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देश को एकता के सूत्र में पिरोने वाले आधुनिक भारत के निर्माता को विशेष श्रद्धांजलि

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नरेन्‍द्र मोदी, भारत के प्रधानमंत्री

वर्ष 1947 के पहले छह महीने भारत के इतिहास में अत्‍यंत महत्‍वपूर्ण रहे थे। साम्राज्‍यवादी शासन के साथ-साथ भारत का विभाजन भी अपने अंतिम चरण में पहुंच गया था। हालांकि,  उस समय यह तस्‍वीर पूरी तरह से साफ नहीं थी कि क्‍या देश का एक से अधिक बार विभाजन होगा। कीमतें आसमान पर पहुंच गई थीं, खाद्य पदार्थों की कमी आम बात हो गई थी, लेकिन इन बातों से परे सबसे बड़ी चिंता भारत की एकता को लेकर नजर आ रही थी, जो खतरे में थी।

इस पृष्‍ठभूमि में ‘गृह विभाग’ का बहुप्रतीक्षित गठन वर्ष 1947 के जून महीने में किया गया। इस विभाग का एक प्रमुख लक्ष्‍य उन 550 से भी अधिक रियासतों से भारत के साथ उनके रिश्‍तों के बारे में बातचीत करना था जिनके आकार, आबादी, भू-भाग अथवा आर्थिक स्थितियों में काफी भिन्‍नताएं थीं। उस समय महात्‍मा गांधी ने कहा था कि, ‘‘राज्‍यों की समस्‍या इतनी ज्‍यादा विकट है कि सिर्फ ‘आप’ ही इसे सुलझा सकते हैं।’’ यहां पर ‘आप’ से आशय किसी और से नहीं, बल्कि सरदार वल्‍लभभाई पटेल से है जिनकी जयंती आज हम मना रहे हैं और जिन्‍हें हम भावभीनी श्रद्धांजलि दे रहे हैं।

अपनी विशिष्‍ट सरदार पटेल शैली में उन्‍होंने सटीक तौर पर सुदृढ़ता और प्रशासनिक दक्षता के साथ इस चुनौती को पूरा किया। समय कम था और जवाबदेही बहुत बड़ी थी। लेकिन, इसे अंजाम देने वाली शख्सियत कोई साधारण व्‍यक्ति नहीं, बल्कि सरदार पटेल ही थे, जो इस बात के लिए दृढ़प्रति‍ज्ञ थे कि वह किसी भी सूरत में अपने राष्‍ट्र को झुकने नहीं देंगे। उन्‍होंने और उनकी टीम ने एक-एक करके सभी रियासतों से बातचीत की और इन सभी रियासतों को ‘आजाद भारत’ का अभिन्‍न हिस्‍सा बनाना सुनिश्चित किया।

सरदार पटेल ने पूरी तन्‍मयता और लगन से दिन-रात एक करते हुए इस कार्य को पूरा किया और इसी शैली की बदौलत ही आधुनिक भारत का वर्तमान एकीकृत मानचित्र हम देख रहे हैं।

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कहा जाता है कि वी. पी. मेनन ने स्वतंत्रता मिलने पर सरकारी सेवा से अवकाश लेने की इच्छा व्यक्त की। इस पर सरदार पटेल ने उनसे कहा कि समय आराम करने या सेवा निवृत्त होने का नहीं है। सरदार पटेल का ऐसा दृढ़ संकल्प था। वी. पी. मेनन विदेश विभाग के सचिव बनाए गए। उन्होंने अपनी पुस्तक ‘द स्टोरी ऑफ द इंटीग्रेशन ऑफ इंडियन स्टेट्स’ में लिखा है कि किस तरह सरदार पटेल ने इस मुहिम में अग्रणी भूमिका निभाई और अपने नेतृत्‍व में किस प्रकार पूरी टीम को परिश्रम से काम करने के लिए प्रेरित किया। उन्होंने लिखा है कि सरदार पटेल के लिए सबसे पहले भारत की जनता के हित थे, जिस पर कोई समझौता नहीं किया जा सकता।

हमने 15 अगस्त, 1947 को नए भारत के उदय का उत्सव मनाया। लेकिन राष्ट्र निर्माण का कार्य अधूरा था। स्वतंत्र भारत के प्रथम गृह मंत्री के रूप में उन्होंने प्रशासनिक ढांचा बनाने का काम प्रारंभ किया जो आज भी जारी है- चाहे यह दैनिक शासन संचालन का मामला हो तथा लोगों विशेषकर, गरीब और वंचित लोगों के हितों की रक्षा का मामला हो।

सरदार पटेल अनुभवी प्रशासक थे। प्रशासन में उनका अनुभव विशेषकर 1920 के दशक में अहमदाबाद नगरपालिका में उनकी सेवा का अनुभव, स्वतंत्र भारत के प्रशासनिक ढांचे को मजबूत बनाने में सहायक साबित हुआ। उन्होंने अहमदाबाद में स्वच्छता कार्य को आगे बढ़ाने में सराहनीय कार्य किए। उन्होंने पूरे शहर में स्वच्छता और जल निकासी प्रणाली सुनिश्चित की। उन्होंने सड़क, बिजली तथा शिक्षा जैसी शहरी अवसंरचना के अन्य पहलुओं पर भी जोर दिया।

