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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today
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9 PM for Main examination
- Need of addressing asymmetries of justice by Judiciary
- Message from the Political disruption in Rajasthan
- Problems with Online higher education
- Telecom sector and Policy Uncertainty
9 PM for Preliminary examination
1.Need of addressing asymmetries of justice by Judiciary
Source: The Express Express
Syllabus: GS 2 – Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
Context: Some recent events have demonstrated the need to introspect judiciary.
· Press conference by four distinguished judges of the SC: They expressed doubts about the Court’s functioning. They expressed concern about the threat to democracy from within the system.
· Migrants issue: The court did not take notice of the mass migration of workers’ misery of those walking hundreds of kilometers and those sequestered in ill-equipped shelter homes without adequate facilities in the first instance. This was a matter of national concern.
Role of Judiciary:
- Undamaged integrity — If the public loses confidence in the courts, democracy will be under threat.
- Bar community: The criticism of the bar community is not to diminish the dignity of the court. The real threat to the judiciary is posed by an assertive executive that seeks to dominate the court.
- Impartial decision making:
- Last resort: In normal circumstances, Litigants move the court as a matter of last resort because litigation costs are burdensomeand the resolution of disputes takes years.
- Purity of judicial process: The legal fraternity depends on it for its survival. If the litigant public loses faith in judicial processes, it threatenthe profession.
- Lack of consistent judicial ideology:Judges speak in too many different voices. A bench of two or more speaks for the entire Court. The same statutory provisions are viewed differently depending on the judges on the bench.
Some issues to the Legal processes of courts:
- Inconsistent listing of matters:
- Inconsistent administrative structure: Such as a litigant granted a hearing overnight without any apparent urgency while another with papers in order and facing imminent threat of arrest refused a hearing.
- Departure from settled practices in hearing matters: It is well-settled that habeas corpus petitions are heard the day after they are filed. It should not be changed as done in the case of leaders of the Opposition being in custody for months. Also, highly controversial unique procedures like handing over documents in sealed covers to the Court have gained credibility in recent times.
- Matters having national effect not listed for long time:
- Such as the matters relating to the elevation and transfer of judges have become concerning because of the manner in whichthey have taken place. Also, refusal of SC in first instance to migrant crisis had far reaching consequences.
It is in the interest of the democracy that our judges decide cases in the highest traditions of decision-making.
2.Message from the Political disruption in Rajasthan
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS 2-Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
Context: The ruling party has accused the opposition of trying to unsettle the government in Rajasthan.
· Internal tussle: The BJP has said that it is an outcome of an internal tussle in the Congress. There are talks of struggle for power between the Deputy CM and the CM.
· Rajya Sabha elections: The BJP has fielded a second candidate for elections to three Rajya Sabha seats on June 19 of which it can win only one with its current strength.
Recent examples of Political disruptions:
- The government was formed in Goa and Manipur through questionable means. The single largest party was not invited to form the government by the governor.
- Within the last year the elected government fell in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh through a pattern of engineering resignations of MLAs.
- Against the spirit of democracy: As every party has its share of disenchantment within its ranks but it should not be used as a front to dismantle a popular mandate.
To deal with “the evil of political defections”, an anti-defection law was introduced.
· It was included as the Tenth Schedule in the Constitution in 1985 via the 52nd Amendment Act, 1985.
· The law sets the provisions for disqualification of elected members on the grounds of defection to another political party.
How anti-defection law deal with Current pattern of resignations of MLAs?
- The 1960s and 1970s political arena was marked by ‘Aya Rams and Gaya Rams’ and 52ndamendment was introduced.
- The Anti-defection law is silent on this new resignation formula to destabilise
- Kihoto Hollohon judgement: One of the judges had said that the Tenure of the Speaker is dependent on the continuous support of the majority in the House. Therefore, he does not notsatisfy the requirement of such an independent adjudicatory authority.
- Solution: An independent authority can be created to deal with disqualification of MPs and MLAs under the Tenth Schedule.
The political uncertainty at this moment of pandemic could leads to devastating results.
3.Problems with Online higher education
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS-2- Education
Context: The University Grants Commission had issued a circular to universities encouraging them to adopt massive open online courses (MOOCs) offered on its SWAYAM platform for credit transfers in the coming semesters.
- Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM) is an integrated platform for offering online courses, covering school (9th to 12th) to Postgraduate Level.
- The objective of the platform is to bridge the digital divide for students and make best teaching learning resources available to all.
