Read The Hindu Notes of 28th November 2018 for UPSC Civil Service Examination, State Civil Service Examination and other competitive Examination

The Hindu Notes for 28th November 2018

Topic Discussed: The Hindu Notes of 28th November 2018

Lessons from a tragedy

The indigenous communities and settlers in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands must be equal stakeholders in a common future

  • The tragic death of a young American adventurer in the protected “tribal reserve” of North Sentinel Island in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands archipelago has triggered global media interest in the region once again. Much of the debates on the alleged killing of John Allen Chau by “hostile” islanders remains focused on the intent, circumstances and tragic upshot of his misadventure, while others raise larger and more disturbing questions about the North Sentinel tribal community at large and the efficacy of the Indian government’s tribal welfare policies. The first set of debates regarding Chau’s evangelical calling and his almost willing surrender to the hazards it entailed are not of interest to us at this moment nor are the details of the investigations that are being carried out by the local police and administration.
  • Understanding ‘hostility’

  • What is of greater significance is the commentary on the “hostility” of the Sentinel islanders and the many experiences of heroic “contact” by visiting anthropologists and government officials. The broader media interest is in the peculiar and almost brutal hostility displayed by the Sentinel islanders towards the outsider. Some see it as signs of a pathological “primitivity” and the result of “complete isolation” from “civilisation” while others interpret it as an effect of the historical memory of colonial brutality. Given the fact that we do not know their language nor have had any opportunity to understand their varied gestures of hostility, it’s hard to come to any definitive answer.
  • But it is the question of “isolation” that demands more critical attention. We are not entirely sure if it can be established that the Sentinelese, or the “Sentinel Jarawas” as they were classified in colonial records, were or are completely isolated. Both colonial records and Census reports up to 1931 reveal that officials did set foot on the islands and were able to walk through it to collect information. The Government of India’s own official “contact” photographs from the 1970s onwards reveal interesting signs that question the “complete isolation” thesis.
  • If we carefully analyse this visual record, we can see how the shape of Sentinelese outrigger canoes has changed and how they continue to use large quantities of iron to make adze blades and arrowheads. We also notice small glass bead necklaces around their necks. Where are these glass beads, trinkets, large tarpaulin sheets and ready supplies of iron coming from?
  • Different images

  • Images of angry Sentinelese pointing at or shooting arrows at a passing helicopter or at the sight of an incoming boat abound in the media. Yet while these images remain in constant circulation, there are other images of them receiving coconuts, bananas and other gifts from government contact parties. Out of the Anthropological Survey of India’s recorded 26 visits to the islands, it is stated that seven were met with overt hostility. In other words, the argument that the hostility of the Sentinelese is chronic or pathological needs to be seen in perspective. Evidently the Sentinel Islanders decide what kind of visitations pose a threat to their survival or dignity and what are “safe” or “useful”. Their hostility towards the outsider is then to be regarded as “strategic” and deliberate and therefore key to their survival.
  • Some have asked why the Indian state cannot devise a method by which the Sentinelese could be “pacified” and brought under the welfare net. It goes to the credit of the Indian government that unlike its colonial predecessors it has completely abjured all kinds of coercion against the indigenous communities of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Colonial punitive expeditions, kidnappings, forced confinements that devastated the Andamanese populations at large are a thing of the past. Tribal welfare policy in the islands remains committed to protection and clearly “pacification” via coercion is no option. The policy today is to ensure “protection” but also to accept their right to self-determination.
  • Nuancing ‘protection’