आज यदि भारत जीवंत सहकारिता क्षेत्र के लिए जाना जाता है तो इसका श्रेय सरदार पटेल को जाता है। ग्रामीण समुदायों, विशेषकर महिलाओं को सशक्त बनाने का उनका विजन अमूल परियोजना में दिखता है। यह सरदार पटेल ही थे, जिन्होंने सहकारी आवास सोसाइटी के विचार को लोकप्रिय बनाया और इस प्रकार अनेक लोगों के लिए सम्मान और आश्रय सुनिश्चित किया।

सरदार पटेल निष्ठा और ईमानदारी के पर्याय रहे। भारत के किसानों की उनमें प्रगाढ़ आस्था थी। वह किसान पुत्र थे, जिन्होंने बारदोली सत्याग्रह के दौरान अगली कतार से नेतृत्व किया। श्रमिक वर्ग उनमें आशा की किरण देखता था, एक ऐसा नेता देखता था जो उनके लिए बोलेगा। व्यापारी और उद्योगपतियों ने उनके साथ इसलिए काम करना पसंद किया, क्योंकि वे समझते थे कि सरदार पटेल भारत के आर्थिक और औद्योगिक विकास के विजन वाले दिग्गज नेता हैं।

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उनके राजनैतिक मित्र भी उन पर भरोसा करते थे। आचार्य कृपलानी का कहना था कि जब कभी वह किसी दुविधा में होते थे और यदि बापू का मार्गदर्शन नहीं मिल पाता था तो वह सरदार पटेल का रूख करते थे। 1947 में जब राजनैतिक समझौते के बारे में विचार-विमर्श अपने चरम पर था, तब सरोजिनी नायडू ने उन्‍हें ‘‘संकल्‍प शक्ति वाले गतिशील व्‍यक्ति’’ की संज्ञा दी।

उनके शब्‍दों और उनकी कार्य प्रणाली पर सभी को पूरा विश्वास था। जाति, धर्म, आयु से ऊपर उठकर सभी लोग सरदार पटेल का सम्‍मान करते थे।

इस वर्ष सरदार की जयंती और अधिक विशेष है। 130 करोड़ भारतीयों के आशीर्वाद से आज ‘स्‍टैच्‍यू ऑफ यूनिटी’ का उद्घाटन किया जा रहा है। नर्मदा के तट पर स्थित ‘स्‍टैच्‍यू ऑफ यूनिटी’ दुनिया की सबसे ऊंची प्रतिमाओं में से एक है। धरती पुत्र सरदार पटेल हमारा सिर गर्व से ऊंचा करने के साथ हमें दृढ़ता प्रदान करेंगे, हमारा मार्गदर्शन करेंगे और हमें प्रेरणा देते रहेंगे।

मैं उन सभी को बधाई देना चाहता हूं जिन्‍होंने सरदार पटेल की इस विशाल प्रतिमा को हकीकत में बदलने के लिए दिन-रात काम किया। मैं 31 अक्‍टूबर, 2013 के उस दिन को याद करता हूं जब हमने इस महत्‍वाकांक्षी परियोजना की आधारशिला रखी थी। रिकॉर्ड समय में, इतनी बड़ी एक परियोजना तैयार हो गई और प्रत्‍येक भारतीय को इससे गौरवान्वित होना चाहिए। मैं आप सभी से आग्रह करता हूं कि आने वाले समय में ‘स्‍टैच्‍यू ऑफ यूनिटी’ को देखने आएं।

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स्‍टैच्‍यू ऑफ यूनिटी’ दिलों की एकता और हमारी मातृभूमि की भौगोलिक एकजुटता का प्रतीक है। यह याद दिलाता है कि आपस में बंटकर शायद हम डटकर मुकाबला नहीं कर पाएं। एकजुट रहकर, हम दुनिया का सामना कर सकते हैं और विकास तथा गौरव की नई ऊंचाइयों को छू सकते हैं।

सरदार पटेल ने उपनिवेशवाद के इतिहास को ढहाने के लिए अभूतपूर्व गति से काम किया और राष्‍ट्रवाद की भावना के साथ एकता के भूगोल की रचना की। उन्‍होंने भारत को छोटे क्षेत्रों अथवा राज्‍यों में विभाजित होने से बचाया और राष्‍ट्रीय ढांचे में सबसे कमजोर हिस्‍सों को जोड़ा। आज, हम, 130 करोड़ भारतीय नये भारत का निर्माण करने के लिए कंधे के कंधा मिलाकर काम कर रहे हैं जो मजबूत, समृद्ध और समग्र होगा। प्रत्‍येक फैसला यह सुनिश्चित करके किया जा रहा है कि विकास का लाभ भ्रष्‍टाचार अथवा पक्षपात के बिना समाज के सबसे कमजोर वर्ग तक पहुंचे जैसा कि सरदार पटेल चाहते थे।

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How Bapu united India: Today we have a similar opportunity to build the India of Gandhiji’s dreams

Today we mark the beginning of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of our beloved Bapu. He remains a shining beacon of hope for millions of people across the world who seek a life of equality, dignity, inclusion and empowerment. The impact he left on human society has few parallels.

 

Mahatma Gandhi connected India, in letter and spirit, in thought and action. As Sardar Patel rightly said, “India is a land of diversity. If there was one person who brought everyone together, made people rise above differences, to fight colonialism and enhanced India’s stature at the world stage, it was Mahatma Gandhi.” In the 21st century, the thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi remain as essential as they were in his time and offer solutions to several problems the world faces. In a world where terrorism, radicalisation, extremism and mindless hate are dividing nations as well as societies, his clarion calls of peace and ahimsa have the power to unite humanity.

