Insights Daily Current Affairs, 13 April 2018
Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.
WHO directives call for support for breastfeeding
Context: The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have issued a new 10-step guidance to increase support for breastfeeding in health facilities that provide maternity and newborn services, which provide the immediate health system platform to help mothers initiate breastfeeding within the first hour and breastfeed exclusively for six months.
- The guidelines describe how hospitals should have a written breastfeeding policy in place, required staff competencies, and antenatal and post-birth care, including breastfeeding support for mothers.
- It also recommends limited use of breast milk substitutes, rooming-in, responsive feeding, educating parents on the use of bottles and pacifiers, and support when mothers and babies are discharged from hospital.
Significance of breastfeeding:
Breastfeeding is an important efficient and cost-effective intervention promoting child survival and health. Breastfeeding within an hour of birth could prevent 20% of the newborn deaths. Infants who are not breastfed are 15 times more likely to die from pnuemonia and 11 times more likely to die from diarrhoea than children who are exclusively breastfed, which are two leading causes of death in children under-five years of age. In addition, children who were not breastfed are at increased risk for diabetes, obesity, allergies, asthma, childhood leukemia, sudden infant death syndrome etc. Apart from mortality and morbidity benefits, breastfeeding also has tremendous impact on improved IQ.
To intensify the efforts further for promotion of breastfeeding, the Health Ministry has initiated a nationwide programme called “MAA-Mother’s Absolute Affection’’ to bring undiluted focus on promotion of breastfeeding and provision of services towards supporting breastfeeding, along with ongoing efforts of routine health systems.
- The key components of the MAA programme are awareness generation, promotion of breastfeeding & inter personal counselling at community level, skilled support for breastfeeding at delivery points and monitoring and Award/ recognition of health facility.
- Under this programme, ASHA has been incentivized for reaching out to pregnant and lactating mothers and provide information on benefits and techniques of successful breastfeeding during interpersonal communication. ANMs at all sub-centres and health personnel at all delivery points are being trained for providing skilled support to mothers referred with issues related to breastfeeding.
- Under NHM, funding support has been recommended for all States and UTs for successful implementation of the MAA programme.
For Prelims and Mains: MAA programme and significance of breastfeeding.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.
Aspirational District Programme
Context: Small Industries Development Bank of India (Sidbi) has charted a plan to promote micro enterprises in 115 aspirational districts across the country to contribute in their development. The bank has tied up with Common Service Centre (CSC) to meet this objective.
About Transformation of Aspirational Districts Programme:
‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ was launched in January with an aim to quickly and effectively transform some of the most underdeveloped districts in the country.
The broad contours of the programme are Convergence (of Central & State Schemes), Collaboration (of Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ Officers & District Collectors), and Competition among districts driven by a mass Movement.
This will converge the central and state schemes, collaborate central, state and district collectors to strengthen these districts by identifying the low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress and then rank the district by getting the data on a real-time basis.
Selection of backward districts:
The 115 districts, including 35 affected by left-wing extremism, were selected on parameters like deprivation (extent of landless households), health & nutrition (institutional delivery, stunting of children and wasting in children), education (elementary dropout rate and adverse pupil-teacher ratio) and infrastructure (un-electrified homes, lack of toilets, villages not connected by road and lack of drinking water).
Significance of the scheme:
With states as the main drivers, this program will focus on the strength of each district, identify low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress, and rank districts.
Under the programme, identified districts are prodded and encouraged to first catch-up with the best district within their state, and subsequently aspire to become one of the best in the country, by competing with, and learning from others.
Need for the development of backward districts:
India cannot grow at a high rate on a long run until these districts catch up, whatever high are the GDP number, it has no meaning until the benefit of growth percolates down to very basic level. Ensuring progress in areas facing the most severe challenges and improving conditions in remote and rural regions are prerequisites for India to reach the next stage of its economic and human development.
Through its massive scale and innovative use of data, the aspirational districts programme (ADP) will help India move towards its goals.
- For Prelims: Transformation of Aspirational Districts programme, Prabhari officers.
- For Mains: Cooperative federalism and its significance.
Topic: e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential.
Context: To equip the children with the information regarding the possible modes of protection/complaints, the National Council Of Educational Research And Training (NCERT) has published the information regarding Childline (1098) 24×7 Helpline for children and POCSO e-box on the back side of the front cover of all course books from Class 6 to Class 12.
