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9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – April 2, 2021

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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

About 9 PM Brief- With the 9 PM Daily Current affairs for UPSC brief we intend to simplify the newspaper reading experience. In 9PM briefs, we provide our reader with a summary of all the important articles and editorials from three important newspapers namely The Hindu, Indian Express, and Livemint. This will provide you with analysis, broad coverage, and factual information from a Mains examination point of view.

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Importance of Land Record Modernisation

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS – 3: Land Reforms

Synopsis: The importance of land records became more evident during the pandemic. For access to formal loans and government relief programmes, land records are important. However, the poor availability of clear and updated land titles remains a problem.

Background

The land is both an asset and a source of livelihood for poor people in rural areas. Many informal jobs in the urban areas were lost due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. This resulted in reverse migration, leading to greater demands for household resources in rural areas.

How the government is improving the land records?

  • The government of India’s Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme (DI-LRMP) scheme is the most recent effort to update land records.
  • The poor state of land records is due to the failure of the Indian administration to evolve from British-era land policies.
  • Further, the Land record regulations and policies vary widely across Indian states/union territories.
  • DI-LRMP provides a common framework for reporting the progress of land record management by states/UTs. But the diverse nature of regulations/guidelines for land record management in India makes the progress non-uniform.

Observations by NCAER Land Records and Services Index:

  1. NCAER(National Council of Applied Economic Research) made an innovative effort by launching NCAER Land Records and Services Index (N-LRSI) in 2020. The index evaluates states’ performance on digitisation and quality of land records.
  2. States/UTs have made various efforts to make improvements in various parameters of the N-LRSI index. These improvements are clearly recorded in the N-LRSI 2021 findings.
    • Bihar jumped from the 23rd to 8th position in the index. It achieved significant progress in the digitisation of maps, textual records and the registration process.

Challenges in land records pointed out by the N-LRSI study:

  1. Firstly, The lack of skilled manpower in the departments of land records. It is one of the major barriers in ensuring regular updating of land records.
  2. Secondly, the N-LRSI study has brought out poor cooperation across land record departments. These are,
    • Revenue department as the custodian of textual records,
    • The survey and settlement department managing the spatial records
    • The registration department is responsible for registering land transactions.
  3. Thirdly, the information from the sources reveals that no state/UT has the facility for online modification of records on the same day as the registration.
  4. Fourthly, there is a weak linkage between the revenue department and the survey and settlement department. This creates a huge difference between the land area reported by the textual and spatial record. This can increase the chances of legal disputes over the definition of boundaries and the extent of a land plot.

All these challenges create hindrances in achieving updated and accurate land records.

Suggestions to improve Land records in India:

  • Strengthening of various institutions concerned with Land records. It will achieve the desired quality of land records. This can be attained by removing structural rigidities in the system.
  • The easing of the land transactions can also be tried for improvement in land records. For example, Maharashtra lowering stamp duties to meet its increasing demand for housing, infrastructure. These efforts are going to be helpful for the health of India’s rural economy.

Carbon neutrality is against the interest of Developing countries

Source: Indian Express

GS3: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment

Synopsis: Developed countries are using the call for net zero emissions or carbon neutrality by 2050, to evade the historical responsibility. Further, they are using such targets to transfer their burdens to developing countries.

Background

  • Many countries are supporting the idea of becoming Carbon neutral (net-zero emissions) by 2050.
  • However, the idea of developing Carbon neutrality has the following issue,
    • One, the feasibility and efficacy of such a strategy for all countries is doubtful
    • Two, it is against the basic tenets of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC) based on historical responsibility have been the bedrock of climate actions under the UNFCCC.
    • CBDR-RC is also the central pillar of India’s claim for climate justice.

Climate justice in India

  • India is a shining example of climate justice. While the rich were nudged to move towards sustainable living. The poor on the other hand, were provided with safety nets to fight climate change.
  • The climate sensitivity principle was introduced in domestic policies through interventions like energy for all, housing for all, health insurance, and crop insurance.
  • Further, the mission “Clean India” and “give it up” campaigns also aim towards Climate Justice. Also, the efforts to popularise yoga and sustainable lifestyle practices will ensure climate justice to the vulnerable and poor sections.

How developed countries are deferring their climate justice responsibilities?

Aristotle has distinguished three forms of justice, namely distributive, commutative and corrective. An assessment of climate justice based on these three aspects of justice reveals the following,

First, Distributive justice. It says resources should be distributed in terms of principles of equality, equity, and merit. In the context of Carbon neutrality, the current efforts made by developed countries do not ensure Distributive climate justice. This is for the following reasons,

  1. One, industrialization in the developed countries is responsible for a large part of climate change issues. However, people of the developing countries are suffering disproportionately more from its impacts,
  2. Two, while the developed countries have used much of the carbon space for their development, they are arguing to cut their emissions emanating from even basic needs of the developing countries.
  3. Three, according to Climate Action Tracker reports, the climate action of major developed countries is incompatible with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
  4. Therefore, to ensure distributive climate justice the global communities need to ensure ambitious climate action by developed countries in the near term.

