TABLE OF CONTENTS
A.GS1 Related B.GS2 Related POLITY AND GOVERNANCE 1. Draft NEP proposes formal education from age of three 2. All States, Union Territories can now set up Foreigners Tribunals 3. E-cigarette ban comes after sustained effort 4. Dismissed teacher can file writ plea for her rights: SC 5. Move ED under Home Ministry, MP urges Modi INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. U.S. is shooting itself in the foot on GSP C.GS3 Related SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 1. Internet may alter brain functions, says study D. GS4 Related E. Editorials POLITY AND GOVERNANCE 1. Is NITI Aayog old wine in a new bottle? INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. A clear arc from India to Nigeria F. Tidbits 1. ‘Nirbhaya squad’ to curb crime against women 2. Sangareddy jail launches FM radio service ‘Antarvani’ G. Prelims Facts H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
B. GS2 Related
The draft National Education Policy has suggested an expansion of the Right To Education Act to cover the three years of preschool before Class 1.
- The draft policy also wants early childhood education to be overseen and regulated by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) as part of the school system, rather than the private pre-schools and anganwadis that currently cater to the 3-to-6 years age group.
- Presently, the 15 years of education system, spread from elementary to colleges, is divided into 10 + 2 + 3.
- In the draft National Education Policy 2019, the combination of 15 years had conceptualised in 5 + 3 + 3 + 4 pattern, from pre-primary to 12th standard.
- Under this, there’ll be five years of the foundational stage that’ll include three years of pre-primary school and grades 1 and 2, followed by three years of the preparatory (or latter primary) stage — grades 3, 4 and 5.
- Then, there would be three years of middle (or upper primary) stage — grades 6, 7 and 8 and finally, four years of the high (or secondary) stage — grades 9, 10, 11 and 12.
- In this design, the focus at all stages will be to heavily incorporate Indian and local traditions, as well as ethical reasoning, socio-emotional learning, quantitative and logical reasoning, computational thinking and digital literacy, scientific temper, languages and communication skills, in a manner that is developmentally appropriate and in the curricular/pedagogical style that is optimal for each stage.
- Studies reveal that a child’s brain attains 80% development at the age of six years. It is in this age that the child attains individuality. Therefore, the education should be informal in nature from three to eight years of age.
- The aim of this stage will be to lay the general groundwork across subjects, including reading, writing, speaking, physical education, art, languages, science, and mathematics, so that students are prepared to delve deeper into learning areas through specialised subjects and subject teachers in the stages that follow.
- An inter-ministerial task force will work out a roadmap for the transition by the end of 2019, says the draft policy.
- The HRD Ministry is in the early stages of assessing the implications of such a move.
- Additional costs will come in the form of teacher recruitment and training, infrastructure and learning materials, as well as nutritional aspects (including the proposal to provide breakfast to young children).
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has amended the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964, and has empowered district magistrates in all States and Union Territories to set up tribunals to decide whether a person staying illegally in India is a foreigner or not.
- With Assam’s National Register of Citizens as the backdrop, the MHA has laid out specific guidelines to detect, detain and deport foreign nationals staying illegally across the country.
- Earlier, the powers to constitute tribunals were vested only with the Centre.
Procedure being followed at present:
- The 1964 order on Constitution of Tribunals says: “The Central Governmentmay by order, refer the question as to whether a person is not a foreigner within meaning of the Foreigners Act, 1946 (31 of 1946) to a Tribunal to be constituted for the purpose, for its opinion.”
- The tribunals are quasi-judicial bodies, unique to Assam, to determine if a person staying illegally is a “foreigner” or not.
- In other parts, once a ‘foreigner’ has been apprehended by the police for staying illegally, he or she is produced before a local court under the Passport Act, 1920, or the Foreigners Act, 1946, with the punishment ranging three months to eight years in jail.
- Once the accused have served the sentence, the court orders their deportation, and they are moved to detention centres till the country of origin accepts them.