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At a time when inequalities are not uncommon, Bapu’s emphasis on equal and inclusive growth can herald an era of prosperity for the millions on the margins. In an era where climate change and environmental degradation have become central issues of discussion, the world can refer to the thoughts of Gandhiji. More than a century ago, in 1909 he differentiated between human wants and human greed. He urged both restraint and compassion while utilising natural resources and, he himself led by example in doing this. He cleaned his own toilets, ensuring clean surroundings. He also ensured minimal wastage of water and when he was in Ahmedabad, he took great care to ensure that unclean water did not merge with the Sabarmati.

 

 

Sometime back, a crisp, comprehensive and concise document caught my attention. In 1941, Bapu wrote the ‘Constructive Programme: Its meaning and place’, which he subsequently modified in 1945, when there was renewed fervour around the freedom movement. In that document, Bapu has talked about a wide range of topics ranging across rural development, strengthening agriculture, enhancing sanitation, promoting Khadi, empowerment of women, economic equality among other issues.

I would urge my fellow Indians to have a look at Gandhiji’s ‘Constructive Programme’ and make it a guiding light on how we can build the India of Bapu’s dreams. Many topics are absolutely relevant today and the government of India is fulfilling many of the points venerable Bapu raised seven decades ago but remain unfulfilled even today.

One of the most beautiful aspects of Gandhiji’s personality was that he made every Indian feel that he or she is working for India’s freedom. He instilled the spirit of self-belief that a teacher, lawyer, doctor, farmer, labourer, entrepreneur, in whatever they were doing they were contributing to India’s freedom struggle. In the same light, today, let us embrace those aspects we think we can act upon that will fulfil Gandhiji’s vision. It can start with something as simple as ensuring zero waste of food to imbibing values of non-violence and togetherness.

Let us think about how our actions can contribute to a cleaner and greener environment for the future generations. Almost eight decades ago, when the threats of pollution were not as much, Gandhiji took to cycling. Those in Ahmedabad recall him cycling from Gujarat Vidyapith to Sabarmati Ashram. In fact, I read that one of Gandhiji’s first protests in South Africa was against a set of laws that prevented people from cycling. Despite a prosperous legal career, Gandhiji would use the bicycle to travel in Johannesburg. Can we emulate this same spirit today?

The festive season is here and people across India would be shopping for new clothes, gifts, food items and more. While doing so, remember the wise thoughts Gandhiji gave us in the form of his talisman. Let us think about how our actions can light the lamp of prosperity in the lives of our fellow Indians. By buying what they make, be it a khadi product, or a gift item or foodstuffs, we are helping our fellow Indians in pursuit of a better life. We may never have seen them or may not do so for the rest of our lives. However, Bapu would be proud of us that in our actions we are helping fellow Indians.

Over the last four years, 130 crore Indians have paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi in the form of the Swachh Bharat Mission. Completing four years today, it has emerged as a vibrant mass movement with commendable outcomes. Over 85 million households now have access to toilets for the first time. Over 400 million Indians no longer have to defecate in the open. In a short span of four years, sanitation coverage is up from 39% to 95%. Twenty-one states, Union territories and 4.5 lakh villages are now open defecation free.

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An overwhelming majority of Indians today did not have the good fortune of being a part of the freedom struggle. We could not die for the nation then but now, we must live for the nation and do everything possible to build the India our freedom fighters envisioned. Today we have a great opportunity to fulfil Bapu’s dream. We have covered substantial ground and I am confident we will cover a lot more in the times to come.

One of Bapu’s favourite hymns was “vaishnav jan to tene kahiye je, peer parayee jaane re,” which means “a good soul is one who feels the pain of others.” It was this spirit that made him live for others. Today, we, the 1.3 billion Indians are committed to working together to fulfil the dreams Bapu saw for a country for which he gave his life.

Surgical Strikes – September 2016

Officially released statement by DGMO on Surgical Strikes – September 2016

It has been a matter of serious concern that there has been continuing and increasing infiltration by terrorists across Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. This is reflected, amongst others, in the terrorist attacks on 11 and 18 September 16 in Punch and Uri respectively. Almost 20 infiltration attempts have also been foiled by the Army at or close to the Line of Control during this year.

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During these terrorist attacks and infiltration attempts, we have recovered various stores including GPS and items that clearly indicate their origins in Pakistan. Furthermore, captured terrorists hailing from Pakistan or Pakistan Occupied Kashmir have confessed to their training and arming in Pakistan or territory under its control. The matter had been taken up at highest diplomatic levels and through military channels. India has also offered consular access to these apprehended terrorists for Pakistan to verify their confessions. Furthermore, we had proposed that fingerprints and DNA samples of terrorists killed in Punch and Uri could be made available to Pakistan for investigation.

Despite our persistent urging that Pakistan respect its January 2004 commitment for not allowing its soil or territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India, there has been no let up in infiltration and terrorist actions from across the Line of Control. If damage was limited, this was primarily due to the efforts of our soldiers deployed in our multi-tiered counter-infiltration grid that has been effective in neutralizing infiltrating terrorists. The Indian Armed Forces have been extremely vigilant in the face of this continuing threat.

