Editorial Simplified: US pull-out | GS – II

This coincided with his decision to order a complete withdrawal of US forces from Syria, and Trump has said repeatedly that he wants to end the US deployment in Afghanistan.


Relevance: GS Paper II (International Relations)


Why has this issue cropped up?

President Donald Trump declared victory against the ISIS in December 2018 and decided to withdraw all US forces from Syria. He also announced that the US would withdraw half the troops from Afghanistan.


Impact of the above decision

Both decisions contravene carefully formulated strategies to defeat the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban. In Afghanistan, in particular, Trump has unwittingly handed over the initiative to the Taliban.


Present situation in Afghanistan

  • The Afghan National Army (ANA), supported by the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), is not losing but the resurgent Taliban now controls about one-third of the country.
  • While the ANA controls most of the large towns, the writ of the Taliban runs in huge areas of the countryside.
  • The Taliban continues to haunt government forces.
  • Sporadic strikes by terrorists belonging to ISIS to stoke sectarian conflict by attacking the Shias continue unabated.
  • Governance is weak, crime is rampant and corruption and tax evasion are widespread.
  • The presidential election that was scheduled for April 2019 has been postponed to July 2019.
  • The withdrawal of troops ordered by President Trump further emboldened the Taliban and weakened the Afghan government.

The Moscow format

A Russian initiative, called the Moscow format, succeeded in bringing together the Taliban and Afghan representatives but the Afghans were from the High Peace Council, a “national but non-government institution.


Afghanistan and India

  • Given its geographical location on the strategic crossroads to the Central Asian Republics (CARs) and West Asia, a peaceful and stable Afghanistan is a vital national interest for India.
  • India has not been invited to join ISAF; nor is there any support for military intervention in India’s policy community. However, India is now being urged by the Trump administration to do more to help resolve the conflict.
  • India has invested over $3 billion in reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, donated four Mi-25 attack helicopters, provided training to Afghan military personnel, civilian pilots and administrators and has been regularly providing humanitarian aid and medical supplies.
  • The Indian embassy in Kabul and Indian consulates as well as road construction protection parties of ITBP have been attacked by the Taliban and have suffered a large number of casualties.
  • Till very recently, the Indian position for conflict resolution was that there should be no negotiations with the Taliban as it is a terrorist organisation. Yet, India sent two former diplomats as unofficial observers to the Moscow conference with the Taliban.
  • India appears to have now accepted that negotiations for conflict resolution cannot take place without talking to the Taliban leadership.
  • The worst case scenario for India would be the Taliban’s return to power in Kabul. If that happens, Pakistan’s ISI would be sure to divert many of the hard core Taliban fighters to Kashmir.

Conclusion

India’s national interest lies in formulating a comprehensive strategy, jointly with the Afghan government, that ensures that a Taliban takeover can be prevented.


 

Editorial Simplified: We Need A Leap In Healthcare Spending | GS – II

In India, allocation for healthcare is merely 2.2% of the Budget. Per capita spending on health in the Budget in India is ₹458 (₹61,398 crore/ 134 crore, which is the population).


Relevance: GS Paper II (Social sector)


Theme of the Article

India needs to focus on long-term investment, not only episodes of care.


Why has this issue cropped up?

The Central and State governments have introduced several innovations in the healthcare sector in recent times.


Issues with health care in India

  • The U.S.’s health expenditure is 18% of GDP, while India’s is still under 1.5%.
  • While the Interim Budget is responsive to the needs of farmers and the middle class, it does not adequately respond to the needs of the health sector.
  • Per capita expenditure on health is about $20, or about $100 when adjusted for purchasing power parity. U.S. spends $10,224 per capita on healthcare per year.
  • In Budget terms, S.  spends 23.5% of the Budget. In India, allocation for healthcare is merely 2.2% of the Budget.
  • Allocation to the National Tobacco Control Programme and Drug De-addiction Programme is only ₹65 crore. The allocation for each of the wellness centres is less than ₹1 lakh per year. This is a meagre amount.
  • Prevention of chronic kidney disease, which affects 15-17% of the population, is not appropriately addressed.
  • Due to lack of focus in preventive oncology in India, over 70% of cancers are diagnosed in stages III or IV. The reverse is true in developed countries.

