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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today
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9 PM for Main examination
- The existential threat to Palestine.
- Making Data a Public Good
- Legitimate concern: on law and order in Nagaland
- STARS project – Improving quality and governance of school education
- One nation one ration card
9 PM for Preliminary examination
1.The existential threat to Palestine.
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS 2-Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
Context: There are reports that the PM of Israel is planning to annex 30% of the West Bank.
· It will include annexation of all the existing (post-1967) settlements in addition to areas surrounding them and access roads.
· The UN Secretary General called upon Israel to abandon its annexation plans and asked the Middle East Quartet (the US, Russia, the European Union and the UN) to resume its mandated mediatory role.
Whether the annexation is a violation of International law?
- Annexation: It is forcible acquisition of territory by one state at the expense of another state as per international law.
- Violation of inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force: It will be illegal if such an act is sanctified by Israel and according to some experts is the accepted position of all international legal bodies including the International Court of Justice.
- Position by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights):
- It described the annexation of occupied territory as a serious violation of the Charter of the UN and the Geneva Conventions and contrary to the fundamental rule affirmed many times by the UNSC and the General Assembly that acquisition of territory war or by force is inadmissible.
- Human rights violation: It pointed out that the 53-year-old Israeli occupation is a source of profound human rights violations of the Palestinian people and these would only intensify after annexation.
- It would lead to a separate territory for Palestinian with islands of disconnected land completely surrounded by Israel and no territorial connection with the outside world.
- 21st century Apartheid: The annexation would solidify an already unjust reality: two peoples living in the same space ruled by the same state but with profoundly unequal rights.
The effect of the plan:
- Consequences: There are no fixed understandings about the effect of plan on the status of private property owned by Palestinians (owns 23% of its land), rights to Palestinians with respect to Israeli Arabs of Palestinian origin (Muslim, Christian and Druze) who together constitute about 20% of Israel’s population etc.
- Effect on self-determination: There are question marks whether it will take away from the Palestinians right to have their own state under the right of national self-determination recognised at times without number by the international community.
- Demographic consequences: By its foundation, Israel is not a Jewish state only because most of its inhabitants are Jews but It is a state for the Jews wherever they may be and for any Jew who wishes to be there. The plan will have effect on non-Jews peoples.
- Changing ground realities: Since the 1967 war, the Israeli effort has been to procrastinate a settlement. Now, Israel is a member of the international community and succeeded in normalising its relations with a wide range of countries. It also includes observance of globally accepted norms of state conduct. Israel did not fulfill it with the support of powerful friends and imperatives of geopolitics.
India and Way Forward
- India’s amity with the Palestinian people and its principled support to their cause predates India’s own independence.
- India needs to ask itself whether it supports the Israeli annexation plan that is in contravention of international legality.
2.Making Data a Public Good
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS-2 Government policies and interventions aimed at development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Context: The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the unsatisfactory state of India’s data collection and processing system.
Importance of Data Sharing:
- Optimal Use:Easy access to government data will encourage more extensive use of a valuable public resource for the benefit of the community.
- Avoiding duplication:By sharing data the need for separate bodies to collect the same data will be avoided resulting in significant cost savings in data collection.
- Better Decision making:Ready access to quality information will help in better decision making, evidence-based policy and better targeting of welfare programmes.
- Accountability in public services:Sharing non-sensitive government data with public will ensure accountability in public services.
Government Initiatives for Data Sharing:
- National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP):Launched in 2012, it aims to promote data sharing and enable access to Government of India owned data for national planning, development and awareness.
- Open Government Data (OGD) initiative:launched in 2012, allows citizens to access a range of government data in machine-readable form in one place. The portal allows union ministries and departments to publish datasets, documents, services, tools and applications collected by them for public use.
Issues with Covid-19 data sharing by Indian government:
- The Indian government did not release district-wise, demographic-wise case statistics and anonymous contact traces in the public domain. This hindered reliable model forecasts of disease spread and targeted regional lockdown protocols.
- Further, violating the NDSAP guidelines, OGD portal provides COVID-19 data only as a graphic image unsuitable for any analysis.
- Other government sources such as Indian Council of Medical Research and mygov.in, have also not provided district-wise statistics, and the available data are not in usable formats. Lack of accessible data has obstructed data-driven research, innovation and useful outcomes.
- The government should share unreleased Census and socio-economic data, publicly funded research data, and scientific data to foster data-driven research and innovation
- While making data a public good, the government must consider the privacy implications and inherent fairness of data being used.
Conclusion: As the Economic Survey 2018-19 suggested, since data of societal interest are generated by the people, it should be “of the people, by the people, for the people”.
3.Legitimate concern: on law and order in Nagaland
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS-2 Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein
Context: The Governor R.N. Ravi of Nagaland has written a letter to its CM alleging that law and order has collapsed in the State.
- Concern over law and order:The Governor have written a strong letter that armed gangs who question the sovereignty and integrity of the nation had challenged its authority by engaging in blatant extortion and siphoning off funds meant for development work.
- The Governor writes that functions such as transfer and posting of officials who are in charge of law and order above the district level will be done with his approval as proposed under Article 371A(1)(b) of the Constitution.
- Response of NSCN-IM: The insurgent National Socialist Council of Nagalim-Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM) has been observing a ceasefire with the government for the last 23 years. They said that the group was only engaged in collecting “taxes”.
|Naga Peace Talks:
· The talks seek to settle disputes that date back to colonial rule.
· Nagas: They are not a single tribe but an ethnic community that comprises several tribes who live in the state of Nagaland and its neighbourhood.
