About Kala Azar

  • Kala-azar is a slow progressing indigenous disease caused by a protozoan parasite of genus Leishmania.
  • In India Leishmania donovani is the only parasite causing this disease.
  • The Kala-azar is endemic to the Indian subcontinent in 119 districts in four countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal).
  • This disease is the second-largest parasitic killer in the world. Elimination is defined as reducing the annual incidence of Kala Azar (KA) to less than 1 case per 10,000 people at the sub-district level.
  • It is a neglected tropical disease affecting almost 100 countries.
  • Neglected tropical diseases are a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries.
There are three types of leishmaniasis
  • Visceral leishmaniasis, which affects multiple organs and is the most serious form of the disease.
  • Cutaneous leishmaniasis, which causes skin sores and is the most common form.
  • Mucocutaneous leishmaniasis, which causes skin and mucosal lesions.

The Visceral leishmaniasis, which is commonly known as Kala-azar in India, is fatal in over 95% of the cases, if left untreated.

Symptoms of Kala azar
  • It is associated with fever, loss of appetite (anorexia), fatigue, enlargement of the liver, spleen and nodes and suppression of the bone marrow.
  • It also increases the risk of other secondary infections.
Diagnosing Kala azar
  • The first oral drug found to be effective for treating kala-azar is miltefosine.
  • The most common method of diagnosing kala azar is by dipstick testing. However, this method is highly problematic.

History of India’s Poverty Levels

What is the issue?

There have been debates over whether the poverty has gone up during the recent years and the answer depends on whether one looks at the overall incidence of poverty in percentage terms or the absolute number of poor.

What is poverty?

  • According to the Suresh Tendulkar Report 2009, the concept of poverty is associated with socially perceived deprivation with respect to basic human needs.
  • Poverty is a “relative” concept and it is essentially about how you are relative to those in your surrounding.
  • Abject poverty or Absolute poverty refers to a state where a person is unable to meet the most basic needs such as eating the minimum amount of food to stay alive.

What is a poverty line?

  • Poverty levels refer to some level of income or expenditure below which one can reasonably argue that someone is poorer than the rest of the society.
  • It is a level of income or consumption expenditure that divides the population between the poor and non-poor.
  • The poverty line suggested by the Tendulkar Committee was Rs 29 per day per person in urban areas and Rs 22 per day per person in rural areas.
  • The purpose behind choosing a poverty line is two-fold.
    1. To accurately design policies for the poor
    2. To assess the success or failure of government policies over time

What has happened in India’s fight against poverty?

  • Headcount ratio of poverty– It is the percentage of  population that was designated to be below the poverty line.
  • India made rapid strides since 1973 and the incidence of poverty fell quite sharply from 55% in 1973 to under 28% in 2004.
  • The Tendulkar Committee recognised that in reality education and healthcare were not being met by the government.
  • This raised the poverty line and essentially told us that India was poorer than what it previously believed.
  • Absolute number of poor – The absolute numbers remained at the same level until the start of economic reforms in the early 1990s.
  • Between 2004 and 2011 when close to 140 million people were brought out of poverty in just 7 years.

What has happened to poverty levels since 2011-12?

  • Consumer Expenditure Survey (CSE) – Poverty levels are updated using the CSE, which is conducted by the National Statistical Office (NSO) once in every five years.
  • The last survey that was conducted in 2017-18 showed that for the first time in four decades consumer expenditure in India had fallen.
  • This might indicate that poverty levels as well as the absolute number of poor had risen between 2011-12 and 2017-18.
  • However, the government claimed that the survey suffered from “data quality” issues.
  • Santosh Mehrotra  and Jajati Keshari Paridas’ study – The two academics  have attempted to ascertain the impact on poverty between 2011-12 and 2019-20 by looking at the consumption related questions in NSO’s Periodic Labour Force Survey.
  • They cited that even though the incidence of poverty has come down marginally, India has witnessed an increase in the absolute number of poor in the country.
  • As against pulling 140 million out of poverty between 2004 and 2011, India has seen more than 76 million fall back below the poverty line between 2012 and 2020.
  • Reasons why poverty has gone up
    1. India’s GDP growth rate has faltered post demonetization
    2. Unprecedented rise in joblessness where 2017-18 period had touched a 45-year high unemployment
    3. Fall or stagnation of real wages even before the COVID pandemic
  • The government’s  focus should be on creating more jobs, especially in labour-intensive sectors, such as textiles and food processing etc. as India has lost half of the jobs in its manufacturing sector alone.



The Cabinet Committee on Parliament Affairs (CCPA) has recommended that the

Winter session of Parliament be held from November 29 to December 23.

  • Last year, the winter session could not be held due to the onslaught of the pandemic, which had witnessed the curtailment of the Budget and the Monsoon sessions.

What the Constitution says on Parliamentary Sessions?

  • Article 85 requires that there should not be a gap of more than six months between two sessions of Parliament.
  • Please note, the Constitution does not specify when or for how many days Parliament should meet.
  • The maximum gap between two sessions of Parliament cannot be more than six months. That means the Parliament should meet at least twice a year.
  • A ‘session’ of Parliament is the period between the first sitting of a House and its prorogation.

Who shall convene a session?

  • In practice, the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, comprising senior ministers, decides on the dates for parliament’s sitting and it is then conveyed to the president.
  • So, the executive, headed by the prime minister, which steers the business to be taken up by parliament will have the power to advise the president to summon the legislature.

Why is a Parliamentary Session important?

  1. Law-making is dependent on when Parliament meets.
  2. Also, a thorough scrutiny of the government’s functioning and deliberation on national issues can only take place when the two Houses are in session.
  3. Predictability in the functioning of Parliament is key to a well-functioning democracy.



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