Livemint Editorial Analysis 20th December 2017

Livemint Editorial Analysis 20th December 2017 - Daily gk affairs

The Decline Of WTO :-

Context :-

  • Trade ministers from around the world attended the once-in-two-years World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial in Argentina earlier this month
  • They deliberated on several crucial issues that will impact the multilateral system of global trade

Changes since last ministerial :-

  • Britain is entirely free of the European Union (EU) agenda and has a huge interest in building a robust multilateral trading system.
  • The US has stated repeatedly that the WTO multilateral system does not put US interests paramount and is not something that will have its support.

Previous rounds of ministerial meetings have resulted in little progress :-

  • Trade Facilitation Agreement passed at the Bali ministerial in 2013 was on the cards since the Doha Development Agenda in 2001 ministerial.
  • The 2015 ministerial in Nairobi did nothing much to enhance the WTO’s stature.

Reasons behind  limited progress in past two decades :-

  • One-sided nature of the original agreements
  • The North-South divide
  • The aggression of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) lobby on subsidies, agriculture, and food security

The dispute resolution mechanism :-

  • It has been in place since the WTO’s inception in 1995 and has served its purpose well
  • It has been widely hailed as the biggest success of the WTO
  • The WTO dispute settlement mechanism involves consultations, panel proceedings, appellate body proceedings, and implementation and enforcement
  • The panel report, or, in the case of an appeal, the appellate body report and the panel report, is adopted by the DSB
  • After the adoption of the reports, the respondent, if found to be in breach of WTO law, has to implement the recommendations and rulings adopted by the DSB, which comprises all WTO members

USA a reluctant participant :-

  • The US has always been a reluctant participant in the WTO dispute resolution process
  • Its record also reflects patchy compliance with WTO decisions by the US
  • Now, in what could prove to be a body blow to the entire system, the US has refused to participate in the appointment of new judges to the appellate body
  • Members are usually appointed by consensus, and the US is a major participant
  • This new approach of systematically diminishing the appellate body will put an end to the DSB

‘America First’ harmful to global trade :-

  • Scrapping the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, undermining the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement and now slowly dismantling the working parts of the WTO system, will have long-term effects on global trade

Way forward :-

  • Dreamers speak of the original Silk Route that ran from Japan to the Mediterranean Sea and history may repeat itself
  • Global trade is no longer going to have the leadership from the Western world that it did
  • The pendulum of global trade is swinging from the richest nations to the most populous ones
  • China, India, Brazil, and Russia should fill this void.

The Gaps in Mental Health Care Act :-

Context :-

  • The need for legislation which secures the rights of people with mental illness is a necessity for a nation like India.
  • The neglect of mental health is evident from a World Health Organisation report which estimated that 50 million Indians suffered from depression.

Enactment of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 aims :-

  • To protect the rights of the mentally ill and enable citizens to decide on the method of treatment in case of mental illness, lest they are mistreated or neglected.
  • India ratified the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities in October 2007.
  • Current Mental Health Care Bill, 2017 replaced the Mental Health Act, 1987 to bring the law in consonance with the obligations of the UN convention.

How Current Mental Health Care Bill is different from UPA(II) Bill ?

  • The 16th Lok Sabha led by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) reintroduced the Bill in August 2016 with 134 amendments.
  • There are four crucial amendments relating to changes in definitions, and to ensure clarity and strengthen the provisions of the Bill.

What are the issues regarding Current Mental Health Care Bill 2017 ?

There are some key issues that should be considered by the ministry in order to ensure that such legislation creates an ecosystem for proper treatment of the mentally disabled :-

  • First, the Act recognizes mental illness as a clinical issue which can only be treated by medicines and clinical procedures. The current definition of ‘mental health professional’ is restricted to clinical psychiatrists and professionals holding a postgraduate degree in Ayurveda, homoeopathy, Siddha and Unani—all on the clinical side. Although including specialists from non-allopathic fields of medicine is laudable, it is unclear why psychotherapists and psychoanalysts were excluded.
  • Second, the Act proposes an ‘advance medical directive’ through which individuals can dictate how they “wish to be” and “wish not to be treated” and can nominate a member who can make decisions on their behalf should they lose their mental capacity. But it is unable to provide a clear procedure for preparing it.
  • Third, the Act provides for the constitution of an expert committee for periodic review and effective implementation of the Act. Neither the Act nor the rules define the constitution, procedure and terms of reference of the committee. Such an important body should be more transparent and subject to public scrutiny.
Conclusion :- The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 is an important legislation that is indicative of a progressive nation. The ministry must listen to stakeholders who have submitted responses on the draft rules and regulations before finalisation.

The legislation will be effective only if the gaps pointed out by the stakeholders are discussed and solved. Tardy implementation will cause more harm than good.


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