Model code of conduct
The State Election Commission (SEC) has sought an explanation from Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on the complaint that he had violated the model code of conduct with his announcement that COVID-19 vaccination will be provided free of cost to everyone in the State.
A decision will be taken on the matter after studying his explanation.
Model Code of Conduct(MCC):
What is MCC?
These are the guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections mainly with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, election manifestos, processions and general conduct.
This is in keeping with Article 324 of the Constitution, which mandates EC to conduct free and fair elections to the Parliament and State Legislatures.
Aim: To ensure free and fair elections.
When it comes into force?
So far, the Model Code of Conduct came into force immediately on announcement of the election schedule by the commission. The Code remains in force till the end of the electoral process.
The need for such code is in the interest of free and fair elections. However, the code does not have any specific statutory basis. It has only a persuasive effect. It contains what is known as “rules of electoral morality”. But this lack of statutory backing does not prevent the Commission from enforcing it.
The Commission issued the code for the first time in 1971 (5th Election) and revised it from time to time. This set of norms has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code and also binds them to respect and observe it in its letter and spirit.
What it contains?
The salient features of the Model Code of Conduct lay down how political parties, contesting candidates and party(s) in power should conduct themselves during the process of elections i.e. on their general conduct during electioneering, holding meetings and processions, poll day activities and functioning of the party in power etc.
The EC has devised several mechanisms to take note of the violation of the code, which include joint task forces of enforcement agencies and flying squads. The latest is the introduction of the cVIGIL mobile app through which audio-visual evidence of malpractices can be reported.
MP Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS)
Members of all parties have unanimously asked the government to release funds for the projects sanctioned in 2018 and 2019, which were under way before the funds were suspended due the COVID-19 pandemic.
In their representations, the MPs had argued that the funds become more critical during the pandemic.
The Union government had resorted to Disaster Management Act to suspend the member of Parliament local area development (MPLAD) scheme in April this year.
About MPLAD scheme:
Launched in December, 1993.
Seeks to provide a mechanism for the Members of Parliament to recommend works of developmental nature for creation of durable community assets and for provision of basic facilities including community infrastructure, based on locally felt needs.
The MPLADS is a Plan Scheme fully funded by Government of India.
The annual MPLADS fund entitlement per MP constituency is Rs. 5 crore.
MPs are to recommend every year, works costing at least 15 per cent of the MPLADS entitlement for the year for areas inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and 7.5 per cent for areas inhabited by S.T. population.
In order to encourage trusts and societies for the betterment of tribal people, a ceiling of Rs. 75 lakh is stipulated for building assets by trusts and societies subject to conditions prescribed in the scheme guidelines.
Release of Funds:
Funds are released in the form of grants in-aid directly to the district authorities.
The funds released under the scheme are non-lapsable.
The liability of funds not released in a particular year is carried forward to the subsequent years, subject to eligibility.
The MPs have a recommendatory role under the scheme.
The district authority is empowered to examine the eligibility of works, sanction funds and select the implementing agencies, prioritise works, supervise overall execution, and monitor the scheme at the ground level.
At least 10% of the projects under implementation in the district are to be inspected every year by the district authority.
Recommendation of works:
The Lok Sabha Members can recommend works in their respective constituencies.
The elected members of the Rajya Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the state from which they are elected.
Nominated members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha may select works for implementation anywhere in the country.
Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY)
The National Health Agency (NHA) has released its data on “The role of private hospitals”. Key findings:
Patients seeking care at private hospitals tend to be older and a larger share consist of men compared with those seeking medical care at public hospitals.
Private hospitals account for over half of the empanelled hospitals, nearly two-thirds of claim volumes, and three-quarters of claim outlays in the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY).
The top PM-JAY packages by value — including knee replacement, cataracts, haemodialysis and cardiovascular surgeries — are overwhelmingly provided by private hospitals.
Over 72% of private empanelled hospitals are located in just seven States: Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab and Karnataka.
Challenges and Concerns:
Medical audits have also revealed that private hospitals are more likely to indulge in fraud and abuse than public hospitals and more likely to discharge patients early post-surgery to cut costs.
Ensuring the accountability of private hospitals to provide efficient and high-quality care is a pre-eminent challenge for scheme implementation.
There is huge State-wise variation in the share of empanelled private hospitals from less than 25% in most of the northeastern and hill States to 80% in Maharashtra.
Private hospitals have fewer beds than public hospitals and are more likely to be empanelled for surgical packages and super-specialties.
What needs to be done?
Offering a robust public sector alternative in the form of high-performing government hospitals serving as a market anchor will be one element of such an approach.
Key Features of PM-JAY:
The world’s largest health insurance/ assurance scheme is centrally sponsored and is jointly funded by both the central government and the states.
It provides cover of 5 lakhs per family per year, for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization across public and private empaneled hospitals in India.
Coverage: Over 10.74 crore poor and vulnerable entitled families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) are eligible for these benefits.
Provides cashless access to health care services for the beneficiary at the point of service.
No restrictions on family size, age or gender.
All pre–existing conditions are covered from day one.
Covers up to 3 days of pre-hospitalization and 15 days post-hospitalization expenses such as diagnostics and medicines.
Benefits of the scheme are portable across the country.
Services include approximately 1,393 procedures covering all the costs related to treatment, including but not limited to drugs, supplies, diagnostic services, physician’s fees, room charges, surgeon charges, OT and ICU charges etc.
Public hospitals are reimbursed for the healthcare services at par with the private hospitals.