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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 16th November 2019

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  • November 16, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 16th November 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Consumer expenditure survey 2017-18

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Economy

In News

  • The government has decided to scrap the National Statistical Office’s (NSO’s) consumer expenditure survey conducted in 2017-18 over “data quality”
  • The ministry is separately examining the feasibility of conducting the next consumer expenditure survey in 2020-21 and 2021-22 after incorporating all data quality refinements in the survey process
  • The findings of the report, published by few media, showed consumer spending falling for the first time in over four decades in 2017-18. The government has, however, termed it a “draft” report.

About Consumer Expenditure Survey

  • The Survey generates estimates household Monthly Per Capita Consumer Expenditure (MPCE) and the distribution of households and persons over the MPCE classes. 
  • It is designed to collect information regarding expenditure on consumption of goods and services (food and non-food) consumed by households
  • The government uses this dataset to estimate poverty and inequality in the country, apart from using it for changing the base year for gross domestic product (GDP).
  • The previous round of survey took place in 2011-12. 
  • Consumer expenditure surveys are normally conducted with a gap of five years. But in 2011-12, the survey was conducted after two years, as 2009-10, when the previous round of the survey took place, was a drought year

Did You know?

  • In early 2019, the government merged the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) into National Statistical Office (NSO).
  • It was done to streamline and strengthen the present nodal function of MOSPI with respect to Indian official statistics system and bring in more synergy by integrating its administrative functions within the ministry
  • The CSO headed used to bring out macro-economic data like economic (GDP) growth data, industrial production and inflation.
  • The NSSO conducted large-scale surveys and brings out reports on health, education, household expenditure and other social and economic indicators. 

2022 Commonwealth Games

Part of: GS Prelims

In News

  • The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) wants to skip the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
  • The IOA’s unprecedented step came after the organisers of the 2022 CWG, which will be held in Birmingham, dropped shooting from the programme in June. Instead, they have included women’s cricket, para table tennis and beach volleyball.
  • The decision to drop shooting was taken primarily because the organisers were keen to include those sports for which Birmingham and the wider West Midlands region had the facilities. 
  • Britain’s tough gun laws, which makes it very tough for athletes to enter the country with weapons, were a deterrent as well
  • But India did not accept this logic. Shooting has been the source of one-fourth of India’s medals at the Commonwealth Games. It has been argued that removal of shooting will see a steep fall in India’s position on the overall medal’s tally. 
  • If India actually withdraws from the Games, athletes will be the ones most affected. Not only will they be robbed of competing in a major international event, they will miss out on other incentives as well
  • Athletes winning medals at the CWG receive hefty prize money, with centre earmarking Rs 30 lakh for gold medallists, Rs 20 lakh for silver winners and Rs 10 lakh for bronze medallists

Do You Know?

  • It is a standard practice for the hosts to choose sports in which they are strong. 
  • For example, in 2010, India excluded basketball and triathlon from the programme and added tennis, archery and wrestling. 
  • Four years before that, Australia had dropped wrestling

Wholesale and retail inflation

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains III – Economy

In News

  • Recent data shows that the two rates are diverging – The WPI inflation for October has touched a 40-month low (0.16%). But retail inflation(CPI) in the country for the same month has touched a 16-month high.
  • This essentially means that while prices are falling or growing at a marginal rate at the wholesale level, the trend reverses at the retail consumer level, where prices are growing at a faster rate every successive month.
  • This deceleration in wholesale prices has happened despite a significant jump in wholesale food prices.WPI food inflation rose to 7.6 per cent essentially led by surge in prices of vegetables and pulses
  • But what continued to pull down overall wholesale inflation number was the continued “deflation” (that is, prices falling from one month to the next) in manufactured goods.

Reasons for such divergence

  • Some part of the difference between the wholesale and retail inflation trends is explained by the way these indices are made.
  • For instance, food articles have a much higher weight — over 45 per cent — in CPI or retail inflation index. In WPI, their weight is less than 30 per cent. 
  • So even a similar spike in food prices will show up a much higher impact in the retail inflation index (CPI) than the wholesale inflation index.
  • Then there are other items such as “services” which have a weight of about 30 per cent that can only be found in retail inflation. A spike in these prices obviously bumps up only the retail inflation while leaving the wholesale inflation unaffected

Has this happened before?

  • Between 2012 to 2015 there was a growing divergence between retail and wholesale inflation indices. By October 2015, wholesale inflation was negative — that is, actual prices were declining — while retail inflation was over 7 per cent. 
  • While raging food inflation was a contributor, the spike in services such as education and medical facilities was the biggest reason for this divergence in 2015.

