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Reference: Indian Express
Alcohol is the most abused substance in India, according to the findings of a report “Magnitude of Substance Use in India”, submitted by AIIMS in Feb 2019 to Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. There are believed to be 62.5 million people in India who at least occasionally drink alcohol. Unlike many western countries the consumption of alcohol in India is witnessing a dramatic rise – for instance, between 1970 and 1995 there was a 106.7% increase in the per capita consumption. India has also become one of the largest producers of alcohol – it produces 65% of alcoholic beverages in South-East Asia. Most urban areas have witnessed an explosion in the number of bars and nightclubs that have opened in recent years.
As the lockdown eased in India, and social distancing went for a toss at alcohol outlets and there were stampedes was caused by the ineptness.
Drinking Statistics for India:
- The per capita alcohol consumption in India increased two folds between 2005 and 2016, according to the Global status report on alcohol and health 2018 released by the World Health Organization (WHO)
- Indians consumed 2.4 liters of alcohol in 2005, which increased to 4.3 liters in 2010 and scaled up to 5.7 liters in 2016, the report said.
- According to the report, the highest increase in alcohol consumption is expected in South-East Asia, with an increase of 2.2 liters in India alone, from 2005 to 2016.
- More than 3 million people died as a result of harmful use of alcohol in 2016, the report said. More than three quarters of those reported dead were men.
- Overall, the harmful use of alcohol causes more than 5% of the global disease burden.
- In the past two decades the number of people who have consumed alcohol has moved from 1 in 300 to 1 in 20.
Economics of Alcohol addiction in India:
- Alcohol is a subject in the State list under the seventh schedule of the Indian Constitution.
- Article 47 of the Directive Principle in the Constitution of India states that “The state shall undertake rules to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.”
- Manufacture and sale of liquor is one of the major sources of their revenue, and the reopening comes at a time when the states have been struggling to fill their coffers amid the disruption on account of the lockdown.
- Like in Russia, it is difficult to wean many states away from the political economy of alcohol.
- It lubricates not just the state coffers but whole political machines.
- The Delhi government announced a 70% hike in the price of liquor across categories in the capital. Delhi’s “special corona fee” on alcohol underlines the importance of liquor to the economy of the states.
- Generally, states levy excise duty on manufacture and sale of liquor. Some states, for example Tamil Nadu, also impose VAT (value added tax).
- States also charge special fees on imported foreign liquor; transport fee; and label & brand registration charges.
- A few states, such as Uttar Pradesh, have imposed a “special duty on liquor” to collect funds for special purposes, such as maintenance of stray cattle.
- A report published by the Reserve Bank of India last September (‘State Finances: A Study of Budgets of 2019-20’) shows that state excise duty on alcohol accounts for around 10-15 per cent of Own Tax Revenue of a majority of states.
- On an average, the states collected about Rs 12,500 crore per month from excise on liquor in 2018-19, which rose to about Rs 15,000 crore per month in 2019-20, and which was further expected to cross Rs 15,000 crore per month in the current financial year.
- Alcohol has also migrated from being a question of personal freedom and choice to an issue in broader cultural wars, an odd site on which we measure progressivism in India. It is also a window on how liberalism has been misunderstood.
Challenges posed by economics of alcoholism:
- Alcohol abuse imposes large “external” costs on others.
- The deleterious effects of alcohol consumption on health and safety constitute a substantial economic burden, reducing our overall standard of living.
- The Lancet reported that more than half of those who consume alcohol in India would fall into the category of hazardous drinking.
- Chronic heavy drinking causes organ damage that results in disability and early death. Other possible consequences include cognitive impairment, addiction, reduced productivity, neglect of family responsibilities, and birth defects.
- The acute effects of alcohol abuse are still more costly: traumatic injury and property damage from accidents, criminal victimization, domestic violence, unwanted sexual encounters and venereal diseases, and hangover.
- It has been suggested that there are a worryingly 14 million people in India who would be described as dependent on alcohol and in need of help.
