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28th July – Editorials/Opinions Analyses

Contents

  1. Needed, a map for India’s foreign policy
  2. An opportunity to reshape health care
  3. When can a Governor use his discretion?
  4. The majority cannot afford a balanced diet

NEEDED, A MAP FOR INDIA’S FOREIGN POLICY

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Introduction

  • India was the de facto leader of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and was seen as a natural rising power in South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region.  
  • When it comes to neighbouring countries: India has historical and cultural ties with Nepal, enjoys traditional goodwill and influence in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, invested in Afghanistan and cultivated vibrant ties with the post-Taliban stakeholders in Kabul and committed itself to multilateralism and the Central Asian connectivity project, with Iran being its gateway.

Adversities in relationships now

  • Due to China having changed the status quo along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the western sector in its favour, India is said to be facing a national security crisis.
  • Nepal has turned hostile having adopted a new map and revived border disputes with India.
  • Sri Lanka has tilted towards China, which is undertaking massive infrastructure projects in the Indian Ocean island.
  • Bangladesh is clearly miffed at the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.
  • When Afghanistan is undergoing a major transition, India is out of the multi-party talks.
  • Iran has inaugurated a railway link project connecting the Chabahar port, on the Gulf of Oman, to Zahedan (which India was to have constructed) without India.

The U.S. line

  • When India started deepening its partnership with the United States (which was a historical necessity), New Delhi began steadily aligning its policies with U.S. interests as it can be seen in case of Iran.
  • The agreement to develop the Chabahar port was signed in 2003, however, under pressure from the U.S. India was moving slowly despite the fact that the project offered India an alternative route to Central Asia bypassing Pakistan. India also voted against Iran at the United Nations.
  • When U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran deal and reimposed sanctions on the country, India toed the U.S. line, bringing down its oil imports to zero.
  • While India has been cautious of becoming an ally, it has steadily deepened military-to-military cooperation in the recent past — the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) is one example.

Such Developments probably altered Beijing’s assessment of India that India has already become a de facto ally of the U.S.

Domestic politics that had foreign policy consequences

The passing of the (CAA) Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.

  • Although officially India is offering citizenship to the persecuted minorities of select countries in its neighbourhood – There were 2 concerns that affected foreign policies: Regionalisation of the domestic problems of the countries in India’s neighbourhood and Muslims, including those sub-sects persecuted in neighbouring countries, were by design excluded from the citizenship programme.
  • This drove new wedges between India and the countries that had a Muslim majority and were friendly to India in the neighbourhood.

The abrogation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

  • Leading to the suspension of fundamental rights in the Kashmir Valley for a prolonged period – this damaged India’s reputation as a responsible democratic power.

The conversion of J&K state to present day Union Territories, could be another factor that prompted the Chinese to move aggressively towards the border in Ladakh.

-Source: The Hindu


AN OPPORTUNITY TO RESHAPE HEALTH CARE

Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Introduction

  • Indian health care has been increasingly privatised over the last few decades which has led to intense market competition.
  • COVID-19 has led to a dramatic reduction in the numbers of patients seeking care which is especially true of planned, non-urgent problems including procedures and surgeries.
  • Procedures such as knee replacements or cosmetic surgery, which some argue reflect supplier-induced demand, have almost stopped.
  • Even emergency medical cases have declined during the lockdown, with a decrease in the cases of heart attacks or strokes presenting to hospitals.

‘Cut Practice’ Concern in the medical practice

  • ‘Cut practice’, with doctors and hospitals prescribing tests, drugs, referrals and procedures in return for commissions, is entrenched in India.
  • This leads to significant negative consequences, be it increased patient expenses, patients not reaching the right doctor or not getting the appropriate investigation, and also an erosion in the doctor-patient relationship and the image of the fraternity.

The two sides to the churn

  • The COVID-19 epidemic has centre-staged the need for a robust public health system and increased investment.
  • The breakdown of overburdened health-care facilities, negative impact on the morale of health-care workers, and the collapse of private sector institutions (under financial strain) are all real.
  • With hospital and doctors incomes falling during the pandemic, there may be a resurgence of unethical practices with a vengeance as the industry tries to make up its losses.
  • The epidemic’s ‘positive’ impact may be the circumstantial curb on unwarranted medical practices.
  • The medical fraternity in India has risen admirably to the challenge of COVID-19 and Public respect for the profession has also improved.
  • If we can seize this chance to correct undesirable practices it will help build up the trust in the doctor-patient relationship.

-Source: The Hindu


WHEN CAN A GOVERNOR USE HIS DISCRETION?

Focus: GS-II Governance, Polity

Why in news?

Rajasthan Governor returning the fresh proposal by the state Cabinet – seeking to convene a session of the Assembly – has raised fresh legal questions on the powers of the Governor.

Who has the powers to summon the House?

