Polity & Governance
- Dana Majhi’s India
- Nation still prefers boys over girls
- Railway Budget, a vanishing trick
Defence & Security Issues
- Mandate companies to report cyber attacks
Polity & Governance
GS (M) Paper-2: “Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.”
Dana Majhi’s India
This week, the UN General Assembly is debating the theme of “The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG): a universal push to transform our world”.
Indicators related to Health:
- While health is just one of these goals (“to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”), indicators related to health span at least 10 other goals — for example ending hunger and ensuring clean water and sanitation.
- Altogether, indicators pertaining to health services and health outcomes, and factors with well-established causal connections to health account for 47 of the 200 odd indicators.
The Global Burden of Disease study
- Extracted data for 33 of these indicators to generate a composite “SDG health index” for each country.
The report has two major findings relevant to India:
- India ranks near the bottom of the league of nations in its overall SDG health index —143 out of 188 countries- a score of 42/100, even behind countries like Libya and Iraq which have been shattered by war
- India’s SDG health index is far worse than what would have been predicted on the basis of the country’s socio-economic index
What other countries are doing to achieve the SDGs?
- Striving for universal health care system.
- Strong commitment to address the social determinants of health, such as sanitation and hunger.
- India has squandered the opportunity that most other nations have harnessed, to turn socio-economic success into better health for our citizens. In this respect, India is the worst performer in South Asia.
- While hard-nosed economists argue that India is not rich enough to afford universal health care, they ignore the fact that much poorer countries than India have attained this goal — ironically, India produce more health workers and medical products such as drugs than these countries.
- We can fix our broken healthcare system with whatever resources we have. We need the political will to do so.
GS (M) Paper-1: Women empowerment
Nation still prefers boys over girls
Nationwide, the number of girls born per 1,000 boys has dropped from 909 during 2011-13 to 906 for the 2012-14 period. The fall is steepest in Delhi — from 887 to 876.
Findings of the sample registration system (SRS)
- Sex selection isn’t limited to the Hindi heartland but is spreading to states such as Tamil Nadu, where the number dropped to 921 from 927
- Internationally, the ratio at birth is 950 or more girls born per 1,000 boys
- Punjab and Haryana still at bottom have showed some improvement
- Unlike the decadal headcount, SRS reports are based on annual changes in more than 8,800 identified localities and villages
Conclusions from the findings
- The crackdown on ultrasound clinics should continue. Sex selection, aided by these clinics, is still happening. It is as rampant as it was, in Delhi and elsewhere.
- The government programmes aimed at correcting the sex ratio should be holistic and not a stop-gap arrangement. For instance, Delhi’s Ladli scheme that gives money to poor families to encourage them to let a girl child be born and put through school. But poverty is a criterion to get the aid though it has been found that it is much prevalent in middle and affluent classes too.
Reasons behind sex selection
- Socio-economic conditions and lack of job opportunities for women
- Gender discrimination or patriarchy gives more value to boys
- Prevailing notions of ancient scriptures like girls being source of misery and paraya dhan still continues
- Failure of policies to curtail dowry, which is more prevalent in affluent sections
Suggestions and conclusion:
- Behavioural changes take a long time, hence policy framework for improving Child-Sex ratio should be flexible and follow an area- based approach. It should be aimed at not only improving socio-economic condition of women, but also dilute age old demeaning attributions towards women.
- Modern values should be instilled in people if our attitude towards women is to change.
- Schemes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao should continue toward women empowerment and equity.
GS (M) Paper-3: “Government Budgeting”
Railway Budget, a vanishing trick
The Union Cabinet has just cleared the proposal for merging the Railway Budget with the General Budget.
Rationale behind the move:
- The Indian Railways need not pay the annual dividend to the Government of India on the budgetary support given each year, saving the financially stressed Railways about Rs.10,000 crore annually.
- Over the years, the Budget has been misused by politicians as a populist platform to enhance their own image.
- No other Ministry has a separate budget and the practice exists in no other country today
- In line with Bibek Debroy Committee recommendations.