  • Yet here’s where the problem begins. Policies of “protection” demand strong surveillance infrastructures, empowered staff, coordination among police, forest and welfare agencies and, more importantly, investment in projects of sensitisation. The settler population on the islands clearly remains conflicted. There is an understanding that the islands’ indigenous communities are sources of tourist interest and potential revenue churners, yet the fact that public monies are invested to sustain them in their habitats remain a source of discomfort. Apart from a small segment of progressive citizens, there are clear marks of stress in settler-indigene relations on the islands.
  • It is tensions like these that allow collusive breaches of the law and the undermining of the protective cover for the Sentinelese and other Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) like the Jarawas. What aggravates such tensions are the skewed developmental priorities that mainland India imposes on these islands.
  • The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have historically been treated as terra nullius, or empty space, wherein mainland governments could inscribe their authority and initiate projects of control. The British initiated these projects treating the islands first as a strategic outpost and then a penal colony. The Indian government gave it a free society but used it as a space to settle its “excess” population. Hence the refugee rehabilitation schemes in the post-Partition years. It is this resettlement of the islands in independent India that demanded a renegotiation of its relations with the Islands’ indigenous communities. They had to be protected and cared for but moved out of their original forest habitats into newly designated “tribal reserves”. As a result of continuous settlement and often ill-conceived developmental projects on the islands over the past six decades, these reserves have become increasingly vulnerable to the intrusions of poachers, encroachers and tourists.
  • Looking ahead

  • We hope that we will be able to draw a few lessons from the unfortunate death of John Allen Chau and question the ways in which mainland India views the islands from its distant perch in New Delhi. We can only hope that the Prime Minister’s forthcoming visit to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the announcement of new projects for “holistic” development take a context-sensitive “island view” of development and recognise settlers and PVTGs as equal stakeholders in a common sustainable future.
  • A prescription for the future

    While using cutting-edge technology, we need to find ways to continuously lower the cost of healthcare

  • The world as we know it is changing so fast and so much. Global mega-trends only reinforce this fact. The Internet has taken over our lives, smartphone penetration is growing rapidly, demographics are evolving. For the first time, in 2019, millennials (born between 1981 and 1996), who feel fully at home in a digital world, will overtake the population of baby boomers. There are dramatic lifestyle and behavioural changes occurring every day, with strong implications for the future of our planet and its inhabitants.
  • Impactful changes

  • Healthcare is no stranger to change — in fact, the most impactful transformations in human life have happened in healthcare. Time’s cover three years ago showed the picture of a child with the headline, “This baby could live to be 142 years old”. That is the extent of the breakthrough in longevity that modern medicine has been able to achieve. Healthcare in India too has been transformed over the last three decades, and as members of this industry, we can be proud of how far we’ve come in terms of improved indices on life expectancy, infant mortality, maternal deaths and quality of outcomes.
  • But we cannot rest on these achievements now, because the pace of change is still scorching, and is fundamentally altering disease patterns, patient risk profiles and their expectations. Information technology and biotechnology are twin engines, with immense potential to transform the mechanics of care delivery, the outcomes we can achieve and, above all, the lives we can touch and save.
  • There are several examples of the kinds of impact technology and biotechnology can make on healthcare. Telemedicine has already brought healthcare to the remotest corners of the country. The use of artificial intelligence for preventive and predictive health analytics can strongly support clinical diagnosis with evidence-based guidance, and also prevent disease. From the virtual reality (VR) of 3D-printing, we are now moving towards augmented reality (AR), by which, for example, every piece of node in a malignant melanoma can be completely removed, thereby eliminating the risk of the cancer spreading to any other part of the body. Biotechnology, cell biology and genetics are opening up whole new paradigms of understanding of human life and disease, and have made personalised medicine a way of life.
  • Largest health scheme

