Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Central Govt Health Scheme
- Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (PITNDPS), 1988
- Indian Space Policy 2023
- Groundwater sensors
- Juvenile Justice Act
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Central Government Health Scheme
Context: Amid a growing load of new COVID-19 cases in India, the report card of the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS), which provides comprehensive healthcare to over 34 lakh employees and pensioners, does not read well.
About the Central Government Health Scheme
- Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) provides comprehensive medical care to the Central Government employees and pensioners enrolled under the scheme.
- CGHS caters to the healthcare needs of eligible beneficiaries covering all four pillars of democratic set up in India namely Legislature, Judiciary, Executive and Press.
- CGHS is the model Health care facility provider for Central Government employees & Pensioners and is unique of its kind due to the large volume of beneficiary base, and open – ended generous approach of providing health care.
- As of 2022, approximately 41 lakh beneficiaries are covered by CGHS in 75 cities all over India.
- CGHS provides health care through following systems of Medicine – Allopathic, Homoeopathic, Indian system of medicine (Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Yoga)
What are the challenges in Central Government Health Scheme?
- Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare report highlights the challenges associated with the Central Government Health Scheme.
- Recently the Health Ministry announced revised package rates for all CGHS beneficiaries, but the scheme continues to be plagued by
- Unavailability of medicines in dispensaries,
- Inability to fully utilise allotted funds,
- Vacant posts across the country (medical officers and non-gazetted staff),
- Delay in clearance of dues to private hospitals and
- Poor experience of beneficiaries.
- Shortage of Doctors- The committee feels that the shortage of doctors is a major problem that pervades the Indian healthcare system. Under CGHS, the government has also been employing retired doctors for filling the vacancies in CGHS dispensary. The report notes that the doctor-to-population ratio still remains skewed in many cities that are covered under the CGHS.
- Vacancy– The report says approximately 22% of the posts of allopathic medical officers and 39% of non-gazetted staff are vacant.
- Underutilization of Funds– Pointing to the underutilisation of funds, the committee said that in the financial year 2022-23, under revenue head, approximately 73% of the funds has been utilised vis-à-vis revised estimates for 2022-23. However, under the capital head, the actual expenditure is just 11% of the revised estimates.
- Pending payments under the revenue head have been cited as the reason for underutilisation of funds.
- The committee said that such an important employees’ welfare scheme that is tasked with providing healthcare services must exhibit maximum utilisation of funds. It recommended the Ministry to continue to make efforts for maximum utilisation of the allotted funds under the scheme.
- Supply of medicines- Issues of basic medicines being indented in some CGHS dispensaries have also been noted in the report
What are the recommendations made by the committee?
- To assess the requirement of doctors in CGHS dispensaries across the country and ensure that an adequate doctor-to-population ratio is maintained.
- To expedite the recruitment of 340 candidates selected through the Combined Medical Examination for filling vacancies including those under the CGHS.
- To ensure smooth and timely flow of funds and settle the bills at the earliest.
- To ensure consistent supply of medicines through schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP).
2 . Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (PITNDPS), 1988
Context: Aiming to make India “drug-free” by 2047, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) plans to link recovery and usage of narcotics and banned substances in a particular area to the annual appraisal report of a District Superintendent of Police. This will bring accountability and fix responsibility.
Drug Free India by 2047
- Union Home Minister has set a target to create a drug-free India by 2047 when the country attains its 100th year of independence. He made an announcement at the inaugural event of the first National Conference of Heads of Anti-Narcotics Task Force (ANTF) of states and Union Territories here in the national capital.
- The Ministry encourages the liberal application of the 1988 Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (PITNDPS), which includes a provision that allows for the detention of an individual for up to two years without the intervention of a court.
Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (PITNDPS)
- Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (PITNDPS) Act, 1988 provides for detention in certain cases for the purpose of preventing illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
Powers to make orders to detain certain persons
- Under this act orders can be passed by the Central Government or a State Government, or any officer of the Central Government not below the rank of a Joint Secretary with respect to any person (including a foreigner) that, with a view to preventing him from engaging in illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
- When any order of detention is made by a State Government or by an officer empowered by a State Government, the State Government shall, within ten days, forward to the Central Government a report in respect of the order.
Execution of orders- A detention order may be executed at any place in India in the manner provided for the execution of warrants of arrest under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
Section 7 – Detention orders not to be invalid or inoperative on certain grounds
- No detention order shall be invalid or inoperative merely by reason–
(a) that the person to be detained thereunder is outside the limits of the territorial jurisdiction of the Government or the officer making the order of detention; or
(b) that the place of detention of such person is outside the said limits.
