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Article 370

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Why in the news?

The Government informed the Parliament that no foreign government or organisation has any locus standi in repealing Article 370 in J&K as matters relating to the Constitution were internal and only for the Indian Parliament to deal with.

What is Article 370 of the Constitution of India?

Article 370 of the Constitution defines the relationship of the State of Jammu and Kashmir with the Union of India.The article is drafted in Part XXI of the Constitution: Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions.

Article 370 embodied six special provisions for Jammu and Kashmir:

  • It exempted the State from the complete applicability of the Constitution of India. The State was allowed to have its own Constitution.
  • Central legislative powers over the State were limited, at the time of framing, to the three subjects of defence, foreign affairs and communications.
  • Other constitutional powers of the Central Government could be extended to the State only with the concurrence of the State Government.
  • The ‘concurrence’ was only provisional. It had to be ratified by the State’s Constituent Assembly.
  • The State Government’s authority to give ‘concurrence’ lasted only until the State Constituent Assembly was convened. Once the State Constituent Assembly finalised the scheme of powers and dispersed, no further extension of powers was possible.
  • The Article 370 could be abrogated or amended only upon the recommendation of the State’s Constituent Assembly.

After the Constituent Assembly dispersed on 17 November 1956, adopting a Constitution for the State, the only authority provided to extend more powers to the Central Government or to accept Central institutions vanished. In subsequent years, other provisions continued to be extended to the State with the ‘concurrence’ of the State Government.

Further, the J&K High Court has stated in a judgement that Article 370 has acquired a permanent character now. However, the Government of India still maintains that the Article is temporary.

 

State of the Education Report for India: Children with Disabilities

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Why in the news?

A UNESCO delegation led by Mr. Eric Falt, Director, UNESCO, New Delhi has called on the Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu,  and presented ‘State of the Education Report for India 2019- Children with Disabilities’.

What are the findings of the report?

  • Three-fourths of the children with disabilities at the age of five years and one-fourth between 5-19 years do not go to any educational institution, the report said.
  • The 2019 “State of the Education Report for India: Children with Disabilities” took into account the 2011 census, according to which there are 78,64,636 children with disability in India constituting 1.7 percent of the total child population.
  • “The number of children enrolled in school drops significantly with each successive level of schooling. There are fewer girls with disabilities in schools than boys with disabilities in schools.
  • “Significant gaps, therefore, remain, even though successive government schemes and programs have brought large numbers of children with disabilities into schools,” the report said.
  • It said only 61 percent of CWDs aged between 5 and 19 were attending an educational institution compared to the overall figure of 71 percent when all children are considered.
  • “Around 12 percent of CWDs dropped out of school, which is comparable with the overall percentage of dropouts among all children. 27 percent of CWDs never attended any educational institution, as opposed to the overall figure of 17 percent when the entire child population is taken into account,” it added.
  • A large number of children with disabilities pursue education through NIOS
  • The report said, a large number of children with disabilities do not go to regular schools but are enrolled at the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS).
  • A review of enrolment figures at NIOS shows a decline for most categories of disabilities between 2009 and 2015.
  • “The biggest group of CWDs enrolling with NIOS over the years have been those with learning disabilities. While there has been a drop in enrolment of students with locomotor and visual impairments, there has been a rise in those with multiple disabilities.
  • “The percentage of children attending schools is the lowest among those with multiple disabilities, mental illnesses and mental retardation,” the report said.
  • The report acknowledged that inclusive education is complex to implement and requires a fine understanding of diverse needs of children and their families across different contexts.
  • “India has made considerable progress in terms of putting in place a robust legal framework and a range of programmes and schemes that have improved enrolment rates of children with disabilities in schools.
  • “However, further measures are needed to ensure a quality education for every child to achieve the goals and targets of agenda 2030 and more specifically Sustainable Development Goal 4,” it said.
  • According to the UNESCO report, the attitude of parents and teachers towards including children with disabilities into mainstream education is also crucial to accomplish the goal of inclusive education besides accessibility to physical infrastructure, processes in the school, assistive and ICT technology and devices being essential resources.
  • The report has made certain recommendations to improve the state of education for CWDs including amending the RTE Act to better align with the RPWD Act by including specific concerns of education of such children.
  • Establish a coordinating mechanism under HRD Ministry for effective convergence of all education programmes of children with disabilities, ensuring specific and adequate financial allocation in education budgets to meet the learning needs of children with disabilities, strengthening data systems to make them robust and reliable and useful for planning are among the recommendations made.
  • “Massively expand the use of information technology for the education of children with disabilities. Give a chance to every child and leave no child with disability behind.
  • “Transform teaching practices to aid the inclusion of diverse learners. Overcome stereotypes and build positive dispositions towards children with disabilities, both in the classroom and beyond,” the report said.

India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Why in the news?

  • The Second India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue (IRSED) was held in New Delhi.
  • The Second meeting of the IRSED focussed on six core areas of cooperation, namely, the Development of Transport Infrastructure and Technologies; Development of Agriculture and Agro-Processing sector; Small and Medium Business support; Digital Transformation and Frontier Technologies; Cooperation in Trade, Banking, Finance, and Industry; and Tourism & Connectivity.
  • The IRSED was established following a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between NITI Aayog and the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation during the 19th edition of the Annual India-Russia Bilateral Summit, which was held on October 5, 2018, in New Delhi.

What are the recommendations of the IRSED?

