Mitras Analysis of News : 11-04-2017

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1.India’s tourism potential (Live Mint) 

2.Mind the treatment gap ( Mental health care) (The Hindu)

3.Transformative visit (Outcome of Sheikh Hasina’s India visit) (Indian Express, The Hindu)

4.At home in India (Racism) (THE Hindu)

 

1.India’s tourism potential (Live Mint)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the various dimensions of tourism potential in India. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • Tourism sector in India has been boasted as third pillar of Economy. Influx of tourism in India has been increased manifold.
  • Tourism is not only important as a potential FOREX generator, but also it can showcase the rich cultural diversity of India at global stage.

Tourism in India

  • The World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) travel and tourism competitiveness index, released last week, showed that India had moved up 12 places and now ranks 40th among 136 nations globally.
  • The report also noted that this was the largest leap made by any country in the top 50, thereby making India, with its rich and diverse cultural heritage and natural beauty, a prime candidate to lead the so-called Asian century in travel and tourism.
  • India receives the maximum number of tourists from the US, followed by Bangladesh, while regionally, Western Europe and North America make up for a large chunk of the country’s foreign tourists at 23.42% and 18.62% in 2015, respectively. South Asia tops the list with 24.25% but that is to be expected given that it is India’s neighbourhood.
  • However, the story is somewhat different. India hosted 8.89 million tourists last year compared to only 2.65 million tourists in 2000. But when compared with other countries, India’s performance leaves much to be achieved. For example, while India hit an all-time high last year, it was still nowhere close to France, which topped the list of foreign tourist arrivals with 84.5 million visitors.

Reasons for high tourism in certain locations

  • Europe’s dominant position on the list can be explained through the Schengen agreement, which allows citizens of member states to travel freely across international borders.
  • The US too has a visa-waiver agreement with most European Union countries as well as a handful of others for easy access.
  • However, even non-Schengen states like China, Turkey and even Mexico all had significantly higher tourist numbers than India.

A silver lining for India

  • However, analysing the numbers more carefully, it shows that while overall revenue from tourists in India is low because of fewer visitors, the average revenue per tourist is actually quite high. For example, while the average tourist spends about $2,610 in India. In France, the number drops to $543 per tourist.
  • This is because a large chunk of the tourists visiting France are other Europeans with Schengen privileges on short trips from across the borders. In contrast, when a French or German tourist takes a long-haul flight to India for what is ostensibly a well-planned holiday, they tend to stay longer and spend more money.

Reason of low tourism in India?

  • India has may problems regarding travel regime, such as:
  1. Cumbersome visa regulations,
  2. Bad travel infrastructure,
  3. Poor sanitation,
  4. Collapsing law enforcement systems
  5. Concerns about women’s safety.

Way ahead

  • All the regions, except Eastern Europe, have been sending more tourists to India than before and the government has to be more sensible of the fact that a lot more needs to be done on the home front. It has started with liberalizing the visa regime which is expected to improve the numbers quickly. But that’s only the first step.
  • Issues such as safety concerns of the travellers along with organising more dedicated travel routes will ease the problem.
  • Moreover, govt. should also focus on medical tourism. It can actually be instrumental in optimally leveraging India’s unexplored tourism potential.

Question: The Tourism in India is said to be “Next big thing”. How govt. should sensitize public regarding the warm treatment of tourists?

 

2.Mind the treatment gap ( Mental health care) (The Hindu) 

Synoptic line: It throws light on the certain caveats in mental Healthcare. (GS paper I and II)

Overview

  • Mental health care bill has been passed by both the houses in parliament. The bill has been hailed as a notable milestone in mental health care.
  • However, seeing the dismal condition of health care in India, ambitions of the bill will not be easy to achieve in practice.

