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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 6 August 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Most drop-outs from IITs & IIMs from reserved category
  2. Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021
  3. Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill
  4. India and Mauritius on Agalega Islands
  5. ISRO to launch Earth Observation Satellite (EOS)

Most drop-outs from IITs & IIMs from reserved category

Context:

According to Education Ministry data given in response to a question in the Rajya Sabha, majority of the undergraduate dropouts at the top seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) over the last five years are from the reserved categories.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Issues related to Education, Government Policies and Interventions, Issues arising out of the design and implementation of the policies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Data on Drop-outs from top institutes
  2. Reasons for disproportionate reserved category drop-outs

Data on Drop-outs from top institutes

  • Almost 63% of the undergraduate dropouts at the top seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) over the last five years are from the reserved categories.
  • Almost 40% were from the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities on average, and in some institutions, the SC/ST share was as high as 72%.
  • An analysis of the seven IITs that stand in the top 10 of the National Institute Ranking framework shows that the disproportionality of dropouts is starker at some institutions.
  • IIT Guwahati holds the worst record, with 88% of its 25 dropouts hailing from the reserved categories.
  • This indicates that those who drop out of these elite programmes disproportionately belong to the disadvantaged groups, given that only half the undergraduate intake in the IITs are from reserved categories, while about 23% are from the SC/ST communities.

Reasons for disproportionate reserved category drop-outs

  • The percentage of dropouts for SC/ ST and OBC candidates is more than that of unreserved category, while their number of admissions is below unreserved category candidates.
  • While this can hint at discrimination against these candidates, there are also questions against a caste-based reservation system that allows reserved category candidates with lower marks to take admission in an institute.
  • Dalit and Adivasi activists have long argued that students from those communities face a higher level of pressure and discrimination at these prestigious institutions.
  • Education Minister recently told the Rajya Sabha that the dropouts were “mainly on account of securing seat in other departments or institutions of students choice or on any other personal ground”.

 

Looking at data from 2019 (to overlook the impact of Covid-19)

  • The reserved category candidates have a lower cut-off criterion in the entrance exam, but once in college, the passing marks are the same for all. This makes experts wonder if students are unable to deal with pressure over their performance. – However, it should be added that since the general category candidates drop out too, the difference in cut-offs gets mitigated during the programme.
  • The reasons for dropouts can be of various types, including distractions for those who live alone for the first time, disinterest in the programme and high academic standards.
  • IIT-Delhi officials have said that dropouts in case of IITs are majorly from postgraduate classes, due to students preferring lucrative jobs or academia.
  • The HRD minister, also cited personal or medical issues, placement during courses and pursuing higher education abroad among other reasons behind dropouts for PG courses.

-Source: The Hindu


Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021

Context:

The government on introduced the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha for doing away with the contentious retrospective tax law of 2012.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (Growth and Development of Indian Economy, Fiscal Policy, Taxation), GS-II: Governance (Government Policies and Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021
  2. Conclusion

Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021

  • Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was introduced in Lok Sabha on August 2021 to amend the Income-tax Act, 1961 and the Finance Act, 2012.
  • The Primary Objective is to nullify the relevant retrospective tax clauses that were introduced in 2012 to bring past indirect transfer of Indian assets under the ambit of taxation.
  • The contentious retrospective tax law of 2012 was used to raise large tax demands on foreign investors like Vodafone and Cairn Energy, and was blamed for vitiating India’s investment climate.
  • The Bill proposes to amend the Income-tax Act, 1961 so as to provide that no tax demand shall be raised in future on the basis of the said retrospective amendment for any indirect transfer of Indian assets if the transaction was undertaken before 2012 (date on which the Finance Bill, 2012 received the assent of the President).
  • It is further proposed to provide that the demand raised for indirect transfer of Indian assets made before 2012 shall be nullified on fulfilment of specified conditions such as withdrawal or furnishing of undertaking for withdrawal of pending litigation and furnishing of an undertaking to the effect that no claim for cost, damages, interest, etc., shall be filed.
  • It is also proposed to refund the amount paid in these cases without any interest thereon.
  • The Bill also proposes to amend the Finance Act, 2012 so as to provide that the validation of demand, etc., shall cease to apply on fulfilment of specified conditions such as withdrawal or furnishing of undertaking for withdrawal of pending litigation and furnishing of an undertaking that no claim for cost, damages, interest, etc., shall be filed.

