Editorial 1 : A key step by Bihar to promote better social justice


The Bihar government released the data for a caste-based survey, known as the Bihar Jaati Adharit Ganana.

A Caste based census

  • A caste-based census would provide accurate and up-to-date data on the distribution and socio-economic status of the various castes and communities in India.
  • This data is essential for evidence-based policy formulation and implementation.
  • It can help policymakers identify marginalised and disadvantaged groups and design targeted interventions to uplift them.
  •  India has a long history of caste-based discrimination and oppression.
  • A caste-based census can help in recognising and quantifying the extent of historical injustices and disparities that exist in society. Acknowledging these disparities is a critical step towards addressing them.

Accuracy for efficacy

  • With accurate caste-based data, the government can develop more effective and targeted welfare programmes.
  • These programmes can be tailored to the specific needs of different caste groups, ensuring that the benefits of government schemes reach the most vulnerable sections of society.
  • Regular caste-based census data can help track the progress of different caste groups over time.
  • This allows for the evaluation of the effectiveness of policies and programmes aimed at social justice and affirmative action.
  • It will also enable the government to make necessary adjustments to policies when needed.
  • Caste-based data can help ensure fair representation of marginalised communities in government, education, and employment.
  • Reservations and affirmative action policies are often based on caste, and accurate data is crucial to determine the appropriate level of representation required.
  • A caste-based census promotes transparency and accountability in government efforts to promote social justice. It allows citizens to hold the government accountable for the equitable distribution of resources and opportunities.
  • Without accurate data, there is a risk of caste certificates being misused for personal gain or political purposes.
  • A caste-based census can help verify and authenticate the caste status of individuals, reducing the likelihood of fraud and ensuring that benefits are directed to those who genuinely need them.

Addressing the problem

  • Several factors highlight the need for committed government intervention to address this problem.
  • First, historical injustice. Caste discrimination has its roots in centuries of historical oppression and marginalisation. It has resulted in the social, economic, and educational backwardness of certain caste groups.
  • Second, constitutional mandate. The Indian Constitution recognises the existence of caste-based discrimination and inequality and provides for affirmative action measures (such as reservations in education, employment, and politics) to uplift historically disadvantaged groups.
  • Third, human rights. Discrimination based on caste is a violation of human rights. The government has a responsibility to protect the human rights of all its citizens, which includes the right to equality, dignity, and non-discrimination.
  • Fourth, social cohesion. Caste discrimination perpetuates social divisions and hinders social cohesion. It creates a sense of inequality and injustice among marginalised groups and can lead to social unrest.
  • Fifth, economic development. Caste discrimination often leads to economic disparities, with certain caste groups facing limited access to education and employment opportunities.
  • Sixth, education. Discrimination can hinder access to quality education for marginalised caste groups. Government intervention is necessary to ensure that educational opportunities are accessible to all, irrespective of caste, and that discrimination within educational institutions is eliminated.

Subject of employment

  • Discrimination in employment can limit job opportunities for certain caste groups.
  • Dalits and other marginalised caste groups have historically been under-represented in political positions.
  • Government intervention is needed to promote their political participation and representation, which is crucial for addressing their concerns
  • The government can play a significant role in creating awareness about the harms of caste discrimination and promoting social sensitivity and inclusivity through educational programmes and campaigns.
  • Government intervention is crucial to strengthening and enforcing anti-discrimination laws and policies aimed at eradicating caste discrimination. Without a committed government effort, these laws may remain ineffective.


In conclusion, caste discrimination is a deeply ingrained problem in India that requires sustained and committed government intervention to address. Such intervention is not only essential to rectify historical injustices but also to uphold the principles of equality, justice, and human rights for all citizens, regardless of their caste or social background.

Editorial 2 : Ritual to reality: the evolution of hand hygiene post-COVID-19


In the aftermath of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, the unsung hero of public health has been revealed as hand hygiene, seamlessly integrating itself into the tapestry of our daily lives with unparalleled dedication. What was once a routine act of hand washing metamorphosed into a ritualistic defence mechanism, a formidable shield against an invisible adversary.

Simple but powerful tool

  • In the arsenal of preventative measures during the pandemic, handwashing emerged as a simple yet powerful tool in the fight against the highly contagious SARS-CoV-2 virus.
  • As the pandemic unfolded, public health experts and authorities globally emphasised the significance of regular handwashing as a fundamental practice to reduce transmission rates and protect individuals from infection.
  • Initiated in 2008 with the goal of mobilising people worldwide to wash their hands, Global Handwashing Day is celebrated annually on October 15. This year’s theme is ‘Clean hands are within reach.’
  • Hand washing is a simple intervention that doesn’t require extensive resources. It is a crucial practice that can significantly reduce the burden of various diseases, such as flu, diarrheal disorders, and upper respiratory tract infections.
  • In fact, proper handwashing can potentially halve child mortality, especially in low and middle-income countries.
  • In many developing countries, diarrhoeal disorders remain a significant burden. Improving hand hygiene in communities could reduce such disorders by at least 50%.

Activating schools

  • To ensure widespread public awareness, activating schools to engage in such projects is crucial. This involves not only incorporating these initiatives into the curriculum but also promoting them as integral to overall good health practices.
  • A 2019 World Health Organization (WHO) report disclosed alarming statistics: nearly 384,000 deaths due to diarrhoea and 20 million Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) were linked to inadequate hand hygiene practices.
  • This issue was particularly pronounced in Africa and South-East Asia.In October 2022, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) conducted a comprehensive study in India focusing on the bottleneck analysis of hand hygiene programming.
  • One significant revelation from the study was the absence of budgeted activities within the Departments of Women and Child Development, Health and Family Welfare, and Education dedicated to promoting hand hygiene.

Way forward

  • In order to ensure a consistent and effective messaging strategy on the importance of handwashing, the government needs to establish a cohesive communication framework.
  • This should involve a structured approach, akin to a pyramid, connecting ASHA workers at the grassroots level to tertiary care hospitals.
  • Drawing inspiration from successful past campaigns like ‘Hum Do Hamare Do’ for the 2-child policy and door-to-door polio immunisation drives, the government should prioritise handwashing as a top-three agenda item.
  • The government must direct its attention toward developing public facilities for defecation and urination, ensuring not only their availability but also maintaining high standards of hygiene.
  • Furthermore, integrating hand hygiene into the school curriculum is pivotal. By instilling these practices at a young age, we can establish lifelong habits.


However, the effectiveness of such measures depends on the presence of adequate facilities and sanitation within government educational institutions. It is imperative that the government not only formulates educational programs but also invests in the necessary infrastructure to support these initiatives.