DAILY MAINS NEWSLETTER FOR UPSC|17 JULY 2021|RaghukulCS

Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

17 July 2021 - Saturday

Index

Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name

Source

1

India needs a renewed health-care system

The Hindu

2

Why Supreme Court must strike down sedition law entirely

Indian Express

Mains Value Addition

An irrational draft population control Bill that must go

Syllabus–GS: 1: Society – Population and associated issues.

Analysis: –

  • Many of us working in the field of public health and social development have been taken aback, if not downright shocked, by the recently announced draft Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilization and Welfare) Bill, 2021 that focuses exclusively on making a two-child norm a law, specifying various incentives and penalties for contravention.
  • The burgeoning negative reaction to this proposal derives from a variety of inherent dangers, but also because most experts would agree that the conceptual clarity on ‘development being the best contraception’ and the irrationality of incentives-disincentives had been, ostensibly, long settled.
  • As early as 1994, the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (UN 1994); to which India is a signatory, strongly avers that coercion, incentives and disincentives have little role to play in population stabilisation and need to be replaced by the principle of informed free choice.

Book review: Do We Care: India’s Health System by by K. Sujatha Rao

Analysis: –

  • Drawing on her experience as the former union health secretary, K. Sujatha Rao gives us an unsparingly candid insider’s view of India’s health system.
  • This richly detailed book favours increasing the health budget, greater use of technology and providing leadership and good governance.
  • Rao argues that unless good health is prioritized as a national goal, India’s growth story will remain largely self-congratulatory.
  • India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Yet health is not a part of our ambitious development story.
  • In fact, India’s disproportionately stingy healthcare budget makes some of the poorer nations look better in comparison.

Mains Analysis

India needs a renewed health-care system

Why in News?

Growing instances of judicial interference in an investigation are not only undesirable but also not sanctioned by law

Syllabus— GS 2 Health

  • Given the lessons learned from the COVID-19 epidemic, how should citizens expect the government to improve its public health performance?
  • If the Union Health Ministry implements the following health-system lessons, it will not only improve COVID-19 response, but will also have far-reaching positive consequences far beyond the COVID-19 issue.

Comparing Maharashtra and Kerala –

  • Their per capita gross state domestic product (GSDP), which reflects each state’s overall economic status, is comparable.
  • However, their COVID-19 case fatality rates are vastly different, with Kerala’s at 0.48 percent and Maharashtra’s at 2.04 percent, implying that a COVID-19 patient in Maharashtra is over four times more likely to die than one in Kerala.
  • Huge inequalities in the effectiveness of public health systems are likely to be a key cause of such crucial divergence.
  • When compared to Maharashtra, Kerala has two and a half times more government doctors and an equal number of government hospital beds per capita, while contributing over one and a half times more funds to public health each year.
  • In Kerala, robust government health-care facilities have resulted in more effective outreach, timely testing, early case diagnosis, and more reasonable COVID treatment, all of which have resulted in lower death rates.
  • Evidence from the COVID-19 pandemic sends a clear message: ignoring public health systems can result in large-scale, preventable deaths; thus, public health services must be updated quickly and extensively as a top priority.

Dealing with Public Policy on Health –

  • The National Health Mission (NHM) is a larger programme that requires the Health Minister’s immediate attention; since 2017-18, Union government allocations for the NHM have decreased in real terms, resulting in insufficient support to States for core activities such as immunisation, and systemic gaps are affecting the delivery of COVID-19 vaccination.
  • The National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) is still in a sorry state. The Central funding for the NUHM this year is Rs 1,000 crore, or less than Rs 2 per month each urban Indian.
  • This scenario must change, and the Government must allocate 1.6 lakh crore for public health during the current fiscal year, as proposed by the Parliamentary Standing Committee, in order to meet National Health Policy targets.
  • This would be a doubling of the current central health budget, allowing for significant improvements in health services in both rural and urban locations across the country.

Regulating Private Sector –

  • Massive hospital fees have wreaked havoc on the middle class; COVID-19 treatment can cost anywhere from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 3 lakh each week in large private hospitals.
  • Despite the drug’s lack of efficacy in reducing COVID-19 mortality, the ‘Remdesivir panic’ was connected to widespread usage of the drug by unlicensed private hospitals.
  • Although a number of factors have led to the Mucormycosis outbreak, inappropriate use of steroids in COVID-19 patients, particularly diabetics, appears to be one of them.
  • Despite all this, The central government has failed to take the essential steps to promote the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act’s implementation (CEA).
  • Passed in 2010 and presently applicable to 11 States across India, this Act is not effectively implemented due to a major delay in notification of central minimum standards, and failure to develop the central framework for regulation of rates.

NITI Aayog Recommendations –

  • The document titled “Investment Opportunities in India’s Healthcare Sector” was just released by the NITI Aayog.
  • This encourages more health-care privatisation in a country that already has one of the most privatised health-care systems in the world.
  • The report makes no mention of the negative features of unregulated private health care, nor does it highlight the necessity for private hospital regulation.
  • Instead, the document hails the COVID-19 outbreak as a golden economic opportunity, claiming that ‘in the hospital segment, the growth of private players to Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas, beyond major centres, presents an excellent investment opportunity.’
  • Proposals to transfer over public hospitals to private operators, who would presumably administer these essential public institutions on a commercial basis under the ‘Viability Gap Funding’ model, are highly concerning, particularly because formerly free public health services would begin to be charged for.