The ban on e-cigarettes, imposed in Rajasthan a day before World No Tobacco Day last month, has come after a sustained campaign by voluntary groups spanning several months and recovery of a missing file with original note-sheets and documents following the change of government in the State Assembly election.
- Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot announced the decision to ban production, distribution, advertisement and sale of e-cigarettes on May 30.
- The previous BJP government had appointed a committee of experts to study the effects of e-cigarette and make its recommendations in September 2017.
- Though the committee recommended an immediate ban, no concrete action was taken and the file with original papers went missing from the office of the Additional Chief Secretary, Medical & Health Department.
- The committee, headed by medical expert Nalin Joshi, had found that the nicotine-laced and heat-not-burn devices were “extremely harmful” recommended a ban on e-cigarettes.
- Meanwhile, voluntary groups kept appealing to the government to ban e-cigarettes.
- Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes are devices that do not burn or use tobacco leaves but instead vaporise a solution, which a user then inhales.
- The main constituents of the solution, in addition to nicotine, are propylene glycol (with or without glycerol and flavouring agents).
Issue with e-cigarettes:
- The benefits of e-cigarettes, most of which vaporize a liquid containing nicotine, have been a topic for much debate in the global public health community.
- Some say it helps shift smokers to less harmful products, but others argue it could create a new generation of addicts.
- The country has 106 million adult smokers, second only to China, making it a lucrative market for firms.
- As of 2016, e-cigarettes were banned in 30 of World Health Organization’s 195 member states. In India, about a third of its 29 states currently ban e-cigarette sales.
- India however has tough laws to deter tobacco use, which the government says kills more than 900,000 people annually.
A teacher whose service is illegally terminated can file a writ petition in a constitutional court to protect her fundamental rights against a private unaided school, the Supreme Court has held.
- A Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court, acting on a writ petition filed by the teacher, had in 2009 ordered the institution to pay Ms. Srivastava her back wages.
- But the school reneged, contending that a writ petition would not be maintainable against a private unaided institution.
- But the apex court disagreed with the argument of the school.
- Writ petitions are usually filed by citizens against the state and its agencies to protect their fundamental rights.
- If any of the individual’s Fundamental Rights are violated a writ petition can be filed in the High Court (Article 226) or the Supreme Court (Article 32) of India.
- The writ jurisdiction of the High Courts (Article 226) on a writ petition is wider as it extends to the constitutional rights too.
- A Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra made the observations while dismissing an appeal filed by Marwari Balika Vidyalaya, a private unaided educational institution, against its former teacher, Asha Srivastava.
- “Whether government or private school, both perform public functions i.e. providing education to children in their institutions throughout India.”, it said.
- “While the functioning of both aided and unaided educational institutions must be free from unnecessary governmental interference, the same needs to the reconciled with the conditions of employment of the employees of these institutions and provision of adequate precautions to safeguard their interests,” the Supreme Court said.
- “A public duty does not necessarily have to be one imposed by statute. It may be sufficient for the duty to have been imposed by charter, common law, custom or even contract,” the court observed.
- While the bench acknowledged that a school discharges public function and is therefore an “authority” amenable to writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, it said that all actions of the authority cannot be reviewed under writ jurisdiction.
BJP MP from Jharkhand, has written to Prime Minister asking that the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which investigates crimes related to money laundering, be shifted from its current parent Finance Ministry to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- The MP said that, most of the cases registered under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) are for offences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) or Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or the Arms Act and others.
- Under the present system, the ED cannot independently register a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and it has to mandatorily take cognizance of a case registered under other laws like the IPC, NDPS or the Passport Act among others.
- “The ED predominantly consists of officers from the Finance Ministry who do not have adequate expertise or training in matters pertaining to the IPC or other such laws,” the MP said, adding that knowledge of such laws is an essential prerequisite to deal with PMLA matters.
- “Given that majority of the scheduled offences are in the domain of the Ministry of Home Affairs, it is a natural corollary that the PMLA must be moved to the ministry and also the ED,” he said.
