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Survey finds better levels of access to drinking water

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Survey finds better levels of access to drinking water

New data on the status of drinking water and sanitation released by NSSO i.e., the 69th round of the National Sample Survey has found significantly better levels of access to drinking water and toilets compared to 2011 census.

Over 46% of households in rural India and 77% of households in urban India had drinking water sources within their premises. Compared to the 2011 Census data which had just 35% of rural households and 71% of urban households had drinking water within the premises.

Among households in which people had to leave the house to get water, rural population had to spend 20 minutes on average, while for urban households, it took 15 minutes. Residents of Jharkhand had to spend the longest time in fetching water 40 minutes in both rural and urban areas.

Maternal mortality ratio comes down to 178

India inches closer to achieving millennium development goal of Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) 109 by year 2015. According to the recent data, released by the Registrar-General of India, the MMR (number of women who die of pregnancy-related causes per 1,00,000 live births) has come down to 178 from 212, an annual decline of 5.7%.

While Kerala has the lowest MMR at 66 as against 81 in 2007-2009 Sample Registration Survey figures, Assam tops the list in absolute numbers with 328 deaths per 1,00,000 live births, though the number has declined by 5.6 per cent from the previous figure of 390.

Tamil Nadu, which was at the second position in the last survey reporting only 97 deaths, has slipped to the third position with 90 deaths due to the better performance of Maharashtra, where the number of pregnancy-related deaths has come down to 87 from 104.

The eight Empowered Action Group (EAG) States (Rajasthan, Bihar/Jharkhand, U.P, Madhya Pradesh, Chahatisgarh etc), which traditionally had very bad health indicators, have shown remarkable achievements.

The star performers in that order are Rajasthan, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The lowest decline is in Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Punjab.

The Centre has launched several schemes under the NRHM for improving reproductive and child health, including Janani shishu Suraksha Karyakram, free transportation and focussing on adolescent health, whose full impact would be known only in the coming years. States have also taken measures to save mothers and infants.

In Bihar, the government has provided caesarean facilities at 60 places which have helped save lives. Early detection of complications, provision of ambulances, enlarging the pool of anaesthetists by training MBBS doctors and providing good residential facilities for doctors have vastly improved the situation in the State.

More about Janani –Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (JSSK), 2011

JSSK would provide completely free and cashless services to pregnant women including normal deliveries and caesarean operations and sick new born (up to 30 days after birth) in Government health institutions in both rural and urban areas.

The Free Entitlements under JSSK would include:

Free and Cashless Delivery, Free C-Section, Free treatment of sick-new-born up to 30 days, Exemption from User Charges, Free Drugs and Consumables, Free Diagnostics, Free Diet during stay in the health institutions – 3 days in case of normal delivery and 7 days in case of caesarean section, Free Provision of Blood, Free Transport from Home to Health Institutions, Free Transport between facilities in case of referral as also Drop Back from Institutions to home after 48hrs stay. Free Entitlements for Sick newborns till 30 days after birth similarly include Free treatment, Free drugs and consumables, Free diagnostics, Free provision of blood, Exemption from user charges, Free Transport from Home to Health Institutions, Free Transport between facilities in case of referral and Free drop Back from Institutions to home.

JSSK supplements the cash assistance given to a pregnant woman under Janani Suraksha Yojana and is aimed at mitigating the burden of out of pocket expenses incurred by pregnant women and sick newborns.

Besides it would be a major factor in enhancing access to public health institutions and help bring down the Maternal Mortality and Infant mortality rates.

 Presently it is noted that, out of pocket expenses and user charges for transport, admission, diagnostic tests, medicines and consumables, caesarean operation are being incurred by pregnant women and their families even in the case of institutional deliveries.

Courtesy –

To know more about NRHM refer our ‘Insights Current Events Analysis Magazine’ (NOVEMBER, 2013)

National Commission for Women for a separate law to protect trafficked women

Concerned at feminisation of migration, which has often resulted in women being trafficked and becoming vulnerable to harm, including abuse at work, poor living conditions and health risks, the National Commission for Women (NCW) has recommended special laws to protect them.

The panel has also demanded a national policy for domestic workers, and asked the Ministry of Women and Child Development to formulate a draft integrated plan of action to combat trafficking in women and children.

Taking ‘suo motu’ cognisance of media reports of women being trafficked for forced labour, the NCW has recommended that the Ministry of Home Affairs draft a special law to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children. The special law should include the definition of trafficking as per Article 3 of United Nations Convention 2000 and its Protocol, to include the term “abuse of position of vulnerability” (which is missing in Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code).

Trafficking in persons should mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, fraud, deception and abuse of power of position or even receiving or giving payments to achieve the consent of the person, resulting in exploitation.

