSoman, co-founders of the Bharatiya Muslim MahilaAndolan.
  • Setting a precedent in allowing women to enter religious places, the court said that the ban order by the Trust contravened Article 14 (equality before law), 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth) and 25 (freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion) of the Constitution.
  • The courts said that It is also the duty of the State to ensure the safety and security of the women at such places. The State is equally under an obligation to ensure that the fundamental rights are protected and that the right of access into the sanctum sanctorum of the Haji Ali Dargah is not denied to women.
  • The Bench said that The Trust is always at liberty to take steps to prevent sexual harassment of women, by having separate queues for men and women, as was done earlier. However it said that The trust cannot enforce a ban which is contrary to the fundamental rights of the Constitution of India. The objects of the Haji Ali Dargah Trust are in respect of purely secular activities of a non-religious nature, such as giving loans, education, medical facilities, etc. Neither the objects nor the scheme vests any power in the trustees to determine matters of religion, on the basis of which entry of women is being restricted.
  • The order read: “The Trust has no power to alter or modify the mode or manner of religious practices of any individual or any group. Admittedly, the Haji Ali Dargah Trust is a public charitable trust. It is open to people all over the world, irrespective of their caste, creed or sex, etc.”
  • Women’s activists, though, see this as a huge step forward. Nandita Shah, co-director, Akshara Foundation, which works for the empowerment of women said that This will be a beginning and it would not stop here. All the discriminatory aspects within the religion need to be done away with. She said that Sanction for women to enter Sabarimala temple would be the next step.


3. Government charts road map for Prime MinistersBaloch policy

Topic: Defence

Category: India’s Neighbourhood

Key points:

  • India is discussing concrete steps to put its new policy on raising human rights violations by Pakistan forces in Balochistan into place, and the External Affairs Minister has been consulting former diplomats on its foreign policy implications
  • Measures under discussion range from enlisting Indian embassies and missions worldwide to raise the issue of rights violations by Pakistan, easing visa restrictions on Balochis visiting India on the lines of the Cabinet’s recent notification on facilities extended to persecuted minorities from neighbouring countries, as well as allowing them more “political” space in India.
  • MEA will also decide whether the Baloch issue will be raised at the U.N. General Assembly this September, even as Pakistan says it intends to raise the violence in Kashmir at the U.N.
  • SushmaSwaraj held a meeting with retired diplomats who have served as national security advisors, to discuss the PM’s remarks on Balochistan, as well as the likely impact on ties with Pakistan and China, given that Beijing’s infrastructure projects in Balochistan could be affected

 

4. MEA terms Pakistan as prime perpetrator of terror

Topic: Pakistan

Category: India’s Neighbourhood

Key points:

  • India said the South Asian region is “acutely” aware of Islamabad’s sponsorship of cross border terror. The comments from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) came even as it confirmed that Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar has written to his Pakistan counterpart for talks, terming Pakistan the “prime perpetrator” of terrorism.
  • Foreign Secretary has conveyed in his letter that the Government of India seeks result-oriented dialogue on the subject. As Pakistan is aware the intended outcome at issue is the early vacation of Pakistan of its illegal occupation of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir
  • However, Pakistan on Friday reached out to the international community seeking mediation on Kashmir and said India did not respond to its proposal for holding talks on Kashmir.
  • The announcement came amidst gloomy prospects for the regional grouping as Finance Minister ArunJaitley did not attend the SAARC Finance Minister-level meeting which took place in Islamabad on Friday.
  • India might aggressively pursue the issue of PoK at the January 7-9, 2017 PravasiBharatiya Divas where some participants from PoK are likely to participate.

