Mains Q & A 8 March 2023
Q1. How far do you think Indian society has come in terms of "menstrual hygiene"? List a few of the issues that women face in this regard. (250 words)
Paper & Topic: GS I Women Empowerment
One of the most difficult developmental issues we currently confront is menstrual hygiene. Menstruation is still stigmatised in Indian culture. Due to the effects of culture and society, it is still very difficult to guarantee that teenage girls are given accurate information about menstrual hygiene.
The main reasons for this taboo’s continued relevance in Indian society are the high rate of illiteracy, particularly among girls, poverty, and a lack of awareness about menstrual health and hygiene. Less than 18% of women in India use sanitary pads.
About menstrual hygiene in Indian culture:
In rural India, 52% of women do not protect themselves hygienically during their menstrual periods, according to the fourth National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), which was performed in 2015–16.
According to the data, social gender norms, discriminatory traditions, and persistent cultural beliefs all contribute to the low emphasis given to menstrual hygiene management (MHM).
According to studies, just 48% of teenage girls in India are aware that menstruation occurs before their first period.
Access to accurate and trustworthy information on their rights and reproductive health is limited for young people.
Parents, teachers, and other community members are hesitant to discuss periods with their children because of the stigma attached to menstruation.
In India, about 355 million girls have reached menarche, and a 2016 landscape analysis titled Menstrual Health in India found that 71% of these girls said they had no prior knowledge of menstruation.
Menstrual hygiene issues that women face include:
Access to restrooms: About 355 million Indian women and girls need to learn how to manage their monthly period hygiene. Most of these women can’t use the restrooms or have to use filthy ones.
Accessibility and safety: They frequently wait until after dark to use public restrooms or fields, making them more susceptible to various physical assaults.
insufficient knowledge The main reasons for this taboo’s continued relevance in Indian society are the high rate of illiteracy, particularly among girls, poverty, and a lack of awareness about menstrual health and hygiene. Less than 18% of women in India use sanitary pads.
Menstruation is considered a filthy or unpleasant action and is therefore prohibited in some households. This stigma extends to the mention of menstruation in both public and private contexts. As they cannot afford to buy hygienic sanitary pads, the majority of females even hide themselves while travelling to a drugstore out of fear or embarrassment.
School dropout: In certain houses, menstruation is seen as an unpleasant or uncomfortable occurrence, to the extent where it is discussed in both public and private settings.
As they cannot afford to buy hygienic sanitary pads, the majority of females even hide themselves while travelling to a drugstore out of fear or embarrassment.
Menstrual management practises that are not hygienic: The majority of rural Indian women utilise garments and rags for feminine hygiene. Used napkins can be difficult to keep clean and free of dangerous bacteria, which increases the risk of vaginal infections in women.
Economically speaking, just 13% of Indian women can afford the commercially made sanitary napkins, despite the fact that they are a potential replacement.
What must be done:
The data suggests that girls and boys should receive accurate, timely information on the biological and psycho-social aspects of puberty, menstruation, and MHM from all three channels—mass media, influencers, and focused instruction.
All three of these fields have a lot of challenges with supporting evidence. As a result, education geared towards women and community influencers are particularly important enablers for improving menstrual health for women and girls in India.
Currently, period management is the only topic covered in MHM curricula; psycho-social changes are not given enough time or space to be covered. This needs to be addressed in order to manage menstrual hygiene completely. In order to promote healthy child development and positive attitudes towards menstruation, it is important for both boys and girls to get basic education on these topics.
Q2. Influence of money in elections is the main reason for corruption in India. How the public interest is harmed by the lack of transparency in election spending. Provide some suggestions for treatments as well. (250 Words)
Paper & Topic: GS II Election related issues
Given the several upcoming Assembly elections, one problem may require more attention than others. These days, elections are heavily funded. Depending on predictions, a candidate may invest tens of millions of rupees in a single constituency. Voters frequently overlook this crucial issue in the midst of all the campaigns, leaders, celebrities, and media attention.
Political parties are thought to be the biggest and most direct beneficiaries, and money is mostly to blame for India’s political corruption problem. Election fraud results in unequal representation, diminished accountability, and asymmetrical government. Therefore, it is crucial that election funding be transparent.
Voters support political parties because they ensure the welfare of the general populace. If other sources are used to finance elections, the ruling governments have a higher obligation to the donors than to the electorate.
For instance, according to the Government Budget, the Government lost 2.24 lakh crore in 2019–20 as a result of business incentives and a reduction in tariffs and taxes. The voters are unaware of this.
Raising money for elections is no longer transparent after the introduction of Election Bonds. All political parties have refused to accept the transparency that comes with the Right to Information despite the CIC judgement. Financial limits are also not properly defined.
Problems with campaign funding:
Donation obscurity: The majority (about 70%) of political parties’ support comes from anonymous financial contributions. Additionally, because there is no income tax on parties, hoarders of illicit funds have a location to hide their money.
Think about the complicated legal framework governing electoral financing. Raising money for elections is no longer transparent after the introduction of Election Bonds. Donors to political parties are no longer open to public scrutiny.
not taking action to prevent bribes The EC requested the addition of a new section, 58B, to the RPA, 1951 so that it could take legal action if parties bought votes in an undetermined number of seats.
facilitating foreign investment Political parties now have unprecedented access to foreign funds as a result of the FCRA reform, which could potentially result in meddling with government.
Corporate donations are limitless: It is now acceptable to establish shell companies only for the purpose of supporting political campaigns due to the lifting of the 7.5% cap on the percentage of profits that a company may donate to a political party.
inadequate transparency Parties who fail to submit their annual audit reports to the Electoral Commission are in violation of section 29 of the RPA, 1951.
RTI: Businesses have battled against being subject to the RTI statute. All political parties have disobeyed the Central Information Commission’s (CIC) instruction to adhere to the transparency that comes with the right to information.
Initiatives to increase electoral money transparency include:
transitioning to digital transaction completion.
By making contributions that are greater than a particular amount public, the connection between business and politics should be severed.
RTI must be linked with political parties, as is the case in nations like Bhutan and Germany.
Create a national electoral fund where donors can donate, with money then going to political parties based on how well they did in the most recent elections. Also, this will safeguard the privacy of donors and eliminate bad debt.
Election state funding has often been proposed as a solution to elections’ high costs. State support has been favoured by the Second ARC, the National Commission to Examine the Functioning of the Constitution, and the Law Commission of India.
Political parties are only allowed to spend a sum equal to the largest amount that can be spent on one candidate multiplied by the number of candidates they have fielded.
Contributors to politics can demand favourable laws and regulations, favourable government contracts, and exceptional police enforcement in return for their contributions. Also, politics will eventually be made illegal because it is a game of power and money. India must therefore increase election spending immediately.
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