Earth Day: 22nd April
- Theme: Invest in our planet
- The Beginning: The first-ever Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 and is attributed to Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. politician who served as a Governor and a Senator during his career.
Part of: Prelims and GS-III: Indian economy
Context: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh launched Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) Prime and the sixth Defence India Start–up Challenge (DISC–6) meant to encourage defence start–ups during DefConnect 2.0.
- Aims to support projects, requiring support beyond Rs 1.5 crore up to Rs 10 crore, to help ever-growing start-ups in the defence sector.
- iDEX has, so far, introduced more than 100 winners to the market, providing direct & indirect employment to thousands of skilled and semi–skilled people.
- Stressed on continuous strengthening of all sectors, especially the security apparatus, to deal with the challenges that may emanate from the fast–changing world order.
Part of: Prelims and GS-II: Judiciary
Context: The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a petition highlighting the need for the government to frame guidelines for compensating victims of wrongful prosecution by the police or authorities.
The petition says
- Innocents fall victims to malice of authorities who use criminal justice system to settle scores.
- India, with a population of around 1.5 billion, has no effective statutory/legal mechanism for the wrongful prosecutions due to police and prosecutorial misconduct resulting in a pandemic of false cases which has not only destroyed the social fabric of the nation but also affected the overburdened judiciary with alarming pendency of over 40 million cases.
- The government has not yet implemented the recommendations made by the Law Commission of India in its 277th report on the miscarriage of justice in 2018.
- The commission had prepared the report on the basis of a Delhi High Court order in the Babloo Chauhan case in November 2017 to undertake a “comprehensive examination of issue of relief and rehabilitation to victims of wrongful prosecution and incarceration”.
- GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
Context: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has simplified the procedure for enabling academic collaborations between Indian and foreign higher educational institutions.
What has the UGC proposed?
- UGC has decided to allow certain Indian higher education institutions to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with foreign institutions to offer dual degree, joint degree or twinning programmes.
- To qualify for such academic collaboration, the Indian college, institute or university must figure among the top global 1,000 QS World University or Times Higher Education rankings or have emerged as one of the top 100 universities under the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF).
- The college or university must have secured a minimum grading of 3.01 on a 4-point scale from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).
- Likewise, the foreign collaborator institution must also have figured among the 1,000 global top QS or Times Higher Education Rankings.
- The collaborations would be facilitated and governed under the proposed dedicated regulations which has incorporated suggestions after placing it in the public domain for feedback.
- Once notified, the new regulation would supersede the University Grants Commission (Promotion & Maintenance of Standards of Academic Collaboration between Indian and Foreign Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2016.
How do the new regulations differ from that of 2016?
- The earlier regulations did not provide for “automatic mode” of foreign collaboration for academic courses offered in India.
- While a threshold for accreditation rating was mandated, there was no requirement for the university or college to figure among the top ranked institutions globally.
- The qualifying institution was required to apply to the UGC for approval and a sub-committee was vested with the powers to make a recommendation on the basis of which the regulatory body would take a final decision
- Besides, the approval granted was valid only for two cycles of the minimum duration of the degree programmes covered under the collaboration or as specified otherwise.
- The Indian educational institution was required to apply for renewal of approval before six months of its expiration.
- Under the soon-to-be-notified regulations, the qualifying universities and colleges will not be required to seek permission for academic collaborations abroad.
How will the courses with foreign collaboration be offered?
- The qualifying Indian university or college can offer “dual degree”, “joint degree” or a “twinning programme” in collaboration with foreign institutions.
- The “dual degree” programme is new, while the other two programmes were offered under the 2016 regulations, though only fewer institutions had introduced such programmes due to the bureaucratic approval process.
- The degrees, under the “dual degree programme” shall be conferred by the Indian and foreign institutions “separately and simultaneously” upon completion of degree requirements of both universities.
- For the twinning degree programme, a student can get up to 30% course credit utilisation of the total course from the collaborating foreign university.
