Study Material | Prelims Test Series
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Social justice

8 Solved Questions with Answers
  • 2017

    6. ‘To ensure effective implementation of policies addressing water, sanitation and hygiene needs, the identification of beneficiary segments is to be synchronized with the anticipated outcomes’. Examine the statement in the context of the WASH scheme. (2017)

    India is one of the developing countries that has come out with WASH schemes to address the challenges of health and sanitation in urban and rural areas. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan for urban and rural areas is one of the manifestation of the importance of WASH schemes.

    There has been huge disparities in access to WASH services across different segments of the population. In India, around 128 million lack safe water services and about 840 million people don’t have sanitation services. Thus there is an urgent need to identify the different kinds of beneficiaries and communities whose accesss to WASH services need to be enhanced. The outcomes need to be enhanced in terms of adequacy, accessibility, affordability, quality and safety of the WASH services.

    WASH sectors come under concurrent subjects and both central and state governments can legislate on it. The collection of data related to WASH schemes are generally done at state level but it suffers from many discrepancies. The needs and barriers for segments of the population differ and consequently the strategies also need to be customised for the different segments. Therefore, policymakers are gradually moving away from a “one size fits all” approach to a more beneficiary-centric approach.

    A traditional approach has been to segment the beneficiaries on the basis of geographical and social context (GSS). Population was therefore segmented as rural, urban, low income and so on. Recently there is a trend to segment the beneficiaries on the basis of the human life cycle (LCS). Beneficiaries are thus segmented as children, adolescents, adults, senior citizens, and so on.
    To be able to achieve our WASH targets, it is important that our policies adopt both the LCS and GSS approaches.

  • 2018

    7. Appropriate local community-level healthcare intervention is a prerequisite to achieve ‘Health for All’ in India. Explain. (2018)

    ‘Health for All’ which includes the continuous availability of quality and affordable healthcare results in better health outcomes. It can be ensured by strengthening local community level healthcare services. Government has recently launched Ayushman Bharat to strengthen the primary health-care system through well functional health and wellness centres.

    Role of local community level healthcare intervention to achieve ‘Health for All’:

    • Local community level intervention is the first source of comprehensive and accessible healthcare that meets the immediate needs of individuals. Addressing issues at this level can result in risk screening for early disease detection bringing down the overall disease burden of the country.
    • Provision of preventive services at the local level like vaccinations and family planning, nutrition and maternal care can reduce the need for secondary and tertiary healthcare services.
    • Management of chronic health conditions and palliative care at local level can reduce the out-of-pocket expenditure for people.
    • Maintaining the physician-patient ratio at the grassroot level can ensure the availability of doctors for all, reducing the dependence on quacks and eliminating preventable causes like incorrect treatment.
    • The healthcare intervention at local community level should be supplemented by upgradation of infrastructure, technological advancement and capacity building of health workers.
    • Decentralised policy making that involves local community health workers can effectively address the local healthcare needs.

    Hence, it is important to address these issues at the community level to achieve ‘Health for All’.

  • 2017

    7. Does the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 ensure effective mechanism for empowerment and inclusion of the intended beneficiaries in the society? Discuss. (2017)

    The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 replaced the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995 to comply with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It has come as a breather for estimated 70-100 million disabled citizens of India. Main provisions of the act that ensure inclusion and empowerment are enumerated below–

    • The act aims towards more inclusive coverage of the disabled population by increasing the types of disability from existing 7 to 21. Speech and Language Disability and Specific Learning Disability have been added for the first time. Acid Attack Victims have been included.
    • Every child with benchmark disability (at least 40% of the specified disability) between the age group of 6 and 18 years has been given the right to free education. It also recognises the right of a disabled child to study in a main stream school.
    • Additional benefits such as reservation in higher education (not less than 5%), government jobs (not less than 4 %), reservation in allocation of land, poverty alleviation schemes (5% allotment) etc. have been provided for persons with benchmark disabilities  and those with high support needs.
    • Stress has also been given to ensure accessibility in public buildings in a prescribed time-frame.

    This act stresses the principles of non-discrimination, full and effective participation and inclusion in society, equality of opportunity, accessibility and respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities. Emphasis has been given to right based approach with focus on right to equality and opportunity, right to inherit and own property, right to home and family and reproductive rights among others.

    The act has also been criticised as it misses on special provision to assist persons with mental illness. Many states also could not frame rules under the act within the stipulated time limit. In absence of rules, several key provisions of the act could not be enforced. 

    While the 2016 Act provides many reassurances, brings domestic law in consonance with international standards, and is a huge step forward, its implementation should be monitored carefully to ensure that the needs of persons suffering from disability issues are being comprehensively met.

