DAILY MAINS NEWSLETTER FOR UPSC |16 Feb 2021| RaghukulCS

Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

16 FEB 2021

Mains Value Addition

Indians concerned about privacy: CJI

Syllabus–GS2: – Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

Analysis: –

  • Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde recently said Indians have “grave apprehensions” about privacy from Facebook and WhatsApp.
  • CJI addressing lawyers:
    • People have grave apprehensions about loss of privacy.
    • You may be a two or three trillion company, but people value their privacy more.
    • People think that if A sends a WhatsApp message to B and B to C, the circuit of messages is revealed to Facebook.
    • It is our duty to protect people’s privacy.
  • Lawyers challenging the new privacy policy, said they were not on whether WhatsApp was encrypting messages or not. “We are on the point of sharing of meta data for profit.

NCLAT suspends Gymkhana’s board, halts new membership

Syllabus – GS2: -Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

Analysis: –

  • The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) recently ordered the appointment of a Central government-nominated administrator to manage the affairs of the Delhi Gymkhana Club after prima facie finding several irregularities.
  • The tribunal also ordered the suspension of the General Committee of the 107-year-old club, along with a halt on acceptance of new membership till further orders.

Geospatial data policy liberalised

Syllabus – GS2: -Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

Analysis: –

  • In sweeping changes to the country’s mapping policy, the government recently announced liberalisation of norms governing the acquisition and production of geospatial data.
  • This move is to help boost innovation in the sector and create a level playing field for public and private entities.
  • Geospatial data can also come from Global Positioning System (GPS) data, geospatial satellite imagery, telematics devices, IoT and geotagging.
  • Prime Minister said the liberalisation of policies governing the acquisition and production of geospatial data was a “massive step in the government’s vision for an Aatmanirbhar Bharat”.

Mains Analysis

Farm laws and ‘taxation’ of farmers.

Why in News: –Net taxation and farms laws

Syllabus: –GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

GS-3: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System-objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping.

Background: –
  • Amajor stapes taken to liberalizing Indian agriculture in past decades was that farmers were “net taxed”.
  • It Means “incomes of farmers were kept artificially lower” than what they should have been.
  • It was argued that this “net taxation” existed because protectionist policies deprived farmers from higher international prices, and administered price system deprived farmers of higher domestic market prices.
  • If there were more liberal domestic markets policy and freer, fare global trade, prices received by farmers would rise.

 The net taxation and the Farm Laws:

  • A recent study found that by Producer Support Estimate (PSE) in Indian agriculture was -6% (negative) between 2014-15 and 2016-17.
  • For this purpose, data on Producer Support Estimate (PSE) are used.
  • For the developed country PSE was +18.2% in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, +19.6% in the European Union countries and +9.5% in the U.S.
  • The farm laws are necessary to end the net taxation of agriculture.
  • The farm laws would weaken restrictive trade and marketing policies in India and “get the markets right”.
  • This, in turn, would eliminate negative support and raise farmers’ prices.

Milk as a liberal domestic markets policy:

  • India’s milk sector is growing faster than the food grain sector.
  • If the milk sector can grow without MSP and with private corporate, why cannot other agricultural commodities.
  • There is no Minimum Support Price (MSP) in milk, and a substantial share of milk sales takes place through the private sector, including multinationals like Nestle and Hatsun.

The Producer Support Estimate (PSE) and its estimation:

  • The PSE is estimated using a methodology advocated by the OECD.
  • The OECD defines the PSE as “the annual monetary value of gross transfers from consumers and taxpayers to agricultural producers, measured at the farm gate level, arising from policies that support agriculture”.
  • PSE is an indicator of the annual gross transfers from consumers and taxpayers to agricultural producers, measured at the farm gate level, arising policy measures that support agriculture, regardless of their nature, objectives or impacts on farm production or income.
  • The PSE has two components.
    1. The market price support (MPS). MPS is that part of the gross transfers to producers arising from “a gap between domestic market prices and border prices of a specific agricultural commodity”.
    2. The budgetary transfers (BOT). BOT includes all budgetary expenditures on policies that support agricultural production. PSE is the sum of MPS and BOT, expressed also as a percentage of the value of agricultural production.

