Gist of Editorials: Ensure A Minimum Income For All | GS – II


Relevance : GS Paper II (Development and Welfare)


Why has this issue cropped up?

The idea of a universal basic income (UBI) is gaining ground globally.

What is UBI ?

It requires the government to pay every citizen a fixed amount of money on a regular basis and without any conditionalities.

Why a UBI ?

Millions of people remain unemployed and are extremely poor.

Limited Version of UBI

Govt has unfolded a limited version of the UBI in the form of the PM-KISAN.

Where will  UBI Work ?

  • It is not a substitute for basic public services.
  • There is need to transfer money only to extremely poor such as landless labourers, agricultural workers and marginal farmers.

How the Above Groups  are at Disadvantage?

  • Institutional credits for these groups are very low.
  • They have to borrow from moneylenders at exorbitant interest rates.
  • Benefits of subsidised fertilizers and power do not reach
  • Automation of low-skill jobs and formalisation of the retail sector have redered them jobless.

How can UBI Help these Groups?

  • An income support can be a good supplement to their livelihoods.
  • This additional income can reduce the incidence of indebtedness.
  • Can improve nutrient intake and increase enrolment and school attendance.
  • Improved health and educational outcomes and hence a more productive workforce.
  • It will reduce income inequalities.
  • Increased demand due to increased income will promote economic activities in rural areas.

Can UBI Discourage Beneficiaries from Seeking Work?

The income support suggested above is not too large to discourage beneficiaries from seeking work.

Can UBI Replace Basic Services?

UBI will deliver the benefits only if it comes on top of public services such as health and education.

How to Make UBI Effective?

  • transfer the money into the bank accounts of women.
  • Budgetary allocation for basic services should be raised significantly.
  • Programmes such as MGNREGS should also stay.
  • It will have to be restricted to the poorest of poor households.
  • Aadhaar can be used to rule out duplications and perform updation.
  • The tax kitty can be expanded by reintroducing wealth tax.
  • The cost of UBI will have to be shared by States.

Conclusion

The income transfer scheme is costly but poverty is much higher.


 

Editorial Simplified: Ensure A Minimum Income For All| GS – II

Relevance :  GS Paper II (Welfare)


Why has this issue cropped up?

The idea of a universal basic income (UBI) is gaining ground globally. It has supporters among proponents as well as opponents of the free-market economy.


What is UBI ?

A UBI requires the government to pay every citizen a fixed amount of money on a regular basis and without any conditionalities.


Why a UBI ?

Crucial to the appeal for such a demand — for a UBI — is that millions of people remain unemployed and are extremely poor, despite rapid economic growth in the last three decades.


Limited version of UBI

The present govt has already unfolded a limited version of the UBI in the form of the Pradhanmantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM-KISAN) which promises ₹6,000 per annum to farmers who own less than 2 hectares of land.


Where will  UBI work ?

  • The UBI is neither an antidote to the vagaries of market forces nor a substitute for basic public services, especially health and education.
  • Besides, there is no need to transfer money to middle- and high-income earners as well as large landowners.
  • However, there is a strong case for direct income transfers to some groups: landless labourers, agricultural workers and marginal farmers who suffer from multi-dimensional poverty.
  • These groups have not benefited from economic growth. They were and still are the poorest Indians. Various welfare schemes have also failed to bring them out of penury.

How the above groups have not been historically able to avail the benefits?

  • Institutional credits account for less than 15% of the total borrowing by landless agricultural workers; the figure for marginal and small farmers is only 30%.
  • These groups have to borrow from moneylenders and adhatiyas at exorbitant interest rates ranging from 24 to 60%. As a result, they do not stand to benefit much from the interest rate subsidy for the agriculture sector.
  • Likewise, the benefits of subsidised fertilizers and power are enjoyed largely by big farmers.
  • In urban areas, contract workers and those in the informal sector face a similar problem. The rapid pace of automation of low-skill jobs and formalisation of the retail sector mean the prospects of these groups are even bleaker.

How can UBI help these groups?