  • 2017

    8. Hunger and Poverty are the biggest challenges for good governance in India still today. Evaluate how far successive governments have progressed in dealing with these humongous problems. Suggest measures for improvement. (2017)

    From a famine affected third world country that depended on import of food grains to feed its population to a food secured nation, India has come a long way. Various steps taken by successive government to deal with hunger and poverty are discussed below–

    • Green revolution in the late 1960s assured that India became self sufficient in food grain production. There is clear evidence that level of hunger declined in most of the states.
    • “GaribiHatao” (Removal of Poverty) gained prominence during 1970s with emphasis on welfare of the masses.
    • Food for Work Programmes implemented from time to time aimed towards providing food in lieu of work also met with some success. It was felt that it would address the dual need of the employment and food.
    • The accessibility issue of food was assured by Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) introduced in 1997. Better targeting ensured reduction in levels of poverty and hunger.
    • More recently, employment generation programmes like MGNREGA and DeendayalAntyodaya Yojana have met with unprecedented success in improving livelihood of the people.

    But the challenges still remain.  According to the latest Global Hunger Index (2017), India got a lowly 100th position out of 119 countries. On poverty front also, around 21.9% of India’s population still lives below the national poverty line. Measures that could be taken are–

    • All the above programmes and schemes are mired with leakages and problems of last mile delivery. This issue need to be addressed by better targeting using JAM trinity (Jan Dhan, Aadhar, Mobile).
    • Low performance on hunger index can be improved by moving towards nutritional security by way of promotion of nutri-cereals and other supplements.
    • Better facilities of healthcare and education will indirectly help in reducing out-of-pocket expenditure and thus will help reduce incidence of poverty.
    • Steps towards realisation of goals of Universal Basic Income and Basic Minimum Services will go a long way in addressing vicious cycle of chronic poverty.

  • 2016

    9. Professor Amartya Sen has advocated important reforms in the realms of primary education and primary health care. What are your suggestions to improve their status and performance? (2016)

    Education and health care are some of basic human right to which all human beings are entitled to. The Supreme Court has from time to time interpreted Article 21 of the Constitution and has brought ‘Right to health’ and ‘right to primary education’ (Article 21A) under fundamental rights. Therefore, both primary education and health care is an important aspect for a democratic set up.

    Prof. Amartya Sen have lamented about the primary education and health care situation in India and advocated for reforms. According to him:

    • Without developing social sectors like school education and basic health-care services, and without carrying outland reforms, it will not be possible for India to have a participatory and widely shared economic growth.
    • Education and health care are not only vital for quality of life, they have much to contribute to economic development and social change.
    • India needs to broaden its base in the spheres of education, healthcare and women’s equality to foster economic growth.
    • India ranks alongside Haiti and Sierra Leone when it comes to government spending on health as a share of the total health expenditure of the people.
    • He has made a strong case for a radical reform in primary school curriculum which would reduce the curriculum overload in primary education in the country, making home tasks redundant and private tuition unnecessary.
    • The government must prioritise expenditure on education and healthcare instead of ill-directed subsidies and tax exemptions.

    Suggestions for improvement in primary education and health care

    • Increasing the government expenditure on primary education and health care to atleast 5% of GDP. While the government spends only 1% of GDP on health, education spending in India has been lower than the world average.
    • There is a need for proper utilization of funds by plugging the loopholes arising from procedural and institutional bottlenecks.
    • Taking inspiration from the Yashpal Committee Report which seeks to make learning more meaningful and enjoyable by relating formal education to the living world of the children.
    • The mantra of availability, affordability, and assurance must be followed for improving status and performance of Health care in India.
    • Expanding the reach of health services to rural and remote areas is hindered by the limited availability of providers there. Therefore there is a need to improve the quality of Public Health Centres in those areas.
    • Cooperation and collaboration of both public and private sectors.

    India is the only country in the world which is aiming to become a global economic power with an uneducated and unhealthy labour force. Effective implementation of existing policies for skill development, fundamental education reforms, public private partnership and international collaborations can help the nation to become a global superpower.

  • 2016

    15. Examine the main provisions of the National Child Policy and throw light on the status of its implementation. (2016)

    India is a young nation. According to Census 2011, children constitute 39 per cent of the country’s population. The Constitution of India provides that the State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that children are protected from exploitation and moral and material abandonment.

    The National Policy for Children, 2013 aims to protect the rights of the children to survival, health and nutrition; education and development; protection and participation for focused attention. It adheres to the Constitutional mandate and guiding principles of United Nations and reflects a paradigm shift from a need based to a rights-based approach.

