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GS 2

Cabinet clears Bill to restore the provisions of SC/ST Act

News:

  1. The Centre has decided to restore the original provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Important facts:

2. The Centre will introduce a Bill to restore original provisions of the Act, which the Supreme Court had struck down in March ruling.

Important facts:

3  The decision comes ahead of a planned ‘Bharat bandh’ by Dalit groups.

4. The Amendment Bill seeks to insert following three new clauses after Section 18 of the original act.

  • Preliminary enquiry shall not be required for registration of a FIR against any person.
  • The arrest of a person accused of having committed an offence under the Act would not require any approval.
  • The provisions of Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which deals with anticipatory bail, shall not apply to a case under this Act, “notwithstanding any judgment or order of any Court.

5. The Supreme Court in March ruled that:

  • The court issued guidelines to protect people against arbitrary arrests under the Act, directing that public servants could be arrested only with the written permission of their appointing authority.
  • While in case of private employees, the Senior Superintendent of Police concerned should allow it.
  • A preliminary inquiry should be conducted before the FIR was registered to check if the case fell within the ambit of the Act, and whether it was frivolous or motivated.

6. The judgment was protested by Dalit groups. Protests intensified when the government appointed Justice A.K. Goel, who authored the March 20 verdict, as the Chairman of the National Green Tribunal on his retirement.

 

 GS 3

TRAI’s nod for sale of 5G spectrum

News:

  1. TRAI’s green signal for sale of  5G spectrum

Important facts:

2. Recently, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended the auction of spectrum for offering 5G services for the first time in the country.

3. The service will be providing at a pan-India reserve price of about Rs 492 crore per MHz.

4. TRAI’s recommendation :

  • The regulator has also called for over 43% reduction in the reserve prices of 700 MHz band spectrum.
  • It had no takers in the 2016 auctions due to high pricing.
  • The entire available spectrum is put to auction in the forthcoming sale.
  • The regulator suggested that “it may not be prudent to either delay the auction or hold back the spectrum”.
  • The regulators pointed out that there is need of audit of all allocated spectrum both commercial as well as spectrum allocated to various PSUs and government organizations.
  • This should be done by an independent agency on a regular basis.

5. Based on the above recommendations, the base prices and timing for the next round of auctions will be finanlised .

6. The last auction for spectrum was held in 2016, wherein around 60% spectrum remained unsold.

7. Since then, the industry has witnessed strong consolidation, with only three main players- Bharti Airtel, Vodafone-Idea, and Reliance Jio.

8. Spectrum trading in this band should be allowed after a lock-in period of 5 years as opposed to 2 years to avoid misuse.

9. According to TRAI, there is “definite amount” of visibility and it is not entirely correct to say that industry is not in a position to assess its spectrum requirements.

10. Recently, concerns have also been raised about the financial health of the sector and its revenue growth as a result intense completion.

 

Scaled-up solutions for a future of water scarcity

Article:

  1. Vikram Soni, professor and Aditi Veena, urban ecologist, discussed the India’s water scarcity problems and also scaled up solutions for this problem.

Important facts:

2. Presently, India is facing huge water scarcity due to the following reasons:

  • Rising population
  • Invasive schemes like dams to service large cities and huge needs of agriculture have caused extreme ecological devastation.
  • In global market economies, the products and services that are derived from natural infrastructure have often led to the terminal loss of the source itself.
  • Large scale non-invasive schemes are scarce because they are far more challenging.

3. The author has suggested the following points to address water scarcity problem:

  • Large scale schemes that can provide a perennial supply of water to large population in cities and towns.
  • Engage the natural landscape.
  • Sustain ecological balance and have major economic and health benefits.
  • ‘Conserve and use’ our evolutionary resources with the help of science.
  • Use and conserve floodplains, it can be self-sustaining acquifer every year. The Delhi-palla flood plain project on the Yamuna is an example of this.
  • Land on the floodplains can be leased from farmers in return for a fixed income from the water sold to cities.
  • The farmer can be encouraged to grow food forests to secure and restore the ecological balance of the river    ecosystem.
  • River floodplains are exceptional acquifers where any withdrawal is compensated by gravity flow from large surrounding area, can be used      as a source of providing water to cities.
  • The scheme of ‘conserve ad use’ should be applied rationally; it would allow a forest to be sustained as a mineral water sanctuary. Forest could then provide enough natural mineral water.
  • This water can improve the health of citizens and preserve forests at the same time.

4. Currently, mineral water is brought from faraway mountain springs, putting huge pressure on the mountains. It is packaged and consumed in plastic bottles that end up in landfills.

5. Rain water through the various layers of humus and cracked rock pathways, picking up nutrients and minerals and flows into underground mineral water acquifers.

6. Water in these aquifers is comparable to several international natural spring mineral waters.

 

Reconsider the ban

News:

  1. Recently, the Union Health Ministry banned on the retail sale and private manufacture of oxytocin.

Important facts:

2. Uses of  oxytocin:

  • The drug, a synthetic version of a human hormone, is a life-saver for women.
  • Doctors use it to induce labour in pregnant women and to stem postpartum bleedings.
  • Because of its critical role in maternal health, the World Health Organisation recommends it as the drug of choice in postpartum haemorrhage.

3. The government ban  this because:

  • Misuse of the hormone in the dairy industry.
  • Oxytocin stimulates lactation in cattle; dairy farmers inject the drug indiscriminately to increase milk production.
  • This has spawned several unlicensed facilities that manufacture the drug for veterinary use.
  • oxytocin leads to infertility in dairy animals
  • It has also been linked to mastitis, a painful inflammation of the udder.
  • However, a 2014 study by researchers at the National Institute of Nutrition concluded that oxytocin content in buffalo milk did not alter with injections.