- Enforcement Directorate is economic intelligence and law enforcement agency responsible for enforcing economic laws and fighting economic crime in India.
- It functions under aegis of Department of Revenue, Union Ministry of Finance.
- Its prime objective is enforcement of two key Acts of Government of India namely Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999 (FEMA) and Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002 (PMLA).
President Trump has declared a trade war on India and has terminated India’s designation as a ‘beneficiary developing country’ under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) effective June 5, 2019.
Generalised System of Preferences:
- Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is a preferential tariff system under which developed nations extend reduced MFN tariffs (Most Favoured Nation) or duty-free entry of certain goods into their markets, to the developing nations.
- The developed countries, or the countries that extend this trade preference are called donor countries, and the benefit-receiving countries are called beneficiary countries.
- Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), gives developing countries easier access to the U.S. market and lowers U.S. duties on their exports.
- Trump signed off on a presidential decree to withdraw GSP status to India alleging, “India has not assured the United States that India will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets.”
- Internationally, the legal basis for the GSP programme is found in the Enabling Clause (EC), which is a platform established under the international trade regime of the World Trade Organization (WTO) for developed countries to offer preferential trade treatment on a non-reciprocal basis to products originating in developing countries.
For an in-depth understanding of GSP, watch:
- The seeds for this discord were sown way back when the Trump administration introduced steel and aluminum tariffs under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, citing national security reasons.
- This subjected imported steel to a tariff, the burden of which would be borne by steel producers outside of the U.S., who stood to either lose a share of the market or a percentage of profits.
- India was one of the countries affected by the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs.
- India retaliated immediately and announced tariffs on U.S. importations into India worth about $240 million although these are yet to take effect.
- Under the programme, India, as a developing country, enjoyed special trade benefits which allowed duty-free entry of Indian goods worth $5.6 billion into the U.S.
- India is the largest beneficiary nation under the GSP scheme, and exported goods worth $6.35 billion to the U.S. under the preferential regime last year. This is close to 10% of the goods exported by India to the U.S.
- The reason for the non-reciprocal arrangement was that the Enabling Clause means to provide differential and more favourable treatment with a view to incentivising developing countries and promote their fuller participation in global trade.
- Nationally, the U.S. trade obligations have been codified as part of the Trade Act of 1974 under which the GSP system has been established.
- Under this system, the U.S. allows preferential duty-free entry for thousands of products from about 120-plus designated beneficiary countries, of which India is one. Thus, products from these countries enter the U.S. duty-free, provided the beneficiary developing countries meet the eligibility criteria.
- The U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office-established eligibility criteria includes affording worker rights, prohibiting child labour, ensuring occupational safety, etc.
- In reality, the Coalition of GSP, which is a think-tank, estimates that the GSP programme ultimately benefits U.S. small businesses which import lower cost raw materials, which, in turn, lowers the cost of consumer products in the U.S.
- The Trump administration’s withdrawal of India’s GSP benefits is a violation of the trade terms. That is, in a dispute that involved EC Tariffs, the WTO’s Appellate Body (AB) considered special tariff preferences that EC extended to 12 of its trading partners to the exclusion of some others.
- At that time, India challenged the EC’s preferential trade programme. The AB opined that GSP programmes can award different benefits to different developing countries on the condition that any such differential treatment should positively lead to the developmental and trade needs of developing countries, and it should be available to all similarly-situated countries.
- Unfortunately, the withdrawal is not based on any criterion that is to be applied to other nations. Nor does this move by the U.S. benefit India. Indeed, it is intended as a sanction towards India and Turkey, thus making the U.S. move a positive violation of the WTO norms.
- In reality, withdrawing India from the list of GSP beneficiaries will also hurt the U.S.
- First, a trade war with India will reportedly cost American businesses over $300 million in additional tariffs, as per the Coalition for GSP’s executive director Dan Anthony.
- Second, America’s belligerent stance has not gone well with most trading partners. Operationally, in order to determine whether trade terms of other countries are fair, America uses the opinions of its industries and corporations.