About POCSO e- Box:
Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO), e-Box, is an online complaint management system for easy and direct reporting of sexual offences against children and timely action against the offenders under the POCSO Act, 2012. E-Box is very simple to operate and will help to maintain the confidentiality of the complaint.
Sexual offences against children are rampant but only a small percentage gets reported. According to a study, about 53% of children surveyed, reported having faced one or the other form of sexual abuse in their lifetime. In most cases, the offender is a family member/near relative or an acquaintance. The child victim in such cases generally does not report these offences. Sexual abuse scars the psyche of the affected child for entire life. A child who is sexually abused has to face very serious consequences such as cognitive impairment, violent and risk behaviour including depression and anxiety. Feeling shame and guilt with poor interpersonal relationship & self esteem are other consequences of sexually abused children.
About POCSO Act:
Being concerned about offences against children, the Government enacted POCSO Act, 2012 to protect them from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, while safeguarding the interest of the child at every stage of the judicial process.
- This is achieved by incorporating child friendly mechanisms for reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and speedy trial of offences through designated Special Courts.
- Any human being up to the age of 18 years is recognised as a child under the POCSO Act.
- For Prelims: POCSO Act, e- Box.
- For Mains: Prevention of sexual offences against children.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Gram Swaraj Abhiyan
Context: Haryana government has decided to launch ‘Gram Swaraj Abhiyan’, an outreach campaign, in the state on the birth anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar on April 14, which will continue till May 5.
About Gram Swaraj Abhiyan:
“Gram Swaraj Abhiyan” will be organised starting from 14th April to 05th May, 2018.
- The campaign, undertaken under the name of “Sabka Sath, Sabka Gaon, Sabka Vikas”, is to promote social harmony, spread awareness about pro-poor initiatives of government, reach out to poor households to enroll them as also to obtain their feedback on various welfare programmes.
- As a special endeavour during the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, saturation of eligible households/persons would be made under seven flagship pro-poor programmes in 21,058 identified villages.
- The programmes covered are Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Saubhagya, Ujala scheme, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and Mission Indradhanush.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)
Context: India has emerged as the biggest beneficiary of the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, soaking up a quarter of all its investment commitments to date, despite continuing diplomatic tension between New Delhi and Beijing.
In the first two years of its existence, the AIIB — conceived by China as an alternative to the World Bank — approved $4.3bn worth of funding for infrastructure projects around Asia, over $1bn worth of which is due to go to schemes in India.
What is it? The AIIB was established as a new multilateral financial institution aimed at providing “financial support for infrastructure development and regional connectivity in Asia.” It was founded in October, 2014, and has its headquarters in Beijing. Its goals are also to boost economic development in the region, create wealth, prove infrastructure, and promote regional cooperation and partnership.
Funding: The value of AIIB’s authorized capital amounts to $100 billion, with almost $30 billion invested by China. India is not only one of the founding members of AIIB but is also the 2nd largest shareholder in AIIB.
Board of Governors: All powers of the Bank are vested in our Board of Governors, which is the highest decision-making body under the Articles of Agreement. It consists of one Governor and one Alternate Governor appointed by each member country. Governors and Alternate Governors serve at the pleasure of the appointing member.
Board of Directors: Our non-resident Board of Directors is responsible for the direction of the Bank’s general operations, exercising all powers delegated to it by the Board of Governors. This includes approving the Bank’s strategy, annual plan and budget; establishing policies; taking decisions concerning Bank operations; and supervising management and operation of the Bank and establishing an oversight mechanism.
International Advisory Panel: The Bank has established an International Advisory Panel (IAP) to support the President and Senior Management on the Bank’s strategies and policies as well as on general operational issues. The Panel meets in tandem with the Bank’s Annual Meeting, or as requested by the President. The President selects and appoints members of the IAP to two-year terms. Panelists receive a small honorarium and do not receive a salary.
- For Prelims: AIIB- structure, voting and share of countries.
- For Mains: AIIB- significance, need for infrastructure funding.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
Economic freedom index
Context: The Heritage Foundation has released its Index of Economic Freedom report 2017. The Heritage Foundation is an American conservative public policy think-tank based in Washington.
