DAILY MAINS NEWSLETTER FOR UPSC | 22 APR 2021 | RaghukulCS

Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

22 APRIL 2021

Index

Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name

Source

1

Strengthening the process of choosing the police chief

The Hindu

2

India’s new Covid-19 vaccine policy

Indian Express

Mains Value Addition

Global community, especially developed countries, must commit to climate action

Syllabus– GS 3: Environment

Analysis: –

  • In this pivotal year for humanity, now is the time for bold climate action.
  • The science is irrefutable: To stop the climate crisis from becoming a permanent catastrophe, we must limit global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • To do this, we must get to net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by mid-century.
  • Countries making up about two-thirds of the global economy have committed to do so.
  • This is encouraging, but we urgently need every country, city, business and financial institution to join this coalition and adopt concrete plans for transitioning to net-zero.
  • Even more urgent is for governments to match this long-term ambition with concrete actions now, as trillions of dollars are mobilised to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Revitalising economies is our chance to re-engineer our future.
  • The new national plans must cut global greenhouse gas pollution by at least 45 per cent by 2030 compared to 2010 levels.
  • Many have been presented already, and set out clearer policies to adapt to the impacts of climate change and boost access to renewable energy.

Indian ads further gender stereotypes, shows study

Syllabus– GS 1: Women

Analysis: –

  • Some of the findings of a study released on Monday by UNICEF and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media (GDI) titled “Gender Bias and Inclusion In Advertising In India”.
  • The research measures over 1,000 television and YouTube advertisements aired across India in 2019. The ads analysed were those that received the most reach.
  • An analysis of Indian advertisements on television and YouTube has shown that while they are superior to global benchmarks insofar as girls and women have parity of representation in terms of screen and speaking time, their portrayal is problematic as they further gender stereotypes — they are more likely to be shown as married, less likely to be shown in paid occupation, and more likely to be depicted as caretakers and parents than male characters.
  • The study finds that female characters dominate screen time (59.7%) and speaking time (56.3%), but one of the drivers of this is their depiction for selling cleaning supplies, food and beauty products to female consumers.
  • In comparison, in a separate study by GDI for setting global benchmarks it was found that ads in the U.S. show women with half the screen time (30.6%) and nearly half the speaking time (33.5%).
  • Female characters are three times more likely to be depicted as parents than male characters (18.7% compared with 5.9%).
  • While male characters are more likely to be shown making decisions about their future than female characters (7.3% compared with 4.8%), the latter are twice as likely to be shown making household decisions than male characters (4.9% compared with 2.0%).

The last word on the state and temples

Syllabus– GS 2: secularism

Analysis: –

  • The Constituent Assembly was especially mindful of the civic history surrounding matters of faith in India.
  • It understood that left unattended, religion could lead to a perpetuation of historical evils.
  • To treat religion as a subject beyond the state’s sovereign reach was to thwart the Constitution’s aim of establishing a free and egalitarian society at its very founding.
  • The framers were also conscious that achieving these goals meant that the government had to ensure that resources vital to the commonweal were properly managed.
  • The makers of India’s Constitution were conscious of the dangers in promising an American style right to non-establishment.
  • To them, there was little doubt that all persons must be entitled to a freedom of conscience.
  • But that freedom, they believed, ought not to be circumscribed by extending to extreme limits the divide between the state and religion.
  • It was with these ends in mind that various caveats and provisos were written into Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution.
  • The former makes the freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health.

Mains Analysis

Strengthening the process of choosing the police chief

Why in News?

Recent developments in the Mumbai Police which resulted in the removal of Param Bir Singh from the Mumbai Police Commissioner’s post focus the spotlight once again on long overdue reforms needed in the process of appointing and removing police chiefs.

Syllabus– GS 2: Police Reforms

  • Police forces of the various states are governed by their state laws and regulations. Some states have modelled their laws on the basis of a central law, the Police Act, 1861.
  • States also have their police manuals detailing how police of the state is organised, their roles and responsibilities, records that must be maintained, etc.

  • There is no independent vetting process to assess the suitability of qualified candidates, and the government’s assessment, if it is done at all, remains opaque and is an exercise behind closed doors.
  • While the principles of democratic accountability necessitate the police chief to remain answerable to the elected government at all times, the moot reform issue is in ensuring the right balance between conditioning the government’s legitimate role in appointing or removing the police chief with the need to safeguard the chief’s operational autonomy.

Need to Change the Approach –

  • The first is the need to shift the responsibility of appointment and removal from the government alone to a bipartisan, independent oversight body of which the government is one part.
  • Establishing a state-level oversight body with a specified role in the appointment and removal of police chiefs was first suggested by the National Police Commission (NPC), constituted in 1979, and much later reaffirmed by the Supreme Court of India in its judgment in 2006, in Prakash Singh.

While the top court entrusted the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) with a role in shortlisting candidates from which the State government is to appoint the police chief, the Model Police Bill, 2015 places the responsibility with a multiparty State Police Board, also referred to as the State Security Commission (SSCs), instead

  • (Section 8). Made up of government officials, the Leader of the Opposition as well as independent members from civil society, the board provides the additional safeguard of civilian oversight over the appointment process.