    The main provisions of National Child Policy are

    • The Policy recognizes every person below the age of eighteen years as a child and covers all children within the territory and jurisdiction of the country.
    • It ensure equitable access to comprehensive and essential preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitative health care of the highest standard, for all children before, during and after birth, and throughout the period of their growth and development.
    • It secures the right of every child to learning, knowledge, education, and development opportunity, with due regard for special needs, through access, provision and promotion of required environment, information, infrastructure, services and supports, for the development of the child’s fullest potential.
    • The policy aims to create a caring, protective and safe environment for all children, to reduce their vulnerability in all situations and to keep them safe at all places, especially public spaces.
    • It enable children to be actively involved in their own development and in all matters concerning and affecting them.
    • It is the first policy document in India that specifically highlights ‘disability’ as a ground for discrimination that must be countered.

    Status of Implementation

    • The infant mortality rate remains as high as 40. As per the Global Hunger Index, India's hunger levels are ranked as "serious" with around 40% of children stunted. The nation ranks 20th among the countries with serious hunger situation. Malnutrition has been one of the huge crisis in India for many years. Though the levels of stunting have declined as per National Family Health Survey, the numbers are still appalling.
    • The RTE has ensured near 100% gross enrollment ratio and most of the children have access to education but the standard of education needs improvement.
    • Child labour and trafficking is still a stigma on Indian society and the rising incidents of crime by juveniles indicate the failure to guide them in the right direction.

    NPC 2013 has promised a lot for children’s survival, protection, education and health. However, after recognizing various gaps, the government has now come up with legislations like the Child Labour (amendment) Act, Juvenile Justice Bill etc. The recent Draft National Action Plan for Children 2016 aims to provide a roadmap that links the policy objectives to actionable strategies that will help realize the goals of Child welfare in India.

  • 2018

    17. How far do you agree with the view that the focus on lack of availability of food as the main cause of hunger takes the attention away from ineffective human development policies in India? (2018)

    Hunger is a stark and bitter reality for teeming millions in India who are caught under the ‘poverty trap’. It is also quite true that the single point focus on lack of availability of food as the prime reason for hunger has kept the ineffectiveness of human development policies in India in the background. Most of the poverty stricken households barely manage a difficult existence and struggle to provide their children with the nourishment they need to be healthy, happy and reach their full potential. Almost a third of Indian babies are born with low birth weight which is a very high number and reflects the ineffectiveness of human development policies in India. Lack of access to food, no access to drinking water, lack of sanitation facilities and gender inequity – all of these contribute to child malnutrition, which again stems from hunger and poverty.

    Ending hunger and malnutrition will not be achieved by focusing on food security and agriculture alone. Policymakers in India must acknowledge the critical need to link action in addressing food security to national strategies across sectors. There is a need to pursue a “zero hunger” programme with no stunted children below the age of two. This should be a multipronged strategy that focuses on improving agricultural productivity, empowers women through support for maternal and child care practices, and offers nutritional education and social protection programmes. The nutrition mission must develop effective protocols for treating the acutely malnourished while ensuring better coordination between the nutrition and healthcare departments. India should adopt a zero tolerance mindset in battling hunger through long-term political commitment and effective human development policies that do not see hunger as arising only out of lack of availability of food. The country’s serious hunger level is driven by high child malnutrition and underlines need for stronger commitment to the social sector and effective human development policies rooted in ground realities of India.

  • 2017

    17. “Poverty Alleviation programs in India remain mere showpieces until and unless they are backed up by political will.” Discuss with reference to the performance of the major poverty alleviation program in India. (2017)

    In the last 15 years, India has seen the adoption of an ‘alphabet soup’ of ambitious national anti-poverty programs. However, the effectiveness of these programs has always been questioned. Below Poverty Line card, traditionally the main point of access to government welfare schemes has turned out to be a failure. According to reports as many as half of India’s poor households do not even possess a BPL card as their allocations have been discretionary.

    The plethora of programmes that have been launched by the various departments, more or less for the same objective, covering by and large the same target group in the same area, has created quite a bit administrative confusion. Another weakness in the implementation side relates to the lack of political will which is quite obvious in the rural development area. The main point of deficient implementation can be summarized as under:

    • Half-hearted implementation of the programme
    • Lack of political commitment or strong leadership behind it
    • Faulty administrative structure and also its incapability in translating policy into programmes and plans into action
    • Limited ways of checking corruption and leakages that diverts the flow of benefits.

    However, not all can be termed a failure. For instance, NREGA, another flagship scheme is universalistic by design, promises employment and a guaranteed income to households. It has been hailed by politicians and experts alike.

    Causes of failure

    • There is no systematic attempt to identify people who are in poverty, determine their needs, address them and enable them to move above the poverty line.
    • There is no commitment by the government to support an individual or a household for getting minimum level of subsistence through any program.
    • The resources allocated to anti-poverty programs are inadequate.
    • There is no method to ensure that programs reach everybody they are meant for.

    As things stand, many of those living in poverty today will continue to remain poor over time. The magnitude of the problem, demands that we address the poverty challenge on a priority basis.

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