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The Hindu Newspaper 27/06/2020

1) Anti Drug Action Plan for 2020-21

Why in News:-

Recently, on the occasion of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking an annual Anti-Drug Action Plan for 2020-21 for 272 districts was launched by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

  • The plan includes awareness generation programmes, identification of drug-dependent population, focus on treatment facilities and capacity-building for service-providers to curb drug abuse and alcoholism.
    • Drug abuse or substance abuse is the use of illegal drugs (Heroin, Morphine, Opium etc), or the use of prescription drugs for purposes other than those for which they are meant to be used.

Key Points

  • Action Plan for 2020-21:
    • De-addiction Facilities: These would be set up in the “most affected” 272 districts identified by the Narcotics Control Bureau focussing on building up treatment and de-addiction facilities and giving emphasis on reaching the youth and high risk population.
      • The districts mostly belong to Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and the North-East.
    • Drop-in-Centres for Addicts: The focus will be on setting up drop-in-centres for addicts and also on peer-led community based outreach programmes for high risk populations – particularly the youth.
      • These centres will have provision for screening, assessment and counselling and would provide linkage to treatment and rehabilitation services for drug dependents.
    • Integrated Rehabilitation Centre for Addicts (IRCAs): Funded by the Ministry, IRCAS would reach out to communities to help those affected by drug addiction.
    • Drug-Free India Campaign: The ministry also announced the launch of the ‘Nasha Mukt Bharat’, or Drug-Free India Campaign which focuses on community outreach programmmes.
      • To step-up the battle against the severe challenge posed by drug use and alcoholism, the campaign will focus not just on institutional support but also on community outreach programmes in the districts identified in coordination.
  • Significance:
    • Awareness and Sensitisation: Apart from celebrity backed ‘Say No to Drugs’ publicity campaigns, national level campaigns are planned across schools and higher education campuses to sensitise youngsters, parents and schools about the issue.
    • Change in the Strategy: It introduces a new change in the strategy against drugs. So far, India has been focussed on institutions, however the new action plan focuses on work in society at large.
    • Enhanced Funding: Ministry would ramp up greater funding for institutions to curb the drug abuse.
  • Background
    • National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use: The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, conducted a National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in India through the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi during 2018, which is key to the action plan for 2020-21.
      • It is estimated that about 850,000 Indians inject drugs, about 460,000 children and 7.7 million Indians require help for opioid dependence.
      • As per the survey, the prevalence of opioids (a type of drug e.g. Heroin) use in India is three times the global average.
  • Challenges to Curb the Drug Menace:
    • Related Data: The findings of the “Magnitude of Substance Abuse in India” report 2019, revealed the estimated 16 crore alcohol consumers in the 10-75 years in the country, as many as 19% of them were dependent on alcohol.
    • Legally Available Drugs: Such as tobacco is a huge problem which is usually seen as a gateway drug which children take just to experiment with.
    • Lack of Availability of Rehabilitation Centres: There is a lack of rehabilitation centres. Also, NGOs operating de-addiction centres in the country, have failed to provide the required kind of treatment and therapy.
    • Smuggling of Drugs: Smuggling of drugs through the states like Punjab, Assam and Uttar Pradesh which share the border with neighbouring countries.
  • Global Initiatives: The United Nations with the aid of its anti-drug abuse arm, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) spreads awareness, urges governments to avoid stimulating the Narco economy and deal with the Illicit trafficking of drugs in the disguise of legal pharmaceutical businesses.

International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

  • History: Also known as ‘World Drug Day’, it is celebrated annually on 26th June since 1987.
    • The day is also meant to commemorate Lin Zexu’s efforts towards the strategic dismantling of the opium trade in Humen, Guangdong in China right before the First Opium War on the Chinese Mainland.
  • Theme 2020: Better Knowledge for Better Care.
    • It emphasises the need to improve the understanding of the world drug problem and how better knowledge will foster greater international cooperation for countering its impact on health, governance and security.

