Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS | 29th October 2021

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1.  Early childhood education 

UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper I, II: Society and social justice
Sub Theme: Childhood education | UPSC

 

GETTING THE FOCUS BACK ON EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

Context – Pre-school education has suffered a lot during pandemic lockdown.

Significance of early childhood education-

  • Maximum cognitive development takes place during this time.
  • Important step towards achieving universal and equitable education

    Challenges which early childhood education face in India

  • Overburdened anganwadi centres– Those attending preschool are primarily enrolled in the nearly 14 lakh anganwadis spread across the country where ECE continues to suffer from low attendance and instructional time amid prioritisation of other early childhood development services in the anganwadi system.
  • Low prioritisation –Priority for ECE is low within households. In a recent study by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy 45% of the 650+ households surveyed in urban Maharashtra reported that they prioritise their older child’s education over ECE.
  • Lack of parental engagement – During early year (3-6 yr age group), home environment directly affects the child’s mental level. But today with rise of working parent culture, children lack active parental engagement during these years. Many parents lack knowledge to facilitate learning within home.
  • Digital divide– The families / areas which do not have access to devices suffer a lot as was witnesses during pandemic times.

    Steps needed-

  • Internalisation of ECE among parents – Awareness and sensitization drives.
  • Continuous engagement of State-school-teachers and parents.
  • Learning from E-paathshala programs and akaansha school model running in the state of Maharashtra.
  • Decentralised approach – capacity building of teachers.

Empowering the households – Providing them with necessary resources and supporting their income to alleviate the threats of food insecurity.

2.  Climate justice

UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper III: Environment and ecology
Sub Theme: climate change in India and abroad | UPSC

 

  • CLIMATE JUSTICE-

    Context – India will emphasise climate justice and exhort developed countries to transfer the finance and technology necessary to deal with the fallout of global warming, Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav told The Hindu on the eve of his departure to Glasgow to participate in the 26th edition of the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP).

    Concept-

  • Climate justice insists on a shift from a discourse on greenhouse gases and melting ice caps into a civil rights movement with the people and communities most vulnerable to climate impacts at its hear.
  • Climate justice is a term used to frame climate change as an ethical and political issue, rather than one that is purely environmental or physical in nature.
  • The impacts of climate change will not be borne equally or fairly, between rich and poor, women and men, older and younger generations, and by different regions. For example- Namibia, often referred to as the driest country south of the Sahara desert, is home to a large majority of people who depend on agriculture, fishing, forestry and conservation. Impacts of climate change here will be different from an American city, let’s say New York.
  • Historically marginalized communities, such as low income, indigenous communities and communities of color often face the worst consequences of climate change: in effect the least responsible for climate change suffer its gravest consequences.
  • Consequently, there has been a growing focus on climate justice, which looks at the climate crisis through a human rights lens and on the belief that by working together we can create a better future for present and future generations.
  • Climate justice examines concepts such as equality, human rights, collective rights, and the historical responsibilities for climate change.

    Ways to ensure climate justice-

  • Climate litigations
  • Climate change protests
  • Dedicated judicial/quasi judicial bodies like NGT
  • Political cooperation at national and international level – Eg – UNFCCC, common but differentiated responsibilities.

3.  NDPS act

UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper I, II, IV : Society, governance and law, Ethics
Sub Theme: Drug menace in India | UPSC

 

Context: The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has proposed certain changes to some provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985. The recommendations have assumed importance in the backdrop of some high-profile drug cases including the recent arrest of Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan following a raid on a cruise ship by the Narcotics Control Bureau.

    • The National Policy on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances is based on the Directive Principles, contained in Article 47 of the Indian Constitution, which direct the State to endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption, except for medicinal purposes, of intoxicating drugs injurious to health.

 

  • India is a signatory to:

 

  • The UN Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs 1961,
  • The Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971 and
  • The Convention on Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988

which prescribe various forms of control aimed to achieve the dual objective of limiting the use of narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes as well as preventing the abuse of the same.

 

  • The broad legislative policy to control drug abuse is contained in the three Central Acts namely: 

 

  1. Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940
  2. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, and
  3. The Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1988.

Involvement of Multiple Ministries

  • The responsibility of drug abuse control, which is a central function, is carried out through a number of Ministries, Departments and Organisations. These include the Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue which has the nodal co-ordination role as administrator of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 and the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1988.
  • The aspect of drug supply reduction is looked after by various enforcement agencies under the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Home Affairs and State Governments.
  • The aspect of drug demand reduction is handled by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment and that of treatment of drug addicts and their rehabilitation falls under the domain of the Ministry of Health.     

