20th November 2019
TOPIC: Parliament and the role of opposition. (Paper II)
Discuss the role of opposition in Parliament and how it has been reduced to the minimal.
More than 1300 people who were detained around the centre’s abrupt move on August 5 that downgraded and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir continue to be so 15 weeks later.
- In detention are dozens of elected representatives including a member of the Lok Sabha, Farroq Abdullah, who also happens to be the former Chief Minister.
- Senior functionaries of the government have repeatedly said that the situation is normal in J&K, but indefinite preventive detention of people is difficult to justify under any circumstances.
- With continuing restrictions on communication, gauging the mood of the people may be tricky, but some signs of normalcy are visible as more businesses open and vehicular traffic increases in the valley.
Steps towards more openness in the valley
- Now that the first Lieutenant Governor has also taken charge in J&K, immediate steps must be taken to open up political and civil society space.
- Instead of trying to hard sell an improbable portrait to the outside world, the centre would do well by engaging with those most affected by its decisions – the people of J&K.
- The paradox of continuing detentions and restrictions in J&K was stark when Prime Minister Modi, spoke about the forthcoming Constitution day and the role of the Rajya Sabha in sustaining India’s federal structure on the first day of the winter session of parliament.
- As the PM rightly indicated, Parliament is for giving meaningful voice to the people, not to make disruptive noise.
- But those prevented from attending attending the House are denied the right to speak for the people they are elected to represent.
Role of opposition is crucial:
- The PM’s call for frank discussions and dialogues in the current sessions would ring hollow when some of them remain in detention.
- The PM’s appreciation of the Rajya Sabha’s role in the hollowing out of Article 370 through a hurried resolution in the last session was disingenuous.
- The non-deliberative manner in which a full-fledged State was reduced into two UTs in one stroke was an unprecedented assault on federalism.
- Disruption by the opposition is a marginal challenge to the role of parliament at present.
- The real and graver trial of the legislature is the executive’s refusal to be scrutinized by it.
By undermining parliamentary committees and brazenly labeling any Bill as a money Bill in order to bypass the Rajya Sabha, the government has shown scant regard for parliamentary precedents and processes. A course correction is in order.
20th November 2019
TOPIC: Poverty and hunger. (Paper II)
Discuss the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey report released by ministry of health and family welfare.
The Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS) report, brought out recently by Ministry of Health and family welfare, assumes salience, especially against two important factors. Firstly, the latest global hunger index (GHI), 2019 ranks India at the 102nd position out of 117 countries. Secondly, India’s past performance in reducing child under nutrition has been rather mixed: there has been decline in stunting but not in wasting.
- Between 2005-06 and 2015-16, child stunting and the condition of being underweight declined by 10% and 7% points respectively.
- In wasting, the decline was a paltry 1% point.
- These factors make the CNNS report (2016-18) timely and important.
The CNNS report:
- The report covers dimensions of nutrition, some of which are new and important, and thereby heralds a new beginning in collecting national level nutrition data.
- It reveals that India has sustained its progress made in reducing the number of stunted and underweight children in the last decade.
- Despite such sustained decline, the present stunting level still belongs to the threshold level of ‘very high’.
- Hence, what is of urgent requirement is increasing the rate of decline.
- Though there is no magic policy wand to reduce stunting drastically within a short span of time, the CNNS report draws our attention to an all too familiar factor, which has not received the necessary attention.
- Stunting among children less than four years came down from 46% to 19%, a whopping 27% point’s decline, when maternal education went up from illiteracy/no schooling to 12 years of schooling completed.
- This phenomenal decline was also true for the number of underweight children.
- The difference was close to the gap between the poorest and richest wealth groups.
- It is next to impossible to transform poorest households into richest so soon.
- However, increasing the educational attainment of women significantly is certainly feasible.
- Women’s education, besides being of instrumental significance, has an intrinsic worth of its own.
Although India has sustained its progress in reducing stunting and the number of underweight children in the last decade, it is very important to help identify the drivers of rapid reduction in Child wasting in India, to check the rising obesity and other emerging health problems because its every child’s deserves a happy and healthy childhood.