Maximum period of detention- The maximum period for which any person may be detained in pursuance of any detention order will be two years
3 . Indian Space Policy 2023
Context: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) released the final version of its “Indian Space Policy 2023,”after receiving approval from the Union Cabinet
Indian space policy 2023
- The policy emphasizes the Indian government’s aim to “augment space capabilities” and brings “regulatory certainty” to the space sector reforms that were announced in 2020.
- Private Participation – The policy allows startups to “undertake end-to-end activities in space sector through establishment and operations of space objects, ground-based assets and related services, such as communication, remote sensing, navigation, etc.,” subject to the guidelines issued by IN-SPACe.
- The policy creates four distinct, but related entities, that will facilitate greater private sector participation in activities that have usually been the traditional domain of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
- IN-SPACe- INSPACe (Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre) will be a “single window” clearance and authorisation agency for space launches, establishing launch pads, buying and selling satellites, and disseminating high-resolution data among other things. For this purpose, IN-SPACe shall periodically issue guidelines and procedures, that would, among other things, promote ease of doing business.
- In addition to private participants, IN-SPACe will collaborate with academia, as well as national and global industry players to boost space developments in the country. The policy also defines that the center should “issue guidelines for meeting safety and security requirements for space objects.”
- The policy also sketches out the role and responsibilities of the newly formed Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe), which works with private players, including space tech startups in the country, to develop solutions and services for the space sector.
- Role of ISRO– ISRO has defined its role to focus “primarily on research and development of new space technologies and applications, and for expanding the human understanding of outer space.”
- For private and public participants in the space sector, the space agency will enable “free and open” data access from its remote sensing satellites to ground samples at a distance of 5 meters and higher.
- Additionally, it will make archived satellite data and satellite-derived thematic data from remote sensing satellites available on a “free and open” basis for research and development purposes.
- The space agency will also transition from manufacturing operational space systems and will collaborate and partner with national and global industry and academia to focus on R&D in space science, technology and applications, per the framework.
NewSpace India Limited
- NewSpace India Limited- Alongside ISRO, the framework defines the responsibilities of NewSpace India Limited and the Department of Space
- NewSpace India Limited is tasked with commercializing space technologies and managing the production, leasing, and procurement of space assets from both private and public players. Meanwhile, the Department of Space will lead implementation of the space policy and ensure that responsibilities are properly distributed among the different stakeholders.
- Private participants, including startups in the country’s space sector, have also asked the government to introduce a foreign direct investment policy to help attract global investors.
4 . Groundwater sensors
Context: The Jal Shakti Ministry is working on an ambitious plan to deploy a vast network of groundwater sensors that will continuously relay information on groundwater levels as well as the degree of contamination down to the taluk level.
What is ground water sensor?
- Level sensor also known as Piezometer plays the important role to provide all the information beneath the earth’s surface.
- It monitors the level at which the water table starts. It can be installed in wells, bore wells and tube wells at the desirable depth to know the available water in sand pores and aquifers.
- Level sensor is connected with specific wires up to the surface level then connected to the electromagnetic flow meter and telemetry system which transmits the data to the server for real time access on data management software irrespective of location.
- Various changes in the groundwater can be observed with the help of different type of level sensors.
- Collecting the accurate long-term data of groundwater level monitoring will lead to make the proper planning for the development and management of groundwater level and will avoid the scarcity of water in the future.
Groundwater Censor network initiative in India
- The Central Groundwater Board currently relies on a network of about 26 thousand groundwater observation wells that require technicians to manually measure the state of groundwater in a region.
- Under the new initiative, around 16,000-17,000 digital water level recorders will be connected to piezometers in the wells. Piezometers measure groundwater levels, the recorders will transmit the information digitally.
- In the next three years, the CGWB aims to increase its network from the existing 26,000 to about 40,000.
- When combined with similar networks possessed by other institutions – State bodies, agriculture and meteorology departments – India will have about 67,000 digitally recordable units to monitor groundwater dynamics.
- Significance– Establishing a network that will continuously measure groundwater quality, feed it into a centralised network such as that of the National Water Informatics Centre (NWIC) and available for monitoring would make groundwater visible much the same way as air quality, meteorological variables –air pressure, moisture, precipitation.
- It provides groundwater forecast to farmers that would be useful for sowing, and updated advisories that can influence groundwater extraction policies by States
- Except for information on water flow governed by international treaties, most of this information will be publicly accessible
- The CGWB is in charge of the National Aquifer Mapping Program (NAQUIM), that as of March has mapped the country’s aquifers at a resolution of 1:50000 and – under the second phase of the programme – expects to improve the resolution by five times in the country. So far, an area of 25.15 lakh square km has been covered under the NAQUIM studies.
