- Recently, the government has proposed to amend the RTI Act 2005.
2. Nikhil Dey, founder member of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakit Sangathan has put forward the following arguments in favour of amendment:
- The equivalence in salaries with the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) is not acceptable because the CEC is a constitutional authority.
- The RTI Act does not seek to make the Information Commission a constitutional body.
- The amended Bill will promote efficiency and accountability throughout the country.
- The existing provisions of the act do not have an express provision regarding the salaries, allowances and other terms and conditions of service of the CIC and ICs. Therefore amendment is necessary.
- The RTI act did not create a new bureaucracy for implementing the law.
- Under the RTI Act, the information sought by applicants is not given in time, wrong or inadequate information is given, and penalties are not imposed on officials for their lapses.
3. Bhupender Yadav, Politician has put forward the following arguments against amendment:
- The amendments will structurally weaken and nullify the entire Act.
- The Bill does not intend to make any fundamental changes to the Act instead, it will make the RTI Act more transparent by way of providing express provisions for salaries, allowances, and other conditions of service of the CIC and ICs.
- It would enable the central government to determine the tenure, salaries, allowances, and other terms of service of the central and state information commissioners. This will undermine the independence of the RTI mechanism .
- It neither takes away nor weakens the powers of the CIC or ICs.
- In the amended Bill, CIC, ICs, and State CIC become equivalent to a judge of the Supreme Court in terms of their salaries, allowances and other terms and conditions of services.
- The functions being carried out by the Election Commission of India and the Central and State Information Commissions are very different. Therefore their status and service conditions need to be rationalized accordingly.
- On the other hand, the Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions are statutory bodies established under the RTI Act.
- The Election Commission is a constitutional body established under Article 324 of the Constitution and is responsible for the conduct of all elections to Parliament, State legislatures and to the post of President and Vice-President.
4. Bimal Julka, an Information Commissioner has put the following suggestions on the subject.
- There is need to think about the pragmatic issues confronting implementation of the Act.
- There is a paradigm shift in understanding the meaning of ‘information’ as contained in Section 2(f) and (j) of the Act.
- The applicants are seeking redress of their personal grievances beyond the jurisdiction of the Commission.
- The Supreme Court in CBSE v Aditya Bandopadhyay(2011), decided that the RTI Act could only provide information that was available.
- However, In Union of India v. Namit Sharma(2013), the court held that “ the Information Commission does not decide a dispute between two or more parties concerning their legal rights other than right to get information in possession of a public authority.
- There is a need to reassess the understanding of the term public good or public interest in the broader context of the RTI mechanism.
- Need to focus on reassessing the efficacy of the RTI on the substantive issues of providing information and enforcing the provisions of the Act.
- The awareness of applicants and respondents through periodic seminars, workshops, etc.
- All statekholders including public, youth organizations, and NGOs should create awareness about the provisions of the Act so that RTI mechanism can be strengthened.
- Recently, PM Narendra Modi met South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on the sidelines of the BRICs summit in Johannesburg.
2. Johannesburg sent official to resolve crisis with Indian side.
3. The crisis erupted after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of Johannesburg started investigating charges by the Muslim Lawyers Association on human rights violations in Kashmir.
4. However, Officials from Johannesburg side informed that the NPA was not empowered to press charges as the Indian PM was protected by the Geneva Convention governing international summits.
5. Indian government has not commented on this so far.
6. Geneva Conventions:
- Geneva Conventions are a set of international treaties to regulate war crimes. India is a signatory to it.
- The conventions consist of four conventions and three protocols.
- It aims to incorporate humane behavior even with those who are involved in either of international or non-international conflicts.
- It promotes ethical behavior during wars and defines the code of conduct that must be met while behaving with criminals.
7. About BRIC Summit 2018:
- Theme: “BRICs in Africa: Collaboration for inclusive growth and shared prosperity in the 4th industrial revolution.
