Chapter 1: Bridging Accessibility Gap
Context: The country’s economic progress and growth will be influenced by innovation, according to the prime minister. Atal Community Innovation Centers (ACIC) have been established nationwide in response to this.
Atal Community Innovation Centre (ACIC)
Goal of ACIC: The Atal Community Innovation Centre (ACIC) was established with the express purpose of fostering an entrepreneurial spirit in India’s unserved and neglected areas. It also aims to promote innovation by creating an environment that facilitates it. As a sub-initiative of the Atal Innovation Mission, ACIC has been launched (AIM).
Importance of Innovation: ACIC was established to encourage community-based ideas that will aid in the development of the nation’s underdeveloped regions. There is an understanding that for growth to be sustainable, it must cause the least amount of environmental harm possible, and it must be inclusive. In this context, inclusivity means including everyone on the development route.
Focus Areas: The Mission aims to promote social innovation in a variety of fields, including food security, health, living conditions, inter-communal harmony, education, and young employment prospects. At the same time, the North-East, J&K, Rural and Tribal Areas, Tier 2 and 3 regions, and Aspirational Districts are the main areas of concentration for development.
Partnership with UNDP: AIM/ACIC and UNDP have teamed up to promote youth-led social entrepreneurship and innovation in India (see inset). In fact, UNDP and AIM have started another project named Youth Co:Lab in collaboration with NITI Aayog. The goal of Youth Co:Lab is to raise awareness of many issues affecting young people, the future of employment, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Principal Goals of ACIC
Social Innovation: The application of novel social norms for the purpose of advancing society is referred to as social innovation. For instance, a large number of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) like water.org are active in India’s social innovation sector. In order for people to have access to safe and clean drinking water, Water.org has played a significant role in providing information and setting up financing.
Empowerment: ACIC has played a crucial role in supplying technical support and capacity building assistance for promoting the expansion of start-ups. It has made attempts to foster an enabling social environment that will allow start-ups to work toward resolving neighbourhood issues. In addition to sharing best practises through its information repositories, it has aided start-ups by offering mentoring and scientific support to the companies.
Collaboration: In order to support budding start-ups and the students involved in them, ACIC has enlisted the help of Mentor India’s network of mentors. Additionally, it has adopted a cluster-strategy by offering a collaborative method so that various innovative businesses can share knowledge with one another. It has also given polytechnic students opportunities to showcase their ideas and develop them in ways that would allow them to build profitable business models.
Diversity: ACIC has played a crucial role in fostering innovation in the regarded as backward areas. By providing options for self-employment and making financing available to those in such locations, it has supported entrepreneurship. The Aspirational Districts and underserved regions of the nation have received special attention from ACIC.
Sustainability: ACIC has paved the way for the nation’s sustainable financial management. Additionally, it has given local industry the chance to collaborate with the firms. In order to establish financial incentives for involving local industries, the mission has taken advantage of the Corporate Social Responsibility funding.
The Atal Community Innovation Centers (ACIC) may prove to be one of the key drivers of economic development in the nation’s rural and underdeveloped regions. It has the potential to tap into the enthusiasm of youth because it concentrates on underdeveloped areas and communities. If properly implemented, ACICs might herald inclusive progress for the nation.
Q. Describe the main goals for establishing Atal Community Innovation Centers (ACIC). Also emphasise how crucial social innovation is to accelerating the nation’s progress.
Q. What are the areas of prohibitive labour that can be sustainably managed by robots? Discuss the initiatives that can propel research in premier research institutes for substantive and gainful innovation. (GS3 – 2015)
Q. Performance of welfare schemes that are implemented for vulnerable sections is not so effective due to absence of their awareness and active involvement at all stages of policy process – Discuss. (GS2 – 2019)
Chapter 2: Empowering Divyangjan
An important portion of the population in India is made up of divyangjan, or people with disabilities (PwDs). It is essential to give this group of people more authority so that they no longer feel helpless and can actively participate in the advancement of society.