Impact on Policy making

  • If the RBI looks at retail inflation, which is at 4.6 per cent and is expected to stay above the 4 per cent mark till March 2020, it would be expected to raise interest rates and bring down inflation.
  • But if it were to look at WPI, the policy advice would be completely different. The RBI would then be expected to cut rates further 

CBI

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains III – Security

In News

  • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has set up an Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation (OCSAE) Prevention/Investigation Unit.
  • The unit, which will function under the agency’s Special Crime Zone in Delhi, will collect and disseminate information on online child sexual abuse and exploitation.
  • It will also probe such offences covered under the IPC, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and the Information Technology Act, apart from other relevant laws.

About CBI

  • It is the premier investigating agency of India. It investigates several economic crimes and special crimes.
  • It operates under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions
  • The CBI traces its origin to the Special Police Establishment (SPE) which was set up in 1941 by the Government of India.
  • The Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 transferred the superintendence of the SPE to the Home Department and its functions were enlarged to cover all departments of the Govt. of India.
  • The DSPE acquired its popular current name, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), through a Home Ministry resolution dated 1.4.1963.
  • Since 1987, there are two investigation divisions in the CBI, namely, Anti-Corruption Division and Special Crimes Division, the latter dealing with cases of conventional crime, besides economic offences.

Forest Act of 1927

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains II – Governance

In News

  • The Union Environment Ministry withdrew a draft amendment that proposed updates to the Indian Forest Act, 1927.
  • Some of the contentious issues in the proposed amendments to the act are:
    • Forest officers can issue search warrants, enter and investigate land within their jurisdiction
    • Forest officers will get indemnity for using arms to prevent forest-related offences
    • Forest officials will get powers to remove tribals from areas earmarked for conservation
    • It will allow government to open any patch of forest it deems fit for commercial operations
    • Imposition of forest development cess of up to 10% of the assessed value of mining products removed from forests, and water used for irrigation or in industries. This amount would be deposited in a special fund and used exclusively for reforestation and forest protection measures
  • These proposed provision drew flak from activists, tribal welfare organisations as well as from State governments which led Central government to drop the proposal.

Miscellaneous

NDRF

  • The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) will soon come up with a specialized unit in each battalion to help preserve monuments and other heritage structures battered by disasters
  • This is apart from its basic responsibility of rescue and restoration.
  • There will be a set of personnel in each battalion of NDRF who will get the basic training on preserving monuments. 
  • These personnel will have some sort of insights as to how to preserve heritage structures in the pre and post disaster scenario

About NDRF

  • It was formed in 2006 under the Disaster Management Act, 2005
  • It is a specialized force to tackle all types of disaster, including nuclear, biological and chemical disasters.
  • It is involved in Search and rescue operations and Supplying of relief materials to the victims.

(MAINS FOCUS)


POLITY

TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
  • Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

Anti-defection law

Context:

  • Supreme Court upheld speaker’s decision to disqualify 17 MLAs who defected from Congress, JDS
  • The defection led to the fall of Congress-JDS coalition govt in Karnataka
  • Congress called the BJP govt, which later came to power, an illegal govt
  • The MLAs, however, can contest the upcoming bypolls.

SC :

Under Article 193 has been discussed, Not making nay observation regarding the merits of disqualification. As such, there is no doubt that disqualification relates to date when the act takes place. The speaker in the exercise of powers does not have the power to indicate the period for which a person is barred from contesting an election

Background:

  • Assembly elections in 2018 resulted with the BJP emerging as the single largest party with 104 seats.
  • The INC and JD(S) formed a majority coalition government after the election, with a combined 120 of the 224 seats.
  • Karnataka speaker had disqualified the 17 legislators of the ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition ahead of a trust vote in July.
  • The then chief minister HD Kumaraswamy had resigned after losing the trust vote, which paved the way for the BJP-led government in the state under BS Yediyurappa.
  • Bypolls to 15 out of these 17 assembly seats which fell vacant following the disqualification of MLAs are scheduled on December 5 and candidates are required to file their nomination papers between November 11 and November 18.
  • These disqualified MLAs recently approached the apex court seeking a direction to the Election Commission to postpone the assembly bypolls for these 15 seats till the pronouncement of verdict in the matter.
  • Some of these disqualified MLAs had argued in the apex court that they have an “indefeasible right” to resign as members of the assembly and the decision by the then Speaker to disqualify them smacks of “vengeance” and “mala fide”.

Anti defection law:

  • If the member voluntarily gives up membership of the party on whose ticket s/he is elected. 
  • If the member votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction of his/her party. 
  • Disqualification may be avoided if the party leadership condones the vote or abstention within 15 days.