· Demand of Naga groups: It has been a Greater Nagalim that would cover not only the state of Nagaland but parts of neighbouring states and even of Myanmar.
· The British had annexed Assam in 1826 and subsequently created the Naga Hills district and went on to extend its boundaries.
· Assertion of Naga nationalism: It began during British rule and has continued after Independence and even after Nagaland became a state.
· The unresolved issues gave rise to decades of insurgency that claimed thousands of lives, including of civilians.
Issues in Naga Peace Accord:
- The peace accord with the insurgent groups is yet to be achieved despite the Centre’s push to conclude it last year.
- Mr Ravi has been the center’s interlocutor since 2015 and remained at the position even after becoming the State Governor in August 2019.
- Peace Accord not finalised: Due to the NSCN-IM’s obstinacy such as its insistence on retaining a separate flag and a Constitution for the State of Nagaland and its unwillingness to dismantle its parallel administrative and paramilitary structure.
- Distrust among Naga Organisations: The NSCN-IM has created distrust among other Naga organisations besides other north-eastern governments due to its core ideology of a “greater Nagalim”. The other insurgent actors are not coming on board due to inherent difficulties.
- The Centre has to find a way to address this complex issue by refocusing on the peace process and not by usurping the authority of the State government in governance matters.
4.STARS project – Improving quality and governance of school education
Source – The Hindu
Syllabus – GS 2- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
Context – Instead of building state capability, the World Bank education project gives a larger role to non-state actors.
Objective of STARS
- Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for StatesProgram (STARS) aims to improve the quality and governance of school education in six Indian states.
- It will also help –
- Improve learning assessment systems;
- Strengthen classroom instruction and remediation;
- Facilitate school-to-work transition; and
- Strengthen governance and decentralized management.
- Funding– World Bank’s contribution to the project is only 15%, with central and state governments contributing the remaining 85%. World bank is contributing $3 billion towards this goal.
Flawed Approach under STARS
- Capacity issues– Major vacancies across the education system from District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs), district and block education offices, to teachers in schools, remain unaddressed.
- Empowering with decision making power– Decentralising decision-making requires the devolution of funds and real decision-making power to functionaries. Greater decentralisation can allow accountability to flow to the people.
- Including non-state players– Outsourcing basic governance functions by “expanding private initiatives” and “reducing government tasks” will not make education “more relevant to local needs” rather will shift problems to a new entity.
Solutions for effective governance
- Adequate physical, financial and humanresources – An overburdened bureaucracy with vacancies and without basic equipment cannot be expected to be effective. A critical minimum level of resources is a precondition. For better functioning of systems.
- Decentralization of decision-making– Administrative or governance reforms must give greater discretion to the front-line bureaucracy to address local issues and innovate if required. For reforms to be successful, public sector entities need to be able to try new things, and at times, to fail.
- Trust factor– There needs to be trust within the administration among peers and across different levels within the administration. If suspicion is the guiding principle, institutional arrangements will be geared to monitoring and surveillance, not support and improvement. The goal must be to improve, not to judge and punish.
Way Forward – Atmanirbhar Bharat calls for an India that is able to produce and deliver local goods and services to its citizens. This applies equally to education for all children. Delivering a service, like education, requires a capable state which is able to design and conduct reforms when needed.
5.One nation one ration card
Source – The Hindu
Syllabus – GS 3 – Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security
Context – The focus on One Nation One Ration Card is misplaced when what is needed is a universal Public Distribution System.
National Food Security Act – Under the NFSA, 2013, about 81 crore persons are entitled to buy subsidized food grain — rice at Rs 3/kg, wheat at Rs 2/kg, and coarse grains at Re 1/kg — from their designated Fair Price Shops (FPS) of the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).
Measures taken for COVID crises
- Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana(PMGKY) – It would provide 5kg of food grains and 1 kg of pulses for free to all those who are beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) for three months.
- Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan– NFSA expanded to cover an additional eight crore individuals for two months to ensure that migrants are included under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan package.
Issues with present system
- Exclusion of migrants– In the present system, a ration cardholder can buy food grains only from an FPS that has been assigned to her in the locality in which she lives.
Solution – Under One Nation, One Ration Card’ system, the beneficiary will be able to buy subsidised food grains from any FPS across the country.
Issues with One nation one ration card
- Family card vs individual card – Many urban workers migrate to the cities without their families. In such cases, they are likely to leave their ration card behind for the family to use at home. With family-card based system either one (in the city) or the other (in the village) can use the ration card.
- Concern relates to inter-state arrangements– Many states also give more commodities – for instance, dal and edible oil – at a subsidised price than the central government, which only covers the cost of wheat and rice.
- For instance, rice is free in Tamil Nadu instead of being given at the central price of Rs 3 per kg. So, if a worker from other state goes to Tamil Nadu to work, would he get free rice, and also get dal and oil? Or will the worker be denied these extra commodities?
- Logistics– Currently, logistics are designed to supply a fixed quantity to each PDS outlet once a month, based on the number of people it serves. “One Nation, One Ration” would mean that the number of people served by a PDS outlet will fluctuate each month, so the supply logistics would have to be redesigned as well.
- Biometric authentication – The experience of biometric authentication using electronic point of sale (ePoS) machines so far suggests that it results in exclusion of some of the most marginalised because of multiple reasons including network issues, authentication failure and so on.
Way Forward– A universal PDS is much better than having an arbitrary cap on coverage at 67% imposed by the NFSA which is based on 2011 census and excluded many.
9 PM for Preliminary examination
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