Mitras Analysis of News : 2-05-2017

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1.Sukma is a wake-up call (Internal security) (The Hindu)

2.Food fortification (The Hindu)

3.CSR’s problems with good governance (Live Mint)

4.Ethics special: Gamesmanship versus Sportsmanship

 

1. Sukma is a wake-up call (The Hindu)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on issue that how the absence of strategic clarity, over-dependence of states on Central forces, have crippled the fight against Maoists. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • The latest Maoist attack on the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Sukma, Chhattisgarh, in which at least 25 jawans lost their lives, has once again brought the focus on not just the threat represented by left-wing extremism (LWE) but also questions of preparation, equipping, training and strategy of the CRPF that is bearing the brunt of the burden in this fight.
  • In the absence of any clear cut guidelines or directions from the Central government, every state government has been dealing with the problem as per its own assessment of the situation. There is no coherent strategy or plan.

Who are Maoists?

  • Maoists are popularly known as Naxals, Naxalites or left wing extremists are at war with the Indian State since 1967. They have succeeded in carving out a large chunk of area in the countryside, labelled by the media “Red Corridor,” along the eastern coast of India from Nepal border in north to Karnataka in the south.
  • According to the status paper of Home Ministry-

“The Naxalites operate in the vacuum created by absence of administrative and political institutions, espouse the local demands and take advantage of the disenchantment prevalent among the exploited segments of the population and seek to offer an alternative system of governance which promises emancipation of these segments from the clutches of ‘exploiter’ classes through the barrel of a gun.”

Lack of support

  • The recent Sukma attack was reminiscent of the ambush in Dantewada in April 2010 when Maoists killed 76 CRPF personnel and decamped with their weapons and explosives.
  • Large numbers of Para-military personnel are deployed in Maoist affected areas, but there seems to be no clear strategic approach to the problem and the forces do not have an upper hand in the areas.
  • There is lack of a common plan has left each State government combating the Naxals as per their own strategy. This is costing lives of scores of our CRPF and police personnel and the patience of people to tolerate these.
  • Though there has been a significant drop in Maoist violence in Chhattisgarh in the past year, but the incidents between 2005 and 2017 in which as many as 1,910 security personnel were killed in LWE/Maoist attacks in India, highest number of casualties were reports from Chhattisgarh.
  • At the all India level, the geographical area under Maoist influence has shrunk drastically. In 2010, when the movement was at its peak, 223 districts in 20 states across the country were affected by Maoist violence. Today, the figure has come down to 106 districts in 13 states. Several members of the CPI (Maoist) central committee have been neutralized.
  • Chhattisgarh has been sluggish in building the capacities of its police forces. There are about 10,000 vacancies in different ranks in the state police. There are also shortages of Mine Protected Vehicles (MPV). Successive ambushes and attacks have shown the vulnerability of the CRPF and police parties in the Naxal areas.
  • Lack of institutionalized intelligence-sharing between States and regions and regional coordination is being clearly utilized by the LWEs/Maoists.

Need for a dedicated Ministry

  • There is a fundamental flaw in the anti-Maoist operations today, that the state police forces in most states are heavily dependent on the Central government. The mindset seems to be that Maoism is the government of India’s problem and therefore, the Central forces should bear the brunt of extremist violence.
  • The use of technology (including drones) to increase surveillance around patrols to prevent ambushes is inadequate. There is need to re-evaluate tactics, training and equipment. The time has come for a fundamental transformation of the Home Ministry, by moving internal security functions of the government to a new, focussed and accountable Internal Security Ministry.

Way ahead

  • The incidents should be a wake-up call for the government, and in particular the Home Ministry. It is a 26/11 moment in our fight against LWEs/Maoists. Tackling the problem in an effective way requires a multi-layered approach.
  • Civil society and intellectuals must engage in greater dialogue between all stakeholders and that villagers who face the direct threat of losing their livelihoods should be compensated accordingly.
  • The need for political reforms and the rooting out of alleged corruption from the system is another key element of the problem, which means winning over its historically neglected citizens.

Question: Internal security challenges can have huge and far reaching impacts on India’s stability. What should be the renewed approach of government to tackle internal security threats?

