News Analysis 09 Sept, 2022

HEALTH ENVIRONMENT DEVELOPMENT
09 Sep, 2022

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

1. Tribal Population and Health
2. The Role of CSR in funding NGOs.
3. Green hydrogen: Fuel of the future?

1. Tribal Population and Health

 

Theme : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

GS - 2

 

                                         TABLE OF CONTENT 

  1. Context

  2. Health Issues among Tribals

  3. Causes of Low Health Profile

  4. Moving Forward

 

Context :
Relative geographical isolation, lack of modern healthcare facilities and multiple other factors have taken a toll on tribal health profile, making it one of the worst social groups in terms of health indicators.

 

 

Health Issues among Tribals :

  • Tribes of India: Tribes of India account for 8.6% of the total population. The tribal population of the country majorly resides in geographically-isolated hilly and forest areas. In fact, 60% of the forest cover in the country is inhabited by the tribal people. At the same time, tribal habitations are dispersed over large areas, resulting in a low density of population.

  • Fertility Rate: Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of Scheduled Tribes is 3.2%, which is well above the replacement rate. However, a few exceptions are seen in the form of negative population growth rate, which has been seen in Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) inhabiting Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

  • Life expectancy: Life expectancy is defined as the average number of years a person is expected to live. The life expectancy of Scheduled Tribes has generally been the lowest among all social groups in the country. According to the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs, as compared to the life expectancy of 67 years for the rest of India, the tribal population has a life expectancy of hardly 63.9 years.

  • Reasons for Lesser Life Expectancy: Some experts attribute this to genetic diseases like Sickle cell anemia and Thalassemia, which are prevalent among tribal populations. It is to be noted that the life expectancy of tribal women is more than tribal men.

  • Modern diseases: Due to land alienation, displacement, prevalence of poverty and the resultant indebtedness, tribal women are forced into prostitution. This has led to an increasing caseload of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) including AIDS.

  • Non communicable Diseases like Hypertension: One out of every four tribal adults suffers from hypertension. As per the experts, the cases of hypertension have increased significantly with the increasing consumption of tobacco and alcohol, and prevalence of a sedentary lifestyle among tribals. 

  • Drug addiction and Mental illness: Globally, tribals are known to be easy prey to addictive substances like drugs. Further, increasing instances of land alienation and displacement among tribal people have exposed them to several existential threats and resultant mental stress.

  • Communicable diseases: As stated above, the tribal communities constitute only about 8.6% of the national population. However, they account for about 30% of all cases of malaria and almost 50% of the mortality associated with malaria. Similarly, the cases of pulmonary Tuberculosis in tribal communities is significantly higher than the rest of the country, viz. 703 in tribal population as compared to 256 per 100,000 in the rest of India.

  • Nutritional diseases: As per the 5th National Family Health Survey conducted during 2019-21, there is a high prevalence of cases of malnutrition, including stunting, underweight and wasting among tribal children. In fact, only 30% of children and 25% of pregnant and lactating women consumed an adequate diet in terms of protein, energy and calories, as per the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau (under the National Institute of Nutrition).

 

Causes of Low Health Profile :

  • Geographical isolation: The tribal areas are located in remote geographical areas. Difficult natural conditions, arising due to difficult geographical terrain and large distance from mainstream areas lead to accidents, snake and animal bites, and violence in conflict situations. The geographical isolation also leads to low level of social-economic determinants, covering aspects like education, income, housing, connectivity, water and sanitation, poor quality and inappropriate health care services etc.

  • Inaccessibility of Health Services: Remoteness of habitations and dispersed population also makes it difficult for the health services to reach in time. This is one of the prime causes of uneven access to healthcare services for the Tribals.

  • Unavailability of Food items: Long term changes can be seen in the agricultural practices of tribals. For e.g., due to changing climate and market trends, tribals prefer hybrid varieties of rice and pulses to nutritional native foods. Similarly, consumption of meat has declined in the tribal populations, leading to the deficiency of adequate proteins in the diet.

  • Disruption of traditional farming: Due to forest regulations and a ban on shifting agriculture, the tribals are dependent on PDS and market system for their food. Similarly, they have adopted modern farming practices, which include the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Therefore, their dietary preferences have changed due to contact with non-tribals.

  • Change in Dietary Preferences: At the same time, the constituents of diet have changed from traditionally healthy options like home-grown pearl millets, sorghum, herbs, fruits and vegetables to modern food commodities like wheat, rice, pulses and seasonal vegetables.

  • Lack of Physical Activity: As stated above, tribal populations have adopted some of the ways of non-tribal people. It includes buying grains and groceries of daily use from the market, instead of preparing them at home. This has led to lack of physical activity among the Tribals, affecting their fitness levels.