MPS (market price support) calculation:

  • The MPS was negative while BOT was positive.
  • The MPS was -4, 61,804 crores, or -15.5% of the value of production. The BOT was +2, 99,064 crores, or +10.1% of the value of production.
  • The MPS for a commodity is calculated as the product of its annual production and the difference between its international and domestic prices.
  • The problem begins here: the international price is considered a benchmark with no reference to the actual possibilities of domestic producers obtaining that price.

The case of milk trade:

  • The OECD estimates of MPS and PSE to show the perils of restrictive markets.
  • By the same logic then, if the increasing penetration of private companies and the absence of MSP in milk are positive features, we should expect positive and rising MPS and PSE for milk.
  • The milk had the highest negative MPS among India’s major agricultural commodities in 2019.
  • By the OECD estimates, milk was one of the most heavily “taxed” agricultural commodities in India.
  • The reason is that the OECD methodology, either for milk or for other commodities, does not offer any realistic assessment of the extent of taxation or subsidization.

 The Question the methodology:

  • The OECD numbers suggesting negative support, farmers, policymakers, and other stakeholders need to understand the pitfalls and limitations in the underlying methodology.
  • The unpredictability in the inherent data, the total support can move from huge negative to huge positive.
  • For India, the negative support as a percentage of the total value of agriculture production has substantially reduced in recent years.

Arguments against the methodology:

  • The use of OECD estimates to: –

(a) highlight the overall negative MPS for agriculture as a problem;

(b) but conveniently remain silent on the negative MPS for milk;

(c) argue in the same breath that milk producers have benefited from the growth of private firms.

  • The absence of logic in this line of argument is nothing but appalling.
  • In fact, what is missed in these debates is the elephant in the room: the BOT.
  • The West’s PSEs in agriculture are positive and higher than India’s because they have higher BOT than in India.

Way Forward: –

A negative MPS, by itself, implies neither a government that squeezes revenues out of farmers nor the absence of absolute profitability in agriculture. The MPS is a wrong measure of taxation in agriculture because the international price is no “true price” to be accepted as a benchmark.

By removing the link between support and farm production decisions, and investing instead in needed public services, governments can build an enabling environment in which farmers have the freedom to make business decisions in response to evolving market opportunities at home and abroad.

“The beauty lies in the eye of the beholder”, the amount of subsidy depends on the methodology adopted for calculating it. Rather than it’s human value and rights.

Value- Addition

  1. As per Section 2 (1A) in the ITA, agricultural income means any rent or revenue derived from land located in India, including rent on agricultural land and buildings, and is tax-exempt.
  2. The Supreme Court’s decision in the Commissioner of Income Tax vs Raja Benoy Roy(1957) case also defines agricultural income.
  3. Ashok Gulati believes, Bills in the Agri sector are similar to the white revolution and farmers will get better choices with these new bills to sell produce and improved price realization.

Question: –

How was India is benefited from the net taxations and Minimum price Support implemented in the agricultural field?

 

Death trap: On Labour reforms

Why in News: –

Labour reforms and technological advances within the fireworks industry are necessary.

Syllabus: – GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

GS-3: issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment. And changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth

Tamil Nadu accident: –

  • In the latest accident at a fireworks unit in Virudhunagar, at last count, 20 lives have perished, while 28 workers are in hospital.
  • In 11 months, 25 lives were lost in major blazes in three other fireworks factories in Virudhunagar (9), Cuddalore (9), and Madurai (7). Most victims were women.
  • Such tragedies, caused predominantly by gross violation of norms governing the hazardous industry and human error in handling explosive substances, have occurred with some regularity now.
  • While the dead end up in statistical records, on the ground there is only short-term action: registration of cases, arrests, identification of causes, token inspections, issuance of warnings and safety advisories.

 

 

The causes behind the accidents: –

  • Unlicensed units that have mushroomed in and outside Sivakasi mostly escape scrutiny till explosions occur.
  • A greater concern is the illegal sub-leasing of contracts for manufacturing crackers by licensed units.
  • Preliminary investigation into the current tragedy has also revealed sub-leasing of works to several persons. T
  • he very nature of work in a hazardous industry makes sub-leasing a byword for safety compromise.
  • It leads to conversion of every shed in a manufacturing unit into a ‘factory’ in itself with inflammable chemicals stored all over.
  • Consequently, the limit on workers to be deployed is violated resulting in crowding in each shed.
  • Supervision of the quantum of chemicals to be mixed or storedbecomes a casualty.
  • Untrained workers and the piece-rate system, have also caused accidents.
  • Eyewitness accounts suggest that in the latest accident, a worker, possibly fatigued, had hurriedly emptied semi-finished crackers triggering an explosion.
  • While the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation offers training for workers, shortage of labour has prompted the industry to hire new recruits with limited skills.