 

2.Food fortification (The Hindu)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the concept of food fortification to ensure the nutritional viability of crops. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • The problem of malnutrition is an impending crisis for India. Even the families who are getting adequate supplies of food, are facing problems of malnutrition.
  • Food fortification can offer a window to tackle the menace of hidden hunger in India.

Why fortify

  • Fortification as part of a country’s nutrition strategy is supported by global organizations such as UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) etc.
  • Fortification is adding vitamins and minerals to foods to prevent nutritional deficiencies. The nutrients regularly used in grain fortification prevent diseases, strengthen immune systems, and improve productivity and cognitive development.

Wheat flour, maize flour, and rice are primarily fortified to:

  1. Prevent nutritional anaemia
  2. Prevent neural tube birth defects
  3. Increased productivity
  4. Improve economic progress
  • Fortification is successful because it makes frequently eaten foods more nutritious without relying on consumers to change their habits.
  • Vitamins and minerals often used in flour and rice fortification and their role in health include:
  • Iron, riboflavin, folic acid, zinc, and vitamin B12 help prevent nutritional anemia which improves productivity, maternal health, and cognitive development.

Certain essential mineral that are fortified and their usage:

  1. Folic acid (vitamin B9) reduces the risk of neural tube birth defects.
  2. Zinc helps children develop, strengthens immune systems, and lessens complications from diarrhea.
  3. Niacin (vitamin B3) prevents the skin disease known as pellagra.
  4. Riboflavin (vitamin B2) helps with metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
  5. Thiamine (vitamin B1) prevents the nervous system disease called beriberi.
  6. Vitamin B12 maintains functions of the brain and nervous system.
  7. Vitamin D helps bodies absorb calcium which improves bone health.
  8. Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of childhood blindness. It also diminishes an individual’s ability to fight infections. Vitamin A can be added to wheat or maize flour, but it is often added to rice, cooking oils, margarine, or sugar instead.

Fortification of food in Indian context

  • Malnutrition isn’t just about acute starvation. Often, healthy-looking people are malnourished too, because their diet does not include the right micronutrients. In severe forms, such deficiencies can have serious effects.
  • To tackle the issue, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) released a set of standards and a logo last year. Since then, it has focussed on awareness- and consensus-building. Now, a number of enterprises will begin adding premixes of micronutrients to launch fortified foods.
  • Milk cooperatives in Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Assam and Maharashtra will fortify their products too. Targeting children, the Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh governments have begun using fortified oil for their mid-day meal schemes.
  • West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar Islands are now distributing fortified wheat flour through the public distribution system, and the Maharashtra government has started a pilot project.
  • The FSSAI is also working with small local suppliers, for instance local flour grinding mills, to get them to add premixed micronutrients.

Way ahead

  • Food fortification can lead to solve the complex puzzle of tackling malnutrition as it is not only the quantity of food which has to be ensured, rather quality matters equally. The next level of intervention by government should be initiated in a direction to drive an awareness among consumers to opt for fortified staple.
  • Moreover, government should support the initiatives and provide financial support for food fortification.

Question: Food fortification along with enrichment of produce hold several promises for food security. What should be govt. strategy to procure fortified food in buffer stock?

 

3.CSR’s problems with good governance (Live Mint)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of companies using CSR as a tool to advertise. (GS paper II and III)

Overview

  • Corporate social responsibility has been one of the most important tool to contribute in the wellbeing of downtrodden
  • However, it is important to ensure that companies do not use spending on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a proxy for promoting their brands.

CSR rules

  • Every company, private limited or public limited, which either has a net worth of Rs 500 crore or a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore or net profit of Rs 5 crore, needs to spend at least 2% of its average net profit for the immediately preceding three financial years on corporate social responsibility activities.
  • The CSR activities should not be undertaken in the normal course of business and must be with respect to any of the activities mentioned in Schedule VII of the 2013 Act.
  • Contribution to any political party is not considered to be a CSR activity and only activities in India would be considered for computing CSR expenditure.
  • The activities that can be undertaken by a company to fulfil its CSR obligations include eradicating hunger, poverty and malnutrition, promoting preventive healthcare, promoting education and promoting gender equality, setting up homes for women, Paralympic or Olympic sports, contribution to the prime minister’s national relief fund etc.
  • However, in determining CSR activities to be undertaken, preference would need to be given to local areas and the areas around where the company operates.
  • Companies can also collaborate with each other for jointly undertaking CSR activities, provided that each of the companies are able individually report on such projects.