Legislative Provisions for Divyangjan:
Department of Persons with Disabilities Empowerment: The government established the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) inside the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment after taking into account the unique needs of PwDs. This is consistent with Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam’s overarching vision, which the Indian government has been pursuing since the country’s independence (see inset).
“Divyang”: The Prime Minister created the term “divyang” to describe PwDs in an effort to influence how society views PwDs and to encourage them to engage in society without feeling inferior. The phrase is particularly pertinent because it does not emphasise the divyangjans’ infirmity but rather their other enhanced senses.
UNCRPD: United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities In 2008, the Convention became effective. It is a global agreement to protect the rights of people with disabilities. As a convention signatory, India passed the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act in 2016 to harmonise domestic legislation with the treaty.
The 2016 Rights of People with Disabilities Act: The Act establishes an inclusive system in the nation by defending PwDs’ rights and implementing specific rules for divyangjans’ empowerment. The following list of the Act’s main points:
Rights and Obligations: The Act guarantees divyangjan reproductive rights as well as equality and non-discrimination, the right to community life, protection from cruelty, inhuman treatment, abuse, violence, and exploitation, accessibility for voting and access to justice, guardianship, and protection from cruelty, inhuman treatment, abuse, and violence.
Education and skill development: The act also imposes requirements on educational institutions and outlines specific steps that can be taken to support and enable inclusive education across the nation. In order to stop discrimination towards divyangjan, it also guarantees equality of opportunity and non-discrimination.
Reservation: The Act outlines provisions for PwDs to be reserved in both employment and institutions of higher education. Additionally, it raises the percentage of PwDs reserved for people with benchmark disabilities from 3 percent to 5 percent (i.e., disability of 40 percent or more). Similar to this, there is now a 4 percent reservation in government and government-aided higher education institutions.
Social Security: In addition to creating unique employment exchanges for PwDs, the act encourages the private sector to hire divyangjan. Along with encouraging involvement in sports, leisure, and cultural activities, it also includes provisions for special healthcare and insurance plans for divyangjan.
Government Programs and Projects
Accessible India Campaign: To provide divyangjan with a barrier-free environment, the campaign was started in 2015. Public spaces like airports, governmental structures, railroad stations, buses, and other areas are covered by the initiative. The project calls for the construction of ramps, assistance stations, and accessible restrooms in public areas.
Accessibility to the ICT Ecosystem: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has also released recommendations for making TV viewing accessible for people with hearing impairment as part of the Project.
Sugamya Bharat: The government has introduced the Sugamya Bharat app to help people understand the issues facing divyangjan. The app allows users to provide their opinions on PwD accessibility issues.
UDID, or the Unique Disability Identity Project The Project aims to make it easier to certify a handicap while also catching fraud. The UDID regulations allow for the establishment of medical authorities to determine a person’s handicap. At Datia, MP, the first such authority was established in 2017.
DEPwD has established a 24-hour mental health helpline to offer assistance to those who are experiencing mental health problems as well as their relatives. This is especially important in light of the WHO Report from 2019, which noted that COVID may eventually cause one in every four people to have a decline in their mental health. There are 13 languages supported by the helpline.
The Government of India has a programme called Divya Kala Shakti that aims to inspire divyangjan to take part in cultural events. The Government gives PwDs the chance to demonstrate their talent for performing fine arts through the scheme. In addition to two regional programmes in Itanagar and Chennai, two national level Divya Kala Shakti programmes have already been held in Delhi.
The government offers PwDs aids and assistive devices under the Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/Fitting of Aids and Appliances (ADIP) Scheme so that they can not only carry out everyday tasks but also find meaningful employment and support themselves independently. The government has implemented a number of measures under this programme, including the distribution of artificial limbs and cochlear implants, among others.
DDRS, or the Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme: The government established DDRS to provide funding for NGOs in recognition of the significance of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). In addition to its stated goal of empowering people with disabilities, the programme also offers grants-in-aid to NGOs engaged in divyangjan welfare.