Some other forms of exploitation are sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or similar practices, servitude or the removal of organs. This should be extended to offences committed outside India and women should be given provision for security and control of documents in order to ensure that travel or identity documents issued, especially to women, cannot be easily misused, readily falsified or unlawfully altered, replicated or issued. The NCW has suggested that cases of missing women be linked with investigations into trafficking.

The NCW has recommended the Labour Ministry to draft legislation for the regulation of domestic work with a gender component and formulate a national policy for domestic workers, it says it should include a provision to inform domestic workers of their terms of employment in an appropriate, verifiable and easily understandable manner and, preferably, where possible, through written contracts in vernacular language.

Pointing out that the fundamental right to freedom of movement is a woman’s right which must be distinguished from trafficking, which is coercive and violent. A frequently used method of deception by traffickers is luring vulnerable girls on the promise of ‘lucrative jobs’. According to the Commission, women migrate for multiple reasons, including displacement and dispossession, search for sustainable livelihoods, naxal activity, more fulfilling opportunities or an aspiration for a better life.

Prevention of trafficking in women requires not only examining the factors that contribute to the problem but also providing awareness among potential victims in order to reduce the traffickers abusing their position of vulnerability, suggesting that the need was to identify women who were at the risk of being trafficked, and provide them with the necessary tools to find work without putting them at risk.

Delimitation will be over in time: Election Commission

On the orders of the Supreme Court (SC), to change the status of some Lok Sabha/Assembly constituencies from the general category to reserved seats for SCs/STs and vice versa, the Delimitation Commission has started working on it in Uttar Pradesh.

Readjustment of reserved constituencies would be based on the notification issued by the Registrar- General of Census, with 2001 population figures as the base.

Though this was an all-India exercise, there would’nt be large changes, since de-reservation of constituencies and vice versa was being carried out only in places where there were significant changes in the SC/ST population or inclusion of new castes under the SC/ST.

However, as already decided by the Delimitation Commission, there would be no changes in the geographical limits/boundaries of the Lok Sabha/Assembly constituencies till 2026.

Recently (a few months ago), the Law Ministry had issued a notification empowering the EC to do the duties of the Delimitation Commission so as to determine the change in composition of any constituency where the government had included in or excluded any caste from the SC/ST category between 2001 and 2012. (Earlier, the EC did not have the powers to alter the reserved seats and it could be done only through a nationwide delimitation exercise.)

With this, the EC can carry out a limited corrective exercise immediately rather than waiting for decades for the outcome of the next delimitation exercise to decide whether a particular constituency should be reserved for SC/ST candidates or thrown open for the general category.

More about Delimitation Commission:

Delimitation literally means the act or process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country or a province having a legislative body. The job of delimitation is assigned to a high power

body. Such a body is known as Delimitation Commission or a Boundary Commission.

In India, such Delimitation Commissions have been constituted 4 times in 1952 under the Delimitation Commission Act, 1952, in 1963 under Delimitation Commission Act, 1962, in 1973 under Delimitation Act, 1972 and in 2002 under Delimitation Act, 2002.

Under Article 82 of the Constitution, the Parliament by law enacts a Delimitation Act after every census. After coming into force commencement of the Act, the Central Government constitutes a Delimitation Commission. This Delimitation Commission demarcates the boundaries of the Parliamentary Constituencies as per provisions of the Delimitation Act.

The present delimitation of constituencies has been done on the basis of 2001 census figures under the provisions of Delimitation Act, 2002. Notwithstanding the above, the Constitution of India was specifically amended in 2002 not to have delimitation of constituencies till the first census after 2026. Thus, the present Constituencies carved out on the basis of 2001 census shall continue to be in operation till the first census after 2026.

Courtesy –

Armed forces use disability programme to reach out in border areas

The Mission Ability beyond Disability, launched in 2005 by Anupama Singh, an accomplished painter, socialite and wife of former Army Chief General J. J. Singh, is being used by the armed forces to reach out to persons with disability (PwD) in far flung border districts of the country.

As part of the mission, camps have been organised for distributing various devices to PwD in Kargil, the border regions of Jammu and Kashmir, Tamenglong in Manipur, and Tawang, Seppa and Zero in Arunachal Pradesh. The mission has also held a camp at the remote Little Andaman Island.

Government develops strategy to create social capital

The government has developed an intensive strategy to ensure social inclusion through participatory identification of the poor and universal social mobilisation. The National Rural Livelihoods Project (NRLP) is to support implementation of the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) in 12 high poverty States that account for 85% of the rural poor in the country.

The aim is to create best practice sites and to develop them as local immersion locations that generate a pool of social capital for catalysing social mobilisation of the poor and building quality institutions.

