1.Connected by Air: Udan (The Hindu , Indian Express)
2.Sharpening a low choice debate (The Hindu)
3. Superbugs: the emerging health menace
1.Connected by Air: Udan (The Hindu , Indian Express)
Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of regional connectivity via Udan scheme. (GS paper II)
- The Ministry of Civil Aviation took a major step towards making flying a reality for the small town common man.
- UDAN is an innovative scheme to develop the regional aviation market. It is a market-based mechanism in which airlines bid for seat subsidies. This first-of-its-kind scheme globally will create affordable yet economically viable and profitable flights on regional routes so that flying becomes affordable to the common man even in small towns.
- A major reason for the poor regional air connectivity in India is that airlines do not find it lucrative to operate from small cities.
- The scheme UDAN envisages providing connectivity to un-served and under-served airports of the country through revival of existing air-strips and airports.
- UDAN has a unique market-based model to develop regional connectivity. Interested airline and helicopter operators can start operations on hitherto un-connected routes by submitting proposals to the Implementing Agency.
- Under the scheme, five airlines have won bids to operate 128 routes, that will connect 70 airports including 31 unserved ones like Shimla, Bathinda and Jaisalmer, and 12 underserved airports like Kullu.
Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF)
- Amount collected as Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF) will be used to provide financial support to airlines in the form of Viability Gap Funding (VGF) for operations under the Scheme with a commitment to price tickets for at least half of the seats at ₹2,500 for an hour-long flight.
- All the airlines that participated in reverse bidding for the subsidy accepted the fare caps set by the government. The money for the subsidy will be raised through a levy (RCF) on flights operating on major routes like Delhi and Mumbai. The government expects an annual corpus of Rs 205 crore from this levy.
Benefits of the Scheme
- UDAN recognizes the challenge of high costs faced by regional operators. There will be benefits, such as no airport charges, a significant incentive given that airline operators often complain that airport expenses constitute 25 per cent to 30 per cent of their operating costs.
- Their will be economic benefits for tourist hotspots such as Agra, Shimla, Diu, Pathankot, Mysuru and Jaisalmer that would now be just a short flight away, replacing cumbersome road or rail journeys.
- Moreover, there will be new investments and employment creation for the local economies of other destinations.
- Availability of slots at larger airports that would emerge as hubs could become an issue — particularly at capacity-constrained airports such as Mumbai.
- There are fears that a flight from an UDAN location will be low priority for air traffic controllers in big cities.
- Airports in many Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities do not have big runways, so they can’t take regular aircraft. That means airlines will need to induct smaller aircraft for short take-offs and landings. Such aircraft needs specialised crew.
- In cities where new airports have been developed, such as Bengaluru, abandoned old facilities could be revived as dedicated terminals for low-cost and regional flights.
- Separately, new no-frills airports must be encouraged where traffic is expected to hit saturation point in coming years.
- The economic importance of promoting regional or remote connectivity is well understood across the world. Geographically large countries like the USA, Canada, Brazil and Australia among many others support regional and remote connectivity. UDAN is the first-of-its-kind scheme globally which harnesses the power of the markets to provide a public good. Hence, the implementation of the scheme should be rigorous.
Question: Regional air connectivity scheme along with dedicated freight corridors can usher an era of balanced regional development. What are your suggestions as how govt. should respond?
2.Sharpening a low choice debate (The Hindu)
Synoptic line: It throws light on the “treatment of terminally ill patients bill, 2016 and subsequent issue of passive euthanasia.(GS paper II)
- A bill was introduced in the parliament to govern the issue of euthanasia for terminally ill patients. It can be a watershed event to recognise “the right to die”.
- The question of whether a terminally ill person or in the case of someone rendered medically incapable, the relatives and medical professionals should be allowed to choose when to forgo treatment or life-prolonging medical support speaks to fundamental issues of a human life’s intrinsic value and the authority to end it.
Treatment of terminally ill patients bill, 2016
- Terminal illness isis a disease that cannot be cured or adequately treated and that is reasonably expected to result in the death of the patient within a short period of time.
- The draft Bill provides that a terminally ill patient beyond the age of 16 years has a right to decide on whether to continue his/her further treatment or allow nature to take its own course.
- It also provides safeguard to patients and doctors from any liability for withholding or withdrawing medical treatment and states that palliative care (pain management) can be continued.
- According to the draft bill, when a patient communicates his or her decision to the medical practitioner, such a decision is binding on the medical practitioner. However, it also notes that the medical practitioner must be “satisfied” that the patient is “competent” and that the decision has been taken on free will.
- The medical practitioner has to maintain all details of the patient and ensure he/she takes an informed decision. He is also required to inform the patient whether it would be best to withdraw or continue treatment. If the patient is not in a conscious state, he/she needs to inform family members. In the absence of family members, the medical practitioner needs to inform a person who is a regular visitor.