- It is considered an instrument to achieve India’s target Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education, envisioned to be 30% by 2021.
- The portal has been developed by Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and NPTEL, IIT Madras with the help of Google Inc. and Persistent Systems Ltd.
Issues with Imparting higher education through SWAYAM Portal
- Dumping of knowledge: MOOC-based e-learning platforms like SWAYAM tend to reinforce a top-down teacher-to-student directionality of learning. In such a scenario, the teacher creates study materials and then the knowledge is dumped on students.
- Exclusion of many courses: The SWAYAM platform have left out courses in engineering, medicine, dental, pharmacy, nursing, architecture, agriculture, and physiotherapy on the grounds that they involve laboratory and practical work.
- Limited social interaction:A major issue with online education is limited social interaction. This hinders development of social skills.
- Lack of personal contact:A major criticism of MOOC platforms is that there is no personal contact and there cannot be a proper classroom discussion, debates and counterarguments.
- Poor Digital Infrastructure: Many students, especially in rural areas do not have access to laptops, desktops and internet connection. Further, the digital infrastructure is poor in most parts of the country, with lack of high-speed internet and stable power supply.
Way Forward: The Covid-19 lockdown has led to many higher educational institutions opting for online classes. However, in India, where digital infrastructure is inadequate, online education has a long way to go. Further, MOOC platforms can help us during lockdowns but is no permanent replacement for classroom teaching.
4.Telecom sector and Policy Uncertainty
Source – Indian Express
Syllabus – GS 3 – Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Context – Rather than be driven by short-term revenue considerations, the government should consider the long-term implications of its moves on the telecom sector.
From license fee to revenue sharing model
- Before 1992– Department of Telecommunication had monopoly in providing cellular and internet services before economic reforms of 1991.
- After 1992– The Indian government liberalised the telecom sector as per the National Telecom Policy in 1994, under which licences were given in accordance to the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.
- Under this law, telcos are required to pay a fixed annual licence fee for licences granted to them. Since fixed licence fee was high, telcos often defaulted on their payments.
- After 1999– The government in 1999 announced the National Telecom Policy, which gave these companies an option to migrate from fixed licence fee to revenue sharing fee.
- As per the new policy, 15 per cent AGR was fixed as a licence fee under the revenue-sharing model, which was later reduced to 13 per cent and then 8 per cent in 2013.
Defining Adjusted Gross Revenue
- 2003 – The DoT claimed revenue share from all earnings under the AGR from the telecom companies which included revenue from telecom services as well as non-telecom services like installation charges, value-added services, interest income, dividend, and profit on the sale of assets, insurance claim and forex gain.
The operators (telecoms) suggest that it should include only the revenue from core services.
- 2019 – The Supreme Court widened the definition of AGR to include the government’s view.
- 2020– The Court has taken cognisance of the telcos’ plea of allowing them to repay their dues over a period but on the condition of providing bank guarantees as securities.
Liability on telecom companies
- The total amount due is ~ Rs 1.4 lac crore.
Implication of the Supreme Court Verdict
- Effect on other industries– Given the multiplier impact the (telecom) sector has on the economy and various other industries like as internet service providers, satellite communications providers, cable operators and even companies in power, steel and railways sector, it is of critical importance that the sector remains healthy.
- Debt ridden telecom sector and Rising NPA– Currently the sector is saddled with a massive debt and has almost no appetite to invest in networks and future technologies. Adding further woes to the sector, the recent ruling on the AGR, dues of the telecom service providers will lead to a disastrous collapse of the sector and steep hike in Non –Performing Assets of Banks.
- Impacting overall development including Digital India Policy– The world is witnessing the advent of new possibilities and business opportunities from emerging technologies such as 5G, AI, Internet of Things, etc which will redefine the way businesses and economies will work in the coming decades, it is important that India retains its leadership position in the telecom space. Increased liability will reduce the incentive to invest in new technologies.
- High tariff for consumers – The collapse of any one telecom company will led to end of competition and give scope for cartelization as currently there only three major players – Airtel ,VodafoneIdea and Reliance . The result will be high rise in tariff charged from consumers.
Way Forward – The AGR case is classic example of policy uncertainty in India which tends to dampen the business climate and hurt investments in long run. Amid the slowdown and lockdown induced economic issues, need of the hour is to provide certainty on payment of dues over a period of time to prevent cascading impact on whole economy.
9 PM for Preliminary examination
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