Early Intervention Centers (EICs): Other efforts for PwDs’ welfare Experts have noted that early identification and detection are essential for treating the handicap and implementing early treatments to allow the divyangjan to live a self-sufficient and respectable life. The government has created Early Intervention Centers at its National Institutes and Composite Regional Centers in 14 districts in order to move in this approach.
EIC facilities: These EICs have resources for both screening cases and treating those who have been identified as having them. In addition to special education institutions, they house services including speech therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, parent/peer counselling, and more for the enhancement of children with impairments’ cognitive capacities.
Education: In order to encourage divyangjan to enrol in higher education courses, the government has made a number of actions. For instance, it has started a number of scholarships, including 20 scholarships for PwDs who desire to study overseas, 200 PhD, and 25,000 Pre-Matric, 17,000 Post-Matric, and scholarships. In parallel, the government offers PwDs the opportunity to get free tutoring for competitive exams.
Institutions: To promote the use of sign language and build the capacity of service providers for it, institutions like the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC), in Delhi, have been established. Similar goals are pursued by the National Institute of Mental Health Rehabilitation (NIMHR) in Sehore, MP, which focuses on patient rehabilitation and capacity building.
facilitating access to NCERTs In order to translate the complete NCERT curriculum from Classes I to XII into sign language, the ISLRTC, Delhi and NCERT have signed a Memorandum of Understanding. In reality, the texts have already been translated into sign language for Classes I through V. Additionally, a smartphone app has been created with accessibility features for PwDs so they may access the whole NCERT curriculum.
Recruitment: The Indian government took action to fill open positions for divyangjans in Central government institutions. For instance, 14,000 of the estimated 15,700 divyangjan job openings have already been filled. Additionally, the government has chosen positions that are appropriate for people with benchmark disabilities.
Sports participation: Tokyo Paralympics 2020 opened the nation’s eyes by showcasing divyangjan’s abilities. The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPD) has established a Centre for Disability Sports in Gwalior to take advantage of this talent. Modern equipment will be available at the centre for the training of athletes with disabilities.
One of the most vulnerable groups in the nation is the Divyangjan. They may also contain latent potential that, if properly utilised, might boost the nation’s economic growth and development. It is vital that the community be properly made aware of the problems that PwDs confront and that the social stigma associated with their societal inclusion be lifted.
Q. Talk about the areas where the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, is focused while highlighting the steps the Indian government has taken to solve the problems PwDs encounter.
Q. Multiplicity of various commissions for the vulnerable sections or the society leads to problems or overlapping jurisdiction and duplication of functions. Is it better to merge all commissions into an umbrella Human Rights Commission? Argue your case. (GS2 – 2018)
Q. Does the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 ensure effective mechanism for empowerment and inclusion of the intended beneficiaries in the society? Discuss. (GS2 – 2017)
Chapter 3: Safeguarding Children
Context: The COVID-19 has been more difficult for society’s most vulnerable groups to deal with, particularly children. Many children lost their parents, and some became orphans. In order to help these kids, childcare policies need to be examined.
Indian Institutional Framework for Children’s Welfare
Laws that apply to adoptions: The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act of 1956 governs adoptions in India (HAMA). Adoptions for non-Hindus were previously governed by the Guardians and Wards Act, 1980. However, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 later replaced it (also referred to as JJ Act).
The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), an independent organisation within the Ministry of Women and Child Development, was established in 2015. The organization’s job is to keep an eye on India’s domestic and international adoption procedures. Additionally, it keeps a digital registry of prospective parents and adoptable youngsters. The 1993 Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoptions, which India accepted in 2003, governs international adoptions.
Other Organizations: The State Adoption Resource Agency (SARA) serves as the central organisation for promoting and overseeing adoptions in the State. The task of putting children for adoption falls within the purview of Specialized Adoption Agency (SAA). The foreign agency that is approved by CARA as the central adoption agency for international adoptive parents looking to place a child in India for adoption is known as the Authorized Foreign Adoption Agency (AFAA).