  • It is the Governor acting on the aid and advice of the cabinet.
  • Article 174 of the Constitution gives the Governor the power to summon from time to time “the House or each House of the Legislature of the State to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit.”
  • However, the phrase “as he thinks fit” is read as per Article 163 of the Constitution which says that the Governor acts on the aid and advice of the cabinet.
  • Article 163(1) essentially limits any discretionary power of the Governor only to cases where the Constitution expressly specifies that the Governor must act on his own and apply an independent mind.

What has the Supreme Court said in the past about the Governor’s power to summon the House?

  • It is settled law that the Governor cannot refuse the request of the Cabinet to call for a sitting of the House for legislative purposes or for the chief minister to prove his majority.
  • In fact, on numerous occasions, including in the 2016 Uttarakhand case, the court has clarified that when the majority of the ruling party is in question, a floor test must be conducted at the earliest available opportunity.
  • In 2016, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in Nabam Rebia and Bamang Felix vs Deputy Speaker, the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly case, expressly said that the power to summon the House is not solely vested in the Governor.

What did the SC say in the Arunachal case?

  • Referring to discussions in the Constituent Assembly, the court noted that the framers of the Constitution expressly and consciously left out vesting powers to summon or dissolve the House solely with the Governor.
  • In paragraph 162 of the judgment, the court discussed that draft Article 153 (which later became Article 174), that dealt with the powers of the Governor, was substantially altered to indicate that the framers did not want to give Governors the discretion.
  • After debating the intention of the framers, the court concluded that the only legitimate and rightful inference, that can be drawn in the final analysis is, that the framers of the Constitution decided not to vest discretion with the Governor, in the matter of summoning and dissolving the House, or Houses of the State Legislature.
  • The Supreme concluded that the Governor can summon, prorogue and dissolve the House, only on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister as the head. And not at his own.

-Source: Indian Express


THE MAJORITY CANNOT AFFORD A BALANCED DIET

Focus: GS-II Social Justice  

Introduction

  • New analysis from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows that hundreds of millions of people in India above the international poverty line of $1.90 purchasing power parity (PPP) per person per day cannot afford a healthy or nutritious diet.
  • This analysis confirms the fact that the problem of poor nutrition in India is largely on account of the unaffordability of good diets, and not on account of lack of information on nutrition or tastes or cultural preferences.
  • The large majority of Indians cannot afford a balanced diet.

Three Types of diets

Basic Energy Sufficient Diet

  • In a basic energy sufficient diet, the required calorie intake is met by consuming only the cheapest starchy cereal available.

Nutrient Adequate Diet

  • In a nutrient adequate diet, the required calorie norms and the stipulated requirement of 23 macro- and micro-nutrients are met.
  • This diet includes least cost items from different food groups.

Healthy Diet

  • In a healthy diet, the calorie norm and the macro- and micro-nutrient norm are met and it also allows for consumption of a diverse diet, from several food groups.
  • Defining a healthy diet is more complex than the other two diets, and the FAO uses actual recommendations for selected countries.
  • The Indian recommendation includes consumption of items from six groups: starchy staples, protein-rich food (legumes, meat and eggs), dairy, vegetables, fruits, and fats.

Affordability of these diets

  • The energy-sufficient diet or eating only cereals to meet your calorie requirement costs around 80 cents a day in South Asia, and is thus affordable to a poor person or one defined as having an income of $1.9 a day.
  • In short, the poor in India and other South Asian countries can get their calories by sticking to rice or wheat alone (Energy-Sufficient diet).
  • The nutrient-adequate diet costs $2.12 a day which is more than the international poverty line.
  • If a person with income just above the poverty line spent her entire daily expenditure on food even then she would not be able to afford the nutrient-adequate diet. (Note that the report assumes that a person cannot spend more than 63% of total expenditure on food).
  • The healthy diet costs $4.07 a day, or more than twice the international poverty line, and hence, a healthy diet is totally unaffordable for those with incomes at even twice the poverty line.
  • The SOFI Report estimates that almost 20% of South Asians cannot afford the nutrient-adequate diet and almost 60% of South Asians cannot afford the healthy diet.

Current Scenario and issue

  • The number of people who cannot afford a healthy diet will have risen in the lockdown months.
  • That the Indian poverty line of 2011-12, as defined by the Tendulkar Committee, amounted to ₹33 per day in urban areas and ₹27 per day in rural areas, and corresponded roughly to $1 a day at international PPP prices.
  • The Indian poverty line (there has been no redefinition in the last decade) is thus lower than the international poverty line used in the SOFI Report.

Conclusion

  1. Those we officially count as poor in India – with a cut-off that is lower than the international norm of $1.9 a day – cannot afford a nutrient-adequate diet let alone a healthy diet.
  2. Even those with incomes of twice the international poverty line cannot afford a healthy diet, hence, if we want to reduce malnutrition and food insecurity, we have to address the problem of affordability of healthy diets.

-Source: The Hindu

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