- Another concern is the increasing tendency to engage in binge drinking where people deliberately become intoxicated.
- Far too many people, their families and communities suffer the consequences of the harmful use of alcohol through violence, injuries, mental health problems and diseases such as cancer and stroke.
- Suffering and deprivation: People in the lower income group who cannot have an adequate amount of food, take alcohol to sleep or relax.
- More and more children are taking to alcohol consumption and the highest percentage of children who are addicted to alcohol are in Punjab followed by West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh
- The issue of public health is another dimension that needs to be explicitly addressed while framing a comprehensive liquor policy. This requires a two-pronged approach, one aimed at addressing alcohol-related illnesses and addictions and another aimed at putting preventive measures in place.
- The aura of shame attached to drinking and the moral condemnation of drinkers, especially by medical and social service personnel, needs to be addressed as it can be a major deterrent to seeking help.
- The medical fraternity needs to be educated in rapidly responding to and treating victims of liquor tragedies
- Addiction should not be seen as a character flaw, but as an ailment that any other person could be struggling with. Therefore, the stigma associated with drug taking needs to be reduced. Society needs to understand that alcoholics are victims and not criminals.
- Radical political decisions like that one of alcohol prohibition in Bihar may be another solution. When people do not exercise self-control, a state has to step in, as part of the Directive Principles of State Policy (Article 47).
- Education curriculum should include chapters on drug addiction, its impact and also on de-addiction. Proper Counselling is another alternative.
- Alcoholism and Drug Information Centre is devoted to prevention and treatment of substance abuse in India. They are a good resource to turn to for information and advice.
- Alcoholics Anonymous has meetings in many locations in India. This fellowship uses the 12 Steps to allow the individual to develop a better life away from addiction.
- Youth Veerangnayen focuses its efforts on educating young people about the dangers of substance abuse and helping them deal with other social problems.
- Many people are leaving India in order to seek treatment for their alcoholism abroad. The most respected alcohol and drug abuse treatment facility in Asia is DARA Rehab.
Education on intelligent drinking, community intervention, regulating outlet density of alcohol shops, greater control over surrogate advertising, franker social conversation is the need of the hour to tackle alcoholism in India. Research shows that a “multiple-component approach” works best to tackle alcohol-related problems than a single-component or “stand-alone” intervention.
Reference: Hindustan Times
The Integrated Disease Surveillance Project was launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in assistance with the World Bank, in 2004. It continued as the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) during 12th Plan (2012–17) under the National Health Mission with a domestic budget. Under it, a Central Surveillance Unit (CSU) at Delhi, State Surveillance Units (SSU) at all State/Union Territories (UTs) headquarters and District Surveillance Units (DSU) at all Districts have been established. Recently, the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme has been activated as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The objectives of the Integrated Diseases Surveillance Project (IDSP) are:
- To strengthen/maintain decentralized laboratory based IT enabled disease surveillance system for epidemic prone diseases to monitor disease trends
- To detect and respond to outbreaks in early rising phase through trained Rapid Response Team (RRTs).
- Prevention of further transmission of disease
- Limiting mortality and morbidity
- Assessment of public health importance
- Analysis of trends of a particular disease’s outbreak
- Demonstrate the importance of public health interventions
- Allocate funds for healthcare
- Monitoring of preventive and control measures
- Identification of risk factors and developing hypothesis
- Identification of high groups and geographical areas
Components of the programme:
- Integration and decentralization of surveillance activities through establishment of surveillance units at Centre, State and District level.
- Human Resource Development – Training of State Surveillance Officers, District Surveillance Officers, Rapid Response Team and other Medical and Paramedical staff on principles of disease surveillance.
- Use of Information Communication Technology for collection, collation, compilation, analysis and dissemination of data.
- Strengthening of public health laboratories.
- Inter sectoral Co-ordination for zoonotic diseases
- Under Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP), financial and technical assistance is provided to State Governments for implementation of disease surveillance activities.
