CAO The Hindu NOTES – 8th July, 2018 (Daily News Paper Current Affairs Analysis)
Date:- 8th july 2018
Privatise all political parties (Governance)
Why In News
- The NITI Aayog chief recently made a brilliant suggestion that, I am sorry to say, has been widely unappreciated. Instead of gratitude for expressing a bold idea, his comments provoked outrage.
- Everyone apparently thought he wanted to sell India’s family jewels to the cheapest crony capitalist.
A magic passport
- The passport is immune to revocation because of its special powers derived from the Tesseract.
- There is only one way to definitively kill Nirav Modi’s passport: the MEA must get one of its agents in London to steal it, and on the next available Amavasya, at the stroke of midnight, soak it in a vat of organic urine sourced from a cow bred on a pure Panchatattva diet containing the correct proportions of Prithvi, Jal, Vayu, Agni and Aakash.
- Three MEA officials with the rank of Joint Secretary and above chant shlokas from the Niravathiruttupaya Samhita. Only then will the passport stay dead. I know this is a tough and complicated challenge.
- But then, so is getting people to voluntarily starve to death unless their fingerprints match the preferred rangoli pattern of an artificial intelligence.
The one big bang reform we need
- India should hand over its schools, colleges and jails to the private sector — something long overdue. If at all he must be criticised, it should be for stopping short of advocating the one truly big bang reform that can transform India’s fortunes forever: privatisation of all political parties.
- The Indian political market through the BOOT model — Build up a politician, Own him, Operate him, and Transfer black money abroad.
- India is the fastest growing political market in the world. Political parties spent a total of 10,000 crore in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls — more than double the 4,500 crore that was spent in the 2004 elections. If you thought that was a lot, they spent in the 2014 parliamentary elections three times what they did in 2009, burning up an estimated 30,000 crore.
- The allied industries of tax evasion, black money generation, and money laundering, is one of the best performing sectors in the Indian economy.
- Privatising political parties, though a major reform, is still only the first step. The ultimate goal must be to privatise the state itself. Our passports should start saying ‘India Inc.’ instead of Republic of India.
- The Indian government should first hire a top consulting firm, say, a McKinsey or a PwC, and ask them to review the Constitution from the perspective of ease of doing business.
- Their recommendations can then be converted into amendments that will suitably update the Constitution into a more market-compatible version.
- In the unlikely event of there being too much opposition to these constitutional amendments, they can always be passed as money bills — after all, politics is all about the money.
Why we need a Constitution (Judiciary)
Constitutions are needed not only to limit wielders of existing power but to empower those traditionally deprived of it.
Why In News:
- The recent judgment by the Supreme Court clarifying the respective jurisdictions of Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor and its elected representatives and specifying the limits of their powers once again underlies how fortunate we are to have the Constitution. Why should gratitude be expressed for living under a constitutional democracy? Why do we need a Constitution?
- Most human goods — health, education, infrastructure, peace and harmony, economic growth, leisure and enjoyment, art and literature, narratives of self-understanding and collective heritage — are realised by assembling power.
- However, once constituted, this indispensable collective power to do or achieve things can be used not to realise the collective good but for one’s own exclusive advantage, to secure things only for oneself.
- This can be done by forcing others to do what they would not otherwise do, to get them to act against their will, for one’s own benefit.
- It is a feature, particularly of modern societies, that this public or collective power is largely vested in the state relatively separate from society. It follows that state power meant for everyone’s good can be used by some over other members of society, to benefit just a few of its functionaries and their friends.
- Since the formation of states, therefore, humans have felt the need to not only garner collective power but also limit it, so that it is not exercised whimsically, arbitrarily, for self-aggrandisement and against the basic interests of the people.
- This is the key reason why we have a Constitution, which is not just any odd assortment of law and institutions but a framework of ground rules that acts as a bulwark against the tyrannical use of state power to dominate and oppress others.
- The collective power of society invested in the state is neither dissipated or fragmented to become ineffective (for this results in lawlessness and anarchy detrimental to the realisation of the good life), nor so tightly organised and untrammelled that it takes away our freedoms, becomes oppressive.
- The potential to abuse public power is inherent in the very exercise of it, an ever present possibility in all states. Thus, the earliest constitutions of the world developed to check the tyranny of our rulers.
- This idea of the Constitution presupposes an unbridgeable distance between people and the state; a powerless people who need the help of constitutional law to control state power.
- This is an attractive but flawed idea. It is flawed because in practice, democratic power never really resides in all the people but largely, at the very least, in a temporarily constituted majority. Sometimes these majorities can even become permanent.
- But constitutions are required for a third reason: to protect everyone against human vulnerability in general.
- It is important not to forget that human beings are fallible, that they sometimes forget what is really good for them; they yield to temptations that bring them pleasure now but pain later. It is not unknown for people to act in the heat of the moment (out of anger, fear or intense hatred) only to rue the consequences of the decision later.
- Electing a person with strong authoritarian traits, for example. By providing a framework of law culled over years from collective experience and wisdom, constitutions prevent people from succumbing to currently fashionable whims and fancies, anticipating and redressing the excessively mercurial character of everyday politics.
- The guardians of India’s Constitution have ensured that destabilising swings of legislative moods generated by ephemeral passion or myopia do not alter its basic structure.
