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Daily Current Affairs IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 18th January 2019

  • IASbaba
  • January 18, 2019
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Daily Current Affairs IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 18th January 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


NREGA gets additional ₹6,084 cr.

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II –Social/Welfare issue; Government schemes and programmes

In news:

  • After exhausting 99% of its annual allocation three months ahead of time, the National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREGA) scheme has been given an additional allocation of ₹6,084 crore to tide over the next three months.

Do you know?

  • Current total allocation to MGNREGA for 2018-19 is ₹61,084 crore (highest ever allocation)
  • However, scheme’s financial statement and balance sheet shows that 15 States have a total negative net balance of ₹4,064 crore, which includes payments due for unskilled wages for work that has already been done.
  • If the current allocated money (₹6,084 cr.) is not used to pay off these committed liabilities, it will delay wage payments beyond the stipulated 15-day period, and further disincentivise people from seeking employment under the scheme.
  • If this money is used to pay off the debts then there will be much less money left for fresh employment generation over the next three months.
  • According to study done by Rajendran Narayanan committee which analyzed government data in 3,500 panchayats found that the employment provided during 2017-18 was 32% lower than the work demanded in that year.

Track record on human rights

Part of: GS Mains II – Social/Welfare issue; Human Rights and Fundamental Rights Issue

In news:

  • Recently, India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations expressed concern over the “politicisation of human rights as a foreign policy tool”, while addressing the work of the UN and the Human Rights Council.
  • Within the country, many lawyers, activists, academics and human rights organisations have pointed to the deteriorating climate in relation to human rights.

Do you know?

  • If India seeks to become a torchbearer of democracy and take on an increasingly significant mantle in the international realm, it should uphold international laws and standards pertaining to human rights.

Negative comments:

  • First, there has been enhanced scrutiny by international experts of the deteriorating human rights environment in India, particularly in 2018.
  • Second, the magnification of domestic rights violations in the international sphere is inevitable.
  • Third, the metric of human rights and compliance with international law cannot be dismissed.
  • UN experts have expressed concern about the “patterns of events”, including arrest, detention and torture prior to summary executions of 59 individuals since March 2017.
  • Experts had expressed concerns over Assam National Register of Citizens process (in photo), online hate speech, the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh, jailing of human rights defenders, deportation of Rohingya refugees, and excessive police response to protests.

India’s record of upholding human rights is abysmal; it must do better.


RBI eases norms for external commercial borrowing

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy

In news:

  • In a bid to improve ease of doing business, RBI has decided to liberalise external commercial borrowing (ECB) norms.
  • The new norms allow all companies that are eligible for receiving foreign direct investment, to raise funds through the ECB route.

Do you know?

  • External commercial borrowings (ECBs) are loans in India made by non-resident lenders in foreign currency to Indian borrowers.
  • They are used widely in India to facilitate access to foreign money by Indian corporations and PSUs (public sector undertakings).
  • ECBs include commercial bank loans, buyers’ credit, suppliers’ credit, securitised instruments such as floating rate notes and fixed rate bonds etc., credit from official export credit agencies and commercial borrowings from the private sector window of multilateral financial Institutions such as International Finance Corporation (Washington), ADB, AFIC, CDC, etc.
  • ECBs cannot be used for investment in stock market or speculation in real estate. The DEA (Department of Economic Affairs), Ministry of Finance, Government of India along with Reserve Bank of India, monitors and regulates ECB guidelines and policies.

Miscellaneous:

Gulshan Mahal to become National Museum of Indian Cinema

In news:

  • Gulshan Mahal, the elegant 19th-century bungalow in South Mumbai, was once known for qawwalis and cultural gatherings.
  • Now it is all set to return in a new avatar — as the home of the National Museum of Indian Cinema (NMIC).
  • Originally known as Gulshan Abad (garden of prosperity), it was built in the mid-1800s.

(MAINS FOCUS)


NATIONAL/SOCIAL ISSUE

TOPIC:General studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.   
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

Learning little : No Remarkable progress in Rural Primary Education

Introduction:

We recently read about Annual Status of Education Report 2018. According to the report –

  • There has been some improvement in the reading and arithmetic skills of lower primary students in rural India over the last decade.
  • However, skills of Class VIII students have actually seen a decline.
  • More than half of Class VIII students cannot correctly solve a numerical division problem and more than a quarter of them cannot read a primary level text.
  • Enrolment is increasing and the percentage of children under 14 who are out of school is less than 4%.
  • The gender gap is also shrinking.

Other concerns:

  • Underperformance of Hindi Heartland: Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Kerala and Haryana did better on the arithmetic question with over 50% students clearing it, compared to Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and even Karnataka, which scored below 20%.
  • A significant percentage of students were not even able to recognise letters appropriate for their class, highlighting a severe barrier to learning.

Crux:

  • The report shows the prevalence of learning deficit and the poverty of basic reading and arithmetic skills among students in Indian schools.
  • Without strong foundational skills, it is difficult for children to cope with what is expected of them in the upper primary grades.
  • Hence India continues to stare at a crisis and hence need concerted efforts to be taken at the earliest.

Significance of such assessment:

Assessment provide the quality of learning levels, which can be utilized by the administrator for better policy, because of quality of learning level at early education is important due to –

  • The quality of the learning level bears directly on India’s future workforce, its competitiveness and the economy.
  • India’s demographic dividend depends on the learning level of students.
  • Since children at the higher primary level is closest to joining the labour market or the next level of education, they need adequate foundational skills such as literacy and numeracy.

