TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related B. GS2 Related POLITY 1. In view of new media, EC panel to suggest changes to model code 2. In a first, Collegium recommends woman advocate for direct appointment as SC judge GOVERNANCE 1. Functioning of RTE in India 2. Security of Aadhaar INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS AND BILATERAL RELATIONS 1. Netanyahu’s visit to give a leg-up to India-Israel ties 1. US sends clear signal to India: At some point, let us post officers at each other’s combatant commands C. GS3 Related ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND ECOLOGY 1. Domestic biomass burning deadliest source of air pollution: Study D. GS4 Related E. Prelims Fact F. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
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B. GS2 Related
- The Election Commission (EC) has set up a 14-member committee to suggest changes to Section 126 of the Representation of the People (RP) Act
- Section 126: This provision prohibits poll campaign in the last 48 hours leading to voting
- Due to the multifold expansion of digital and electronic media, the extant Model Code of Conduct, Section 126 of the RP Act, 1951, and other related provisions require revisiting to cater to the requirement and challenges of the present and emerging situations
- Study the impact of new media and social media during the “silence period”
- It would study its implication in view of Section 126 and suggest changes to the model code of conduct (MCC) accordingly
- It has also been tasked to examine the difficulties faced in regulating media platforms during the prohibitory 48 hours in a multi-phase election
- Senior advocate Indu Malhotra has been appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court by the Supreme Court Collegium.
- This is the first time in history that a woman lawyer has been recommended for direct elevation from the Bar to a Supreme Court judgeship.
- If appointed, Ms. Malhotra would be only the seventh woman judge in the Supreme Court’s 68-year-old history.
- There is only one woman judge at present in the Supreme Court which currently has a strength of 25 judges.
- Justice M. Fathima Beevi was the first woman Supreme Court judge, appointed 39 years after the apex court was established in 1950.
- The second woman judge was Justice Sujata V. Manohar, who was appointed in 1994 for a five-year tenure in the Supreme Court.
- The other five women judges are Justices Ruma Pal, Gyan Sudha Misra, Ranjana Prakash Desai and R. Banumathi.
Origin of RTE in India
- Free and compulsory education of children in the 6 to 14 age group in India became a fundamental right when, in 2002, Article 21-A was inserted in the 86th Amendment to the Constitution.
- This right was to be governed by law, as the state may determine, and the enforcing legislation for this came eight years later, as the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2010, or the RTE Act.
Is RTE successful?
- Since its enactment, the RTE Act has been lauded and disparaged. But there has been concern not only over its provisions but also about the lacunae in the school education system.
- However, there are clauses in the Act which have enormous catalytic potential but that have gone largely untouched and unnoticed. A focus on three of these provisions can result in an immediate and discernible impact.
What are the issues in RTE?
- The RTE Act is a game-changer in that it establishes that the onus to ensure free and compulsory education lies on the state. However, the ‘compulsory’ and ‘state liability’ part needs to be imbibed by the educational bureaucracy, which is now lacking.
- Though the Act envisaged that the state, i.e. State governments and panchayats, would aggressively ensure that each child is brought into the schooling system and also retained for eight years, it has been business as usual.
- Unfortunately, tracking dropouts and preparing and mainstreaming them into age-appropriate classes has been subsumed into existing scheme activities.
- Even seven years after its enactment, there are still children on the streets, in fields and in homes. Therefore, the problem now is more about dropouts than children who were never enrolled.
What are the areas in which reforms are necessary?
- Issue of Retention
- Strategies to ensure retention need to change from the earlier approach of enrolling the un-enrolled. As children out of the fold of schooling are the most hard to reach, such as girls, the disabled, orphans and those from single parent families, the solutions have to be localised and contextualised.
- The RTE Act prescribes basic minimum standards for a school such as provision for toilets, drinking water and classrooms.
- Pupil-Teacher Ratio
- The most critical requirement, which has also got the least public attention, is the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR). It is impractical to expect quality education without this.
- According to the Education Department’s data, under the Unified District Information System for Education (U-DISE) database 2015-16, 33% of the schools in the country did not have the requisite number of teachers, as prescribed in the RTE norms, for PTR at the school level.