About the index:
Economic freedom is measured based on 12 quantitative and qualitative factors, grouped into four broad categories, or pillars, of economic freedom:
- Rule of Law (property rights, government integrity, judicial effectiveness).
- Government Size (government spending, tax burden, fiscal health).
- Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom).
- Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom).
Each of the ten economic freedoms within these categories is graded on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall score is derived by averaging these ten economic freedoms, with equal weight being given to each.
Highlights of the report:
- India’s economic freedom score is 54.5, making its economy the 130th freest in the 2018 Index. In 2017, India with a score of 52.6 points was ranked at 143 among 180 countries.
- India is ranked 30th among 43 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and its overall score is below the regional and world averages.
- China is ranked 111 and Pakistan is now at 131 position.
India is developing into an open-market economy. However, traces of its past autocratic policies still remain. Economic liberalisation measures, including industrial deregulation, privatisation of state-owned enterprises and reduced controls on foreign trade and investment, that began in the early 1990s, accelerated growth.
More recently, the government reformed one of its more opaque operational practices to make the auctioning of rights to exploit state-owned resources more transparent.
- Corruption, underdeveloped infrastructure, a restrictive and burdensome regulatory environment, and poor financial and budget management continue to undermine overall development.
- The judiciary is independent, but the Indian courts are understaffed and lack the technology necessary to clear an enormous backlog. Although officials are often caught accepting bribes, a great deal of corruption goes unnoticed and unpunished.
- Non-tariff barriers significantly impede trade. The government’s openness to foreign investment is below average. State-owned institutions dominate the financial sector, and foreign participation is limited. In public-sector banks, troubled assets account for about 10% of total assets.
What is economic freedom?
Economic freedom is the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property. In an economically free society, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please. In economically free societies, governments allow labor, capital, and goods to move freely, and refrain from coercion or constraint of liberty beyond the extent necessary to protect and maintain liberty itself.
What are the benefits of economic freedom?
Economic freedom brings greater prosperity. The Index of Economic Freedom documents the positive relationship between economic freedom and a variety of positive social and economic goals. The ideals of economic freedom are strongly associated with healthier societies, cleaner environments, greater per capita wealth, human development, democracy, and poverty elimination.
- For Prelims: Economic Freedom Index.
- For Mains: Ease of Doing Business and need for economic freedom.
Sources: the hindu.
India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) Trilateral Highway
Context: Work on the 1,000 km-long India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) Trilateral Highway officially started with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) signing an agreement with a joint-venture (JV) between Punj Lloyd and Varaha Infra to upgrade the Yagyi-Kalewa section of the India-Myanmar Friendship Road in Myanmar.
This is NHAI’s first international project agreement. The project has been funded by Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India and would be executed on EPC mode at a cost of Rs.1177 crores.
About IMT Highway:
The 1,000 km India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway will run from Moreh in Manipur to Mae Sot in Thailand via Myanmar. The highway will facilitate easy movement of goods and people among the three countries.
Significance of the Highway:
Once completed, greater flows of trade and investment will take place along the route, stimulating the movement of goods and people, creating jobs, promoting tourism as well as raising the livelihoods of the peoples in the region.
Why is this highway crucial for India?
- First, it will help improve connectivity between India’s remote Northeastern part and Southeast Asia. For long, the lack of physical connectivity with Southeast Asia has been an Achilles’ heel in India’s “Act-East Policy.” The trilateral highway will improve India’s connectivity with Myanmar and Thailand, and in the future there are plans to connect it with pre-existing roads and take it all the way to Vietnam.
- Secondly, with the construction of this road, which started as the India-Myanmar friendship road way back in 2001, the recent non-attendance by India at China’s Belt and Road Forum in Beijing seems to have injected a new measure of earnestness among Indian policy planners when it comes to executing such road projects.
- Thirdly, Northeast India has been lagging behind other parts of the country when it comes to infrastructure. When completed, the IMT highway will also give easy access to the Northeastern states to the sea (via Myanmar).
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is an autonomous agency of the Government of India, responsible for management of a network of over 70,000 km of National Highways in India. It is a nodal agency of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The NHAI was created through the promulgation of the National Highways Authority of India Act, 1988. In February 1995, the Authority was formally made an autonomous body.
- For Prelims: NHAI, IMT Trilateral highway.
- For Mains: Development of North East and the need for integration.