After disqualification:

  • If a member of the current House (15th legislative assembly) is disqualified, it means s/he cannot contest any election to the 15th House. However, s/he can contest the next assembly election (to the 16th House). Also, Article 164 (1B) of the Constitution states a member who has been disqualified cannot be made a minister till the expiry of his or her term, or till s/he is re-elected. 
  • If an MLA is disqualified on conviction for certain offences, he will be disqualified for a period of six years under Section 8 of the Representation of People’s (RP) Act. But Section 8 (4) of the RP Act gives protection to MPs and MLAs as they can continue in office even after conviction if an appeal is filed within three months.

Time limit :

  • The law does not specify a time-period for the presiding officer to decide on a disqualification plea.

Resignation vs disqualification

  • If an MLA is disqualified, then s/he cannot be a minister in the new dispensation without being re-elected
  • If an MLA resigns s/he can be inducted as a minister and get elected to either House of the legislature within six months.

Connecting the dots:

  • In Karnataka’s recent defection  case, the legislators have sent a sworn affidavit saying that they have resigned. Should this not bring the matter to rest? Analyse

POLITY

TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

National Education Policy 2019 (Part 1)

Features:

  • Four chapters focussing on school education; higher education; other key areas like adult education, technology and promotion of arts and culture; and a section on making it happen by establishing an apex body and the financial aspects to make quality education affordable for all.
  • The commitment to double the government expenditure on education from about 10% to 20% over a 10-year period is still insufficient, given the enormity of the challenge, it is an unprecedented commitment to the sector.

Dr. K. Kasturirangan committee

  • The Committee was constituted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in June 2017.  
  • The report proposes an education policy, which seeks to address the challenges of: (i) access, (ii) equity, (iii) quality, (iv) affordability, and (v) accountability faced by the current education system. 

Draft Education policy: 

  • The draft Policy provides for reforms at all levels of education from school to higher education. 
  • It seeks to increase the focus on early childhood care, reform the current exam system, strengthen teacher training, and restructure the education regulatory framework. 
  •  It also seeks to set up a National Education Commission, increase public investment in education, strengthen the use of technology and increase focus on vocational and adult education, among others.  

Key observations and recommendations 

School Education

The Committee observed several quality related deficiencies in the existing early childhood learning programmes.  These include: (i) curriculum that doesn’t meet the developmental needs of children, (ii) lack of qualified and trained teachers, and (iii) substandard pedagogy. 

This will consist of:

(i) Guidelines for up to three-year-old children (for parents and teachers), and 

(ii) Educational framework for three to eight-year-old children.  This would be implemented by improving and expanding the anganwadi system and co-locating anganwadis with primary schools

The Right to Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act): 

  • Currently, the RTE Act provides for free and compulsory education to all children from the age of six to 14 years.  
  • The draft Policy recommends extending the ambit of the RTE Act to include early childhood education and secondary school education.  
  • This would extend the coverage of the Act to all children between the ages of three to 18 years. 
  • Continuous and comprehensive evaluation and the no detention policy must be reviewed.
  •  It states that there should be no detention of children till class eight.  Instead, schools must ensure that children are achieving age-appropriate learning levels. 

Curriculum framework: 

  • The current structure of school education must be restructured on the basis of the development needs of students.  

(i) five years of foundational stage (three years of pre-primary school and classes one and two),  (ii) three years of preparatory stage (classes three to five), (iii) three years of middle stage (classes six to eight), and (iv) four years of secondary stage (classes nine to 12). 

  • The Committee noted that the current education system solely focuses on rote learning of facts and procedures. Hence, it recommends that the curriculum load in each subject should be reduced to its essential core content.  This would make space for holistic, discussion and analysis-based learning. 
     

School exam reforms: 

The Committee noted that the current board examinations

 (i) Force students to concentrate only on a few subjects, 

(ii) Do not test learning in a formative manner, and 

(iii) Cause stress among students.  

  • The draft Policy proposes State Census Examinations in classes three, five and eight.  Further, it recommends restructuring the board examinations to test only core concepts, skills and higher order capacities.  
  • These board examinations will be on a range of subjects.  The students can choose their subjects, and the semester when they want to take these board exams.  The in-school final examinations may be replaced by these board examinations.
     

School infrastructure: 

  • The Committee noted that establishing primary schools in every habitation across the country has helped increase access to education.  However, it has led to the development of very small schools (having low number of students). 
  • This will ensure that resources such as infrastructure and trained teachers can be efficiently shared across a school complex.
     

