News & Events
in this section, we are presenting our readers/aspirants compilation of selected editorials of national daily viz. The Hindu, The live mint,The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Economic Times, PIB etc. This section caters the requirement of Civil Services Mains (GS + Essay) , PCS, HAS Mains (GS + Essay) & others essay writing competition
1.State boards must follow CBSE on cancelling Class 12 boards; Quick decision on college admissions next step
CBSE’s decision to cancel class 12 board exams was immediately followed by the ISC board and Haryana cancelling their exams too. Other states will make their decisions too in the next few days. Given that over 85% of students are enrolled in state boards, and the CBSE decision was determined by public health reasons, states mustn’t risk the misadventure of conducting Class 12 examinations.
Of course, unlike CBSE schools, which tend to have a more rigorous internal assessment process, many state board schools without resources for online education over the last year would have struggled with conducting internal examinations.
Given the difficulty of a level playing field, common entrance tests for undergraduate admissions can resolve the difficulties that universities and colleges now face in admitting students. The big question is whether to go for a centralised process like CUCET organised by the National Testing Agency, that has roped in a number of central universities, or for universities pursuing their own entrance tests in decentralised fashion.
The bottomline is that these decisions must be made fast. Undergraduate admissions cannot wait interminably. Union education ministry must move fast and give directions that help public universities quickly chart their way ahead. Institutions which conduct the entrance tests first get to walk away with the cream of the students. Many private universities have opted for online proctored entrance exams during the pandemic. A combination of Class 12 assessments and an online admission test is one of the options before universities. Authorities must decide wisely keeping yardsticks like fairness and inclusion in mind.
2.Junk that law: Courts are critically examining sedition. Good news for the press. Even politicians should welcome this
Perhaps finally, one of India’s worst laws, one that has been misused against many, including the press, may get junked. One SC bench will soon examine the constitutionality of the sedition provision; another is planning to define its limits, exasperated by frequent and absurd sedition cases courts have to hear. This is great news for everyone who values India’s democracy. And especially for this country’s press, which has found itself at the receiving end of police action prompted by the ire of thin-skinned politicians of all ideological stripes. That news outlets and journalists can be routinely charged with sedition for airing views critical of governments is thanks to the way the law is worded – it is ridiculously easy to accuse someone of working against the state’s ‘interests’. That the law’s maximum punishment is life imprisonment is, by itself, a travesty of the right to dissent.
IPC Section 124A defines sedition as words or actions that bring or attempt to bring “hatred, contempt or disaffection” towards the government. SC’s Kedar Nath Singh judgment of 1962, keenly aware that a bare reading of this provision silences legitimate free speech, attempted to narrow sedition’s application to instances betraying an “intention” and “tendency” to cause public disorder or endanger the security of the state. But words like hatred, contempt, disaffection, intention and tendency that define the scope of sedition lend themselves to broad and subjective interpretations. In the hands of a police officer following political instructions to nail dissenters, these become ready accessories to label virtually anyone a seditionist. Conviction rates are very low. But authorities don’t seem to mind that, indicating that harassment is the main goal.
Politicians should have a rethink on sedition provisions, too, even if they are all merry participants in today’s polarised discourse. This law can bite back on anyone. Yesterday’s dissenter can be today’s government minister and today’s powerful political hotshot can be tomorrow’s opposition. Political power is not permanent. So, it’s wise for politicians to champion the law’s abolition.
Even statute books won’t miss sedition if it is repealed. Other laws like UAPA and NSA were enacted since the Kedar Nath judgment to deal with threats to security of the state and public order. Indeed, there are questions about overzealous applications of these laws, too. But the priority, of course, is to consign the sedition law to where it belongs – the dustbin.
