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7TH JULY – EDITORIALS/OPINIONS ANALYSES

CONTENTS

  1. Gangster of Kanpur
  2. What about WHO
  3. India’s Indo-Pacific vision
  4. COVID -LOCKDOWN-POVERTY
  5. CUSTODIAL DEATHS AND POLICE REFORMS
  6. Next health crisis
  7. 2019 Global Health security index

Gangster of Kanpur

Focus: GS 2: Criminalisation of Politics, Police Reform

Why in news?

police team had gone to arrest wanted criminal Vikas Dubey at Bikaru village in Chaubepur area of Kanpur. Eight policemen died on the spot in the firing between Police and Criminals, while seven other police officers were injured.

Reason for illegal activities.

The gangster Vikas Dubey is emblematic of the nexus between politics, crime and policing in many parts of the country.

Criminal gangs shielded by politics and police forces that bend to caste, communal and political vested interests form a malevolent circuit that perpetuates itself

and rewards its patrons

Role of Police

  • The police force is the coercive arm of the state often in direct contact with ordinary citizens.
  • The quality of policing therefore has an outsized impact on the overall quality of governance.
  • Poor training, an alienating and dehumanising work environment, corruption and a lack of resources add to the crisis in policing.
  • Politicians in power often use the police for their personal gains, which is a violation of individual integrity.

Main reasons for Criminalization of politics:

  • Lack of political will: Representation of the People Act, 1951, deals with disqualification of candidates against whom charges have been framed in court for serious offences. Therefore, in order to curb criminalisation of politics, Parliament needs to bring an amendment in the Act.
  • Use of muscle and money power: Candidates with serious records seem to do well despite their public image, largely due to their ability to finance their own elections and bring substantive resources to their respective parties.
  • Narrow self-interests: Some voters tend to view such candidates through a narrow prism: of being able to represent their community interests by hook or by crook.
  • Lack of Choices: Sometimes voters are left with no options, as all competing candidates have criminal records.

Data on Criminalization

  • 46% of Members of Parliament have criminal records (including minor offences like “unlawful assembly” and “defamation”).
  • Current Lok Sabha MPs have the highest (29%) proportion of those with serious declared criminal cases compared to its recent predecessor

What is the way out?

There are three possible options.

  1. Political parties should themselves refuse tickets to the tainted.
  2. The RP Act should be amended to debar persons against whom cases of a heinous nature are pending from contesting elections.
  3. Fast-track courts should decide the cases of tainted legislators quickly.

Other suggested measure to curb criminalization of politics:

  1. Bringing greater transparency in campaign financing is going to make it less attractive for political parties to involve gangsters.
  2. The Election Commission of India (ECI) should have the power to audit the financial accounts of political parties.
  3. Broader governance will have to improve for voters to reduce the reliance on criminal politicians.
  4. The Election Commission must take adequate measures to break the nexus between the criminals and the politicians.

India’s Indo-Pacific vision

Focus: GS2: International Relations

This vision is based on our historical associations with this region. This vision also acknowledges the importance of the Indian Ocean in building prosperity in this century.

So, the key points of this vision are thus-

1) Inclusiveness, openness and ASEAN centrality and unity.

2) India does not see the Indo-Pacific Region as a strategy or as a club of limited members.

3) It is not directed against any country.

China should have equal access

  • China is not a littoral state in the Indian Ocean. Historically, Chinese naval activity was limited to the East China Sea, the Bohai Sea, the Yellow Sea, and the South China Sea.
  • In today’s context, China is the second-largest economy and the world’s largest trading nation. The sea-lanes of communication in the Indian Ocean are vital to her economy and security.
  • Under international law, China should have equal access to the Indian ocean.

China’s “Malacca Dilemma”

  • China thinks that others would block the Malacca Straits to “contain” the Chinese. So, China has strategized to dominate not just the Malacca Straits, but the ocean beyond it.
  • The PLA Navy (PLAN) made its first operational deployment in the Gulf of Aden in 2008. In 2009 China planned for overseas base or facility. In 2010 a China State Oceanic Administration report alluded to plans to build aircraft carriers.