  • An income support of, say, ₹15,000 per annum can be a good supplement to their livelihoods — an amount worth more than a third of the average consumption of the poorest 25% households, and more than a fourth of the annual income of marginal farmers.
  • This additional income can reduce the incidence of indebtedness among marginal farmers, thereby helping them escape moneylenders and adhatiyas.
  • Besides, it can go a long way in helping the poor to make ends meet. Several studies have shown that at high levels of impoverishment, even a small income supplement can improve nutrient intake, and increase enrolment and school attendance for students coming from poor households.
  • Income transfers to the poor will lead to improved health and educational outcomes, which in turn would lead to a more productive workforce.
  • It will help bring a large number of households out of the poverty trap or prevent them from falling into it in the event of exigencies such as illness.
  • It will reduce income inequalities.
  • Since the poor spend most of their income, a boost in their income will increase demand and promote economic activities in rural areas.

Can UBI discourage beneficiaries from seeking work?

  • Cash transfers can result in withdrawal of beneficiaries from the labour force. However, the income support suggested above is not too large to discourage beneficiaries from seeking work. In fact, it can promote employment and economic activities.
  • For instance, income receipts can come in handy as interest-free working capital for several categories of beneficiaries (fruit and vegetable vendors and small artisans), thereby promoting their business and employment in the process. Moreover, such a scheme will have three immediate benefits.

Can UBI replace basic services?

  • An income transfer scheme cannot be a substitute for universal basic services.
  • The direct income support to the poor will deliver the benefits mentioned only if it comes on top of public services such as primary health and education.
  • This means that direct transfers should not be at the expense of public services for primary health and education.

How to make UBI effective?

  • It seems to be a good idea to transfer the money into the bank accounts of women of the beneficiary households. Women tend to spend more of their income on health and the education of children.
  • Budgetary allocation for basic services should be raised significantly.
  • Programmes such as the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme should also stay.
  • It will have to be restricted to the poorest of poor households. The Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 can be used to identify the neediest.
  • Groups suffering from multidimensional poverty such as the destitute, the shelter-less, manual scavengers, tribal groups, and former bonded labourers should be automatically included.
  • It should include many small farmers who face deprivation criteria such as families without any bread-earning adult member, and those without a pucca house.
  • The Aadhaar identity can be used to rule out duplications and update the list of eligible households.
  • The tax kitty can be expanded by reintroducing wealth tax.
  • The required amount for UBI is beyond the Centre’s fiscal capacity at the moment. Therefore, the cost will have to be shared by States.
  • States such as Telangana and Odisha are already providing direct income support to their farmers. These States can extend their schemes to include the ‘non-farmer poor’. The other States too should join in.

Conclusion

The income transfer scheme is costly. However, the cost of persistent poverty is much higher.


 

Gist of Editorials: Plan Before Making A Bid | GS – II

Relevance : GS Paper II (Development & Welfare)

[500 words reduced to 100]


  • India has expressed interest to host the 2032 Summer Olympic Games.
  • India must consider several issues if it wishes to host the Games:
  • India must leave a mark at the 2020 Olympic Games.
  • India should host multisport events to prove its prowess.
  • It should ensure high investment from the private sector.
  • India should ensure clean and safe facilities for the athletes.
  • India should identify locations for hosting the games early on.
  • It is only when we view the Games as a long-term development enabler that it can be made a sustainable proposition.

 

Editorial Simplified: Plan Before Making A Bid | GS – II

Relevance : GS Paper II (Development & Welfare)


Theme of the article

The Indian Olympic Association must consider several issues if it wishes to host the 2032.


Why has this issue cropped up?

India has expressed interest to host the 2032 Summer Olympic Games, apart from the 2026 Summer Youth Olympic Games and the 2030 Asian Games.


Hosting Olympics is a difficult task

The Olympic Games have been designed to leave an indelible mark on host cities, with long-term benefits. However, the Games have proven to be more of a liability than an asset. They have daunted countries even from submitting complete bids.


The changing bidding process to host Olympics

  • Till now, Olympic bids were made keeping in mind a single city as the venue for the Games.
  • Today, it is almost impossible to find a metropolitan city which can sustain the enormous influx of people and build the infrastructure required to host the Games. In view of this concern, multi-city bids are now welcomed.

