Contents

  1. Government functionaries to be sensitised on disability
  2. Afghanistan on brink of economic collapse, warns Pakistan
  3. Security must trump green concerns: SC
  4. India, U.S. monitoring defence trade projects

Government functionaries to be sensitised on disability

Context:

Government functionaries, from ASHA and anganwadi workers at the grassroots level to senior officers and MPs at the national level, would soon be trained and sensitised regarding Central sector schemes and facilities for persons with disabilities, Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry officials said.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Vulnerable Sections, Welfare Schemes, Government Policies and Interventions, Social Empowerment, Issues Relating to Development)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the recent move regarding sensitization towards disability
  2. Back to Basics: Understanding what is “Disability”
  3. Disability in India
  4. Numbers regarding Disables in Other surveys
  5. Constitutional Provisions and Legislations
  6. About the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016
  7. Other Schemes in India regarding Disabled people

About the recent move regarding sensitization towards disability

  • The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) under the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry would be releasing five training modules for different categories of government officials, according to the officials concerned.
  • The Rehabilitation Council of India would be the nodal agency to coordinate the training sessions for government departments, schools, colleges, health and allied professionals, ASHA workers and anganwadi workers through a network of 700 training colleges.
  • This first-of-its-kind initiative was aimed at sensitising all government functionaries to the various Acts and schemes for PwD, including the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, the Accessible India Campaign and the Unique Disability ID for PwD.

Back to Basics: Understanding what is “Disability”

  • Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions.
  • An impairment is a problem in body function or structure;
  • An activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action;
  • A participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations.
  • Disabled people are more likely to live in poverty, more likely to be unemployed, more likely to face discrimination in the workplace. These barriers are social, not personal, and cannot be “overcome” through sheer force of will.
  • UN Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons (1975): “Any person unable to ensure by himself or herself, wholly or partly the necessities of a normal individual and or social life as a result of a deficiency either congenital or not in his/her physical or mental abilities” could be described as disabled.

Disability in India

About 2.2% of India’s population lives with some kind of physical or mental disability, as per the National Statistics Office report on disability released 2019.

 

How are the disabled identified?

  • Until the 2011 census, there were questions on seven kinds of disabilities in the questionnaire. This list of disabilities was expanded to 21 when the Rights of People with Disabilities was introduced in 2016.
  • Accordingly, the 2019 report included questions to identify people with temporary loss of an ability as well as neurological and blood disorders in addition to the earlier definition, that included mental retardation and permanent inability to move, speak, hear and see.
  • Significantly, the revised definition recognises deformities and injuries of acid attack victims as disabilities, entitling them to various relief measures.

Who are disabled and in what way?

  • Rural men had the highest prevalence of disability in India, according to the NSO report. A higher proportion of men were disabled in India compared with women, and disability was more prevalent in rural areas than in urban areas.
  • Inability to move without assistance was the most common disability. More men experienced locomotor disability than women.
  • These numbers were self-reported. In other words, the respondents were asked if they experienced any difficulty in performing tasks like moving, talking, etc.

Numbers regarding Disables in Other surveys

  • The 2011 census estimated that the number of people with disabilities in India is close to 2.68 crore (or 2.2% of the population) — that is more than the entire population of Australia.
  • This number was based on the older definition of disability, yet the proportion of disabled people in the population is not different from the 2019 NSO report, which used the expanded definition of disability. However, the 2019 edition of disability statistics reported a slightly higher prevalence than those reported in earlier editions of the survey.
  • Other metrics for evaluating disability have provided different estimates. A 2019 study by the Public Health Foundation of India found that the use of the Annual Health Survey’s metrics results in a lower prevalence. Similarly, a group of doctors from AIIMS found that alternate questionnaires like the Rapid Assessment of Disability have resulted in a prevalence ranging from 1.6%-43.3%.

How can the range be so wide?

The proportion of population facing disability becomes bigger as one moves from a narrow definition to a broader one. For instance, if one defines disability as the difficulty in accessing public services for all kinds of reasons, even social or economic, then the proportion goes up.

Constitutional Provisions and Legislations

  • The Preamble, Article 14, Article 21 and DPSP provide right to equality, justice and dignity of all individuals leading to an inclusive development which also includes the Disabled Persons.
  • The Indian Lunacy Act 1912, The Lepers Act, 1899, Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016, National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple    Disabilities Act 1999, The Mental Healthcare Act 2017 are enacted for the betterment of disabled people.

About the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016

  • The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 replaces the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
  • It fulfills the obligations to the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory.

