Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (21st August)

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. What Swachh Bharat Abhiyan ignores

  1. In 2014, PM Modi announced his government’s resolve to accomplish the vision of a clean India by 2019, on the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi
  2. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) was an unprecedented nationwide initiative aimed to inspire the public to voluntarily clean public spaces as a service to the nation
  3. Concurrently, municipalities began to employ more contractual labourers — mostly scavengers forced into the profession by their caste — to remove waste

Flawed approach of SBA

  1. This approach is an uncritical adoption of the 19th century Western model of removing waste from the public gaze
  2. Although stopping the spread of disease was the primary intention in the West, sanitation is now largely an extension of visual aesthetics — sanitation means the absence of “filthiness all around us”
  3. The Swachh Bharat campaign hardly addresses a reworking of the underground sewerage system
  4. This is a cause for grave concern since many labourers have died recently while cleaning jammed manholes that open into the sewerage system
  5. These deaths have a caste pattern and over 300 cases of deaths due to manual scavenging, mostly from particular caste groups, were reported in 2017

What should be done vs What is being done

  1. Punitive measures should exhort the public to learn where and how one should urinate, defecate and dispose of garbage
  2. But the campaign burdens the contractual labourer with an ‘exclusive’ right to cleaning public spaces while making it a voluntary act for the ‘public’ to not defecate, urinate or litter in random spaces

Door to door collection another flaw

  1. The mission offers a door-to-door collection of waste
  2. Workers are now expected to whistle to announce their presence upon arrival in their designated areas and members from the households bring unsegregated garbage, workers collect those in a sack and store garbage in a designated place
  3.  The workers, as per the campaign, have to go to the yard to segregate the waste
  4. Manually segregating the waste at the landfill compromises their hygiene and health
  5. Until they were banned in 1993, dry latrines were emptied through a similar door-to-door service which was the worst form of exploitation for manual scavengers

Casteist nature of SBA

  1. Similarities between the secular SBA and the casteist form of manual scavenging are evident, but they have gone unnoticed
  2. The secular sounding Swachh Bharat offers nothing but concealment of caste
  3. The SBA enables a disjunction between the cleaning and disposing of waste, where the cleaning is a voluntary ‘service’ which caste Hindus are called upon to undertake, while collecting and disposing waste is a ‘duty’ relegated to municipal workers from particular castes

Way Forward

  1. Any tangible achievement of a clean India is possible only if the stigma attached to sanitary labour, place and waste are critically addressed by caste-neutralising these professions and through the adoption of technologies
  2. Even if we succeed in putting up a façade of cleanliness, we need to remember that a clean village exists because an ‘unclean’ caste has absorbed all the ‘filth’ of the village

2. Stay with RCEP

  1. The negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, among 16 Asian and Pacific Ocean countries, have entered a decisive phase
  2. Most potential member-countries of the grouping would like to see a “substantive agreement” on the trade deal by the end of this year
  3. At a meeting in Singapore countries which still have issues with the outline of the agreements reached so far may be told politely to step aside and allow a smaller group to go ahead with finalising the RCEP

Future for India

  1. India is among the countries that will have to take a call at this point
  2. India’s concerns with RCEP negotiations thus far are manifold, but some have been addressed

India’s concerns

  1. The first is the greater access Chinese goods will have to the Indian market, a problem given India’s massive trade deficit
  2. The second concern is about demands by other RCEP countries for lower customs duties on a number of products and greater access to the market than India has been willing to provide
  3. The more developed RCEP countries such as Australia and Singapore have been unwilling to accommodate India’s demands to liberalise their services regime and allow freer mobility of Indian workers

Way forward

  1. Despite these concerns, the government must take into account the deeper strategic pitfalls of either slowing down India’s RCEP engagement or walking out of the talks at this stage
  2. Doing so would cut India out of the rule-making process for the RCEP and give China further space in the regional trade and security architecture
  3. It would also be a sharp departure from India’s “Act East” slogan and its extended outreach to ASEAN

3. From Plate to Plough: Lean year as a foundation

NABARD survey on farmer’s income

  1. NABARD presented the nation with a gift when it released the results of its All India Rural Financial Inclusion Survey (NAFIS)
  2. The survey estimates 2015-16 farmers’ income levels


  1. NAFIS is based on a sample of 40,327 rural households in 29 states of which 48 per cent are agriculture households (agri-HHs)
  2. 87 per cent are small and marginal farmer households
  3. The survey combines the strengths of the NSSO’s Situation Assessment Survey (SAS) and RBI’s All India Debt and Investment Survey