Way Forward

  • The action plan aims at addiction-free India by countering the growing menace especially across colleges and universities. However, there is a need to design a more targeted campaign against drugs and substance abuse.
  • Addiction should not be seen as a character flaw, but as an ailment that any other person could be struggling with. Therefore, the stigma associated with drug taking needs to be reduced through social awareness and voluntary processes like medical help by psychologists, as well as strong support from family.

2) SC okays CBSE plan for Class X, XII exams:-The Supreme Court accepted a Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) scheme where students of class 10 and 12 will be assessed for the exams cancelled due to the pandemic by taking an average of their best performance in the papers they have already taken.

According to the CBSE scheme, students of Class X and XII who have completed their exams would be assessed on their performance.

Those who have taken the exam in more than three subjects will be assessed after the average in their three best performing subjects is taken to assess their scores for the cancelled papers.

If students have appeared for only three exams so far, the average of the best two subjects would be taken as their scores in the cancelled papers. In a few cases such as Delhi,

if students have appeared in one or two subjects, the average of these marks along with their internal and practical scores would be used for assessment. Assessment results would be out by July 15.

News:- Mamata flays 100% FDI in coal mining:- Union government’s new
policy to allow 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the coal mining sector.

She noted that this contradicted the “very essence of Atmanirbhar
Bharat”. She said, “This policy can neither bring FDI or any new technology to which we don’t have access at present.”
When Coal India Limited (CIL), the world’s largest coal mining company, had posted a profit of 27,000 crore in 2018-19 and held a reserve of ₹31,000 crore, the FDI decision would demean its capability.

News:- UN 75 Declaration:-

Why in News

Recently, a commemorative declaration marking the 75th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations (UN) Charter was delayed as member states could not reach an agreement on phraseology.

Key Points

  • The Five Eyes (FVEY)— Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States— along with India, objected to the use of a phrase “shared vision of a common future”, which is associated with China.
    • The Five Eyes (FVEY) network is an intelligence sharing alliance between these five countries.
  • The ‘silence’ process was broken at the request of the U.K’s Ambassador to the UN, who wrote a letter on behalf of the six countries to the President of the 74th General Assembly, suggesting alternative wording.
    • Silence process is a procedure by which a resolution passes if no formal objections are raised within a stipulated time.
  • However, China, on behalf of itself and Russia, Syria and Pakistan raised objections to the silence being broken.
  • The current impasse comes at a time when China’s relationships with a number of countries, including India, Australia and the U.S.A, are strained.
  • Given the impasse, the UN General Assembly President has suggested an alternatively phrased declaration, which he has placed under the silence procedure.

75th United Nations Day

  • The United Nations (UN) will celebrate its 75th anniversary on 24 October 2020.
    • To mark its 75th anniversary in 2020, the UN is igniting a people’s debate: UN75.
    • Through UN75, the UN will encourage people to put their opinions together to define how enhanced international cooperation can help realize a better world by 2045.
  • Each year on 24th October, the UN celebrates its anniversary. UN Day marks the anniversary of the entry into force of the UN Charter and the founding of the Organization in 1945.
  • The name “United Nations” was coined by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • The main organs of the UN are:
    • the General Assembly,
    • the Security Council,
    • the Economic and Social Council,
    • the Trusteeship Council,
    • the International Court of Justice,
    • the UN Secretariat.

Demand of Reforms at United Nations

  • Security Council Reforms: In UNSC, the permanent member countries (P5) have made the UN defunct in maintaining peace and order. Therefore, veto powers of P5 and composition of UNSC must be made more representative of the current world order.
    • The P5 countries include China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • Multilateralism: International relations today are characterized by the power relationships of the United States, China, Russia, India and Europe.
    • A new model of the UN must be formulated, as current world order has changed from bipolar to unipolar to multi polar today.
  • Democratisation of UN: Developing countries like India are proposing reforms that seek to democratize the UN, such as UNSC reforms, UN peacekeeping reforms.
  • Financial Reforms: This holds the key to the future of the UN. Without sufficient resources, the UN’s activities and role would suffer.