 

C. GS3 Related


  1. Feud over Bt cotton licensing gives birth to industry body

Topic: Bio Technology

Category: Science and Technology

Key points:

  • Several multinational seed companies in India have grouped to form a new seed association, Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) —which marks a split among seed companies engaged in the research and sale of genetically modified seeds in India.
  • Differences among seed companies that have come to boil over the past year, on still-evolving government rules on how contracts, royalties and intellectual property agreements ought to be drawn between seed companies that held licenses over certain technology and those who were recipients.
  • The dispute majorly deals with Bt cotton, the only transgenic crop commercially permitted in India. Since 2002, when Bt cotton became legal, it has benefited 75 lakh farmers and buoyed the cotton industry from 450 crore in 2002 toRs. 4,000 crore in 2015, according to independent estimates. This has been amidst reports on pests — which Bt cotton technology targeted — becoming resistant, and a near-dominance of Bt cotton-tech supplied by Monsanto Mahyco Biotech Ltd. (MMBL), even though at least eight other alternative Bt technologies have been developed by other Indian partnerships.
  • The FSII includes multinational companies such as Monsanto India, Bayer Crop Science, DuPont Pioneer, Dow Agrosciences and Syngenta, and Indian companies such as Mahyco and Namdhari seeds, which are involved in developing hybrid seeds for rice, wheat, jowar, bajra, cotton, maize and several vegetables.
  • Many of these companies, including Monsanto India, were once part of the National Seed Association of India (NSAI), another industry group. Differences emerged after NSAI earlier this year said Monsanto and its technology partner Mahyco ought to be compensating farmers for losses that farmers registered in Punjab due to damage to Bt cotton.
  • Moreover, NSAI had supported a controversial order — passed in May by the agriculture ministry but later withdrawn — that said seed technology companies were bound to license out their know-how to whoever requested it, for a fee that didn’t exceed 25 lakh.
  • Moreover, NSAI has said, companies were bound to reduce their tech fees every year and couldn’t charge seed companies if they didn’t meet certain performance parameters. Crucially, NSAI holds that legally genetically-modified seed varieties aren’t patentable in India and so, by extension, MMBL couldn’t enforce a patent on its Bt cotton technology.
  • The 49 seed companies, who have licensed Bollgard technologies from MMBL, now provide farmers with 95% of the cotton in India. Monsanto is separately fighting court battles with Nuziveedu Seeds, a former licensee, on royalty payments.

 

2. Centre likely to announce labour sops ahead of strike

Topic: Labour reforms

Category: Economy

  • With less than a week to go for a nationwide one-day strike called by trade unions, the Centre is likely to announce the acceptance of a few of their demands, including granting social security benefits toanganwadiworkers, raising the minimum pension to Rs.2,000 a month for EPF members and revising the minimum wage in the next few days.
  • The Centre has agreed in-principle to provide social security benefits to around 95 lakhanganwadi The government  will be bringing in necessary labour law amendments to extend provident fund and Employees’ State Insurance Corporation benefits to anganwadi workers.
  • The Labour Ministry is also likely to consider an increase in minimum pension from Rs.1,000 per month to Rs.2,000 per month
  • Centre will also expedite the process of increasing minimum wages for the organised workers. The central advisory board on minimum wages, headed by Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, is likely to meet next week to discuss the possibilities of increasing the minimum wages of workers to Rs.10,350 per month, as demanded by RSS-affiliated BharatiyaMazdoorSangh (BMS). At present, the minimum monthly income for workers varies between Rs.3,500 and Rs.10,000 in different states..

 

3. New norms on bonds to widen investor pool

Topic: capital Markets

Category: Economy

  • The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) proposal to allow banks to issue Masala Bonds is a good move as would help widen the investor pool and deepen the market for bond issuance, according to Fitch Ratings.
  • Moody’s Investors Service, the credit rating business of Moody’s Corporation, also said that the RBI’s new guidelines on corporate bonds will boost liquidity in the bond market, although there was more to be done.
  • according to Fitch Ratings, The Reserve Bank of India’s proposal to allow banks to issue Masala Bonds — rupee-denominated bonds issued in offshore capital markets — would widen the investor pool and ultimately deepen the market for Additional Tier 1 (AT1) and Tier 2 (T2) bond issuance.
  • This would ease a major constraint for banks in accessing new AT1 and T2 capital in the context of the limited size of the domestic investor pool relative to the scale of the capital needed.
  • Moody’s investor arm said that The introduction of an electronic dealing platform for repo in corporate bonds and the advancement of legal measures to allow corporate bonds to be included in the RBI Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF) will foster corporate bond market liquidity, and potentially attract more diverse investors and issuers, thereby deepening the market.” However it also said other hurdles will need to be overcome to enhance liquidity and increase the size of the corporate bond market.