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Based on receiving specific and credible inputs that some terrorist teams had positioned themselves at launch pads along Line of Control to carryout infiltration and conduct terrorist strikes inside Jammu and Kashmir and in various metros in other states, the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes at several of these launch pads to pre-empt infiltration by terrorists. The operations were focussed on ensuring that these terrorists do not succeed in their design to cause destruction and endanger the lives of our citizens.

During these counter terrorist operations significant casualties were caused to terrorists and those providing support to them. The operations aimed at neutralizing terrorists have since ceased. We do not have any plans for further continuation. However, the Indian Armed Forces are fully prepared for any contingency that may arise.

I have been in touch with Pakistan Army DGMO and have informed him of our actions. It is India’s intention to maintain peace and tranquillity in the region. But we cannot allow the terrorists to operate across the Line of Control with impunity and attack citizens of our country at will. In line with Pakistan’s commitment in January 2004 not to allow its soil or territory under its control to be used for attacks against India, we expect the Pakistani army to cooperate with us to erase the menace of terrorism from the region.

WATCH: More visuals of Surgical strike footage of 29/9/2016 from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK)

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Source: http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=151242

In the Wellness of All Things

By Amitabh Kant & Dr. Indu Bhushan

The sight of a family teetering on the brink of hope and despondency, surviving and falling into economic ruin on account of ill health is distressingly common. GoI’s health expenditure at 1.13% of its GDP is the lowest among the emerging developing countries. China’s expenditure is 2.45%, and Thailand’s 2.90% of its GDP.

Out-of-pocket expenses push nearly 66 lakh Indian households into poverty every year. About 24.9% of households in rural areas and 18.2% in urban areas meet medical expenditures through borrowings, and 17.3% of India’s population spend more than 10% of their household budget for accessing health services. The poorest of the poor are the worst impacted.

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Ayushman Bharat demonstrates GoI’s strong resolve to address this issue by ensuring primary healthcare through the establishment of 1,50,000 health and wellness centres, the first of which was launched in Bijapur, Chhattisgarh, in May. Digitally linked to district hospitals, these will provide comprehensive healthcare and will be responsible for providing essential drugs and diagnostic services. They will also have convergence with yoga and Ayurveda.

The second key component of Ayushman Bharat is the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) that will provide. Rs 5 lakh cover to around 50 crore economically weaker citizens and will be launched on September 25. This will be the world’s largest government-sponsored healthcare scheme covering a populationthe size of the US, Canada and Mexico.

 

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The mission will provide inpatient care in an empanelled network of healthcare providers (secondary and tertiary care) for more than 1,300 packages in specialties, ranging from general medical and surgical procedures to cardiovascular and oncological ones. The benefits shall be available to all those entitled and be cashless, paperless, portable, and backed by an IT infrastructure that will provide seamless service delivery at all points of care.

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PMJAY will leverage capacities available in both public and private sector hospitals, while providing standardised high-quality care, with strong fraud protection mechanisms and an efficient, service-driven architecture that will transform India’s healthcare systems in the years to come.

The National Health Agency (NHA) and the State Health Agencies (SHAs) are the keystone for the strategic purchasing of medical services at such a massive scale. NHA will be the instrumentality to expand coverage, benefits and financial protection.

As a substantive purchaser implementing PMJAY, NHA and SHAs will use the tools of pricing and incentives to drive down costs of services in the healthcare sector. The rates that have been fixed for the procedures have undergone a rigorous vetting mechanism in more than 50 cities in the country.

PMJAY will rely heavily on fraud detection and monitoring and building complex, intelligent systems that trigger and raise red flags on suspicious transactions, built upon extensive diagnostic guidelines and self-learning pattern-recognition algorithms.

The aim is to build a world-class intelligent system for fraud mitigation, grievance redressal, monitoring and evaluation, and research that allows the programme to scientifically evolve. Pre-authorisation protocols have been defined for 621fraud-prone and high-cost procedures for ensuring discipline in the provider network.

The states are the key partners in this alliance. The scheme architecture allows the states freedom for innovations and context-specific customisations. Till date, 29 of the 36 states and Union territories are on board. The states have been given flexibility to push for providing greater inpatient department (IPD) care through public institutions, as well as a framework for upgrading their infrastructure. The portability of services across a pan-India network provides beneficiaries in the migrant community to access services without hindrances.

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PMJAY will be a truly disruptive influence over India’s healthcare system. It presents India an opportunity to move towards a mature, data-driven, intelligent and predictive health systems built on top of individualised, secure and access-controlled health records, a verified provider registry and tech-enabled drugs and diagnostics supply chains.

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India, through health and wellness centres, is finally shifting the focus of healthcare provision towards providing primary healthcare to its citizens. The care on prevention and early management of healthcare will reduce the need for complicated specialist care and outof-pocket expenses.

While catering to 50 crore beneficiaries, PMJAY will leverage facilities in both private and public hospitals. This comprehensive healthcare system linking primary, secondary and tertiary care has the potential to transform the health delivery system in India.

Union Minister J P Nadda launches the official logo of Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, in New Delhi on August 27, 2018.

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*Amitabh Kant is CEO, NITI Aayog, and Dr. Indu Bhushan is CEO, Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM) and the National Health Agency (NHA).