The achievements and major findings under IDSP include the following:
- IDSP has established State Surveillance Units and District Surveillance Units in all the states and District headquarters.
- Rapid Response Teams (RRT) for investigation of outbreaks and response thereto have been formed in all district and state headquarters.
- Nation-wide IT network has been established for monitoring disease surveillance activities
- 24X7 call centre (toll free no. 1075) has been established for reporting unusual health events by the community.
- Over 82% districts are electronically generating weekly surveillance reports, for early warning signals and effective timely response to disease outbreaks.
- 799 disease outbreaks have been reported during 2009.
Role played by the IDSP:
- Helps in Controlling the Disease Outbreak
- Data is collected on epidemic prone diseases on a weekly basis.
- The weekly data gives information on the disease trends and seasonality of diseases.
- The information is collected on three specified reporting formats, namely “S” (suspected cases), “P” (presumptive cases) and “L” (laboratory confirmed cases) filled by Health Workers, Clinicians and Laboratory staff respectively.
- Whenever there is a rising trend of illnesses in any area, it is investigated by the RRT to diagnose and control the outbreak.
- Identification of healthcare facilities in affected area will help to estimate their efficiency and enhance them, if needed.
- Cluster wise approach can be applied as some of the disease such as one caused by Nipah was limited to an area only.
- Real time monitoring will lead to better coordination between different levels of government and different agencies. Health, a subject mentioned in state list is always a matter of bone contention between center and state.
Real-Time monitoring of the disease and victims by the IDSP will help to cease the spread of communicable disease. Identification of area affected by a particular disease along with facilities available to combat that disease will help to contain that disease in that region.
Reference: Indian Express
SARS infected only slightly over 8,000 people in 29 countries, with 774 deaths. Nonetheless, it shook the people and governments in East Asia out of their slumber and many of them indeed did not let this crisis go to waste. Considered a major public health crisis at the time, SARS pales in comparison to the current Covid-19 crisis in terms of both spread and impact.
Reforms undertaken during previous pandemics:
- China recognised the weakness of its health system and adopted a two-pronged approach of strengthening its government health facilities and expanding health coverage through social health insurance
- Government health expenditure tripled in a few years’ time and almost entire population received health assurance.
- Other countries, even smaller countries like Laos and Cambodia, also invested heavily in their public health systems, improved their surveillance and reporting capacities, and significantly increased their health sector budgets.
- A healthy demand for large loan projects in the health sector ensued.
- For example, Vietnam borrowed heavily to establish a strong and interlinked laboratory system covering the entire country.
- SARS, and subsequently H1N1, also prompted East Asian countries to deepen their regional cooperation on pandemic preparedness and response.
- Coordinated by the Association of South-East Asian Nations and other international development agencies, systems and agreements were put in place to identify emerging health emergencies and share information.
- SARS also provided a major push to the World Health Organization’s effort to revise the International Health Regulations (IHR) to make them more effective.
- The revisions allowed WHO to seek information from member states and mandated sharing of any epidemic information with neighbours.
Lessons learnt by East Asian countries from SARS epidemic:
- These countries, despite being closely connected with China through trade, tourism, culture and the diaspora and having ageing populations, have seen a relatively modest impact of the pandemic.
- While further research will tell us more, anecdotal evidence suggests that the widespread hygienic and face-covering practices and strong public health systems have helped in this process.
- Many of these practices and systems developed as a response to SARS, H1N1 and MERS.
- These reforms have definitely helped East Asian countries in effectively dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Behavioural changes:
- In East Asia, most people now press elevator buttons with a finger knuckle, avoiding direct contact with their fingertips.
- People are also more careful and use more hygienic sense in using public restrooms. Frequent handwashing is a norm.
- In places like China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Korea, the use of face coverings in public places became the norm.
- The practice was continued even after the outbreak was over. People with coughs and colds attend office with face coverings.
- SARS also prompted some introspection about working and travel arrangements.