 

4. Centre sets up panel to suggest steps to promote card payments

Topic: Money Markets

Category: Economy

  • With an aim to discourage cash transactions, the Finance Ministry has set up a high-level committee to suggest steps to promote card payments through incentives like tax rebates and cash back schemes.
  • The 11-member committee, headed by former Finance Secretary Ratan P Watal, will recommend various measures to incentivize transactions through cards and digital means, e.g., through tax rebates/incentives, introduction of cash back/lottery.
  • It will also study feasibility of creating a payments history of all card/digital payments and ensure that merchants/consumers can leverage the data to access “instant, low cost micro-credit” through digital means and create necessary linkage between the payment history and credit information.
  • The panel will also study and recommend need for changes, if any, in the regulatory mechanism under various laws, relevant for the purpose of promotion of payments by digital modes.

 

D. GS4 Related


E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance

 

The Hindu


  1. Surrogacy regulation is long overdue

Topic: Health

Category: Governance

Key points:

  • A comprehensive law to regulate surrogacy has been long overdue
  • Over the years, India has become a global hub for the practice of women being contracted to carry others’ babies, usually for a payment. While estimates of the size of the surrogacy market vary wildly, it is one in which the woman carrying an embryo has been in a grey zone, with uncertain legal and compensatory protection.
  • The Union Cabinet has taken the first step towards regulation by approving the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, but it has many problematic provisions. The proposed law, in line with the practice in several other countries, says commercial surrogacy will be prohibited.
  • However, in order that “altruistic surrogacy” is available for the benefit of infertile couples who are presumably desperate for a child that is genetically theirs, the Bill allows Indian couples, who must have been married for five years without a child, to take the help of surrogates, but without any payment. Only close relatives can be ‘surrogate mothers’, and oncein a lifetime. Yet,  it bars foreigners, homosexual couples, unmarried couples and single people from taking the  help of an altruistic surrogate — leaving it open to questions about discrimination and inequality.
  • The question is whether surrogacy is as big an evil as female foeticide. How does it suddenly become acceptable if the surrogate mother is a relative and uncompensated, besides probably being coerced, as women often are in intra-family decision-making? These are questions that will remain even if the Bill is passed. Such a dilemma of statelessness has been sought to be prevented with the bar on foreigners. But given India’s failure to administer the ban on organ donations and sex determination tests, it is anybody’s guess how effective the ban on commercial surrogacy will be. The sex determination ban is a principled one, for it underlines intolerance for gender discrimination.
  • The question is whether surrogacy is as big an evil as female foeticide. If it indeed is — and the jury is still out on this — why not ban surrogacy altogether? How does it suddenly become acceptable if the surrogate mother is a relative and uncompensated, besides probably being coerced, as women often are in intra-family decision-making? These are questions that will remain even if the Bill is passed.