DCPU: District Child Protection Unit The State government established it up at the district level. The organisation is entrusted with finding orphans, abandoned children, and children who have been turned in in the District. Along with receiving the Child Welfare Committee’s blessing, it considers making such children legally available for adoption.
Governmental Programs for Children’s Welfare Mission Vatsalya: The government of India has a plan to guarantee every child in India a happy and healthy childhood. The mission’s goals are to help the States and UTs implement the JJ Act’s 2015 provisions and accomplish SDGs. Service delivery, community-based non-institutional care, emergency outreach services, training, and capacity building will all be a part of it.
Task Force POSHAN 2.0: To address the problem of childhood malnutrition, POSHAN was established. It aims to change people’s perspectives on eating, from quantitative to qualitative, with a focus on eating wholesome foods. By encouraging healthy eating habits, the mission hopes to improve the population’s general health and well-being.
Mission Shakti is a government initiative to better the safety and security of women while also empowering them. The two parts of the mission are Sambal and Samarthya. Sambal has implemented One Stop Centers (OSCs), Women Helplines, and Beti Bachao Beti Padhao in an effort to increase the protection and security of women (BBBP). On the other hand, Samarthya is centred on the empowerment of women and consists of PM Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), Ujjwala, Swadhar Greh, Working Women’s Hostel, and National Creche Service (see inset).
PM Children with CARES: PM To assist the children who have been left orphaned or abandoned as a result of COVID, CARES for Children has been established. It was introduced on May 29, 2021. The programme aims to support the kids by giving them access to education, health insurance, and money to support themselves.
Jan Arogya Yojana, the PM: All households are given health insurance under the Ayushman Bharat – PM Jan Arogya Yojana that covers secondary and tertiary medical care to the tune of Rs. 5 lakhs. Children who have been designated as PM CARES for children beneficiaries are included in the programme.
Motives for India has a low adoption rate.
Laws Against Adoption: The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act of 1956 (HAMA) and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2000 govern adoptions in India (referred to as JJ Act). Experts have noted that it is challenging for prospective parents to comply with the requirements of these regulations. Less than 3,000 children are available for adoption, despite there being roughly 29,000 parents who are ready to adopt.
Inadequate Institutional Care: As previously said, considering the high number of orphaned and abandoned children in India, the infrastructure for institutional care is insufficient. The majority of these kids can be seen on the streets begging or tending to roadside kiosks. As a result, there are fewer children in institutional care despite the high demand for adoptive parents. This widens the gap between desperate parents and needy kids.
Unregistered Child Care Institutions (CCI): India has 5,850 CCIs that are registered, according to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). According to sources, there are actually more than 8,000 such institutions in the nation; the gap is made up of CCIs that aren’t registered. Children in such facilities cannot be adopted since only legally recognised institutions are permitted to allow parents to adopt children.
Inadequate Resources: According to the information that is currently available, there are approximately 2.33 lakh children in CCIs that are registered and unregistered across the nation. The government must keep an eye on unregistered institutions since the children who reside there are at risk of abuse, human trafficking, violence, and inadequate care.
We require more CCIs: It is essential to increase the number of CCIs in the nation in order to open up additional adoption opportunities. This can be achieved by speeding up the registration of unregistered CCIs and allocating more resources to the creation of new CCIs. More kids need to be transferred from the streets to institutional care at the same time.
Challenges that Children Face
a big number of children: Children and teens make up about half of India’s population, or about 47 crore (i.e., persons below 18 years of age). Nearly 16 crore of these are kids between the ages of 0 and 6. The majority of the anticipated global population growth by 2050 is expected to come from nine nations, including India. India is among the world’s youngest nations as a result.
The impact of COVID has been devastating, especially for the most vulnerable members of society. Due to the introduction of COVID, children have suffered disproportionately, with many of them losing both of their parents. According to media statistics, almost 30 million children in the nation are orphaned or abandoned, making up around 4% of the population.