CSR in the past

  • Companies donating to non-profits is not new; neither is the issue of conditionalities on how the grant would be utilized and how the oversight would be administered. We have many facilities that bear the name of a donor and have representatives of donors on the management board—particularly in charitable hospitals, hostels, etc.
  • However, donations in the past were a mutual contract between the donor corporation and a recipient not-for-profit and were not mandated by law.
  • In principle, these were expenses of the corporation and the tax law accordingly interpreted whether such expenses would be allowed as valid business expenses for the purposes of taxation usually disallowing these as business expenses, but providing exemption if the recipient institution had a exemption under the multiple clauses of the Information Technology Act.
  • Under the new CSR law, it is mandatory for corporations to spend 2% of their profits on CSR activities. However, the activities have been defined. It is natural for businesses to leverage their charity with business. At this juncture, we need to examine some issues.

Issue involved

  • The intent of the CSR laws is largely to encourage corporate philanthropy. Therefore, it is important to ensure that donors do not use this as a proxy for promoting their brands.
  • The rules prohibit CSR expenses from being claimed as business expenditure. They are not expenses to be incurred in the normal course of business, but like tax, they are obligatory to be paid back to society at large.
  • In the case of a tax, the payer does not have the liberty to directly determine the cause, purpose and methodology of its utilization, whereas in a CSR donation, the corporation can choose its favourite cause.
  • By this logic, there should be no long- or short-term benefits for the corporation to be derived from the donations, and CSR donations are certainly not surrogate expenses for explicit brand building. The insistence on the name being inserted not only in the name of the trust, but also on the building is bending into the territory of brand building and advertising.
  • However, from the perspective of good governance, it may make more sense for the corporation to maintain an arm’s length relationship with the organization that has received funds, and just ask for compliance with the utilization certificate which ensures that the donation is within the rules and used for permitted purposes.

Way ahead

  • This aspect is not specific to the corporate world. Let us also raise this question in another setting. The members of Parliament (or members of legislative assembly) local area development scheme is a facility extend to elected representatives to get works of public interest. The current regulations mandate that the name of the elected representative be displayed on the works prominently. It gives an unfair advantage to the sitting MP against his opponent in an ensuing election. Hence, on similar lines there should be reforms to ensure that no added advantage is mixed with social responsibility as it can defeat the entire purpose.

Question: What should be the correct strategy to ensure that CSR spending meet its purpose in letter and spirit?

 

Ethics special

4.Gamesmanship versus Sportsmanship (GS paper III)

Gamesmanship, to be put very simply, follows the Vince Lombardi quote,

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing,”

  • Gamesmanship takes such a premise to a whole new level. When people are considered “Gamers” in sports, it means they are so much inclined towards winning that they are willing to do whatever it takes win the game.
  • It can take various forms and ways such as, faking a foul, inflicting pain on an opponent, or even using performance-enhancing drugs. They can possibly break the rules in order to gain a competitive advantage over an opponent.
  • In such a scenario ethics associated with sporting and basic conduct are compromised and the gains associated with winning are primary and only motives.

Sportsmanship is very different in terms of sports ethics. Sportsmanship requires honest play and trust between competitors.

  • The goal is to still win the competition, but to respect the rules of that competition and all those who partake in it. It’s that honor that you receive when you achieve victory by giving it your best effort. It’s about playing the game with fairness and integrity, and by doing so, earning the respect of other competitors and the rest of the sports world.

Importance of ethics in sports

  • With the integrity of the game, every sport has developed, over the years, with rule refinements and changes. The rules not only establish standards of fair play, they actually define the game.
  • When traditions begin to develop that corrupt the game, such as chop blocking or spear tackling in football, the matter is generally addressed by additional rules or instructions to officials to enforce existing rules more vigorously.
  • In the end, ethics is a major part of the wide world of sports, it’s which side you believe is correct that defines you as a player.
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