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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 12 August 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. NCPCR survey on minority schools under RTE
  2. Supreme Court on vacancies in consumer dispute bodies
  3. Govt. to completely exit erstwhile PSUs
  4. Centre to soon free up untapped space in SEZs

NCPCR survey on minority schools under RTE

Context:

After conducting a nationwide assessment of minority schools, the National Commission of Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has recommended to the government to bring all such schools, including madarasas, under the purview of Right to Education and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan campaign.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Issues related to Education, Issues related to Minorities, Government Policies and Interventions), GS-II: Polity and Constitution (Fundamental Rights)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
  2. The functions of NCPCR
  3. About the NCPCR Survey on Minority Institutions and RTE
  4. Article 30
  5. How Article 30 can be used to bypass RTE?
  6. Way Forwards from the NCPCR report

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)

  • The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) is an Indian Statutory Body established by an Act of Parliament, the Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005.
  • The Commission works under the aegis of Ministry of Women and Child Development, GoI.
  • The Commission is mandated under section 13 of CPCR Act, 2005 “to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
  • As defined by the commission, child includes person up to the age of 18 years.
  • Also, NCPCR cannot enquire into any matter which is pending before a State Commission or any other Commission duly constituted.
  • The commission consist of the following members:
    • A chairperson who, is a person of eminence and has done a outstanding work for promoting the welfare of children; and
    • Six members, out of which at least two are woman, from the following fields, is appointed by the Central Government from amongst person of eminence, ability, integrity, standing and experience in:
      • Education,
      • Child health, care, welfare or child development,
      • Juvenile justice or care of neglected or marginalized children or children with disabilities,
      • Elimination of child labour or children in distress
      • Child psychology or sociology
      • Laws relating to children

The functions of NCPCR

  • Examine and review the safeguards provided by or under any law for the time being in force for the protection of child rights and recommend measures
  • Present to the Central Government –  reports upon working of those safeguards
  • Inquire into violation of child rights and recommend initiation of proceedings in such cases
  • Examine all factors that inhibit the enjoyment of rights of children affected by terrorism, communal violence, riots etc., and recommend appropriate remedial measures
  • Look into the matters relating to the children in need of special care and protection including children in distress, marginalized and disadvantaged children
  • Study treaties and other international instruments and undertake periodical review of existing policies, programmes and other activities on child rights and make recommendations
  • Undertake and promote research in the field of child rights
  • Spread child rights literacy among various section of society and promote awareness
  • Inspect or cause to be inspected any juveniles custodial home, or any other place of residence or institution meant for children
  • Inquire into complaints and take suo motu notice of matter relating to:
    • Deprivation and violation of child rights;
    • Non implementation of laws providing for protection and development of children;
    • Noncompliance of policy decisions, guidelines or instructions aimed at mitigating hardships to and ensuring welfare of the children and provide relief to such children;
    • Or take up the issues arising out of such matters with appropriate authorities.
  • Such other functions as it may consider necessary for the promotion of Child Rights
  • Undertake formal investigation where concern has been expressed either by children themselves or by concerned person on their behalf
  • Promote the incorporation of child rights into the school curriculum, training of teachers or personnel dealing with children

About the NCPCR Survey on Minority Institutions and RTE

  • The report titled “Impact of Exemption under Article 15 (5) with regards to Article 21A of the Constitution of India on Education of Minority Communities” – highlights the disproportionate number of minority institutions or dominance of non-minority category in Minority institutions.
  • The aim was to assess how the 93rd Amendment to Indian Constitution, which exempts minority institutions from otherwise mandatory provisions of the Right to Education, affected children belonging to minority communities.

Important Pointers

  • Overall, 62.5% of the students in these schools belonged to non-minority communities. Only 8.76% of the students in minority schools belong to socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • In West Bengal, even though more than 90% of the minority population is of Muslims and only over 2% are Christians- there are 114 Christian minority schools and only two schools with Muslim minority status.
  • Similarly, in Uttar Pradesh, though the Christian population is less than 1% there are 197 Christian minority schools in the state.
  • It found that the largest number of out-of-school children – at 1.1 crore – belonged to the Muslim community.
  • According to the report, there are three kinds of madrasas in the country:
    • Recognised Madrasas: These are registered and impart both religious as well as secular education;
    • Unrecognised Madrasas: These have been found deficient for registration by state governments as secular education is not imparted.
    • Unmapped Madrasas: These have never applied for registration.

