DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |25 Dec 2020| RaghukulCS

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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |25 Dec 2020| RaghukulCS

UPSC News Analysis

News

Context: Ahead of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to Manipur on December 27, the State’s Zomi ethnic group has renewed its demand for a self-administered zone on the lines of the Bodoland Territorial Council in Assam.
Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Culture, tribes in news
About Zomi ethnic group: 
    • The term ‘Zomi’ meaning, ‘Zo People’ is derived from the generic name ‘Zo’, the progenitor of the Zomi. 
    • They are an indigenous community living along the frontier of India and Burma, they are a sub-group of the Zo people (Mizo-Kuki-Chin). 
    • In India, they live with and are similar in language and habits to the Paite and the Simte peoples. 
    • In India, the Zou are officially recognized as one of the thirty-three indigenous peoples within the state of Manipur, and are one of the Scheduled tribes. 
    • The Zou/Zo language is one of the prescribed major Indian languages in the high schools and higher secondary schools of Manipur state. 
    Zomi ethnic group

    News

    Context: Rajya Sabha MP Sonal Mansingh has moved a motion of privilege against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, alleging that he had breached the privilege of the Upper House and Chairperson M. Venkaiah Naidu by claiming in his speech in the Delhi Assembly, that the farm laws were cleared by the Rajya Sabha without voting. 
    Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Polity 
    What is a privilege motion? Who can move it? How? 
    • Parliamentary privileges are certain rights and immunities enjoyed by members of Parliament, individually and collectively, so that they can “effectively discharge their functions”. 
    • When any of these rights and immunities are disregarded, the offence is called a breach of privilege and is punishable under law of Parliament. 
    • A notice is moved in the form of a motion by any member of either House against those being held guilty of breach of privilege. Each House also claims the right to punish as contempt actions which, while not breach of any specific privilege, are offences against its authority and dignity. 
    What are the rules governing privilege? 
    •  Rule No 222 in Chapter 20 of the Lok Sabha Rule Book and correspondingly Rule 187 in Chapter 16 of the Rajya Sabha rulebook governs privilege. 
    • It says that a member may, with the consent of the Speaker or the Chairperson, raise a question involving a breach of privilege either of a member or of the House or of a committee thereof. 
    • The rules however mandate that any notice should be relating to an incident of recent occurrence and should need the intervention of the House. Notices have to be given before 10 am to the Speaker or the Chairperson. 
    What is the role of the Speaker/Rajya Sabha Chair? 
    • The Speaker/RS chairperson is the first level of scrutiny of a privilege motion. The Speaker/Chair can decide on the privilege motion himself or herself or refer it to the privileges committee of Parliament. 
    • If the Speaker/Chair gives consent under Rule 222, the member concerned is given an opportunity to make a short statement. 

      News

      Context: India’s first Lithium refinery which will process Lithium ore to produce battery-grade material will be set up in Gujarat, state government officials said.
      Topic in syllabus: Prelims & mains– Science & Technology, Economy
      What will be the effect of this project? 
      • Lithium is required for the manufacturing of the lithium-ion batteries. 
      • A lithium-ion battery is a type of rechargeable battery. Lithium-ion batteries are commonly used for portable electronics and electric vehicles and are growing in popularity for military and aerospace applications. 
      • With India poised to become one of the largest electric car market of the world, the country is also looking to access raw materials like Lithium needed to produce batteries. 
      • India currently imports most of the Lithium needed. According to data tabled in the Parliament in February 2020, the import of Lithium-ion batteries quadrupled to 712 million batteries in 2018 from 175 million in 2016. China, Hong Kong and Vietnam were the leading sources of imports. 
      • The proposed project is expected to help Gujarat secure the raw material supply for domestic manufacturing of Lithium batteries as it looks to promote electric vehicles in india. 

      Examples related to Ethics (GS-4) in today’s newspaper

      • An Army officer of the rank of Major has been found culpable in the killing of three Rajouri labourers, who security forces initially claimed were terrorists, in Shopian district of J&K in July this year. The three, one of them a 16-year-old, had gone to the Valley from their hometown Rajouri, looking for work. They were killed in Amshipora, a village in Shopian district, in the early hours of July 18. (Case study – AFSPA – relevant for GS-3 also)

      Important news in short

      • Britain, EU clinch Brexit trade deal – The deal guarantees Britain is no longer in the lunar pull of the EU and will not be bound by EU rules, the source said. “There is no role for the European Court of Justice and all of our key red lines about returning sovereignty have been achieved,” the source said. Trade worth $909 billion in 2019 is covered by the deal, the source said. 
      • Indian Navy ship INS Kiltan, which arrived in Vietnam on Thursday to deliver relief material under Mission Sagar-III, will hold a Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with the Vietnamese Navy in the South China Sea (SCS) later this week, the Navy said. 
      • The majority of the Central trade unions on Thursday boycotted the Labour and Employment Ministry’s consultation on the draft rules for the four labour codes enacted by the government in 2019 and 2020, terming the exercise a “farce”. 
      • The codification of laws on wages, social security, occupational safety and industrial relations into four codes is expected to be implemented in the next financial year, for which the process of framing rules is under way. 

      Editorial Analysis

      [The Hindu & The Indian Express]

      Editorial

      Title: Fallacy of central model 
      Written by: Milind Sohoni
      Topic in syllabus: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources. (GS-2)
      Analysis about: This editorial emphasises on how curricula model at national-level doesn’t do justice to state or local-level problems
      Introduction:
      • Recently, the AICTE, an agency of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, which regulates engineering education in the country, came up with a new scheme to support the writing and production of engineering textbooks in 21 regional languages. 
          What are the issues associated with this decision?
            • The textbooks should preferably be for a course in the AICTE national model curriculum. 
            • Now, it is well-known that the model curriculum is not very relevant. In fact, it has no place at all for any regional content. 
            • Thus, the nuances of irrigation in Maharashtra, for example, the basic planning framework, the schedule of the patkaris (canal operators) and the workings of the paani wapar sanstha (water user associations) are all lost. 
            • The same story repeats itself in other areas of engineering. This perpetuates the disconnect between what is taught and what is practiced and has led to the employability crisis in the Indian economy. 
            • The second problem is that higher education departments of the states are nowhere in the picture. 
            • This jeopardises the success of the scheme, even if good textbooks do come out.
            • Firstly, universities have their own curricula which affiliated colleges follow. These are usually vetted by peers within the system. 
            So why did AICTE not think of this?
              • The annual funds with DST exceed Rs 4,000 crore while Maharashtra operates an S&T budget of about Rs 60 crore. 
              • Thus, the agenda for higher education and science is set at the Centre and has little to do with problems which the states face or the innovations needed there. 
              • Moreover, many grants go to faculty members in the elite centrally funded institutions who have little understanding of or interest in the regional problems. 
              • As a result, professional practices in most state departments such as irrigation, transport, or public health have been stagnant for decades. The people in the states, which is most of us, continue to suffer. And yet we continue with this regime. 
              • Perhaps, the seed of this was sown at the time of the birth of India as an independent nation. It was then that science was cast as a national project and not as the living practice of a community. It created a dichotomy — the centralised state, it’s scientists and professors working in elite institutions on the one side, and the people on the other, as recipients of the benefits of science but not as participants. 
              Why states should also be involved? 
                • Several states have proved themselves to be quite capable of delivering welfare to their people. 
                • Most developmental innovations such as the anganwadi, mid-day meals, water management, consumer and producer cooperatives, have come from the states. 
                • And they have done this through their own political, social and cultural institutions, without the big-ticket investments in science from the Centre or the support of its elite higher education institutions. 
                Why the centralisation is not good? 
                  • It is the elite central institutions and scientific agencies which have uniformly become the centres of mediocrity and decay. 
                  • Bolstering them is a moribund bureaucracy and a narrow intellectual class incapable of honest work. 
                  • Witness the absence of any study of most public aspects of the pandemic — from the number of hospital beds required, or the safety of rail travel to counting the actual number of deaths. 
                  • The lack of study has led to chronic informality, poor wages and widespread hardship. 
                  • What has emerged is a regressive politics of centralisation of good intentions and handouts for an everincreasing number of projected beneficiaries
                  What is to be done? 
                    • An immediate first step would be to devolve much of the powers of MHRD and its institutions and the funds available with DST to the states. This would actually be in line with the spirit and intent of our original Constitution. 
                    • The scheme could have been an opportunity to address this lacuna if it were to relax the adherence to the model curriculum. 

                    Editorial

                    Title: Saving the public university
                    Written by: Shailendra Raj Mehta 
                    Topic in syllabus: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources. (GS-2) 
                    Analysis about: This editorial emphasises on reform for more autonomy and accountability of the universities.
                    Introduction: 
                          • There are 55 central universities, the crown jewels of the Indian academic system. They are endowed
                            with prime land, extensive funding from the central government and there is a long line of students
                            waiting to get in. 
                          • Here, faculty have security of tenure, and their job fully protects free speech, so they are the most vocal
                            among academics. Among them are the handful of real universities in the country — vishwavidyalayas
                            or universitas, that focus on all the major branches of learning, where cross-disciplinary research, so
                            necessary to solve complex modern problems, can genuinely take place. 
                          What are the issues associated with the universities? 
                          • In recent years, six vice-chancellors (VCs) of central universities have been sacked. Another five have
                            been charge-sheeted. 
                          • Some of these institutions have seen their glory days, yet increasingly, the energy is going out of the
                            system. The locus of innovation has switched to new and innovative private universities. 
                          • However, not a single new private university has so far been able to create a true broad-based viswavidyalaya with the full range of humanities, social and natural sciences and the professional disciplines. Therefore, to save academia in India, central universities must be saved. 
                          • The governing council (GC) of the university, which will usually have nominees from various
                            stakeholders, including the government, faculty, students, and citizens. The university’s work is carried
                            out by the executive council chaired by the VC, who also appoints the registrar. 
                          • But this is where the major problems begin. The GC has no say in the selection of the VC. Further, the
                            GC typically meets only once a year. If any work gets done in this meeting, it is a miracle, since the GC
                            of Delhi University, called the Senate, for example, has 475 members, probably a world record. 
                          • In theory, the VC presents and gets approval for the annual plan of the university from the GC. In
                            practice, after much grandstanding on both sides, the plan is rubberstamped. After that, throughout the
                            year, there is minimal direction or monitoring from the GC, which may or may not meet again. 
                          • There are typically no quarterly updates, and there is little oversight. Under the circumstances, the high
                            number of failures should not come as a surprise, since effectively, there is minimal governance. 
                          What is to be done?
                          • The new IIM Bill very sensibly limits the GC to at most 19 members. They are expected to be eminent citizens, with broad social representation and an emphasis on alumni. 
                          • This GC chooses the director, provides overall strategic direction, raises resources, and continuously monitors his or her performance. Within the guidelines provided by the GC, the director has full autonomy but also full accountability. 
                          • This arrangement is based on the best global examples, including Harvard. the governing councils of all central universities, IITs, and all other central institutions, need to be restructured by an Act of Parliament. 
                          • The most eminent alumni of these institutions must be brought on their boards. IIT Delhi has just announced a billion-dollar endowment campaign. This campaign is being spearheaded by its most successful alumni, over a dozen of whom have created Unicorns, or billion-dollar companies. 
                          • If these individuals are cordially invited to join its GC, not only will this money be raised quickly, but it will also be spent well. The dynamism and exposure that these alumni will bring to the table will promptly lead to world-class innovations. 
                          • To allow central universities, the IITs and other public institutions to truly blossom, we need to reform their Governance. There is no time to waste. 

                            Editorial

                            Title: The lawmakers must work 
                            Written by: Chakshu Roy 
                            Topic in syllabus: Polity – Governance (GS-2)
                            Analysis about: This editorial talks about an abysmal record of State legislatures in terms of number of sittings per year
                            What happened recently?
                            • The Kerala governor and the government of the state are at loggerheads again. This is the second major conflict between the two this year. 
                            • The first, at the beginning of this year, was concerning the governor’s address to the state legislature. 
                            • The governor’s address is written by the government. Governor Arif Mohammad Khan, while delivering the address in the legislative assembly, stopped before reading out a paragraph of the address. The
                              paragraph related to the Kerala government’s opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Interrupting the address, Governor Khan said that he was of the opinion that the paragraph did not relate to policy or programmes. 
                            • The current conflict is with regards to the summoning of the state legislature. The Kerala government made a recommendation to the governor for summoning the state’s legislature for a one-day session.
                              The government wanted to discuss the situation arising out of the farmers’ protest in the legislative assembly. Media reports suggest that the governor turned down the government on the grounds that
                              there is no emergent situation for which the state assembly should be called to meet at short notice. 
                            • Earlier this year, the Rajasthan governor had rejected the recommendation of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s government to call a session. The chief minister wanted a session of the legislature called so that he could prove his majority on the floor of the house.
                            What does constitution say? 
                            • The government has the power to convene a session of the legislature. The council of ministers decides the dates and the duration of the session. 
                            • Their decision is communicated to the governor, who is constitutionally bound to act on most matters on the aid and advice of the government. 
                            • The governor then summons the state legislature to meet for a session. 
                            What is the performance of state legislatures? 
                            • In the last 20 years, state assemblies across the country, on average, met for less than 30 days in a year. But states like Kerala, Odisha, Karnataka are an exception. 
                            • The Kerala Vidhan Sabha, for example, has on an average met for 50 days every year for the last 10 years. The trend across the country is that legislatures meet for longer budget sessions at the beginning of the year. 
                            • Then for the rest of the year, they meet in fits and spurts and pay lip service to the constitutional requirement that there should not be a gap of six months between two sessions of a legislature. 
                            Why state legislatures should meet frequently? 
                            • Legislatures are arenas for debate and giving voice to public opinion. As accountability institutions, they are responsible for asking tough questions of the government and highlighting uncomfortable truths. 
                            • So, it is in the interest of a state government to convene lesser sittings of the legislature and bypass their scrutiny. 
                            • Lesser number of sitting days also means that state governments are free to make laws through ordinances. And when they convene legislatures, there is little time for MLAs to scrutinise laws brought before them. 
                            The way forward: 
                            • Continuous and close scrutiny by legislatures is central to improving governance in the country. Increasing the number of working days for state legislatures is a first step in increasing their effectiveness. 
                            • One way to do that is by convening legislatures to meet all around the year. In many mature democracies, a fixed calendar of sittings of legislatures, with breaks in between, is announced at the beginning of the year. It allows the government to plan its calendar for bringing in new laws. 
                            • It also has the advantage of increasing the time for debate and discussion in the legislative assembly. And with the legislature sitting throughout the year, it gets rid of the politics surrounding the convening of sessions of a legislature. 
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