- That is, when the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) asserts that India or China’s trade terms in, say seed imports, is not to America’s benefit, it is not an impartial determination. USTR’s judgments are based on its seed companies’ submissions.
- The problem is that these companies typically consider only what is good for their shareholders and not the local realities or issues of the importing country.
- Thus, arguably, America puts itself in a position wherein its trade posture is an echo of the industry’s position rather than as taking a reasoned articulated stance.
- Third, India may well decide to take this as a dispute to the WTO.
- The central question for the WTO will be whether the U.S. can suspend GSP benefits to two countries — India and Turkey — as a sanction for not allowing “equitable and reasonable access to its markets.”
- Under such circumstances, India is likely to find support from other similarly situated developing countries.
- There may be support to challenge this and other unilateral U.S. actions that have come to personify the imbalances of global trade.
- The world trading system is not based on the leadership of any one country. It is a mechanism to work with trade partners.
- The U.S. action, unfortunately, seeks leadership among its trading partners and that hurts America first and its allies next.
C. GS3 Related
- The Internet can alter specific brain regions and affect our attention capacity, memory processes and social interaction, a study has found.
- The research, published showed that the Internet can produce both acute and sustained alterations in specific areas of cognition.
- The key findings of this report are that high-levels of Internet use could indeed have an impact on many functions of the brain.
- The limitless stream of prompts and notifications from the Internet divides attention, which, in turn, may decrease the capacity to concentrate on a single task.
- Given that we have most of the world’s factual information literally at our fingertips, this appears to have the potential to begin changing the ways in which we store, and even value, facts and knowledge in society, and in the brain.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
- The first major reform PM Narendra Modi announced in his first term was to abolish the Planning Commission.
- He replaced it with the loftily titled ‘National Institution for Transforming India’ (NITI Aayog).
- Now, when the country’s economy has not performed to the high expectations Mr. Modi had created, the performance of the NITI Aayog is under scrutiny.
- There are a lot of issues in the Indian Economy that need immediate attention.
- Employment and incomes must be increased
- Investments and growth must be revived
- The financial sector needs to be untangled
- International trade must be given due attention
- The perennial problems of poor education and health must be addressed
- The growing problems of environmental pollution and water scarcity must be paid heed to.
- Even though statistical confusion was created which seemed to deny that problems of unemployment and growth were serious, high-powered Cabinet committees have been formed to tackle them.
- Regardless of whether or not India has the fastest growing GDP, it has a long way to go to achieve economic and social inclusion, and restore environmental sustainability.
- India’s problems are complex because they are all interrelated. Fixing one part of the system alone can make matters worse. For example, providing skills to millions of youth before there are enough employment opportunities is a bold fix that can backfire. The complexity of the task demands a good plan and a good strategy.
- There is deep concern that NITI Aayog has lost its integrity as an independent institution to guide the government; that it has become a mouthpiece of the government and an implementer of the government’s projects.
- Many insist that NITI Aayog must have the ability to independently evaluate the government’s programmes at the Centre and in the States.
- Some recall that an Independent Evaluation Office set up in the last days of the UPA-II government was swiftly closed by the NDA government.
- Others counter that the Planning Commission had a Programme Evaluation Organisation all along and which continues.
- Modi’s predecessors, Manmohan Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had faced similar, large, economic, social, political and global challenges.
- When Vajpayee was presented a nine-point plan by a global think-tank to increase the economy’s growth to 9%, he famously retorted, “We know all that. The question is, how will it all be done?” He highlighted that many stakeholders must be involved in the implementation of a plan in a large, diversified and democratic country — the States, the private sector, civil society and even the political Opposition. Therefore, it is not good enough to have a plan, there must also be a strategy for its cooperative implementation too.
- Singh declared that reform of the Planning Commission was long overdue. An intensive exercise was undertaken. Many stakeholders were consulted. International practices were examined. An outline was drawn of a substantially reformed institution which would, have a capability for systems reform rather than making of Five-Year Plans, and which would have the power of persuasion without providing budgets.