Enable power to do good:
- India provides a particularly instructive case of another valuable function of constitutions: to provide a moral framework for profound, non-violent social transformations. Of course, this is Ambedkar’s great contribution. But Nehru was equally eloquent: “The Constituent Assembly is a nation on the move, throwing away the shell of its past political and possibly social structure, and fashioning for itself a new garment of its own making.”
- The Indian Constitution was designed to break the shackles of traditional social hierarchies and to usher in a new era of freedom, equality and justice.
- Thus, constitutions are needed not only to limit wielders of existing power but to empower those traditionally deprived of it, to give vulnerable people the power to help realise an inclusive, collective good.
Farm policies off target: study (Public Policies)
Why In News:
- Despite the general perception that Indian farmers are beneficiaries of major subsidies, a new report says the overall effect of policy interventions between 2014 and 2016 is, in fact, a 6% annual reduction of gross farm revenues.
- Consumers, on the other hand, pay an average 25% less for commodities as a result of policy interventions.
- According to researchers at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) — an intergovernmental body of 36 developed countries — and the Indian think tank ICRIER, who analysed policies that affected the agricultural sector over the two-year period, government interventions were more consumer-centric than producer-centric.
- The report “Agriculture Policies in India”, which was released this week, points out that Indian farmers face regulations and restrictions — both in the domestic market and also when they attempt to export their produce — which often lead to producer prices that are lower than comparable international levels.
- The researchers argue that “despite large subsidies for fertilizers, power and irrigation, which offset somewhat the price-depressing effect of market interventions, the overall effect of policy intervention over the 2014-16 period is a 6% annual reduction of gross farm revenues.”
- It also recommends a strengthening of the regulatory environment governing land issues, strengthening access to credit, especially long-term loans, and developing collective-action groundwater and watershed management and correcting measures — including electricity pricing — which incentivise the overuse of water.
- With regard to the PDS, the report suggests gradual reduction and a move towards cash transfers and allowing the private sector to manage remaining stock operations.
- To make trade work for Indian agriculture, import tariffs must be reduced and export restrictions relaxed to create a more stable and predictable market environment.
A vigil over neonatal sepsis (Health Issue)
Why In News:
- Antimicrobial resistance has become a global health challenge, making easily treatable infections difficult to treat. The problem has not spared vulnerable population groups either such as newborn babies who need urgent treatment in conditions such as neonatal sepsis.
- Sepsis can be potentially life threatening, particularly for newborns, as their immune systems are not fully developed.
- The rise in bacterial resistance, hospitalised infants are at high risk of developing drug-resistant hospital-acquired infections. The susceptibility of newborns to sepsis is compounded, as diagnosing serious bacterial infections in them is challenging — symptoms are difficult to detect.
- In India, the study will be conducted at Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi, King Edward Memorial Hospital, Mumbai and Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry. Research will also be conducted in Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Greece, Italy, Kenya, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam and Uganda.
- The study focusses on collecting clinical information on babies with significant clinical sepsis. It will investigate how neonatal sepsis is managed currently so that this insight can be used as a basis for evaluating future interventions in neonates.
- Researchers from all the participating countries met in India this week to understand sepsis in newborns and current antibiotic prescribing practices.
- It is part of an initiative launched by the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP).
Focus on antibiotics:
- “This study would be helpful as the burden of infectious disease is high though it has declined in the recent past. Development of new drugs is not the only solution we are looking for.
- Nearly 40% of the global burden of sepsis-related neonatal deaths is in South Asia — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
- Every year, in India alone, around 56,500 neonatal deaths are attributable to sepsis caused by anti-microbial resistance to drugs.
- Sepsis in the neonatal period (first 28 days of an infant’s life) is the most common cause of deaths among neonates around the world. Of all the deaths that occur among children under the age of five years, 44% (almost half) occur in the first 28 days of an infant’s life. In 2015, it was estimated that 214,000 deaths among these newborns were attributable to drug-resistant infections globally. — India Science Wire.
In AI, radiology finds a new ally (Science & tech.)
Reading a chest X-ray is tough. So much so that even radiologists get it right only around 70-80% of the time.
Tool to read X-ray
qXR, an artificial intelligence (AI) tool to interpret chest X-rays, was developed by the Mumbai-based Qure.ai, a health-care technology company. It was trained on over 1.5 million X-rays to detect 15 chest abnormalities, ranging from tuberculosis to potentially cancerous lung nodules.
Overcoming the ‘black box’
The most sophisticated AIs frequently cannot do this — a problem known as AI’s “black box”.
The “black box” is inherent in advanced AI techniques such as deep-learning. This is how deep-learning works: to teach a computer to think like humans, researchers use a network of mathematical functions (called an artificial neural network) which mimics the biological brain.
Next, they input data into this network. In qXR’s case, these were chest X-rays and radiologist interpretations of them.
When the network is exposed to millions of such X-rays and interpretations, it builds its own rules for translating the images into interpretations.
Key point of new technology
AI can now read new X-rays and spot abnormalities accurately. But even though such AIs can be highly competent, they are often unable to communicate the rules they used to arrive at the interpretation.
TB screening projects are critical for India, which has an estimated 2.7 million TB cases every year. Many of these patients do not get a diagnosis early enough, because they lack access to health care. When they do consult doctors, the doctor may fail to spot the disease in a chest X-ray if she isn’t trained.
So, an AI that can distinguish likely TB cases from normal X-rays and send the likely patients for further testing can save radiologists a lot of time.