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The Hindu Editorial Analysis | 11th Feb’20 | PDF Download

Reservation as right

  • Uttarakhand government’s decision to fill posts in the state without providing reservations its legal team argued, correctly, that the exceptions in subclauses 4 and 4(a) to Article 16 of the Constitution – which guarantees equality of opportunity in matters of public employment – are enabling rather than mandatory provisions, and do not constitute fundamental rights in themselves.
  • Supreme Court: states are not bound to provide quotas in government jobs and there is no fundamental right to claim reservation in promotion.
  • The logic of reservations demands that they have a self cancelling character. In other words, the state is not bound to provide reservations, but if it does so, it must be in favour of sections that are backward and inadequately represented in the services based on quantifiable data.
  • If no quotas are implemented and no study on backwardness and extent of representation is done, it may result in a perceptible imbalance in social representation in public services.

Safeguarding the delta

  • The Cauvery delta region in Tamil Nadu will be declared as ‘Protected Special Agricultural Zone’ (PSAZ).
  •  Tamil Nadu’s rice bowl comprising eight districts
  • Palaniswami has recognised farmer concerns about hydrocarbon exploration and accorded primacy to food security.
  • TN CM protested the Centre’s unilateral amendment of the Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2006, exempting prior environmental clearance and public consultations for oil and gas exploration.
  • Agricultural scientists such as M.S. Swaminathan have for long mooted such zones similar to special economic zones.
  • The government may have to brave central pressure and litigation from companies which pumped in money for exploration.
  •  The latest decision may have implications for the State’s investment climate.
  •  Mr. Palaniswami has rightly sensed that the farmers’ emotive and intense opposition can be ignored only at a political cost.

Prepared for the coronavirus

  •  Novel coronavirus (nCoV) has infected more than 37,000 people and killed more than 800. WHO declared it as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
  •  The Indian government and health authorities have responded in a robust manner to contain the epidemic in various ways on the basis of available knowledge, but there are no grounds for complacency.
  • While logistical challenges have been overcome by the Ministries, States, the military and civilians together, Indian scientists have shown their eagerness to attain world-class skills by rapidly developing diagnostics and treatment protocols.
  •  Swift diplomacy was at work during the Wuhan airlift.
  • The Health and Family Welfare Ministry provided the team of medical personnel to accompany the students home and arranged for their health check-ups and quarantine at special camps organised by the Armed Forces Medical Services in Manesar and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police facility in Delhi.
  •  Temporary visa restrictions have been put in place.
  • All the 645 evacuees have tested negative for nCoV.
  •  India issued its first advisory on January 17.
  •  The Emergency Medical Response Unit in the Health Ministry was activated, the National Centre for Disease Control opened a 24X7 helpline, and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) worked to quickly put in place a testing facility at the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune.
  • The Joint Monitoring Group under the Chairmanship of the Directorate General of Health Services was activated to continuously assess the risk and review the preparedness to manage any case that might get imported to India.
  •  Thermal entry screening of passengers from China is taking place in 21 airports.
  •  Universal screening at earmarked aerobridges for all flights from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand is carried out.
  • Screening at international seaports by the Shipping Ministry and border crossings by the Home Ministry is in place.
  •  Hospitals with isolation facilities near all international airports are prepared to meet any emergency requirements.
  •  Kerala also used unique community-based isolation methods, innovated while dealing with the Nipah virus outbreaks.
  •  Its model of monitoring, with the District Collector as the administrative unit, has been shared as a best practice with all States.
  • The States bordering Nepal have even held special gram sabhas to empower people with information.
  • India has also offered help to other countries in the South Asia region as part of its Neighbourhood First policy. It evacuated seven Maldivian nationals from Wuhan. It has extended technical assistance to several countries to set up testing laboratories.
  • Till date no antiviral treatment for the coronavirus infection has been effective but studies among SARS-CoV patients show that the combination of lopinavir and ritonavir was associated with possible clinical benefit.
  •  The public too has helped deal with the crisis, particularly by preventing the dissemination of wrong information.
  • We should all observe good hygiene and sanitation practices to prevent infection, avoid crowding in public places and perhaps even replace the handshake with the traditional Namaste.
  •  A mix Indian health care can do without
  •  The United States has one of the most prodigal health systems, but this does not help the U.S. with the well-known reality that it is infamously poor performing.
  • It is also one of the most intricate of health systems across the globe.
  • Over a century, U.S. health care has seen numerous elaborate arrangements, from organisational and regulatory structures to payment mechanisms emerge, be dismantled, and reincarnate with even greater degrees of complexity.
  •  Health care has repeatedly topped the political agenda.
  •  However, fervent attempts to reconcile its health care with traditional American values of individual freedom and consumerism have not sat well with the ideals of equity and social justice.
  •  In India, multiple policy pronouncements over the last few years have expressed an implicit intent to emulate certain features of the U.S. health system, enhance private initiative, and uphold the insurance route as the way to go for health care.
  •  Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Scheme aims to provide insurance cover to nearly 50 crore poor Indians.
  •  The AB-NHPS affirmed strong mechanisms to check insurance fraud. Recently, 171 hospitals were reported to have been de-empanelled from the AB-NHPS on charges of fraud, which also included the issuance of fake e-cards and the manipulation of claims.
  • The response to these has been envisaged through an unprecedented bolstering of administratively heavy and technology-driven mechanisms.
  •  Health care in the U.S. is one of the most administratively and technologically intensive systems in the world.
  • More than 50% of health-care spending in the U.S. in 2010 went into health worker’s wages, with a large chunk of the growth in health-care labour taking place in the form of non-clinical workers.
  • What this entails is that for every penny spent on health care, very little goes into actually improving health.
  •  AB-NHPS necessitates a battery of new structures, personnel cadres, data systems, and working arrangements only in order to sub satisfactorily operate an insurance scheme that would cover less than half the population.
  • Gupta and Roy have shown how the allocation for the AB-NHPS for 2019-20 would have covered less than a quarter of the targeted beneficiaries.
  •  In line with the suggestions of experts and critics, it becomes essential to take a fresh, hard look at the larger question of whether adopting the insurance mode for achieving universal health coverage is a felicitous path for India.
  •  One persistent habit that has characterised Indian health care since inception is of leaping onto the next, more aspirational position or endeavour before doing sufficient justice with the previous one.