- A commission chaired by C. Rangarajan, then Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, examined budgetary processes, divisions of responsibilities between the Finance Ministry and the Planning Commission, and distinctions between ‘plan’ and ‘non-plan’ expenditures.
- It concluded that budgetary responsibility must be concentrated in the Finance Ministry, and it was no longer desirable for the Planning Commission to have powers for financial provisions.
- Some in the Planning Commission were worried that it would lose its teeth if it did not have any financial power.
- Chief Ministers retorted that the Planning Commission must improve its ability to understand their needs and to develop ideas that they would want to adopt because they accepted the ideas as good for them, not because they would have to if they wanted the money.
- Modi, understood well the limitations in the Planning Commission’s capabilities and what it needed to do to reform itself. Therefore the bold charter of NITI Aayog that Mr. Modi announced in 2015 was consistent with Dr. Singh’s and Vajpayee’s insights.
- Implementation of radical change is never easy. If things don’t go well soon, nostalgia will rise for the old order (the planning commission), even though there was dissatisfaction with it. And the change-maker will be blamed for the disruption.
- The NITI Aayog charter is a good starting point for a new journey in transforming the governance of the Indian economy.
- The NITI Aayog and the government would do well to conduct an open-minded review of what NITI Aayog has achieved so far to adopt the new role described in its charter — that of a catalyst of change in a complex, federal, socioeconomic system. And assess whether it has transformed its capabilities sufficiently to become an effective systems reformer and persuader of stakeholders, rather than merely be an announcer of lofty multi-year goals and manager of projects, which many suspect it is.
- The traditional approach of after-the-fact evaluation sits in the old paradigm of numbers, budgets and controls.
- The transformational approach to planning and implementation that 21st century India needs, which is alluded to in NITI’s charter, requires evaluations and course-corrections in the midst of action.
- It requires new methods to speed up ‘organisational learning’ among stakeholders in the system who must make plans together and implement them together.
- There is a need for new methods of cooperative learning and cooperative implementation by stakeholders who are not controlled by any central body of technical experts with political and/or budgetary authority over them.
- The debate about NITI Aayog’s efficacy must focus on whether or not it is performing the new role it must, and what progress it has made in acquiring capabilities to perform this role, rather than slipping back into the ruts of yesterday’s debates about the need for a Planning Commission.
The leaders of India and Nigeria both began their respective second terms within a day of each other following their unexpectedly decisive election victories.
- The challenges faced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari during their first terms were uncannily similar: security against terror, monetary and fiscal conundrums, a communal and sectarian divide, chronic unemployment, rampant corruption, rural distress and a fragile neighbourhood being the recurrent themes.
- Each of the two leaders is widely acknowledged as an outlier to the system riddled with corruption and nepotism and is admired for his personal probity, hard work and discipline.
- There lies plenty of substance and potential linking the two countries and aspirations of their people.
- First, Nigeria being Africa’s most populous country (191 million) and economy ($376 billion) as well as the world’s sixth largest oil exporter (about 2 million barrels per day) is evidently important to India.
- According to the latest Indian Department of Commerce statistics, Nigeria is India’s largest trading partner in Africa (19th overall) with total trade estimated at $13.5 billion in 2018-19.
- India is Nigeria’s largest trading partner.
- For the same reason, Nigeria enjoys 4:1 surplus in bilateral trade.
- Nevertheless, it is still a sizeable market for India’s manufactured exports, such as (2018-19 figures) miscellaneous machinery ($500 million), vehicles ($495 million), pharmaceutical products ($447 million), textile items ($299 million), iron and steel articles ($152 million) and plastics ($109 million).
- In contrast to the stagnancy in India’s global exports, its exports to Nigeria surged by 27%.
- Indian investments in Nigeria are estimated at around $15 billion with a further $5 billion in the pipeline.
- There are at least 180 Indian companies operating in Nigeria with pharmaceuticals, steel, power, retailing, fast-moving consumer goods and skilling as their mainstay.