 

Way Forward: –

  • It is vital to restore people’s faith in public health systems at this time.
  • This would aid in overcoming COVID-19 vaccination apprehension while also bolstering the promotion of healthy behaviours required to combat the present COVID-19 wave and prevent a third.
  • This will be accomplished most effectively if the incoming Health Minister acts on three key lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic: the need to improve public health systems, regulate private health care, and avoid further privatisation of the health sector.

Question: –

“Institutional quality is a crucial driver of social development”. In this context suggest reforms in Health sector for strengthening social sector. 

Why Supreme Court must strike down sedition law entirely

Why in News?

Four petitions are currently in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the law; the latest was filed by the PUCL on July 16.

Syllabus—GS2: Governance

When was the sedition law introduced in India?

  • The sedition law which is enshrined in Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPS) was introduced by the British government in 1870 to tackle dissent against colonial rule.
  • The original draft of the IPC, which was enacted in 1860, did not consist of this law.

What is Section 124A?

  • Section 124A states the following, “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which a fine may be added; or, with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which a fine may be added; or, with fine.”
  • A blog published by the Library of Congress (LOC) notes that in the 19th and 20th centuries, the law was used primarily to suppress the writings and speeches of prominent Indian nationalists and freedom fighters.

Examples of Sedition: –

  • Over the years, various people have been booked under this provision of the IPC, including author Arundhati Roy for her controversial remarks on Kashmir, Hardik Patel (who is facing sedition cases related to the 2015 Patidar quota agitation) and more recently, climate activist Disha Ravi, Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, journalists Vinod Dua and Siddique Kappan among others.

 

When was sedition law used against Gandhi and Tilak?

  • According to the LOC blog, the first known instance of the application of the law was the trial of newspaper editor Jogendra Chandra Bose in 1891.
  • Other prominent examples of the application of the law include the trials of Tilak and Gandhi. Apart from this, Jawaharlal Nehru, Abul Kalam Azad and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar were also charged with sedition.
  • In 1922, Gandhi was arrested on charges of sedition in Bombay for taking part in protests against the colonial government.
  • He was sentenced to six years in prison but was released after two years because of medical reasons.
  • Before Gandhi, Tilak faced three trials in cases related to sedition and was imprisoned twice.
  • He was charged with sedition in 1897 for writing an article in his weekly publication called Kesari and was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.
  • He was tried again in 1908 and was represented by MA Jinnah. But his application for bail was rejected and he was sentenced to six years.

Supreme Court’s Stance: –

  • The hearing in the SC on the first petition filed by two journalists — KishorechandraWangkhem and Kanhaiya Lal Shukla — was to begin on July 12, which was predictably adjourned as the government sought two more weeks to file a response despite having been issued a notice on April 30.

KedarnathJudgement (1962)

  • The push-back from the executive to the judicial admission that the interpretation of sedition given in Kedar Nath Singh (1962) requires reconsideration is obvious, as the law has allowed successive governments to suppress political dissidence at will.
  • The point of attention is this judicial act of “reconsideration” and its possible consequences.
  • Originally defined as the act of inciting disaffection, which included feelings of enmity, hatred, contempt and disloyalty against the government, Section 124A was read down in Kedar Nath.
  • The court ruled that unless an act of disaffection imports the tendency to result in disorder through incitement of violence against the government, the charge of sedition cannot be upheld.
  • The criticism against Kedar Nath is that it laid down an ambiguous test where the speech is measured on the parameter of its “tendency” to result in public disorder, through incitement of violence against government, without clarifying how the tendency of a speech was to be gauged.

Criticism: –

  • Restricting oneself to a criticism of the existing doctrinal test would mean that while the use of a subjective word like “tendency”, prone to multiple interpretations, is a problem, the interpretation of the offence of sedition as the act of incitement of violence against the government, is not.
  • Incitement to violence against the government cannot be protected as free speech, it can only be subjected to a clear judicial test to delineate other forms of expression against the government which fall short of incitement to violence.
  • Based on this abstract idea, the call for abolition of the offence of sedition is posed against a lacuna in the law which would allow for incitement to violence against government to be covered under protected speech.
  • Consequently, the demand to nullify the law criminalising sedition can be perceived as protecting the right to incite violence against the government.
  • Counterposing the two weakens the demand for abolishing the law of sedition. To enter the question of the constitutionality of the law of sedition through this abstract idea of inciting violence against the government, creates a false dichotomy between freedom of expression and the right to resistance and debilitates the actual grounds on which the law should be assessed.

Way Forward: –

  • Sedition was not an offence against public order or security of state. It was deliberately constructed as one to withhold the challenge of constitutionality.
  • With the law of sedition granting the executive the power to persecute expressions against itself in the name of public order and security of state, the court can no longer raise questions but will have to resort to measures.
  • Attempts to read down the law or institute procedural mechanisms to forestall its arbitrary enforcement will not take away this power to persecute.
  • Anything short of abolishing the offence of sedition will not help the restitution of the constitutional right to free speech.

Value addition: –

  • In admitting a petition by General (Retd) Vombatkere on July 14, the Chief Justice of India asked the Attorney General representing the government “if the colonial law is still necessary after 75 years of independence”.
  • The American free speech test laid down in Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) which calls for expressions to be penalised only where there is incitement to “imminent lawless action” is often cited as the ultimate standard to protect speech and has already been adopted as the threshold for upholding the right to free expression by the Indian Supreme Court in Indra Das (2011) and Shreya Singhal (2015). Subjecting sedition to the Brandenburg standard, hence, would answer the problems emanating from the 1962 test.

Question: –

If the legal challenge is efficacious, the SC will declare the law unconstitutional but if the court resorts to an alternative and instead reads down the law to a stricter and more limited interpretation of the offence, would that resolve the crisis of free speech that the law of sedition has currently posed in India?

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