MAINS QUESTIONS:-

Q. Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2020 under the guise of Modernisation subverts the entire idea of EIA.

Q. India today faces the unique challenge of Guns, Germs and Govt. Spending. Highlighting the challenges discuss ways to alleviate these challenges.

EDITORIALS:-

EDITORIAL 1 : GUNS, GERMS and STEEL PROBLEM :-

India faces a “guns, germs and steel” crisis. There are Chinese “guns” on the borders. There are coronavirus “germs” in our bodies. There are “steel” makers and other businesses on the verge of bankruptcy.

The Chinese military threat calls for immediate and strategic action by our defence and foreign affairs establishments.

The COVID-19 health epidemic is here to stay and needs constant monitoring by the Health Ministry and local administration.

The economic collapse is an enormous challenge that needs to be overcome with prudent policy.

The Common thread between all these three Crisis is that these will require great finances.

Guns Front :-

During Kargil war of 1999 , the defence expenditure shot by 20%, China is mightier than Pakistan and thus if we want to assert our right, it will take up much more chunk of Finances.

Chinese conflict will stretch central government finances by an additional one to two percentage points of GDP.

Germs i.e Health care :-
The health pandemic has exposed India’s woefully inadequate health infrastructure. The combined public health expenditure of States and the central government in India is a mere 1.5% of GDP, compared to China’s at 3% and America’s at 9%.

There is no option other than to significantly ramp up India’s health expenditure.

Economy Front:-

It is no secret that the extreme national lockdown has thrown India’s economy into utter disarray.

India’s economy has four major drivers — people’s spending on consumption, government spending, investment and external trade. Spending by people.

Spending by people is the largest contributor to India’s economic growth every year. For every ₹100 in incremental GDP, ₹60 to ₹70 comes from people’s consumption spending. The lockdown shut off people from spending for two full months, which will contract India’s economy for the first time in nearly five decades, regardless of a strong agriculture performance.

The only options then are to either put money in the hands of the needy to stimulate immediate consumption or for the government to embark on a massive spending spree, akin to the “New Deal” which was a series of programmes and projects instituted by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Based on estimates of loss of consumption, incomes and its multiplier impact, my estimate is that the government will need to inject incremental funds of five percentage points of GDP to absorb the economic shock.

Junk rating risk :- The only option for the government to finance its needs is to borrow copiously, which will obviously push up debt to ominous levels. When government debt rises dramatically, there will be a fourth dimension to the “guns, germs and steel crisis”; a “junk” crisis. With rising debt levels, international ratings agencies will likely downgrade India’s investment rating to “junk”, which will then trigger panic among foreign investors. India thus faces a tough “Dasharatha” dilemma — save the country’s borders, citizens and economy or prevent a “junk” rating.

Some economists argue that there is a magical third choice – to simply print how much ever money the government needs to overcome these crises. Economic theory states that if money is printed at will, it can lead to a massive spike in prices and inflation. This theory has fallen flat in the past decade in developed nations such as America where the creation of phantom money has not led to inflation. Hence, the Reserve Bank of India can just create money at will and transfer them to government coffers electronically, is the argument.

There are multiple problems with this argument but the most important one is that regardless of whether money is printed or borrowed from others, it will still be counted as government debt and not escape a potential downgrade to a “junk” rating.

EDITORIAL 2:

Because of the Covid-19 Most instruction has moved online; across the country, schools, colleges, universities and research establishments have been shut with no idea of when it will be possible to safely reopen. Higher education has gone digital where possible; or else it has simply been put on hold.

Many US and UK universities have announced online education for Next session.

But At the same time, educationists and policy makers advise caution. Online education has not lived up to its potential.

