- Sujeev Shakya, Secretary General of the Himalayan Consensus Institute, analyse that it is high time for India to redefine its engagement with Nepal rather than continue to be reactive.
2. Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oil’s visited to China last month.
3. The visit had much significance because:
- Nepal was just recovering from the Indian blockade that had impacted lives.
- India’s blockade, coming against the backdrop of India reservations about constitution Nepal was adopting.
- Nepal was still recovering from the massive earthquake came in April 2015.
4. Nepal-China relations:
- During visit to China in 2016, Mr Oli, emphasized on the following agendas
- Trade and investment agreement with China on the lines with special agreements with India.
- China became the enabler of connectivity, world trade and dependency as it pushed its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
- With Southeast Asia well covered and inroads made in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh for China, Nepal continues to remain the best conduit for Indian markets for China.
- Nepal will be connected with China through a railway network in addition to roads.
- Optical fibre cables already connected the two nations providing Nepal a much needed alternative to sell excess power.
- Rail and Road networks will also provide Nepal an alternative for petroleum products that continue to remain the highest important product.
- The China has continuously maintained that Nepal’s relation with India is more cost effective than the China and has advised Nepal to work with India.
- For Nepal, developing the relations with China is very important and is more out of compulsion than choice.
- In this situation, it depends on India to rethink on a long-term basis how to recalibrate its relationship with Nepal.
5. India –Nepal relations:
- Nepal has historically remained ‘India-locked as it dependent on India for transit to the seas.
- Nepal is a place of opportunity for people from the border towns of India.
- The impact of the Nepal blockade in Indian border was so intense that it forced Indian traders to tap their own channels to end it.
6. Way ahead:
- India need to realize the new reality that its monopoly over geopolitics in Nepal is over, and there is another relationship that Nepal is nurturing.
- It is high time for India to be proactive and redefine its engagement rather than continue to be reactive.
- The way India has been flexible with the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) meetings is a welcome step in this direction.
- Recently, the Election Commission launched voter identity cards with Braille label.
2. It was done to ensure greater participation of persons with visual impairment in the electoral process
3. The Commission also unveiled a strategic framework on “Accessible Elections” with representatives of the Central government, political parties, NGOs and experts on disabilities.
4. A new Accessible Division in the India International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Management will also be set up.
5. The Chief Election Commissioner announced following a series of measure for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in the electoral process.
- Printing of photo-identity cards with Braille
- Accessible communication awareness materials
- A mobile phone application to motivate and educate the voters
- Appointment of Disability Coordinates at the Assembly constituency, district and State level.
- Advertise the content material for the convenience of deaf persons and free transport facility to them.
- Philip G. Altbach, research professor, through this article highlighting the major challenges in India’s higher education system.
2. Earlier, Colleges and universities have been restricted from deep institutional collaborations.
3. Little emphasis was given on attracting international students.
4. Only 47,575 international students study in India compared to the almost 400,000 in China.
5. India is facing challenges like inadequate funding and increasing privatization and politicization in higher education policy.
- Upgrading more Indian universities to world-class quality will be complex task. It will require time and consistent funding.
- Increased autonomy and freedom will be needed from the bureaucratic shackles of government is not easy to attain.
- Ensuring that universities have imaginative leadership is also a key necessity.
- Lack of internationalization.
- Inability to pass legislation relating to foreign branch campuses other relationships with overseas universities is an indication of the problem.
7. Steps taken for higher education:
The National Institutional Ranking Framework(NIRF):
- The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), implemented in 2016, is India’s first government supported ranking of colleges and universities.
- It also provides the basis for differentiating among colleges and universities.
- Forces participating institutions to submit data on critical areas.
- Permitting to make key decisions
- Two-additional institutions build on idea of creating competitive world class universities in India includes:
a) The Institutions of Eminence(IOE) project.
- It will recognized 20 universities, 10 public and 10 private.
- Provides significant government funds to public institutions.
- Give enhanced autonomy to them.
b) Graded Autonomy project:
- It provides considerable freedom for academic, financial, and administrative innovation to colleges and universities participating.
- It will be significant stimulus for innovation.
- Both public and private institutions are involved.
- The Graded Autonomy programme makes easier to hire international faculty.
- It seeks to attract international students mainly from countries African and Asian countries.
- Aimed at doubling India’s tiny share of global student mobility from 1% to 2%.
- India is moving towards signing a pact on mutual recognition of academic qualifications with 30 countries.
- Recently, a government-to-government MoU was signed between India and France to recognize academic qualifications.
- The national ranking initiative needs to be extended throughout the higher education system.
- Internationalisation is central to academic success in the 21st century .
- The Study in India initiative and proposals relating to relationships between Indian and foreign institutions are useful beginnings in this regard.
- Recently, the Union Cabinet approved the proposal to expand the capital base of Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA).
2. The Cabinet permitted the HEFA to mobilize Rs 1 lakh crore to meet the infrastructure needs of the institutions.
3. The CCEA has also approved increasing the authorized share capital of HEFA to Rs 10,000 crore and approved infusing additional government equity of Rs 5,000 crore in HEFA.
4. The funding will also be available to government-run schools including Kendriya Vidyalas and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas.
5. It will help build speedier infrastructure of these schools.
6. About HEFA:
- Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) is a proposed not-for-profit agency with initial capital base of Rs. 1000 Crore.
- It was announced in Union Budget 2016-17.
- The major objective of the HEFA is to leverage funds from the market and supplement them with donations and CSR funds.
- These funds will be used to finance improvement in infrastructure in top educational institutions.