Way Forward: –

The industry continues to be labour-intensive, although a decade ago Parliament was informed that automation of the hazardous manufacturing process would be undertaken.

  • Periodic inspections at factories, sustained crackdown and stringent penal action against violators are non-negotiable.
  • The Central and State governments must provide the needed manpower for enforcement agencies as the industry has grown manifold.
  • A sustained political push for labour reforms and technological innovations within the industry is also essential.

NITI Aayog on Labour reforms

  1. Keeping women in the workforce – The government should ensure that employers adhere to the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act.
  2. Codifying labour laws – In 2016, there were 44 labour laws under the statute of the Central government.
  3. The National Policy for Domestic Workers should also be brought in at the earliest.
  4. Employment data – Data collection for the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PFLS) of households must be completed on schedule and data is disseminated by 2019.
  5. Workers’ welfare – The government must mandatorily comply with the national floor-level minimum wage.
  6. Also, the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 should be expanded to cover all jobs, besides enforcing the payment of wages through cheque or Aadhaar-enabled payments for all.
  7. Social security and working conditions – There must be a compulsory registration of all establishments to ensure better monitoring of occupational safety.
  8. Skills and apprenticeships – According to the India Skill Report 2018, only 47% of those coming out of higher educational institutions are employable.

Value Addition: –

  1. In Analysis of the Internal Labor Market and Human Labor, Peter Doerringer and Michael Piore describe the depth of the gaps created by the labour market.
  2. Globalization and Labour Reforms (By Zaad Mahmood)
  • One of the first books to analyse political economy of reforms in India through study of the labour market
  • Based on rigorous empirical research focused on role of political agents in influencing reforms under conditions of globalization

Question: –

Discuss the need of labour reforms in India. Critically analyse the labour laws in India?

 

Structural reforms for NEP 2020.

Why in News: –The COVID-19 pandemic and easing and normal academic activity being gradually resumed, the Central government’s New Education Policy (NEP) is back in focus.

Syllabus: – GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

New Education Policy 2020

  1. The 5+3+3+4 system:A 5+3+3+4 curricular structure corresponding to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively.
  2. Schooling from 3 years:According to the New Education Policy, from the age of 3, children will be part of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE).
  3. Promoting libraries:A National Book Promotion Policy will be formulated, to ensure the availability, accessibility, quality, and readership of books across geographies, languages, levels, and genres.
  4. Teaching up to class fifth in the mother tongue/regional language: The mother tongue or local or regional language will be the medium of instruction in all schools up to Class 5 (preferably till Class 8 and beyond), according to the NEP.
  5. Creating Bal Bhavans:Every state or district will be encouraged to establish ‘Bal Bhavans’ as a special daytime boarding school.
  6. Academic Bank of Credit: The academic credit stored in a digital locker will be like a bank credit through which a student will be able to resume education after a break.
  1. Multiple entry and exit points in higher education: Under the four-year programme students can exit after one year with a certificate, after two years with a diploma and a Bachelor’s degree after three years and Bachelor’s with research after 4 years.
  2. Affiliation of colleges will be phased out in 15 years and a stage-wise mechanism will be established for granting graded autonomy to colleges.
  3. By 2030, the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree.
  4. Easing of board exam: The board exams for class 10 and 12 will continue.
  5. Changes in report card: The progress card of all students for school-based assessment will be redesigned.
  6. Foreign universities in India: NEP has paved the way for foreign universities to set up campuses in India.

 

The Appointments and Management structure:

  1.  The system of appointments of vice-chancellors and syndicates, or governing councils, the key authorities for any university, needs to be revised.
  2. The appointments are often mired in controversies, with frequent reports in the past of aspirants for the post of vice-chancellors and membership of syndicates indulging in unethical practices to gain favour.
  3.  The NEP talks of creating new structures, such as a Board of Management, to replace the syndicate system. To implement this recommendation, State governments must bring in a slew of bold reforms, some of which are outlined below.

 The system of syndicates:

  1. The existing system of syndicates, consisting of government nominees and those nominated by Governors or chancellors, should be dispensed with.
  2. Often, people lacking merit but with an eye on memberships of affiliation, building, and purchase committees, among others, get nominated to these bodies.