Police accountability

  • Police forces have the authority to exercise force to enforce laws and maintain law and order in a state. However, this power may be misused in several ways. 
  • For example, in India, various kinds of complaints are made against the police including complaints of unwarranted arrests, unlawful searches, torture and custodial rapes.

  • To check against such abuse of power, various countries have adopted safeguards, such as accountability of the police to the political executive, internal accountability to senior police officers, and independent police oversight authorities.

Challenges: –

  • India, however, has made little progress in constituting truly independent bodies.
  • While 26 States and the Union Territories have established SSCs, either through new police acts or amendments or through executive orders, not a single one adheres to the balanced composition suggested by the top court.
  • Some do not include the Leader of the Opposition; others neither include independent members nor follow an independent selection process of the members.
  • In essence, the commissions remain dominated by the political executive.
  • Keeping aside the concern over non-functioning SSCs (as of 2019, information secured through the Right to Information Act indicates that only four SSCs have held meetings since 2014), their design itself will have to be strengthened if they are to drive meaningful reforms.
  • Moreover, in as many as 23 States, governments retain the sole discretion of appointing the police chief. Assam, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Meghalaya and Mizoram are the only States where, on paper, the SSC is given the responsibility of shortlisting candidates.

Need for transparency

  • The second element critical to police reforms is instituting an independent and transparent selection and decision-making process around appointment and removal, against objective criteria.
  • Much standard-setting work is needed on this as only basic safeguards have been defined in reform measures towards protecting the operational autonomy of the police chief.
  • On appointments, the Court and the Model Police Act require the UPSC/SSC to shortlist candidates on the basis of length of service, service record, and range of experience and a performance appraisal of the candidates over the past 10 years.
  • However, no further guidance has been developed on explaining these terms or specifying their elements to guide the appointments.
  • Similarly, no scrutiny process has been prescribed to justify removals from tenure posts.
  • The NPC had required State governments to seek the approval of the State Security Commission before removing the police chief before the end of term.
  • This important check was diluted under the Prakash Singh judgment that only requires governments to consult the SSC. Most States omit even this cursory step.

  • Broad terms such as “on administrative grounds” or “in the public interest” continue to be retained in police acts to justify the government’s power to remove the police chief. Such terms remain liable to misuse.

Supreme Court’s Stand:-

  • The Supreme Court issued a judgment on police reforms on 22 September 2006, but despite clear instructions, the recommendations have still not been fully implemented.
  • In its verdict, the top court had directed setting up of three new institutions — State Security Commission to insulate the police from outside pressure, Police Establishment Board to give autonomy to police officers in personnel matters, and Police Complaints Authority to make the police more accountable.
  • Indeed, the Supreme Court has rightly emphasised that “prima facie satisfaction of the government” alone is not a sufficient ground to justify removal from a tenure post in government, such as that of the police chief (T.P. Senkumar vs Union of India, 2017). The rule of law requires such decisions be for compelling reasons and based on verifiable material that can be objectively tested.
  • In Prakash Singh v. Union of India, the SC relied on the eight reports of the National Police Commission (1979-1981) appointed by the Union.
  • Clear and specific benchmarks need to be integrated into decision-making processes, both on appointments and removals, to prevent politically motivated adverse actions.

Example of UK: –

  • In improving transparency of the review process, the United Kingdom provides a useful example.

 

  • The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act, 2011, introduced public confirmation hearings as an additional layer of check for the appointment of the heads of their police forces known as Chief Constables (outside of London city).

Way Forward: –

  • The proposed candidates are required to participate in a hearing organised by the police and crime panel in each area(made up of representatives from local councils and co-opted independent members) where questions centre on the candidate’s ability to “recognize and understand the separation of political and operational responsibilities in relation to the post”.
  • This constitutes a crucial step of the time-bound vetting process based on which the panel makes its recommendations on the suitability of the candidate.
  • Importantly, these panels have the power to veto (by two-thirds majority) the proposed appointment as well.
  • On removals too, the panels allow the police chief an opportunity to respond to the allegations on the basis of which their removal is being sought as part of the scrutiny process.

 

  • Such steps can help ensure fairness in administrative decisions and need to be considered in our context as well in order to protect the political neutrality of the police.

 

  • Any further delay in implementing reforms in this area will continue to demoralise the police and cripple the rule of law.

Question: –

A balance needs to be struck between the government’s legitimate role and the police chief’s operational autonomy. Critically evaluate the statement.

India’s new Covid-19 vaccine policy

Why in News: –India will dramatically expand its vaccination coverage from May 1, including everyone aged 18 and older.

Syllabus: – GS2: Health

Serum Institute of India (SII) on Wednesday announced the prices for its vaccine — Rs 400 per dose to states, and Rs 600 per dose to hospitals. Bharat Biotech and Dr Reddy’s (which will distribute the Russian Sputnik V shot) have not made an announcement yet.

