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President’s Rule

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure

Why in the news?

Lok Sabha approved the extension of President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir for another six months.

What is President’s Rule?

  • The imposition of Article  356 of the Constitution on a State following the failure of constitutional machinery is called President’s Rule in India. Once the President’s Rule has been imposed on a state, the elected state government will be temporarily dissolved, and the Governor, who is appointed by the government at the Centre, will replace the Chief Minister as the chief executive of the State.
  • The state will fall under the direct control of the Union government, and the Governor will continue to be head the proceedings, representing the President of India – who is the Head of the State.
  • Article 356 is inspired by sections 93 of the Government of India Act, 1935, which provided that if a Governor of a province was satisfied that a situation had arisen in which the government of the province cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the said Act, he could assume to himself all or any of the powers of the government and discharge those functions in his discretion.
  • The imposition of the President’s rule requires the sanction of both the houses of Parliament. If approved, it can go on for a period of six months. However, the imposition cannot be extended for more than three years, and needs to be brought before the two houses every six months for approval.
  • Article 356 has been widely criticised for giving provisions for the party/coalition in the Centre to misuse democratic powers for political gains. The rival parties running governments in various states were dissolved by those at the Centre by making use of the Article. In 1994, the Supreme Court delivered a landmark judgement in the SR Bommai vs Union of India case, introducing certain guidelines to check the unwarranted intrusion of the central government and the imposition of Article 356 for political gains.

 

Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme (EQUIP)

 

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?

In accordance with the decision of the Prime Minister for finalizing a five-year vision plan for each Ministry, the Department of Higher Education of HRD Ministry has finalized and released a five-year vision plan named Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme (EQUIP). This report has been prepared after a detailed exercise done by the Experts.

What are the targets of the Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme?

Ten Expert Groups drawn from senior academicians, administrators and industrialists, have suggested more than 50 initiatives that would transform the higher education sector completely. The Groups have set the following goals for higher education sector:

    1. Double the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education and resolve the geographically and socially skewed access to higher education institutions in India
    2. Upgrade the quality of education to global standards
    3. Position at least 50 Indian institutions among the top-1000 global universities
    4. Introduce governance reforms in higher education for well-administered campuses
    5. Accreditation of all institutions as an   assurance of quality
    6. Promote Research & Innovation ecosystems for positioning India in the Top-3 countries in the world in matters of knowledge creation
    7. Double the employability of the students passing out of higher education
    8. Harness education technology for expanding the reach and improving pedagogy
    9. Promote India as a global study destination
    10. Achieve a quantum increase in investment in higher education.

 

‘One nation’ one ration card’

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

Why in the news?

  • The central government is working on a plan to launch a “One Nation One Ration Card” scheme for beneficiaries, especially migrant workers, to access the Public Distribution System from any PDS shop across the country.
  • The scheme is aimed at providing freedom to beneficiaries, as they will not be tied to one PDS shop, reduce their dependence on shop owners and curtail corruption. 
  • According to a statement from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, which will implement the scheme, the Integrated Management of PDS (IMPDS), under which beneficiaries can avail their share of food grain from any district, is operational in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana and Tripura.

BRICS

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 Heads of State and Government of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa, met on 28 June 2019 on the margins of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan. 
  • They issued a joint statement on the sidelines of the G20 summit

What is BRICS?

  • BRICS is an acronym that stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – five major emerging economies. 
  • The term “BRIC” was coined in 2001 by then-chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Jim O’Neill, in his publication Building Better Global Economic BRICs.
  • Originally the first four were grouped as “BRIC” (or “the BRICs”), before the induction of South Africa in 2010. The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on regional affairs; all are members of the G20.
  • The BRICS is an association formed by countries in four continents: Brazil in the Americas, Russia in Europe, India and China in Asia and South Africa in Africa. Its member states cover an area of over 39,000,000 square kilometers, which is approximately 27% of the world’s land surface.
  • It is now a multi-level process led by the Summit, buttressed by meetings of the national Security Advisors, Foreign Ministers and other ministerial meetings, and enriched by pragmatic cooperation in dozens of areas such as economy, trade, finance, business, agriculture, education, health, science and technology, culture, think tanks, and friendship cities. Cooperation mechanisms such as the New Development Bank, Contingent Reserve Arrangement, Business Council and Think Tank Council have been established. 
  • There are two components that make up the financial architecture of BRICS, namely, the New Development Bank (NDB) or sometimes referred to as the BRICS Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA). Both of these components were signed into treaty in 2014 and became active in 2015.
  • The New Development Bank (NDB), formerly referred to as the BRICS Development Bank, is a multilateral development bank operated by the BRICS states. The bank’s primary focus of lending is infrastructure projects with authorized lending of up to $34 billion annually.
  • The BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) is a framework for providing protection against global liquidity pressures. This includes currency issues where members’ national currencies are being adversely affected by global financial pressures.
  • At the 2015 BRICS summit in Russia, ministers from BRICS nations, initiated consultations for a payment system that would be an alternative to the SWIFT system. The main benefits highlighted were backup and redundancy in case there were disruptions to the SWIFT system.

