GS Paper II-  Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

EC: Ministries, departments cannot bypass us

What’s Happening-
Noting that the Ministries of Defence and Finance, besides NITI Aayog, had taken certain decisions that disturbed the level playing field in the poll-bound States, the Election Commission (EC) requested the Cabinet Secretariat to issue instructions to all government departments for strict adherence to its guidelines.

Key Points discussed were:

  • Citing a March 2014 directive, the EC said all references of the Cabinet Committee should be routed through the Cabinet Secretariat and the matters of Ministries or government departments have to be referred by the Ministry concerned.
  • “The Election Commission has noted that in certain cases, the Ministries/departments took decisions, which have the effect of disturbing the level playing fields of poll-bound States, without referring the matter to the Commission, particularly NITI Aayog, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Finance,” said the letter.
  • The Commission asked the Cabinet Secretariat to instruct all the Ministries and the departments to strictly adhere to the guidelines.
  • The provisions of the Model Code of Conduct and various instructions… provide that the party in power, whether at the Centre or in States, shall ensure that no cause be given for any complaint that it uses its position to further its prospects in any election.

Mann Ki Baat Issue:

  • The Election Commission (EC) gave clearance to the broadcast of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Man Ki Baat on the condition that it should not have an impact on the elections in the five poll-bound.

Model Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines issued by the  for conduct of political parties and candidates.
These set of norms has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code in its letter and spirit.
The Model Code of Conduct comes into force immediately on announcement of the election schedule by the commission for the need of ensuring free and fair elections.
For example, politicians should not make hate speeches, putting one community against another or make promises about new projects that may sway a voter.

Elections in 5 States:
Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand , Uttar Pradesh, Manipur.

GS Paper II– Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections.

WORLD LEPROSY DAY: Why India needs to step up its fight

What’s Happening-
India’s fight against leprosy — 16 years after being eliminated globally as a public health issue — is far from over.
The World Health Organization (WHO) asked South-East Asian countries, including India which accounted for 60% per cent of such cases worldwide in 2015, to focus on preventing disabilities in children.

Key Points discussed were:

Unacceptable numbers:

  • India is among the 22 countries considered as having a “high burden for leprosy” along with high transmission by WHO.
  • Despite being eliminated globally as a public health problem in 2000, leprosy continues to mar the lives of individuals, and impacts families and communities.
  • Though present numbers are a fraction of what was reported a decade ago, they are unacceptable, as an effective treatment for leprosy multidrug therapy, or MDT — has been available since the 1980s and can fully cure leprosy.

How it spreads:

  • While the mode of transmission of leprosy is not known, the most widely held belief is that the disease was transmitted by contact between those with leprosy and healthy persons.
  • More recently, the possibility of transmission by the respiratory route is gaining ground.
  • There are also other possibilities such as transmission through insects which cannot be completely ruled out.
  • Although leprosy affects both sexes, in most parts of the world males are affected more frequently than females, often in the ratio of 2:1, according to WHO’s Global Leprosy Report.

According to WHO, leprosy affected 2,12,000 people globally in 2015.
India alone reported 1,27,326 new cases, accounting for 60% of new cases globally.
The other high-burden countries were Brazil and Indonesia.
World Leprosy Day is observed on the last Sunday of January since 1954.

Measures Needed:
Health authorities need to reach out to and include leprosy-affected persons and communities in their programming.
Laws or regulations that sanction or abet discrimination against persons suffering from leprosy should be repealed.
A concert of voices should be mobilised to counter harmful social attitudes.
Non-governmental and civil society organisations should be included in campaigns to challenge leprosy-related stigma, and to address discrimination against affected persons and their family members.
WHO launched the Global Leprosy Strategy 2016–2020:
Accelerating towards a leprosy-free world, with the aim of reinvigorating efforts to control leprosy and avert disabilities, especially among children still affected by the disease in endemic countries.
India, which is among the endemic countries, has been advised to include strategic interventions in national plans to meet the new targets, such as screening all close contacts of persons affected by leprosy