Salient features of Mental Health Care bill

  • Manner of treatment:The Bill states that every person would have the right to specify how he would like to be treated for mental illness in the event of a mental health situation. An individual will also specify who will be the person responsible for taking decisions with regard to the treatment, his admission into a hospital, etc.
  • Access to public health care:The Bill guarantees every person the right to access mental health care and treatment from the government. This right includes affordable, good quality, easy access to services such as minimum mental health services in every district. Persons with mental illness also have the right to equality of treatment and protection from inhuman and degrading treatment.
  • Suicide decriminalised:Currently, attempting suicide is punishable with imprisonment for up to a year and/or a fine. The Bill decriminalises suicide. It states that whoever attempts suicide will be presumed to be under severe stress, and shall not punished for it.
  • Insurance:The Bill requires that every insurance company shall provide medical insurance for mentally ill persons on the same basis as is available for physical illnesses.
  • Moreover, the bill also prohibits the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to mentally ill adults without the use of muscle relaxants and anaesthesia, and contains provisions for care, treatment and rehabilitation for those who have experienced severe stress and attempted suicide.

Disturbing digits

  • The Global Burden of Disease Study shows that in 2013, 50% of all disease burden in India was caused by non-communicable diseases, while mental disorders accounted for about 6% of the total disease burden.
  • There are only 43 government-run mental hospitals across all of India to provide services to more than 70 million people living with mental disorders. There are 0.30 psychiatrists, 0.17 nurses, and 0.05 psychologists per 1,00,000 mentally ill patients in the country.
  • Health expenditure of 1.2% of GDP in the Budget for 2017-18 is among the lowest in the world. In fact, of the total health budget, a mere 1-2% is spent on mental health.

Stigmatic Approach toward mental care

  • There is a pervasive perception that those with mental illnesses are uncontrolled or even criminals. Hence they do not deserve the type of rehabilitation given to those with physical ailments.
  • Besides, the treatment gap (the difference between those suffering from mental illnesses and those seeking medical/psychiatric care) is widened because of the social stigma attached to such illnesses.
  • In fact, many poor people hide their illnesses and endanger their lives. Others argue that it is not so much stigma but ignorance and lack of knowledge, myths, and supernatural beliefs that impede treatment.
  • Moreover, at times government hospitals refuse to admit “mentally ill” persons in the ICU on the grounds that this facility could be put to better use.

Plight of women

  • Women are even more susceptible and the typically face larger treatment gaps as they are vulnerable to violence, sexual abuse and inhuman treatment.
  • Usually, all women and girls were admitted to mental care facilities without their consent. Moreover, unable to cope with mentally ill relatives, families often abandon them in mental hospitals.
  • Even at the event of ECT, some women were not even informed that ECT was being administered. (Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a procedure, done under general anaesthesia, in which small electric currents are passed through the brain, intentionally triggering a brief seizure. ECT seems to cause changes in brain chemistry that can quickly reverse symptoms of certain mental illnesses).

VISHRAM (the Vidharbha Stress and Health Programme)- A case study

  • It is a community-based mental health initiative. The reduction in the treatment gap was due to increased supply of mental health services through front-line workers and their collaborative linkage with the physicians and psychiatrists in the facilities, as well as increased demand for mental health services due to improved mental health literacy.
  • The substantial reduction in the median cost of care resulted from availability of general as well as specialist services in the village itself.

Way ahead

  • Witnessing the success of various community care programmes, a categorical case could be made for shifting from institutional care to community-based care for people suffering from mental disorders.
  • Moreover, implementation of the bill will require substantially larger public resources and, more importantly, restructuring of mental healthcare services with a key role for the community in their provision, rapid expansion of mental health literacy, effective monitoring and enforcement of the objectives envisioned in it.

Question: Mental health care in India has been ripe with systemic challenges. What more possible safeguards should be introduced in Mental health care bill?

 

3.Transformative visit (Outcome of Sheikh Hasina’s India visit) (Indian Express, The Hindu)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the recent visit made by Bangladesh’s prime minister. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • With the visit made by Bangladesh Prime Minister and the signing of 36 agreements of cooperation ranging from the economic, defence and power sectors to the peaceful use of nuclear energy shows that significant progress has been made in Indo-Bangladesh relations in the last eight years.

Signed agreements

  • In a bid to boost ties, India and Bangladesh has signed agreements in the area of defence, nuclear energy, cyber security and media and so on.
  • India’s announces a new line of concessional credit of $4.5 billion for implementation of projects in Bangladesh. Apart from that $500 million of credit for defence procurement was also announced. However, both the countries could not found common ground on Teesta water sharing pact.