Suggestions for Indian Olympic Association

  • The Indian Olympic Association must consider several issues if it wishes to host the Games.
  • First, to be considered a sporting powerhouse, India must leave a mark at the 2020 Olympic Games to convince the world that it takes sports seriously.
  • Second, India has hosted only a handful of multisport events, with none really matching up to the grandeur and scale of the Olympic Games. Hosting multisport events in the coming years may prove to be key in cementing its prowess to pull off the mighty event.
  • Third, typically, the Olympic Games are funded through public and private money. Designing a long-term investment plan will ensure high participation from the private sector, reducing the burden on government funds.
  • Fourth, the government should make the most of this opportunity to tackle issues of the environment, waste management, public health, and sanitation, to ensure clean and safe facilities for the Olympic athletes.
  • Fifth, any government would like the prestige of having hosted an Olympic Games during its tenure. Working together with a stable democratic polity would prove to be a huge attraction for participating countries.
  • Finally, identifying locations for hosting the games early on will help create facilities that have a longer life span and would also help reduce costs.

Conclusion

Creating an Olympic bid with an outlook of primarily channelising development efforts for the country will prove to be a win-win situation. It is only when we view the Games as a long-term development enabler that it can be made a sustainable proposition.


 

Gist of Editorials: Making Every Citizen an Auditor (The Hindu) | GS – II

Relevance : GS Paper II
(Polity and Governance/Development and Welfare)

[700 words reduced to 200]


  • Social audits lead to better outcomes of public programmes.
  • Origin and evolution of social audits
    • Social audits were first mandated by law in 2005 under MGNREGA.
    • Subsequently, social audits were mandated in other areas as well.
    • Social audit units (SAUs) have been established in 26 States .
    • More than 5,000 full-time staff have been appointed and more than 4,000 people have been trained.
  • Shortcoming in the social audits programme:
    • Social audit units (SAUs) are not independent.
    • States have not appointment of SAU’s director properly.
    • Some States have conducted very few or no audit.
    • Several states do not have adequate staff.
    • States have responded to the social audit findings poorly.
    • Adequate disciplinary action are not being taken.
  • The way forward
    • Funds to facilitate social audits of the NFSA.
    • Independent governing body and adequate staff of SAUs.
    • Prompt action on the social audit findings.
    • A real time management information system for tracking.
    • Mentoring and support
    • Partnership of CAG with local citizens and audit societies
  • As social audits are to extend to new areas, they must be implemented well.

 

Editorial Simplified: Making Every Citizen an Auditor | GS – II

Relevance : GS Paper II
(Polity and Governance/Development and Welfare)


Theme of the article

Various steps need to be taken to strengthen social audits.


Significance of social audits

  • Social audits show how people’s participation in the planning, execution and monitoring of public programmes leads to better outcomes.
  • They have strengthened the role of the gram sabha.

Origin and evolution of social audits

  • Social audits were first mandated by law in 2005 under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
  • Subsequently, Parliament, the Supreme Court and many Central ministries mandated them in other areas as well.
  • Social audit units (SAUs) have been established in 26 States .
  • More than 5,000 full-time staff have been appointed.
  • A 30-day rigorous training programme has been designed, and more than 4,200 people have been trained.

Shortcoming in the social audits programme

  • The governing bodies of most social audit units (SAUs) are not independent.
  • Some SAUs have to obtain sanction from the implementation agency before spending funds.
  • More than half the States have not followed the open process specified in the standards for the appointment of the SAU’s director.
  • Some States have conducted very few audits and a few have not conducted any.
  • Several states do not have adequate staff to cover all the panchayats even once a year.
  • The action taken by the State governments in response to the social audit findings has been extremely poor.
  • Adequate disciplinary action against people responsible for the irregularities are not being taken.