VIEWS EXPRESSED IN THE ARTICLE

Recommendations  Benefits Concerns Suggestion
1. Decriminalise the possession of narcotic drugs in smaller quantities for personal purposes. The person using smaller quantities for personal use will not be bracketed with the persons producing or supplying narcotic drugs. NDPS Act treats both drug consumers and drugs supplier in the same category of convicts. A clear distinction needs to be made between a drug supplier and an end user.

The NDPS Act currently prescribes jail for the end user and also the drug supplier or producer.

2. User of drugs in smaller quantities should be treated as patients and not as convict.

In the backdrop of changes suggested in NDPS Act by Ministry of Social Justice, has suggested referring persons possessing drugs in smaller quantities to government-run rehabilitation centres instead of awarding them jail terms and imposing fines.

This will change the course of punishment from retributive to reformative. The proposal to send persons to rehabilitation centres is good on paper but in India we lack adequate infrastructure.

We do not have adequate de-addiction centre counselors.

We also face an acute shortage of psychiatrists and counselors.

Instead of suggesting proposals to change sections of NDPS Act for the entire country, it would be advisable to introduce government run rehabilitation centres on a pilot basis in any one State which faces an acute drugs-related problem.

The government should also study about some of the best worlds’ practices –

Ex: Iceland witnessed acute drug abuse among its children and the youth.

The government decided to tackle the issue right from the school level. It provides a community-led approach to treat drug consumers.

It introduced aptitude tests which revealed the inclinations of students to persuading parents to keep liquor and cigarettes out of reach of the youth.  It helped Iceland to drastically reduce the usage of drugs among 70-80 % of its youths.

3. The Government needs to thoroughly examine why and how people are getting addicted to narcotic drugs. It will help to curb the growing menace of drug abuse among youths. There is a growing hopelessness in society due to various factors. The COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, has aggravated anxieties among the youth. There is a need to redefine and redesign the law so as to tackle what acts as a trigger.

More funds must be allocated to the National Fund for Control of Drug Abuse (As per NDPS Act) for the purpose of REHABILITATION. It will help transform drug addicts and make the job of policing easier.

4. India cannot legalise small amount of drug usage like United States There are more pressing issues with drug abuse such as absenteeism in schools, loss of jobs, income, depression and suicide. Even the crime rate could increase making the job of rehabilitation much more difficult. The solution is to decriminalise usage of drugs and also categorise drug usage by individuals.

So, if a person is caught for the first time in a drugs case, be it for possession or usage, they should be sent to a rehabilitation centre. There should be scope for reformation of such persons.

Only repeat offenders should be sent to prison.

There is no focus on such children becoming victims of substance use. Government must also focus to prevent drug usage and abuse among such children who use whiteners, glue, painting chemicals, etc. for drug consumption.

5. Parents must avoid smoking or drinking in front of their children It will keep the children away from the vices of smoking and drinking. Experience shows that cigarette is an entry point for the young. To graduate from cigarette to drugs is not difficult if there is access to the drug. From here, children go to the next level of taking out tobacco from a cigarette and filling it with weed to get a high.

Watching parents smoke or drink makes the child think that its okay to smoke or drink without understanding its consequences at such young age.

6. School Authorities including teachers must keep an eye on school surroundings to ascertain whether anyone is selling hookah pipes or ganja papers. Any such activities must be reported to the police. Such proactive measures will ensure that drugs are not sold around school premises. Drugs sold around school premises further increases addiction of drugs among children. The police cannot enter every house and physically check if youngsters are using drugs. Role and support of teachers, parents and civil society is equally important in creating an enabling environment to address the issue of drugs abuse among youths.

 

The NDPS Act aims to achieve the following objective:  

  • It prohibits any individual who is engaged in any activity consisting of producing, cultivating, selling, purchasing, transporting, storing, and/or consuming any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.
  • to make stringent provisions for the control and regulation of operations relating to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances
  • to provide for the forfeiture of property derived from, or used in, illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances,
  • to implement the provisions of the International Conventions on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances
  • Provides for setting up of treatment and rehabilitation centres.
  • Prohibits, except for medical or scientific purposes, the manufacture, production, trade, use, etc of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

Salient Features of the Act includes:

  • The Central Government may constitute The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Consultative Committee to advise the Central Government on such matters relating to the administration of this Act as are referred to it by that Government from time to time.
  • The Central Government may constitute a Fund to be called the National Fund for Control of Drug Abuse.
  • The Fund shall be used by the Central Government to meet the expenditure incurred for the following:
  • Combating illicit traffic in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances or controlled substances.
  • controlling the abuse of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances
  • identifying, treating, rehabilitating addicts
  • preventing drug abuse
  • educating public against drug abuse
  • supplying drugs to addicts where such supply is a medical necessity.
  • The government may constitute Special Courts for the purpose of providing speedy trial of the offences under NDPS Act.
  • A Special Court shall consist of a single Judge who shall be appointed by the Government with the concurrence of the Chief Justice of the High Court.
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