- There will be a panel of medical experts to decide on case by case basis.
What is euthanasia?
- Euthanasia is a medical term which means ‘easy death’. It is an act of thoughtful or voluntary end of somebody’s life to prevent any further sorrow or pain to that person.
Two types of euthanasia:
- Active euthanasia involves a doctor injecting a lethal medicine to trigger a patient’s cardiac arrest.
- In passive euthanasia, doctors, with the consent of relatives, withdraw the life support system of a person being kept alive with the help of machines.
Present situation regarding euthanasia in India
- In its judgments in the Aruna Shanbaug and Gian Kaur cases, the Supreme Court has stated that the law currently only permits passive euthanasia, i.e. withdrawal of life-saving treatment.
- The administration of a lethal drug dose by a physician (active euthanasia) or by the patient herself (assisted suicide) would constitute attempts to commit or abet suicide under the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
- However, in both these judgments, the court stated explicitly that assisted suicide was only illegal in the absence of a law permitting it. Therefore, assisted suicide could be legalised if legislation was passed by Parliament to that effect.
- Present bill advocates for the passive euthanasia only.
Implications of the Bill (positive and negative)
- Progressive legislation: Less than a dozen countries in the world currently have legal provisions for euthanasia. The current bill seeks to codify and regulate that framework.
- Dignified death: It moves away from decision-making based on the ‘best interests’ of the patient and recognises the right to die with dignity.
- Can be misused: Euthanasia is difficult to regulate and laws allowing it can be vulnerable to malicious intent. At the very least, moral pressure could be exerted on the terminally ill to choose this option. Yet, these concerns do not outweigh the individual’s inalienable right to choose how to conduct their private life when that conduct does not cause harm to other individuals or the state. This is particularly so when a patient has no hope of recovery and is suffering greatly, or is in a vegetative state and kept alive by medical apparatus.
- Meaningful life: The bill provides euthanasia if a person is not living a “meaningful life”. The use of this subjective phrase would require second parties to decide whether a person in a permanent vegetative state is living a life that is meaningful.
- Lengthy Process: In the case of incompetent patients, or competent patients who have not taken an informed decision about their medical treatment, the Bill lays down a lengthy and cumbersome process before any action can be taken for the cessation of life. Once the medical practitioner and independent panel are satisfied that euthanasia is medically advisable, permission would have to be sought from the High Court.
- Though bill is progressive in its intent but several issues such as drafting and issues such as process to be adopted in case of absence of advance directive should be brain stormed sufficiently before bill is proceeded further.
Question: Discuss the important court judgements regarding euthanasia and what are the ethical issues involved in it?
Superbugs: the emerging health menace
- Recently, scientists have found an unusual approach of fighting superbugs which can have a huge impact for public health.
New Discovery on possible treatment of Superbugs
- Scientists have found that an unusual approach of removing antibodies from the blood stream could reduce chronic infections, an advance that may help humans in the fight against drug resistant superbugs.
- Every year, about 2 million people get sick from a superbug. It is a term coined by the media to describe bacteria that cannot be killed using multiple antibiotics.
- A Superbug is bacteria which can carry genes that allow them to survive exposure to the antibiotics we currently have. This means that infections caused by these bacteria are harder to treat, although they are not necessarily more severe or infectious.
- What is concerning is that the gene that carries antibiotic resistance can be passed between bacteria, allowing for the creation of bacteria that carry resistance genes to many different antibiotics, a superbug.
- For example, NDM-1 is an enzyme gene that can be acquired by common bacteria that cause diseases such as pneumonia, or infections of the urinary tract, kidney, bladder or blood. This enzyme gives bacteria resistance to carbapenem, a strong antibiotic that can kill a variety of bacteria, but that is often used as a last resort when other antibiotics do not work.
- However, NDM-1 strain bacteria are not the first superbugs. In fact, MRSA, a strain of Staphylococcusbacteria that carries resistance to a number of antibiotics, has been a major problem in health care settings for years. MRSA bacteria are resistant to most of the antibiotics used to treat them, making common infections difficult to treat.
Causes of Superbugs
- Regardless of MRSA or NDM-1, the overuse or misuse of antibiotics contributes to the formation of these superbugs.
- When antibiotics are used for things other than bacterial infections, like the flu, or not taken as the doctor prescribed (e.g., stopping taking the antibiotics earlier than the intended full course of treatment), they will become less effective for future bacterial infections and possibly acquire resistance genes.
- As more bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, the risk of complications and death is increased. Doctors will have to resort to less commonly used antibiotics, many of which are more expensive and are associated with severe side effects, without necessarily being able to treat the infection.
Question: How far poultry sector in India is fuelling the superbug crisis. Discuss and also outline the strategy to confront superbug menace in India.