The Rural Development Ministry has been facilitating 400 intensive blocks across the country under the NRLM Framework, out of which 100 blocks would be developed as resource blocks. The blocks that are taken up for implementation of the NRLM will be called ‘intensive blocks.’ In all 73 resource blocks are proposed to be implemented in the NRLP States for five years.

According to official data, there are already a total of 47 resource blocks cutting across States including Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir and Haryana, covering nearly 2,000 villages. In these States nearly 13,000 Self-Help Groups have been supported. The strategy aims to cover a significant 5 lakhs BPL households.

Significance of Resource Blocks:

The resource block strategy will cover a whole range of activities, including a trained professional staff at district, block and sub-block levels. The strategy also entails promotion of institutions of the poor SHGs and their primary federations which ultimately will create and strengthen a large base of social capital or community professionals.

Also, resource blocks ensure proof of concept and home-grown models in social mobilisation and institutional building, financial inclusion, bookkeeping and livelihoods. These resource pockets would create efficient and effective institutional platforms of the rural poor enabling them to increase household incomes through sustainable livelihood enhancements and improved access to financial and selected public services.

The poor would be facilitated to achieve increased access to their rights, entitlements and public services, diversified risk and better social indicators of empowerment.

To know more NRHM refer our ‘Insights Current Events Analysis Magazine’ (NOVEMBER, 2013)

Judicial Commission of Inquiry to probe into ‘snoopgate’

The Centre Govt. has setup ‘judicial Commission of Inquiry’ to investigate charges of spying by the Gujarat government on a young woman in 2009(which is known as ‘snoopgate’). The report is expected to be submitted within three months.

The Centre has rejected the Gujarat government’s contention that under the Commission of Inquiry Act, the Centre or the State government cannot appoint an inquiry commission into a matter on which one of the two governments has already set up such a panel – in this case the State government (Gujarat) has already set up a commission. However, Section 3 provides for the Centre to appoint a commission if it is of the opinion that the scope of the inquiry should be extended to two or more States.


Snoopgate broke over a month ago when two news portals released CDs of purported telephonic conversations, purportedly between August and September 2009, between the then Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah and two State police officers relating to surveillance of a woman architect. Mr. Modi’s name does not occur in the conversations but there is reference to a “sahib” that the portals say is the Gujarat CM, at whose instance the snooping was done.

Guidelines soon to regulate campaign in social media

As social media has emerged as a powerful medium for political campaign, the Election Commission (EC) has proposed to evolve guidelines for regulating it during the forthcoming Lok Sabha election.

The emphasis was on the need for preventing ‘sectarian campaign and campaign based on caste and religion’. Also, if an individual campaigns for a candidate through social media it should not be added to expenses of the candidate.


  • Do you think Social media is a tool for Political empowerment? If so why and how?

  • Should the Social media be regulated (not only from election point of view, but consider other aspects- on the economy, society, cultural values, religious sentiments..)?

  • Impact of Social media on the society.

More tribes demand formation of council on line of Lepchas

With the formation of the Lepcha Development Board by the West Bengal government, there has been a demand for formation of a council on similar lines by other tribes in Darjeeling Hills.

They demanded a separate Limbu Tribal Development Council and inclusion of Limbu language in the schools of West Bengal.

Related Information:

Lepcha is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in Sikkim, Darjeeling district in West Bengal in India, and in Nepal, and in several villages of Samtsi district in Bhutan. The tribal homeland of the Lepcha people is referred to as ‘hidden paradise’ or ‘land of eternal purity’. Most of the areas in which Lepcha is spoken today were once Sikkimese territory. The Lepcha are believed to be the aboriginal inhabitants of Sikkim. Today the Lepcha people constitute a minority of the population of modern Sikkim.

Courtesy –


  • Why was Lepcha Development Board formed? Why are other tribes of West Bengal demanding for a similar board?

  • What are the issues/problems that tribal people face? Also relate to the recent issue with the tribes of Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

  • What are the provisions available in the Constitution of India, inorder to protect or safeguard the interests of the tribal people?

  • Significance of PESA Act in this regard?

Hornbill fete ends on a colourful note

Hornbill Festival, the biggest indigenous festival and the annual tourism promotional event of the Nagaland government, came to a colourful end with 17 Naga tribes performing the “Unity Dance”.

The 10-day-long festival at the Naga Heritage Village, around 12 km south of the State capital, saw about two lakh visitors, including foreign, domestic and local tourists witnessing the performances of the tribes.

Significance of the Hornbill Festival:

The Hornbill Festival is held in the first week of December every year, to encourage inter-tribal interaction and to promote the cultural richness of Nagaland.