Article 30

  • Under Article 30 clause (1), minorities (linguistic or religious) have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
  • The State cannot impose any restrictions on the right of the minorities except for making regulations, which promote excellence in education.
  • However, Minority institutions cannot ignore the regulations recommended by the state. Further, the Supreme Court in the TMA Pai Foundation case, 2002 said that Article 30(1) was neither absolute nor above the law.
  • Both Articles 29 and 30 are available to Indian Citizens only.
  • Article 29 is a general protection available to all sections of the population, whereas, Article 30 is protection available only to the linguistic or religious minorities.

Amendment to Article 30

  • According to Article 30 (1A), in case a minority’s property is acquired by the State, it shall be provided adequate compensation for the same, and the amount fixed by law should be such that it would not restrict or abrogate the right guaranteed under cause (1).
  • The State cannot discriminate while providing aid to such institutions.
  • This provision was added by the 44th Amendment Act, 1978 to protect the right of minorities in this regard and deleted the Fundamental Right to property under Article 31.

How to identify minority status?

  • The term minority has not been defined by the Constitution.
  • However, in a Presidential reference the judiciary has established parameters to determine the minority status.
  • At union level, “minority” means those groups, which have less than 50% population at all India level.
  • At state level, “minority” means groups forming less than 50% population within the state.

SC Judgment: Malankara Syrian Catholic College case, 2007

  • The right conferred on minorities under Article 30 is only to ensure quality with the majority and not intended to place the minorities in a more advantageous position compared to the majority.
  • The general laws of the land relating to national interest, national security, social welfare etc., are applicable equally to both minority and majority institutions.
  • The right to establish and administer educational institutions is not absolute.
  • It does not include the right to maladminister and there can be regulatory measures for ensuring educational character and standards.
  • Extension of aid by the state, does not alter the nature and character of the minority educational institutions.

How Article 30 can be used to bypass RTE?

  • In order to implement Right to Education under Article 21A the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 was passed. This act mandates 25% reservation for disadvantaged sections of the society where disadvantaged groups include:
    1. SCs and STs
    2. Socially Backward Class
    3. Differently abled.
  • However, Minority schools are outside the purview of the RTE Act.
  • Further, in 2014, the Supreme Court in Pramati judgment made the whole RTE Act inapplicable to minority schools.
  • The lack of applicability of RTE to minority institutions is serious as many schools and institutions have registered as minority institutions, simply because they don’t have to implement RTE (according to the NCPCR survey).

Way Forwards from the NCPCR report

  • The government should bring all such schools, including madrasas, under the purview of the Right to Education and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan campaign.
  • The NCPCR also backed reservation for students from minority communities in such schools after its survey found a large proportion of non-minority students studying there.
  • There is a need to lay down specific guidelines regarding the minimum percentage of students from the minority community to be admitted to the institution.
  • There is a need to review the exemption made under RTE with respect to minority institutions.

-Source: Indian Express


Supreme Court on vacancies in consumer dispute bodies

Context:

The Supreme Court gave the Centre and the States eight weeks to fill up the vacancies in the consumer disputes redressal commissions.

Relevance:

GS-II: Governance (Government Policies and Interventions, Transparency and Accountability in Governance), GS-III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. SC Judgement on vacancies in consumer dispute bodies
  2. Consumer Protection Act, 2019
  3. Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA)

SC Judgement on vacancies in consumer dispute bodies

  • States are defeating the purpose for which the consumer protection laws have been made according to the Supreme Court as it feels that the Centre and the States are seemingly keeping the vacancies pending to dissuade people from filing complaints.
  • The Bench asked the Centre to conduct a comprehensive “legislative impact study” on the Consumer Protection Act of 2019.
  • The SC said that the legislative intent behind the Consumer Protection Act was to empower ordinary citizens, however, the ground reality is different. There is little attempt made to translate the legislative intent to administrative infrastructure, facilities, staff, Members in order for the functioning of the consumer disputes commissions.

Consumer Protection Act, 2019

  • The new Consumer Protection Act, 2019 came into force 2020 to empower consumers and help them in protecting their rights through its various notified rules and provisions.
  • The new act will be swift and less time consuming compared to the older Consumer Protection Act, 1986 in which single-point access to justice was given making it a time-consuming exercise.
  • The old act provided for a three-tier consumer dispute redressal machinery at the National (National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission), State and District levels. However, The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 establishes the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) whose primary objective will be to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers.

Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA)

  • Central Consumer Protection Authority is being constituted under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 replacing the 1986 act seeking to widen its scope in addressing consumer concerns, hence CCPA is a Statutory Body.
  • The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 recognises offences such as providing false information regarding the quality or quantity of a good or service, and misleading advertisement.
  • It also specifies action to be taken if goods and services are found “dangerous, hazardous or unsafe”.
  • The CCPA aims to protect the rights of the consumer by cracking down on unfair trade practices, and false and misleading advertisements that are detrimental to the interests of the public and consumers.
  • The CCPA will have the powers to inquire or investigate into matters relating to violations of consumer rights or unfair trade practices suo motu, or on a complaint received, or on a direction from the central government.
  • The CCPA can file complaints of violation of consumer rights or unfair trade practices before the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. It will issue safety notices to alert consumers against dangerous or hazardous or unsafe goods or services.