BRI: Overcoming the deficiencies China face in India Ocean

  • The US hegemony and India’s regional influence in the Indian Ocean are thought of as a challenge to China. So, China focused on 3 inherent deficiencies that they wanted to overcome.
    • China is not a littoral state.
    •  Its passage through key maritime straits could be easily blocked.
    • The possibility of US-India cooperation against China.

How to overcome these deficiencies?

  •  Carefully selecting sites to build ports. And Chinese have ports at Djibouti, Gwadar, Hambantota, Sittwe and Seychelles.
  • Conducting activities in a low-key manner to “reduce the military colour as much as possible”.
  • By not unnerving India and America by cooperating at first, then slowly penetrating into the Indian Ocean, beginning with detailed maritime surveys, ocean mapping, HADR, port construction and so on.

 China acting on the plans

  • The PLA’s new base in Djibouti is the prototype for more “logistics” facilities to come. More port construction projects like Gwadar and Hambantota, are being offered to vulnerable countries.
  • These projects are commercially unviable but have military possibilities, Chinese “civilian” vessels routinely conduct surveys in the EEZ of littoral states.
  • In January 2020 the PLA Navy conducted tripartite naval exercises with Russia and Iran in the Arabian Sea. They have the largest warship building programme in the world.

What about WHO

Focus: GS2: Multilateral Bodies, International Relations

World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations’ specialized agency for Health was founded in 1948.

WHO is accused of not being transparent in transferring information regarding COVID 19 pandemic. USA has accused of WHO and Chinese nexus.

COVID 19 timeline. 

31 Dec 2019

WHO’s Country Office in the People’s Republic of China picked up a media statement by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission from their website on cases of ‘viral pneumonia’ in Wuhan, People’s Republic of China

1 January 2020

WHO requested information on the reported cluster of atypical pneumonia cases in Wuhan from the Chinese authorities

4  January 2020

WHO tweeted that there was a cluster of pneumonia cases – with no deaths – in Wuhan, Hubei province, People’s Republic of China, and that investigations to identify the cause were underway

Human to Human transmission of CORONAVIRUS was not reported by WHO even to this date.

9 January 2020

WHO reported that Chinese authorities have determined that the outbreak is caused by a novel coronavirus.

10-12 January 2020

WHO published a comprehensive package of guidance documents for countries, covering topics related to the management of an outbreak of a new disease

14 January 2020 

WHO held a press briefing during which it stated, the human-to-human transmission in 41 confirmed cases in People’s Republic of China.

Feb 1, 2020:

WHO declares the outbreak a global emergency

Feb 1, 2020:

WHO declares the outbreak a global emergency

Mar 03, 2020:

New cases detected in Delhi and Telangana.

Mar 11, 2020

 The WHO declared the outbreak as a ‘pandemic’

WHO and CHINESE nexus

  • WHO had publicly praised China for its commitment to transparency.
  • WHO said China was “setting a new standard for outbreak response
  • WHO called quick sharing of whole genome sequence data of the virus as “very impressive”

Scientific evidence strongly suggests that the outbreak began at least by early November. Apparently, WHO had to keep praising China so that it shared information. Such a nexus between world’s leading organization and a communist country is said to be bad for the rule based order. WHO should be assertive towards its member nations for early detection and maintaining transparency during the health crisis.


COVID -LOCKDOWN-POVERTY

Focus: GS2: Health, Social Justice

Why in news?

The COVID-19 crisis has a potentially far-reaching, long-term negative impact on Rural women and poverty. Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), 2017­ -18 reported that, about 42% or around 56 crore people were ‘officially’ poor before the lockdown was announced.

Impact  

  • PLFS data extrapolated for the year 2020 suggest that about an additional 40 crore people were pushed below the poverty line due to the lockdown.
  • Before the lockdown, around 16% of the population managed with ₹30 per day or less after lockdown it might reach 62 crore.
  • Massive reverse migration flows out of the urban informal sector will force grinding halts and hiccups for the economy

Solutions

  1. Regularise MGNREGA work with high payment
  2. Make MGNREGA more inclusive without any rejection of application
  3. Regular payment of unemployment dues.
  4. Increase the days of work under MGNREGA to 200
  1. Institutionalise urban employment guarantee scheme 
  2. social infrastructure in urban areas including slum development, drinking water supply, toilet construction, parks and common areas, urban afforestation and social forestry.
  3. Revival of MSME credit Capitalize NBFC’s to stimulate credit growth

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, MGNREGA, is an Indian labour law and social security measure that aims to guarantee the ‘right to work’. This act was passed in September 2005.
  • It aims to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
  • It covers all districts of India except the ones with 100% urban population.
  • MGNREGA is to be implemented mainly by gram panchayats (GPs). The involvement of contractors is banned.
  • Apart from providing economic security and creating rural assets, NREGA can help in protecting the environment, empowering rural women, reducing rural-urban migration and fostering social equity, among others.

