Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (28th February)

Dear aspirants, following are the links of various articles taken from various newspapers. Click the link to read further. To get notification, follow the blog. Thank you

1. Into priesthood

Does training Dalits to become priests break down caste hierarchy or create another layer of stratification?

Under normal circumstances, the training of 500 Dalit and tribal youth by a conservative religious institution such as the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), with the aim of helping them become priests in Hindu temples, would be hailed as a reformative and a revolutionary step, even in a region that has seen the worst of caste oppression symbolised by the violence against Dalits in Karamchedu and Tsunduru. For progressive Hindus, such a programme would represent long-overdue inclusive, perhaps disruptive, social engineering that could bring marginalised communities, previously barred from entering temples for fear of “impurity”, into the mainstream. Elevating a few from among these oppressed communities to priesthood, even in small neighbourhood temples of the TTD in far-flung areas of Andhra Pradesh, could serve as a reparation of sorts.

2. The 1947 singularity

India needs to build upon the rights-based approach that informed the country’s adoption of universal suffrage.

Rights-based approach to development is an approach to development promoted by many development agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to achieve a positive transformation of power relations among the various development actors. This practice blurs the distinction between human rights and economic development.

In developing countries, government has a very major role to play. In a  vast country like India, with billion of people, its citizens have high expectations from the government. Right from employment, education, scientific research, healthcare to building and maintaining roads, parks and providing basic amenities (housing, bread, electricity) people are pretty much dependent on the government. In developed nations, private players play a dominant role (government’s role is confined to overseeing and regulating the business).

Soon after the independence, Nehru, the greatest leader of his times, envisioned India as a socialist state. Every project, plan carried out by the govt. had welfare tinge in it. Every decision made by the made was a way forward to ensuring that basic amenities are provided to the citizens. These are reflected through Bhakra Nangal Dam, Nagarjuna Sagar, NTPC, HMT, HAL, IIT, IIM etc. Five years plans were designed with a major thrust area every time.

Undoubtedly, these plans have been successful to a large extent. Those were the times. But things should been changing faster with time. Unfortunately, this did not happen in India. Even though in late 1980s it was felt that these plans are nothing but mere burden on the government’s purse, going worse due the lethargic bureaucracy, no political leader or party had the guts to vision something afresh.

Thanks to globalization and liberalization, peer pressure began to develop. When other neighboring countries Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and even African countries started doing better in terms of HDI, international agencies began to pressurise and the government had to give in. Then came the era of empowering citizens with rights. Basic motive was delegating the powers to common man so that they ask for their rights. This has certain advantages:

Even if bureaucracy is not responsive, people can go and demand getting their things done. Government doesn’t have to spend much on welfare scheme. Private players have role to play and everything we discussed beforehand.

Examples of such Rights based approach are:

Forest Rights Act (Empowers tribal people)

Right to education.

Right to wages(NREGA)

Right to Information

3. Cornered by the Quad?

The four countries will have to show that their infrastructure development plans are a match to Chinese ambitions.

India is already a part of the Quad. Recently, on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting held in Manila, Philippines the heads of USA, Japan, Australia and India met as part of the Quad grouping bringing it back from the annals of history as it was initiated in 2007 but was not taken seriously by the members itself back then. But now the grouping has assumed significance in the light of the growing assertiveness by China in the Asia Pacific region due to which many countries in the region are worried. Quad has as its members the countries which share democracy as a common value and for whom the free and prosperous Indo-Pacific is a cherished dream and would serve the interests.

4. No discrimination

Insurance law must be revisited to remove unreasonable exclusions in health policies.

The Delhi High Court’s order striking down a discriminatory exclusion clause in a health insurance policy, and upholding the claim of a patient, should have the broader effect of eliminating similar exclusions.

Hundred million poor and vulnerable families will get insurance cover of as much as Rs5 lakh each under a National Health Protection Scheme unveiled by finance minister Arun Jaitley in his budget this year.

Jaitley announced another programme—Ayushman Bharat initiative—to provide comprehensive healthcare with a focus on maternal and child health services. Two dozen new government medical colleges and hospitals will be established and existing district hospitals will be upgraded under the programme.

5. Report on defence procurement: ‘Make in India languishes due to procedural delays’

Highlighting the steps taken in the past three years, the report stated that “the desired level of indigenisation and self-reliance in Defence Manufacturing, Research and Development and timely equipping of Services are some of the areas where the situation continues to be far from satisfactory”.

6. The rising agrarian distress in India

To stabilize crop prices and make them remunerative, the Swaminathan Commission proposed significant improvements in the implementation of MSPs

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