The second, Commutative justice. It refers to the honoring of past commitments such as agreements or commitments, and other kinds of social contracts in good faith. In the context of Carbon neutrality, the current efforts made by developed countries do not ensure Commutative climate justice. It is because of the following reasons,

  1. One, the second commitment period of  Kyoto Protocol commits developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 18 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2020. However, it entered into force just one day before its expiry.
  2. Two, the effort made by developed countries to deliver finance, technology transfer, and capacity-building support to developing countries is also ineffective. They have failed to mobilise at least $100 billion per year by 2020 that they agreed for.

Third, corrective justice. It means efforts made to correct the wrongs. Based on this, developed countries need to repay the climate debt by taking greater responsibility in mitigation. Further, they should also provide finance, technology and capacity-building support. However, the developed countries are not talking about corrective actions. Instead, they are now focussing on a new concept like Carbon neutrality.


Governance Issues facing Private Education Institutions

Source: Indian Express 

Syllabus: GS 3 – Effects of liberalization on the economy

Synopsis: The private educational institutions are failing to deliver optimum results. Thus, the role of the state in providing accessibility in educational institutions can’t be ignored.

Background:

  • The two renowned faculties of Ashoka university (Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Arvind Subramanian) have recently resigned. Allegedly, the owners of the institution were cautious of their outspoken criticism of the government.
  • This instance questions the ability of private institutions to withstand government’s pressure and deliver optimum results in the field of education.  

Rationale behind privatisation:

  • They promise to possess greater academic freedom as the government plays no role in the appointment of faculty and staff. Further they are not dependent on government aid for carrying out day-to-day activities.
    • For instance, JNU’s freedom has been curtailed by the appointment of a favourable Vice-Chancellor by Govt. Stricter norms, budget cuts, and frequent student clashes have been seen after the appointment.
  • They promise better academic performance of students by providing better infrastructure and good quality teachers. They use this as a crucial factor for attracting parents towards them.
  • Likewise, they complement the government schools and universities that don’t have the capacity to solely accommodate the huge Indian population.

Concerns with Privatisation:

  • Rising Inequalities: Private institutions create a class divide. They are costly and expensive thus beyond the scope of many people. Further gender and caste inequalities are also prevalent in them. 
    • The boys and students from upper-caste backgrounds are overwhelmingly represented in private institutions relative to public ones. 
  • Profit Motive: Many private institutions are established by Businessmen who also need to protect their business interests. This leads to moulding of the institution’s policy in line with the government’s interest or the popular sentiment in society.
    • For instance, historian Ramachandra Guha had to decline to join Ahmedabad University after a religious group’s protest over his appointment.
  • Overnight Closures: Many private institutions promise good quality education at low rates. Less fees results in poor infrastructure and inefficient teachers, thereby threatening their survival and leading to overnight closures. This puts many children out of the education map.
  • Security of Tenure: This is not available in private institutions due to which teachers have to surrender towards the wishes of private management.
    • For instance, even with frequent clashes between VC and teachers, no full-time faculty was forced to resign from JNU.
  • Flawed Results: Better results are generated due to the privileged children studying in them and not the quality of resources offered by them.

Way Forward:

  • There should be democratic decision-making within the private universities. This will provide greater resilience against the government’s pressure and strengthen academic freedom. For instance, Vice-Chancellors in the private universities should be made part of the decision-making process.
  • Recommendations of the Central Square Foundation report on private participation can be implemented. It’s recommendations includes:
    • Reviewing the non-profit mandate for the education sector and existing fee regulations 
    • Opening corporate governance structures to private schools
    • Classifying private schools as micro, small, or medium enterprises
  • There should be proper implementation of Right to Education act. So that, at least 25% of students in private institutions come from diverse backgrounds.

Apart from reforming the private sector, the role of state can’t be ignored for maintaining a just and equal educational system.


Appointment of Ambassadors – in US and India

Source: The Hindu 

Syllabus: GS 2 – Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Synopsis: The US administration needs to make a choice between appointing career diplomats or big contributors for appointing the new ambassadors. In India as well, there is a practice of appointing diverse people as ambassadors.

Background

  • The US administration under Joe Biden will be appointing new ambassadors as per the spoil system.
    • The system allows the president to give government jobs to its supporters, friends, and relatives as a reward for working toward victory. 
  •  It is assumed that many ambassador posts would be given to wealthy contributors. 

Why are wealthy contributors made ambassadors?