  • Prevalence of Poverty: It is well documented that the tribal groups constitute one of the poorest social groups in the country. This makes many of them dependent on Public Distribution System (PDS) for food grains. The issue with this dependency is that it disrupts the traditional food preference of Tribals in favor of wheat and rice, leading to health-related deficiencies.

  • Endogamy and inbreeding: Tribal populations are majorly confined to a small geographical region. Since they have been living for generations in a closed knit community, there is a high prevalence of inbreeding and endogamy. This leads to a large number of genetic disorders like Sickle cell anemia in the tribals.

  • Belief in Supernatural powers for treatment: The tribals have their own system of beliefs. They distrust outsiders and are dependent on the traditional systems for health treatment. At the same time, professionals from outside are unwilling to serve in tribal areas, leading to a shortage of manpower and health care professionals in the tribal areas.

  • Lack of Financial resources: According to experts, there is a lack of adequate allocation of financial resources for tribal health needs in most of the states. It is further complicated by a lack of transparent accounting of the actual expenditure and the lack of availability of data, monitoring and evaluation of the government schemes.

 

Moving Forward :

  • Improvement in Indicators: As per the Researchers of Harvard University, the indicators of life expectancy for Tribals in India have shown an improvement over time. For e.g., life expectancy of ST women at birth was 57 years in 1997-2000, which rose to 68 years in 2013-16. During the same period, life expectancy for ST males increased from 54.5 years to 62.4 years.

  • Gains in Child Health: Similarly, the indicators of child health have shown a marginal improvement from 58% (in 1998-99) to 56% (in 2007-08) for stunting, from 23% to 22% for wasting and 57% to 52%in case of underweight children in the age group of 1-5 years. The need of the hour is to extend the gains to other Health indicators like Nutrition and Child health.

  • Access to Modern Healthcare: There is a need for further expansion of the modern healthcare system in tribal areas. This includes Mobile clinics and telemedicine facilities for remote tribal areas. At the same time, preventive approaches like immunization and regular health camps should be conducted in such areas for better access to healthcare services.

  • Capacity Building: There is a need to train the healthcare functionaries so that they consider the social and cultural background of tribes and act accordingly in times of need. Building trust with the tribals will go a long way in securing their cooperation in multiple areas including healthcare. Similarly, local men providing healthcare facilities to tribes (like Vaidyas) need to be trained in advanced diagnostic techniques and modern medicine.

  • Collective approach: Due to their wide experience, Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have established a relationship based on trust with tribals. The government needs to capitalize on this relationship and NGOs, Government organization and tribal leaders need to work in coherence in order to improve the health profile in tribal areas.


     

2. The Role of CSR in funding NGOs.

 

Theme : Development process and the development industry-NGOs, SHGs and various other groups and associations

 

GS- 2

 

                                      TABLE OF CONTENT

  1. Context

  2. What is CSR

  3. CSR in NGOs

  4. Role of CSR Funding

  5. Limitation of CSR Funders

  6. How to Improve?

 

Context :
The article discusses linkage between NGOs programme expenses with the corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives in India.

 

 

What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?

  • Corporate Social Responsibility is a management concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and interactions with their stakeholders.

  • CSR is generally understood as being the way through which a company achieves a balance of economic, environmental and social imperatives.

  • All these are done by simultaneously addressing the expectations of shareholders and stakeholders.

  • CSR is governed by clause 135 of the Companies Act, 2013.

  • India is the first country in the world to mandate CSR spending along with a framework to identify potential CSR activities.

  • Provisions within the Act: Applicable to companies with an annual turnover of 1,000 crores and more, or a net worth of Rs. 500 crores and more, or a net profit of Rs. 5 crores and more.

     

 CSR in Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs)?

  • It is the funding and grants process under which NGOs can get financial and other support from the corporate sector.

  • Under the Companies Act, 2013 it is mandatory to provide a contribution of 2% of the average net profits of companies.

  • According to the Act, the CSR provision is applicable for a company having a net worth of rupees 500 crores or more, or a turnover of rupees 1000 crores or a net profit of 5 crore rupees during any financial year.

  • The funds provided under CSR are for social developmental issues and make a positive impact on the living standards of the economically poor and disadvantaged people of society.

 

Role of CSR Funding 

  • CSR funders mostly contribute little or no money to organizational development.These practices are partly a consequence of CSR funders’ focus on regulatory compliance — amendments to the CSR law in 2021 include substantial financial penalties for non-compliance. 

  • Not every company is aware of all the facets of the CSR rules they are complying with. . 

  • Many CSRs make errors on safety with the unintended consequence of leaving an NGO with unpaid bills or worse still, drawing on its scarce core funding from other donors to pay for these essential costs.