- Faced with temporary travel restrictions during the epidemic, the Asian Development Bank experimented with undertaking loan negotiations through videoconferencing. This turned out to be as efficient as face-to-face meetings and has now become the norm.
- A realisation set in that much of business travel could be severally rationalised.
Lessons that India can learn from these countries:
- Lives, social practices, working arrangements and the health sector will surely irreversibly change with the Covid-19 crisis in our country as well.
- The extent to which handwashing and other hygienic and physical distancing practices become part of our lifestyles
- our work arrangements change, with greater reliance on technology-enabled conferencing and supervision and reduced travel.
- access to healthcare increase through enhanced use of telemedicine.
- our disease reporting and surveillance systems must become stronger.
- Our expenditure on health comped to our peer nations should be increased.
These reforms have definitely helped East Asian countries in effectively dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. India with its high population density must adapt the behavioural changes to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. India must also undertake immediate reforms to strengthen the much needed medical infrastructure to tackle the fragile healthcare system of India.
Reference: Hindustan Times
The gas leak from a chemical factory in Vizag, which killed 12 people, is the most serious of three industrial accidents that have taken place since the national lockdown was eased on May 3. The other two were in Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh. Though the numbers are far smaller, the tragedy brings back memories of the Bhopal gas leak, the worst industrial disaster in the world, which killed at least 3,800 people. The Vizag plant leak was styrene, a benzene derivative used to manufacture plastics and resin.
India’s industrial safety record has been patchy at the best of times. Now in the aftermath of the lockdown, it is likely to get further eroded.
Need for Industrial safety in India:
- What happened in Vizag should be considered a warning for other industries which are resuming operations after a lengthy lockdown. India’s industrial safety record has been patchy at the best of times.
- Thirty-six years after the Bhopal disaster, it is distressing to see accidents from hazardous industries.
- The fields of occupational and environmental medicine, toxicology, and epidemiology which study and prevent industrial accidents have still not been developed adequately to cater for the amount of industrial development that has occurred in India.
- Reports suggest that the Vizag plant has functioned without proper environmental clearances for a substantial period since it was set up.
- It must also be asked how the South Korean petrochemical giant, which owns LG polymers, the site of the accident, did not ensure that qualified people were in place to check systems and open the plant.
- A majority of accidents that occur in refineries are the result of human error. Often times a worker fails to follow the safety procedures that have been put into place by the company.
- The common reasons for accidents in chemical plants occur is from improper maintenance of equipment. A piece of equipment can ultimately fail and malfunction if it is not properly maintained. This can be very hazardous for the workers who are operating and working around the machine.
- Every year 48000 fatal accidents occur in India. Only 20% working population was covered under any occupational safety regulation.
- For instance, fire crackers Factory at Batle Punjab claimed 23 lives this year; Sivakashi factory explosion – 2012, 40 died and 70 injured.
Measures needed to strengthen the Industrial safety in India:
- Industries must comply with regulations, and the government must ensure that they are strictly enforced.
- Regular maintenance at scheduled intervals and the manufacturer’s recommendations is important to ensure that the equipment runs smoothly and safely.
- Employees should be properly taught on how to operate the equipment in the way it was designed to be used. They should also learn to employ safety procedures when they are operating a piece of equipment.
- Also, employees should be well versed in what to do if something goes wrong so that they can fix it before it gets out of control.
- The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019, which unfortunately, successive governments have not felt it necessary to ratify should be taken up and put into place immediately.
- With the ultimate aim of extending the safety and healthy working conditions to all workforce of the country, the Code enhances the ambit of provisions of safety, health, welfare and working conditions from existing about 9 major sectors to all establishments having 10 or more employees.
- It is evident that the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions has some unique new initiatives for both workers and employers.
- It promotes health, safety, welfare and better working conditions of workforce by enhancing the ambit of a dynamic legislation as compared to the existing sectoral approach limited to few sectors.
- Besides, it also drastically rationalizes the compliance mechanism with one license, one registration and one return for the establishments under the ambit of the Code thereby saving resources and efforts of the employers.