Demonetisation and its impact on Tax collection and Formalisation of the Economy – Arun Jaitley

 

The Reserve Bank has twice released its reports stating that the demonetised Notes of `500 and `1000 have been substantially deposited in the Banks.  A widely stated comment has been that just because most of the currency came back into the Banks, the object of Demonetisation has not succeeded.  Was the invalidation of the Non-deposited currency the only object of demonetisation?  Certainly Not.  The larger purpose of demonetisation was to move INDIA from a Tax Non-compliant society to a compliant society.  This necessarily involved the formalisation of the Economy and a blow to the black money.  How has this been achieved?

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  • WHEN cash is deposited in the Banks, the anonymity about the owner of the cash disappears.  The deposited cash is now identified with its owner giving rise to an inquiry, whether the amount deposited is in consonance with the depositor’s income.  Accordingly, post demonetisation about 1.8 million depositors have been identified for this enquiry.  Many of them are being fastened with Tax and Penalties.  Mere deposit of cash in a bank does not lead to a presumption that it is Tax paid Money.

  • In March 2014, the number of Income Tax returns filed was 3.8 crores.  In 2017-18, this figure has grown to 6.86 crores.  In the last two years, when the impact of demonetisation and other steps is analysed, the Income Tax returns have increased by 19% and 25%.  This is a phenomenal increase.

  • The number of New Returns filed post demonetisation increased in the past two years by 85.51 Lakhs and 1.07 crores.

  • For 2018-19, advance Tax in the first quarter has increased for personal Income Tax Assesses by 44.1% and in the Corporate Tax category by 17.4%.

  • The Income Tax collections have increased from the 2013-14 figure of `6.38 Lakh crores to the 2017-18 figure of `10.02 Lakh crores.

  • The growth of Income Tax collections in the Pre-demonetisation two years was 6.6% and 9%.  Post-demonetisation, the collections increased by 15% and 18% in the next two years.  The same trend is visible in the third year.

  • The GST was implemented from 1st July, 2017 i.e. Post demonetisation.  In the very first year, the number of registered assesses has increased by 72.5%.  The original 66.17 Lakh assesses has increased to 114.17 Lakhs.

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This is the positive impact of the Demonetisation.  More formalisation  of the Economy, More Money in the System, Higher Tax Revenue, Higher Expenditure, Higher Growth after the first two quarters.

 

Ayushman Bharat off to a good start

As many as 28 state governments have signed MoUs with the NHA to implement NHPM. Over 8,000 hospitals have offered to join the network of empanelled facilities that would provide inpatient care to the identified beneficiaries, and 1,350 medical packages—covering surgery, medical and daycare treatments—have already been identified.

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Nearly 3,000 years ago, one of ancient India’s great sages Yajnavalkya composed the Shanti Sukta: “Sarve bhavantu sukhinah; Sarve santu niramayah” (May all be happy, may everyone be free of diseases). What is striking is not only the prescience and universality of this invocation, but also the insight that happiness and health in a populace are inextricably intertwined.

Today, as we reflect upon the journey of India as an independent nation over the last seven decades, the achievements on the health front have not been insubstantial. The life expectancy has more than doubled, and infant and maternal mortality rates are a fraction of what prevailed in 1947. However, there can be no denying the fact that a lot of potential in this sector remains unharnessed—and ill-health is one of the leading causes of Indians falling into poverty. The government spends barely 1% of the GDP on health even as we are confronted with a two-front war—containing the rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCD), even as we continue grappling with the control of communicable diseases and reproductive and child health issues. As a result, the citizens’ out-of-pocket (OOP) expenditure on health constitutes 62% of the total expenditure on health, placing India at 182nd position out of 191 countries on this indicator.

In fact, over 55% of this expenditure is on outpatient care, of which drugs constitute the biggest component. Expectedly, this structure of health financing places a disproportionate burden on the poor families and catastrophic health expenses have contributed to an increase in poverty levels in rural and urban areas by 3.6% and 2.9%, respectively.

Mindful of this reality and to plug the existing gaps in our health system, the government announced a new flagship scheme called the Ayushman Bharat in the Union Budget of 2018-19. One component of the scheme—the National Health Protection Mission (NHPM)—was to provide a financial cover of up to `5 lakh per family per annum to enable them increased access to secondary and tertiary healthcare, for the poor and lower middle class families, in a facility of their choice, irrespective of whether the ownership is public or private. As an initial measure, the plan is to cover 10.74 crore families, or about 50 crore individuals (roughly 40% of the total population), at the bottom of the pyramid as identified through a comprehensive Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) database.

The other component is to build a next-generation primary healthcare system, which would be publicly provided at locations close to the community. It sought to expand the reach and broaden the scope of our primary, preventive and promotive care through a network of 1.5 lakh Health & Wellness Centres (HWCs). It envisages population-level screening to detect diseases early and initiate timely treatment—which is especially critical in the context of India’s rising NCD burden. As an added measure, provision of free drug and diagnostics at these HWCs was expected to take care of that part of the OOP expenses borne by our poorest citizens for accessing outpatient care. The first of such HWCs has already been launched in the Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh, by the Prime Minister on April 14, and as we write this, work is going on in hundreds of others in the 117 ‘aspirational districts’ to provide meaningful and comprehensive primary care to our citizens.Image result for ayushman bharat pib

When the Ayushman Bharat was announced, critics argued that the scheme has been insufficiently imagined, that there was a lack of preparation, that it was not backed by adequate budgetary resources, and that the government lacked the techno-managerial wherewithal for its implementation. The Prime Minister, during his Independence Day address, gave a befitting response to the scepticism and to the naysayers by announcing the soft launch of NHPM, christened the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Abhiyan. This clarion call from the ramparts of the Red Fort is a clear indication that the teams at the National Health Agency (NHA) and the ministry of health & family welfare (MoHFW) have been able to successfully surmount the significant challenges in terms of creating an IT backbone, cleaning up the beneficiary database, setting in place the guidelines and procedures, negotiating with state governments, while simultaneously building capacities for its implementation. The fact that all this has been achieved in a relatively short span of just six months is a glowing testimony to the hard work and speedy execution by Indu Bhushan and his team at the NHA.