Lack of Support: Private organisations have noted that just 4.7 lakh of the abandoned 3 crore children were being cared for in institutions. Almost 50 lakh orphaned or abandoned children are adopted at the same time.
India’s adoption situation: According to the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), the number of domestic adoptions in India has decreased from 5,693 in 2010 to 3,276 in 2017–18. This illustrates the appalling adoption rates in India as well as the requirement for government action in this area.
Divyang Children Adoption: It is well knowledge that handicapped children, or divyang children, have a larger need for adoption. According to CARA data, just 40 divyang children were adopted between 2018 and 2019. At the same time, the number of special needs children adopted by foreigners has been continuously rising, demonstrating the necessity of cultural sensitivity training for potential parents in the nation.
In India, strong adoption rules have been put in place to safeguard kids from abuse. Although they were created with the best of intentions, they have made it challenging for prospective parents to adopt a child, which has resulted in a lack of family care for the abandoned and orphaned children. It is necessary to rationalise the laws in order to prevent them from impeding the support system for the vulnerable children.
Q. What are the causes of the nation’s low adoption rate? Additionally, describe the steps the government has done to alleviate the problems Indian children are facing.
- Do government’s schemes for up-lifting vulnerable and backward communities by protecting required social resources for them, lead to their exclusion in establishing businesses in urban economics? (GS2 – 2014)
- Examine the main provisions of the National Child Policy and throw light on the status of its implementation. (GS2 – 2016)
Chapter 4: Digital Service Delivery
India is relying on its ability in information and communications technology (ICT) to enhance service delivery to the public and change society into a community where everyone has access to the internet.
Inclusive: Maintaining the nation’s inclusivity is the key goal of placing more focus on digitization. The government intends to integrate previously underprivileged populations that have historically been denied access to the advantages associated with government welfare programmes through the spread of digitization in governance. As an illustration, the JAM (Jan Dhan- Aadhar- Mobile) trinity has been inventively applied to improve financial inclusion in the nation.
Affordable: The advantages of remote access and a reduction in the demand for physical presence are inherent to digitization. This is especially important for casual workers since they can reduce their transportation expenses without losing a day’s pay. In order to boost residents’ adoption of digital services, the government has also taken initiatives to minimise transaction fees for online services.
Transformational: The government aims to transform underdeveloped areas and regions of the nation through investing in digital infrastructure. Information and communications technology (ICT) has the ability to accelerate the development of the nation’s “Aspirational” regions, as demonstrated by the IT revolution and the expansion of the BPO business in India at the turn of the century.
Accessible: Digital access to services is crucial for enhancing access and for resolving complaints from persons who have trouble using these services. Digital communication’s ability to maintain anonymity helps consumers feel more secure. Additionally, it gives them ways to request government assistance and hold government officials responsible.
Digital India The goal of the Digital India programme is to make India into a society and knowledge economy that is empowered by technology. It aims to offer government services to people in a way that gives them agency. It intends to strengthen the government’s ability to oversee the internet while taking advantage of the nation’s rapidly growing internet infrastructure.
Bharatnet is an initiative of the Indian government to provide rural areas with high-speed digital access. Bharatnet, the largest rural connectivity programme in the world, intends to promote broadband services in rural regions by extending the National Optic Fibre Network (NOFN) to all of the country’s gramme panchayats. In the nation, it aims to establish last-mile connectivity.
The government of India has a programme called Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) that aims to restructure how people get government services. The PM Garib Kalyan Package benefit transfer has recently been added to the scheme. The plan aims to reduce duplication and eliminate ghost accounts from the system while transferring payments to beneficiaries quickly and accurately.
Government offices can conduct public procurement through the Government e-Marketplace (GeM), an e-Commerce platform operated by the Government of India. The National e-Governance Division provides technical assistance while the Directorate General of Supplies and Disposal (DGS&D) hosts the portal (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology).