- Thus, there is a need to balance the requirements of worker and employer and is beneficial to both the constituents of the world of work.
Reference: Ethics by Lexicon Publications
Hindu ethics are taught by guidance from leaders and teachers (guru), wandering holy men (sadhus), and sages (rishis). Sacred scriptures also give guidance. Morality is taught through Hindu scriptures, for example the Ramayana. The scriptures prohibit murder, theft, adultery, and consuming alcohol, and promote kindness to others, respect for all life (ahimsa), vegetarianism, and respect for elders. There is no centralized religious authority, and the religion is held together by the duties of family and caste
Hindu ethics is mainly subjective or personal, its purpose being to eliminate such mental impurities as greed and egoism, for the ultimate attainment of the highest good. Objective ethics, which deals with social welfare, has also been considered by Hindu thinkers. It is based upon the Hindu conception of Dharma, or duty, related to a man’s position in society and his stage in life. Objective ethics, according to the Hindu view, is a means to an end, its purpose being to help the members of society to rid themselves of self-centeredness, cruelty, greed, and other vices, and thus to create an environment helpful to the pursuit of the highest good, which transcends society. Hinduism further speaks of certain universal ethical principles which apply to all human beings irrespective of their position in society or stage in life.
It is the belief that pleasure, or the absence of pain, is the most important principle in determining the morality of a potential course of action. Pleasure can be things like “sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll,” but it can also include any intrinsically valuable experience like reading a good book.
Hedonism is a type of consequentialism, and it has several forms. For example, normative hedonism is the idea that pleasure should be people’s primary motivation. On the other hand, motivational hedonism says that only pleasure and pain cause people to do what they do.
Egotistical hedonism requires a person to consider only his or her own pleasure in making choices. Conversely, altruistic hedonism says that the creation of pleasure for all people is the best way to measure if an action is ethical.
Utilitarianism as an ethical philosophy can simply be defined as a system in which ‘the theory that the rightness or wrongness of an action is determined by its usefulness in bringing about the most happiness of all those affected by it.’
Utilitarianism is allegedly the foundations of our legal system, so it is important to ask ourselves whether it is actually fair or whether some are denied the simple right to have their own interests respected.
For instance, Utilitarianism cannot be applied to entities that do not have the capacity to feel pleasure and pain or at least to have recognizable goals that they are aware of fulfilling. This debatably does not include some animals, advanced AI, the planet as a whole, a deity or the victory conditions of an overall storyline, game or narrative. Many people will argue that they should be ascribed certain rights or their interests recognized.
Deontology is also referred to as duty-based ethics. It is an approach to ethics that addresses whether the motives behind certain actions are right or wrong instead of focusing on whether the results of the action are right or wrong. It is based on each individual’s duty or obligation towards each other, all living things, and the environment based on moral beliefs and values. It teaches about always acting in good faith and adheres to the Golden Rule to treat others the way you want to be treated by them.
The Ten Commandments are examples of deontology. They are moral duties that we have been taught since we were children, and we are moulded by them in the way that we should treat others, to be fair and not using them to serve selfish intentions.
Reference: Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude – G Subba Rao & P N Roy Chowdhury.
Nishkam Karma is a central theme in the Bhagavad Gita. An important philosophical concept in Karma yoga, it means to act unselfishly, or without personal gain in mind. When acting out of Nishkam Karma, an individual is acting without any expectation that good will be returned to him/her. In Sanskrit, nishkam means “action without motive,” “work without desire” or “desire-less.”
