National Digital Health Mission

Indian Economy & Socio-Economic Development Notes: September 17, 2020

Neglect Of Service Sector

  • The service sector has been a key driver of both the global and Indian economy over the last three decades.
  • The economic reforms since the early Nineties unleashed the potential of the services sector by utilising available skilled manpower due to state-supported higher education.
  • The share of manufacturing in India’s GDP has remained stagnant around 16 per cent for nearly three decades and India is nowhere near the 2022 target of 25 per cent.
  • As a result, India’s growth story has been driven by services, which has a 55 per cent share in the economy.
  • Services exports have outperformed goods exports in the recent years.
  • The Government has launched Rs 20.9 lakh crore stimulus package to pull the economy out from the ravages of the pandemic. The package had a strong focus on the MSME sector, employee provident fund, power distribution companies and taxation, among other affected areas.
  • The package has overlooked the plight of the services sector.
  • The sector finds little mention or attention in the government’s Atmanirbhar Reform Package.
  • The sector’s significance in the economy continues to grow with its share amounting to two-thirds of total FDI inflows into India and about 38 per cent of total exports.
  • As the post-pandemic world is taking shape, the sector is struggling hard to keep its head above water.
  • The tourism industry, which contributed nearly 10 per cent of GDP, is now witnessing a large-scale reduction in jobs.
  • The number of potential job losses in the sector gives an even harder jolt to an already dwindling economy.
  • From tourism, aviation, shipping, space to call centres and delivery services, the standstill in activities is bound to have a knock-out effect on employment, production and the economy as a whole.
  • Unless the government focuses on the service sector in the forthcoming Foreign Trade Policy (FTP), the sector will take a long time to revive.

Source: Service sector, driver of India’s growth, has been left out of Centre’s relief package (Indian Express, August 27)

Creating Subcategories Within the SC-ST Categories

  • A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court recently ruled that state governments can sub classify Scheduled Castes and Tribes to provide preferential treatment to the more deprived among them.
  • Sub-categorisation is expected to serve the real purpose of reservation.
  • The apex court’s latest observation is against its own ruling of 2004. The five-judge bench in 2004 had ruled against states creating subcategories within the SC-ST categories.
  • The final word has not been said since the case has now been referred to a seven-judge Constitution bench of the apex court.
  • There is merit in the Supreme Court’s reading that “reservation creates inequalities within the reserved castes itself”.
  • Its support for sub-classification in order for the government to adopt “a distributive justice method so that State largesse does not concentrate in few hands and equal justice to all is provided” is in consonance with the principle and spirit of reservation spelt out in the Constitution.
  • Evidence suggests that a few castes have been cornering most of the benefits extended by reservation to SCs.
  • Some groups have historically had a relative advantage of access to material resources, including land, cultural capital, and education, over other groups in the Scheduled Castes.
  • With reservation treating the SCs as a homogenous community, these social and economic inequalities within have widened.
  • The relatively dominant sections have gained at the expense of the weaker groups.
  • Many state governments have introduced subcategories within the SC reservation in a bid to rectify the situation.
  • In the absence of state intervention, the dominance of certain castes may continue at the expense of more depressed communities and diminish the emancipatory potential of reservation.
  • But state intervention must be carefully thought through and protected from political-electoral exigencies.

Source: A case for equality (Indian Express, August 29)

National Digital Health Mission (NDHM)

  • The launch of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) comes at a time when the country is reeling under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The mission will revolutionise the efforts of the government in enhancing effective health service delivery.
  • The mission is based on the principles of health for all, inclusivity, accessibility, affordability, education, empowerment, wellness, portability, privacy and security by design.
  • With its key building blocks or applications, HealthID, DigiDoctor, Health Facility Registry, Personal Health Records, Telemedicine, and e-Pharmacy, the mission will change India’s healthcare delivery landscape.
  • NDHM is also a purposeful step towards the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal of Universal Health Coverage.
  • Digital interventions significantly enhance the outcomes of every health service delivery programme.
  • Nowhere is this better demonstrated than the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana scheme, through which 1.2 crore cashless secondary and tertiary care treatments have been provided using an indigenously developed state-of-the-art IT platform.

Source: Citizen’s interest is at core of NDHM’s design. It will radically change India’s health delivery landscape (Source: Indian Express, August 29)

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Related Readings

Implementing National Digital Mission: Opportunities & Challenges

Health System for a New India: Building Blocks