Mitras Analysis of News : 26-7-2017

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1.What’s brewing in Darjeeling (The Hindu)

2.Private health care with public money (A case study) (Live Mint)

 

1.What’s brewing in Darjeeling (The Hindu) 

Synoptic line: It throws light on ongoing demand for Gorkhaland. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • The Darjeeling hills are in crisis. To have the aspiration for identity within a community of people, the hill people in Darjeeling want to be recognised as Gorkhas belonging to ‘Gorkhaland’ – the state they aspire to form. The Gorkhaland movement constitutes an opting out of West Bengal’s domination and opting in to the democratic frameworks of India.
  • Gorkhaland is a classic sub-nationalist movement, not unlike those that have produced other States, most recently Telangana, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh. Beyond all else, Gorkhaland is a desire for the recognition, respect, and integration of Gorkha peoples in the Indian nation-state.
  • A resurgent Gorkhaland movement and subsequent state crackdown have infused life with violent uncertainty.

 Background

  • Historical and geographical flux, a continuous feeling of exclusion and perceived cultural dominance by Bengalis have aggravated the demand for the creation of Gorkhaland. The aspiration for self-rule of the hill people in Darjeeling is more than a century old. To be precise, such aspiration for autonomous rule can be traced back to 1907. The complicated narrative of such aspirations is further complicated by the diverse ethnic identity of the hill people.
  • Originally, Darjeeling belonged to Sikkim, which was acceded to Gorkhali kingdom (present-day Nepal) and thereafter to the British. It was restored to Sikkim only to be ‘gifted’ to the British in 1835 before being merged with West Bengal in 1954 under the Absorbed Areas Act.
  • This mired geographical history often aggravates the feeling of exclusion, which intermittently shows itself in protests especially when the hill dwellers believe themselves to be dominated by state or non-state actors from the plains. The Gorkhas of Darjeeling have yet to taste the liberation of India’s Independence.

Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) 

  • In 2011 a tripartite pact was signed between the Union Government, the top leaders of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the West Bengal government leading to the creation of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA). This added a new chapter in the political history of the Darjeeling hills.
  • GTA replaced the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, which was formed in 1988 and administered the Darjeeling hills.GTA presently has three hill subdivisions Darjeeling, Kurseong and Mirik and some areas of Siliguri subdivision of Darjeeling district and the whole of Kalimpong district under its authority.

Language Issues

  • Language has always been a contentious issue in the hills of Darjeeling and the state has ‘used’ the census as a tool to portray Nepali speakers as minority in these areas, even though they happen to be in a majority.
  • The Nepali language movement of the 1960s in the hills has been a manifestation of this cultural trend. The West Bengal government, along with the central government, played the politics of census enumeration in identifying Nepali as a non-majority language so that they could avoid making Nepali the medium of instruction in schools in Darjeeling.
  • Gorkha National Liberation Front founder has explained the first Gorkhaland agitation in the 1980s, that “We Nepali-Indians who have nothing to do with Nepal are constantly confused with ‘Nepalis’, that is, citizens of Nepal, a foreign country. But if there is Gorkhaland then our belonging to an Indian State, just like your identity, will be clear.”
  • Recently the West Bengal government announced Bengali as a compulsory language in schools across the State. This triggered protests and claims of ‘linguistic imperialism’ in the Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts (where the lingua franca is Nepali).
  • With ‘Jai Gorkha, Jai Gorkhaland’ reverberating through the hills, Darjeeling has plunged again into the throes of agitation.
  • Since 1947, the Darjeeling-Kalimpong region has remained under the thumb of West Bengal, despite no substantive pre-Partition evidence to support West Bengal’s territorial claims to this region. Conciliatory set-ups like the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (1988-2012) and the GTA (2012-present) have failed to provide meaningful autonomy.

Way ahead

  • Instances like the attempted imposition of compulsory Bengali are not read as one-off events or mere slights in Darjeeling. They are seen as extensions of precisely the histories of domination that the Gorkhas are trying to escape. The Gorkhaland movement is essentially a case for identity.
  • There is need to reconsider the demand, so that idyllic tea plantations, mountain views, and quaint footpaths that characterise Darjeeling can again be ‘queen of the hills’.

Question Throw a light on gorkhaland crisis. What should be the government strategy to end such instances?

 

2.Private health care with public money (A case study) (Live Mint)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the models of health care delivery. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • Recent developments related to public health in India hold the prospect of changing the nature of service provision for the people. They lean heavily on the private sector in an effort to improve the deplorable state of healthcare services for India’s 1.3 billion people.

 Delhi Model

  • A new policy by the Delhi government has been announced which said that the government would pay for surgeries of private citizens conducted at private hospitals. These surgeries would be ones that the government would not be able to conduct expeditiously at its own facilities.
  • Private healthcare in India usually offers quality service but is often expensive and largely unregulated. The national health policy notes growing incidences of catastrophic expenditure due to healthcare costs, which are presently estimated to be one of the major contributors to poverty.

How it is different

  • The Delhi government’s new scheme is a novelty for the common man but has a precedent in several government schemes for employees which use public funds to provide private healthcare. For example, the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) has existed for decades and has been emulated by several states, which have floated similar schemes that discriminate between those who are employed by the state and those who are not.
  • This is a violation of the principles of justice, and has not been noticed by policymakers as they are the first among equals to benefit from such policies. In this context, the Delhi government’s effort is a giant leap in establishing distributive justice.

Proposal by NITI Aayog

  • NITI Aayog floated a report on the public-private partnership (PPP) model in healthcare. The PPP model, it is stated, will work alongside the public health system and will be chargeable. However, only those patients who are not covered by any government scheme will be covered by this model.
  • Seen through the previous lens, the proposal does not further the idea of justice. It goes against the spirit of India’s national health policy, which seeks to provide free, comprehensive primary healthcare services for all aspects of reproductive, maternal, child and adolescent health and for the most prevalent communicable, non-communicable and occupational diseases in the population.

Way ahead

  • India has little to show for the slightly more than 1% of its gross domestic product (GDP) that it spends on healthcare. Countries that have robust public health systems spend much more—Canada and the UK spend 8% of their GDP on healthcare. India has set itself an unambitious target of 2.5% of GDP for distant 2025.
  • It is deducible that the low spending on health is a factor of governments and their employees being shielded from policies meant for the common people. Countries that have done well in providing quality care have one system for all.
  • A common point between the NITI Aayog proposal and the national health policy is that both support government schemes which provide preferential care to government employees in the present and future. India’s privileged elite believe they deserve quality care before others.

Question What type of health care mode should be adopted to further the cause of welfare politics?

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