Nishkam Karma is the opposite of Sakam Karma and is considered to be selfless action without even the subtle internal hope for a “thank you” or goodness returned. Karma Yoga focuses on the perfect alignment of thought, word and deed. A subtle ideal is embedded in this concept that encourages an individual towards an overall perfection through the path of action. Nishkam Karma is considered non-attachment to the result of personal actions in life, but with selfless and loving motives. It teaches that a spiritual seeker should act according to his dharma (duty), without being attached to the fruits or personal consequences of such work. It shows how one can live in this world and work in a manner that benefits oneself and the milieu in which he is placed. Man’s action is necessary to maintain world order and this cannot happen if one withdraws from the environment and remains idle in the name of meditation or Jnana. Desire for specific gains will cause bondage, but deeds done with a sense of dedication and in the spirit of service to God free one from such bondage.
Example: On the battlefield, Krishna told Arjuna, “Do your duty without thinking about the outcome.” What he meant was, one cannot be sure about the results and hence must not think about the outcomes, when one is performing his/her duty. One may or may not attain the desired result in the end, but thinking in a loop about the possible outcomes will only pile to the confusion, make one doubtful, distracted and increase chances of failures!
The donation or charity done to the less fortunate of the society must not be based on the fame a person receives at the end of it. Rather, the pure joy of giving, sense of satisfaction that someone’s life is more comfortable now should be the motive. It applies to CSR, NGOs, HNIs too.
‘pride’ in Jain morality:
According to the Jaina philosophy, liberation comes from the complete conquest of their internal enemies such as desire, attachment, greed, anger, and pride. This can be achieved by adhering to the three main principles of Jainism: non-violence, non-absolutism, and non-possessiveness.
Many ethical codes have condemned pride as a “deadly sin,” as part and parcel of their advocacy of moral ideals that are incompatible with life and happiness. To sustain a moral ideal that runs contrary to real human needs, these ethics have made a virtue of humility, the antithesis of pride. Pride is sinful because it presumes the moral sufficiency of man. Pride implies the sanctity of an unbroken spirit.
As an orientation toward the future, pride consists in taking responsibility for enhancing one’s self-esteem, for building one’s character, for being worthy of life. It means striving for moral and therefore existential improvement, with oneself as the beneficiary. For example, this means taking responsibility for one’s material success and professional development by seeing to it that one pursues an enriching career or series of careers, and taking responsibility for one’s spiritual enrichment by seeking out the kind of art, ideas, and relationships that it requires. A person of pride does not wait for others to fulfill his dreams for him, nor does he restrict his aspirations to what others demand. His credo is “I will do it” and “it will be good.”
Soul force can be defined as Spiritual energy, a vital force conceived of as constituting, residing in, or emanating from the soul. Gandhi described it as follows: I have also called it love-force or soul-force.
Soulforce originally hewed to the philosophy of nonviolence as gleaned through the studies by our founding members of the legacies of several practitioners, including the Catholic Workers Movement, Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Movement, Mahatma Gandhi and the struggle for Indian independence, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the struggle for civil rights in the U.S.
Like Gandhi, King recognized the futility of confronting a dominating violent kingdom with the same weapons it had engineered and mastered. He also knew that the struggle against the illusion of ethnic supremacy was deeply rooted in the pit of hell, and victory would only be assured if the oppressed chose to fight with weapons from the heavenly arsenal.
Earn thy bread by the sweat of the brow- says Bible. Bread labour means that everyone is expected to perform sufficient body-labour in order to entitle him to his living. It is not, therefore, necessary to earn one’s living by bread labour, taking living’ in its broader sense. But everyone must perform some useful body-labour.
Gandhiji said that sharirashrama, physical labour and effort, was more important for maintaining the health of the society than it was for staying physically fit. He got his ideas from Leo Tolstoy and John Ruskin and made place for bread labour in his life. Behind it was also an attempt to introduce a revolutionary idea about work.
The economics of Bread labour are the living way of life. It means that every man has to labour with his body for his food and clothing. If I can convince the people of the value and necessity of bread-labour, there never will be any want of bread and cloth.
The idea is that every healthy individual must labour enough for his food and his intellectual faculties must be exercised not in order to obtain a living or amass a fortune, but only in the service of mankind. If this principle is observed everywhere, all men would be equal, none would starve and world would be saved from a sin.