What are the changes in procurement?

  • In the first three phases, when healthcare workers, frontline workers, and those above the age of 45 were vaccinated, the Centre procured the entire quantity of vaccines from the manufacturers, Serum Institute of India (Covishield) and Bharat Biotech (Covaxin), and distributed it to states.
  • The states distributed the stock to government vaccination centres, which administered the vaccine free of cost, and to private hospitals that charged recipients Rs 250 per dose.

  • From May 1, the supply will be divided into two baskets: 50 per cent for the Centre, and 50 per cent for the open market. Through the second — non-Government of India — channel, state governments, private hospitals, and industries that have facilities to administer the vaccine, will be able to procure doses directly from manufacturers.

What changes in distribution?

  • First, the 50 per cent basket of vaccine doses earmarked for states and private hospitals in the open market will be used to vaccinate those above the age of 18 years.
  • Second, free vaccination would be available at all vaccination centres that receive doses from the Government of India — with those doses, healthcare workers, frontline workers, and those above 45 will be vaccinated.

Will private vaccination centres still administer the vaccine at Rs 250?

  • Since no doses will be made available to the private sector, private hospitals will have their own rates.

What will be the cost of a shot at a private centre?

  • In the first three phases, out of the Rs 250 charged for vaccination, private hospitals received Rs 100 for administering the jab. Since they will now be procuring the vaccine at a higher price, the cost of a jab is expected to be much higher than in the first three phases.
  • The Centre on Monday said the prices charged by private hospitals would be monitored.
  • A mechanism will be put in place, and vaccine stocks and prices will be captured on the Co-win platform.
  • States will receive doses from the Centre and also make additional procurement from the open market — so how will they plan vaccination sessions?
  • This is not final yet. However, the Centre has said that it will be able to allot vaccines for 15 days — which means that states will know in advance that for the next 15 days, they will receive a specific number of doses.
  • They will, therefore, have both a big as well as a granular picture of availability on date and for the coming fortnight.

How will the Centre decide which state gets how many doses?

  • The Centre will allocate its 50 per cent share to states based on the extent of infection (active cases) and performance (speed of administration).
  • Currently, states receive vaccine doses according to demand (number of registrations and walk-in vaccinations). Now, low wastage will be incentivised.

Will imported vaccines also be divided among the Centre, states, and private hospitals?

  • The Centre will allow the imported, fully ready-to-use vaccines to be entirely utilised in the other-than-Government of India channel.

  • Thus, if and when a foreign pharma giant brings its vaccine to India, it will be free to directly sell the entire stock in the open market at a competitive price.
  • Again, there is little clarity on the mechanism that manufacturers will employ to decide among states that place orders.
  • And in the absence of a formula or guidelines, passing control over to private vaccine producers will mean that there will be no social basis for allotting vaccines to states, according to Professor R Ramakumar of TISS.

Which other countries in the world have allowed open-market sale of vaccines?

  • None so far. The main reason is that the vaccines that are being used around the world have received only Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) — none of them have presented enough evidence yet on their safety and effectiveness to receive full regulatory authorisation.
  • Under normal circumstances, it might take 8-10 years to develop, test, and receive approval for a vaccine. But in this extraordinary pandemic scenario, the development, clinical trials, and approvals have been fast-tracked to ensure that people have a chance at escaping severe disease or death.
  • “No other country is doing this (open market sale) as yet, because all these vaccines are still under restricted or emergency use permissions and have not yet been fully licensed in their countries of origin, except, perhaps, in Russia,” vaccine expert and Christian Medical College professor Dr Gagandeep Kang said.
  • Given the public health priority of vaccinating a large segment of their populations, several countries, including the US, UK, Japan, France, and China, are providing vaccines for free to citizens.
  • Once an estimated 600 million new recipients become eligible on May 1, when and from where will the required stocks of vaccines be procured?

Way Forward:-

  • Some 130 million shots have been administered in India so far, and over 111 million people are yet to receive their second dose.
  • Depending on how many people in the priority groups are still left to receive their second shot by the time May 1 comes around, the country could need over 1.2 billion doses of vaccines.
  • Given the country’s current production capacity and the delay in bringing in foreign vaccines, supply will almost certainly fall short of demand.
  • SII is going to prioritise doses of Covishield for India “at least” for the next two months, which means a potential supply of around 120 million to 140 million doses will be available for the country between May and June. However, the company is expecting to begin to deliver for the open market only from the third or fourth week of May.
  • Sputnik V is expected to begin arriving in the country by the end of May. Dr Reddy’s Laboratories has an agreement to distribute 250 million doses of the Russian vaccine, but it is unclear how many of these doses may become available to India.
  • The company is still in discussions with the government over the price and number of doses required.

Questions: –

Richer states, which have the ability to procure large amounts, and states with large networks of private hospitals, are expected to receive a higher proportion of doses from the open market. Explain the statement in terms of India’s vaccine policy challenges.

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