India’s Online Education Forecast :- From a purely pedagogic point of view, it is clear that technology will play a bigger role in education in the coming years.

However, it will be highly subject-specific. Courses that traditionally need a laboratory or practical component are an obvious example where online classes cannot offer an alternative.

The adoption or integration of technology in education also depends on the specific institution and its location: there is a huge digital divide in the country in terms of bandwidth and reliable connectivity, as well as very unequal access to funding.

Impact on Research :- Beyond classroom lectures and courses, there has been a serious impact on academic research in all disciplines. There is need for close personal interaction and discussion in research supervision, and it is not clear when and how doctoral research and supervision can resume.

Some other Bottlenecks in Indian story:- Most teachers in India view online instruction with caution. The shift online is in response to a crisis and was poorly planned. Online teaching is a separate didactic genre in itself — one that requires investment of time and resources that very few teachers could come up with in a hurry.

What Platforms di we have for Online EduRevolution:- Online higher education using MOOCs, or massive open online classrooms, has been encouraged by the Ministry of Human Resource Development for some time now via the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) and SWAYAM platforms. (SWAYAM is a Hindi acronym for “Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds”.)

If this is to make a serious difference, both the quality and quantity of online courses need to be enhanced.

This online moment Gives us an opportunity to revolutionise the Higher Education in India, Our higher education system can be more inclusive. If going online loses the human touch, the advantage of becoming available to many many more people who aspire to learn is worth the trade.

The use of AI can improve learning outcomes; in particular, this can be a boon for teaching students who are differently-abled.

Way forward :- The adoption of online education needs to be done with sensitivity. What is needed at this time is imagination and a commitment to decentralisation in education.

EDITORIAL 3 :- DRAFT EIA 2020 is not a good move :-

The government has put up for public consideration and comment the Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2020, which if put into force will replace the EIA Notification of 2006 for all future projects.

What is the EIA process :- The EIA process scrutinises the potential environmental impact and negative externalities of a proposed project before ground is broken and determines whether it can be carried out in the form proposed, or whether it is to be abandoned or modified.

Principle EIA Follows :- The basis in global environmental law for the EIA is the “precautionary principle”. Environmental harm is often irreparable — one cannot reverse an oil spill. It is cheaper to avoid damage to the environment than to remedy it. We are legally bound to the precautionary principle under international treaties and obligations, as well as by Supreme Court judgments.

Problems with the Latest Draft :-
Under the guise of streamlining the EIA process and bringing it in line with recent judgments, the Draft EIA Notification disables it, shrinks its scope and removes what teeth it did have.

Ex-Post Facto Clearance : The most devastating blow to the EIA regime is the creation of an ex-post-facto clearance route — where an EIA clearance was never sought or granted, and the construction of the project took place regardless, the project proponent can enter an assessment procedure, with some minor fines for the violations, and find its sins blessed. Where such ex-post-facto clearances were being granted previously, the courts cracked down on them as illegal. Therefore, what could not be ratified will now find itself notified. The legality of sidestepping the courts is questionable and will have to be tested.

It will become a business decision as to whether the law needs to be followed or the violation can be “managed”. The argument that this route will be an “exception” is difficult to believe in India. Our law has a long history of expanding the exception into the rule.

Other problems :- The scope of the EIA regime is set to shrink. Industries that previously fell under the categories that required a full assessment have been downgraded. The construction industry will be one such beneficiary, where only the largest projects will be scrutinised fully. While defence and national security installations were always understandably exempt, a vague new category of projects “involving other strategic considerations” will also now be free from public consultation requirements.

Would a power plant fall into that category?

Conclusion :- Weakening the EIA process is essentially anti-democratic. For affected communities, where seismic shifts in the local environment can threaten livelihoods, flood a valley or destroy a forest, public consultation is a referendum on existential threats. To curtail it is to silence voices that are scarcely heard otherwise.

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