  • The roundtable on Digital transformation and Frontier Transformation focussed on areas of collaboration between India and Russia in the digital space and frontier technologies. Various platforms developed by Russia and how these can be leveraged by India, and vice versa, and potential for future collaborations were discussed across various sectors such as payments platform, joint startup ecosystem, use of digital technology in various areas such as education, construction and skilling.
  • Development of Transport Infrastructure and Technologies roundtable discussed areas of cooperation across various modes of transport such as speed upgradation, safety and passenger comfort in railways, creation of twin ports between India and Russia, ship building and river navigation, research and development, and ensuring predictability of cost and movement schedules across transport corridors.
  • For increasing collaboration and cooperation between Small and Medium Businesses in India and Russia, the roundtable recommended setting up of nodal points of interaction between the two countries. Ensuring access to finance, seamless digital banking, access to E-markets and broad-based engagement across sectors were also discussed.
  • The roundtable on Agriculture and Agro-processing noted the dynamic nature of agriculture, livestock rearing and food processing in both countries and the immense opportunities of cooperation. Recommendations included closer communication between the respective agriculture ministries to streamline collaborative efforts. Reciprocity in terms of acceptance of certification, deployment of AI-backed frontline technologies and software were also under discussion.
  • The roundtable on Tourism and Connectivity highlighted the need to increase bilateral tourism and exploring natural avenues for economic and commercial partnerships. Expanding visitor itineraries for both countries, and creating more products for tourist interest such as yoga and medical tourism were also considered. Working towards improving regional connectivity and improving government and industry cooperation was also discussed.
  • The roundtable on Industrial Trade and Cooperation saw participation across industries in energy, finance and industries, which emphasised awareness exchange between the two countries in areas of investment opportunities. Exploring better Business-to-Business communication and collaboration, generating greater investment flows through public and private cooperation in an organised way were also discussed.

Labour Codes

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

Why in the news?

Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Bill, 2019 has been cleared by the Cabinet for introduction in the Parliament.

What are the labour codes?

The Government is introducing four labour codes (or laws) to replace nearly 40 existing laws so as to bring about consolidation, clarity and efficiency in the laws dealing with the labour. These are the biggest labour reforms being carried out in the country. The four labour codes are:

  • Code of Wages
  • Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions
  • Code on Industrial Relations
  • Code on Social security and Welfare

 

  • Nearly a dozen laws related to social security — including the Employees’ Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, Employees’ State Insurance Corporation Act, Maternity Benefits Act, Building and Other Construction Workers Act and the Employees’ Compensation Act — will be merged to create a single social security law or code.
  • Similarly, several industrial safety and welfare laws such as the Factories Act, the Mines Act and the Dock Workers (Safety, Health and Welfare) Act, will be merged to create a single code on industrial safety and welfare.
  • Likewise, the Minimum Wages Act, the Payment of Wages Act, the Payment of Bonus Act, the Equal Remuneration Act and a few others are being merged to create a “single legislation called Wage Code Act”.
  • The fourth law, the Labour Code on Industrial Relations, will combine Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the Trade Unions Act, 1926, and the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946.

 

Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana III

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Why in the news?

  • the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval for the launch of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana-lll (PMGSY-III). 
  • It involves consolidation of 1,25,000 km of Through Routes and Major Rural Links connecting habitations to Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs), Higher Secondary Schools and Hospitals.
  • This would facilitate easy and faster movement to and from Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs), Higher Secondary Schools and Hospitals.

About PMGSY

PMGSY was launched in December, 2000 with an objective to provide single all-weather road connectivity to eligible unconnected habitation of designated population size (500+ in plain areas and 250+ in North-East, hill, tribal and desert areas as per Census, 2001) for overall socio-economic development of the areas. 97% of the eligible and feasible habitations have already been connected by all-weather road.

 

DBT 2.0

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies

Why in the news?

Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers launched the Phase-II of the Direct Benefit Transfer of Fertilizer Subsidy (DBT 2.0), here today. The Department of Fertilizers (DoF) has implemented the Phase-I of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) system in fertilizer subsidy pan-India in Fertilizers w.e.f. March 2018.

DBT in fertilizer subsidy is such a step in the direction of bringing ease of living in the lives of farmers through the use of modern technology and plugging leakages, pilferages and black marketing, the Minister added.

What are the new features/initiatives under DBT 2.0

The new initiatives of DBT 2.0 are as under:

  • DBT Dashboards: In order to facilitate accurate information gathering and decision-making w.r.t. the position of requirement/supply/availability of various fertilizers at National, State and District levels, the DoF has developed various dashboards. These dashboards provide various reports regarding the Fertilizer Stock position at ports, plants, in States, at District levels; Proportionate requirement for the season and availability of stocks at various levels; Top 20 buyers; Frequent buyers; Retailers not selling fertilizers etc. The reports would facilitate real-time monitoring of the availability and sale of fertilizers within each State/UT. Public can access the dashboards by clicking the e-urvarak website of DoF (www.urvarak.nic.in).
  • PoS 3.0 Software: The Multi-lingual facility would provide Aadhar virtual ID option for registration, login and sale activity in DBT software. It would also have a provision for area-specific, crop-specific recommendations based on Soil Health Card (SHC) data. Further, it would capture sale to farmers, mixture manufacturers, planter association separately.
  • Desktop PoS Version: Keeping in view the various operational challenges viz. limited PoS vendors, rush of sales due to peak season etc. the department has developed a multilingual desktop version of PoS software as an alternative or added facility to PoS devices. Retailers with laptops and computer systems can use high-speed broadband service for fertilizer sales. The Desktop software is more robust and secure as the application is developed and handled directly from the central HQ team at DoF.

 

Prelims Specific

  • Indian Air Force will adopt Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) of European Missile-maker MBDA for its Jaguar jets
  • Kharchi puja is a Hindu festival from Tripura, India. Performed in Agartala in July or August, the festival involves the worship of the fourteen gods forming the dynasty deity of the Tripuri people.Kharchi Puja is one of the most popular festivals in Tripura. It’s a week-long royal Puja which falls in the month of July on the eighth day of the new moon and attracts thousands of people.