Way forward

  • To reach its target, the government should increase funding for health by 20-25% every year for the next five years or more.
  • The ₹6,400 crore allocation to Ayushman Bharat-PMJAY in the Interim Budget will help reduce out-of-pocket expenditure on health, which is at a massive 67%.
  • The mandate of health and wellness centresunder Ayushman Bharat. should include health education and holistic wellness integrating modern medicine with traditional Indian medicine.
  • Both communicable disease containment as well as non-communicable disease programmes should be included in health and wellness centres.
  • History shows that where there is long-term commitment and resource allocation, rich return on investment is possible. For instance, AIIMS, New Delhi is the premier health institute in India with a brand value because of resource allocation over decades.
  • A focused approach in adding tax on tobacco and alcohol, to fund non-communicable disease prevention strategies at health and wellness centres, should be considered.
  • Increase of GDP alone does not guarantee health, since there is no direct correlation between GDP and health outcomes. However, improvement in health does relate positively to GDP, since a healthy workforce contributes to productivity.
  • For various diseases, allocation should be realigned for disease management over a defined time period, not merely for episodes of care.
  • The health sector must be made a priority area, like defence.
  • Since a major innovation in universal healthcare is being rolled out, it must be matched with a quantum leap in funding.

Conclusion

Only if we invest more for the long-term health of the nation will there be a similar rise in GDP


 

Essential Facts (Prelims): 8 Feb, 2019


Repo Rate

Category: Economy

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut the policy repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.25% in a bid to revive economic growth.
  • The RBI also simultaneously changed the stance of the policy to ‘neutral’ from ‘calibrated tightening,’ which indicates that the central bank remains ready to move in either direction based on incoming data. The move will enable banks to lower their lending rates.

IP Index

Category : International

  • India has jumped eight places to 36th position on the International Intellectual Property (IP) Index.
  • IP index analyses the IP climate in 50 global economies.
  • India’s eight-point jump in 2019 from 44th position in 2018 is the highest increase among 50 nations mapped by the index.

Global Warming

Category : Environment

  • Rising temperatures increase the concentration of aerosols in the atmosphere that cause air pollution.
  • While climate change is warming the ocean, it is warming the land faster, which is bad news for air quality all over the world.
  • The contrast in warming between the continents and sea, called the land-sea warming contrast, drives up the aerosol concentration in the atmosphere.
  • Aerosols are tiny solid particles or liquid droplets suspended in the atmosphere. They can come from natural sources, like dust or wildfires, or human made sources such as vehicle and industrial emissions.
  • Aerosols affect the climate system, including disturbances to the water cycle, as well as human health. They also cause smog and other kinds of air pollution that can lead to health problems.
  • A robust response to an increase in greenhouse gases is that the land is going to warm faster than the ocean. This enhanced land warming is also associated with increased continental aridity.
  • The increase in aridity leads to decreased low cloud cover and less rain, which is the main way that aerosols are removed from the atmosphere.

Atal Bhujal Yojana

Category: Social Sector

  • The World Bank has approved Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY), a Rs.6000 Crore scheme, for sustainable management of ground water with community participation.
  • The funding pattern is 50:50 between Government of India and World Bank.
  • The identified over-exploited (OE) and water stressed areas for the implementation of the scheme fall in the States of Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
  • ABHY envisages active participation of the communities in various activities such as formation of ‘Water User Associations’, monitoring and disseminating ground water data, water budgeting, etc.

 NSDF

Category: Sports

  • Assistance from National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) has been given during last four years to sportspersons for their customized training belonging to 22 sports disciplines.
  • The selected athletes are provided financial assistance for their customised training at Institutes having world class facilities and other necessary support.
  • Funds from NSDF are released to the sportspersons directly or to the coaches / academies associated with their customized training. State-wise details of sportspersons given assistance from NSDF are not maintained.

PM-KISAN

Category : Agriculture

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