- The Railways’ share in the General Budget has progressively reduced over the years, making a separate budget an anachronism, thus ending the colonial legacy.
Arguments in Favour of single budget
- Dividend – The dividend is paid not only on the budgetary support extended during a year but also on the total “capital at charge” which includes the gross budgetary support (GBS) of previous years.
- Ending Populism and grandstanding- A separate post-Budget discussion in Parliament on the Railways, is no substitute, as the focus most likely will be on allotments to various projects, not on financial performance
Arguments in favour of separate budget
- The Railways is indeed unlike any other Central ministry in size and scope: (a) It is an operational ministry. (b) It earns as well as spends, unlike other ministries that only spend.
- Its gross earnings (Rs.1.68 lakh crore in 2015-16) are among the highest for any Indian organisation, public or private
- It has a staff strength (13.2 lakh) that exceeds that of the Indian Army; it fully meets the pension liabilities of its retired employees (13.8 lakh) out of its own earnings unlike other ministries
- So, if the Railways is to be treated like other ministries, will the government also fund its pension liabilities which are estimated to be about Rs.45,500 crore in 2016-17
Suggestions and conclusion:
- Though it is a smart move that would earn a fat bonus of Rs. 10000 crore, it has not been brought by improving efficiency, increasing revenues and cutting costs, but through a dexterous bureaucratic sleight of hand, taking cover behind the smokescreen of “reforms”
- The government should table an annual “Indian Railways Report” in Parliament on the lines of the Reserve Bank of India’s Economic Survey.
Defence & Security Issues
GS (M) Paper-3: “Cyber Security”
Mandate companies to report cyber attacks
The RBI has given an ultimatum to Indian banks to report cyber-attacks immediately or face punitive action, which is in sync with global practices.
Rationale behind the move:
- Often, banks and companies do not report hacking threats fearing it would impact their stock price and thus leading to increase in number of cyber-crime incidents.
- Real time reporting can help in tracking the attacks and containing further incidents and damage control.
How the reporting is to be done?
- To start with companies can report to Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN), however there is an immediate need of a specialised agency.
Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I-4C):
- In 2015, the home ministry approved, in principle, setting up of an Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I-4C) for effective execution of online cyber-crime reporting, cyber-crime monitoring, setting up of forensic units, capacity building of police, prosecutors and judicial officials, promotion of R&D and awareness creation
National Cyber Security Policy 2013:
- It is a policy framework by Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY).
- It aims at protecting the public and private infrastructure from cyber attacks.
Obectives of National Cyber Security Policy 2013:
- To create a secure cyber ecosystem in the country, generate adequate trust and confidence in IT system and transactions in cyberspace and thereby enhance adoption of IT in all sectors of the economy.
- To create an assurance framework for design of security policies and promotion and enabling actions for compliance to global security standards and best practices by way of conformity assessment (Product, process, technology & people).
- To strengthen the Regulatory Framework for ensuring a SECURE CYBERSPACE ECOSYSTEM.
- To enhance and create National and Sectoral level 24X7 mechanism for obtaining strategic information regarding threats to ICT infrastructure, creating scenarios for response, resolution and crisis management through effective predictive, preventive, protective response and recovery actions.
- To improve visibility of integrity of ICT products and services by establishing infrastructure for testing & validation of security of such product.
- To create workforce for 5,00,000 professionals skilled in next 5 years through capacity building skill development and training.
- To provide fiscal benefit to businesses for adoption of standard security practices and processes.
- To enable Protection of information while in process, handling, storage & transit so as to safeguard privacy of citizen’s data and reducing economic losses due to cyber crime or data theft.
- To enable effective prevention, investigation and prosecution of cybercrime and enhancement of law enforcement capabilities through appropriate legislative intervention.
- India is vulnerable to cyber attacks. The legal framework for privacy and data protection is rudimentary. Enforcement is non-existent.
- With larger and larger areas of banking, commerce, compliance and reporting turning electronic, and linked to unique identifiers, cyber security becomes of paramount importance. Laws must improve, and so must compliance and enforcement.