The way forward

  • Social audits of the National Food Security Act (NFSA) have failed to take off due to lack of funds. Like the Rural Development Ministry, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution should give funds to the SAUs and ask them to facilitate the social audits of the NFSA.
  • Social audit units should have an independent governing body and adequate staff.
  • Rules must be framed so that implementation agencies are mandated to play a supportive role in the social audit process and take prompt action on the findings.
  • A real time management information system should track the calendar, the social audit findings and the action taken, and reports on these should be made publicly available.
  • Social audit processes need mentoring and support as they expand into newer programmes.
  • CAG as an institution could partner with local citizens and state audit societies to train them, build capacities and issue advisories on framing of guidelines, developing criteria, methodology and reporting for audit.

Conclusion

As efforts are being made to extend social audits to new areas, it is important to look at how well they are actually implemented based on parameters specified in the auditing standards jointly pioneered by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the Ministry of Rural Development.


 

Gist of Editorials: Anchored in Human Rights (The Hindu) | GS – II

Relevance : GS Paper II (Indian Economy)

[900 words reduced to 100]


  • TB has become one of the leading cause of adult deaths although it is curable and preventable.
  • Signs of change
    • Use of microchips to track patients
    • short course (DOTS) strategy, which requires reporting every day to a health authority
    • use of tablets, phones and drones for surveillance of TB patients.
  • Way forward
    • availability of affordable generics of bedaquiline and delamanid.
    • Deployment of trained community health-care workers in sufficient numbers
    • Community-based structures to ensure accountability and foster partnership
    • Participation of grassroots civil society
  • We can only beat TB using a human rights approach which does not control people with TB, rather treat them as partners.

 

Editorial Simplified: Anchored in Human Rights | GS – II

Relevance : GS Paper II (Indian Economy)


Theme of the article

Instead of surveillance technologies, help TB patients by providing rights-based interventions.


Introduction

Decades of global neglect have resulted in tuberculosis (TB) becoming the leading cause of adult deaths in most of the global south — it kills nearly two million people a year. This is shocking given that TB is curable and preventable.


Signs of change

  • A plan in India is to implant microchips in people in order to track them and ensure they complete TB treatment.
  • There are also technological tweaks to the Directly Observed Treatment, short course (DOTS) strategy, which requires patients to report every day to a health authority, who watches them swallow their tablets.
  • Now, governments use, or plan to soon use, a strategy of video, tablets, phones and drones to carry the old DOTS strategy into the technology era.

The human rights approach

  • We can only beat TB using an approach anchored in human rights.
  • Such an approach focusses on creating health systems that foster trust, partnership and dignity.
  • This approach regards people with TB not as subjects to be controlled but as people to be partnered with.
  • It assumes that people with TB have dignity, intelligence and empathy that motivate them to act in the best interests of themselves and their communities when empowered to do so.

Way forward

  • International institutions, donors and countries need to focus and collaborate on the urgent production and distribution of affordable generics of bedaquiline and delamanid.
  • Companies should be pressurised to drop their exorbitant prices so that vast majority of people are no longer excluded from accessing the drugs.
  • Employ and deploy community health-care workers. In sufficient numbers equipped with proper training and dignified conditions of employment they would lead the response by bringing care to those furthest from the reach of traditional health-care systems. S
  • Community-based structures such as “clinic committees” ensure accountability while also fostering partnership and trust between communities and their health-care systems.
  • Grassroots civil society and community-based organisations also ensure accountability. Such organisations are indispensable and would thrive on comparatively small amounts of funding.

Conclusion

People with TB do not need to be watched, they need to be heard. The shiny allure of surveillance technology threatens to distract us from the real work of the TB response; work that involves partnering with communities to employ human-rights based strategies to beat TB.