Objectives of MGNREGA

  • Provide 100 days of guaranteed wage employment to rural unskilled labour
  • Increase economic security
  • Decrease migration of labour from rural to urban areas

CUSTODIAL DEATHS AND POLICE REFORMS

Focus: GS2: Police Reform

Why in news?

  • The custodial deaths of a father and son in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi district has created a nationwide uproar with the family blaming police torture.
  • Crime records and survey reports show that violence by police has been reported across the nation, that police personnel are not adequately trained in human rights, and that they have the tendency to inflict punishments outside the judicial process.

Data and Understanding Custodial Deaths

  • According to the latest Crime in India report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 70 people died in police custody in 2018 – (Highest recorded in Gujrat Followed by Tamil Nadu).
  • The numbers increased as in 2019, at least 117 deaths in police custody were reported to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
  • Studies show that deaths in police custody occur primarily as a result of torture.
  • Three in every four died due to alleged torture or foul play, and many died in suspicious circumstances with the police claiming they either committed suicide or died of illness or accident.
  • Reports also say that the practice of torturing suspects in police custody to punish them, gather information, extract confessions, or demand bribes, was rampant.

Punishment and training

  • NCRB data for 2018 shows that even as 89 cases were registered against police personnel for human rights violations such as custodial killings and illegal detentions, not a single one was convicted of the crime.
  • Findings from the Status of Policing in India report showed that the police in India suffers from inadequacies and biases which might lead to such behaviour.
  • The report showed that more than 10% police personnel never receive human rights training.
  • Even among the personnel who received training in human rights, a majority said it was only at the time of joining the police force.

Police reforms

  1. Gore committee on police training (1971-73) – recommended to enlarge the content of police training from law and order and crime prevention to a greater sensitivity and understanding of human behaviour.
  2. National police commission 1977 – recommended insulating the police from illegitimate political and bureaucratic interference.
  3. Padmanabhaiah Committee 2000 – recommended that constables, and the police force in general, should receive greater training in soft skills (such as communication, counselling and leadership) given they need to deal with the public regularly.
  4. The ARC recommended separation of crime investigation from other police functions i-e maintenance of law and order, establishment of state police boards, welfare and grievances redressal mechanisms for police personnel.
  5. Prakash Singh vs Union of India case directed the government to constitute –
  • State Security Commission (SSC) to ensure that state government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police.
  • Police Establishment Board (PEB) – made up of the DGP and four senior officers – to decide transfers, postings, promotions and other service related matters of police, for the rank below DSP.
  • Police Complaints Authority (PCA) at state level to inquire into public complaints against police officers of above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.
  • National Security Commission (NSC) at the union level to prepare a panel for selection and placement of Chiefs of the Central Police Organizations (CPO) with a minimum tenure of two years.

SC also directed the government to –

  • Ensure that the DGP is appointed through the merit-based transparent process and secure a minimum tenure of two years
  • Separate the investigation and law and order functions of the police.
  1. Yashwant Vs the State of Maharashtra – Obeying orders of superiors is no excuse. Prove that you believed the orders were legal.
  • Our police force needs to develop and recognise the concept of ‘democratic policing’.
  • Crime control is not the only end, but the means to achieve this order is also equally important.
  • The court said, “With great power comes greater responsibility”.
  • who are called upon to administer the criminal law, must bear, in mind, that they have a duty not merely to the individual accused before them, but also to the State and to the community at large.
  • The court observed, ‘be you ever so high, the law is always above you!’