  • It is a token of reward for making hefty contributions towards the party and assuring future contributions.
  • Further, their appointment has become a tradition in US politics. Minimum 30% to a maximum of 57% (under Mr. Trump) posts of ambassadors were offered to them.
  • The US Constitution doesn’t forbid their appointments.
    • Article II provides that the President can appoint ambassadors with the advice and consent of the Senate.
  • There exists a notion that long careers in the Foreign Service are not necessary to be effective ambassadors.

Why shouldn’t they be appointed?

  • Incompetent: Many wealthy contributors are not aware of the history and geography of the country in which they get posted.
  • Undermines Diplomatic potential: They treat ambassadorship as an extended holiday and seldom focus on strengthening bilateral relations. For instance, an ambassador wanted to get a private jet on his diplomatic mission.

Appointments of ambassadors in India

  • India appoints politicians and other renowned people (Former Maharajas, Judges etc.) for ambassadorship as a recognition of their hard work and talent. The appointments are not based on the quantum of donation towards a political party. 
  • The Government apparently has the discretion of appointing political ambassadors in up to 30% of the posts. Apart from this, other positions are filled by career diplomats.
    • Earlier career diplomats were not appointed to very strategic locations like London, Moscow, or Washington.
  • Currently, the number of political ambassadors is very small and career diplomats are given top posts in every foreign embassy.

Positive role of Political Ambassadors:

  • Dr. K.S. Shelvankar, D.P. Dhar and I.K. Gujral were appointed at the Moscow embassy at different time periods. 
    • They played a pivotal role in strengthening bilateral relations. 
    • Career diplomats used to do much of the work, leaving the political ambassadors to deal with high policy.
  • Kushok Bakula Rinpoche was appointed to Mongolia. He helped in strengthening Indo-Mongolia relations as Mahayana Buddhism provided a common platform for convergence. 

 

Way Forward:

  • A balance can be established by appointing some wealthy contributors as ambassadors provided they are familiar with basic history and geography of the nation. 
  • The senate should conduct due investigation and prohibit the appointment of truly incompetent persons.
    • A potential candidate for ambassadorship of Fiji had to withdraw after a senate investigation or else face FBI charges. 

A divergence from tradition will ensure a greater number of career diplomats are made ambassadors. This will boost the credibility of Biden diplomacy but may dry up future political funding.


Why the Places of Worship Act, 1991 has been challenged?

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Indian Constitution—Historical Underpinnings, Evolution, Features, Amendments, Significant Provisions and Basic Structure.

Synopsis: The enactment of the Places of worship act, 1991 is an act of colourable legislation. Further, it is against the liberty of belief, faith, and worship to all.

Background

What is Colourable Legislation?

The government can enact a law within the power of the legislature. When the government enacts a law, It can hide a provision (illegal provision) within the provisions under the government’s legislative competence. This legislation is called Colourable Legislation.

The SC in the State of Bihar vs Kameshwar Singh case, used a doctrine of Colourable legislation. Under this, the court held that whatever is prohibited directly is prohibited indirectly also. 

Why the Places of Worship Act, 1991 is said to be unconstitutional?

  1. First, The Places of Worship Act, 1991 is against the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. Because it restricts the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Also, it nullifies the Fundamental Right(s) guaranteed by the Constitution of India as per Article 32.
    • According to Ambedkar, Article 32 is the very soul of the Constitution. It states that “enforcement of fundamental rights” cannot be suspended except as stated in the Constitution.
    • Under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, the Supreme Court has the power to issue writs for enforcement of all the Fundamental Rights.
    • Also, the SC on several occasions ruled that no Act of Parliament can exclude or curtail the powers of the Constitutional Courts with regard to the enforcement of fundamental rights”.
    • Hence, the act is appropriately called an Act of colourable legislation. As it limits the powers of constitutional courts though there is no scope for such powers.
  2. Second, the Places of Worship Act, 1991 is against the liberty of belief, faith, and worship to all citizens.
  3. Freedom of religion is guaranteed to all citizens under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution.
  4. It also includes Rights to pray and perform the religious practice. Therefore, prohibiting citizens from approaching appropriate courts with respect to handover the land of any temple of certain essential significance is arbitrary.

What is the way forward?

  • The exclusion of the Mathura and Varanasi disputes as being additional exceptions from the Act of 1991 is unacceptable.
  • The Act provides an exception to the “Ram-Janmbhoomi matter”. The need and importance of resolution of such a controversy.
  • The Supreme Court can increase the number of exceptions in Section 5 of the Places of Worship Act, 1991, to three.
    • Including, the Gyanvapi Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi and the Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple in Mathura along with Ram-Janmbhoomi
    • It can be done through the use of the Supreme Court power under Article 142 of the Constitution.
  • Under Article 142, the Supreme court can pass any order to carry out for doing complete justice being in the public interest, while upholding the Constitution of India.

 

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 2 Apr, 2021

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