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In addition, as many as 28 state governments have signed a memorandum of understanding with the NHA to implement NHPM, and are in the final stages of preparation for a formal launch. Over 8,000 hospitals have offered to join the network of empanelled facilities that would provide inpatient care to the identified beneficiaries. To ensure that no one is left out, there is no cap on family size or age. Similarly, there can be no exclusion on account of pre-existing disease conditions, among those who are eligible for benefits from day one of the roll-out of the scheme. As many as 1,350 medical packages—covering surgery, medical and daycare treatments—have been identified so that the coverage includes most of the common medical conditions. The software application driving the scheme is designed in such a way that an individual can avail of the benefits anywhere in the country irrespective of her place of origin, and it is cashless for the beneficiary and the claim settlement is paperless for the hospitals participating in the scheme.

 

The NITI Aayog’s Three-Year Action Agenda highlights the need for creating a wave of new institutions to build a 21st century health system that every citizen of the country would be proud of. Setting up of HWCs and the NHA are steps in the right direction, which were long overdue. The government’s active stewardship in leveraging the potential of the mixed health system is a very welcome development. It is all the more heartening to note the political commitment at the highest levels to transform India’s health system into an affordable, accessible, inclusive and efficient system.

The Ayushman Bharat has the potential to protect millions who are pushed into poverty every year due to catastrophic health expenses. Building a well-functioning health system is a work of decades—it took Germany, for example, 127 years to accomplish universal coverage. Thailand undertook reforms over a period of 30 years prior to announcing its universal health policy in 2002. Now that we have unprecedented political backing for the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Abhiyan, the stage is set for its execution. Needless to say, in a country as large and complex as India, we will be faced with many implementation challenges. It is well worth recounting the Bhagavad Gita dictum of “Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam” (the path to redemption/salvation lies in the skilful execution of the job at hand). Thus, it is imperative we stay the course and pursue these ambitious initiatives with utmost vigour and determination.

4GG8U3jG_400x400.jpgAlok Kumar is Advisor and Vinod Paul is Member (Health), NITI Aayog.

Science City, Kolkata becomes the new insignia of Digital India with its state of the art hi-tech acquisitions

*Sh. Samrat Bandopadhyay

Nestled in the throbbing business arterial route of EM Bypass in Kolkata, the Science City of Kolkata is the largest science center of the Indian subcontinent and one of the finest in the world. Managed by National Council of Science Museums (NCSM), Ministry of Culture, Government of India, the first phase of the centre was thrown open to public in 1997 and the second phase in 2010. The sprawling green campus presenting Science and Technology in a stimulating and engaging manner to visitors of all age groups, including children, is actually built on a previous landfill area of the city. The environment conscious institute today is a place to experience and relive the living history and traditional culture of bygone days. The solid waste management here is also an example for building structures on an eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable basis.

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Science City is the place where visitors throng to cherish and relive the ambience of excitement of dinosaur era in the ‘Evolution Park’ as one walks through the evolutionary phases of life and has a glimpse of those gigantic extinct animals of the past.

The Age of Science and Technology has grown by leaps and bounds. Central Government’s tremendous efforts towards a ‘DIGITAL INDIA’ find a living example in this vibrant learning campus. The digital technology opens a plethora of opportunities for visitors to experience living moments, expositions and immersive images with extraordinary variety.

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The decision of the Culture Ministry to provide a facelift to the existing 2D theatre replacing it with a 3D full dome space theatre system with a particularly high resolution imagery and state-of-art LED dome lighting, sound system along with comfortable seating arrangement, will provide an enthralling and vivid experience that will be etched in visitors’ minds even after leaving the campus of Science City. Scientific phenomena explained through a narrative are set to appeal to the young minds of the country. The erstwhile Space Theatre was first of its kind facility in the country that attracted around 7.2 million footfalls during its operation for two decades. The Ministry of Culture’s plan to fund about 20 cr for the switch from existing 2D celluloid based film projection system to a 3D digital immersive projection system for the theatre will augment a new chapter in its modernization approach and capture the eyeballs of the visitors to a new unprecedented level. The fully built technologically advanced dome will have the scope to display wide range of topics from astronomy, geosciences to other natural scientific phenomena. The Facility which will be ready for visitors by December of 2018 will certainly be a milestone in the field of scientific explorations.

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The renovation of the Science City will be a value add-on to the learning experience for sightseers with a scientific temper and an enduring appreciation for the innovativeness of engineering marvels by architecture professionals and civil engineers of the region. A case in point is the ‘DYNAMOTION’ building architecture, which houses a plethora of interactive exhibits on physical science, along with a unique experience of walking on the floor piano and creating mesmerizing music as one walk past the space.

