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DAILY EDITORIAL DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS(24th March)

By March 24, 2022May 25th, 2022Economy, Editorials, GS 2, GS 3, Polity & governance

Government Policies/ Social Justice (GS 2)

A Quota too many (Indian Express, 24th March 2022)

Author: – Sushil Kumar Modi

Special Dispensation Scheme

  • Introduced in 1975, the scheme has been in constant flux as a result of the frequent changes in the standpoints.
  • The measure was abolished thrice, but on each occasion it was reintroduced
  • The latest amendment to it was as recently as 2016-17.
  • Currently, the scheme allows every MP to recommend 10 students for admission to the Kendriya Vidyalayas.
  • The scheme was reintroduced in 1998 after its first withdrawal in 1997.
  • It was scrapped on two more occasions, including once at the instance of the Delhi High Court just after it was re-introduced in 1998.

Concerns

  • Initially conceptualized as a means of enhancing democracy by providing discretionary power to MPs, the quota has served little purpose to that end
  • This scheme facilitates admissions over and above the class strength of the KVs, it distorts the student-teacher ratio in these schools.
  • It’s well-known that maintaining a healthy pupil-teacher ratio, especially at the foundational levels, is critical to ensure desired learning objectives.
  • Even the NEP sets an aspirational target of below 25:1 in areas with large numbers of socio-economically disadvantaged students.
  • An MP is approached by people several times more than the quota allotted to him/her.
  • Evaluating each proposal to determine the most deserving and meritorious ones is practically unfeasible.

Abolish the Quota- Good Riddance

  • MPs are not given such discretionary quotas in the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas or for that matter other central educational institutes in the country
  • It goes against reason to have such a provision exclusively for Kendriya Vidyalayas.
  • Admissions through it fail to maintain fidelity to the constitutionally-mandated 50% reservation criteria for the SCs, STs.
  • This quota has been depriving about 3,940 students of their constitutional right every year.
  • As our democracy has matured, we have done away with several discretionary powers given to political figures
  • This quota undermined one of the principal reasons for establishing KVs
  • Which is to Give admission to students from marginalised communities and disadvantaged sections.

Indian Economy (GS 3)

Changing Face of Money (Indian Express, 24th March 2022)

Author: – Madan Sabnavis

Sovereign Green Bonds

  • Green Bonds are issued by companies, countries and multilateral organisations to EXCLUSIVELY fund projects that have positive environmental or climate benefits.
  • The projects can include renewable energy, clean transportation and green buildings, among others.
  • Proceeds from these bonds are earmarked for green projects.
  • This is unlike standard bonds, the proceeds of which can be utilised for various purposes at the discretion of the issuer.
  • These bonds can be marketed toward Environmental, Social and Governance or ESG-focused funds. 
  • The green bond market has seen cumulative issuance worth more than $1 trillion since market inception in 2007.

SGB- Novel Idea

  • The gross borrowing programme of the government is pegged at Rs 14.95 lakh crore.
  • This money is raised by the government to finance the deficit which involves excess expenditure on both the capital and revenue accounts.
  • The SGB raised will be part of the aggregate borrowing programme and has to be used for projects which are ESG compliant.
  • Hence, if the bond is being used to finance a power project or road, or in case it is used to finance revenue expenditure, it has to be ESG compliant.
  • SGBs can be issued as tax-free bonds, open to the public.
  • This will evince a lot of interest given that these are government-issued bonds.

Central Bank Digital Currency

  • CBDC has pushed several central banks into developing their version of digital currencies.
  • This reasoning could be misleading because cryptos are an investment option.
  • Unlike a CBDC which is a substitute for currency.
  • Question arises that is CBDC going to replace currency at some point in the future? 
  • Is this just another option for the public or will physical currency disappear?

Some Other Concerns

  • Any issuance of CBDC on a voluntary basis also raises a question on the security of the owner’s information.
  • Aadhaar is supposed to ensure that an individual’s information is confidential, yet there is scepticism.
  • If it is not confidential, even a CBDC, given as a gift to a couple on their marriage will be tracked by the income tax department!!
  • If people have to be incentivized to move voluntarily to the CBDC, the cash exchanged must earn an interest.
  • The issue of security needs to be addressed as any financial system that runs on technology can be hacked.
  • There is a real danger of cyber fraud increasing as the majority of the population is not tech-savvy.
  • CBDC as it has to be available on a 24 x 7 basis unlike Banking Transactions which cannot be carried out when servers go down.

 

Health/ Government Policies & Interventions (GS 2)

Covid Lessons for TB (Indian Express, 24th March 2022)

Author: – Lancelot Pinto and Chapal Mehra

Covid & TB

  • Covid-19 and tuberculosis (TB) are remarkably similar.
  • They are transmissible, airborne infections.
  • Both are more likely to spread in crowded settings, and harm people with immuno-compromising conditions.
  • In the decade between 2010-20, 1.5-2 million individuals died every year because of tuberculosis
  • Money spent by governments for R&D in the first 11 months of the Covid-19 pandemic was 162 times the corresponding amount spent on TB in 2020.
  • TB disproportionately affects people in low-income nations, the poor and the vulnerable.

Lessons learnt From Covid

  • Studies have suggested that Covid may trigger pathways leading to reactivation of dormant TB bacilli
  • Historically, turmoil in society (such as wars), food insecurity, poverty and malnutrition have resulted in surges in the incidence of TB
  • On World TB day, we need to ask how best we can leverage the lessons learnt from Covid-19 to help gain a new momentum in TB control.
  • Test, treat and track has been a strategy successfully employed for Covid.
  • We need to aggressively scale up testing with innovative strategies such as active surveillance, bi directional screening for respiratory tract infections.

Way Forward

  • As in Covid, we need to replicate the same for tuberculosis.
  • This would require lobbying for funding from governments and industry to develop a successful vaccine for TB.
  • Covid has been a stellar example of how investments and actions can be swift, and public education can transform behaviour.
  • India needs to triple the funding not just for TB but for health, nutrition and preventive services.
  • India also needs to consider telemedicine and remote support as important aspects of health services.
  • The country needs to invest in state-of-the-art technologies, build capacity, expand its health workforce and strengthen its primary care facilities
  • It is about time that we work harder at offering individuals equitable healthcare access and resources that the disease warrants.

 

Global Reports/ Indices

World Happiness Index (The Hindu Explains)

World Happiness Report

  • For the fifth consecutive year, Finland secured the top spot in the World Happiness Index
  • Finland’s score was “significantly ahead of other countries in the top ten”.
  • Denmark secured the second spot, followed by Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands and Luxemburg.
  • Lebanon and Afghanistan ranked the lowest.
  • Social systems in Finland and rest of the Nordics support democratic governance and human rights.
  • Not to mention education and healthcare that are free or charge only very nominal fees
  • India ranked 136 among 146 countries in the Index

What is World Happiness Report?

  • The World Happiness Report, is a publication of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).
  • This uses survey data to determine how people evaluate their lives in more than 150 countries
  • The report presents a framework gauging people’s qualitative assessment of their lives, progress and well-being through quantitative indicators.
  • The report aspires to prioritise discussions on happiness among governments and  establishment of social and economic objectives.

Important Facts

  • In July 2011, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 65/309 Happiness: Towards a Holistic Definition of Development.
  • UNGA invited member countries to measure the happiness of their people and to use the data to help guide public policy.
  • The first World Happiness Report was released on April 1, 2012 as a foundational text for the UN High Level Meeting.
  • On April 2, 2012, this was followed by the first UN High Level Meeting called Wellbeing and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm.
  • This  was chaired by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley of Bhutan.
  • Since then Bhutan adopted gross national happiness instead of gross domestic product as their main development indicator.

Parameters

The Parameters for assessment include

  • GDP per capita in terms of Purchasing Power parity (PPP).
  • Healthy life expectancy at birth.
  • Level of social support.
  • Perceptions on corruption and freedom to make life choices
  • Life expectancy and GDP per capita are computed from ready-made data of the World Bank and World Health Organisation respectively.
  • Bhutan has a self-devised Gross National Happiness Index that assess happiness and well-being of the population using 33 indicators under 9 domains.

Rankings Of Happiness- 2019-21

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Question Framed From Editorial

  • What do you understand by CBDCs? Enlist Some concerns arising out of issuing of CBDCs. (250 words)

OR

  • What is the Special Dispensation Scheme for admissions in the Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs). How beneficial is this scheme for the Disadvantageous Children? Critically evaluate (250 words)

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