  • So, the outlook is clear: those in healthcare who wish for status quo and for the comfort of the familiar run the risk of becoming irrelevant. And that goes for countries too. India needs to rapidly adapt to, embrace and drive change if it wishes to stay relevant in the global healthcare order.
  • India’s change imperative has become even more pronounced with the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana Abhiyan, or National Health Protection Mission (NHPM), under the ambit of Ayushman Bharat. This major shift in approach to public health addresses the healthcare needs of over 500 million Indians in the first stage through what is probably the world’s largest public health-for-all insurance scheme. The vast scale of the programme requires reimagining an innovative model which will transform healthcare delivery in the country. By leapfrogging through smart adoption of technology and using emerging platforms such as Blockchain, significant improvements are possible in healthcare operations and costs.
  • The private health sector is committed to support this programme, and ensure its success, because we are beneficiaries of society’s social licence to operate, and it is our responsibility to make sure this programme reaches the most vulnerable and the under-privileged, for whom it is intended. At the same time, we have a solemn responsibility to ensure that the sector is sustainable in the long term. For India to grow, healthcare as an engine of the economy needs to flourish. And the private sector, which has contributed over 80% of the bed additions in the last decade, needs to earn healthy rates of return on investment to continue capital investment in infrastructure, technology upgrades, and to have the ability to acquire top clinical talent, which can lead to differentiated outcomes. In our quest to achieve low-cost healthcare, we must not inhibit our potential for growth, nor isolate ourselves from exciting global developments.
  • The way forward

  • The prescription is clear. We need to achieve a balance between staying at the cutting edge of clinical protocols, technology and innovation and continue to deliver world-class care, while finding increasingly efficient ways of operating to continuously lower the cost of care and bring it within the reach of those who cannot afford it. This is a difficult balance to achieve, but not impossible. And when accomplished, India would have found an answer that can be an example for the rest of the world to emulate.
  • With clarity and focus, we can create a blueprint for the legacy we wish to build and set the trajectory for Indian healthcare for the next several decades. The decisions we make today are decisions we make for our children, a future we will create for them. Will they lead healthier lives than we do? Will they approve of our choices and actions? Are we building an inclusive and sustainable world for them? We have it in our hands to shape the winds of change we face today into the aero-dynamics that will definitively propel our collective destinies forward.
  • ‘Ayodhya will have no resonance with the public’

    The leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha on the Assembly polls in five States, the need for Opposition unity, and the coalition government in Karnataka