Teesta agreement

  • With signing important agreements, the much delayed pact on the Teesta water sharing remained intangible. Teesta is the fourth largest river shared between the two countries. In 1983, an ad hoc water-sharing agreement allocated 39% of the water flow to India and 36% to Bangladesh and remaining 25% was left unallocated for a later decision.
  • Bangladesh’s Prime Minister requested for conclusion of the Interim Agreement on Sharing of the Water of Teesta as agreed upon by both governments in January 2011. In 2011, an interim arrangement of 15 years was made with India getting 42.5% and Bangladesh 37.5% of the river during dry seasons. The arrangement also included the setting of a joint hydrological observation station to gather accurate data for the future. The plans fell because West Bengal Chief Minister opted out of the delegation.
  • Government of India has reiterated that it is working with all stakeholders in India for an early conclusion of the Agreement.
  • The two Prime Ministers appreciated the positive steps taken in respect of Bangladesh’s proposal for jointly developing the Ganges Barrage on the river Padma in Bangladesh. They welcomed the visit of an Indian technical team to Bangladesh, establishment of a ‘Joint Technical Sub Group on Ganges Barrage Project’ and study of the riverine border in the upstream area of project.

Way ahead

  • India shares longest boundary with Bangladesh. Moreover, Bangladesh is the most priority ridden area in India’s look east policy. Hence, cooperation with Bangladesh assumes a great importance.
  • Bangladesh is aspiring to be a Blue economy and the cooperation can yield India to be a benefactor. However, issues such as Teesta water dispute can take a toll cooperative relations. Hence, both countries should amicably resolve their issues.

Question: How state government in India are putting obstacles to achieve international cooperation? Substantiate with examples?

 

4.At home in India (Racism) (THE Hindu)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of debate regarding racial discrimination in India. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • With the recent attack on African nationals by some Indians, there is surge on high-spirited debate regarding racial nature of Indians against people on the basis of their race, colour etc.
  • There has been contradictory view presented by left, centre and right people, while some stating it racial attack and for others this mere incident is because of cultural differences, it can’t give racist tag to India.

Student’s safeguard mechanism

  • International student’s care arrangements in India are far weak when compared with other English-speaking countries that receive students from India.
  • In these countries, students are made to feel welcome and informed of the existence of institutional arrangements to cater to their concerns.
  • Even Mahatma Gandhi had a good experience while he trained to be a lawyer in England. Gandhi was inspired by western thinkers such as Henry David Thoreau and John Ruskin, which would have been unlikely had his experience of England been negative.

Indians on sense of community

  • There have been several attempts made by the government to bring international students to India, but the experience of foreign students here has not always been a happy one, particularly so for those from Africa (though there could be exceptions).
  • Part of the problem is that there are no mechanisms in our educational institutions to enable these students to settle down and flourish. The ignorance of university authorities for need of a mechanism to handle these problems is main issue.
  • While there is contrast view for Indians when they are studying abroad, with proper arrangements in other English-speaking countries that receives students from India. Our students are comforted and acquainted regarding the safeguards that they possess.

 Dravidian separatism

  • Issue is not only the problem face by foreigner, but also some sense of discriminatory nature of some of north Indian against those who are from south India, on the basis of their dark skin. Even if not enslaved, they had certainly been ring-fenced into a subservient position by the group that clearly sees itself as Aryan, conquering and destined to rule.
  • There is gap between north India and south India, right from the aborted attempt to impose Hindi on southern India within months of the death of Nehru who had seen the irony in replacing “the imperialism of English with the imperialism of Hindi”.

Way ahead

  • India’s educational institutions need to create a sense of community that is sorely lacking in them today. State governments must be instructed by the Centre to see that African students are assured of their safety and all educational institutions must with immediate effect double-up the attention they devote to their personal needs, which range from housing to food.
  • It is important that this initiative to welcome our overseas students, should not only implemented in the letter but also in spirit and it should not end as yet another government scheme to be obeyed with sullen passivity.
  • Being part of the Indian Union has brought not only material wealth to the south but also cultural wealth that has come with the meeting of peoples, thus immeasurably enriching our lives.

Question: Racial discrimination against students in India is not good for India’s Soft diplomacy. Comment.

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