What will the CCPA do if any goods or services are found not meeting the standards?

Under the act, CCPA will have powers to recall goods or withdrawal of services that are “dangerous, hazardous or unsafe; pass an order for refund the prices of goods or services so recalled to purchasers of such goods or services; and discontinuation of practices which are unfair and prejudicial to consumer’s interest”.

-Source: The Hindu


Govt. to completely exit erstwhile PSUs

Context:

The government is eyeing a sale of its residual stakes in erstwhile public sector firms like Paradeep Phosphates, Hindustan Zinc and Balco, which were privatised during the Atal Behari Vajpayee regime.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (Growth and Development of Indian Economy, Fiscal Policy, Inclusive growth and issues therein, Budgeting)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Disinvestment?
  2. Evolution of Disinvestment Policy in India
  3. Privatization in 2019 and onwards
  4. Policy of Strategic Disinvestment announced in the Union Budget FY 2021-22
  5. Issues related to Disinvestment
  6. Significance of the disinvestment

What is Disinvestment?

  • Disinvestment or divestiture refers to the government selling or liquidating its assets or stakes in PSE (public sector enterprise).
  • The Department for investment and public asset management (DIPAM) under Ministry of finance is the nodal agency for disinvestment
  • It is done when a PSU start incurring the loss of exchequer.
  • Disinvestment proceeds can help the government fund its fiscal deficit.

Evolution of Disinvestment Policy in India

  • The liberalization reforms undertaken in 1991 ushered in an increased demand for privatization/ disinvestment of PSUs.
  • The new economic policy 1991 indicated that PSUs had shown a very negative rate of return on capital employed due to:
    • Subsidized price policy of public sector undertakings.
    • Under–utilization of capacity
    • Problems related to planning and construction of projects.
    • Problems of labour, personnel and management and lack of autonomy
  • In the initial phase, this was done through the sale of a minority stake in bundles through auction. This was followed by a separate sale for each company in the following years, a method popularly adopted till 1999-2000.
  • India adopted strategic sale as a policy measure in 1999-2000 with the sale of a substantial portion of government shareholding in identified Central PSEs (CPSEs) up to 50% or more, along with transfer of management control. This was started with the sale of 74 % of the Government’s equity in Modern Food Industries Limited (MFIL).
  • Thereafter, 12 PSUs (including four subsidiaries of PSUs), and 17 hotels of Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) were sold to private investors along with transfer of management control by the Government.
  • Another major shift in disinvestment policy was made in 2004-05 when it was decided that the government may “dilute its equity and raise resources to meet the social needs of the people”, a distinct departure from strategic sales.
  • Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) has laid down comprehensive guidelines on “Capital Restructuring of CPSEs” in May 2016 by addressing various aspects, such as payment of dividends, buyback of shares, issues of bonus shares and splitting of shares.

Privatization in 2019 and onwards

  • In November 2019, India launched its biggest privatization drive in more than a decade. An “in-principle” approval was accorded to reduce the government of India’s paid-up share capital below 51% in select Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs).
  • Among the selected CPSEs, strategic disinvestment of the Government’s shareholding of 53.29% in Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) was approved which led to an increase in value of shareholders’ equity of BPCL by INR 33,000 crore when compared to its peer Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and this reflects an increase in the overall value from anticipated gains from consequent improvements in the efficiency of BPCL when compared to HPCL which will continue to be under Government control.

The Economic Survey 2020 on Govt. Divestment in PSUs

  • The Economic Survey 2020 has aggressively pitched for divestment in PSUs by proposing a separate corporate entity wherein the government’s stake can be transferred and divested over a period of time.
  • The performance of privatized firms, after controlling for other confounding factors using the difference in the performance of peer firms over the same period, improves significantly the following privatization.
  • Further, the survey has said privatized entities have performed better than their peers in terms of net worth, profit, return on equity and sales, among others.