  • Mallikarjun Kharge is leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha, Member of Parliament from Karnataka, and a former Union Railway Minister. In this interview, Mr. Kharge lists the major issues that the Congress is planning to bring up in the winter session of Parliament, explains why Congress president Rahul Gandhi is a challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and says the Ayodhya issue will not fool the public. Excerpts:
  • What will be the major issues for you during the next Parliament session?
  • Rafale is at the top of our agenda. The government’s blatant takeover of the CBI is another. The brazen attempts to undermine the RBI, issues relating to the agriculture sector, the distress that the government fails to address will be taken up, including issues related to Minimum Support Price. The undemocratic, illegal and immoral dissolution of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly will be raised. Interference in the functioning of autonomous institutions will be raised. Let’s see how the government and the Speaker respond. We shall try to persuade the Speaker to give priority to all these issues that concern the people and affect the functioning of our democracy.
  • Do you think the Congress campaign on Rafale is resonating with the public? The BJP says people don’t care about what you say.
  • People at large are feeling cheated that a deal that was concluded during the UPA time at ₹570 crore per plane is being [taken forward] for ₹1,670 crore per piece. How can this be a non-issue? The Modi government is ordering only 36 jets, that too at a hugely inflated price. This is a matter of the country’s defence and security. If the BJP says this is a non-issue, that itself exposes its attitude towards matters of national security and transparency.
  • You are a petitioner in the Supreme Court against the abrupt removal of the CBI Director by sending him on leave. You have raised procedural questions regarding the government’s decision. But the court has not given attention to your plea yet. In what direction do you see the case going?
  • I don’t want to comment on the Supreme Court’s attitude and how it might look at my petition. I am a member of the committee that selects the CBI Director. The Prime Minister is the chairman of the committee. The Chief Justice himself is a member of the committee. The Act is clear that any selection must be made by the committee, and for any transfer or for taking any action, the committee alone has the power. The Act [Section 4A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act] is clear that before such actions, the government must consult the committee. How can the government unilaterally act, that too in the dead of the night, as it did? Even if there was an urgent need to ask the CBI Director to go on leave, the government should have called for a meeting of the committee and placed the facts before it. I don’t want to comment further, but I am confident that the Supreme Court will see the point.
  • What is your assessment of the public mood in the five States that are going to polls?
  • The Congress has a chance to win all the five States. Our cadres are working in full strength and with total commitment. You cannot but notice the formidable unity in the party.
  • But there are reports about widespread rebellion in the party in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Ninety-nine per cent of our candidate selection has been bang on. There are a few instances here and there of those who could not be accommodated getting upset. But that is a minor glitch. Our feedback is clear that there is a groundswell of support for the Congress and severe anger against the BJP in all the five States. They are particularly angry with Modiji for demonetisation, GST and his failure to deliver on the tall promises he made to bring back black money, deposit ₹15 lakh in everyone’s account, provide two crore new jobs. People are realising the dishonesty of his politics. Now he has announced one more jumla — that small and medium enterprises can get a loan in 59 minutes. Initially they believed him because he was new. Now people are telling him: you promised us achhe din and duped us; we want a return of the UPA days.
  • How do you think the Assembly polls will impact national politics?
  • Naturally, the State polls will have an impact on national politics. Though local issues dominate in these States, and national issues will come up more prominently in 2019, some boost will be there for the Congress from the results of these elections.
  • How has the ongoing campaign helped Mr. Gandhi’s image? Has he proven anything? Is he a serious challenger to Prime Minister Modi in 2019?
  • Yes, 100%. He has proved his mettle to be the leader of the country. Who is the BJP criticising? Who is Modiji targeting? It is only Mr. Gandhi and always Mr. Gandhi. No other party leader is attacked and abused by the BJP. The Prime Minister is scared of Mr. Gandhi and that is the reason why he is attacking him all the time. That in itself is proof that Mr. Gandhi has emerged as a challenger to Mr. Modi.
  • How do you see Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s attempts to create a national understanding of all parties against the BJP? What will be the role of the Congress in any such emergent understanding?
  • Everybody should do their best to unite people against the divisive ideology of the Sangh Parivar and the BJP. We are all uniting because of the dictatorial functioning of the Prime Minister and the ideology that he pursues, which is harmful for our country and people. He is trying to divide society to retain power. Any mobilisation against his dangerous style and ideology will have the full support of the Congress. And we are in the forefront of that resistance. We make sacrifices for the cause, as you saw in Karnataka. Though we had more MLAs in Karnataka, we gave the post of Chief Minister and all the important portfolios to a regional party. That shows how accommodating we are in our attempts to take all parties along.
  • Do you think the Karnataka model of supporting a smaller party for a larger cause can be replicated in other States or at the Centre in 2019?
  • Let’s see. It depends on the situation, which could be different from place to place. And wherever that occasion arises, our high command will take a decision.
  • You personally had a legitimate claim to be the Chief Minister of Karnataka. Are you disappointed that the Congress gave the chair to a smaller party?
  • That does not arise now. Now, I am the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha. We have sacrificed our post of Chief Minister with a sense of duty to protect democracy, the Constitution, and the secular principles of our republic, for inclusive growth, and to oppose the forces that divide the country on the basis of religion, caste and language. My party took the right decision. There is no question of any disappointment. If our ideology makes progress, and our efforts to uphold these principles are successful, that is satisfying for me.
  • Are you satisfied with the performance of the JD(S)-Congress coalition government in Karnataka?
  • It has been there only for a few months and you should give them some time before making any judgment. They are doing their best. Meanwhile, the BJP is instigating people to create disturbance in the State and destabilise the government. The government is working hard... the coalition will remain stable and complete its term.
  • Do you expect that some parties that are with the BJP will leave and join you?
  • Those who believe in the principles of secularism, fraternity and tolerance... if they realise their mistake of joining the BJP and come to us, we will welcome them. Those who believe in or support the RSS’s ideology will continue with them; those who don’t believe in that ideology will leave them.
  • You spoke about the Congress’s opposition to divisive politics. Congress leader C.P. Joshi made remarks last week that were widely seen as betraying a casteist outlook. How do you explain that?
  • Mr. Gandhi has made it clear that such statements should not come from senior leaders of the party. He has since then apologised for his comments. So, that issue is closed, as he himself realised that it was a mistake.
  • Many non-BJP critics of the Congress also find merit in the argument that the Congress is largely an upper caste-party. How do you respond to that?
  • The Congress is the only party that takes all the people into its fold. You will find minorities, Scheduled Castes, Other Backward Classes, upper castes in our leadership. Everybody is welcome in the party and everyone has an equal chance to rise to the leadership in the party. You tell me which party has such diversity among its leadership? During the Congress government, important portfolios went to members of the SC, OBC, and weaker sections. Contrast that with the current BJP government. Name one significant Ministry that is under the command of a Minister from a weaker section. The BJP talks big, but unless you entrust leaders from the weaker sections with important responsibilities, they will not be able to assert themselves as a community.
  • Former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi campaigned in Telangana last week. Will she campaign in 2019?
  • We will see. Telangana was a particular case, as many people requested her to campaign. She has a special bond with the people of Telangana and people consider her ‘Amma’. After a lot a persuasion, she went there last week and huge crowds gathered to listen to her.
  • There is new mobilisation underway for a temple in Ayodhya. What impact will this have on national politics?
  • Every time there is an election, the BJP thinks of the temple. By March 2019, the elections will be announced. This is an attempt to mobilise their cadres ahead of the polls, like they have been doing for the last 30-40 years. But people are clever. You can’t make all people fools all the time. So this will have no resonance with the public.
  • Forest rights hold the key

