Insights Daily Current Events, 13 Janaury 2015
Idukki in Kerala Becomes the First District of India with Complete Rural Broadband Coverage
The first high speed rural broadband of India was commissioned at the Idukki district in Kerala.
- With the commissioning of the NOFN network, Idukki district of Kerala has become the first in India to be connected with high speed rural broadband.
- The establishment of NOFN would open up new avenues for Access service providers such as Telecom Service Providers, Internet Service Providers, and Cable TV operators, Content Providers etc. to launch next generation services and spur creation of local employment opportunities in a big way.
National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN).
- The National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) is a project to provide broadband connectivity to over two lakh (200,000) Gram panchayats of India at a cost of Rs.20,000 crore .
- The project provides internet access using existing optical fiber and extending it to the Gram panchayats. Connectivity gap between Gram Panchayats and Blocks will be filled.
- The project was intended to enable the government of India to provide e-services and e-applications nationally.
- A special purpose vehicle Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) was created as a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) under the Companies Act of 1956 for the execution of the project.
- The project will be funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) and was estimated to be completed in 2 years.
- The project envisaged signing a tripartite MoU for free Right of Way (RoW) among the Union Government, State Government and Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL).
- All the Service Providers like Telecom Service Providers (TSPs), ISPs, Cable TV operators etc. will be given non-discriminatory access to the National Optic Fibre Network and can launch various services in rural areas. Various categories of applications like e-health, e-education and e-governance etc. can also be provided by these operators.
Sources: PIB, NOFN.
NRIs can vote from abroad: govt. tells SC
The government has informed the Supreme Court of its decision to accept the Election Commission’s recommendation to allow Non-Resident Indians to vote from overseas through e-postal ballots or proxy voting.
- A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India gave the government eight weeks’ time to inform it about further steps to implement the modalities of the EC recommendations.
- The government’s decision to allow NRIs to vote could set the stage for expatriates to emerge as a decisive force in the country’s electoral politics.
- This decision also, historically, removes an “unreasonable restriction” posed by Section 20(A) of the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act of 2010, requiring overseas electors to be physically present in their constituencies to cast their votes.
There are 10 million Indian citizens staying abroad, and with 543 Lok Sabha constituencies, this means an astonishing average of 18,000 votes per constituency may get polled from abroad. These additional votes, if polled, will obviously play a crucial role in state and general elections.
In November last year, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre to make its stand clear on the EC’s proposal for allowing NRIs to cast their votes through proxy voting and e-ballots in polls in India.
- According to the provisions of the Representation of People Act, a person who is a citizen of India and who has not acquired the citizenship of any other country and is otherwise eligible to be registered as a voter and who is absent from his place of ordinary residence in India owing to employment, education or otherwise, is eligible to be registered as a voter in the constituency in which his place of residence in India, as mentioned in his passport, is located.
- However the person will be able to exercise the franchise only if he or she is physically present in their constituency on the polling day at the polling station along with the original passport. This had created a problem.
Section 20(8) (d) of the Representation of the People Act 1950 read with Section 60(b) of the Representation of the People Act 1951 allows government servants and certain other class of persons to vote via postal ballot following the Election Commission’s consent.
Sources: The Hindu, ET, EC.
RTE: private schools want to opt out of online process
With less than a week to go for the online application process for admissions under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act quota for the next academic year, private school managements have threatened to not co-operate with the process.
- The Department of Public Instruction has to pay the private schools Rs. 165 crore for reimbursing private schools who have admitted 2.11 lakh children from economically weak and socially disadvantaged backgrounds. While the first instalment was due in September, the second instalment is due in January.
Private school managements have also demanded an increase in the reimbursement ceiling which is fixed at Rs. 11,848 a year for a child admitted to Class 1 and Rs. 5,924 a year for a child in LKG.
Right to Education (RTE) Act
The Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 inserted Article 21-A in the Constitution of India to provide free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right in such a manner as the State may, by law, determine. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, which represents the consequential legislation envisaged under Article 21-A, means that every child has a right to full time elementary education of satisfactory and equitable quality in a formal school which satisfies certain essential norms and standards. Article 21-A and the RTE Act came into effect on 1 April 2010.
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.
It is seen as the most historic development in universalisation of elementary education in the country. It implies that every child in the age group of 6 to 14 years has Right to elementary education. They are entitled for free and compulsory education.
The RTE Act provides for the:
- Right of children to free and compulsory education till completion of elementary education in a neighbourhood school.
- It clarifies that ‘compulsory education’ means obligation of the appropriate government to provide free elementary education and ensure compulsory admission, attendance and completion of elementary education to every child in the six to fourteen age group. ‘Free’ means that no child 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.
- It makes provisions for a non-admitted child to be admitted to an age appropriate class.
- It specifies the duties and responsibilities of appropriate Governments, local authority and parents in providing free and compulsory education, and sharing of financial and other responsibilities between the Central and State Governments.
- It lays down the norms and standards relating inter alia to Pupil Teacher Ratios (PTRs), buildings and infrastructure, school-working days, teacher-working hours.
- It provides for rational deployment of teachers by ensuring that the specified pupil teacher ratio is maintained for each school, rather than just as an average for the State or District or Block, thus ensuring that there is no urban-rural imbalance in teacher postings. It also provides for prohibition of deployment of teachers for non-educational work, other than decennial census, elections to local authority, state legislatures and parliament, and disaster relief.
- It provides for appointment of appropriately trained teachers, i.e. teachers with the requisite entry and academic qualifications.
The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is the main vehicle for implementation of the RTE Act. It is one of the largest programmes of its kind in the world. It is primarily funded from central budget and it covers the whole country.
Under SSA, special attention has been given to urban deprived children, children affected by periodic migration and children living in remote and scattered habitations. Attempts have also been made to reach out to children suffering from autism. It involves their identification, preparation of individualized Education Plan, teacher training on Autism and therapeutic support.
The programme has been implemented in order to narrow down gender and social gaps in elementary education. Special efforts have been made to reach out to girls and children belonging to SC/ST and Muslim minority communities.
Sources: The Hindu, mhrd.gov.in.
World Bank signs pact for Smart Cities
The Government of Gujarat, the Government of India and the World Bank have entered into a tripartite agreement in support of Gujarat’s ‘swachhta abhiyaan’ and smart city initiatives.
Sources: The Hindu.
SEBI proposes easier norms for domestic MF managers
To make it easier for domestic mutual funds to manage offshore pooled assets, the Securities and Exchange Board of India has proposed to drop ’20-25 rule’.
20-25 Rule: It requires a minimum of 20 investors and a cap of 25 per cent investment by an individual investor in a particular scheme, for certain foreign entities.
- SEBI has dropped 20-25 rule.
- It has suggested doing away with the rule that requires appointment of separate fund manager for managing an offshore fund.
At present, for managing an offshore fund it is allowed to appoint the same fund manager, who is managing the domestic scheme, only if, the investment objective and asset allocation of such scheme and offshore fund are same and the portfolio is replicated (at least 70 per cent) in both the funds managed by that fund manager, otherwise, a separate fund manager is required.
These suggestions have been made keeping in view the challenges faced by the local fund managers in managing offshore pooled assets and the introduction of FPI regulations, which has rationalised the investment routes and monitoring of foreign portfolio investments and also streamlined categories of overseas investors.
A mutual fund is a type of professionally managed Investment fund that pools money from many investors to purchase securities.
Sources: The Hindu.