The calumny against Gandhi

  •  Of late, there has been a flurry of statements directly or indirectly denigrating Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Pragya Thakur’s praise for Nathuram Godse as a ‘patriot’ stands out, because she is a high-profile Member of Parliament elected on the ruling party’s ticket.
  •  Several statues of Godse have been erected, beginning with the one installed at the Hindu Mahasabha office in Meerut on Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday on October 2, 2016.
  • It was reported that on the anniversary of the Mahatma’s assassination on January 30 this year, members of the Mahasabha garlanded Godse’s statue. The most recent incident of calumny against the Mahatma was former Union Minister and current BJP MP Anantkumar Hegde’s statement on February 1 claiming that the freedom movement led by Gandhi was a “drama” that was “staged with the consent and support of the British”.
  • No political leader, not even the tallest among them, should be immune from criticism.
  • This applies to Gandhi as well.
  • For example, B.R. Ambedkar criticised Gandhi for letting down Dalits by going on a fast unto death against the separate electorate granted to them in 1932.
  • Subhas Chandra Bose was critical of Gandhi’s reliance solely on non-violence to gain India’s independence and the Mahatma’s aversion to industrialisation.
  • Nonetheless, the two respected, even admired, each other.
  •  In 1942, after Bose had formed the Indian National Army and despite Gandhi’s aversion to violence, he called Bose a “patriot of patriots”.
  • Bose referred to Gandhi as the “father of the nation” in a broadcast from Rangoon in 1944.
  •  Gandhi’s economic ideas were criticised by the left because of his theory of trusteeship by which the wealthy would hold India’s wealth in trust for the people.
  •  Those, including Jawaharlal Nehru, committed to making India a strong modern state and an industrialised nation, were critical of Gandhi’s aversion to industrialisation and his belief that self-governing villages should constitute the basis of Indian polity.
  • These criticisms were based on genuine differences of opinion.
  •  Calumny is a different matter, especially since it is based on falsehood.
  • The prime example of such fabrication is that Gandhi was responsible for Partition when the truth is absolutely the opposite.
  • Gandhi remained a firm opponent of Partition until the very end.
  • The Congress Working Committee accepted the Partition plan, knowing that this was the case.
  • This is the main reason why Gandhi disassociated himself from the celebrations accompanying Indian Independence and left Delhi for Bengal to heal the wounds of communal riots.
  •  Unfortunately, slander has now become a fine art in India and electronic and social media have become the principal conduits for its propagation.

Liberty at the government’s whim

  • Fundamental rights, we have been repeatedly been told, do not exist in silos.
  • The values inherent in the rights to equality, freedom of expression and association, and to life and personal liberty are deeply intertwined, with each right deriving meaning from the other.
  • Under this conception, our right to be treated with equal concern demands that we are allowed to speak freely, that our movement is unrestrained, and that any limitation placed on our personal liberty is founded on laws that are just, fair, and reasonable.
  • The petitioner before the court was the 76-yearold Mian Abdul Qayoom, who is the president of the High Court’s Bar Association at Srinagar.
  •  He was arrested originally in the lead-up to the Union government’s decision on Article 370 of the Constitution and has since been detained for more than six months in a jail at Agra, with a view, the government says, to “preventing him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”.
  •  Mr. Qayoom not only ails from diabetes and heart problems — with a doctor having advised an open heart surgery just before his detention — but he is also surviving on only one kidney.
  •  The High Court, in its judgment, opened with the now customary panegyric on freedom.
  •  The right to personal liberty, wrote Justice Tashi Rabstan, is a “most precious right”.
  • It has been held, he added, to be “transcendental, inalienable and available to a person independent of the Constitution”.
  • And the right is not to be denied “except in accordance with procedures established under law” and that procedure, as held in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, had to be “just and fair”.
  •  The court instead held that preventive detention laws stand alone, that they are compelled by a “primordial” requirement to maintain order in society.
  • All that judges could do, he said, was to see whether the stated grounds — regardless of whether they are, in fact, credible or not — bear some nexus with the objective of the law.
  • Guarantees reduced to a trifle: Effectively, therefore, the judgment places liberty at the pleasure of government.
  • Article 21: the clause demands that any action or law that limits liberty ought to fair, just, and reasonable, untouched by the caprices of the state.
  • The PSA, which was introduced by the former Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Chief Minister Sheikh Abdullah’s government to purportedly keep timber smugglers “out of circulation” allows for detention of up to two years without trial, with extensions made available for the asking.
  • Even the Supreme Court, in Jaya Mala v. Home Secretary, Government of J&K (1982) described the legislation as a “lawless law” and warned of a looming danger in which normal criminal trials would be replaced by regimes of detention.
  •  PSA has been used by successive governments to quell even the slightest hint of dissent.

NEWS

  •  Supreme Court upholds changes to SC/ST atrocities law
  • ‘Review court can refer questions to larger Bench’
  • 1.97 lakh passengers screened for nCoV
  •  No shortage of funds for Siachen: Army sources
  •  U.S. nod for air defence system sale to India
  •  India moves to include elephant, bustard in global conservation list
  •  ‘Half-a-million insect species face extinction’

 

 

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