Policy of Strategic Disinvestment announced in the Union Budget FY 2021-22

  • The government aims at making use of disinvestment proceeds to finance various social sector and developmental programmes and also to infuse private capital, technology and best management practices in Central Government Public Sector Enterprises.
  • Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, while presenting the Union Budget FY 2021-22 in Parliament announced that government has approved a policy of strategic disinvestment of public sector enterprises that will provide a clear roadmap for disinvestment in all non-strategic and strategic sectors.
  • Fulfilling the governments’ commitment under the AtmaNirbhar Package of coming up with a policy of strategic disinvestment of public sector enterprises, the Minister highlighted the following as its main features:
  • Existing CPSEs, Public Sector Banks and Public Sector Insurance Companies to be covered under it.
  • Most significant, however, is the new strategic disinvestment policy for public sector enterprises and the promise to privatise two public sector banks and a general insurance company in the year.
  • The policy, promised as part of the AtmaNirbhar Bharat package, states the government will exit all businesses in non-strategic sectors, with only a ‘bare minimum’ presence in four broad sectors.

Issues related to Disinvestment

  • It is against the socialist ideology of equal distribution of resources amongst the population.
  • It will lead to monopoly and oligopolistic practices by corporates.
  • Proceedings of disinvestment had been used to cater the fiscal deficit of the state which would lead unhealthy fiscal consolidation.
  • Private ownership does not guarantee the efficiency (Rangarajan Committee 1993).
  • Disinvestment exercise had been done by undervaluation of public assets and favoritism bidding, thereby, leading to loss of public exchequers.
  • Private ownership might overlook developmental region disparity in order to cut the cost of operation.

Significance of the disinvestment

  • Trade unionism and political interference often lead to halting of PSUs projects thereby hampering the efficiency in long run.
  • Problem of disguised unemployment and outdated skill in PSUs employee are the major cause of inefficiency.
  • Private prayers works out of Red Tapism bureaucratic mentality and focus on performance-driven culture and effectiveness (Disinvestment Commission 1996).
  • More robust competitive bidding leads to competition in private sectors to participate in PSUs.
  • Moreover, it ensuring that product service portfolio remains contemporary by developing/ acquiring technology.

-Source: The Hindu


Centre to soon free up untapped space in SEZs

Context:

The government will soon free up unused built-up area worth about ₹30,000 crore and idle land inside Special Economic Zones (SEZs) for other economic activity according to the Commerce Secretary.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (Growth and Development of Indian Economy, Government Policies and Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Special Economic Zones (SEZ)
  2. Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in India
  3. About the recent vision of the Government with respect to SEZs

Special Economic Zones (SEZ)

  • Special Economic Zones (SEZ) is a territory within a country that is typically duty-free (Fiscal Concession) and has different business and commercial laws chiefly to encourage investment and create employment.
  • SEZs are created also to better administer these areas, thereby increasing the ease of doing business.

Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in India

  • The Indian government began to establish SEZs in India during the 2000s under the Foreign Trade Policy to redress the infrastructural and bureaucratic challenges that were seen to have limited the success of EPZs.
  • Asia’s first EPZ (Export Processing Zones) was established in 1965 at Kandla, Gujarat and these EPZs had a similar structure to SEZs.
  • The Special Economic Zones Act was passed in 2005 and with this India’s SEZs were structured closely with China’s successful model.
  • More than 350 SEZs are notified in India, out of which 265 are operational.
  • About 64% of the SEZs are located in five states – Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
  • The Baba Kalyani led committee was constituted by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to study the existing SEZ policy of India and had submitted its recommendations in 2018.

Major Incentives and Facilities Available to SEZ

  • Duty free import/domestic procurement of goods for development, operation and maintenance of SEZ units.
  • Exemption from various taxes like Income Tax, minimum alternate tax, etc.
  • External commercial borrowing by SEZ units upto US $ 500 million in a year without any maturity restriction through recognized banking channels.
  • Single window clearance for Central and State level approvals.

Impact of having SEZs notified so far

SEZs were operational in India from 2000 to 2006 (under the Foreign Trade Policy) and since then:

  • Exports of around Rs. 22,000 Crore (2005-06) has increased to almost Rs. 8,00,000 Crore (2020-21).
  • Investment of Rs. 4,000 Crore (2005-06) has increased to more than Rs. 6,00,000 Crore (2020-21).
  • Employment from just over 1,30,000 persons (2005-06) has increased to more than 23,00,000 persons (2020-21).

About the recent vision of the Government with respect to SEZs

  • The government will soon free up unused built-up area and idle land inside Special Economic Zones (SEZs) for other economic activity.
  • The move to free up unutilised land parcels is likely to be operationalised by the end of August, as part of a simpler regulatory regime that the government is ringing in for SEZs, which account for about 30% of India’s exports.
  • The ministry has also kicked off a restructuring exercise for the Directorate General of Foreign Trade according to some reports.
  • The government will remit about ₹50,000 crore of pending export benefits over a two-year period and notify the RoDTEP scheme rates awaited by exporters.

-Source: The Hindu

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