Politics & the Nation
  • Education is fundamental right for kids aged 6-14
    • Education for children aged between 6 and 14 has finally become a fundamental right with the notification of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act on Thursday.
    • While the notification is an important milestone, the government acknowledged that the real challenge lay in the effective implementation of the Act.
    • With education becoming an entitlement, efforts will have to be made to ensure that those on the margins are able to seek redressal.
    • It has been a long and arduous journey for this fundamental right. Despite the unanimous support for the move, the enabling RTE legislation hasn’t had an easy passage. Work on RTE was started by the NDA government soon after Parliament passed the constitutional amendment in December 2002. The first delay came when the NDA was voted out of power in May 2004. Work on the RTE was then taken up by the Kapil Sibal committee of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE). The Sibal draft slated the financial implications, estimated by the then National Institute of Education Planning and Administration, at a minimum of Rs 3,21,196 crore to a maximum Rs 4,36,458.5 crore over six years. This is where the proposed legislation ran into trouble. The question of funding was to hold up the bill for the next four-and-a-half years. The ministry of human resource development then worked to bring down the financial implication of the bill. Finally, whittling it down to Rs 171,000 crore.
    • Some excellent words in the context of the dedication of the right to education act:
      • Rights, in other words, are not passively dispensed by an enlightened administration to a supine populace, but actively enforced by citizens in exercise of their political agency.
      • The point is, the law should be seen as a means of mobilising and empowering the people, rather than as an act of emancipation in itself.
Finance & Economy
  • Migrants land sops as labour shortage grows
    • Years of migration has depleted the workforce back home, and today, Punjab and Kerala are rolling out the red carpet for immigrant hands from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa as their mostly-agrarian economies face stagnation in the face of a crippling labour shortage. Plantation owners in Kerala and the Punjab government say that to retain the immigrant workforce, they will offer provident fund, gratuity and pension.
  • PM bats for caution on easing of capital account
    • Amid concerns that India may attract a chunk of the money flooding emerging markets, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that there are good reasons to be cautious in opening up the capital account. But he was categorical that Indian companies must have the instruments needed to hedge against exchange rate volatility.
    • Look at what he reportedly said: “...Growth will occur in an economic environment where India will remain open to the world and Indian companies will operate globally. Management of forex risk would be an important concern in future and the financial system must, therefore, provide our companies with instruments they need to manage these risks at reasonable costs.”
  • The state of our health
    • Take a look at these distressing statistics!!!
    • The following lead you to conclude that India’s primary healthcare system dysfunctional: the system has failed to deliver basic health services to the poor, notwithstanding numerous schemes launched with fanfare, including the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana and Health For All.
    • The Economic Survey, 2009-10, highlights a shortage of 20,486 sub-centres, 4,477 PHCs and 2,337 community health centres (CHCs) based on 2001 population norm. Only 13% of rural residents have access to a PHC, 33% to a sub-centre, 9.6% to a hospital and 28.3% to a dispensary or clinic. About two-thirds of country’s registered hospitals are private.
    • The National Rural Health Mission, launched on April 12, 2005, with an annual allocation of Rs 12,000 crore — increased by Rs 2,057 crore in 2009-10 — aims at providing accessible health services to the poorest households in the remotest regions of the country. The Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana claims to have covered 4.5 million below-poverty-line families by issuing biometric cards. In reality, the programmes deliver far short of their avowed claims.
    • Over 17 lakh children in the country die annually before reaching their first birthday. India accounts for a fifth of the global disease burden: 23% of child deaths, 20% of maternal deaths, 30% of tuberculosis cases, 68% of leprosy cases and 14% of HIV cases. Tuberculosis kills around 2 million people a year around the world; in India, the disease takes a toll of 4,21,000 lives.
    • With almost a third of the country's population living in cities — more than half the number in 23 metropolitan areas — the healthcare infrastructure is far too inadequate. While there is need to raise the availability of doctors from 6,00,000 to 20,00,000 and nurses from 16,00,000 to 44,00,000, some 165 medical colleges annually turn out only about 16,000 doctors in the country.
    • THE number of physicians per 1,000 population for the world is 1.5; for India, it is 0.6. Against a world average of 3.98 hospital beds per 1,000 population, Russia has 9.7, Brazil 2.6, China 2.5, and India 0.9. Per-capita per-year in-patient admissions for India aggregate 1.7 compared to 9 for the world and 5.5 in lowincome countries.
    • Public health expenditure in the country has been only about 0.9% of GDP — central government 0.29% and state governments 0.61% — which is below the low-income countries’ average of 1%, and even sub-Saharan Africa’s 1.7%.
    • As much as 63% of the entire spending goes to wages and salaries, leaving meagre resources for drugs, supplies, equipment, infrastructure and maintenance.
  • Manufacturing Inc roars back to life across globe
    • Factories in the US, Europe and Asia cranked up production last month, suggesting recovery from a deep recession was taking root in economies around the globe.
    • The US manufacturing sector grew at its fastest pace in more than five years last month and activity in Europe bounced higher, with a cheaper euro helping stimulate exports.
    • UK manufacturing expanded at its fastest pace since 1994 while China’s vast industrial sector also grew in March.