Findings from NAFIS

  1. Based on household-level data, NAFIS estimates that an average Indian farming household earned Rs 8,931/month (Rs 1,07,172/year) in the agriculture year 2015-16
  2. This is up from Rs 2,115 earned in 2002-03 as per the NSSO’s SAS, implying a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 12 per cent in nominal terms and 3.7 per cent in real terms (2015-16 base) in 13 years
  3. The survey also estimates the income of non-agri rural HH at Rs 7,269/month, more than half of which comes from working as wage labourers
  4. On the financial aspects of these rural agri-HHS, NAFIS found for the reference year that about 43.5 per cent borrowed money with an average availed loan of Rs 1,07,083
  5. More than 60 per cent of these HHs borrowed from institutional sources, 30.3 per cent from non-institutional and 9.3 per cent from both
  6. More than half (52.5 per cent) of the agri-HHS were found to be indebted, with an average outstanding debt of Rs 1,04,602 for the year
  7. Almost 88 per cent of all rural HHs had bank accounts, and their monthly consumption expenditure on food was 51 per cent of total expenditure

Reasons for rise in estimates

  1. The rise in estimates is because of a wider definition of rural areas the NABARD survey includes areas that are bigger including Tier Three, Four and Five Towns
  2. If NAFIS followed NSSO’s definitions, the 2015-16 estimate of farmers’ income would have been somewhat lower, and so would have been its growth rate

Uses of NAFIS

  1. In terms of sources of income, NAFIS offers interesting insights, particularly for the Dalwai Committee
  2. The Dalwai Committee was set up in April 2016, to advise on the strategy to double farmers’ incomes by 2022

Farmers becoming labourers

  1. NAFIS estimates that in 2015-16, 35 per cent of farmers’ income came from cultivation, 8 per cent from livestock, 50 per cent from wages and salaries and 7 per cent from non-farm sectors
  2. It appears that working as labourers is a fall-back option for average farmers in drought years
  3. The increasing pressure as a result of shrinking average holding size (NAFIS estimates it at 1.1 hectares) is presumably forcing farmers to work as labourers to meet their needs
  4. This is very different from what the Dalwai Committee assumes when it says that by 2022-23, 69 to 80 per cent of farmers’ incomes will accrue from farming and animal rearing

Way Forward

  1. To achieve PM Modi’s dream of doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022-23, the Dalwai Committee points out that farmers’ real incomes need to grow at 10.4 per annum, that is, 2.8 times the growth rate achieved historically (3.7 per cent)
  2. This sounds like a challenge of raising country’s GDP growth from 7.2 per cent to 20 per cent
  3. It can possibly be done by 2030 unless the government undertakes drastic steps to augment farmers’ incomes at a faster pace

4. WHO highlights ways to reduce cancer risk

WHO highlights ways to reduce cancer risk

Menace of Cancer

  1. With cancer emerging as the second leading cause of death globally, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has listed ways to reduce cancer risk.
  2. The WHO said consumption of tobacco and alcohol, unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity are major factors that increases cancer risk worldwide and are also the four shared risk factors for other non-communicable diseases.

What is Cancer?

  1. Cancer is the uncontrolled multiplication of cells. Cancer can spread from where it started to another part of the body.
  2. The original cancer is called the primary tumor. The cancer in another part of the body is called metastatic or secondary cancer.
  3. Metastatic cancer has the same type of cancer cells as the primary cancer.
  4. The term metastatic cancer is usually used to describe solid tumors that have spread to another part of the body.

What Causes Cancer?

  1. Some chronic infections are risk factors for cancer and have major relevance in low and middle-income countries.
  2. Approximately 15% of cancers diagnosed in 2012 were attributed to carcinogenic infections, including Helicobacter pylori, Human papillomavirus (HPV), Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus, and Epstein-Barr virus.
  3. Hepatitis B and C viruses and some types of HPV increase the risk for liver and cervical cancer, respectively.
  4. Infection with HIV substantially increases the risk of cancers such as cervical cancer.

WHO advisory

  • not to consume any form of tobacco,
  • to make one’s home smoke-free,
  • to enjoy a healthy diet,
  • to vaccinate children against Hepatitis B and HPV,
  • to use sun protections,
  • to take part in organised screening programmes,
  • Breastfeeding reduces a mother’s cancer risk.

Incidence of Cancer in India

  1. Doctors have warned that prevalence of cancer cases are on the rise in India.
  2. The Indian Council of Medical Research stated that approximately 12 to 13 lakh new cases of cancer are being diagnosed every year along with an existing 25 to 30 lakh cancer cases at any given time in India.
  3. The saddest part is that a vast majority of them are being diagnosed in advanced stages.

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