 

Gist of Editorials: A Shot in the Arm (Indian Express) | GS – II

Relevance: GS Paper II (Development & Welfare)

[850 words reduced to 250]


  • The under-five mortality rates In India have declined considerably from 126 in 1990 to 39 in 2017.
  • The journey of Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) has been further bolstered by Mission Indradhanush.
  • The importance of vaccines in India
    • Around 27 million children are born every year in India.
    • India also has the largest burden of under-five mortality.
    • 0.1 million children die due to rotavirus-induced diarrhoea .
    • Unimmunised and partially-immunised children are most vulnerable to diseases and disability.
  • Challenges to vaccination programme
    • Low full immunisation coverage (65 per cent),
    • limited basket of vaccines and,
    • quality and logistics of vaccine management
  • Mission Indradhanush
    • To hasten the coverage to at least 90 per cent till 2020, the Mission Indradhanush was launched in 2014.
    • seven vaccines would be given to all children and pregnant women who have missed out.
    • It would cover all far-flung areas.
    • To focus onto the least vaccinated areas, MI has been transformed into “Intensified Mission Indradhanush” (IMI)
    • There is a sharper focus on surveillance activities
    • It has led to increase to 7 per cent in full immunisation coverage in one year from 1 per cent in the past.
    • aims to achieve 90 per cent immunisation by December 2018.
    • aims to achieve SDG-3 by 2030
  • An immunisation programme is the most cost-effective public health intervention.

 

Editorial Simplified: A Shot in the Arm | GS – II

Relevance: GS Paper II (Development & Welfare)


Theme of the article

The under-five mortality rates have declined considerably from 126/1000 live births in 1990 to 39/1000 in 2017, much faster than the global rates. Much of this can be attributed to the successful immunisation programme in India.


Introduction

Mission Indradhanush (MI), one of the largest public health programmes in the world, and one of the greatest health-related accomplishments of India , was launched in 2014.


The importance of vaccines in India

  • Around 27 million children are born every year in India.
  • India also has the largest burden of under-five mortality, more than what prevails in some of the poorest countries in the world. Nearly 39 children under the age of five years die for every 1,000 live births each year — pneumonia and diarrhoea are the leading killers.
  • Approximately 0.1 million children die due to rotavirus-induced diarrhoea alone, which is around 50 per cent of all deaths attributed to diarrhoea.
  • Unimmunised and partially-immunised children are most vulnerable to diseases and disability, and are at three to six times higher risk of death than fully immunised children.
  • A large percentage of under-five mortality in India can be averted through vaccination.

Challenges to vaccination programme

India faces a threefold challenge:

  • Low full immunisation coverage (65 per cent),
  • limited basket of vaccines and,
  • issues regarding quality and logistics of vaccine management for such a vast and diverse country.

Mission Indradhanush

  • India’s full immunisation coverage (FIC), which used to be 61 per cent in 2009, improved to 65 per cent in 2013 at a meagre increase rate of 1 per cent per year.
  • To hasten the full coverage to at least 90 per cent till 2020, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare launched Mission Indradhanush in 2014.
  • Under this, seven vaccines would be given to all those children and pregnant women who have missed out or are left out under the routine immunisation rounds. It would cover all far-flung areas.
  • To bring sharper focus onto the least vaccinated areas, MI has been transformed into “Intensified Mission Indradhanush” (IMI) that aims to reach those rural and urban slums that have under-performed during MI. One hundred and ninety high-focus districts and urban areas across 24 states have been selected for such intensified efforts.
  • There is a sharper focus on surveillance activities and to create partnerships with states, community-level departments and ministries for grass roots implementation and monitoring.
  • Mission Indradhanush has led to an impressive increase of close to 7 per cent in full immunisation coverage in one year as compared to 1 percent increase per year in the past. This is apart from the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) which targets to vaccinate about 27 million children against 12 deadly diseases every year, more children than any other similar programme in the world through more than nine million immunisation sessions conducted annually.
  • It now aims to achieve 90 per cent immunisation by December 2018.
  • On a global scale, MI/IMI is meant to reduce India’s contribution to the global burden of disease, including deaths in children under five, thereby achieving SDG-3 by 2030.
  • The journey of Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP), which India embarked upon in 1985, has been further bolstered by Mission Indradhanush/Intensified Mission Indradhanush.

Conclusion

An immunisation programme, anywhere in the world, is the most cost-effective public health intervention. It is the basic and foremost right of children across the globe, that they receive a safe and effective “shot in the arm” in a timely manner. This is the minimum which any country must deliver to save their children from vaccine preventable diseases.