- The capital of the fund will be used to finance capital expenditure for building quality in infrastructure in IITs, IIITs, and IISERs and central universities.
- It will also be used to fund state-of-the art research and other infrastructure.
- The Union Cabinet’s green signal to DNA profiling Bill.
2. DNA profiling Bill and its key features:
3. Originally proposed in 2007, the drafting of the Bill began in 2012 by the Department of biotechnology of the Ministry of Science and Technology.
4. The Proposed Bill will establish DNA profiling board.
- The proposed board will have experts from fields like molecular biology, human genetics, population biology, bioethics, social science and many more.
- This board will define standards and controls for DNA profiling. Labs will be certified by the government to access the data provided by law agencies.
- The National DNA data bank will collect data from offenders, suspects, missing persons, unidentified dead bodies and volunteers. DNA data in cases of homicides, sexual assault, adultery and other crimes will also be stored in the bank.
5. The Bill seeks to establish a national DNA data bank.
6. The Bill will help in forensic investigation.
7. Allows law enforcement agencies to collect DNA samples, create “DNA Profiles”, and special databanks for forensic criminal investigations.
8. However, the Bill is facing criticisms for violation of privacy and immune to data abuse.
9. The bill will be tabled in Parliament in the upcoming Monsoon Session.
- The Supreme Court in its judgment over power tussle between Delhi government and LG, held that lieutenant governor is bound by the “aid and advice” of the Delhi government.
2. Issues involved:
- After its victory in 2015 in Assembly elections, the AAP government has clashed with the L-G over appointments, file clearances and control of the police department, which reports to the Centre.
- The Delhi government had argued that the legislative powers of the L-G, as a delegate of the President, is limited compared with those possessed by the Delhi Assembly.
3. However, the centre government argued that the Delhi government was at best meant to take care of the “daily utilities” of the Capital and the “real power to administrate the national capital” was vested with the President and the Union of India.
4. The Delhi government refers the matter to the Delhi High Court. The HC ruled that:
- The court had declared that the LG has “complete control of all members regarding NCT of Delhi and nothing will happen without the concurrence of the LG.
- The court ruled that Delhi is a Union Territory and the Lieutenant Governor its administrative head.
5. Recent judgment of the Supreme Court came on appeals filed by the Delhi government against the 2016 HC verdict.
6. Now, the apex court in its verdict held that :
- The LG has not entrusted with any independent power and bound by aid and advice of council of ministers.
- The LG refer the dispute to the President for a final decision without sitting over it
- The LG is bound to implement the decision taken by the President on a reference being made by him
- The court ruled that government of Delhi cannot rest upon the whims of one functionary- the LG.
- The court ruled that the Lieutenant-Governor should act as a “facilitator” for good governance in the national capital and not as an “obstructionist”
- The court said that LG cannot exercise his discretion in daily governance.
- His discretionary powers are limited to only matters in the State List — public order, police and land — over which the legislative power of the Delhi Legislative Assembly stand excluded under Article 239AA
- The court said the L-G cannot be given the status of a “State Governor”.
7. CJI quotes from the 1987 Balakishan report to conclude that ‘Delhi is not a state’. The report emphasized on the following points:
- Delhi could not have a situation in which the national capital had “two governments run by different political parties. Such conflict may prejudice national interest”.
- The SC bench in its judgment excerpts from the report which said, Delhi as the national capital belongs to the nation as a whole”.
- The report said that if Delhi becomes a full-fledged state, there would be a Constitution and division of sovereign, legislative, and executive powers between the Union and the State of Delhi.
- Parliament would have limited legislative access.
- The control of the union over Delhi was vital in the national interest.
- It dealt extensively with the modifications in the aid and advice given by the Council of Minister to the administration of Delhi.
- The report also pointed out that LG’s role was not that of a Constitutional figurehead, though the ultimate responsibility for good administration of Delhi was vested in the President acting through administrator.
- The Union cabinet has increased the Minimum Support Prices(MSP) for kharif crops.
2. The decision was taken by the Cabinet Committee on economic affairs headed by PM Narendra Modi.
3. The MSP were announced for 14 commodities.
4. The government has increased MSP so that farmers will get 50% more than their ‘production cost’.
5. However, in percentage terms, this year’s MSP of Rs. 1,750 per quintal is only a 12.9% increase from last year’s MSP of Rs. 1,550 per quintal.
6. The government considers A2+FL’ as production cost.
7. A2+FL costs includes family labour, but not land costs.
8. However, some experts want comprehensive cost (C2) to be considered for MSP. C2 includes land costs. MSP based on C2 cost will be higher than the proposed figure.
9. The MSP increased so that they are 50% higher than the cost of production not including land cost.
10. Increased figures for different crops:
- Rs 200 per quintal increase in the MSP for paddy, which is likely to inflate the food subsidy Bill by over Rs, 15,000 crore.
- In 2008-09, the previous government had announced a 20.8% year –on- year hike in the MSP of paddy.
- The MSP of paddy has been increased 41% from 2014-18.
- Paddy is the major kharif crop and is directly procured from farmers by the Food Corporation of India.
- There is no guaranteed mechanism for procurement of more other crops.
- Apart from paddy major hike being seen in cereals such as bajra, jowar, ragi and cotton.
11. The hike in MSP will be beneficial in the following way:
- It will boost farmers’ income.
- Enhance purchasing capacity of farmers.
- Will have positive impact on wider economy
12. However several farmer outfits expressed their dissatisfaction over government’s decision because :
- According to some critiques if MSP had been announced on C2 basis, then paddy price would have risen by at least Rs 700 per quintal.