5 . Juvenile Justice Act
Context: The National Commission for Protection of Children (NCPCR) has recently issued guidelines for conducting a preliminary assessment by the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) under Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 (JJ Act, 2015). This preliminary assessment is to ascertain whether a juvenile can be tried as an adult. Replacing the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, the 2015 Act, for the first time, provided for trying juveniles in the age group of 16-18 as adults in cases of heinous offences.
How does a child get tried as an adult?
- The Act has categorised the offences committed by children into three categories — petty offences, serious offences, and heinous offences.
- Section 15 of the JJ Act provides that in case of a heinous offence alleged to have been committed by a child, who has completed or is above the age of sixteen years, the Board shall conduct a preliminary assessment regarding his mental and physical capacity to commit such offence, ability to understand the consequences of the offence and the circumstances in which he allegedly committed the offence.
- Section 18 (3) of the Act further suggests that, if the Board, after preliminary assessment under section 15 passes an order that there is a need for trial of the said child as an adult, then the Board may order the transfer of the case to the Children’s Court having jurisdiction to try such offences. Thus, the sole objective of having such a preliminary assessment is to determine whether a child within the age group of 16-18 years should be tried as an adult in case of heinous offences.
What are the responsibilities of the Board?
- The guidelines further make it clear that the JJB shall be responsible for the preliminary assessment and provide the child, the child’s family, and their counsel a copy of the order.
- It further states that in case the JJB does not have at least one member who is a practising professional with a degree in child psychology or child psychiatry, the Board shall take the assistance of psychologists or experts who have the experience of working with children in difficult times.
- The child should also be provided with a legal aid counsel through the District Legal Services Authority who shall be present during the preliminary assessment.
- One of the important aspects of the guidelines is that it mandates experts, who have the required qualification to assist the JJB, to undergo training concerning Section 15 of the JJ Act, 2015
- During the preliminary assessment, the Board and experts shall also analyse and take into consideration the Social Investigation Report (SIR), to be prepared by the Probation officer or Child Welfare Officer or any social worker, or a Social Background Report (SBR) to be prepared after interaction with the child or child’s family
- Concerns– The NCPCR is under a statutory obligation under Section 109 of the JJ Act, 2015 to monitor the proper implementation of the provisions of the Act. The guidelines have been made to remove any ambiguity and to clarify the steps that need to be followed while conducting the preliminary assessment. However, the major issue remains the implementation and absorption of these principles in the system, particularly to be followed by the JJB and the Children’s Court.
- A lot of principles which have been made a part of the Act have not been given due prominence by the Board as well as by the Children’s Court.
About Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015
- It replaced the Indian juvenile delinquency law, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and allows for juveniles in conflict with Law in the age group of 16–18, involved in Heinous Offences, to be tried as adults. The Act also sought to create a universally accessible adoption law for India, overtaking the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (1956) though not replacing them
- The primary focus of this Act is on the procedural aspect, with regard to pendency in cases, accountability of the functionaries, etc. It has also highlighted the categories of ‘child in conflict with law’ under Section 2(13) and ‘child in need of care and protection under Section 2(14) of the Act.
- The Act will allow a Juvenile Justice Board, which would include psychologists and social workers, to decide whether a juvenile criminal in the age group of 16-18 should be treated as an adult or not.
6 . Facts for Prelims
- Pushkaram is an Indian festival dedicated to worshiping of rivers. It is also known as Pushkaralu (in Telugu), Pushkara (in Kannada) or Pushkar.
- It is celebrated at shrines along the banks of 12 major sacred rivers in India, in the form of ancestor worship, spiritual discourses, devotional music and cultural programmes.
- The celebration happens annually, once in 12 years along each river. Each river is associated with a zodiac sign, and the river for each year’s festival is based on which sign Jupiter is in at the time.
- Due to regional variations, some of the zodiac signs are associated with multiple rivers.
- As per the legend, after severe penance, the devotee Pushkara was blessed by Lord Shiva with the ability to live in water and purify holy rivers. On a request from Bṛhaspati (Jupiter), Pushkara decided to enter one of the 12 sacred rivers — Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna, Kaveri, Bhima, Tapti, Narmada, Saraswati, Tungbhadra, Sindhu, and Pranhita.
- Each river has its zodiac sign. The river for each year’s festival is decided in accordance with Brihaspati travel from one zodiac sign to another.