2 Weighing the burden of proof

Topic: Corruption

Category: Judiciary and civil services

  • The case of the former Coal Secretary, H.C. Gupta, has raised an important debate. The issues involved in the prevention of corruption are more complex than an officer’s personal integrity
  • Union Coal Secretary H.C. Gupta,told the trial judge recently that he did not have the money to hire a lawyer. He also turned down an offer of state aid made by the judge. In all likelihood, he will argue his own case
  • Gupta is obviously outraged at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) action. the formal charge sheet against him by the CBI do not allege that he ever obtained any gratification for showing favour to the private companies that had received licences to operate a few coal mines. The  charge sheet indicts him only as part of a ‘conspiracy’ to confer undue favour on private parties, and which caused loss to the public exchequer. This implied that he was negligent, and there was no application of mind on his part when the screening committee headed by him decided to examine the licence applications in question. There is no recorded evidence, however, that he dissented from the majority opinion which favoured the grant of licences to some firms.
  • The conclusions of his committee were purely recommendatory in nature. That the final authority here was the Coal Minister, who, at that point of time, was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and that he was not prosecuted by the investigating agency, is not very relevant to Mr. Gupta’s defence.
  • Interestingly, what many of us would look upon as a moral or constructive civil liability comes to be defined as ‘criminal misconduct’ under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, which was enacted to lend more deterrence to what was being considered for long as a weak and toothless — the 1947 law against public servant corruption.
  • Several judgments over the years had exposed the lacunae in the 1947 Act, which enabled the corrupt to get off scot-free on being given a benefit of the doubt.
  • Significant was the Supreme Court observation in M. Narayanan Nambiar v. State of Kerala, that under Section 5(1) (d) of the 1947 Act, an element of abuse of office was a necessary ingredient while trying to establish that a public servant used corrupt or illegal means to obtain pecuniary benefits.
  • And ‘abuse of office’ was too vague an expression that let many corrupt officers off the hook. In several other judgments on the subject, courts had narrowed down the circumstances under which a public servant could be prosecuted for corruption. This is the background to the promulgation of the 1988 Act, which, under Section 13(1) (d), laid down five forms of criminal misconduct by a public servant
  • Finding that some officers were giving in too easily to corrupt demands from above — and did not do anything to resist such demands under the belief that as long as they were not beneficiaries, no criminal liability was liable to be attached to them — the government decided that such kind of abetment of graft in high places had to be penalized.
  • This accounts specifically for Section 13(1) (d) (iii), according to which, a public servant commits the offence of criminal misconduct if he, “while holding office as a public servant, obtains for any person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage without any public interest”.
  • The tirade of the IAS and several senior servants belonging to other superior services against Section 13(1) (d) (iii) is on the ground that the burden of proof in criminal cases, which normally rests with the prosecution, shifts here to the public servant arraigned by law, and the latter had to prove to the satisfaction of the court that he did not at all benefit from the transaction under probe.
  • This incidentally is germane to the defense of H.C. Gupta. This criticism is not true, although on a superficial reading it appears as if the prosecution had no responsibility at all to establish the guilt of an accused.
  • Several decisions related to the 1947 Act and expert views on the 1988 Act clarify that court presumption of any accused’s guilt contemplated here is not automatic. Such presumption follows only after the prosecution had done its duty of presenting evidence that the accused had “obtained or (has) agreed to obtain for himself or for any other person gratification (other than legal remuneration)”.
  • Also, Section 20 of the 1988 Act, which deals with the circumstances under which a court can raise a presumption against an accused is specific to habitual offenders and not to others. Besides, the presumption is one of law and not facts. These interpretations alone should allay the misgivings and fears of an honest civil servant that he would be hauled up for transparent decisions which stand the risk of going wrong and causing loss to the exchequer.
  • An amendment to the PC Act of 1988 is before a select committee in Parliament. It deals with Section 13(1) (d). It is just possible that this subsection may be eventually substantially diluted or wholly deleted. If this happens, the logical question would be one of how to introduce deterrence against a civil servant who, though honest, would like to just drift and permit himself to cave in against a dishonest Minister.
  • This is a serious issue that negates the basic concept of civil service accountability. This would actually promote the tendency of the executive to choose weak civil servants who may be personally honest but are known to be extremely timid, and from whom no resistance at all to dishonest decisions could be expected. The malady is particularly prevalent in some States where dishonesty is the order of the day.
  • The popular impression now is that in our country there is no fear of the anti-corruption law on the part of government officials. When this is the hard reality on the ground, concerned citizens would do well to collectively protest against any dilution of anti-corruption safeguards as the proposed amendment seeks to do.

 

The Indian Express


1. Taming TB

Topic: Health

Category: Social Sector

Key points:

  • One in four tuberculosis patients worldwide is an Indian.
  • Epidemiologists regard the tuberculosis bacteria as the Indian public health system’s greatest bugbear. If a study published in the latest edition of the Lancet Infectious Diseases Journal is anything to go by, the problem might be more daunting that it was earlier thought to be.
  • The good news, however, is that we are closer, than ever before, to identifying the exact magnitude of the problem. The number of tuberculosis patients in the country was earlier reckoned to be 2.2 million.
  • But there were always question marks on the accuracy of this figure because it was difficult to ascertain the exact number of patients who sought private treatment. It was believed that private clinics and hospitals treat about 8 million tuberculosis patients, while 1.4 million patients consult government-run medical centres.
  • A joint study by the Indian government’s Central TB Division, the Imperial College of London and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation confirms what had long been suspected: Many more tuberculosis patients seek treatment from the private sector than government hospitals.
  • The study estimates that more than 2 million patients consult private doctors — even pharmacists — and the country’s tuberculosis burden could be more than 3.5 million people.
  • India’s private healthcare system is largely unregulated, especially in matters related to treating tuberculosis. This means that patients are rarely educated about the disease and do not receive proper support. The authors of the Lancet paper argue that the absence of proper protocols in private hospitals and clinics often means that patients stop treatment as soon as they feel better. They do not complete the requisite six to nine months of therapy.
  • A study published in March 2016 in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene highlighted another problem that arises when patients consult private physicians. The private doctors interviewed in the study administered broad spectrum antibiotics to tuberculosis patients as the first course of treatment. They did not ask for a lab investigation and focused on treating the symptoms. A patient had to consult a doctor several times before being suspected of tuberculosis.
  • Stopping therapy midway exposes a patient to a virulent strain of the tuberculosis bacteria: One resistant to the multi-drug therapy used to treat the disease. Delays in diagnosis compound the problem.
  • According to the WHO, India accounts for 64,000 multi-drug resistant tuberculosis patients. The figure could be much more in the light of the Lancet study. In 2012, the Revised National TB Control Programme introduced protocols that made it mandatory for private healthcare providers to report the tuberculosis cases they treat. The figures thrown up by the Lancet study show that much more needs to be done to regulate treatment of tuberculosis outside the state healthcare system.


  1. Draft surrogacy bill

Topic: Health

Category: governance

  • On August 24, the Union cabinet approved the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016. The bill proposes a ban on commercial surrogacy, restricting “ethical” and “altruistic surrogacy” to legally-wedded infertile Indian couples, who have been married for at least five years.
  • The husband must be between 26 to 55 years of age and the wife must be between 23 to 50 years of age.
  • Indian couples with biological or adopted children are prohibited from having children through surrogacy.
  • Commercial surrogacy will result in a jail term of at least 10 years and a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh. The proposed law is not yet in the public domain.
  • Article 14 of the Constitution guarantees “equality before the law and equal protection of laws to all persons”. Article 21 guarantees “protection of life and personal liberty of all persons”. Restricting conditional surrogacy to married Indian couples and disqualifying others on the basis of nationality, marital status, sexual orientation or age, does not appear to qualify the test of equality and has no connection with the intended objectives of the proposed legislation.
  • In 2005, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), under the ministry of health and family welfare, finalised the National Guidelines for Accreditation, Supervision and Regulation of Artificial Reproductive Technology (ART) Clinics in India, after the extensive public debate that involved all the stakeholders.In 2005, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), under the ministry of health and family welfare, finalised the National Guidelines for Accreditation, Supervision and Regulation of Artificial Reproductive Technology (ART) Clinics in India, after the extensive public debate that involved all the stakeholders.
  • Chapter three of the guidelines, which pertains to the code of practice, ethical considerations, and legal issues, stipulates that there shall be no bar to the use of ART by single women and no ART clinic will refuse to offer its services to them. The guidelines did not bar an unmarried woman from opting for artificial insemination with donor semen and a child born to a single woman through such a procedure was deemed to be legitimate. These guidelines have not been rescinded till date.
  • Successive draft bills — in 2008, 2010 and 2013 — had reportedly proposed that ART in India be available to all, including single persons and foreign couples. However, draft ART bills of 2014 and 2016 restricted surrogacy to Indian married infertile couples. The fate of the ART Bill, 2016, is unknown, while the cabinet has approved the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016.
  • The Union ministry of women and child development has a diametrically opposite policy with respect to inter-country adoptions. It facilitates fast-track adoptions from India by foreigners. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act) allows a court to give a child for adoption to foreign parents, irrespective of the marital status of such a person.
  • The JJ Act also authorises state governments to recognise one or more of its institutions or voluntary organisations as agencies for the placement of orphans for adoption, in accordance with the guidelines notified by the Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA). The latest guidelines governing adoption of children notified on July 17, 2015, have streamlined inter-country adoption procedures. They permit single parent adoptions but bar single males from adopting a girl child. By all accounts, it seems there are different barometers in matters of adoption and surrogacy.
  • Surrogacy has been in vogue in the country for more than 10 years. The proposed bar on it violates the fundamental rights of stakeholders. Foreign and single parents who commission the services of surrogate mothers enjoy protection under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution — equality under law and the right to life.
  • Right to reproductive autonomy and parenthood, as a part of right to life of a single or foreign person, cannot be circumvented, especially when the law already permits parenthood through inter-country adoptions from India — by single persons or foreign couples. The draft bill bars medical professionals from offering their services in surrogacy procedures (except for altruistic surrogacy). It also deprives surrogate mothers of their right to livelihood.
  • The government has justified the barring of foreigners to prevent the misuse of surrogacy. This could prove counterproductive. The yardsticks governing domestic altruistic surrogacy will offer an opportunity for corruption and exploitation, pushing surrogacy into unethical hands. It could foster an underground abusive trade in surrogacy. Relatives will be generated and surrogates will be impregnated in India and shifted to permissible jurisdictions.
  • Given that the surrogate mothers will be Indian nationals, whose safety will be at risk once surrogacy becomes an underground business, there is a dire need to enact a comprehensive law that factors in the current societal practices associated with surrogacy.
  • The problems pertaining to adoption of Indian children by foreigners were resolved by guidelines, which over the years have acquired statutory status. A similar approach could be adopted to regulate surrogacy. There should be an appropriate mechanism to judge the suitability of surrogate parents — citizens or foreigners should not matter.
  • An agency along the lines of the Central Adoption Resource Agency — that administers adoption of Indian children by foreigners — could be created to regulate surrogacy. A democratic law, which we have been waiting for, for the past 10 years, must regulate surrogacy in the country.