JAM Trinity: JAM stands for the usage of mobile phones, Aadhar cards, and PM Jan Dhan Yojana accounts to increase financial inclusion in the nation. As previously said, the government is implementing DBT by utilising JAM trinity to provide citizens with government services.
PM Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA): This government of India initiative aims to teach people in rural areas digital literacy. It intends to educate at least one member of every eligible household in order to reach all rural areas of States and UTs. The programme focuses on disadvantaged groups like SC/ST, minorities, BPL residents, and those with disabilities in an effort to close the digital divide.
The Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission is an initiative of the Indian government to combine citizen health-related information. A person’s participation in the healthcare ecosystem is made possible via the Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA) number, which has 14 digits. It offers a single account for accessing and sharing a person’s digital health records. Additionally, it enables a person to obtain digital health reports, prescriptions, and diagnoses from trusted service providers and healthcare specialists.
The Government of India has a programme called eSanjeevani that aims to offer telemedicine services to the general public. In accordance with this, a patient may obtain outpatient (OPD) services while relaxing at home. In a nation like India with a low doctor to population ratio, this is extremely important. A specialist doctor (with an MBBS or masters degree) diagnoses the patient in real time and submits a report as part of e-Sanjeevani.
The provision of a Digital Life Certificate for the payment of pensions is a service offered by the Indian government, according to Jeevan Praman. Pensioners from the federal government, state governments, and other governmental bodies may access it. The pensioners are excused from appearing in person before the pension distributing authority thanks to Jeevan Pramaan. Patients who are elderly or ill and may not be able to appear in person before an official benefit the most from it.
Unified Mobile Application for New Age Governance (UMANG) app: The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology unveiled the Digital India programme, which includes the UMANG app. The app provides a variety of government services, including information search, application forms, registration, and payment for services provided by the Central and State governments.
DESH STACK, or the Digital Ecosystem for Skill and Livelihood, The Indian government has put up this e-portal to provide online skilling courses. The platform strives to connect skilled job seekers with industry need for their services. Its goal is to address the shortage of skilled workers and employment in the nation.
Lack of Adequate Infrastructure: India has one of the highest smartphone adoption rates worldwide, however the country lacks the necessary internet infrastructure to meet its citizens’ needs. Rural communities’ sluggish broadband speeds and lack of broadband service contribute to the continuation of their backwardness.
Lack of digital literacy: Several reports have noted that the nation lacks even the most fundamental level of functional digital literacy. People must be introduced to the fundamental features of the internet and made aware of the opportunities it presents. The nation’s digital literacy has been improved thanks to measures implemented by the government. These efforts must be intensified.
Rural Places: Both poor infrastructure and a lack of digital knowledge among the populace cause rural areas to suffer disproportionately. The main driver of migration to metropolitan regions is a lack of physical and social infrastructure. It is essential to solve the infrastructure gap in rural regions if we are to stop this movement.
Industry-Specific Problems: For instance, India’s healthcare system struggles with a lack of physicians, access to affordable medications, and the lack of universal healthcare. As a result, there is a need for fresh, creative solutions to address these problems. For instance, eSanjeevani makes use of the high smartphone adoption rate in the nation to increase the general public’s access to telemedicine.
India, one of the largest and most mountainous nations, faces access problems for receiving government services. However, via carefully chosen e-governance efforts of the government, the enormous opportunities provided by the internet offer a way out for providing faster and ubiquitous access to digital service delivery.
Outlining the numerous steps taken by the administration in this regard, discuss the difficulties associated with expanding the delivery of government services in the nation.
- Implementation of information and Communication Technology (ICT) based Projects / Programmes usually suffers in terms of certain vital factors. Identify these factors, and suggest measures for their effective implementation. (GS2 – 2019)
- E-Governance is not only about utilization of the power of new technology, but also much about critical importance of the ‘use value’ of information. Explain. (GS2 – 2018)