- The percentage of schools that were PTR-compliant varied from 100% in Lakshadweep to 16.67% in Bihar. This did not factor in subject-wise teachers at the upper primary level as this is treated differently in each State.
- All other forward-looking provisions of the Act such as continuous assessment, a child learning at her own pace, and ‘no detention’ policy are contingent on a school with an adequate number of teachers.
- No meaningful teaching-learning is possible unless trained teachers are physically present at school. Teachers also need to avail of leave or undergo training, so that ‘two teachers per school’ is a basic requirement.
- States shy away from recruiting or posting more teachers keeping in mind higher salaries and finances, but PTR at the school level is the most critical of all inputs.
- Teacher provisioning should be the first option to fund as no educationally developed country has built up a sound schooling foundation without a professionally-motivated teaching cadre in place.
- In States with an adequate overall number of teachers, their positioning or posting requires rationalisation according to the number of students. However, this gets more lip service than attention as teacher transfers remain a grey area in most States.
- The third provision is that the academic calendar will be decided by the local authority, which, for most States and Union Territories, is the panchayat.
- This provision recognises the vast cultural and regional diversities within the country such as local festivals, sowing and harvesting seasons, and even natural calamities as a result of which schools do not function academically.
- It is socially acceptable that priority will be given to such a local event and not schooling. Not all festivals and State holidays declared by the the State headquarters may be locally relevant.
- So if panchayats, perhaps at the district level, decide the working days and holidays, this would not only exponentially increase attendance and teaching-learning but also strengthen local panchayats, being closest to the field, to take ownership of their schools.
- They would be responsible in ensuring the functioning of the prescribed instruction days. For inexplicable reasons, the educational bureaucracy has not allowed the decentralisation of academic schedules even in districts.
What are the issues with Aadhaar?
The objectives of Aadhaar are entirely reasonable, but its implementation has not earned universal trust. Apart from denials of the services— withdrawal of food and shelter entitlements to the poorest— the security of the biometric data has been questioned following leaks.
What are the steps taken by UIDAI?
- The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has taken a firm step in support of data security and privacy by introducing disposable IDs, authentication tokens and tiered KYC requirements to reduce the exposure of Aadhaar numbers.
- These are logical measures, since providers only need to have the number authenticated against a person. There is no need for them to store it even for a second thereafter. This principle has been followed in other services for decades.
- For instance, email providers do not know their users’ passwords, since they are not stored on servers in plain text. They are stored as hexadecimal hashes, which are cryptographically compared against passwords during a login.
Is Aadhaar breach-proof?
- The UIDAI’s reaction to a newspaper story which showed how easy it is to acquire Aadhaar numbers was to target the messenger.
- Systems are secured by multiple strategies, but there is no such thing as bulletproof security.
- All systems are vulnerable to a attacks, no matter how diligently they are secured.
- The only certain deterrent is legal, and fortunately privacy law has plugged the gap. However, it remains to be seen how many impugned parties have the stomach for private litigation.
- And the fact remains that large repositories of data, whether Equifax or Aadhaar, are targets in a world where data is the new gold.
- Their holdings must be shared on a need-to-know basis, and the recent blanket requirements for Aadhaar data to be shared with service providers, from mutual fund managers to telecom companies, flies in the face of that principle.
- Tiered exposure and virtual IDs would now reduce exposure of real Aadhaar numbers, though they must have already been shared in large quantities. Now, UIDAI has taken a step towards seeking universal trust, which is the bedrock of a legitimate authentication system.
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit India between 14-19 January, 2018.
- The visit is a reciprocating gesture from Israel to the first Prime Minister-level visit from India undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July 2017.
- The visit marks the high point of the 25th anniversary of normal diplomatic ties between the two countries.
