15th December 2020

Shakti Bill

Recently, the winter session of the Maharashtra State Legislature began with discussion on ‘Shakti Bill’.

  • The bill is supposed to be on the lines of Andhra Pradesh’s Disha Act that was passed in 2019.
  • The committee was set up to study the law and another one led by PWD Officer Ashok Chavan approved the draft prepared by the former committee.
  • The bill suggests adding a third explanation in section 375 (which deals with charges of rape).
    • The explanation talks about the “presumption of consent” and in case two adults are involved the accused can appeal for ‘consent or implied consent’.
  • In cases involving acid attacks, the victims will be given a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for plastic surgery and facial reconstruction and the amount will be collected as fine from the accused.
  • If the accused is charged with rape, gang rape or penetrative assault against children, the court can sentence the death penalty.
  • The bill suggests making the trial process much faster than the already exciting 60 days frame.
    • According to the draft, a probe should be completed within 15 days and trial within 30 days.
  • The bill also suggests making a different registry for sexual offenders named “Women and Children Offenders Registry”.
    • The registry will be linked to the National Registry of Sexual Offenders with details of the convicted person.
  • According to the bill, threatening and intimidating women on social media will be an offence with a maximum punishment of two years and a Rs 1 lakh fine.

Significance of Shakti Bill

  • The bill is designed to help reduce the crimes against women and children.
  • The draft bill seeks to amend some vital sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
  • The bill proposes the death penalty, life sentence and hefty fines as retribution for the offences, apart from setting up special courts for trial.


National Family Health Survey-5

Recently, the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has released the National Family Health Survey-5.

  • The latest data pertains to 17 states including Maharashtra, Bihar, and West Bengal and five Union Territories (including J&K).
  • The NFHS-5 includes some new topics, such as pre-school education, disability, access to a toilet facility, death registration, bathing practices during menstruation, and methods and reasons for abortion.
  • The NFHS-5 provides an indicator, for tracking 30 Sustainable Development Goals that the country aims to achieve by 2030.
  • In the phase 1, the survey provided data on 131 key indicators from 22 states and union territories, with special emphasis on maternal and child health.

Malnutrition in Children

  • The data from the first phase shows that several states have either witnessed meager improvements or sustained reversals on child (under 5 years of age) malnutrition parameters such as child stunting, child wasting, share of children underweight and child mortality rate.
  • Child wasting reflects acute undernutrition and refers to children having low weight for their height.
    • India has always had a high level of child wasting but instead of reducing it, several states such as Telangana, Kerala, Bihar, and Assam as well as the UT of J&K have witnessed an increase.
  • There are several big states such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Telangana, Assam and Kerala, which have seen an increase in the proportion of underweight children.
  • Telangana, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra, and West Bengal saw increased levels of child stunting.

Mortality Rates

  • The Infant Mortality Rate (the number of deaths per 1000 live births for children under the age of 1) and Under 5 Mortality Rate data is mostly stagnant.
    • Under-5 mortality was observed to be 74 deaths per 1,000 births in NFHS-3, and 50 deaths per 1,000 births in NFHS-4, which was a decline of about 33% over 10 years.
    • NFHS-5 and NFHS-4 are about five years apart, but we are seeing very little progress in many states.
  • In Maharashtra, the under-5 mortality rate is basically the same in NFHS-4 and 5, and in Bihar, it reduced by just 3% over five years.
  • The neonatal mortality rate (NMR) (per 1,000 live births) dropped in 15 states and UTs in comparison to NFHS-4 (2015-16), while the infant mortality rate (IMR) and the under-five mortality rate (UMR) fell in 18 states and UTs.

Urban-Rural and Gender Gap in Internet Use

  • There is an urban-rural gap as well as gender divide with respect to the use of Internet in 22 states and union territories.
  • According to the survey, on an average, less than 3 out of 10 women in rural India and 4 out of 10 women in urban India ever used the Internet.
  • In 2019, the NFHS-5 collects data on key indicators on population health, family planning and nutrition, sought details on two specific indicators i.e. Percentage of women and men who have ever used the Internet.
  • Only an average of 42.6 per cent of women ever used the Internet as against an average of 62.16 per cent among the men.
    • In urban India, an average of 56.81 per cent women ever used the Internet compared to an average 73.76 per cent among the men.
    • In rural India, 33.94 per cent women in rural India ever used the Internet as against 55.6 per cent among men.
  • In urban India, 10 states and three union territories reported more than 50 per cent women who had ever used the Internet.
  • The five states reporting the lowest percentage of women, who ever used the Internet in urban India were Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Tripura, Telangana and Gujarat.
    • Only three states and one union territory reported more than 50 per cent women, who had used the Internet i.e. Goa, Kerala, Sikkim, and Ladakh.
  • The five states reporting the lowest percentage of women, who ever used the Internet in rural India, were West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tripura and Bihar.
  • The worst-performing states in urban India for men were Bihar, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Assam.
  • In rural India, only eight states reported more than 50 per cent men, who had ever used the Internet are Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim.

Fertility Rates in India

  • India’s population is stabilising, as the total fertility rate (TFR) has decreased across majority of the states.
    • Of 17 states analysed in the fifth round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS), except for Bihar, Manipur and Meghalaya, all other states have a TFR of 2.1 or less.
  • The proportion of women with unmet need for family planning, who want to stop or delay child-bearing but are not using any method of contraception, has declined in all states, except Meghalaya and Andhra Pradesh.
  • All states have reported an increase in users getting information on side effects of current contraceptive methods except for Manipur.

Health related concerns

  • Anaemia among women remains a major cause of concern because in all the states, anaemia is much higher among women compared to men.
  • The female sterilisation continues to dominate as the modern method of contraception in states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Karnataka, Bihar and Maharashtra.
  • The male engagement in family planning continues to be limited and disappointing as seen by the low uptake of condoms and male sterilisation across states.
  • There has been an increase in child marriages in Tripura, Manipur and Assam, while states like West Bengal and Bihar still have high prevalence of child marriages.

Vaccination Coverage

  • The data showed that in Andhra Pradesh, the percentage of fully vaccinated children (12-23 months) jumped to 73% from 65% in the fourth edition.
  • In West Bengal, institutional births of children increased from 75% to 91% and in Gujarat, the proportion of anaemic children sharply increased from 62.6% to 79.7%.

National Family Health Survey (NFHS)

  • It is a large-scale, multi-round survey conducted in a representative sample of households throughout India.
  • It is a collaborative project of the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai and ORC Macro, Calverton, Maryland, USA and the East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.
  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) has designated IIPS as the nodal agency, responsible for providing coordination and technical guidance for the NFHS.
  • It was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with supplementary support from United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
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