Teacher management: 

  • The Committee noted that there has been a steep rise in teacher shortage, lack of professionally qualified teachers, and deployment of teachers for non-educational purposes.  
  • Recommends that teachers should be deployed with a particular school complex for at least five to seven years.  Further, teachers will not be allowed to participate in any non-teaching activities (such as cooking mid-day meals or participating in vaccination campaigns) during school hours that could affect their teaching capacities.
     

Regulation of schools: 

  • The draft Policy recommends separating the regulation of schools from aspects such as policymaking, school operations, and academic development.  
  • It suggests creating an independent State School Regulatory Authority for each state that will prescribe basic uniform standards for public and private schools. 
  •  The Department of Education of the State will formulate policy and conduct monitoring and supervision. 

Higher Education

  • According to the All India Survey on Higher Education, the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education in India has increased from 20.8% in 2011-12 to 25.8% in 2017-18. 
  • The Committee identified lack of access as a major reason behind low intake of higher education in the country. 
  • It aims to increase GER to 50% by 2035 from the current level of about 25.8%.  Key recommendations in this regard include:
  • The Committee proposes setting up the National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA).  
  • This independent authority would replace the existing individual regulators in higher education, including professional and vocational education.  
  • This implies that the role of all professional councils such as AICTE and the Bar Council of India would be limited to setting standards for professional practice.  
  • The role of the University Grants Commission (UGC) will be limited to providing grants to higher educational institutions.
  • Currently, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) is an accreditation body under the UGC. 
  • The draft Policy recommends separating NAAC from the UGC into an independent and autonomous body. 
  •  In its new role, NAAC will function as the top level accreditor, and will issue licenses to different accreditation institutions, who will assess higher educational institutions once every five to seven years.  All existing higher education institutions should be accredited by 2030. 
     

Establishment of new higher educational institutions:

  • Currently, higher educational institutions can only be set up by Parliament or state legislatures.  
  • The draft Policy proposes that these institutions could be allowed to be set up through a Higher Education Institution Charter from NHERA.  
  • This Charter will be awarded on the basis of transparent assessment of certain specified criteria.  
  • All such newly constituted higher educational institutions must receive accreditation as mandated by NHERA within five years of being established.
     

Restructuring of higher education institutions

(i) Research universities focusing equally on research and teaching; 

(ii) Teaching universities focusing primarily on teaching; and

 (iii) Colleges focusing only on teaching at undergraduate levels.  All such institutions will gradually move towards full autonomy – academic, administrative, and financial.
 

Establishing a National Research Foundation:

  • The Committee observed that the total investment on research and innovation in India has declined from 0.84% of GDP in 2008 to 0.69% in 2014.  
  • India also lags behind many nations in number of researchers (per lakh population), patents and publications.  

Conclusion:

  • Education, for most of us, is a necessary public good central to the task of nation building and, like fresh air, is necessary to make our communities come alive; 
  • it should not be driven solely by market demand for certain skills, or be distracted by the admittedly disruptive impact, for instance, of Artificial Intelligence. 
  • This form of education should be unshackled from the chains of deprivation, and “affordable” education, for instance in JNU, is vital to ensure access to even the most marginalised sections of our country. 
  • Education policy, in essence, must aim to produce sensitive, creative and upright citizens who are willing to take the less-travelled path and whose professional “skills” will endure revolutions in thinking and technology.

Connecting the dots:

  • New education policy misses a critical chance to address inequalities in system. Analyse

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Note: 

  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers. 
  • Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.

Q.1) Household Consumer Expenditure Survey is brought out by which Organisation/Union Ministry?

  1. NITI Aayog
  2. Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation
  3. Reserve Bank of India
  4. Ministry of Labour

Q.2) Consider the following statementsabout divergence between WPI and CPI

  1. India is witnessing for the first time the divergence in rates between WPI and CPI, where WPI inflation is at only 0.16% while retail inflation(CPI) is at 4.6%
  2. One of the reason for such divergence is price surge in services which have a weight of about 30 per cent that can only be found in retail inflation

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

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

Q.3) Consider the following statements about Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

  1. It operates under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
  2. Recently, it has set up an Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation (OCSAE) Prevention/Investigation Unit which will collect and disseminate information on online child sexual abuse and exploitation

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

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

Q.4) Consider the following statements about National Disaster Response Force (NDRF)

  1. It was formed under the Disaster Management Act, 2005
  2. It is trained to tackle all types of disasters except nuclear, biological and chemical disasters which is handled by National Security guards

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

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

Q.5) Consider the following statements Common Wealth Games (CWG)

  1. The 2022 CWG will be held in Melbourne, Australia
  2. India wants to skip the CWG-2022 because shooting has been removed from the games which has been the source of one-fourth of India’s medals at the Commonwealth Games

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

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

ANSWERS FOR 15 Nov 2019 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 D
3 A
4 B

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