 

Limitation of CSR funders :

  • Act compliant: The focus has been on regulatory compliance by CSR funders owing to amendments to the CSR law in 2021 which included substantial financial penalties for non-compliance.

  • Inexperienced board: Roughly 90% of the CSR funders are relatively small, unlisted companies who generally leave decision-making and action plans to company boards, which may have little to no experience working with NGOs or on social impact.

    • Hence, their priorities tend to sway towards risk avoidance, compliance, and cost minimisation.

    • Also, companies that spend less than ?50 lakh annually on CSR are not required by law to have a CSR committee.

  • Lack of professionals:Several larger companies have added CSR to the responsibilities of their HR or administration or communications head, rather than hiring professional leads who are experienced in the social sector.

  • Lack of awareness: Not every company is aware of all the facets of the CSR rules they are complying with. For instance, the 5% cap on administrative overhead costs is applicable only to a business’ internal CSR operation cost, not to the grantee’s administrative costs, as is widely perceived.

 

How to Improve ?

  • Pooling agency: The companies can pool their resources with other mission-aligned CSR or social sector stakeholders, increasing their collective impact potential.

  • Tapping professionals: Companies can also tap into professionals with experience working with NGOs.

  • Volunteer financial analysis services: NGOs don’t have clear financial reporting standards and many lack the internal capabilities to undertake a true-cost analysis.

  • Learn from peer organizations: CSR funders could also learn from peers who view organizational development and indirect costs differently.


     

3. Green hydrogen: Fuel of the future?

 

Theme : Environmental Pollution and Degradation

 

GS - 3

 

                   TABLE OF CONTENT

  1. Context

  2. What is Green Hydrogen ?

  3. Advantages of Green Hydrogen

  4. Disadvantages of Green Hydrogen

 

Context : 
India will emerge as the leader of green hydrogen.
 

What is Green Hydrogen ?

  • Green Hydrogen is the clean hydrogen generated by using renewable energy such as solar and wind energy instead of fossil fuels. The electricity produced through solar/wind energy is used to undertake electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen. The carbon footprint of green hydrogen is negligible compared to other methods of production.

  • The Green Hydrogen Policy defines Green Hydrogen/Ammonia as hydrogen/ammonia ‘produced by way of electrolysis of water using renewable energy’ including banked renewable energy and ‘hydrogen and ammonia produced from biomass’.

  • Other types of Hydrogen: Hydrogen can be ‘grey’ and ‘blue’ too. 

    • Grey hydrogen is generated through fossil fuels such as coal and gas and currently accounts for 95% of the total production in South Asia. 

    • Blue hydrogen, too, is produced using electricity generated by burning fossil fuels but with technologies to prevent the carbon released in the process from entering the atmosphere.

 

 

Advantages of Green Hydrogen as a fuel :

  • Stored for a long period: The intermittent nature of renewable energy, especially wind, leads to grid instability. Green hydrogen can be stored for long periods of time. The stored hydrogen can be used to produce electricity using fuel cells. 

  • Grid stability: In a fuel cell, a device that converts the energy of a chemical into electricity, hydrogen gas reacts with oxygen to produce electricity and water vapour. Hydrogen, thus, can act as an energy storage device and contribute to grid stability. 

  • Monetary benefits: Experts say the oxygen, produced as a by-product (8 kg of oxygen is produced per 1 kg of hydrogen), can also be monetised by using it for industrial and medical applications or for enriching the environment. 

  • Flexible carrier: Hydrogen is a flexible energy carrier and can be used for many energy applications like the integration of renewables and transportation. 

  • Fewer emissions: It is produced using RE and electrolysis to split water and is distinct from grey hydrogen, which is produced from methane and releases greenhouse gases. 

  • The byproduct is also environmentally friendly: Energy can be extracted from hydrogen through combustion or through fuel cells, which emit only water as a by-product.

  • Global dominance increasing: Several countries in Europe and North America are experimenting with mixing green hydrogen with PNG. For instance, in the UK, power utilities are blending hydrogen into pipelines to fuel power plants, industrial applications and to serve homes. The mixing is around 15-20% in some networks. Besides, there are various pilot projects on hydrogen blending with PNG being tested in countries like the Netherlands, Germany, France, Australia, South Korea and Japan.

 

Disadvantages :

  • Increased leakage risks: According to a study by the US Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in 2013, “How it (hydrogen) affects the pipelines it travels in and appliances that use it. On the pipeline front, hydrogen embrittlement can weaken metal or polyethylene pipes and increase leakage risks, particularly in high-pressure pipes”.

  • Brittle: Hydrogen embrittlement is a situation when the metal (pipeline) becomes brittle due to the diffusion of hydrogen into the material. The extent of embrittlement depends on the amount of hydrogen and the material’s microstructure.