It is the coming together of all the elements that make up the total Nagaland. The Hornbill festival is a collaborative celebration of all Naga tribes at one venue and has been coined as “Festival of Festivals”.

The Festival is a tribute to the great “Hornbill” which is the most admired and revered bird for the Nagas, for its qualities of alertness and grandeur. The Majestic bird is closely identified with the social and cultural life of the Nagas, as reflected in various tribal folklores, dances and songs. The awe and admiration for the bird is symbolically displayed on almost all tribal traditional headgears worn during the festival and is indicative of the commonness of the Nagas.

The Hornbill Festival of Nagaland is a cultural extravaganza to revive,  protect and preserve the richness and uniqueness of the Naga heritage, while for the visitors to this event, its is a means for comprehensive understanding of the Naga People, their land and culture.

Since 2007, International cultural troupes have been taking part in it and it is slowly turning out to be an international event.


Anti-Superstition Bill passed in Maharashtra Council

The Maharashtra State Council has passed the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Bill, commonly known as the Anti-Superstition Bill.

IIMC to become institute of national importance

The government has decided to upgrade the 48-year-old Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) to a degree-awarding ‘Institute of National Importance’.


These institutes will be able to design, develop and offer programs which they consider relevant and appropriate for the national needs.

After the upgrade, IIMC would award degrees, in addition to postgraduate diplomas it was now offering. The institute would also be able to award M.Phil and PhD degrees and carry out research to enhance its role as a think tank on communication and media as was originally envisaged by representatives of UNESCO and renowned mass communication specialists from India and abroad.


Positive signals in Indian research on HIV vaccine

Indian researchers have claimed that they have got some positive early leads for developing a vaccine that will prevent people contracting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

A preliminary screening showed four ‘neutralising antibodies’ that can block HIV. Studies are on to ascertain whether any one of these or a combination of these can be used as a vaccine to protect against the Indian HIV subtype, Clade-C.

The developments have taken place in the past three months, raising hopes of developing at least a therapeutic, if not preventive, vaccine. The researchers believe that, a world without AIDS now looks a possibility.

The isolation of the antibodies has led to establishment of a global project ‘Protocol G,’ and in India it was taken up by the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI).

Vaccines prevent nearly three million deaths every year from infectious diseases, avert disease morbidity and enable more rapid economic and social development. Tuberculosis, HIV and malaria are the major diseases for which preventive vaccines are not available.

Despite global efforts, the scientific community is nowhere close to developing a vaccine to prevent HIV infection because HIV isolates are highly variable. There is lack of an ideal animal model for HIV to screen vaccines. HIV infects, suppresses and destroys key cells of the immune system. Importantly, natural immunity to HIV fails to completely control infection.

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI):

FSSAI was established under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which consolidates various acts & orders that have hitherto handled food related issues in various Ministries and Departments.

 FSSAI has been created for laying down science based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption.

The Act aims to establish a single reference point for all matters relating to food safety and standards, by moving from multi- level, multi- departmental control to a single line of command.

To this effect, the Act establishes an independent statutory Authority – the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India with head office at Delhi. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the State Food Safety Authorities shall enforce various provisions of the Act.



  • Significance of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). Why is such an Act needed?

  • What impact does the Food Safety and Standards Act has on the society and economy of India? (Also link this to malnutrition).

{ This is regard to “Indigenization of technology” (GS –III) }

Indigenous device that can detect early cervical cancer launched

The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry has launched an indigenous device that can detect early cervical cancer and be used even by healthcare workers with basic training.

AV Magnivisualizer, which was developed by the Institute of Cytology and Preventive Oncology under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), has 95% accuracy for detecting pre-cancerous lesions. Randomised clinical control trials have confirmed its efficacy in reducing incidence and mortality. It would also be available in remote rural areas.

This is a user-friendly device which costs about Rs 10,000 as against the present devices which cost between Rs 8 lakh and Rs. 10 lakh and are beyond the reach of most people.

The device can be operated on a 12- volt battery in rural and semi-urban areas where electric supply is not regular.

Now, the ICMR is initiating studies to assess its applicability even for oral pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions.

In the initial phase, the device would be available in the Community Health Centres (CHC); in the next phase it would be made available in the Primary Health Centres (PHC), where cervical cancer cases go undetected.

Cervical cancer is the most common malignancy among Indian women, particularly those who marry early. Current estimates indicate that approximately 1.32 lakh new cases are diagnosed and 74,000 deaths occur annually in India, accounting for nearly one-third of global cervical cancer deaths.

Cervical cancer takes about a decade to fully develop and is often detected when it has spread substantially. It starts from a pre-cancer stage called dysplasias and early detection and appropriate treatment at this stage can halt its progression, resulting in decreased incidence or mortality.

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