Mains Q & A 25 February 2023
Q1. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act of 2016 was a great step, but there is still much to be done to promote accessibility and inclusivity for individuals with disabilities. Examine. (250 words)
Paper & Topic: GS II Government Policies and Interventions
A “person with disability” is defined by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act of 2016 as a person who has a long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairment that prohibits them from equally and completely participating in society. According to the 2011 Census, India is home to 26.8 million people with disabilities, a significant undercount.
The Supreme Court ruled in Avni Prakash v. National Testing Agency and Ors. that reasonable accommodations, such as extending exam times, should be made.
The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act of 2016 is a big milestone for people with disabilities:
The Union, the States, and the Union Territories are now tasked with finding a solution.
Also, it is essential to confirm that all public transportation complies with the unified guidelines for impaired accessibility.
The idea that underlies the definition of disability is one that is always evolving.
Disability classifications have increased from 7 to 21. The act added a number of disabilities that had been largely disregarded by the previous act, including deaf blindness, acid attack victims, Parkinson’s disease, mental illness, autism, spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, chronic neurological conditions, speech and language disability, thalassemia, haemophilia, and sickle cell disease. Also, the government is allowed to inform any other category about a specific impairment.
It increases the ratio of reservations for people with disabilities in government jobs from 3% to 4% and in higher education institutions from 3% to 5%.
Every child with a baseline disability has a right to a free education between the ages of six and eighteen.
Offering inclusive education is a requirement for both government-recognized and -supported institutions.
The emphasis has been on achieving accessibility in public buildings within a set time frame, along with the Accessible India Campaign.
The State Commissioners and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities shall function as the Act’s regulatory and grievance redressal agencies, respectively.
Separate federal and state funds were set up to provide financial aid to people with impairments.
The act has restrictions:
Curiously, only government organisations are required to follow the non-discrimination in employment laws.
The 1995 act’s requirement for a central commissioner and state commissioners is maintained under the Bill. None of the members of the commissioners’ advisory group are required to be disabled individuals.
Despite a 2013 Supreme Court decision that indicated reservations should be calculated using the total number of openings in a particular cadre rather than the posts designated by the government to be filled by persons with benchmark disabilities, the metric has continued to favour the latter.
Like it does for institutions desiring to be recognised as ones for PWDs, the proposal does not specify a deadline for obtaining a certificate of impairment. This leaves PWDs with no other options for dealing with the difficulties and hardships they experience when trying to get what has been their right for years despite the bureaucracy.
The amended measure does specify which public buildings, facilities, and services must be “barrier-free” for people with disabilities. Notwithstanding all the benefits that this policy aims to provide, basic issues with accessibility, particularly with regard to information and communication technology, and certification of handicap remain unresolved impossibilities due to a lack of political will.
While being a rights-based law, the RPWD Act of 2016’s efficacy will largely depend on the proactive measures that the various state governments take to implement it.
It is time to utilise this vast human capital. The new proposed law is intended to ensure that people with disabilities can enjoy their rights on an equal basis with Indian citizens who do not have disabilities. It is a strong rights-based legislation with a robust institutional system.
Primary care doctors can now issue a variety of disability certifications after receiving specialised training, which will help a lot of disabled people who live in distant places. Yet, the disability laws should have also given private practising doctors the opportunity to certify patients in order to alleviate the shortage of human resources and provide for appropriate checks and balances.
This law, like the 1995 legislation, would only go so far in providing for them the rights that ought to have been a given given the sociocultural prejudices against them and the inability, or rather the refusal, to take into account the needs of PWDs. As long as they are treated as second-class citizens and are not recognised as capable persons in their own right, India will continue to be an unjust and unequal nation.
Until each of us is firmly committed to the idea of implementing the two fundamental changes outlined above, we will continue to live in a society where, even as we sing the praises of the disabled who succeed despite the obstacles placed in their way, we do not pause to consider what it is that makes it so difficult for them to succeed in the first place and what we can do to change this situation.
Q2. Discuss the reasons why some of north India has experienced chilly waves this year. What results from it? (250 words)
Paper & Topic: GS I Geography
A cold wave is a type of weather event that is characterised by a drop in air temperature (also known as a cold snap or cold spell). The India Meteorological Department (IMD) clearly defines a cold wave as “a circumstance of air temperature which becomes fatal to the human body when exposed.” According to IMD, a cold wave is anticipated to hit parts of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh in the upcoming days.
Criteria for the declaration of a cold wave:
The International Meteorological Department (IMD) announces a cold wave when the minimum temperature at a meteorological station in the plains falls to 10 degrees Celsius or lower and is 4.5 to 6.4 degrees below the average temperature for that time of year.
A cold wave is deemed to have occurred when the minimum temperature is between 4.5 and 6.4 degrees below average and is less than or equal to 0 degrees Celsius in mountainous areas.
India’s current cold wave conditions are brought on by:
Impact of Western Disturbance: Cold Wave conditions develop when there are no Western Disturbances. Western disturbances produce precipitation and stable nocturnal temperatures, but precipitation and lower daytime temperatures.
Snowfall in the upper Himalayas: This increases the wind chill in India’s northern provinces.
the downward-moving flow of cold air masses brought on by winds at higher altitudes. These may be brought on by strong westerly winds that are blowing chilly air towards northwest India.
If an extended region of relatively high pressure develops over northwest Asia, cold waves may also form.
Cold waves are suggested to promote La Nina in North India. Winters in October 2020 were colder than usual (2 degrees Celsius, the lowest since 1962) due to La Nina’s effects in the Pacific, which increased the severity of the cold weather as well as the frequency and area covered by a cold wave.
Effects of the current cold wave:
Widening the gap between day and nighttime temperatures has an impact on North Indian agriculture by causing erratic winter weather that interferes with harvesting during the Rabi season.
The production of cash crops like coffee, which is predominantly grown in south India and whose growth is extremely sensitive to temperature changes, could also be affected.
Impact on Human Life: Cold waves can make it more likely for people to contract the flu and bring on symptoms like runny nose and nosebleeds. The second wave of COVID 19 was also linked to it in numerous regions of North India. Those who fall into the vulnerable age groups, such as the very young, the old, or the crippled, are the most at danger. The weaker sections of society who cannot afford to defend themselves against the elements are frequently made easy prey by extreme weather conditions.
Consequently, the best way to prevent infections is to avoid prolonged outdoor exposure during a cold wave.
The participating departments should be given extra duties, and a district-level nodal team that answers to the district magistrate should be established.
To safeguard outdoor workers, shifts in work hours must be made according to the location; for instance, late shifts may be used in areas where temperatures are expected to drop.
The AYUSH sector will also be included in special health camps sponsored by the health department. For this concept, specialised health volunteers may be enlisted.
ASHA workers will start awareness initiatives, together with media and social media outlets.
In order to reduce the number of locations where disease carriers reproduce and groom themselves, panchayathi raj institutions must be organised to take special initiative for cleaning their respected areas.
All actions should be under the supervision of the district level and the state level, with frequent reviews held for authorities.
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