Conclusion

  • The clarificatory amendments by the Finance Act, 2012 invited criticism from stakeholders mainly with respect to the retrospective effect given to the amendments. It was argued that such retrospective amendments militate against the principle of tax certainty and damage India’s reputation as an attractive investment destination.
  • Even after the retrospective amendments, the pending demand could not be recovered by the Dept. The Income-tax Dept. raised demand in 17 cases. Out of these 17 cases, arbitration under Bilateral Investment Protection Treaty with the United Kingdom and the Netherlands had been invoked in four cases. In two cases, the Arbitration Tribunal ruled in favour of the taxpayer and against the Income Tax Department.
  • These clarificatory retrospective amendments and consequent demand continue to be a sore point with the potential investors. Thus, the Govt. has introduced the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in the parliament to propose revocation of the amendments.
  • Now, the country stands at a juncture when quick recovery of the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic is the need of the hour and foreign investment has an essential role in promoting faster economic growth and employment.

-Source: The Hindu


Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill

Context:

Rajya Sabha passed The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which seeks to amend the constitutional list of Scheduled Tribes as recommended by Arunachal Pradesh.

Relevance:

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

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Definition of STs
  2. Constitutional Provisions regarding STs
  3. The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2021

Definition of STs

The Constitution does not define the criteria for recognition of Scheduled Tribes.

  • However, Article 366(25) of the Constitution only provides process to define Scheduled Tribes: “Scheduled Tribes means such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this Constitution.”
  • Article 342(1): The President may with respect to any State or Union Territory, and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor, by a public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or part of or groups within tribes or tribal communities as Scheduled Tribe in relation to that State or Union Territory.

Constitutional Provisions regarding STs

  • Art. 15(4): Special provisions for advancement of other backward classes (which includes STs);
  • Art. 23: Prohibition of traffic in human beings and beggar and other similar form of forced labour;
  • Art. 24: Forbidding Child Labour.
  • Art. 29: Protection of Interests of Minorities (which includes STs);
  • Art. 46: The State shall promote, with special care, the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and in particular, of the Scheduled Castes, and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.
  • Art.164(1): Provides for Tribal Affairs Ministers in Bihar, MP and Orissa;
  • Art. 243: Reservation of seats in Panchayats.
  • Art.244: Clause (1) Provisions of Fifth Schedule shall apply to the administration & control of the Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes in any State other than the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura which are covered under Sixth Schedule, under Clause (2) of this Article.
  • Art. 275: Grants in-Aid to specified States (STs&SAs) covered under Fifth and Sixth Schedules of the Constitution.
  • Art. 330: Reservation of seats for STs in Lok Sabha;
  • Art. 337- Reservation of seats for STs in State Legislatures;
  • Art. 334: 10 years period for reservation (Amended several times to extend the period);
  • Art. 350: Right to conserve distinct Language, Script or Culture;
  • Art. 350: Instruction in Mother Tongue.
  • Art. 371: Special provisions in respect of NE States and Sikkim.

The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2021

  • The new bill provides for modifying Part-XVIII of the Schedule to the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950, relating to state of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The Bill removes the Abor tribe from the list of identified STs in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • It replaces certain STs with other tribes. This includes Tai Khamti, Mishmi-Kaman (Miju Mishmi), Idu (Mishmi) and Taraon (Digaru Mishmi).

-Source: The Hindu


India and Mauritius on Agalega Islands

Context:

Recently, there was a report on the construction of an airstrip and two jetties to house an Indian military base on Agalega, located about 1,000 km north of the archipelago’s main island.

