Insights Daily Current Affairs, 19 April 2018
Topic: Urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
Smart rating of garbage free cities
Context: The ministry of urban affairs has launched the first workshop on star rating of garbage-free cities under the Swachh Bharat Mission. The star rating of garbage-free cities would create healthy competition among cities across the country.
About the star rating initiative:
What is it? The star-rating initiative, developed by the Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban will be rating cities on a 7-star rating system based on multiple cleanliness indicators for solid waste management.
Indicators: These include Door to Door Collection, bulk generator compliance, source segregation, sweeping, scientific processing of waste, scientific land filling, plastic waste management, construction and demolition management, dump remediation & citizen grievance redressal system etc.
Vision: Vision statement of the star-rating protocol states that “All cities achieve “Garbage Free” status wherein at any point of time in the day, no garbage or litter is found in any public, commercial or residential locations (including storm drains and water bodies) in the city (except in litter bins or transfer stations); 100% of waste generated is scientifically managed; all legacy waste has been remediated and city is scientifically managing its municipal solid waste, plastic waste and construction & demolition waste. Additionally, there must be a steady reduction in the waste generated by the city and visible beautification of the city to achieve a clean & aesthetically pleasing city”.
Rating: Cities can be rated as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 star based on their compliance with the protocol conditions specified for each of the rating. Further city should be ODF(Open Defecation Free) before it could be given rating of 3 star or above. While cities may self-declare themselves as 1-star, 2-star or 4-star, MoHUA will carry out an additional verification through an independent third party to certify cities as 3-star, 5-star or 7-star. Cities will need to get recertified themselves every year to retain their star-status.
Significance of the initiative: The most significant feature of the rating protocol is that it provides stakeholders with a single metric to rate a city’s cleanliness, rather than separately evaluating multiple factors which contribute to a city’s overall cleanliness and garbage free status. The distinctive feature of Star Rating System will be that many cities can have higher stars as compared to only one city can be “Cleanest city” under Swachh Survekshan.
The Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) focuses on two key objectives- eradication of open defecation and 100 per cent scientific solid waste management across all 4,041 statutory towns and cities.
- For Prelims: Star rating initiative and Swachh Bharat Mission.
- For Mains: Issues related to solid waste management.
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI)
Context: The Supreme Court has ruled all questions relating to conferring minority status on educational institutions are to be decided by the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) and quashed the order of the Calcutta high court, which had said the body had no original jurisdiction on the issue.
What has the court said?
- NCMEI has the power to decide any question that might arise, which relate directly or indirectly, with respect to the status of an institution as a minority educational institution.
- As per Section 11 of the Act, NCMEI could declare an establishment as a minority educational institution “at all stages.”
- Only the Commission has the power to decide on granting a ‘no objection’ certificate to an institution that wanted to convert into a minority institution.
The Calcutta HC had held that NCMEI had no original jurisdiction to declare the minority status. Other high courts had also taken contradictory stand on the power of the Commission in granting minority status to educational institutions. Besides Calcutta HC, Bombay HC and Punjab & Haryana HC have also taken the view that the Commission had no original power to decide on minority status. On the other hand, the Allahabad HC had held that Commission had jurisdiction to decide the issue.
What the law says?
The NCMEI Act empowers the Commission “to decide all questions relating to the status of an institution as a minority educational institution and to declare its status as such.”
Significance of the judgment:
The Constitution grants a fundamental right to all minorities, whether based on religion or language, to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. The wide power given to an independent forum like the NCMEI to declare an institution as a minority educational institution furthered the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 30.
- The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions was set up in 2004. The Government brought out an Ordinance in November 2004 establishing the Commission. Later a Bill was introduced in the Parliament in December 2004 and both Houses passed the Bill.
- The Commission is mandated to look into specific complaints regarding deprivation or violation of rights of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
- The Commission is a quasi-judicial body and has been endowed with the powers of a Civil Court.
- It is to be headed by a Chairman who has been a Judge of the High Court and three members are to be nominated by Central Government.
- The Commission has 3 roles namely adjudicatory function, advisory function and recommendatory powers.
- So far as affiliation of a minority educational institution to a university is concerned, the decision of the Commission would be final.
- The Commission has powers to advise the Central Government or any State Government on any question relating to the education of minorities that may be referred to it.
- The Commission can make recommendations to the Central Government and the State Governments regarding any matter which directly or indirectly deprives the minority community of their educational rights enshrined in Article 30.
- For Prelims: NCMEI.
- For Mains: Minority institutions and their significance.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential.
Integration of e-SANAD portal and NAD – National Academic Depository
Context: In a bid to make education system in India more transparent, the integration of e-SANAD portal and NAD – National Academic Depository has been launched by the Union HRD Ministry.
What is e-SANAD?
e-Sanad is a project aimed at online submission/verification of documents with an ultimate object to extend contact less, cashless, faceless and paperless document attestation service for apostille and normal attestation to applicants in India (to be extended to Indians residing abroad as well in a phased manner).
The project is being implemented by NIC in coordination with CBSE, States/UTs and the Ministry of External Affairs in a phased manner.
About National Academic Depository (NAD):
National Academic Depository (NAD) is a 24X7 online store house of all academic awards viz.certificates, diplomas, degrees, mark-sheets etc. duly digitised and lodged by academic institutions / boards / eligibility assessment bodies.
- The UGC has signed a tripartite agreement with NSDL Database Management Limited (NDML) and CDSL Ventures Limited (CVL) for operationalising NAD.
- NAD not only ensures easy access to and retrieval of an academic award but also validates and guarantees its authenticity and safe storage.
- National Academic Depository comprises of two interoperable digital depositories viz. CDSL Ventures Limited (CVL) and NSDL Database Management Limited (NDML).
Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.
Make BCCI a public body
Context: The Law Commission has suggested to the government that it turn the Board of Control of Cricket in India into a government-controlled body. The Commission has asked the government to classify BCCI as a national sports federation and bring it under the ambit of the Right to Information Act (RTI).
Key recommendations made by the law commission:
- BCCI should be classified as “state” under Article 12 of the Constitution so that it is answerable to authorities like the Supreme Court.
- RTI Act should be made applicable to BCCI along with all of its constituent member cricketing associations, provided they fulfill the criteria applicable to BCCI.
Need for declaring BCCI as a public body:
- By virtue of being the organisers of competitive cricket, BCCI is de facto legislating on sport-related activities.
- BCCI, though not a national sports federation, nominates cricketers for the Arjuna Awards. Therefore, the BCCI virtually acts as a national sports federation.
- It receives “substantial financing” from governments in the form of tax exemptions and land grants.
- Also, functioning of BCCI shows that the government does exercise control over its activities and functioning.
- Non-consideration of the role played by the BCCI as monopolistic in the regulation of the game of cricket has resulted in the board “flying under the radar of public scrutiny, encouraged an environment of opacity and non-accountability”.
Since BCCI exercises ‘state-like’ powers affecting the fundamental rights of the stakeholders, guaranteed under the Constitution, it should be viewed as an agency or instrumentality of the state, under Article 12 of the Constitution, thereby making it amenable to the writ jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 32.
Who is a public authority?
The RTI Act defines “public authorities” in Section 2(h): A “public authority” means any authority or body or institution of self- government established or constituted:
- By or under the Constitution.
- By any other law made by Parliament.
- By any other law made by State Legislature.
- By notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes any – Body owned, controlled or substantially financed and Non-Government organization substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government.
- For Prelims: RTI, definition of public authority.
- For Mains: BCCI and need for bringing it under the ambit of RTI.
Topic: Indian diaspora.
Study in India programme
Context: with an aim to provide students across the world an opportunity to study in Indian educational institutions, the Union HRD Ministry has launched “Study in India” programme.
About the “Study in India” programme:
What is it? The “Study in India’ is an innovative initiative to attract students from countries in South Asia, South-East Asia, Middle East and Africa to come and experience the very best of academic learning from the top institutions in India.
Key features: Under the programme, meritorious students would also be provided with fee waiver and scholarship. The Institute concerned will bear the expenditure on the fee waiver based on cross-subsidisation or through its existing funding. One of the objectives for the programme is to improve global ranking for Indian educational institutes.
Implementation: This will be achieved through systematic brand-building, identifying quality institutions for receiving the students, creating suitable infrastructure and facilitation structures.
Significance of the move: The programme will not only encourage more foreign students to choose India as a destination for higher education but will also double India’s market share of global education exports from less than 1% to 2%. The move is also aimed to improve global ranking of Indian educational institutes.
India’s system of higher education is the third largest in the world. While the engineering schools have been the flag bearers of the India’s higher education, in keeping with the times and the skill needs of the global workforce India universities are offering a host of other courses such as Masters in Business Administration, Sciences, Liberal Arts, Artificial Intelligence, Photonics and Design Thinking among others.
As a result, many of its higher education institutions figure in the top 100 Asian Universities as per QS and The World University rankings of 2018. At the same time, interesting and niche courses such as Yoga, Ayurveda or Buddhism are also on offer.
- For Prelims: Study in India programme.
- For Mains: Significance of higher education and opportunities in India.
Cybersecurity Tech Accord
Context: Dozens of major technology companies including Microsoft, Facebook, Cisco, and SAP have signed onto a pledge, known as Cybersecurity Tech Accord, to protect their users around the globe against cybersecurity threats and to abstain from helping any government launch a cyber attack. This is hailed as a “watershed agreement” among companies representing every layer of internet communication.
About the Accord:
- The tech sector accord will help companies take a principled path towards more effective steps to work together and defend customers around the world.
- The accord declares that the signatories will protect all of their customers from threats and will not “help governments launch cyberattacks against innocent citizens and enterprises from anywhere.”
The accord rests on four pillars:
- Protect all of our users and customers everywhere. The companies commit to protect their users and customers from cyberattacks, and to design, develop and deliver products and services that prioritize security, privacy, integrity, and reliability.
- Oppose cyberattacks on innocent citizens and enterprises from anywhere. The companies commit to protecting against tampering with or exploitation of their products and services. They further commit not to help governments launch cyberattacks against innocent citizens or enterprises.
- Help empower users, customers and developers to strengthen cybersecurity protection. The companies commit to provide their users, customers, and developers with information and tools to understand and protect against cybersecurity threats, and to support civil society, governments, and international organizations to advance cybersecurity globally.
- Partner with each other and with likeminded groups to enhance cybersecurity. The companies commit to work with each other and establish formal and informal partnerships with other industry and civil society groups to improve technical collaboration, vulnerability disclosure, and threat sharing.
Facts for Prelims:
Context: In a rare occurrence, olive ridley turtles have turned up for mass nesting for the second time at Rushikulya rookery on Odisha coast. The Rushikulya coast, in Ganjam district of Odisha, is considered to be a major nesting site in the world and lakhs of olive ridleys come here every year to lay eggs.
About Olive Ridley turtles:
- Also known as the Pacific ridley sea turtle, Olive turtles are a medium-sized species of sea turtle found in warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
- They are best known for their behavior of synchronized nesting in mass numbers.
- The olive ridley is classified as Vulnerable according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), and is listed in Appendix I of CITES.
- The Convention on Migratory Species and the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles have also provided olive ridleys with protection, leading to increased conservation and management for this marine turtle.