 

PIB


1. Task Force to prepare action Olympic Games

The Prime Minister ShriNarendraModi announced at the meeting of the Council of Minister’s  that Task Force will be set up to prepare a comprehensive action plan for effective participation of Indian sports persons in the next three Olympic games 2020, 2024 and 2028. The Task Force will prepare overall strategy for sports facility, training, selection procedure and other related matters.

The Task Force will comprise of members who are in house experts as well as those from outside


2. Indian Warships Visit Port Victoria (26 – 28 august 16)

In a demonstration of India’s commitment to its ties with Seychelles and maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region, Indian Naval Ships Kolkata, Trikand and Aditya have arrived at Port Victoria on a two day visit. The ships are part of the Indian Navy’s Western Fleet based at Mumbai under the Western Naval Command and are on a two month long deployment in the Western Indian Ocean.

During the visit, the IN ships would engage with the Seychelles People Defence Force on professional issues. In addition, calls on senior Government and military authorities, training and technical cooperation measures with Seychelles Coast Guard, sporting and cultural interactions, aimed at strengthening ties and mutual understanding between the two forces, are also planned.

The deployment adds another chapter to the strong defence and maritime cooperation between India and Seychelles. The Indian Navy regularly undertakes surveillance missions in the Seychelles EEZ, by deploying IN ships and aircraft, based on request by the Government of Seychelles. The last such deployment was by Indian Naval Ship Trikand in July 2016.

India has a strong and longstanding relationship with Seychelles. Defence cooperation including training and cooperation in hydrography as well as Maritime Domain Awareness is a significant component of the bilateral relationship. The current visit seeks to strengthen the strong bonds of friendship between India and Seychelles and contribute to security and stability in the Indian Ocean Region.


3. Ministry of Railways Promoting Railway Related Education in The Country in Collaboration With Premier Educational Institutions
With a view to promote Railway related education and research Ministry of Railways has been taking significant steps in setting up Centres of Railway Research (CRR) in collaboration with premier Educational Institutions of India. Formal MoUs for setting up such centers have already been signed between Ministry of Railways and University of Mumbai, IIT Kanpur, IIT Madras, IIT Roorkee. Another Fifth Center for Railway Research is also in existence in IIT Kharagpur. These Centers for Railway Research are working to contribute immensely towards providing solutions for utilization of Railways assets in a more cost effective manner and its various processes towards complete customer satisfaction.

To expand the areas of research further, Indian Railways have also set up the Malaviya Chair at IIT BHU, Varanasi for development of proper materials for use by Indian Railways. In addition, a ‘Chair on Sustainable Mobility’ has also been set up at TERI University, New Delhi.

Railways Research arm viz., Research Design and Standards Organization (RDSO) based at Lucknow is coordinating with all the CRRs and chairs.