Next health crisis

Focus: GS2: Health issues, Social Issues

Why in news?

efforts of the government and the private sector to revive the economy in the time of COVID­19 are two dangers to people’s health air pollution and greenhouse gases

Impact

  • avoided number of early deaths from dirty air quality in recent months in China is estimated to have exceeded the number of those who have died from COVID­19
  • In Europe, 11,000 air ­pollution related deaths were estimated to have been averted since the start of lockdowns
  • Globally some 9 million premature deaths a year are associated with air pollutants, such as fine particulate matter, known as PM 2.5
  • 14 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in India
  • GHGs like carbon dioxide are causing global warming and damaging health
  • Ranked as the world’s fifth most vulnerable country to climate change, India must respond to alerts on communicable diseases linked to GHGs
  • Global warming intensifies heat waves and worsens respiratory illnesses
  • Locust swarms in Jaipur and Gurugram have been linked to climate change 
  • Mosquito­ borne diseases in India have been connected to global warming through both increased rainfall and heat waves
  • Spending on reducing air pollution and GHGs provides estimated health benefits of 1.4 to 2.5 times more than the cost of the action

Way forward

  • Emission reduction should be coupled with a stronger public health system
  • Increased health expenditure as a percentage of GDP
  • Improving public transport
  • Limiting the number of polluting vehicles on the road
  • Introducing less polluting fuel
  • Strict emission regulations
  • Improved efficiency for thermal power plants and industries
  • Moving from diesel generators to rooftop solar
  • Increased use of clean renewable energy
  • Electric vehicles
  • Removing dust from roads
  • Regulating construction activities
  • Stopping biomass burning, etc.

2019 Global Health security index

Focus: GS2: Health

According to the Global Health Security (GHS) Index, 2019, national health security is “fundamentally weak” around the world. The report gains significance in the context of the recent COVID 19 outbreak.

About the Index

  • The Global Health Security (GHS) Index, a report from the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security and the Economist Intelligence Unit, was released in October 2019.
  • The GHS Index is the first comprehensive assessment and benchmarking of health security and related capabilities across the 195 countries that make up the States Parties to the International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005).
  • The GHS Index assesses countries’ health security and capabilities across six categories, 34 indicators, and 85 sub-indicators. The six categories are as follow:
    • Prevention: Prevention of the emergence or release of pathogens.
    • Detection and Reporting: Early detection and reporting for epidemics of potential international concern.
    • Rapid Response: Rapid response to and mitigation of the spread of an epidemic.
    • Health System: Sufficient and robust health system to treat the sick and protect health workers.
    • Compliance with International Norms: Commitments to improving national capacity, financing plans to address gaps, and adhering to global norms.
    • Risk Environment: Overall risk environment and country vulnerability to biological threats.
  • The index measures countries’ capabilities from 0-100, with 100 representing the highest level of preparedness. The GHS Index scoring system includes three tiers.
    • Low Scores: Countries that score between 0 and 33.3 are in the bottom tier.
    • Moderate Scores: Countries that score between 33.4 and 66.6 are in the middle tier and
    • High Scores: Countries that score between 66.7 and 100 are in the upper or “top” tier.

Key Findings

  • International Preparedness
  • The GHS Index analysis finds that no country is fully prepared for epidemics or pandemics. Collectively, international preparedness is weak.
  • The average overall GHS Index score among all 195 countries assessed is 40.2 of a possible score of 100.
  • Overall, the GHS Index finds severe weaknesses in country abilities to prevent, detect, and respond to health emergencies; severe gaps in health systems; vulnerabilities to political, socioeconomic, and environmental risks that can hamper outbreak preparedness and response; and a lack of adherence to international norms.

Ranking of Different Countries

  • The US is the “most prepared” nation (scoring 83.5), with the UK (77.9), the Netherlands (75.6), Australia (75.5) and Canada (75.3) behind it. Thailand is ranked sixth in the Index the highest ranking for an Asian country.
  • Much of Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Asia and Central and South America are described as “more prepared,” with scores between 66 and 34.3, while the majority of countries ranked “least prepared” are in Africa.
  • India is ranked 57th with a score of 46.5, falling in the middle tier.
  • North Korea (17.5), Somalia (16.6) and Equatorial Guinea (16.2) are listed in the index’s bottom three.
  • China which is at the centre of the recent coronavirus outbreak – is at the 51st place, scoring 48.2.

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