 The Board of Management structure

  1. The system as vice-chancellor as chairman, the Board should consist of former vice-chancellors drawn from other universities, members drawn from industry, the alumni, eminent public intellectuals, principals of affiliated colleges on rotation and members representing the non-teaching staff.
  2.  The Board’s decisions should be taken by consensus or by a majority of the members present. Proceedings should be conducted in virtual mode and made available for stakeholders’ viewership.

 The appointment of vice-chancellors

  1. For the appointment of vice-chancellors of universities, search committees constituted for such purposes must be thoroughly restructured.
  2. The government’s and chancellors’ role in such committees must be done away with.
  3. The practice of having government nominees, chancellor’s nominees and university nominees should be stopped.
  4. It should be replaced by drawing an eminent former vice-chancellor or academician of proven integrity and administrative capability for the post of chairman.

 Regulation for Higher Education:

  1. Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) will be set up as a single overarching umbrella body for entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education.
  2.  HECI to have four independent verticals – National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) for regulation, General Education Council (GEC ) for standard setting, Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding,  and National Accreditation Council( NAC) for accreditation.
  3.  HECI will function through faceless intervention through technology, & will have powers to penalise HEIs not conforming to norms and standards.
  4.  The Public and private higher education institutions will be governed by the same set of norms for regulation, accreditation and academic standards.

The Transparent procedures

  1. Applications for the post of vice-chancellors can be invited through advertisements on the university website and through newspapers.
  2.  The Biodata and profile of candidates must also be published on the websites. The committee may then allot marks to candidates’ scholarship in terms of teaching and research, administrative capabilities, and capacity for fundraising.
  3. The scores obtained by candidates should be consolidated and the names of shortlisted candidates then submitted in the order of merit to chancellors for deciding on formal appointments.

 The Issue of accountability:

  1. The Faculty members must mandatorily upload on university websites their annual plans for research and innovative modes of teaching.
  2. Their annual self-appraisal reports can be evaluated by external peers and their recommendations should be strictly implemented.
  3. There is an urgent need to overcome faculty shortage by recruiting teachers in order to overcome the existing trend of higher educational institutions relying on guest faculty.

Improve the higher education ecosystem:

  1. In order to improve the higher education ecosystem, excellence in teaching, research, innovation, entrepreneurship and social contribution must be encouraged.
  2. The NEP’s recommendations, like the introduction of four-year courses that have the option of re-entry and exit, one- or two-year postgraduate courses, and setting up of an Academic Bank of Credit for credit transfers, may be helpful.
Way Forward:
  1. NEP 2020 aims to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3% (2018) to 50% by 2035. 3.5 Crore new seats will be added to Higher education institutions.
  2. NEP makes recommendations for motivating, energizing, and building capacity of faculty thorugh clearly defined, independent, transparent recruitment, freedom to design curricula/pedagogy, incentivizing excellence, movement into institutional leadership. Faculty not delivering on basic norms will be held accountable.
  3. A new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education, NCFTE 2021, will be formulated by the NCTE in consultation with NCERT. By 2030, the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree. Stringent action will be taken against substandard stand-alone Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs).

Value addition

  1. “The New Education policy is based on the pillars of “access, equity, quality, affordability, accountability.” — tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  2. Five Cs of the 21st century

Talking about the ‘skills of the 21st century,’ Modi said that students have to move forward with these skills. These, he said, are critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, curiosity and communication.

  1. “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”Albert Einstein.
  2. VP Venkaiah Naidu conferred “A nation’s destiny is shaped by its youth. For it is the youth of today who will be the leaders of tomorrow. The national education policy unveiled in 2020 lays great focus on value-based education”.
5.From farmer to an advanced degree An intermediate drop-out, Sudhakar was admitted to the School of Distance Learning and Continuing Education (SDLCE) at Kakatiya University in 1991. He completed his undergraduate program in 1995 and became a reporter with the Eenaadu daily newspaper.
  1. GIGA, an initiative launched by UNICEF and ITU in September 2019 to connect every school to the Internet and every young person to information, opportunity and choice, is supporting the immediate response to COVID19, as well as looking at how connectivity can create stronger infrastructures of hope and opportunity in the “time after COVID.”

Question: –

How would you describe the current status of higher education in India?Do you think that the recent changes in New Education Policy would help improve the quality of higher and technical education in the country? Discuss.

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