The HINDU Notes – 25th May 2019 - VISION

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Sunday, May 26, 2019

The HINDU Notes – 25th May 2019

πŸ“° Higher education to get a boost with ₹1.5 lakh crore action plan

Higher education to get a boost with ₹1.5 lakh crore action plan
Will implement the National Education Policy

•In what could be one of the first new initiatives of the second act of the NDA government, the Ministry of Human Resource Development plans to launch an ambitious ₹1.5 lakh crore action plan to improve the quality and accessibility of higher education over the next five years.

•This is being described as the implementation plan for the National Education Policy — a 2014 poll promise from the BJP — which is also likely to be released in a week's time, after five years of repeated delays and extensions. The last NEP was released in 1986, with a revision in 1992.

•“While the country has been in election mode, we have had 80 experts working on the EQUIP project over the last two months, to bring transformational change to the system,” Higher Education secretary R. Subrahmanyam told The Hindu on Friday. EQUIP stands for the Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme and was crafted by ten committees led by experts within the government such as NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, principal scientific advisor K. Vijay Raghavan and former revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia, as well as some corporate chiefs.

•The ten committees have drafted strategy to improve access to higher education, especially for underserved communities; improve the gross enrolment ration; improve teaching and learning processes; build educational infrastructure; improve the quality of research and innovation; use technology and online learning tools; and work on accreditation systems, governance structures and financing.

•“It will need substantial investments, to the tune of ₹1.5 lakh crore [over five years],” said Mr. Subrahmanyam.

•“This is the implementation part [of the higher education section] of NEP, which we hope to release by May 31, after the new government is in place.” Other officials involved in the preparation of NEP and EQUIP said the release was more likely in early June.

•Given that the last budget only allocated ₹37,461 crore to the higher education department, the EQUIP project will need to rely on extra-budgetary resources. The secretary said the Centre would mobilise money from the marketplace through the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA).

•This would go beyond HEFA’s current ambit. The joint venture between the HRD Ministry and Canara Bank, set up in 2017, has been tasked with raising ₹1 lakh crore to finance infrastructure improvements in higher education by 2022. So far, projects worth ₹30,000 crore have been approved, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said in January.

•EQUIP is meant to bridge the gap between policy and implementation, said senior ministry officials. “Policy is always idealistic, but it needs clear cut strategies to be carried out. Otherwise, there are goals mentioned in every education policy from 1948 onwards which are yet to be fulfilled,” said a senior official who did not wish to be quoted.

•However, the committees drafting EQUIP did not have access to the 400-plus pages of the draft NEP document, officials admitted. Once NEP is in the public domain, EQUIP will also be tweaked to ensure closer alignment, said officials.

πŸ“° Laws not enough to end scavenging: NHRC chief

•Stating that just putting in place laws was not enough, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairperson Justice (retired) H.L. Dattu on Friday said the government needs to tell what it has done to end manual scavenging.

•While expressing concern over the continuing practice of manual scavenging, Justice Dattu said at the inauguration of the NHRC's open forum on the issue that merely putting in place laws would not suffice. .

•“Justice Dattu said that even after the intervention of the Supreme Court in the matter, it appears that the laws to eradicate manual scavenging are lying on the table and may remain so unless implemented proactively,” the NHRC said.

•The chairperson added that incidents of people dying while cleaning sewage without protective gear continue to occur in the county, including in the Capital. A top secretary said the eradication of manual scavenging was a “very high” priority of the government.

πŸ“° NOTA most popular in Bihar, 8 lakh shun parties

In 17 constituencies, the NOTA vote share was above 2%.

•Bihar registered the maximum None of The Above (NOTA) votes of about 8 lakh, with the highest share of 5.04% reported from the Gopalganj constituency, according to the Election Commission.

•In Gopalganj, 51,660 voters rejected all the candidates. Neelanjan Sircar, a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, said the constituency has a large migrant population.

•The high NOTA percentage was an indicator that people were frustrated with the state of affairs in their constituency, did not find any of the candidates worthy enough and therefore, even after reaching the polling station, decided to press the NOTA button.

•In 17 constituencies of Bihar, the NOTA vote share was above 2%. While in Paschim Champaran, the figure stood at 4.51%, it was 4.16% in Jamui and 4.73% in Nawada.

Bastar second highest

•Constituency wise, the second highest NOTA of 4.56% was reported from Bastar in Chhattisgarh, where 41,667 voters chose to register their indifference or disdain for all the candidates. Three constituencies in the State had NOTA share of more than 2%.

AP, Gujarat

•In Andhra Pradesh, the fourth highest NOTA figure of 4.46%, involving 47,977 voters, was recorded in Araku and in only five constituencies of the State, was it below 1%.

•Gujarat, where the highest of 3% was seen in Dahod, had only eight constituencies where the NOTA share was below 1%; while in Haryana, nine of the 10 seats registered less than 1% voters rejecting all candidates.

•In as many as 23 constituencies of Karnakata, NOTA vote share was again less than 1% and the highest of 1.39% was in Uttara Kannada in the State. In Kerala and Delhi, all the constituencies had below 1% NOTA share.

M.P., Maharashtra

•Most of the voters in Madhya Pradesh made a choice. In 18 constituencies, less than 1% of the electors did not find any worthy candidate. The highest NOTA figure in the State, of 2.53%, was reported from Ratlam.