 

Current Account Deficit

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Why in the news?

  • India’s current account deficit (CAD) for January March period narrowed to 0.7% of the GDP compared to 1.8% in the same period of the previous year.
  • This contraction of the CAD on a year-on-year basis was primarily on account of a lower trade deficit at $35.2 billion as compared to $41.6 billion a year ago.
  • Also, India’s forex reserves hit a record high of $426.41 billion for the week ending on June 21.

What is Current account deficit?

  • The current account of a country is the money it receives and pays for goods and services, investments, and other things such as any money sent abroad, salaries, and pensions.
  • A current account deficit happens when a country spends more money on what it imports compared to the money it receives for what it exports. That means there is more money leaving the country than there is coming in. 
  • When a country has a deficit, it must find a way to make up for the shortfall. Deficits are reduced through the capital account, which records transactions between entities in one country and those in the rest of the world. That means the deficit can be reduced through the sale of assets, foreign currency, and through foreign direct investment.
  • Another way to reduce the deficit is to increase the value of its exports compared to its imports. But this can put economic or political pressure from international trade partners in the form of tariffs.
  • The trade deficit is the largest component of the current account deficit. It refers to a nation’s balance of trade or the relationship between the goods and services it imports and exports. 

 

National Council for Vocational Education and Training

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Why in the news?

  • The Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) has notified a non-statutory regulatory body, the National Council for Vocational Education and Training (NCVET), through a Government Notification dated 05.12.2018. 
  • The NCVET will merge the functions of National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT) and National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) and will regulate the functioning of entities engaged in vocational education and training, both long-term and short-term, and establish minimum standards for the functioning of such entities.
  • The primary functions of NCVET will include – recognition and regulation of awarding bodies, assessment bodies and skill related information providers; approval of qualifications developed by awarding bodies and Sector Skill Councils (SSCs); indirect regulation of vocational training institutes through awarding bodies and assessment agencies; research and information dissemination; grievance redressal.

 

What are the expected impacts of creation of the NCVET?

  • This institutional reform will lead to improvement in quality and market relevance of skill development programs lending credibility to vocational education and training encouraging greater private investment and employer participation in the skills space.
  • Being a regulator of India’s skill ecosystem, NCVET will have a positive impact on each individual who is a part of vocational education and training in the country. The idea of skill-based education will be seen in a more inspirational manner which would further encourage students to apply for skill-based educational courses. 
  • This is also expected to facilitate the ease of doing business by providing a steady supply of skilled workforce to the industry and services.

 

First Resilient Kerala Programme

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic : Disaster and disaster management.

Why in the news?

The Government of India, the Government of Kerala and the World Bank signed here today a Loan Agreement of USD 250 million for the First Resilient Kerala Program to enhance the State’s resilience against the impacts of natural disasters and climate change. 

The 2018 floods and landslides in Kerala led to severe impact on property, infrastructure, and lives and livelihoods of people. One sixth of the State’s population – about 5.4 million people – were affected while 1.4 million were displaced from their homes, especially the poor and vulnerable segments of the population. 

What is the Resilient Kerala Program?

The Resilient Kerala Program will focus on strengthening the State’s institutional and financial capacity to protect the assets and livelihoods of poor and vulnerable groups through an inclusive and participatory approach. 

The Program, which represents the First ‘State Partnership’ of the World Bank in India, is the First of two Development Policy Operations aiming to mainstream disaster and climate resilience into critical infrastructure and services. 

The Program aims to support the State with:

 

  • improved river basin planning and water infrastructure operations management, water supply and sanitation services
  •  resilient and sustainable  agriculture, enhanced agriculture risk insurance
  • improved resilience of the core road network
  • unified and more up-to-date land records in high risk areas
  • risk-based urban planning and strengthened expenditure planning by urban local bodies
  • strengthened fiscal and public financial management capacity of the state

 

Prelims Specific

  • China has successfully tested its latest submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) JL-3. It might have a range of up to 14,000 km and be equipped with 10 independent guided nuclear warheads based on sources.