- National Commission for Minorities
Focus: GS II- Health
Why in News?
The Vice President called for intensified efforts for early detection of leprosy cases, equitable access to appropriate treatment and integrated leprosy services.
What is Leprosy?
- Leprosy is a chronic, progressive bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae.
- It primarily affects the nerves of the extremities, the skin, the lining of the nose, and the upper respiratory tract.
- Leprosy is also known as Hansen’s disease.
- Hansen’s disease produces skin ulcers, nerve damage, and muscle weakness. If it isn’t treated, it can cause severe disfigurement and significant disability.
- Hansen’s disease is one of the oldest diseases in recorded history. The first known written reference to Hansen’s disease is from around 600 B.C.
- Hansen’s disease is common in many countries, especially those with tropical or subtropical climates.
- It’s not very common in the United States.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source reports that only 150 to 250 new cases are diagnosed in the United States each year.
What are the symptoms?
- The main symptoms of Hansen’s disease include:
- muscle weakness
- numbness in the hands, arms, feet, and legs
- skin lesions
- The skin lesions result in decreased sensation to touch, temperature, or pain.
- They don’t heal, even after several weeks.
- They’re lighter than your normal skin tone or they may be reddened from inflammation.
How does it spread?
- The bacterium Mycobacterium leprae causes Hansen’s disease.
- It’s thought that Hansen’s disease spreads through contact with the mucosal secretions of a person with the infection. This usually occurs when a person with Hansen’s disease sneezes or coughs.
- The disease isn’t highly contagious.
- However, close, repeated contact with an untreated person for a longer period of time can lead to contracting Hansen’s disease.
- The bacterium responsible for Hansen’s disease multiplies very slowly. The disease has an average incubation period (the time between infection and the appearance of the first symptoms) of five years, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
National Commission for Minorities
Focus: GS II- Polity and Governance
Why in News?
Shri S. Iqbal Singh Lalpura has assumed charge as Chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities,
About National Commission for Minorities (NCM)
- The Union Government set up the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. Hence, the NCM is a Statutory Body.
- Six religious communities, viz; Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains have been notified in Gazette of India as minority communities by the Union Government all over India.
- The term “minority” is not defined in the Indian Constitution. However, the Constitution recognises religious and linguistic minorities – The NCM Act defines a minority as “a community notified as such by the Central government.”
- The NCM adheres to the United Nations Declaration of 18 December 1992 which states that “States shall protect the existence of the National or Ethnic, Cultural, Religious and Linguistic identity of minorities within their respective territories and encourage conditions for the promotion of that identity.”
Formation of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM)
- In 1978, setting up of the Minorities Commission (MC) was envisaged in the Ministry of Home Affairs Resolution.
- In 1984, the MC was detached from the Ministry of Home Affairs and placed under the newly created Ministry of Welfare, which excluded linguistic minorities from the Commission’s jurisdiction in 1988.
- In 1992, with the enactment of the NCM Act, 1992, the MC became a statutory body and was renamed as the NCM.
- In 1993, the first Statutory National Commission was set up and five religious communities viz the Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) were notified as minority communities.
- In 2014, Jains were also notified as a minority community.
Functions of the NCM
- Evaluate the progress of the development of Minorities under the Union and States.
- Monitor the working of the safeguards provided in the Constitution and in laws enacted by Parliament and the State Legislatures.
- Make recommendations for the effective implementation of safeguards for the protection of the interests of Minorities by the Central Government or the State Governments.
- Look into specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Minorities and take up such matters with the appropriate authorities.
- Cause studies to be undertaken into problems arising out of any discrimination against Minorities and recommend measures for their removal.
- Conduct studies, research and analysis on the issues relating to socio-economic and educational development of Minorities.
- Suggest appropriate measures in respect of any Minority to be undertaken by the Central Government or the State Governments.
- Make periodical or special reports to the Central Government on any matter pertaining to Minorities and in particular the difficulties confronted by them.
- Any other matter which may be referred to it by the Central Government.
Composition of the NCM
- The NCM is mandated to have seven members, including a chairperson and vice-chairperson, with a member each from the Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Parsi and Jain communities.
- Total of 7 persons to be nominated by the Central Government should be from amongst persons of eminence, ability and integrity. The Ministry for Minority Affairs recommends the names to the Prime Minister’s Office.
- Each Member holds office for a period of three years from the date of assumption of office.
- Article 15 and 16: Prohibition of discrimination against citizens on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. Citizens’ right to ‘equality of opportunity’ in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State, and prohibition in this regard of any discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
- Article 25 (1), 26 and 28: People’s freedom of conscience and right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion. Right of every religious denomination or any section to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes, manage its own religious affairs, and own and acquire property and administer it. People’s freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in educational institutions wholly maintained, recognized, or aided by the State.
- Article 29: It provides that any section of the citizens residing in any part of India having a distinct language, script or culture of its own, shall have the right to conserve the same. It grants protection to both religious minorities as well as linguistic minorities. However, the Supreme Court held that the scope of this article is not necessarily restricted to minorities only, as use of the word ‘section of citizens’ in the Article includes minorities as well as the majority.
- Article 30: All minorities shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. The protection under Article 30 is confined only to minorities (religious or linguistic) and does not extend to any section of citizens (as under Article 29).
- Article 350-B: The 7th Constitutional (Amendment) Act 1956 inserted this article which provides for a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities appointed by the President of India. It would be the duty of the Special Officer to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for linguistic minorities under the Constitution.