GS PAPER II NEWS

Election Commissioner of India

Why in News

On 8th June, President of India appointed Anup Chandra Pandey, as the Election Commissioner of India.

Key Points

  • Anup Chandra Pandey is a retired IAS officer of the 1984 batch, Uttar Pradesh cadre.
  • Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra and Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar are the other two members on the panel.
  • In the Election Commission, Anup Chandra Pandey will have a little under three years in office and will retire in February 2024.

Election Commission of India

  • The Election Commission of India is a permanent and an independent body established by the Constitution of India.
  • The Commission ensures free and fair election in India.
  • Under article 324, the Constitution provides the power of superintendence, direction and control of elections to Parliament, State Legislature, office of President and Vice-President of India shall be vested in the Election Commission.
  • Election Commission is amongst the few institutions which function with both autonomy and freedom, along with the country’s higher judiciary, the Union Public Service Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
  • They have a fixed tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.

Structure of Election Commission

  • The commission was established in 1950 and originally it had only Chief Election Commissioner.
  • Two additional Commissioners were appointed to the commission on 16th October 1989 but they had a very short tenure, ending on 1 January 1990.
  • The Election Commissioner Amendment Act, 1989 was adopted on 1st January 1990 which transformed the commission into a multi-member body with 3-member Commission has been in operation since then.
  • The Chief Election Commissioner and the two Election Commissioners who are usually retired IAS officers.
  • Their salaries and allowances at par with those of the Judges of the Supreme Court of India as per the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners Rules, 1992.

Articles related to the Election Commission

Articles Provisions
324 Superintendence, direction and control of elections to be vested in an Election Commission.
325 No person to be ineligible for inclusion in, or to claim to be included in special, electoral roll-on grounds of religion, race, caste or sex.
326 Elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assemblies of States to be on the basis of adult suffrage.
327 Power of Parliament to make provision with respect to elections to Legislatures.
328 Power of Legislature of a State to make provision with respect to elections to such Legislature.
329 Bar to interference by courts in electoral matters.

Functions of the Election Commission of India

  • ECI is responsible for a free and reasonable election.
  • It ensures that political parties and candidates adhere to the Model Code of Conduct.
  • Regulates parties and registers them as per eligibility to contest in elections.
  • Proposes the limit of campaign expenditure per candidate to all parties and monitors the same.
  • It is mandatory for all political parties to submit annual reports to the ECI in order to be able to claim the tax benefit on the contributions.
  • Guarantees that all political parties regularly submit audited financial reports.
  • The main duties of the Election Commission are:
  • Supervise, control and conduct all elections to Parliament and State Legislatures,
  • Set general rules for election,
  • Prepare electoral rolls,
  • Determine the territorial distribution of constituencies,
  • Give credit to political parties,
  • Allot election symbols to political parties or candidates,
  • Appoint tribunals for the decision of doubts and disputes arising out of an election to Parliament and State Legislatures.

GS PAPER II

E-Content for Children with Disabilities

Why in News

The Education Ministry has laid down new guidelines for producing digital education resources for children with disabilities.

Guidelines

  • The guidelines released by Education Ministry are based on four guiding principles, stipulating that all resources must be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust for disabled students.
  • They recommend that all textbooks be made digitally accessible in a phased manner, so that they are available in multiple formats such as text, audio, video and sign language with turn-on and turn­off features.
  • Detailed technical standards have been provided.
  • The closure of regular schools and learning centres due to COVID­19 has led to special difficulties for many disabled children. For instance, a recent study by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy showed that more than half of the NCERT textbooks available on the government’s virtual education platform DIKSHA were not accessible for visually impaired students.

Supplementary content

  • The guidelines provide strategies to produce supplementary content for varying disabilities, including students who face visual and hearing challenges, those on the autism spectrum, those with intellectual or special learning disabilities, and those with multiple disabilities.
  • They note that learning activities must include audio, visual and tactile experiences, while evaluation must be multimodal.
  • Ironically enough, while the guidelines call for the use of image descriptions wherever pictures are used in order to be accessible to visually challenged students using screen readers, this is not even followed by the guidelines document itself.
  • As guidelines they are very comprehensive and cover all aspects … Concerns of each disability are identified and solutions worked around them.
  • The guidelines do include an implementation roadmap. The next steps are the nomination of an expert technical team to update the DIKSHA platform, followed by training and development of prototypes of the accessible digital textbooks.

DIKSHA platform

  • DIKSHA (Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing) is a national platform for school education, an initiative of National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT), Ministry of Education.
  • It was developed based on the core principles of open architecture, open access, open licensing diversity, choice and autonomy as outlined in the Strategy and Approach Paper for the National Teacher Platform.
  • DIKSHA itself was launched by the Hon’ Vice President of India on Sept 5th, 2017 and has since been adopted by 35 states/UT’s across as well as CBSE and NCERT and by crores of learners and teachers.
  • DIKSHA is built on open-source technology, made in India and made for India, which incorporates internet scale technologies and enables several use-cases and solutions for teaching and learning.
  • DIKSHA is built using MIT licensed open-source technology called Sunbird, which is a digital infrastructure for learning and is designed to support multiple languages and solutions and offers over a 100 micro services as building blocks for the development of platforms and solutions.
  • DIKSHA is available for the use of all states and UTs of India.
  • DIKSHA can be accessed by learners and teachers across the country and currently supports 18+ languages and the various curricula of NCERT, CBSE and SCERTs across India.
  • The platform is being leveraged and developed for school education, foundational learning programs and to support inclusive learning for underserved and differently-abled communities of learners and teachers.