In the Science Park, people come close to nature with flora and fauna in an environment friendly surrounding and help learn and synergize the basic tenets of science in an all-inclusive manner. The Park’s interactive exhibits are simulative to that learning experience of our age old tradition and interactive kiosks with multimedia facility are an add-on to the learning experience.

Another striking section of Science City is the ‘Digital Panorama on Human Evolution’ which provides a 360 degree view of a narrative in a video format in a huge cylindrical screen. Started in 2016 it is the first of its kind in the country. The presentation hall presents exhibits and mannequins depicting pre-historic human species with varied flora and fauna of those times. There is an awe-inspiring feeling of moving in a space ship as one gazes at the screen unfolding all around. The Science and Technology Heritage of India exhibition gallery houses dioramas exhibiting emerging technologies over the ages with a special focus on mathematics, basic science and scientific development of Metallurgy, Information Technology, Medical Science and town planning of ancient India. The curator of this fascinating exhibition put special emphasis on the fact that the Indian Civilization dated back more than 7000 years while all other civilizations of the world are less than 5000 years old.

The Science City of Kolkata resembles a living architecture of a modern era, typifying a blend of ‘SMART CITY’ with ‘DIGITAL INDIA’ and ethos of ‘MAKE IN INDIA’ built and weaved on the fabric of culture and tradition of the rich and diverse heritage of modern ‘NEW INDIA’!!

*Sh. Samrat Bandopadhyay is Deputy Director (M&C), PIB, Kolkata

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Why I Pushed For The Passing of the Anti-Trafficking Bill 2018

B-A7Z8BM_400x400 Maneka Gandhi Union Minister for Women and Child Development

On 26th July 2018, the Lok Sabha successfully passed the landmark Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018. There was an intensive debate on a wide range of issues around the subject of trafficking took place. I welcomed the debate wholeheartedly since it is representative of the priority we as Members of Parliament have placed on the issue of protection of vulnerable persons, especially the women and children of our country.

Every day, women and children are bought and sold in our villages and cities, as part of what is now the largest organised crime in the world- the trafficking of persons. They are mercilessly exploited for sex work, bonded labour, forced marriage, begging and other severe forms of violence. As per the National Crime Records Bureau, in 2016, a total of 15379 victims were trafficked for exploitative purposes, out of which 10150 were women and 6345 were children. And 63407 children went missing during the year. These numbers will be much higher in reality as many many cases go unreported.

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With eight children going missing every hour, and one woman being trafficked every hour, we are morally and constitutionally bound to act with utmost urgency. For the first time, the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 responds to this urgent need with a comprehensive and structured solution through a robust, responsive and accountable institutional framework of prevention, protection and rehabilitation. The Bill seeks to combat trafficking at all levels through-

  1. A centralized body to oversee issues of inter-state and international trafficking of persons including matters of intelligence, investigation, capacity building and convergence.
  2. A survivor-centric protection mechanism that ensures the rescue of victims from places of exploitation and their immediate relief; while extending the choice of long-term rehabilitation to adults that is not contingent upon the status of prosecution.

iii. A guarantee to the right to statutory rehabilitation in the form of a dedicated rehabilitation fund, protection and rehabilitation homes along with psychological, social, and economic rehabilitation as well as education, skill development and infrastructure for social reintegration.

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Economic deterrence that targets the trafficking as an organised crime by attachment and forfeiture of property and freezing of bank account that are used for the purpose of trafficking. Any funds recovered hereunder, will be transferred to the rehabilitation fund to ultimately benefit survivors.

  1. Aggravated forms of trafficking that are more severe, complex and long-term in nature including trafficking for begging or by administering any chemical substance or hormones on a person for the purpose of early sexual maturity, by causing or exposing the person to a life-threatening illness including acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or human immunodeficiency virus or by causing serious injury resulting in grievous hurt or death of any person, amongst others. Additional offences include online trafficking, the disclosure of identity, abetment and offences by the media. Importantly, the Bill also establishes accountability of officers under the Act by criminalising an omission of duty of their behalf.
  2. It strengthens prosecution of offenders through designated courts, and special public prosecutors for speedy trial while protecting the identity and confidentiality of victims and witnesses through-camera trial, video conferencing and victim and witness protection.

These provisions have been carefully harmonized and synchronized with all existing and linked provisions of law and structures created thereunder. The Bill has been drafted after in-depth study and research and after extensive consultation with a range of stakeholders over a period of three years. We received hundreds of from civil society, representatives of sex workers as well as victims of trafficking, police organizations, state governments, labour unions. We also received valuable guidance from Members of Parliament and all this was incorporated to strengthen to provisions of the Bill.

The Bill was thus formulated with care, after thorough research, consultation and due diligence. I would like to clear the air around some of the concerns that are being expressed, which are primarily arising from the absence of a clear understanding of the provisions of the Bill. Firstly, there is an apprehension that the Bill will criminalise voluntary sex work. This is completely false. On the contrary, the Bill provides safeguards to voluntary sex workers against persecution and prosecution, while giving them the option to approach the Magistrate for long-term institutional, psychological, social and economic support if she wishes to discontinue. I urge those representing the rights of sex workers to recognize the value of this choice in the lives of the people they work so hard to defend.