    Why it could impact the results in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh

  • Pundits are busy speculating about winners and losers in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. We will know for sure soon, but do past trends give any insight and is there something new this time?
  • Past trends in both States have been nothing short of dramatic, and this drama has always played out in the tribal reserved constituencies in M.P. Between the elections of 2008 and 2013, 27 Scheduled Tribes (ST) constituencies flipped in the State, i.e. the electorate voted for a different party than on the previous occasion. The same trend was noticeable in the 2008 election, but data are not strictly comparable. The percentage for flipped constituencies in ST areas was 58% while for the general electorate it was 51%. For the Scheduled Castes (SC) constituencies it was 40%. In Chhattisgarh, where the elections were much closer in 2013, the electorate flipped parties across the board. Overall 58% constituencies were flipped, including 55% in ST constituencies and 60% in SC constituencies.
  • Although ST and SC constituencies comprise 32% and 39% of the total seats in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, respectively, the flipping of SC and ST constituencies led to no change of government because there was no preference for a single party. Overall, 22 constituencies flipped for the BJP, 24 for the Congress and one to another party in Chhattisgarh. In Madhya Pradesh, 67 constituencies flipped for the BJP, 43 for the Congress and seven for other parties. The voters essentially registered their unhappiness with their currently elected representatives. Their displeasure with all parties over many elections is apparent, reflecting a long history of broken promises.
  • This time, however, may be different for three reasons. First, there is a distinct clamour amongst the tribal communities for recognition of their collective rights on forests under the Forest Rights Act (FRA). They are more organised, forceful and have made it a political issue. Second, after years of demanding social and economic equality, without success, the Dalits have also finally crystallised their demand for the ownership of land of five acres per family. In numerous constituencies, they have joined hands with tribal communities for forest rights recognition as a means of getting collective rights to forest land. Finally, the FRA potential extends beyond ST and SC constituencies, enabling them to make common cause with other rural communities. In 174 out of 217 rural constituencies in Madhya Pradesh, the number of potential FRA rights-holding voters is more than the victory margin. In 69 out of 81 rural constituencies in Chhattisgarh, the number of potential FRA rights-holding voters exceeds the victory margins of the 2013 election. No wonder, FRA implementation figures prominently in the manifestos of major political parties. A combination of these factors may result in a different outcome.