GS PAPER II

QS World University rankings

Why in News

According to the coveted QS World University Rankings, the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, became the world’s top research university.

Highlights of the Report

  • For the first time, Jawaharlal Nehru University has entered the top 1,000 of the QS World University rankings.
  • It debuted at the 561­-570 ranking band in the rankings, which only rate institutions offering both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.
  • Overall, there are 22 Indian institutions in the top 1,000 list compared to 21 last year, with the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur and Madras making major strides in rankings.
  • IIT Bombay maintained its position as the top Indian institution for the fourth consecutive year, although it fell five places in the global rankings to the joint 177th position.
  • IIT Delhi (185th rank) overtook the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (186th rank), giving India three institutions in the world’s top 100.
  • The citations per faculty metric were also key to the 75-rank jump by IIT Guwahati and the 73-rank jump by IIT Kanpur.

QS World University Rankings

  • For the QS World University Rankings, institutions and universities were judged on six indicators
  • Academic reputation,
  • Employer reputation,
  • Citations per faculty,
  • Faculty/student ratio,
  • International faculty ratio and
  • International student ratio.
  • This year, rankings listed the world’s top 1,300 universities145 more than in the last year’s edition, which can be found in 97 locations.
  • Of 13,000 institutions, 6,415 were found eligible for the survey analysis, and 1,705 were assessed for the final table.
  • They also accounted for the expert opinions of over 1,30,000 academic faculty and over 75,000 employers.
  • The Massachusetts Institute of Technology achieved a record-extending 10th consecutive year as world number-one.
  • The University of Oxford has risen to second for the first time since 2006, while the Stanford University and the University of Cambridge share third spot.

GS PAPER II

Rengma Nagas

Why in News

The Rengma Nagas in Assam have written to Union Home Ministry demanding an autonomous district council amid a decision by the Central and the State governments to upgrade the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) into a territorial council.

Historical Background

  • The Rengma Naga Peoples’ Council (RNPC) is a registered body in the memorandum that the Rengmas were the first tribal people in Assam to have encountered the British in 1839, but the existing Rengma Hills was eliminated from the political map of the State and replaced with that of Mikir Hills (now Karbi Anglong) in 1951.
  • The council said that during the Burmese invasions of Assam in 1816 and 1819, it was the Rengmas who gave shelter to the Ahom refugees.
  • The petition said that the Rengma Hills was partitioned in 1963 between Assam and Nagaland at the time of creation of Nagaland State and the Karbis, who were known as Mikirs till 1976, were the indigenous tribal people of Mikir Hills.
  • Thus, the Rengma Hills and Mikir Hills were two separate entities till 1951.
  • Karbis have no history in the Rengma Hills. People who are presently living in Rengma Hills are from Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya.
  • They speak different dialects and do not know Karbi language of Karbi Anglong.
  • The KAAC population is around 12 lakh and the Karbis constitute only 3 lakhs, the remaining are non­Karbis, including the Rengma Nagas, whose population is around 22,000.
  • More than 3,000 Rengma Nagas were forced to relocate to relief camps in 2013 after several people were killed in a series of attacks following a call given by a Karbi insurgent group.

GS PAPER III

Global Economic Prospects 2021

Why in News

According to the Global Economic Prospects 2021, India’s economy is expected to grow by 8.3% in the fiscal year that began in April 2021.

Highlights of the Report globally

  • The forecast, however, masked the significant expected economic damage caused by the “enormous” second wave of COVID 19.
  • Despite the recovery, global output will be about 2% below pre-pandemic projections by the end of 2021.
  • Many emerging markets and developing economies continue to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath.
  • While there are welcome signs of global recovery, the pandemic continues to inflict poverty and inequality on people in developing countries around the world.
  • The report also noted that per capita income losses will not be unwound by 2022 for about two-thirds of emerging market and developing economies.
  • Among low-income economies, where vaccination has lagged, the effects of the pandemic have reversed poverty reduction gains and aggravated insecurity and other long-standing challenges.
  • Among major economies, US growth is projected to reach 6.8 per cent this year, reflecting large-scale fiscal support and the easing of pandemic restrictions.
  • Growth in other advanced economies is also firming, but to a lesser extent.
  • Among emerging markets and developing economies, China is anticipated to rebound to 8.5 per cent this year, reflecting the release of pent-up demand.

India in Global Economic Prospects 2021

  • The World Bank has slashed India’s GDP forecast for fiscal year 2021-22 to 8.3 per cent from 11.2 per cent predicted earlier, as the second COVID-19 wave hits India hard.
  • The World Bank said economic activity will benefit from policy support, including higher spending on infrastructure, rural development, and health, and a stronger-than-expected recovery in services and manufacturing.
  • Raising its projection for global growth, the world economy would expand at 5.6% in 2021, the fastest post-recession growth rate in 80 years, underpinned by U.S. stimulus spending and faster growth in China.
  • In India, an enormous second COVID­19 wave is undermining the sharper than expected rebound in activity seen during the second half of FY2020/21, especially in services.
  • ‘Collapse and recovery’ Economic activity in India would likely follow a similar but less pronounced ‘collapse and recovery’ trend seen during the first wave.
  • Growth in FY2022/23 is expected to slow to 7.5% reflecting lingering impacts of
  • COVID­19 on household, corporate and bank balance sheets; possibly low levels of consumer confidence; and heightened uncertainty on job and income prospects.