- Approximately 50,000 Indians reside in Nigeria, some of them for decades. Most of them are professionals, such as engineers, accountants, bankers, trainers and health-care experts.
- These points also point to two important contextual factors.
- First, all these achievements are the outcome of valiant attempts by individual stakeholders with scant official encouragement or support.
- For instance, some simple tweaking in our visa procedure can help thousands of Nigerians avail of our medical and educational facilities, benefiting all sides and creating huge people-to-people goodwill.
- Despite the encouraging numbers, the two governments have not yet been able to facilitate direct connectivity of air travel, banking and shipping, steps which could have promoted the ease of doing bilateral business.
- Second, enormous potential still waits to be leveraged in such sectors such as upstream hydrocarbons (despite India being the largest buyer of Nigerian crude), agriculture, health care and skilling.
- Despite their growth, Indian exports to Nigeria are still around a quarter of China’s.
- Although bilateral ties have had to face strong headwinds during the past five years, more could have been accomplished.
- Though some ministerial-level visits took place in the past five years, these were mostly for multilateral events in India.
- The last session of the Joint Commission Meeting was in 2011 and the Foreign Office Consultations were held in 2003.
- Bilateral ties have not drawn commensurate proportion of the resources offered by India to its African partners largely due to some systemic issues.
- Defence cooperation has been mostly episodic and training oriented.
- As the two leaders begin their respective second innings, they need to give a push to India-Nigerian ties sooner rather than later.
- With oil and other commodities becoming a seller’s market, an early summit between the two leaders is an obvious imperative.
- It could evolve a multi-pronged strategy to leverage evident economic complementarities in sectors such as hydrocarbons, infrastructure, institution-building, defence and agriculture.
- A purposive follow-up session of the joint economic commission soon thereafter could provide an incremental and sustainable road map empowering the relevant bilateral stakeholders.
- If handled deftly and with political will, it could usher in an India-Nigeria economic synergy that has been untapped for some decades.
- Nashik police in Maharashtra have set up a ‘Nirbhaya squad’ to check incidents of eve-teasing and harassment of women.
- The squad members will maintain a strict vigil in crowded areas like bus stands, railway stations and malls to ensure safety and security of women.
- Citizens, specially women, can also complain to the police on its toll free number ‘1091’ about any incident of eve-teasing, molestation and other such offences.
- The newly formed 10-member squad, comprises of both men and women security personnel.
- In a move to improve communication with inmates and bring to the fore hidden talent in them, district jail authorities in Telangana’s Sangareddy jail are launching FM radio service ‘Antarvani’.
- The radio broadcast will be from 6 a.m. to 9 .p.m. The morning programme will commence with Suprabhatam which will include playing patriotic songs.
- While the inmates exercise, drum music will be played.
- Then there will be breakfast announcement, informing their fellow inmates about the menu, followed by one on Vidya Danam programme. There will also be news updates for them.
- Mulakat announcements will be made through Antarvani too.
G. Prelims Facts
Nothing here for today!!!
H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Q1) Consider the following statements:
- Ranthambore National Park is located in Madhya Pradesh.
- The national park is bound by Chambal River to the North.
Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?
a. 1 only
b. 2 only
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2
Q2) Consider the following statements:
- A biome is a large community unit, characterized by a major vegetation type and associated fauna, found in a specific climatic region.
- An ecotone is a transitional area between two biomes or diverse ecosystems.
Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?
a. 1 only
b. 2 only
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2
Q3) Enforcement Directorate comes under the
a. Ministry of Home Affairs
b. Ministry of Finance
c. Ministry of Corporate Affairs
d. Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
- At a time where digital technologies are revolutionising the way of life, digital exclusion is a real danger. Critically comment. (15 Marks, 250 Words)
- According to India’s latest employment survey, India’s female Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) has fallen to a historic low. Low LFPR is a matter of concern for the country. Discuss. (15 Marks, 250 Words)
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