GS Paper II -Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security

Not so accessible after all

Key Points discussed were:

Statement: Irony: a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often wryly amusing as a result.

  • A landmark year for the disability rights movement was 2015-16.
  • It led to the passing of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2016. 
  • From only seven recognised disabilities in the previous archaic Act of 1995 to 21 disabilities now, the new law is a true game changer that provides provisions that will benefit many. 
  • It is the real deal which takes into account real issues like accessibility to infrastructure, technology and information.
  • The launch of the Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) in 2015, and it was welcomed for its spirit and intention.
  • The campaign has a heavy focus on not just accessibility to physical infrastructure, but also on Information and Communication Technologies — which is the elephant in the room we need to address.
  • As per the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016: “The appropriate Government shall take steps to ensure that all their public documents are in accessible formats.”
  • The Accessible India Campaign itself has a separate objective and its own targets on enhancing the proportion of accessible and usable public documents.

What’s Happening-
The government’s own documents are not accessible to persons with disabilities.

Background-
Disability as defined by the Act (Persons with Disability Act, 1995) covers blindness, low vision, leprosy – cured, hearing impairment, locomotor disability, mental retardation and mental illness as well as multiple disability.The Act does not cover disabilities like Autism, or learning disabilities.
Types of Disabilities:
Visual impairment.
Hearing impairment.
Loco motor impairment; Cerebral Palsy.
Mental retardation and Mental illness.
Children with learning disabilities.
Dyslexia
Dysgraphia
Dyscalculia
Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Conclusion:

Attitudinal barriers are here to stay.

  • Publishing the rules of the Accessible India Campaign without making them accessible is just ironic in a tragic way.
  • Formulating an ambitious campaign is a wonderful idea, but the barriers within the walls of the system has to change.
  • Change cannot come about if it does not first begin at home.

GS Paper I -Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

Need to defend universities as free spaces: Hamid Ansari

Key Points discussed were:

VP Ansari address at the 66th convocation of Punjab University:

  • In a period of rampant distrust of matters intellectual, there is an imperative need to defend the universities as free space, as independent, critical repositories of knowledge, and as source of renewal of liberal values that provide avenues of social mobility and equality to people.
  • He defended the right to dissent and agitation, calling them fundamental rights under the Constitution.
  • “It is constitutional morality that must guide government, not any whimsical invocation of narrow minded, parochial figureheads and mythical characters.

On Incidents of campus unrest:

  • Recent events in our own country have shown that there is much confusion about what a university should or should not be. The freedom of our universities has been challenged by narrow considerations of what is perceived to be public good.
  • Quoted Ambedkar, Tagore, eminent educationists and academics from around the world and added that a university should be able to nurture a tolerant environment for intellectual freedom to thrive. 
  • He said “Academic freedom requires a robust tolerance for disagreement and criticism, a willingness to have one’s assumptions questioned and openness to new ideas that may prove offensive. This tolerance always has the potential to conflict with other virtues and causes, so it needs to be defended repeatedly and vigilantly.”
  • He asked universities to discharge their responsibility “of speaking out without the fear of intimidation and give offence at the cost of inviting protests”.
  • He added that they must take “all legal action necessary to defend their academic integrity and freedom”.
  • Ansari said a university is not just a catalyst of scientific and economic change, but also a vehicle of equalisation of opportunities and democratisation.

What’s Happening-

  • Vice-President Hamid Ansari underlined the need for protecting universities as spaces for independent thought, intellectual freedom and liberal values.

GS Paper II International Relations

India raises PoK to counter Pakistan

What’s Happening-
India told Pakistan to rein in “compulsive hostility” from its side and fulfil its obligation to vacate the illegal occupation of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir that has become a global terror export “hub”.

Background-
The PoK conflict  is a  over the territory of .
The dispute is between  and .
India claims all of the region that was once a .
India currently controls about 43% of the territory, including most of , the , Ladakh, and the .
India’s claims are disputed by Pakistan, which controls about 37% of Kashmir, including  and the northern areas of Gilgit and .
Pakistan says there should be a  in Kashmir on whether the people want to join India or Pakistan, or become .
In 1947-8 India and Pakistan fought their first war over Jammu and Kashmir. Under United Nations’ supervision, they agreed to a ceasefire along a line which left one-third of the state – comprising what Pakistan calls Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and the Northern Areas administered by Pakistan and two-thirds, Jammu, Ladakh and the Kashmir Valley, controlled by India.
In 1972, under the terms of the Simla agreement, the ceasefire line was renamed the Line of Control.
Although India claims that the entire state is part of India, it has been prepared to accept the Line of Control as the international border, with some possible modifications. Both the US and the UK have also favoured turning the Line of Control into an internationally-recognised frontier.
But Pakistan has consistently refused to accept the Line of Control as the border since the predominantly Muslim Kashmir Valley would remain as part of India. Formalising the status quo also does not take account of the aspirations of those Kashmiris who have been fighting since 1989 for independence for the whole or part of the state.

Sources- The Indian Express, The Hindu. Page 9

Key Points discussed were:

  • New Delhi fielded Nabanita Chakrabarti, a 2008-batch IFS officer to make India’s statement at the UN Human Rights Commission.
  • Last year, another young diplomat, Eenam Gambhir, had presented India’s point of view, slamming Pakistan at the UN. Exercising its right to reply during a UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva, the Indian representative said Pakistan must rein in its “compulsive hostility” towards India.
  • “We ask Pakistan to stop inciting and supporting violence and terrorism in any part of India and refrain from meddling in our internal affairs in any manner,” Chakrabarti said
  • The Indian statement called Pakistan the “world’s terrorism factory” and said the country had alienated its own people through continued mistreatment of Hindus, Christians, Shias, Ahmadiyas and other minorities
  • It is unfortunate that in recent times the people of PoK have become victims of sectarian conflict, terrorism and extreme economic hardship because of Pakistan’s occupation and discriminatory policies,” the Indian statement said.
  • “The Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir is part of a pluralistic and secular demo-cracy, where an independent judiciary, an active media and a vibrant civil society guarantee freedoms. In contrast, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is administered by a ‘deep state’ and has become a hub for the global.

Sources- The Indian Express, The Hindu. Page 2