30th March, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Right to Education’
(GS2: Issues related to Education)
Issue: The demand for RTE quota seats in private schools was higher than the number of seats available, with each seat being contested by 1.44 applications. The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) in Karnataka received 2.28 lakh applications for 1.58 lakh seats available under the RTE quota.
Despite the high demand though, more children are expected to secure admissions compared to previous years as the number of seats has risen from 1.28 lakh in 2017-18 to 1.58 lakh.
About Right to Education Free and Compulsory education act, 2009
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act (RTE), is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted on 4 August 2009, which describes the modalities of the importance of free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 in India under Article 21a of the Indian Constitution. India became one of 135 countries to make education a fundamental right of every child when the Act came into force on 1 April 2010.
The Act makes education a fundamental right of every child between the ages of 6 and 14 and specifies minimum norms in elementary schools. It requires all private schools to reserve 25% of seats to children (to be reimbursed by the state as part of the public-private partnership plan). Kids are admitted in to private schools based on economic status or caste based reservations. It also prohibits all unrecognized schools from practice, and makes provisions for no donation or capitation fees and no interview of the child or parent for admission. The Act also provides that no child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until the completion of elementary education. There is also a provision for special training of school drop-outs to bring them up to par with students of the same age.
The Right to Education of persons with disabilities until 18 years of age is laid down under a separate legislation – the Persons with Disabilities Act. A number of other provisions regarding improvement of school infrastructure, teacher-student ratio and faculty are made in the Act.
‘Chamaparan Centenary celebrations’
(GS1: Modern India History)
Issue: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Champaran on April 10 to take part in the concluding ceremony of the Champaran Satyagraha centenary celebrations.
About Champaran movement
The Champaran Satyagraha of 1917, in the Champaran district of Bihar, India during the period of the British Raj, was the first Satyagraha movement inspired by Mohandas Gandhi and a major revolt in the Indian Independence Movement. Another important Satyagraha just after this revolt was Kheda Satyagraha.
Champaran Satyagraha was the first to be started, but the word Satyagraha was used for the first time in Anti Rowlatt Act agitation.
Champaran is a district which comes under the state Bihar. Under Colonial era laws, many tenant farmers were forced to grow some indigo on a portion of their land as a condition of their tenancy. This indigo was used to make dye. The Germans had invented a cheaper artificial dye so the demand for indigo fell. Some tenants paid more rent in return for being let off having to grow indigo. However, during the First World War the German dye ceased to be available and so indigo became profitable again. Thus many tenants were once again forced to grow it on a portion of their land- as was required by their lease. Naturally, this created much anger and resentment.
Many tenants alleged that Landlords had used strong-arm tactics to exact illegal cesses and to extort them in other ways. Raj Kumar Shukla, and Sant raut a money lender who also owned some land, persuaded Gandhi to go to Champaran and thus, the Champaran Satyagraha began. Gandhi arrived in Champaran 10 April 1917
His handpicked team of eminent lawyers comprising Dr.Rajendra Prasad, Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha & Babu Brajkishore Prasad organized a detailed study and survey of the villages, accounting the atrocities and terrible episodes of suffering, including the general state of degenerate living.
Building on the confidence of villagers, he began leading the clean-up of villages, building of schools and hospitals and encouraging the village leadership to undo purdah, untouchability and the suppression of women. The purpose behind setting up these schools was to fight illiteracy and generate awareness among the rural people.
But his main assault came as he was arrested by police on the charge of creating unrest and was ordered to leave the province. Hundreds of thousands of people protested and rallied outside the jail, police stations and courts demanding his release, which the court unwillingly did. Gandhi led organized protests and strike against the landlords, who with the guidance of the British government, signed an agreement granting more compensation and control over farming for the poor farmers of the region, and cancellation of revenue hikes and collection until the famine ended. It was during this agitation, that first time Gandhi called Bapu (Father) by Sant raut and Mahatma (Great Soul)
(GS3: Achievements of Indians in space and technology)
Issue: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully placed a communication satellite GSAT-6A in a geosynchronous transfer orbit. It was carried on board the GSLV F-08 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre
The GSAT-6A is a communication satellite that incorporates the high-thrust Vikas engine. It will complement the GSAT-6, which is already in orbit. The GSAT-6A’s antenna has a diameter of six metres — it can be unfurled and opened like an umbrella once it reaches its prescribed orbit.
The indigenous cryogenic engine was used for upper stage to fire and take the satellite into its initial orbit.
Function of GSAT satellites
These two satellites combined will provide platforms for development of advanced technologies such as the unfurlable antenna, hand-held devices, and ground networks.
The satellite will be placed at a height of 36,000 km in a geostationary orbit
What is a Cryogenic Engine?
A Cryogenic rocket stage is more efficient and provides more thrust for every kilogram of propellant it burns compared to solid and earth-storable liquid propellant rocket stages. Specific impulse (a measure of the efficiency) achievable with cryogenic propellants (liquid Hydrogen and liquid Oxygen) is much higher compared to earth storable liquid and solid propellants, giving it a substantial payload advantage.
However, cryogenic stage is technically a very complex system compared to solid or earth-storable liquid propellant stages due to its use of propellants at extremely low temperatures and the associated thermal and structural problems.
Oxygen liquifies at -183 deg C and Hydrogen at -253 deg C. The propellants, at these low temperatures are to be pumped using turbo pumps running at around 40,000 rpm. It also entails complex ground support systems like propellant storage and filling systems, cryo engine and stage test facilities, transportation and handling of cryo fluids and related safety aspects.
ISRO’s Cryogenic Upper Stage Project (CUSP) envisaged the design and development of the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage to replace the stage procured from Russia and used in GSLV flights. Liquid Oxygen (LOX) and Liquid Hydrogen (LH2) from the respective tanks are fed by individual booster pumps to the main turbopump to ensure a high flow rate of propellants into the combustion chamber.
(GS2: Bilateral relations)
Issue: India and Japan agreed to step up cooperation in their “Special Strategic and Global Partnership” during annual consultations and exchanged yen loan agreements for $1.4 billion.
Ms. Swaraj and Mr. Kono discussed a wide range of bilateral issues during the 9th India-Japan Strategic dialogue in Tokyo, while setting the agenda for the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Japan for the annual summit with PM Shinzo Abe.
Other agreements signed include:
- Mumbai metro line from Cuffe Parade
- a sea water desalinization plant
- a intelligent transport system to reduce traffic congestion in Chennai
- tree-planting schemes in Himachal Pradesh
- Loans for the North East connectivity project.
(GS2: Regulatory agency)
Issue: RBI has imposed a penalty of Rs 58.9 crore on ICICI Bank for failure to adhere to held-to-maturity (HTM) guidelines. This is the highest penalty imposed by RBI on a bank for a single incident
Reason for such an action
Under RBI guidelines banks have to split their holding of government securities into `held-to-maturity’ (HTM) and available for `available-for-sale’ category. If the market value of bonds in the HTM category falls (due to an increase in interest rates in the market) banks do not need to make provisions. The rationale is that since banks are mandatorily required to invest certain part of their deposits in government bonds they will not be selling any bonds in this category and therefore there is no market loss. Banks are however required to make provisions for losses in the market value of bonds in the AFS category since this is their trading or liquid portfolio.
Under existing guidelines, banks can shift investments to/from HTM with the approval of the Board of Directors once a year, and such shifting will normally be allowed at the beginning of the accounting year. In order to enable banks to shift their excess government securities from the HTM category to AFS/held for trading (HFT) RBI had allowed such shifting of the excess securities and direct sale from HTM category. However, this relaxation came into force only in October 4, 2017.
‘Public issues fetch record money’
(GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The financial year 2017-18 saw a record mobilisation of Rs. 1.77 lakh crore through public issues, which was much higher than the all-time high of Rs. 86,710 crore recorded in 2009-10.
According to Prime Database, the total money raised in 2017-18 was 3.46 times that of the preceding financial year that saw offerings — including initial public offers (IPOs), qualified institutional placements (QIPs), follow-on offers, and public bonds— worth Rs. 51,120 crore.
The largest IPO of the financial year was that of General Insurance Corporation (GIC) that raised Rs. 11,257 crore. The average deal size during the period was also high at Rs. 1,825 crore. A notable feature of the year was that several companies that hit the market had a prior investment from either a private equity (PE) investor or a venture capitalist (VC), as per Prime Database.
What is Private Equity?
Private equity is capital that is not listed on a public exchange. Private equity is composed of funds and investors that directly invest in private companies, or that engage in buyouts of public companies, resulting in the delisting of public equity. Institutional and retail investors provide the capital for private equity, and the capital can be utilized to fund new technology, make acquisitions, expand working capital, and to bolster and solidify a balance sheet
What are Venture Capitalists?
A venture capitalist is an investor who either provides capital to startup ventures or supports small companies that wish to expand but do not have access to equities markets. Venture capitalists are willing to invest in such companies because they can earn a massive return on their investments if these companies are a success.
Venture capitalists also experience major losses when their picks fail, but these investors are typically wealthy enough that they can afford to take the risks associated with funding young, unproven companies that appear to have a great idea and a great management team.
(GS2: Issues related to Education)
Issue: Minister of Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar announced that the Cabinet has approved a slew of reforms for school education in the country, in what could be considered as the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan-2 project.
What are the new measures then?
- The SSA, the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan and teacher training would be integrated into a single scheme from Classes 1 to 12. The integrated scheme will be in place from April 1, 2018, to March 31, 2020, with an estimated allocation of Rs. 75,000 crore over the period, a 20% increase over the current allocation.
- It aims to support the States in universalizing access to school education from pre-nursery to Class 12 across the country
- There would be a shift to digital blackboards from Class 9 to college education in the next five years. The government will provide a 20% incentive to the States for a learning-outcome based education.
- Skill courses — which are now functional from Class 9 to Class 12 — would begin from Class 6 in future. This was aimed at enhancing the employability of students.
- The Centre has also approved an increase in the outlay for making educational loans interest-free for students with modest financial means for studying in universities and colleges charging high fees. The interest subsidy will last till one year of their passing out of college.
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan or SSA, is an Indian Government programme aimed at the universalization of elementary education “in a time bound manner”, as mandated by the 86th Amendment to the Constitution of India making free and compulsory education to children between the ages of 6 to 14 (estimated to be 205 million children in 2001) a fundamental right. The programme was pioneered by former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Main features of this programme
Programme with a clear time frame for universal elementary education.
A response to the demand for quality basic education all over the country
An opportunity for promoting social justice through basic education
An expression of political will for universal elementary education across the country.
A partnership between the central, state and the local government
An opportunity for states to develop their own vision of elementary education
An effort at effective involving the Panchyati Raj Institutions, school management Committees, village and urban slum level Education Committees, parent’s Teachers’ Associations, Mother-Teacher Associations, Tribal Autonomous councils and other grassroots level structures in the management of elementary schools.
- To provide useful and elementary education for all children in the 6-14 age group.
- To bridge social, regional and gender gaps with the active participation of community in the management of schools.
- To allow children to learn about and master their natural environment in order to develop their potential both spiritually and materially.
- To inculcate value-based learning that allows children an opportunity to work for each other’s well being rather than to permit mere selfish pursuits.
- To realize the importance of Early Childhood Care and education and looks at the 0-14 age as a continuum
About Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan
This scheme was launched in March, 2009 with the objective to enhance access to secondary education and to improve its quality. The implementation of the scheme started from 2009-10. It is envisaged to achieve an enrolment rate of 75% from 52.26% in 2005-06 at secondary stage of implementation of the scheme by providing a secondary school within a reasonable distance of any habitation. The other objectives include improving quality of education imparted at secondary level through making all secondary schools conform to prescribed norms, removing gender, socio-economic and disability barriers, providing universal access to secondary level education by 2017, i.e., by the end of 12th Five Year Plan and achieving universal retention by 2020.
Important physical facilities provided under the scheme are:
(i) Additional class rooms, (ii) Laboratories, (iii) Libraries, (iv) Art and crafts room, (v) Toilet blocks, (vi) Drinking water provisions and (vii) Residential Hostels for Teachers in remote areas.
Important quality interventions provided under the scheme are:
(i) appointment of additional teachers to reduce PTR to 30:1, (ii) focus on Science, Math and English education, (iii) In-service training of teachers, (iv) science laboratories, (v) ICT enabled education, (vi) curriculum reforms; and (vii) teaching learning reforms.
Important equity interventions provided in the scheme are:
(i) special focus in micro planning (ii) preference to Ashram schools for upgradation (iii) preference to areas with concentration of SC/ST/Minority for opening of schools (iv) special enrolment drive for the weaker section (v) more female teachers in schools; and (vi) separate toilet blocks for girls.
Implementation mechanism of the Scheme
The scheme is being implemented by the State government societies established for implementation of the scheme. The central share is released to the implementing agency directly. The applicable State share is also released to the implementing agency by the respective State Governments.
‘Gender Disparity in Labour market’
(GS2: Issues related to Human resources)
Issue: More than a third of all job advertisements in India explicitly specify the preferred gender of the prospective employee, which more often than not is male. Six in every 10 such jobs prefer male candidates, even as women continue to be preferred for low-quality, low-status and low-paid informal jobs, a new World Bank report has found.
Conclusion of the report
The bias against women at the first stage of hiring has translated into gender discrimination in terms of compensation too. On average, jobs specifying male preference offered nearly 20% higher monthly salary compared to job posts that targeted women.
Analyzing the offered salaries aimed at either of the sexes, the report claims that there exists discrimination against women, i.e. a gap in salary even after adjusting for occupation and the levels of education and experience required for the job. This bias or discrimination explains half of the gap in offered salary between male and female targeted ads. The other half of the offered salary gap is on account of women being mostly sought-after for low-quality, low-skill jobs.
The report demonstrates that there exists at least some bias in hiring women, which may be contributing to the decline in women’s workforce participation
(GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: Global consumption of antibiotics has soared since the year 2000, stoking calls for new policies to rein in usage—and fuelling fears that the worldwide threat posed by drug-resistant superbugs will spiral out of control
With antibiotic consumption increasing worldwide, the challenge posed by antibiotic resistance is likely to get worse
Analysis of the report
Over the 16-year period studied, the increase in antibiotics consumption was marginal in the three countries with the highest usage—the United States, France and Italy. But it was a different story elsewhere: in Asia, consumption of antibiotics more than doubled in India, skyrocketed 79% in China and rose 65% in Pakistan.
The three countries are the biggest users of antibiotics among the countries deemed low and middle-income for the purposes of the study.
They are also countries that suffer in some areas from poor sanitation, irregular access to vaccines and a lack of cleaning drinking water — all conditions that allow infectious diseases and drug-resistant infections to spread.
What are Superbugs?
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of a microbe to resist the effects of medication previously used to treat them. The term includes the more specific “antibiotic resistance“, which applies only to bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics. Resistant microbes are more difficult to treat, requiring alternative medications or higher doses, both of which may be more expensive or more toxic. Microbes resistant to multiple antimicrobials are called multidrug resistant (MDR); or sometimes “superbugs”.
Resistance arises through one of three mechanisms: natural resistance in certain types of bacteria, genetic mutation, or by one species acquiring resistance from another. All classes of microbes can develop resistance: fungi develop antifungal resistance, viruses develop antiviral resistance, protozoa develop antiprotozoal resistance, and bacteria develop antibiotic resistance. Resistance can appear spontaneously because of random mutations.
Preventive measures include only using antibiotics when needed, thereby stopping misuse of antibiotics or antimicrobials. Narrow-spectrum antibiotics are preferred over broad-spectrum antibiotics when possible, as effectively and accurately targeting specific organisms is less likely to cause resistance. For people who take these medications at home, education about proper use is essential. Health care providers can minimize spread of resistant infections by use of proper sanitation and hygiene, including hand washing and disinfecting between patients, and should encourage the same of the patient, visitors, and family members.
Rising drug resistance is caused mainly by use of antimicrobials in humans and other animals, and spread of resistant strains between the two. Antibiotics increase selective pressure in bacterial populations, causing vulnerable bacteria to die; this increases the percentage of resistant bacteria which continue growing.
Antimicrobial resistance is on the rise globally, predominantly due to greater access to drugs in low and middle income countries. Estimates are that 700,000 to several million deaths result per year. Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a result. There are public calls for global collective action to address the threat include proposals for international treaties on antimicrobial resistance. Worldwide antibiotic resistance is not fully mapped, but poorer countries with weak healthcare systems are more affected.