4. Ministry of women and Child Development  launches POCSO e-Button for children to file complaints of sexual abuse. 

An online complaint box for reporting child sexual abuse, the POCSO e-Box was launched by the Minister for Women and Child Development, Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi in New Delhi today. Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO), e-Box, is an online complaint management system for easy and direct reporting of sexual offences against children and timely action against the offenders under the POCSO Act, 2012. Minister of State for Women and Child Development ,Smt Krishna Raj, Secretary WCD, Ms Leena Nair, NCPCR Chairperson, SmtStutiKacker and other senior officials of the WCD Ministry and NCPRC were present on the occasion.

the idea of an e-Box came out of a police initiative in which physical complaint boxes were placed in schools. The e-Box will make it possible to implement it on a large scale throughout the country. A large number of incidents of abuse are against close relatives and so they get pushed under the carpet. E-Box is very simple to operate and will help to maintain the confidentiality of the complaint

All efforts should be made to generate awareness about the e-Box so that more and more children can come out with their suffering. Highlighting the lifelong trauma of a child suffering from abuse.

The e-Box is incorporated prominently in the home page of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) website http://ncpcr.gov.in/  where a user has to simply push a button named POSCO e-Box. This will navigate to a page with a window containing an animation movie. The animation movie reassures the child that whatever has happened to him/her is not his/her fault and she/he need not feel guilty and that NCPCR is a friend which will help her. After the user presses the arrow on this page, it navigates  to another page where he/ she has to select at least one picture option (describing the category of harassment) and fill the form with details such as mobile number, e-mail and description of the harassment followed by  the ‘submit’ button. The complaint is then registered and a unique auto-generated complaint number is flashed.

Sexual offences against children are rampant but only a small percentage gets reported. According to a study, about 53% of children surveyed, reported having faced one or the other form of sexual abuse in their lifetime.  In most cases, the offender is a family member/near relative or an acquaintance.  The child victim in such cases generally does not report these offences.  Sexual abuse scars the psyche of the affected child for  entire life. A child who is sexually abused has to face very serious consequences such as cognitive impairment, violent and risk behaviour including depression and anxiety. Feeling shame and guilt with poor interpersonal relationship &self esteem are other consequences of sexually abused children.

Being concerned about such offences against children, the  Government enacted POCSO Act, 2012 to protect them from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, while safeguarding the interest of the child at every stage of the judicial process, by incorporating child friendly mechanisms for reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and speedy trial of offences through designated Special Courts.   Any human being up to the age of 18 years is recognised as a child under the POCSO Ac


F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • Draft Surrogacy bill
  • Bt Cotton
  • Minimum Wages Act
  • Masala Bonds
  • Revised National TB Control Programme

 

G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Setting a precedent in allowing women to enter religious places, the Bombay high court ruled that women can enter the Haji Ali Dargah. In saying So Which of the following Fundamental rights did that court say were being contravened by not allowing women to enter the dargah by the Trust
  1. Article 14 (equality before law)
  2. Article15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth)
  3. Article 25 (freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion)
  4. Article (abolition of Untouchability)

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 1 and 4 only

c) 1,2 and 3

d) All the Above


Question 2: Which of the following statements is/are correct ?
  1. Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) is the only Association of Seed industry in India.
  2. Bt cotton is the only transgenic crop commercially permitted in India.

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Question 3: Which of the following statements is/are  correct ?
  1. India has completely eliminated MDR( multi drug resistant Tuberculosis).
  2. MDR TB is caused by excessive use of Antibiotics without medical supervision.

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) 1and 2 only

d) All the Above


Question 4: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
  1. The Reserve Bank of India’s has proposed to allow banks to issue Masala Bonds.
  2. Masala bonds are rupee-denominated bonds issued in offshore capital markets.

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Question 5: Which of the following statements is/are wrong?
  1. With an aim to discourage cash transactions, the Finance Ministry has set up a high-level committee to suggest steps to promote card payments.
  2. The 11-member committee is headed by former Finance Secretary Ratan P Watal.
  3. This committee will start issuing Visa cards to all JanDhan Bank Account holders to reduce cash payments.
  4. Committee will study how to promote card payments through incentives like tax rebates and cash back schemes.

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) 3 only

d) 4 only

 

Check Your Answers

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