•In Maharashtra also, there were only two constituencies — Gadchiroli-Chimur and Palghar — where the figure was above 2%.

Below 2%

•However, all the constituencies in West Bengal (where 21 seats had less than 1% NOTA share), Tamil Nadu and Telangana had NOTA vote shares below 2%.

•In Uttar Pradesh, 56 constituencies had less than 1% of the voters not opting for any candidate and exercising their right to record their decision.

•In only one constituency, Robertsganj, did NOTA’s share rise above 2%.

•The lowest NOTA share of 0.17% was reported from Bidar in Karnataka. In terms of numbers, only 100 NOTA votes were cast in Lakshadweep.

πŸ“° U.S. to deploy 1,500 additional troops to West Asia: Donald Trump

‘This is a prudent response to credible threats from Iran’

•President Donald Trump announced on Friday that some 1,500 additional U.S. troops would be deployed to West Asia against a backdrop of soaring tensions with Iran.

•“We want to have protection in the Middle East,” Mr. Trump told reporters as he prepared to set off on a trip to Japan.

•“We’re going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective,” Mr. Trump added. “It’ll be about 1,500 people.”

•The deployment includes reconnaissance aircraft, fighter jets, engineers, and the extension of the presence of a Patriot missile defense battalion that accounts for 600 of the personnel.

•“This is a prudent response to credible threats from Iran,” said Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.

•Pentagon officials said the move is in response to recent incidents in the region, including a rocket attack on the Green Zone in Baghdad, explosion that damaged four tankers in Fujairah at the entrance to the Gulf, and a Houthi drone attack against a Saudi oil installation. The U.S. intelligence had tied the incidents to Iran.

πŸ“° SEBI panel moots changes to FPI rules

Proposes liberalised investment cap, review of prohibited sectors and allowing off-market transactions

•As part of its attempts to streamline the regulations to encourage foreign inflows in the Indian market, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has proposed fast track on-boarding procedure for such investors, apart from a simplified registration process.

•The capital markets regulator on Friday released the report of the working group formed under the chairmanship of former RBI deputy governor HR Khan last year. “As a key source of capital to the Indian economy, it is important to ensure a harmonised and hassle-free investment experience for international investors and improve transparency as economic regulations evolve,” stated the report released on Friday.

•“Against this background, the group’s primary objectives were consolidation, simplification, rationalisation and liberalisation,” it added. Among other things, the group has also recommended pension funds to be considered for Category I FPIs registration, removal of opaque structure and the review of broad-based conditions for appropriately regulated entities.

•The committee has further proposed a liberalised investment cap under a review of prohibited sectors for foreign investment for FPIs, restriction on Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) for investment in corporate debt securities, and permitting FPIs for off-market transactions.

•The committee has also proposed alignment of regulations for FPIs and Alternate Investment Funds (AIFs) and the harmonisation between investment restrictions in FPI regulations and Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

•“Keeping in view the emerging global concerns on the integrity and identity of cross-border investors, it is considered important to continue to focus on sound and stable market polices, with robust anti-money laundering rules, while at the same time ensuring investor-friendly measures to attract and retain long term capital,” the report read.

•Interestingly, in terms of restrictions on FPI investments in mutual funds, the group said that there was a need for further deliberations on whether such restrictions should be there.

•FPIs are currently not permitted to invest in liquid and money market mutual fund schemes.

πŸ“° RBI to infuse Rs. 15,000 cr. in June via OMO

•The Reserve Bank of India on Friday said it would inject Rs. 15,000 crore into the financial system next month through purchase of government bonds via the auction route.

•The government securities will be bought under open market operations (OMO). The decision has been taken in view of the evolving liquidity situation, the central bank said in a statement.

•“Based on a review of the evolving liquidity conditions and assessment of the durable liquidity needs going forward, the RBI has decided to conduct purchase of government securities under OMO for Rs. 150 billion on June 13, 2019,” the RBI said.

πŸ“° App to help Railways carry out its census

Biannual exercise to go paperless

•The physical headcount of passengers in unreserved coaches of passenger, mail and express trains, held twice a year in May and November, and the compilation of the census data, done in three to four months, are turning to be a thing of past.

•Information technology has helped Railways make the seven-day physical headcount a paperless and eco-friendly affair.

•The Rail Census App, developed by the Commercial-Passenger Marketing wing of Southern Railway with Android mobile application, and was rolled out in six divisions makes the census figures available to the zonal headquarters database even before the train reaches the destination. It enables headcount anywhere and anytime.

πŸ“° Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh declared a banned terrorist organisation

•Bangladesh-based terror outfit — the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) — was banned by the Centre under the anti-terror law UAPA.

•JMB allegedly involved in the 2016 terror attack at a cafe in Bangladesh's capital city Dhaka was declared as an unlawful association by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Friday.

•A notification issued by MHA said that the outfit was planning to set up permanent bases within ten kilometres along Bangladesh border in several districts of West Beny, Assam and Tripura.

•The notification said the group planned to sread its network in South India with an overarching motive to establish Caliphate in the Indian subcontinent.

•MHA said the outfit has committed and promoted acts of terrorism and has been engaged in radicalisation and recruitment of youths for terrorist activities in India.

•"Therefore, the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh or Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen India or Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Hindustan and all its manifestations have been inserted in the First Schedule to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967," the notification said.

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