- For the joint and dual degree programmes, the students shall be permitted to get more than 30% of the total course credits from the university or institution abroad.
- As per the 2021 draft rules, for enrolling in dual degree programmes, prospective students must meet the admission requirements of both the Indian and foreign institutions and shall apply to and be admitted separately to both the institutions.
- Besides, the students must earn at least 50% of total credits from the Indian institution.
- The dual degree programme to be offered shall also conform to the nomenclature and duration of the degrees as specified under the UGC Act, 1956.
- The collaborating higher education institutions shall ensure that the credits earned by the students shall not be from overlapping course contents/curriculum.
What are the merits of this measure?
- Qualifying Indian institutions will now be free to collaborate with foreign universities
- For students the cost of education with international exposure would come down.
- Institutions that are committed to academic excellence will provide the students an opportunity for advanced learning with global expertise.
- Private autonomous colleges and deemed universities are most likely to utilise this opportunity to enter into agreements for twinning or dual / joining degree programmes with foreign institutions, flaunting them in their brochures to attract students.
- The UGC may have to monitor the quality of academic delivery in such programmes.
Connecting the dots:
- What’s new in Higher Education in India
- New Education policy2020
- NEP: Higher Education Institutions and Board Exams
- Higher Education in Regional Languages
- GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
- GS-3: Corporate Governance
Context: Publicly listed companies across the globe often witness threats of hostile takeovers, which take place through a back-door accumulation of shares. However, with time, they have come up with varied defence mechanisms to prevent such takeovers.
Elon Musk who currently owns about 9% of Twitter shares (second biggest shareholder) made a bid to acquire Twitter and take it private to restore its commitment to free speech.
The company’s board has resisted this and deployed the “poison pill” mechanism
About Poison Pill Mechanism
- Officially known as a shareholder rights plan, it is a defence tactic utilized by a target company to prevent or discourage hostile takeover attempts.
- The plan would allow existing shareholders, excluding the acquiring entity — Mr Musk in this case — to purchase additional shares at a discounted rate, making it difficult for the acquirer to establish a majority stake in the company.
- The mechanism protects minority shareholders and avoids the change of control of company management.
- Poison pills also often open the door to further negotiations that can force a bidder to sweeten the deal.
- If a higher price makes sense to the board, a poison pill can simply be cast aside, clearing the way for a sale to complete.
Other defence mechanisms are:
|· The idea here is simple: pay them to go away and stop threatening the company with hostile takeover.
· It involves the target company repurchasing its own shares at a premium and in a quantity enough to prevent a hostile takeover.
|Crown jewel defence
|· The mechanism involves the target company spinning-off (making it a separate entity) its crown jewel unit or its most valued asset, in order to make the acquisition less desirable for the acquirer.|
|· Prevent a hostile takeover by initiating a reverse takeover. It involves the target company making an offer to the acquire the company that commenced the takeover bid.
· The target company could make use of its ‘war chest’ or securing finances from outside for the reverse takeover bid.
|White Knight defence
|· Here, a ‘friendly’ company acquires a corporation at fair consideration when it is on the verge of being taken over by an ‘unfriendly’ acquirer. The unfriendly bidder is generally known as the “black knight.”|
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in the comment section)
Q.1) Consider the following statements about ‘Osman Sagar’ and ‘Himayat Sagar’.
- The reservoirs were created by building dams on the Krishna River.
- The lakes came into being during the reign of the last nizam Osman Ali Khan.
Select the correct code:
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.2) Consider the following statements about marginal cost of funds-based lending rates (MCLR) and external benchmark linked lending rate (EBLR).
- MCLR-linked loans had the largest share of the loan portfolio of banks.
- When the RBI hikes the repo rate, EBLR will go up and vice versa.
Select the correct code:
- 1 Only
- 2 Only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.3) When interest rates fall, the value of the bond or debt mutual fund
- No Change
- Might increase or decrease depending on the government in power.
ANSWERS FOR 21st APRIL 2022 – TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
On India-Maldives ties:
On addressing digital tax challenge: