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January 2017 Polity and National Issues


POLITY

Seeking votes in the name of religion is  a corrupt act: SC

Terming religion a very private relationship between man and his God, a seven-judge Bench of the Supreme Court , in a majority judgment, held that an appeal for votes during elections on the basis of religion, caste, race, community or language, even that of the electorate, will amount to a ‘corrupt practice’ and call for disqualification of the candidate.


Background:

  •      The court was interpreting the pronoun ‘his’ used in Section 123 (3) of the Representation of the People Act.
  •     The provision mandates that it would amount to a ‘corrupt practice’ if a candidate or his agent or any other person, with his consent, appeals for votes on religious or such grounds.

What SC court ruled?

  •      Electoral processes are secular in nature 
  •      Individual preferences and choices guaranteed under Article 25 have nothing to do with secular activities such as elections.
  •     The court  said the rule would cover any appeal, irrespective of whether it was in the name of the religion or caste of the voter, the candidate or his poll agent, his rival or even a third party. 

Service charge not mandatory at restaurants and hotels: Govt
Consumers have the “discretion to pay service charge or not”, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) said, adding that the billing of service charge by restaurants in addition to taxes is optional.

Background:
As per Department of Consumer Affairs,  number of complaints from consumers have been received that hotels and restaurants are following the practice of charging ‘service charge’ in the range of 5-20%, in lieu of tips, which a consumer is forced to pay irrespective of the kind of service provided to him.

Global practice:
Globally, service charge is very common but known by different names like tip in UK and gratuity in the US.

Consumer Protection Act, 1986:
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 provides that a trade practice which, for the purpose of promoting the sale, use or the supply of any goods or for the provision of any service, adopts any unfair method or deceptive practice, is to be treated as an “unfair trade practice”.

Objective of Act:

  •      The right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property.
  •      The right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services,
  •      The right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers; and
  •      The right to consumer education.
  •      The right against consumer exploitation
  •      The right to choose

SC extends judicial review powers
In a blow to parallel power of lawmaking, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court widened the boundaries of judicial review to the extent that it can now examine whether the President or the State Governor was spurred by an “oblique motive” to bypass the legislature and promulgate an ordinance.

Background:

  •      The case came to dealt with the constitutionality of seven successive re-promulgations of the Bihar Non-Government Sanskrit Schools (Taking         Over of  Management and Control) Ordinance of 1989.
  •      The court was at this point dealing with the rights of the 400-odd teachers of the private Sanskrit schools who were absorbed into the State             government.
  •      They had demanded the same salaries and perks even after the ordinance lapsed in 1992.

Major Highlights:

  •      If the President or the Governor was influenced by ulterior motives to promulgate the ordinance, such an act by the two constitutional                      authorities would amount to a fraud on their respective powers.
  •      The satisfaction of the President under Article 123 and of the Governor under Article 213 is not immune from judicial review.
  •      Supreme Court held that “re-promulgation of ordinances is a fraud on the Constitution and a subversion of democratic legislative processes”.

Crisis in BIMARU states
By 2020, India will have the world’s largest working population-- 869 million but an India Spend analysis of indicators on literacy, school enrolment, learning outcomes, and education spending across four states -- with 43.6 per cent of India’s school-age population between the ages of five and 14 -- revealed that India is unprepared to educate and train its young population. 


Major Facts

  •      Overall, India's literacy rate has increased 8.66 percentage points to 74.04 per cent between 2001 and 2011, according to Census data, but             wide variations exists across states. 
  •      The crisis in education is especially apparent in the four BIMARU states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh (MP), Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh (UP) --         with 445.1 million of India's 1.2 billion population and some of the lowest literacy rates in the country .
  •      According to Census 2011. Bihar had a literacy rate of 61.8 per cent, Rajasthan of 67.1 per cent, UP of 67.7 per cent and MP a rate of 70.6             percent in 2011, lower than the all-India average of 74 per cent. Kerala has a literacy rate of 94 per cent, the highest in the country. 
  •      Currently, only 2.5 per cent of school-age children between the ages of five and 14 live in the four states -- Kerala, Mizoram, Tripura and Goa --      with the highest literacy in India, compared to 43.6 per cent in the four BIMARU states, according to Census 2011. 
  •      Variations across states in India exist not only in literacy and enrolment, but also in factors that might impact future enrolment and learning. For      instance, life expectancy at birth, one of the factors found to affect literacy in India, according to a 2005 World Bank study, varies across states. 
  •      Another important factor, parent's education, impacts school education, according to a 2001 paper published in the Review of Development           Economics. As many as 99.1 per cent mothers in Kerala -- the state with the highest literacy -- received schooling, compared to 30.3 per cent          mothers in Rajasthan in 2014, according to the ASER - Trends Over Time report. 
  •     The BIMARU states spend less on education than their more literate counterparts. For instance, MP spends Rs 11,927 ($175) per student, while      Tamil Nadu spends Rs 16,914 per student, the Economic and Political Weekly reported in September 2016. 

Government to use scientific methods to implement social welfare schemes and fight poverty

The government is now opting for a more scientific way for implementing social welfare programmes in a move to tackle poverty better by weeding out undeserving beneficiaries.

What’s new?

  •      The government will be adopting the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) instead of the poverty line-based method to identify recipients for its         pro-poor schemes. 
  •      The SECC 2011 ranks households based on their socio-economic status to enable state governments to prepare a list of families living       below the poverty line. 
  •      It also makes available information regarding the socio-economic condition and education status of various castes and sections of the                      population. 
  •    SECC 2011 will be used by the Ministry of Rural Development from this year for its National Social Assistance Programme to pay              pension to rural poor and National Rural Livelihood Mission. Both schemes use BPL data to estimate the number of the poor. 
  •    BPL data tells us how many are poor and SECC who are those poor , (SECC) it is a more targeted and scientific approach in ensuring the right      person gets the benefit.

Other major key facts

  •      To study the validity and efficiency of the SECC 2011 data, a Summit Bose Committee formed. It will look over the data that identify the poor recently             submitted its report, which is in favour of using the information for rural development schemes. 
  •      The committee also developed a formula based on deprivation parameters to identify beneficiaries for specific schemes. 
  •      The greater the deprivation score, the higher will be the ranking of a household for getting government assistance. The government         is also identifying workers under the national rural employment guarantee scheme who have reported deprivation in the SECC study. 
  •      In March 2016, the ministry amended the Indira Awaas Yojana, now called the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana-Gramin, and changed            the selection criterion of beneficiaries from "below poverty line, to the SECC 2011data.

After a decade of RTI roll out 94% ministries declared statistics in last fiscal 
According to Central Information Commission (CIC), over a decade after the implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the government has finally fallen in line. After refusing to divulge statistics on RTI applications for years, a record 94 per cent of central ministries and departments have followed the rulebook in 2015-16.

This is the first time that the number of public authorities following the rulebook has crossed the 90 per cent mark. 

Mechanism followed for RTI implementation in department

  •      Every year, a department has to register itself with the CIC and submit four quarterly returns during a year for assessment of their performance .
  •      These returns include the number of applications received, disposed of, applications rejected, grounds of rejection, number of first appeals filed      and the pendency at each ministry. 
  •      This reflects on the efficacy of the RTI system in the government. 

EC says sponsored ads will be part of a candidate’s campaign expenditure
According to EC Sponsored advertisements on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter will be included in the total election expenditure of a candidate.

  •      Voice messages of candidates, even if they were received from other states, would be added to the expenditure of the candidate.
  •     Printing press owners to print the names and addresses of printer and publisher of any election pamphlets, posters and such other material           printed by them.

What does law says
The total amount of expenditure, of which is accounted under section 77 of Representation of People’s Act 1951 and incurred or authorised in any assembly constituency in connection with general elections to the Legislative Assembly by any candidate (Mainly larger assemblies like UP, Punjab), is Rs 28 lakh.

Other key points

  •      ECI has launched three IT applications being used in Punjab Vidhan Sabha election 2017 -- Samadhan, Suvidha and Sugam -- for uploading complaints by        public, political parties and candidates.
  •      As per section 171 B of IPC, any person giving or accepting any gratification in cash or kind during election process, with a view to inducing a          person to exercise his electoral rights is punishable with imprisonment up to one year or with fine or both.
  •      Also as per section 171 C of IPC, any person who threatens any candidate or elector, or any other person, with injury of any kind, is punishable      with imprisonment up to one year or with fine or both.

Assembly election dates announced, Model Code of Conduct comes into force in UP

All government publicity hoardings in the Uttar Pradesh capital were pulled down after the Model Code of Conduct came into force following the poll dates announcement 

About Model Code of Conduct(MCC)

  •      Model Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections            mainly with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, election manifestos, processions and general conduct. 
  •      These set of norms has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the            said code in its letter and spirit.
  •    The Model Code of Conduct comes into force immediately on announcement of the election schedule by the commission for the need of                ensuring free and fair elections.

SC wants paper trail in EVMs for fair poll
In a judgement Supreme Court has reiterated the necessity to implement the Vote Verifier Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) in electronic voting machines (EVMs) to ensure 100 per cent transparency in elections.

  •      This is the second time the Supreme Court is insisting on the implementation of VVPAT in EVMs.
  •      In 2013, the apex court, on a petition filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, had directed the Election Commission to introduce the paper          trail in EVMs in a phased manner for the general elections in 2014.
  •      SC had observed that VVPAT in EVMs would ensure “free and fair” polls and help in “sorting out disputes”.

About VVPAT

  •      In the VVPAT system, when a voter presses the button for a candidate of his choice in the EVM, a paper ballot containing the serial number, name of the          candidate and poll symbol would be printed for the voter.
  •      The VVPAT is intended as an independent verification system for voting machines designed to allow voters to verify that their votes were cast           correctly, to detect possible election fraud or malfunction and to provide a means to audit the stored electronic results.

Want MGNREGA benefits? You must have an Aadhaar

The  Central government has tactfully made the Aadhaar card mandatory for availing of The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) pension and provident fund benefits without disregarding the Supreme Court ruling against it. 

  •      The Centre has made it necessary for beneficiaries of the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI) funded schemes to get their Aadhaar card numbers before               January 31 for EPF and pension and March 31 for MGNREGA benefits.
  •     However, till the beneficiaries get their unique identification number, which the Supreme Court in its August ruling had deemed as voluntary,           alternate identification such as voter card, driving licence or PAN card may be accepted as valid proof.
  •    Through this clause, the Centre has sought to avoid contempt of court by giving space of acceptance of other identity proofs till the beneficiary        gets his/her Aadhaar  number.

Supreme Court Ruling on Aadhaar

  •    The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court ruled that Aadhaar card can be used for availing government schemes, but it is not necessary.
  •    In its ruling, the court said Aadhaar can be used for Public Distribution Schemes (PDS) food grains, kerosene and LPG, but it was not mandatory    to avail the benefits of such schemes. 
  •   The court also ruled that the information obtained through Unique Identification ID can not be shared for any other purpose except for criminal       investigation and that too with the court's approval.

Niti Aayog calls for review of RTE Act
The Niti  Aayog has called for a review of the provisions of the Right To Education Act that stipulate that children who don’t perform well cannot be held back up to class VIII. It said the good intention behind the norm is detrimental to the learning process.

  •  The Aayog pointed out that the purpose behind this provision is to minimise the drop-out rate, since demoralisation resulting from failing a class leads to    children withdrawing from school altogether.
  • But despite this good intention, the provision has a detrimental effect on learning outcomes, since it takes away the pressure to learn and to compete

Background

  • According to Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014, one of the largest non-governmental household survey, the proportion of children aged 6-14 years enrolled in school in rural areas has been above 96 per cent for the past six years.
  • The ASER report finds that more than 50 per cent of the fifth graders cannot read second standard level text.

RTE ACT

  • It  describes the modalities of the importance of free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 in India under Article 21A of the Indian Constitution.
  • The title of the RTE Act incorporates the words ‘free and compulsory’. 
  • ‘Free education’ means that no child, other than a child who has been admitted by his or her parents to a school which is not supported by the appropriate Government, shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education. 
  • ‘Compulsory education’ casts an obligation on the appropriate Government and local authorities to provide and ensure admission, attendance and completion of elementary education by all children in the 6-14 age group. 
  • With this, India has moved forward to a rights based framework that casts a legal obligation on the Central and State Governments to implement this fundamental child right as enshrined in the Article 21A of the Constitution, in accordance with the provisions of the RTE Act.

Complete disciplinary inquiries in time: Central Vigilance Commission to departments 

  • Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has asked all departments to ensure that departmental enquiries  are completed in time. The Commission has observed that the conduct and finalisation of departmental inquiry proceedings are unduly delayed and even after receipt of Inquiry Officer's report, further processing for its consideration and final orders of the respective disciplinary authorities take long time .
  • In a study conducted by the Commission, it has been noticed that while the average time taken by the administrative authorities in finalisation of disciplinary proceedings is more than two years, the maximum time taken in a particular case was eight years and at least in 22 per cent cases the inquiry took more than two years 

What rules says
As per rules, a departmental inquiry against a government employee needs to be completed within six months and a final decision has to be taken by authorities concerned on it in the next two months.
 

About CVC

  •  Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is an apex Indian governmental body created in 1964 to address governmental corruption.
  •  It has the status of an autonomous body, free of control from any executive authority, charged with monitoring all vigilance activity under the Central Government of India, advising various authorities in central Government organizations in planning, executing, reviewing and reforming their vigilance work.
  •  It was set up by the Government of India in February, 1964 on the recommendations of the Committee on Prevention of Corruption, headed by Shri K. Santhanam Committee, to advise and guide Central Government agencies in the field of vigilance
  •  The Central Vigilance Commissioner and the Vigilance Commissioners shall be appointed by the President on recommendation of a Committee consisting of the Prime Minister (Chairperson), the Minister of Home Affairs (Member) and the Leader of the Opposition in the House of the People (Member)

SECC data: Expert panel submits report, Govt accepts ‘interim advice’ on identifying pro-poor beneficiaries
The expert group, headed by former Finance Secretary Summit Bose, set up to study the criteria for allocation of resources to states and identification of beneficiaries under various pro-poor programmes using the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) data, presented its report to Rural Development Ministry.

  • The Expert Group during its interim discussion with MoRD had given a road map on selection of beneficiaries as well as criteria for allocation of resources to the states for Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana- Gramin (PMAY-G).
  • The Expert Group has concluded that the use of SECC data and its TIN(Temporary Identification Number)  Number would enable the government to improve the efficacy of its interventions and will result in improved outcome. 
  • However, the Expert Group has observed that regular updation and verification of SECC data is prerequisite to eliminate the need to mount scandal one SECC in the long run, which would put additional burden on public resources.
  • According to Expert Group the SECC has the potential to move from being a census-like socio-economic database to becoming the core of a functioning Social Registry Information System (SRIS)

About SECC

  • The Ministry of Rural Development Government of India, commenced the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011, in June 2011 through a comprehensive door to door enumeration across the country. 
  • This is the first time such a comprehensive exercise has been carried out for both rural and urban India. 
  •  It is also expected to generate information on a large number of social and economic indicators relating to households across the country.

The SECC, 2011 has the following three objectives:
•    To enable households to be ranked based on their Socio- Economic status. State Governments can then prepare a list of families living below the poverty           line
•    To make available authentic information that will enable caste-wise population enumeration of the country
•    To make available authentic information regarding the socio economic condition, and education status of various castes and sections of the population.

National Alliance against online Child sexual abuse and exploitation 
The Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India is   to  form  a National Alliance against   Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation with the aim of developing a comprehensive outreach system  to engage parents, schools, communities, NGO partners and local governments (PRIs and ULBs) as well as police and lawyers.
It is set up to ensure better implementation of the legal framework, policies, national strategies and standards in relation to child protection and child rights.

Background

  • Child sexual abuse is a multi-layered problem which negatively impacts children’s safety, health and well being. Research from world-wide indicates that children’s exposure to violence and abuse is associated with long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm. Child abuse is finding new forms and channels through mobile and digital technologies.
  •  Online child abuse and exploitation amplifies existing forms of offline bullying, stalking and harassment. It also facilitates the sexual exploitation of children through the production and dissemination of child sexual abuse materials and by facilitating the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. Online abuse knows no national boundaries.
  •  Even though India has  a comprehensive legal framework for protection of child rights in the form of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015,  POCSO Act, 2012 along with RTE Act 2009 and recently amended Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016, there is limited awareness of online risks for children, both among parents and guardian and children themselves.

Objectives of National Alliance

  • Bring a common definition of child pornography including amendment of acts (Information technology Act, POCSO Act).
  • Set up a multi-member secretariat based in MWCD with a portal inclusive of a hotline for reporting and strengthening existing service delivery systems.
  •  Provide a platform for  Government/ NGOs and other child rights activists  for  networking and information sharing.
  •  Document and showcases success stories and best practices in terms of prevention of  online abuse and exploitation of children.
  • Inform and educate member organisations, parents, teachers, front line service providers and children  on the rights of the children and various issues related to online child abuse and exploitation.
  • Provide a forum for advocacy for child rights and policy inputs  based on  research and studies.

GST: Centre, States reach consensus over dual control
India will likely be able to roll out the goods and services tax (GST) from July 1 following a breakthrough over the seemingly intractable issue of tax administration after the Centre accommodated states' concerns. 

  • Under the proposed tax regime, 90% of all assesses with a turnover of Rs 1.5 crore or less will be assessed for scrutiny and audit by state authorities, the remaining 10% by the Centre. Above that limit, Centre and states will assess in a 50:50 ratio. The agreement hammered out was based on a proposal by Tamil Nadu.
  • Each assessee would be assessed only by one authority", putting to rest fears over dual administration by both state and the Centre.

Other Highlights

  •  The Centre has also given leeway to states on Integrated -GST (I-GST), which deals with inter-state sales.
  • The power to levy and collect the I-GST lies with the central government but states will also be cross-empowered in the same ratio as above through a special provision in law. Any IGST disputes among states will be resolved by the Centre. 
  • The Centre also ceded ground on taxation rights over the sea. Territorial waters extending to 12 nautical miles fall under control of the union government but as per convention, states will be empowered to collect tax on any economic activity in this zone. 

About GST

  • Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a proposed system of indirect taxation in India merging most of the existing taxes into single system of taxation.
  • GST would be a comprehensive indirect tax on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods and services throughout India, to replace taxes levied by the central and state governments.
  • The introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) would be a significant step in the reform of indirect taxation in India. Amalgamating several Central and State taxes into a single tax would mitigate cascading or double taxation, facilitating a common national market.
  •  The simplicity of the tax should lead to easier administration and enforcement.
  •  From the consumer point of view, the biggest advantage would be in terms of a reduction in the overall tax burden on goods.
  •  As India is a federal republic GST would be implemented concurrently by the central government and by state governments.

India 60th in inclusive development index; ranks below China, Pakistan

  •  India has been ranked 60th among 79 developing economies, below neighbouring China and Pakistan, in the inclusive development index, according to a WEF(World Economic Forum)report.
  • WEF’s ‘Inclusive Growth and Development Report 2017’, said that most countries are missing important opportunities to raise economic growth and reduce inequality at the same time because the growth model and measurement tools that have guided policymakers for decades require significant readjustment.
  • The Inclusive Development Index (IDI) is based on 12 performance indicators. In order to provide a more complete measure of economic development than GDP growth alone.
  • The index has three pillars — Growth and Development, Inclusion and Intergenerational Equity, and Sustainability.

Major Highlights

  • While India is placed at the 60th spot, many of the neighbouring nations are ahead in the rankings. China is ranked at the 15th position, Nepal (27th), Bangladesh (36th) and Pakistan (52nd).
  • India, with a score of only 3.38,despite the fact that its growth in GDP per capita is among the top 10 and labour productivity growth has been strong.
  • Report noted that the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio is high, raising some questions about the sustainability of government spending.

World Government Summit to be organised in Dubai in February 

The fifth edition of the World Government Summit (WGS) will get underway soon in UAE as yet another initiative to generate ideas for global governance. 
Around 150 countries are expected to participate in this year's summit.

  • The summit will continue its efforts to partner with various foreign governments and international organizations.
  • In addition to its current collaborations with the United Nations, World Bank, World Economic Forum, and OECD, the summit will forge new partnerships with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Latin American Centre for Development Administration (CLAD). 
  •  During the summit, the UN will discuss the potential of achieving its sustainable development goals (SDGs), while the World Bank will highlight the future of governments and education. 
  •  For its part, IMF will debate the future of block chain. OECD will focus on the future of innovation in governments. 
  •  For its distinctive experience in government innovation and the development of government work, the summit announced Japan as the Annual Guest of Honour this year. 

About World Government Summit

  • The World Government Summit is a UAE-based international organization that serves as a platform for global dialogue attempting to revolutionize how governments operate and how policies are made. 
  • The organization's vision is to aid humanity at large, it aims to empower governments for the future with the ultimate objective of improving the lives of seven billion people all around the world.
  • The Summit acts as a knowledge exchange hub between governments, futurism, technology and innovation. It was created and incubated by a team of experts from different disciplines in an effort to bring government, business and civil society together.
  •  Each year, government officials, thought leaders, policy makers and private sector leaders meet in Dubai  to explore the future of governments in the coming decades.

Government school students move up the learning curve 
The eleventh Annual Survey of Education Report (ASER), has given a glimmer of hope by acknowledging improvements in learning levels, largely driven by government schools. 
While ASER has been warning of an alarming dip in the country’s learning levels at school over the years, this year’s report notes a welcome improvement in children’s reading ability and arithmetic understanding — especially in early grades in government schools. This is the first year since 2010 that there is an upward trend in arithmetic figures.
 

Major Highlights

  •  Learning levels apart, enrolment levels continue to increase and there is also a significant increase in the number of useable toilets for school goers .
  •  ASER 2016 notes that the proportion of children in the Class 3 who are able to read at least class 1st level text has gone up from 40.2% in 2014 to 42.5% in 2016 with a substantial increase of 7% up among children in government schools in states like Punjab, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Telangana. 
  • The proportion of children in Class V who could read a Class II level text improved by more than 5 percentage points from 2014 to 2016 in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tripura, Nagaland and Rajasthan. This improvement is driven by gains in learning levels in government schools in these state. 
  • The all India (rural) figures for basic arithmetic have improved for class III 
  • Enrolment continue to show an upward swing up from 96.7% in 2014 to 96.9% in 2016 for age group 6-14 and 83.4% in 2014 to 84.7% in 2016 for the age group 15-16. 
  •  There is no significant increase in private school enrolment between 2014 and 2016. However, both in Kerala and Gujarat, there was an increase in government school enrolment while Uttarakhand , Arunachal Pradesh and Assam showed increase in private school enrolment in  the 6-14 age group. 
  • The proportion of schools visited where girls' toilets were available and usable has gone up from 32.9% in 2010 to 55.7% in 2014 to 61.9% in 2016. 
  • Nationally, no change in the availability of computers in schools since 2014. However, some states stand out in terms of high provision of computers- Kerala, 89% of schools visited had computers; 75.2% in Gujarat, 55.1% in Maharashtra and 57.3% in Tamil Nadu. 
  •  The proportion of schools with libraries has fallen from 78.1% in 2014 to 75.5% in 2016. However, children were seen using library books in more schools in 2016. 

About ASER Report
The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) is the largest non-governmental household survey undertaken in rural India and is facilitated by the Pratham Education Foundation.

Graft probe against babus must conclude in 90 days: Government 
According to new rules framed by the government all departmental enquiries against IAS and IPS officers to probe corruption charges and other irregularities need to be concluded within a maximum period of 90 days.
It is aimed at ensuring swift punishment to guilty and to bring more confidence among public thereby ensuring Good governance.

What new rules has to say

  • As per the amended rules, a time limit of six months has been fixed for completion of departmental enquiry and submission of report. 
  • In case it is not possible to complete the enquiry within six months for justifiable reasons to be recorded in writing, additional time limit not exceeding six months at one time can be granted by the Disciplinary Authority, thereby ensuring accountability for completion of enquiry. 
  • Further, 30 days' time-line has been fixed for delinquent officers to give their representation to the charge sheet which can be extended to not more than 30 days by the Disciplinary Authority and, in any case, no extension will be provided beyond 90 days 
  • Also a period of 15 days has been provided to send a representation on the advice of Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), which is the recruiting agency, regarding the penalty to be imposed on the delinquent officer and for such representation also, no extension will be provided beyond 45 days 

Supreme Court suggests invoking Art 224-A to resolve Tripura HC problem 
Faced with a unique problem of recusal by judges at the Tripura High Court, the Supreme Court  asked the Centre to explore the possibility of using an article of the Constitution on appointment of judges of other High Courts as sitting judges to address the issue of recusal .

Background

  • The issue came up after Tripura High Court Chief Justice T Vaiphei wrote a letter to Chief Justice of India J S Khehar that due to shortage of judges, it became difficult to set up a separate bench if a judge recused himself from hearing a particular case on grounds of conflict of interest. 
  • The Tripura High Court at Agartala, which was established on March 23, 2013, has a sanctioned strength of four judges including the Chief Justice, and currently there are three serving judges. There are at least 26 cases in which recusal has been sought by the judges there. 

What SC suggested

  •  Taking note of the letter, a bench headed by CJI Khehar asked Attorney General to consider invoking Article 224-A by which a judge could be appointed. 
  •  Article 224-A of Constitution says "the Chief Justice of a High Court for any State may at any time, with the previous consent of the President, request any person who has held the office of a Judge of that Court or of any other High Court to sit and act as a Judge of the High Court for that State."

Contradictory view of Attorney General
A judge appointed in a particular High Court cannot be sworn in another High Court. He cannot be a judge at two different High Courts at the same time.So that a judge should be transferred from an adjoining High Court to the Tripura High Court to address the unique problem. 

National Action Plan for Children, 2016 released by WCD Ministry 
National Action Plan for Children, 2016 (NPAC) was launched at a special function held to celebrate the National Girl Child Day in New Delhi.

  •  The NPAC has been developed by the Ministry of Women & Child Development.
  •  The National Policy for Children (2013) provides for formation of a National Co-ordination and Action Group (NCAG) under the Ministry of Women and Child Development to coordinate and implement the plan and monitor the progress with other Ministries concerned as its members.

 It seeks to ensure the following:

  •      The Action Plan has four key priority areas

                    •    Survival
                    •    Health and nutrition
                    •    Education and development
                    •    Protection and participation.

  • The NPAC  defines objectives, sub-objectives, strategies , action points and indicators for measuring progress under the four key priority areas and also identifies key stakeholders for the implementation of different strategies.
  • The plan also puts focus on new and emerging concerns for children such as online child abuse, children affected by  natural and man-made disasters and climate change, etc.
  • The strategies and action points largely draw upon the existing programmes and schemes of various Ministries/Departments. However, for new and emerging issues related to children; it also suggests formulation of new programmes and strategies, as required.
  • The plan takes into account the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and provides a roadmap towards achieving them though co-ordination and convergence with different stakeholders.

Sample Questions

Q1.Which of the following is/are objectives of Consumer Protection Act,1986.
1.    The right to be informed about the quality  and price of goods or services
2.    The right against consumer exploitation
3.    The Right to Consumer Education
4.    Right to go to Supreme Court directly 
Choose the correct option
a)Only 1,2           b)Only 2,3
c)Only 1,2,3       d)All

Q2.Consider the following statements regarding Ordinance making power
1.    Ordinance can promulgated only when Parliament is not in session
2.    The satisfaction of President with respect to promulgating ordinance is out of the purview of judicial review 
Choose the correct option
a)Only1               b)Only 2
c)Both                 d)None

Q3.Consider the following statements
1.    Government is adopting SECC to identify recipients for its pro-poor schemes. 
2.    The Ministry of Panchayti Raj of India, commenced the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC).
3.    This will be the first time ever that government will use SECC data for any welfare scheme.
Choose the correct option
a)Only 1             b)Only 1,2
c)Only 2,3         d)All

Q4.Consider the following statement regarding VVPAT(Vote Verifier Paper Audit Trail)
1.    The VVPAT is intended as an independent verification system for voting machines designed to allow voters to verify that their votes.
2.    VVPAT in EVMs would ensure “free and fair” polls and help in “sorting out disputes”.
Choose the correct option
a)Only 1          b)Only 2
c)Both              d)None

Q5.Consider the following statements regarding Central Vigilance commission
1.    Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is  created in 1964 to address governmental corruption.
2.    It was set up by the Government of India  on the recommendations of Swaran Singh Committee.
3.    The Central Vigilance Commissioner and the Vigilance Commissioners shall be appointed by Prime minister
Choose the Correct Option
a)Only 1               b)Only 2,3
c)Only 1,3           d)all

Q6.Conisder the following statement regarding National Alliance
1.    It was formed by Ministry of Women and Child Development
2.    It was formed against   Online  Women sexual abuse and Exploitation. 
3.    It has objective to provide a platform for  Government/ NGOs and other child rights activists  for  networking and information sharing.
Choose the correct Option
a)Only 1            b)Only 2
c)Only 3           d)None

Q7.Which of the following are key priority areas of National Action Plan for Children,2016
1.    Survival
2.    Health and nutrition
3.    Education and development
4.    Protection and participation.
Choose the correct option
a)Only 1,2            b)Only 2,3,4
c)Only 1,2,4         d)All

Q8.Consider the following statements regarding Annual Survey of Education Report (ASER).
1.    It is released by Ministry of Human Resource and Development
2.    The 11th edition shows a good picture of improving learning levels
Choose the correct Option
a)only 1        b)Only 2
c)Both          d)None

Q9.Consider the following statements regarding Goods and Services tax.
1.    One of the  biggest advantage would be in terms of a reduction in the overall tax burden on goods
2.    Under the proposed tax regime, 90% of all assesses with a turnover of Rs 1.5 crore or less will be assessed for scrutiny and audit by Central authorities
Choose the correct options
a)Only1          b)Only2
c)Both             d)none


Answers
Q1.c    Q2  a   Q3.  a   Q4.  c  Q5.  a   Q6.c     Q7. d    Q8.b   Q9.a