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Posts Tagged ‘Arvind Kejriwal

Union Minister of Law and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad does not favour linking Aadhaar with voter ID card. He said so in Bengaluru on April 1. He, though, added that it was his personal view.

Personal or official, this view makes little sense to the people at a time when the government is going all out to link Aadhaar with everything conceivable by projecting it as the panacea for all evils afflicting the society. In fact, the voter ID should have been the first to be linked with Aadhaar in order to eliminate the scourge of fake voters which have been vitiating electoral process.

The problem of fake voters has been there from the beginning but not on the large scale witnessed in the recent years. The BJP appears to be the biggest beneficiary of the fake voters. Could the fear of checking fake voters through Aadhaar linkage have made Prasad say that linking Aadhaar with voter ID is not necessary?

Narendra Modi had won from Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency with a margin of over 3.7 lakh votes in 2014. During the revision of electoral rolls towards the end of the year, over six lakh fake voters were discovered in the Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency. It did not help Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal who was a runner-up in Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency. But it made him wiser for the forthcoming Delhi Assembly elections.

Both AAP and Congress had detected bogus entries in voters’ lists for the Delhi Assembly elections. Leaders of the two parties approached the Election Commission but the Election Commission behaved shabbily and refused to take notice of their complaints. The matter was then taken to Delhi High Court which pulled up the Election Commission and asked it what action it had taken on the allegation about the presence of a large number of bogus voters in various Assembly constituencies of the national capital. ‘What is the cause of it? Obviously someone is not doing their job properly’, Justice Vibhu Bakhru said while directing the Chief Election Commissioner  and the Chief Electoral Officer of Delhi to file an affidavit ‘indicating the cause of error.’ The court said that there were ‘discrepancies’ in the electoral rolls as shown by the petitioner, Naresh Kumar. The court also said that the allegation that there were many persons in the city who had numerous voter cards in their names but with different addresses needed to be rectified if they were still existing.

Election Commission snubbed

In response to the complaints of Aam Aadmi Party and Congress that Delhi’s electoral rolls carried names of a large number of bogus voters, Election Commission wrote to the two parties on January 11, 2015 that 1,20,605 ‘duplications’ had been noticed in the electoral rolls (which have been deleted). Election Commission’s response came two days before it was scheduled to file an affidavit in the High Court. That AAP got 67 seats and BJP only three in the 70-seat Delhi assembly is history.

Madhya Pradesh had two Assembly by-elections in February this year. During the campaign, Congress activists detected discrepancies in voters’ lists. Photocopies showing the same voter registered in more than one locality started appearing in social media. As the complaints at local level did not have the desired effect, the party led by Lok Sabha member from Shivpuri Jyotiraditya Scindia approached the Election Commission. A summary re-check of voters’ lists was ordered. A week before the day of polling, the Ashoknagar district Collector’s office sent its report to the Chief Electoral Officer in Bhopal saying that 1800 fake voters had been detected in Mungaoli Assembly constituency (which falls in Ashoknagar district). Of these 1800, as many as 834 were dead, 312 were listed at more than one place, 245 voters were not traceable and 435 had been transferred to different places but had not got their names in Mungaoli constituency deleted. Similar was the case for Kolaras Assembly constituency (in Shivpuri district).

The BJP candidates were defeated in both the constituencies though Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had made it appear like a life and death question for himself by deputing all the party leaders including his cabinet colleagues to campaign there. The BJP campaign did not recognise the words like ethics and morality.

The Election Commission has ordered a full revision of voters’ lists in Madhya Pradesh in view of the Assembly elections due later this year. So far the Collectors have detected nearly seven lakh fake voters – three lakh of them dead and four lakh untraceable. Scrutiny is on. 

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Union Budget for 2018-2019 has promised a National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS), a publicly funded health insurance programme for half a billion citizens of the country. But no sufficient funds have been allocated for what Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said would be the world’s largest government-funded healthcare programme.

In the first phase, 1.5 lakh health and wellness centres are proposed to be set up across the country to provide comprehensive healthcare including free medicines and diagnostic services. But the Budget allocation for this is only Rs 1,200 crore. This works out to about Rs 80,000 per centre. If a centre receives 100 patients on weekdays which will make around 25,000 in a year, the average allocation per patient would be a little over Rs 3 which is much too insufficient even to cover the medicines and diagnostic services, leave aside the overhead expenses on running a centre.

It’s not that the government woke up only recently to the health problems of the people. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had observed in December 2014 — a few months after the present NDA government took office — that a major change in the health care system of India was needed. The country, he said, was at present having a fragmented healthcare system which was not at all enough to cater to the needs of the people, particularly the poorer sections of the society.

Addressing the 10th convocation of King George’s Medical University (KGMU) at Lucknow, he said, ‘if the primary healthcare centres are strengthened, almost 85 per cent of the burden on the major institutes like All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences and King George’s Medical University can be brought down.’ he added that the Government of India was working to bring about this change.

But the Government had, apparently, other priorities more pressing than the poor man’s health. A parliamentary panel report on health and family welfare released last year pointed out that in India there is just one government doctor for every 10,189 people, one government hospital bed for every 2,046 people and one State-run hospital for every 90,343 people. (Needless to say that most of these facilities are concentrated in urban areas.) With a doctor-patient population ratio worse than Vietnam, Algeria and Pakistan, the shortage of doctors is one of the biggest ailments afflicting the country’s health management system, the panel noted.

Meagre budgetary allocation for health services is the major factor affecting healthcare system, particularly in the rural and suburban areas. But more than that it is the mismanagement born out of indifference of the ruling classes that is plaguing the health delivery system. According to the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in his report on reproductive and child health under the National Rural Health Mission for the year ended March 2016, the picture that emerges in several States is one of inability to absorb the funds allocated, shortage of staff at Primary Health Centres (PHCs), Community Health Centres (CHCs) and district hospitals, lack of essential medicines, broken-down equipment and unfilled doctor vacancies. In the case of Uttar Pradesh, the CAG found that about 50 per cent of PHCs it audited did not have a doctor, while 13 States had significant levels of vacancies.

A serious effort in this direction has of late been made by the Delhi Government by opening ‘Mohalla Clinics’ for providing free primary healthcare services to the people in the capital. The effort has been lauded by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. In a letter to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Annan wrote, ‘we understand that this initiative is proving very successful and we commend you on this impressive achievement.’ Annan wrote the letter in his capacity as the Chair of ‘The Elders’, an organisation of independent global leaders founded by anti-apartheid icon and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela. Dr Kenneth E Thorpe, Chair of Department of Health Policy at the Rollins School of Public Health, USA, remarked after visiting ‘Mohalla Clinics’ during one of his visits to India that these Mohalla Clinics ‘are definitely an important addition to India’s health sector.’

Politicians in power and government servants mostly patronise private nursing homes even for minor and routine ailments. Services in government-run hospitals, dispensaries and health centres will improve substantially if the government stops, by enacting a law or by evolving a convention, reimbursement of expenses incurred by these classes on meeting their health needs in private nursing homes. But the health insurance programme enunciated in the budget is only meant to help further private operators because there is nothing the budget to strengthen Government-run hospitals and dispensaries.


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Only one side of picture!

“It cannot be doubted that each of us can only see part of the picture. The doctor sees one, the patient another, the engineer a third, the economist a fourth, the pearl diver a fifth, the alcoholic a sixth, the cable guy a seventh, the sheep farmer an eighth, the Indian beggar a ninth, the pastor a tenth. Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.” —- PAUL KALANITHI

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