- This is the tenth annual BRIC Summit, attended by the heads of government of the five member states Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
- This is the second time South Africa is hosting the summit after 2013 summit.
- Resolution of the Ethiopia-Eritrea dispute brings hope for stability and development
2. Ethiopia recently decided to implement an earlier Peace Agreement with neighbouring Eritrea.
3. The agreement which intended to bring an end to a conflict triggered by Eritrea. It was signed in Algiers in December 2000.
4. Conflict between the two countries:
- Eriterea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993, following a guerrilla war.
- The two neighbours remained deadlocked in a conflict over a dispute concerning border town of Badma.
- Boundaries delimitation commission had awarded the area to Eritrea in 2002, but Ethiopia refused to cede control.
- The presence of Ethiopian troops served to prolong the confrontation, as Eritrea mobilized its own forces.
- The conflict gave the dictator a pretext to expand a large conscription programme, in the process of triggering a mass exodus to European countries.
- Desperate Eritrean migrants were drowned off Italy’s Lampedusa Island in 2013.
- Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed has unveiled democratic reforms including lifting the state of emergency, releasing political prisoners, and removing some opposition parties from the list of terrorist groups.
- But there are conflict in the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, between the country’s ethnic Oromo majority and the politically dominant Tigrayan minority.
- Unless managed tactfully, these internal tensions within the governing coalition could impede the peace process.
- Greater transparency and political accountability domestically is also important for stability across the borders.
- Ethiopia and Eritrea are strategically located, both as gateways for global trade and for counter-terrorism operations. Therefore, restoring peace and democracy between the two countries is an urgent priority.
- The International community must step up to engage both Ethiopia and Eritrea on fairer terms than it has during the course of the bitter conflict. But the final path to redemption lies in political wisdom.
- The world metrological organistaion (WMO) designated India as a nodal centre for preparing flash-flood forecasts.
2. It implies that India will have to develop a customized model that can issue advance warning of floods in Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand.
3. IMD would be working to customize a weather model, developed by the United States and donated to the WMO, to warn of flash floods atleast six hours in advance.
4. The test version for the same was carried out by the IMD recently.
5. Flash flood guidance system:
- Use of satellite mapping and ground based observations.
- Aims to provide forecasts six hours in advance.
- It provides forecasts by computing the likelihood of rainfall and the soil moisture levels to warn of possible floods.
- According to WMO, flash floods account for 85% of flooding incidents across the world, causing some 5,000 deaths each year.
6. Like India, several Southeast Asian countries also depend on the monsoon and are prone to its vagaries.
7. Pakistan had refused to participate in the Scheme.
8. India currently has a warning system for Tsunami that also doubles up a warning system for several Asian countries.
9. The Central Water Commission, monitors India’s dams, warns of rising water level in the reservoirs.
10. The CWC recently tied up with Google to develop a software application to visualize rising water levels during the heavy rains.
- According to the All India Survey on Higher Education Report 2017-18, total number of faculty members in higher educational institutions in India has come down.
2. The All India Survey on Higher Education Report 2017-18 pointed out:
- Total number of teachers in higher education institutions in India has come down by about 2.34 lakh in the last three years.
- As per the figures, total number of teachers stood as:
- In 2017-18: 12.84 lakh
- In 2016-17: 13.65 lakh
- In 2015-16: 15.18 lakh
- Between 2011-12 and 2015-16, the number has been rising from 12.47 lakh to 15. 18 lakh.
3. Reasons for decline in teachers numbers:
- Retiring professors are not being replaced.
- Sanctioned post not being filled in State universities.
- In Central universities, these posts are not being filled by the universities despite availability of sanctioned posts and funds.
- As per the 2017-18 figures, the teachers who provided their Aadhaar numbers were shown as teachers from this year on wards.
- In this context, the MoHRD said “occurring and filling up of vacancies is a continuous process. Universities being autonomous institutions, the onus of filling up vacant teaching posts lies with them”.