4. Suggestions:

  • Strengthen regulations and crack down on illegal production.
  • Despite calls for a complete ban on over-the-counter sale of antibiotics, India has been reluctant to do so.
  • In much of rural India, more people still die due to a lack of antibiotics than due to antibiotic-resistance.
  • If only a single public sector unit manufactures the drug, as the government plans, this could lead to drug shortages and price hikes.

 

India’s population growth rate is overestimated: study

News:

  1. By 2050, India is expected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country.

Important facts:

2. According to the scientists, India’s population growth rate is highly overestimated by existing models.

3. According to the scientists, Accounting for the diversity and differences in the levels of education among people can help arrives at more accurate projections.

4. Accurate population projections could help India and its workforce catch up with more developed Asian countries with higher GDP per capita.

5. Reasons for rising population:

  • Higher fertility rate and young population.

6. The researchers designed a study that pioneered a five-dimensional model of India’s population differences that include rural or urban place of residence, State, age, sex, and level of education.

7. The model was used to show the population projection changes within scenarios that combine different levels of these factors.

8. If the projection is carried out while only explicitly accounting for age and sex, influential factors like higher education, associated with decreased fertility, are left out.

9. Thus, a projection based on today’s much higher fertility rate of uneducated and rural women predicts a drastically larger population in the future.

 

River of effluents

News:

  1. The Clean Ganga project has a long way to go.

Important facts:

2. National Mission for Clean Ganga(NMCG):

  • It runs the ‘Namami Gange’ mission-India’s most ambitious endeavour to clean the Ganga river.
  • The NMCG has Rs 20,000 crore, centrally-funded, non-lapsable corpus and consist of nearly 228 projects.
  • The mission also has projects to clean the ghats, rid the river of biological contaminants and improve rural sanitation and afforestation.

3. Pollution  contributors:

  • Most of the Ganga’s pollution is due to five States on the river’s main stem — Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal.
  • Approximately 12,000 million litres a day (MLD) of sewage is generated in the Ganga basin, for which there is currently a treatment capacity of just 4,000 MLD.
  • Industrial pollution from tanneries in Kanpur, distilleries, paper and sugar mills in the Kosi, Ramganga and Kali river catchments is a major contributor.

4. Status of the cleaning exercise:

  • Recently, the National Green Tribunal pulled up the government for its tardy job and said that the stretches between Haridwar and Unnao were “unfit for drinking and bathing” and that authorities should display “health warnings”.
  • This year treatment plants at Haridwar and Varanasi begun to be constructed.
  • In May 2014, there were 31 treatment plants with a capacity of 485 MLD.
  • Till 2018, 94 projects, with a treatment capacity of 1,928 MLD, were under way.

 

Misadventures in education

Article:

  1. M.V. Rajeev Gowda, politician, and Shahana Munazir, scholar, discussed the pros and cons of the HECI Bill and Right to Education (Amendment) Bill, both passed  by the government recently.

Important:

2. Recently, the Ministry of HRD was in news for two controversial Bills:

a) The draft of Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) Bill, which seeks to replace the University Grant Commission.

b) The Right to Education (Amendment) Bill, 2018, seeks to eliminate the no-detention policy and reintroduce testing for class 5 and 8.

3. Many concerns have been raised by academics, policy makers, civil society on the HECI Bill on the following grounds:

  • Silent on concrete reasons to replace the UGC.
  • Both the National Knowledge Commission Report (2006) and the Yashpal Committee on Higher Education (2009) made a solid case for bringing in a new regulator.
  • Over centralization and enhanced political interference.
  • Politicization of grant allocation.
  • More interference by the Bureaucracy.
  • Instead of providing autonomy, the Bill allows the chairperson of the new Commission to be a member of the central government, something expressly prohibited in the UGC Act.
  • The bill also transgresses the autonomy of higher educational institutions by allowing micromanagement, for instance, on syllabi.
  • It does not involve the States sufficiently and or accommodate the diverse needs of the country.

4. Detention policy:

  • The Right to Education (RTE) Bill 2018 does away with the policy that children cannot be detained till they complete elementary education in Class VIII.
  •  The amendment gives States the option of holding regular examinations either at the end of Class V or Class VIII, or both.
  • Students who fail this exam would be given a chance to re-appear after two months from the date of declaration of results.
  • In case they still cannot pass, the States will have the option of detaining them.
  • This would potentially push out many children who are unable to meet standards because they have been deprived of quality education.
  • The no-detention policy was to be implemented together with continuous assessment, which would help identify learning deficiencies and correct them.
  1. Loopholes in amended RTE Bill:
  • The education system has failed to provide continuous assessment and so the government is falling back on examinations and detention, which can lead to students becoming discouraged and higher dropout rates.
  • Declining funds.
  • An Accountability Initiative Report shows that allocations for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the main vehicle to drive RTE implementation, have remained much below the resource estimates made by the MHRD.
  • Quality-related interventions accounted for only 9% of the total approved budgets in FY 2016-17.
  • States like Kerala that wish to continue with the no-detention policy spent nearly all their allocated budget on quality in 2016-17.
  1. The larger question is whether the no-detention policy will improve the learning outcomes of children if it is brought back.
  2.  Nine years since the launch of the RTE we have achieved near universalisation of enrolment of children at the elementary level. The no-detention policy is successful in that sense.
  3. However, if the aim is to improve learning outcomes, the policy alone is unhelpful.
  4. The author provides the following suggestions Suggestions:
  • Improving learning outcomes in children , there are other specific provisions in the RTE that need attention.
  • Maintaining good pupil-teacher ratio(PTR)
  • Proper infrastructure like all-weather building
  • Barrier-free access in schools
  • Separate toilets for boys and girls
  • Goods libraries should be there.
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