Key Changes brought in the by the 2016 act

  • Disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept.
  • The types of disabilities have been increased from 7 to 21.
  • The act added mental illness, autism, spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, chronic neurological conditions, speech and language disability, thalassemia, hemophilia, sickle cell disease, multiple disabilities including deaf blindness, acid attack victims and Parkinson’s disease which were largely ignored in earlier act.
  • It increases the quantum of reservation for people suffering from disabilities from 3% to 4% in government jobs and from 3% to 5% in higher education institutes.
  • Every child with benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education (Government funded educational institutions as well as the government recognized institutions).
  • Stress has been given to ensure accessibility in public buildings in a prescribed time frame along with Accessible India Campaign.
  • The Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities and the State Commissioners will act as regulatory bodies and Grievance Redressal agencies, monitoring implementation of the Act.
  • A separate National and State Fund be created to provide financial support to the persons with disabilities.
  • The Government has been authorized to notify any other category of specified disability.

Other Schemes in India regarding Disabled people

  1. ADIP Scheme: The main objective of the Assistance to Disabled persons for purchasing / fitting of aids / appliances (ADIP) scheme is to assist the needy disabled persons in procuring durable, sophisticated and scientifically manufactured, modern, standard aids and appliances that can promote their physical, social and psychological rehabilitation, by reducing the effects of disabilities and enhance their economic potential. The aids and appliances supplied under the Scheme shall conform to BIS specifications to the extent possible. The scheme is implemented through implementing agencies such as the NGOs, National Institutes under this Ministry and ALIMCO (a PSU).
  2. Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan): Achieving universal accessibility that will enable persons with disabilities to gain access for equal opportunity and live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life in an inclusive society. The campaign targets at enhancing the accessibility of built environment, transport system and Information & communication eco-system.
  3. Sugamya Pustakalaya: “Sugamaya Pustakalaya” is an online platform that makes accessible content available to print-disabled people. The library houses publications across diverse subjects and languages and multiple accessible formats.
  4. Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme: The Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme is aimed to create an enabling environment to ensure equal opportunities, equity, social justice and empowerment of persons with disabilities. Its objective is also to encourage voluntary action for ensuring effective implementation of the People with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities and Protection of Rights) Act of 1995.
  5. National Awards for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities: In order to recognise dedicated efforts of persons and institutions involved in the process of empowerment of disabled and encourage others to strive to achieve excellence in this field, the National Awards for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities are being awarded every year.

-Source: The Hindu


Afghanistan on brink of economic collapse, warns Pakistan

Context:

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister warned that Afghanistan is on the brink of economic collapse and the international community must urgently resume funding and provide humanitarian assistance.

Recently, the United Nations had set up a special trust fund on for Afghanistan, in order to provide urgently needed cash directly to Afghans.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbors, Foreign Policies Affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Afghanistan’s economic crisis
  2. About the UN’s fund for Afghanistan

About Afghanistan’s economic crisis

  • The International Monetary Fund said that Afghanistan’s economy was set to contract up to 30% in 2021.
  • The IMF said the turmoil in Afghanistan was expected to generate important economic and security spillovers to the region and beyond and was “fueling a surge in Afghan refugees”, although it gave no estimates of potential numbers.
  • Assuming a million more Afghans flee their homeland and settle in other countries in a way that is proportional to the existing spread of Afghan refugees, the annual cost of hosting them would amount to $100 million in Tajikistan (1.3% of gross domestic product), about $300 million in Iran (0.03% of GDP) and more than $500 million in Pakistan (0.2% of GDP), the IMF said.
  • As per UNDP, some 97% of Afghan households can be living below the poverty line by mid-2022.
  • The Taliban takeover in August 2021 saw billions in central assets frozen and the international financial institutions suspend access to the funds, however, humanitarian aid has continued.
  • Banks have been running out of money, civil servants have not been paid and the food prices have soared.
  • Already battling a severe drought and the coronavirus pandemic, Afghanistan’s financial crisis has worsened since the return of the Taliban to power in mid-August 2021.
  • Billions of dollars in international aid have dried up as the international community works out how to interact with the hardline Islamist movement, and billions more in foreign currency reserves are locked up in vaults in the West.

Virtually no local cash in Afghanistan

  • The United Nations has discussed the programmes with Taliban, noting that 80% of the micro-businesses being helped were led by women.
  • Administrator of the UNDP added that the greatest challenge for the UN right now is that there is an economy in which there is virtually no domestic currency in circulation. The UN also wanted to avoid any foreign currencies dominating, which will further undermine the economy.
  • He said that the intent is to find ways quickly in which international support can be converted into the local currency in order to be able to stimulate local markets and local livelihoods.

About the UN’s fund for Afghanistan

  • The United Nations announced on October 2021 that it had set up a special trust fund to provide urgently needed cash directly to the people of Afghanistan through a system tapping into donor funds frozen since the country was taken over by Taliban in August 2021.
  • The United Nations announced in October 2021 that with the local economy of the war-torn Afghanistan imploding, the aim of the fund is to inject the liquidity into Afghan households in order to permit them to survive this winter and remain in their homeland.
  • The Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Achim Steiner said that Germany, a first contributor, had pledged 50 million euros to the fund and that it was also in touch with other donors to mobilise their resources.
  • The funds will allow the international community to be confident enough that these funds are not meant as government-to-government funding.

How does the UN plan on giving cash to Afghans?

  • The Director of UNDP’s regional bureau for the Asia Pacific said that the cash will be provided to the Afghan workers in public works programmes, such as drought and flood control programmes, and grants given to the micro-enterprises.
  • The temporary basic income will also be paid to the vulnerable elderly and disabled. The UN Development Programme had costed the activities to be covered over the first 12 months at approximately $667 million.

-Source: The Hindu


Security must trump green concerns: SC

Context:

The Supreme Court wondered the extent to which it can intervene on environmental grounds when the defence of the nation is at stake – while hearing a plea against the environmental clearance given to widen the Char Dham roads by felling trees.

Relevance:

GS-II: Governance (Government Policies and Interventions, Issues arising out of the Design and Implementation of policies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Char Dham Project
  2. Environmental Concerns About the Project
  3. About the SC judgement on Security vs Environment

About the Char Dham Project

  • Char Dham Expressway National Highway is a proposed two-lane (in each direction) express National Highway in the state of Uttarakhand.
  • The proposed highway will complement the under-development Char Dham Railway by connecting the four holy places in Uttarakhand which are:
    1. Badrinath
    2. Kedarnath
    3. Gangotri
    4. Yamunotri
  • Yamunotri Dham, named after the Goddess Yamuna, is the first Dham en route the yatra.
  • Under the prestigious ‘Char Dham’ road project costing about Rs. 12,000 crores, BRO is constructing 250 km of national highway leading to the holy Hindu shrines of Gangotri and Badrinath.
  • The roads will be widened from 12m to 24m and the project will involve construction of tunnels, bypasses, bridges, subways and viaducts.
  • All of these four sites are devoted to a specific deity. Gangotri is dedicated to the Goddess Ganga, Yamunotri is dedicated to the Goddess Yamuna, Kedarnath is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the 12 jyotirlingas and Badrinath, is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

 

Environmental Concerns About the Project

  • The project may destroy about 690 hectares of forests with 55,000 trees and evacuate an estimated 20 million cubic metres of soil.
  • Ruthless harvesting or uprooting of vegetation in the widening of roads can prove to be perilous for the biodiversity and regional ecology.
  • Birds like Kalij Pheasant (Lophura leucomelanos, Schedule-I), Tragopans (Tragopan melanocephalus & Tragopan satyra, Schedule-I), and various species of Vultures (Schedule-I) along with endangered fish Golden Mahseer (Tor putitora) are among the wonderful species found there.
  • While there is no link between the CharDham project and the recent glacier broken tragedy of Chamoli, indiscriminate blasting during road construction makes cracks in soil and rocks that may enhance the possibility of flash-flood in the future.

About the SC judgement on Security vs Environment

  • While hearing a plea against the environmental clearance given to widen the Char Dham roads by felling trees, the Supreme Court has called for a balance between defence requirements and environmental concerns.
  • The Court has expressed doubts over its intervention on environmental grounds given the security concerns amid the recent border skirmishes on the border with China.
  • These roads are crucial to the defence preparedness of India along the Indo-China border. The widening of the roads will be necessary for the transport of heavy military equipment like missile launchers and even tanks to the border.

-Source: The Hindu


India, U.S. monitoring defence trade projects

Context:

As part of efforts for co-production and co-development of defence equipment under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), India and the U.S. agreed on a revised Statement of Intent (SOI) to strengthen dialogue on defence technology cooperation.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Foreign Policies affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI)?
  2. What are the key outcomes of 11th DTII?

What is the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI)?

  • The Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) mechanism was launched in 2012 to bring sustained leadership focus to the bilateral defence trade relationship and create opportunities for co-production and co-development of defence equipment.
  • The initiative is led by the Undersecretary of Defence for Acquisition and Sustainment from the United States and Secretary for Defence Protection from India.
  • The DTTI meetings are normally held twice a year alternating between India and the U.S. However, this meeting was held virtually.

What are the key outcomes of 11th DTII?

  • Firstly, earlier four Joint Working Groups focused on land, naval, air and aircraft carrier technologies had been established under the DTTI to promote mutually agreed projects. These groups reported to the co-chairs on ongoing activities and collaborative opportunities.
  • Secondly, India and the US have signed a deal to jointly develop air-launched unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
  • Thirdly, a virtual expo of the Defence Industry Collaboration Forum was also conducted. The forum offers an opportunity for Indian and U.S. industries to be directly involved in DTTI and facilitates dialogue between government and industry on issues that impact industrial collaboration.

-Source: The Hindu

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