- US ambassador has proposed reciprocal military liaison officers at each other’s combatant commands at some point in defence relations between the two countries
- This suggestion comes two years after India and the US signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) which allows their militaries to work closely and use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies
Arrangements at present:
- At present, the US has arrangements to have military liaison officers with some of its NATO allies and close defence partners including Australia, Canada, Japan, Republic of Korea, Philippines, New Zealand, Great Britain
- Posting liaison officers will mean formalising the robust partnerships between theatre commands, viz Pacific command of the US defence forces
Free Trade Agreement between India and USA
- US envoy also proposed a Free Trade Agreement with India in the future
- There have been no negotiations between India and the US on FTA so far
- The economic partnership should be looked through the strategic lens — as the US looks for alternatives to China in the region
India and various groupings:
- India recently joined the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and Wassenaar Arrangements
- The US expects India to join the Australia Group on chemical and biological weapons in near future
- The USA is working closely with India and our international partners to secure India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group
C. GS3 Related
- Emissions from domestic biomass burning has emerged as the deadliest air pollution source in India
- It is responsible for around a quarter of the deaths caused by PM2.5, a global study has found
Global Burden of Diseases (GBD MAPS) report
- The report is published by the Boston-based Health Effects Institute
- It builds on the GBD report, which was launched in November last year
- That report had attributed over 1.1 million deaths recorded in 2015 to outdoor exposure to PM2.5
- PM 2.5 are ultrafine air-borne particulates as tiny as 30 times the width of a human hair
Role of biomass burning
- The latest study focuses on the major sources of PM2.5 that are behind the deaths namely, residential biomass burning, coal combustion in industries and thermal power plants, burning of crop residue and vehicular combustion
- The study does not take into account indoor exposure to biomass burning, especially in rural areas where charcoal, firewood and animal dung are used for cooking in the absence of cleaner fuels
- The burden of disease, in terms of the numbers of deaths attributable to total PM2.5, is expected to grow in the future, as the population ages and grows and leaves more people susceptible to air pollution
- It projects another scenario marked by major commitments to emissions reductions in the face of continued economic growth are made, which may arrest any further rise in the deaths and contain them to the 2015 levels in 2030.
D. GS4 Related
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E. Prelims Fact
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F. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. Consider the following statement/s with reference to Model Code of Conduct:
- The Code of Conduct does not have any statutory basis.
- The Model Code of Conduct comes into force immediately on announcement of the election schedule by the commission.
- The objective of MCC is to ensure that the party in power is not able to use public money to improve its electoral prospects.
Select the correct statement/s from the codes given below.
- 1 and 3
- 2 and 3
- 3 only
- All are correct
Question 2. Consider the following statement/s:
- Bioethanol is an alcohol made by fermentation, mostly from carbohydrates produced in sugar or starch crops such as corn, sugarcane, or sweet sorghum
- Syngas is a mixture of carbon monoxide, hydrogen and other hydrocarbons
- Microbial gastrointestinal flora in a variety of animals has shown potential for the production of biofuels.
- Jatropha curcas, a poisonous shrub-like tree that produces seeds considered by many to be a viable source of biofuels feedstock oil.
Select the correct statement/s from the codes given below.
- 1 and 3
- 2 and 4
- 1, 3 and 4
- All are correct
Question 3. Consider the following statements with reference to the Logistics Exchange Memorandum Of Agreement (LEMOA):
- LEMOA is a facilitating agreement that establishes basic terms, conditions, and procedures for reciprocal provision of Logistic Support, Supplies, and Services between the armed forces of India and the United States.
- The Agreement creates obligations on either Party to carry out joint activity.
- It provides for the establishment of any bases or basing arrangements.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
- 1 and 2 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 1 only
- 2 and 3 only
Question 4. Consider the following statements:
- The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is an informal and voluntary partnership to prevent the proliferation of missile and unmanned aerial vehicle technology capable of carrying above 1000 kg payload for more than 300 km.
- The People’s Republic of China is not a member of the MTCR.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Question 5. At present, India is a member of:
- Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and Wassenaar Arrangements
- Missile Technology Control Regime and Australia Group on chemical and biological weapons
- Wassenaar Arrangements and Australia Group on chemical and biological weapons
- Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Wassenaar Arrangements and
Australia Group on chemical and biological weapons
G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
GS Paper II
- Leniency shown by election commission in the violation of model code of conduct for extremely wrong conduct can set bad precedent. Examine.
GS Paper III
- Burning of biomass and crop residue is one of the leading factors contributing to air pollution in India. What prompts farmers to burn crop residue and biomass? What measures do you think the government should take to discourage this practice?
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis
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