3.When two is too little: On China’s three child policy
China’s demographic interventions have had unintended social, economic consequences
Six years after abandoning the “one child policy” of 1979, China’s Communist Party has now introduced a “three child policy”. The move is to “improve China’s population structure, actively respond to the ageing population, and preserve the country’s human resource advantages”, the party’s Politburo said on May 31. The once-in-a-decade population census, released on May 11, may have prompted the latest change, recording 12 million births in 2020, the lowest since 1961. The census said there were 264 million in the 60 and over age group, up 5.44% since 2010 and accounting for 18.70% of the population. After the one child policy, China’s fertility rate fell from 2.75 in 1979 to 1.69 in 2018. Monday’s announcement is as much an acknowledgement as may ever come of the unintended consequences of deeply intrusive family planning measures, going back even before 1979, to Mao’s “later, longer, fewer” campaign, which itself, ironically, followed his exhortations to have more children to build the workforce. The party officially still defends the one child policy — that it prevented an additional 300 million births. Yet, the urgency of recent measures suggests otherwise, as China grapples with both an ageing and deeply gender-imbalanced population, and demographers’ worst fears of countries getting old before they get rich.
In 2013, China allowed couples to have a second child if either parent was an only child, with the two child policy introduced in 2015. Explaining why the measures did not boost birth rates, economists Jin Zhangfeng, Pan Shiyuan, and Zheng Zhijie wrote last year the two child policy “substantially increase[d] the number of second-child births” among those “less sensitive to child-rearing costs” but “substantially decrease[d] the number of first-child births” attributing it to rising costs. “Other developing countries, even without China’s stringent child-limitation policies, have also experienced declines,” they argued, suggesting “policy makers should give priority to reducing the child-rearing costs borne by prospective parents rather than simply relaxing or even abolishing birth quotas”. The latest announcement did acknowledge those broader structural problems, pledging to reduce families’ spending on education. It is, however, by no means an abandoning of China’s family planning policies. The entrenched — and widely reviled — family planning bureaucracy remains in place, and this week’s statement underlined that the “current reward and assistance system and preferential policies” for those following rules continue. Even leaving aside the strong moral argument against intrusive family planning — enforcement has meant forced abortions, sterilisations, and other abuses, some of which are still being reported in parts such as the Muslim-majority Xinjiang region — China’s experience is a reminder of the unintended social and economic consequences of state-led demographic interventions.
4.Tenuous revival: On boosting Indian economy
Creating jobs and boosting incomes, along with vaccination, can sustain the economy
The national income estimates released by the NSO posit an economy that appears to have found some footing in the January-March quarter before the pandemic’s second wave hit. GDP expanded by 1.6% in the final quarter of the last fiscal, an acceleration from the 0.5% growth in the preceding three-month period, that marginally softened the extent of the full-year’s record contraction to 7.3%. The Centre had earlier projected full-year GDP to contract by 8%. There was a 3.7% growth in fourth-quarter gross value added, with all but two of the economy’s eight broad sectors posting expansions. Mining and quarrying and the worst-hit contact-intensive omnibus services category of trade, hotels, transport, communications and broadcasting contracted 5.7% and 2.3%, respectively. Still, the pandemic’s crushing impact over the preceding three quarters meant that only the agriculture, forestry and fishing and the utility services recorded full-year growth. On the expenditure side, private consumption spending appeared to have rebounded to growth for the first time in four quarters, posting an expansion of 2.7% that moderated the full-year’s contraction to 9.1%. And gross fixed capital formation, a proxy for private investment, jumped 11% in the three-month period, most likely helped in fair measure by an increase in capital spending by the Government.
The NSO data, however, needs to be seen in perspective. With the ground having shifted since March with the surge in COVID-19 infections, it is vital to correlate the figures with on-the-ground information. Manufacturing GVA appeared to have gained some traction in the last quarter (a 6.9% expansion), following a return to growth in the September-December period after five straight quarters of contraction. Disappointingly, IHS Markit’s Manufacturing PMI survey for May showed the key sector facing the prospect of stagnation as weakening demand pushed increases in new orders and output to 10-month lows. Similarly, the fiscal 2020-21 provisional estimates for private consumption spending — the bulwark accounting for over 50% of GDP — showed the expenditure figure at ₹75.6-lakh crore, its weakest level in three years. Here again, the Refinitiv-Ipsos Primary Consumer Sentiment Index for May, showed consumer confidence had tumbled by 6.3 percentage points from April as fears over the pandemic’s impact depressed respondents’ outlook on all four fronts including jobs and personal financial conditions. With unabated job losses pushing overall unemployment to a one-year high of 11.9% in May, as per CMIE data, and rural areas ravaged, only an accelerated nationwide vaccine roll-out and direct job and income boosting measures can prevent the economy from backsliding again.