Secondly, there are concerns that the Bill will raise a conflict with an existing set of legislation further confusing and complicating the delivery of justice. I would like to reiterate here, that the Bill clearly states that it is in addition to and not in derogation of any existing laws for the time being in force. The Bill will tie together various legislations through a single system of institutional framework dedicated to addressing trafficking of persons and related crimes. This will bring accountability and convergence within the overall trafficking response mechanism.

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Thirdly, many valuable suggestions regarding the strengthening of the enforcement of the law have been provided. These suggestions are wholeheartedly welcomed and I will ensure that each of the suggestion will be suitably incorporated in the Rules. Rules are the instruments through which the objectives and provisions of the Act get implemented. We have already started the process of drafting these rules and will again be taking inputs and guidance from stakeholders.

I am sure there will be many more lessons we will learn together as we roll out this law to protect the last woman, child, man and transgender from the most horrific forms of exploitation. And as we have arrived here today, we will continue to push the boundaries of justice to collaboratively protect and empower the most vulnerable persons of our society. But today, a child in sexual exploitation and a woman in slavery are looking up to us and questioning us on what we are doing as a civilized society and a welfare State. We need to take this step together because our children and women cannot wait.

 

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Happy and Healthy Pregnancy through Yoga

Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi  mgandhui

Union Minister for Women and Child Development 

Pregnancy is an odd time for the mother. On the one hand one is filled with joy and anticipation, on the other there are worries about whether the baby will be normal and healthy.  As the mother’s body changes, there are mood swings, fatigue, cramps, difficult breathing.

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Being physically fit and emotionally strong directly affects the baby’s physical, neurological & psychological development. Practicing Prenatal Yoga during pregnancy gives you the ability to stay calm and eases most physical problems during these nine months.

Pregnant-Exercise

Prenatal yoga experts and medical professionals emphasise that prenatal yoga paired with cardiovascular exercises (such as walking) can ease the discomforts of pregnancy and help you prepare for the rigors of labour.

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Pranayama, or the group of several breathing exercises, have been found to have exceptional benefits during pregnancy. It must be incorporated in the daily regime all through the three trimesters as it helps release negative emotions.

Two most useful forms of pranayama or breathing exercises are: Ujjayi, a long, strong, deep breath that helps women redirect their concentration to the present moment and maintain calm; and Nadi Shodhana, (alternate nostril breathing), which helps to balance the body’s energy flows. However, avoid any kind of breath retention or hyperventilation that could limit the baby’s oxygen supply.  The postures and exercises differ for each of the three trimesters of pregnancy.

First Trimester (0 to 13 weeks)

The first trimester brings nausea and fatigue. Severe biological and musculoskeletal alterations take place in the body. Yoga experts advise that one must be extremely cautious while practicing yoga in this trimester as a wrong posture can obstruct the implantation of the fetus and placenta.

The following asanas are ideal for this trimester:

  • Marjariasana(cat stretch): Stretches the neck and shoulders, lessening body stiffness and keeps the spine flexible because the back has to support more body weight as the pregnancy advances.
  • Konasana(standing sideways bending arm): Keeps the spine flexible and helps alleviate constipation, a common symptom of pregnancy.
  • Badhakonasana(butterfly pose): Improves flexibility in the hip and groin region, stretches the thighs and knees, relieving pain, alleviates fatigue and helps facilitate smooth delivery when practiced until late pregnancy.
  • Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep): Reduces tension and anxiety, helps regulate blood pressure and relaxes every cell in the body.

Second Trimester (14 to 28 weeks)

During the second trimester, the volume of blood in the body expands 50-60% to support the fetus and placenta, the blood circulates faster, the rate of metabolism increases and heart rate rises. The body’s sugar gets used up faster and important reserves are used to support the placenta and fetus.

The following asanas are beneficial during this trimester:

  • Vajrasana(diamond pose) –Enhances digestion and can be done directly after meal.It also helps strengthen the pelvic muscles and assist women in labour too.
  • Kati Chakrasana(spinal twist pose) – Relieves physical and mental tension and tones waist, hip and back.
  • Tadasana (mountain pose)– Helps stretch and loosen the entire spine and also helps in developing mental and physical balance.
  • Uthanasana(standing forward fold)– Strengthens muscles of uterus, thighs, back and ankles.

Third Trimester (29 to 40 weeks)

By the third trimester, the body has already undergone drastic physical and biological changes and also the movement of the baby is strong now. The protruding belly and additional weight are likely to challenge one’s balance. Simple balancing postures can make women feel lighter and more aligned. It is advisable to practice yoga with a prenatal teacher at this stage. If you ever feel uncomfortable doing any posture, stop.

Basic balancing postures like Utthita Trikonasana (extended triangle pose), Utthita Parsvakonasana (extended side angle pose), Virabhadrasana (hero pose) and Vrksasana (tree pose) are ideal for building strength in the legs, for proper alignment in the spine and for easing blood circulation.

According to a review of recent research studies, prenatal yoga drastically lowers the chances of pregnancy complications, stress levels and pain, and possibly even the risk of the baby being small for her gestational age.

As we mark the 4th International Day of Yoga, I urge all expecting mothers to join prenatal yoga classes. Not only will you feel better but you will probably make friends with other soon-to–be mothers and your children can become friends!

Cherish this time.

Celebration of International Yoga Day 2018

Glimpses of  4th International Day of Yoga at FRI, Dehradun

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