The way ahead:

  1. An effective review mechanism: Centre should institute a review mechanism involving all stakeholders (both government and private institutions), covering elementary education and middle school.
  2. A public consultation on activity-based learning outcomes, deficits in early childhood education, and innovations in better performing States can help.
  3. Right to Education Act needs a supportive framework to cater to learners from different backgrounds who often cannot rely on parental support or coaching.
  4. Improvement in Curriculum- There is concern that curricular expectations on literacy and numeracy have become too ambitious, requiring reform.
  5. Encourage innovation in schools and incentivise good outcomes
  6. Bonus pay offered to teachers led to better student scores (Example of Andhra Pradesh)

Connecting the dots:

  • Low standards in education, lack of requisite skills and unemployment form a vicious cycle which is detrimental to India’s demographic dividend. Comment.
  • The need of a comprehensive national education policy is pressing. What in your opinion should be the model policy framework for education in India? Suggest.

NATIONAL/SECURITY

TOPIC:General studies 2 and 3

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections 
  • Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
  • Challenges to internal security through communication networks.

Manipur shows the way : New Anti-Lynching Law

Context:

  • On July 17, a Supreme Court bench termed incidents of mob-lynching in India as ‘horrendous acts of mobocracy’.
  • It had directed the Parliament to draft a new legislation to effectively deal with incidents of mob lynching.
  • It had issued a slew of directions to the Union and State governments to protect India’s ‘pluralist social fabric’ from mob violence.
  • However, the Union and most State governments have done little to comply with the directions of India’s highest court.

Do you know?

Supreme Court’s prescriptions –

  • It had directed for creation of nodal officer in every State to control such crimes.
  • SC had held that ‘lynching’ should be dealt as a “special and separate offense and provide adequate punishment.”
  • It also recommended that cases of lynchings be heard in a fast track court with trials to be concluded within six months and the highest possible sentences to be awarded.

Manipur shows the way

  • Manipur became the first to pass a remarkable law against lynching, late last year.
  • It did this after a single horrific video-taped lynching of a Muslim youth with an MBA degree stirred the public conscience.

Positives:

1. Comprehensive in definition:

  • The definition of lynching in Manipur law is very comprehensive, covering many forms of hate crimes.
  • These are “any act or series of acts of violence or aiding, abetting such act/acts thereof, whether spontaneous or planned, by a mob on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, language, dietary practices, sexual orientation, political affiliation, ethnicity or any other related grounds .…”

2. In line with Supreme Court directions:

  • The Manipur law closely follows the Supreme Court’s prescriptions, creating a nodal officer to control such crimes in every State, special courts and enhanced punishments.

3. Public officials are held accountable

  • It is the first in the country dealing with the protection and rights of vulnerable populations which creates a new crime of dereliction (failure/negligence) of duty of public officials.
  • It lays down that “any police officer directly in charge of maintaining law and order in an area, omits to exercise lawful authority vested in them under the law, without reasonable cause, and thereby fails to prevent lynching shall be guilty of dereliction of duty” and will be liable “to punishment of imprisonment of one year, which may extend to three years, and with fine that may extend to fifty thousand rupees”.

4. Registering hate crime doesn’t require prior state sanction

  • At present, protection is provided to public officials charged with any offence committed while acting in their discharge of official duty.
  • No court can take cognisance of such an offence except with the previous sanction of the State government.
  • However, according to Manipur Law, now no prior sanction is required to register crimes against public officials who fail in their duties to prevent hate crimes such as lynching.
  • Therefore, the law makes acting against hate crimes far more effective and non-partisan.

5. Enables protection of victims and witnesses

  • Law clearly lays down the duty and responsibility of the State government to make arrangements for the protection of victims and witnesses.
  • It also prescribes the duty of State officials to prevent a hostile environment against people of the community who have been lynched, which includes economic and social boycott, and humiliation through excluding them from public services such as education, health and transport, threats and evictions.

6. Better Rehabilitation and Compensation

  • The Law requires the state to formulate a scheme for relief camps and rehabilitation in case of displacement of victims, and death compensation.

Conclusion:

  • The Manipur government has broken new ground, being the first government in the country to make much desirable law to prevent mob lynching.
  • It has taken the leadership in creating new India, where every citizen should claim– of safety, fairness and fraternity.

Connecting the dots:


(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note:

  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1) Consider the following statements with respect to ‘External Commercial Borrowings (ECBs)’

  1. ECBs can be raised as Loans and Capital Market Instruments
  2. ECBs cannot be used for investment in stock market
  3. DEA (Department of Economic Affairs) along with RBI (Reserve Bank of India), monitors and regulates ECB guidelines and policies.

Select the correct statements

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1 and 3
  4. All of the above

Q.2) Consider the following statements with reference to External Commercial Borrowings

  1. These are loans in India made by non-resident lenders in foreign currency to Indian borrowers.
  2. These are regulated under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.3) Which of the following schemes is under the ‘Core of the Core Schemes’?

  1. National Social Assistance Programme
  2. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme
  3. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana
  4. National Rural Drinking Water Mission

Select the correct code:

  1. 1, 2 and 3
  2. 1 and 2 Only
  3. 2, 3 and 4
  4. All of the above

Q.4) Indian planning is shifting from Allocation based schemes to demand driven Right based schemes like MGNREGA, Food Security Act etc. Which of the following statements are correct regarding Demand Driven Schemes?

  1. The implementation of schemes is highly centralized.
  2. States do not have the flexibility to develop their own perspective plans.
  3. It is a bottom – top approach.

Select the code from following:

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 3 only
  4. All of the above

Q.5) Which of the following is/are the rights guaranteed under Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948?

  1. Freedom of Belief and Religion
  2. Right to Education
  3. Right to Own Property
  4. Right to Marriage and Family

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 1,2 and 3 only
  3. 1,3 and 4 only
  4. 1,2,3 and 4

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