Mauritius has denied a report that it has allowed India to build a military base on the remote island of Agalega, with a government official telling that no such agreement exists between the two nations.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbors, Foreign policies affecting India’s Interests, Important political developments in foreign countries affecting India’s interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Agalega Islands and India
  2. Significance of this area
  3. India–Mauritius relations

About Agalega Islands and India

  • Agaléga are two outer islands of Mauritius located in the Indian Ocean, about 1,000 kilometers north of Mauritius island.
  • The islands have a total area of 2,600 ha (6,400 acres).
  • There is an MoU between the governments of Mauritius and India to develop the Agaléga islands and resolve infrastructural problems faced by Agaleans.
  • India asserts that these new facilities are part of its Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) policy, which aims to increase maritime cooperation between countries in the region.
  • Mauritius, for its part, has indicated that its coastguard personnel will use the new facilities.
  • But it is clear that the Indian investment of $250m in developing an airfield, port, and communications hub on this remote island is not aimed at helping Mauritius develop its capacity to police its territorial waters.

Significance of this area

  • The Agalega area is currently a blind spot for the Indian Navy and by building a military facility in it, New Delhi hopes to expand its maritime domain awareness.
  • In times of conflict, knowing the location of enemy ships and submarines, without being detected in the process, creates a significant advantage.
  • China’s naval forays into this region are the true motivator for its expanding naval presence.
  • In peacetime, effective maritime domain awareness helps establish international partnerships with like-minded militaries and also acts as a deterrent to both state and non-state adversaries, by signaling reach.

India–Mauritius relations

  • India–Mauritius relations date back to 1730, diplomatic relations were established in 1948, before Mauritius became independent state.
  • The cultural affinities and long historical ties between the two nations have contributed to strong and cordial relations between the two nations.
  • More than 68% of the Mauritian population are of Indian origin, most commonly known as Indo-Mauritians.
  • India and Mauritius co-operate in combating piracy, which has emerged as a major threat in the Indian Ocean region and Mauritius supports India’s stance against terrorism.
  • From the 1820s, Indian workers started coming into Mauritius to work on sugar plantations.
  • In the 1830s, when slavery was abolished by the British Parliament, large numbers of Indian workers began to be brought into Mauritius as indentured labourers.
  • November 2nd is observed as ‘Aapravasi Day’ to mark the ship named ‘Atlas’ docking in Mauritius in1834 carrying the first batch of Indian indentured labourers

-Source: The Hindu


ISRO to launch Earth Observation Satellite (EOS)

Context:

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch an Earth Observation Satellite in August 2021 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, SHAR, at Sriharikota.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Science and Technology (Space Technology)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Earth Observation Satellites
  2. ISRO and EOS
  3. About the EOS-3 set to be launched in 2021

Earth Observation Satellites

  • An Earth Observation Satellite or Earth Remote Sensing Satellite is a satellite used or designed for Earth Observance (EO) from orbit, including spy satellites and similar ones intended for non-military uses such as environmental monitoring, meteorology, cartography and others.
  • The most common type are Earth imaging satellites, that take satellite images, analogous to aerial photographs; some EOS satellites may perform remote sensing without forming pictures, such as in GNSS radio occultation.
  • The first occurrence of satellite remote sensing can be dated to the launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, by the Soviet Union in 1957.

ISRO and EOS

  • Starting with IRS-1A in 1988, ISRO has launched many operational remote sensing satellites.
  • Currently 13 operational satellites are in Sun-synchronous orbit – RESOURCESAT-1, 2, 2A CARTOSAT-1, 2, 2A, 2B, RISAT-1 and 2, OCEANSAT-2, Megha-Tropiques, SARAL and SCATSAT-1, and *four* in Geostationary orbit- INSAT-3D, Kalpana & INSAT 3A, INSAT -3DR.
  • The data from these satellites are used for several applications covering agriculture, water resources, urban planning, rural development, mineral prospecting, environment, forestry, ocean resources and disaster management.

About the EOS-3 set to be launched in 2021

  • The satellite, EOS-03, will be carried on board the 14th flight of the GSLV, the GSLV-F10, and will place the satellite in a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit.
  • The satellite will reach the final geostationary orbit using its onboard propulsion system.
  • The EOS-03 is a state-of-the-art agile satellite that would enable real-time monitoring of natural disasters such as floods and cyclones, monitoring of water bodies, crops, vegetation condition, forest cover changes among others.
  • This will only be the second launch for ISRO in 2021 as work has been hit by the COVID-19 restrictions.

-Source: The Hindu

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