The Hindu Editorial Summary

Editorial Topic : Is it time for proportional representation?

 GS-2 Mains Exam : Indian Polity 

Revision Notes


Question : Analyze the recent Lok Sabha election results in the context of the First Past the Post (FPTP) system. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this system in representing the true vote share of political parties?


Lok Sabha Election Results and Representation

  • Recent Lok Sabha elections: NDA (293 seats, 43.3% vote share) vs INDIA (234 seats, 41.6% vote share) & Others (15% vote share, 16 seats)
  • Current System: First Past the Post (FPTP)
    • Winner: Candidate with most votes in a constituency
    • Advantages:
      • Simple and feasible for large countries like India
      • Provides stability – ruling party/coalition can win majority in Parliament without majority of total votes
    • Disadvantages:
      • May not accurately reflect vote share – parties can win more/fewer seats than their vote share suggests

Proportional Representation (PR) System

  • Allocates seats based on party’s vote share
  • Most common: Party List PR
    • Voters choose party, not individual candidate
    • Seats awarded proportionally to party’s vote share (often with minimum vote threshold)
  • Could lead to:
    • More representative government
    • Potential instability – no single party/coalition with majority
    • Proliferation of regional/caste/religious/linguistic parties (already an issue with FPTP)
  • Mitigating factors:
    • Minimum vote threshold for seats
  • Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMPR):
    • Combines FPTP (seats from constituencies) with PR (additional seats based on vote share)
    • Offers balance between stability and proportional representation

International Practices

  • Party List PR: Brazil, Argentina (presidential democracies), South Africa, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain (parliamentary democracies)
  • MMPR: Germany, New Zealand

 Way Forward

Law Commission’s 170th Report (1999)

  • Recommended introducing the MMPR system on an experimental basis.
  • Suggested filling 25% of seats through a PR system by increasing the strength of the Lok Sabha.

National vs State/UT Level PR System

  • Original recommendation: Consider the entire nation as one unit for PR based on vote share.
  • Appropriate approach: Implement PR at every State/UT level considering the federal structure.

Delimitation and Population Considerations

  • Delimitation exercise due post-2026 Census.
  • Population growth in the last five decades has been uneven across regions.
  • Solely proportional seat allocation to population may undermine federal principles.
  • Risk of disenchantment in States that lose representation.

MMPR System for Delimitation

  • MMPR system can be considered for incremental seats or at least 25% of total seats from each State/UT.
  • Helps address concerns of southern, northeastern, and smaller northern States.
  • Limits the domination of larger States under the FPTP system.



The Hindu Editorial Summary

Editorial Topic : Low-cost MRI Can a Game Changer for Diagnostics in India?

 GS-2 Mains Exam : Health

Revision Notes

Question : Discuss the impact of high-cost traditional MRI machines on healthcare accessibility in resource-constrained settings like India. How do infrastructure requirements and costs affect their deployment?

MRI: Seeing Inside the Body

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a revolution in medical diagnostics.
  • It utilizes strong magnetic fields (measured in tesla, T) and radio waves to create detailed images of organs, tissues, and bones inside the human body.
  • This non-invasive technology plays a vital role in diagnosing a wide range of conditions, from brain tumors and heart disease to various cancers and musculoskeletal injuries.
  • Traditional MRI machines boast impressive image resolution, but their high cost (₹9-13 crore for a 3T machine) and complex infrastructure requirements (shielded rooms, liquid helium cooling, high power supply) make them inaccessible for many, especially in resource-constrained settings like India.

A Beacon of Hope: The Low-cost MRI

  • Researchers at the University of Hong Kong have ignited hope with the development of a game-changing low-cost MRI scanner.
  • This ingenious machine, costing a mere ₹18.4 lakh, is a fraction of the price of conventional models. Here’s what sets it apart:
  • Low-strength magnets (0.05 T): This eliminates the need for expensive shielded rooms and liquid helium cooling, simplifying operation and reducing costs significantly.
  • Off-the-shelf hardware: By utilizing readily available components, the researchers have made the scanner more affordable and potentially easier to maintain.
  • Standard power supply: No more specialized high-power connections; this machine plugs into a regular wall outlet, increasing its deployment flexibility.

Potential Advantages: A Boon for Patients

The low-cost MRI presents a multitude of potential benefits for patients in India:

  • Enhanced affordability: This technology has the potential to make MRI scans significantly more accessible to a wider population, particularly those in low- and middle-income settings.
  • Emergency applications: Rapid diagnosis becomes more feasible. Stroke patients or accident victims could potentially receive scans near the incident site, leading to faster treatment decisions.
  • Improved safety for patients with implants: The lower magnetic strength reduces the risk of attracting metal objects like oxygen cylinders, wheelchairs, or prosthetics, enhancing patient safety during scans.
  • Reduced image artefacts: Implants or prosthetics can sometimes create distortions in MRI images, potentially hindering diagnosis. The low-cost scanner’s design may lead to fewer such artefacts, improving image clarity.

Challenges and Considerations

While the low-cost MRI presents exciting possibilities, some potential drawbacks require consideration:

  • Image quality: Lower magnetic strength may translate to reduced image resolution compared to high-end machines. This could limit its effectiveness in diagnosing certain conditions requiring high-detail scans.
  • Specialized services: The affordability might come at the expense of readily available expert radiologist interpretation, potentially delaying diagnoses or requiring referrals.
  • Wait times: Increased demand due to affordability might lead to longer wait times for scans.

The Road Ahead

  • The low-cost MRI presents a significant breakthrough in diagnostic accessibility.
  • However, navigating the trade-off between affordability and image quality, along with ensuring access to specialized interpretation services, will be crucial for maximizing its impact on patient care.
  • Continued research and development can potentially address these challenges, paving the way for a future where high-quality MRI scans are accessible to all in India.

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