health care

Discrimination against HIV/AIDS patients now punishable as Cabinet approves amendments to Bill

It also made antiretroviral therapy a legal right to such patients, and said a fine can be applied to those who do not comply with the order.

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared amendments to the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014, making antiretroviral treatment the legal right of such patients. The World Health Organisation defines standard antiretroviral therapy as a combination of antiretroviral drugs that suppress the HIV virus and stop the disease from progressing. It recommends this therapy for all HIV-positive people.

Apart from enhancing access to health care services, the Bill prohibits discrimination against HIV-positive people or those living with them, and places obligations on establishments to safeguard the rights of persons living with HIV and create mechanisms for redressing complaints. Any person propagating hatred against HIV positive people through written or spoken word with an intention to expose them to discrimination or physical violence can be punished with imprisonment of three months to two years, and fine of up to Rs one lakh.

The Bill also prohibits making HIV test a pre-requisite for employment or accessing health care or education. It says, "No person shall be compelled to disclose his HIV status except with his informed consent, and if required by a court order".

It makes the health department, and others involved, accountable to the ombudsman appointed under the Act who can pass orders on the basis of complaints. Anyone failing to comply with the order can face a fine of up to Rs 10,000. This is significant in the light of ARV drugs repeatedly being out of stock in several parts of the country.

The Bill was first introduced during the last leg of the Congress-led United Provincial Alliance government in 2014, reported The Indian Express. However, the present government again took up the matter in July this year. Currently, there are around 21 lakh people living with HIV in India.

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Decoding the symbolic threads and badges of one of India’s oldest cavalry units

The untold story of The President’s Bodyguard.

The national emblem of India; an open parachute and crossed lances – this triad of symbols representing the nation, excellence in training and valor respectively are held together by an elite title in the Indian army – The President’s Bodyguard (PBG).

The PBG badge is worn by one of the oldest cavalry units in the India army. In 1773, Governor Warren Hastings, former Governor General of India, handpicked 50 troopers. Before independence, this unit was referred to by many titles including Troops of Horse Guards and Governor General’s Body Guards (GGBG). In 1950, the unit was named The President’s Bodyguard and can be seen embroidered in the curved maroon shoulder titles on their current uniforms.

The President’s Bodyguard’s uniform adorns itself with proud colours and symbols of its 245 year-old-legacy. Dating back to 1980, the ceremonial uniform consists of a bright red long coat with gold girdles and white breeches, a blue and gold ceremonial turban with a distinctive fan and Napoleon Boots with spurs. Each member of the mounted unit carries a special 3-meter-long bamboo cavalry lance, decorated by a red and white pennant. A sheathed cavalry sabre is carried in in the side of the saddle of each trooper.

While common perception is that the PBG mainly have ceremonial duties such as that of being the President’s escort during Republic Day parade, the fact is that the members of the PBG are highly trained. Handpicked by the President’s Secretariat from mainstream armored regiments, the unit assigns a task force regularly for Siachen and UN peace keeping operations. Moreover, the cavalry members are trained combat parachutists – thus decorating the PBG uniform with a scarlet Para Wings badge that signifies that these troopers are a part of the airborne battalion of the India Army.

Since their foundation, the President’s Guard has won many battle honors. In 1811, they won their first battle honor ‘Java’. In 1824, they sailed over Kalla Pani for the first Burmese War and earned the second battle honour ‘Ava’. The battle of Maharajapore in 1843 won them their third battle honor. Consequently, the PBG fought in the main battles of the First Sikh War and earned four battle honours. Post-independence, the PBG served the country in the 1962 Indo-China war and the 1965 Indo-Pak war.

The PBG, one of the senior most regiments of the Indian Army, is a unique unit. While the uniform is befitting of its traditional and ceremonial role, the badges that augment those threads, tell the story of its impressive history and victories.

How have they managed to maintain their customs for more than 2 centuries? A National Geographic exclusive captures the PBG’s untold story. The documentary series showcases the discipline that goes into making the ceremonial protectors of the supreme commander of the Indian Armed Forces.


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This article was produced by Scroll marketing team on behalf of National Geographic and not by the Scroll editorial team.