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.Long overdue: On OBC reservation in All-India Quota medical seats
OBC reservation in All-India Quota medical seats puts an end to a discriminatory policy
Reservation for students from Backward Classes in seats surrendered by States to an ‘All-India Quota’ (AIQ) in medical colleges run by State governments was long overdue. The Centre’s decision to extend its 27% reservation for ‘other backward classes’ to all seats under the AIQ is a belated, but welcome development, as Other Backward Class (OBC) candidates have been denied their due for years. And in concord with its keenness to balance OBC interests with those of the socially advanced sections, the Union government has also decided to provide 10% of the AIQ seats to those from the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS). This is almost entirely the outcome of a Madras High Court verdict and the efforts of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which approached the court with the demand. The AIQ is a category created by the Supreme Court to free up some seats from residential or domicile requirements in some States for admissions to their medical colleges. Introduced in 1986, the AIQ comprised 15% of undergraduate medical and dental seats and 50% of post-graduate seats surrendered by the States for admission through a central pool. There was no reservation in the AIQ, and, once in the past, the Supreme Court set aside a Madras High Court order directing the Centre to implement Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes quota in the category.
In 2007, the Supreme Court allowed 15% Scheduled Caste reservation and a 7.5% Scheduled Tribe quota under the AIQ. Meanwhile, based on a central law favouring Backward Class reservation in educational institutions, the Union’s 27% OBC quota was introduced in central educational institutions. There was no move to implement OBC reservation in the category. In the courts, the Medical Council of India argued against OBC reservation, but the Union government said it was not averse to the reservation, subject to an overall 50% limit. The omission of OBC reservation in the AIQ seats was obviously discriminatory. There were OBC seats in medical institutions run by the Centre, as well as State-specific quotas in those run by the States. It was incongruous that seats given up by the States to help the Centre redistribute medical education opportunities across the country were kept out of the ambit of affirmative action. There was even a case to argue that, as AIQ seats originally belonged to the States, the quota policy applicable to the respective States ought to be applied to them. The Madras High Court, in July 2020, held that there was no legal impediment to OBC reservation, but, given that the policy varied from State to State, it left it to the Centre to decide the modalities for quotas from this academic year. The Centre has now decided on the 27% OBC quota, but not before the High Court termed the delay in doing so “contumacious”.
2.Performance of the Indian women’s hockey team should spur greater commitment to their cause by administrators and fans
The Indian women’s hockey team’s accomplishment of reaching the Olympic semifinal for the first time by defeating Australia 1-0 this morning is an important one in their journey. Women’s hockey in India has been relegated to the margins. When it comes to hockey, the focus has been on the performance of the men’s team, which in the last few decades has found it impossible to match the heights attained by the national team between 1930s and 1960s. Given this backdrop, the performance of the women is noteworthy and made special by the fact that they beat one of the pre-tournament favourites to reach the semifinal.
The next match is scheduled to be played on Wednesday against Argentina, a powerhouse in women’s hockey.
Hopefully, this performance will catalyse greater interest from both administrators and fans in women’s hockey.
3.August Is critical: This month must mark a big jump in vaccination pace, Delta is raging around the world
Japan is faced with an unusual situation. The Olympics continue without a break. But the country has been forced to impose a state of emergency in some regions to cope with an unprecedented surge in Covid cases. China is in the middle of a new surge centred around Nanjing. Southeast Asia and the Middle East are also battling new infection waves. So is the US, and to an extent, Europe. Common to these surges everywhere is the Delta variant of the virus, the most transmissible one till date. According to WHO, at least 132 countries have recorded the presence of the Delta variant.
India better watch out. The primary protection against Covid remains vaccination. And August is a critical month in India’s vaccination programme. GoI estimates the adult population is 940 million and it expects to vaccinate this demographic by the year-end. By the end of last week, 11% of the adult population, or about 103 million, had been fully vaccinated. This level of protection leaves the country vulnerable to another wave of Covid. Remember, even the US, where nearly 50% of the total population is vaccinated, is seeing a rise in infections. And those taking comfort from the recent sero survey should know that even if the sample reflects the real picture, it still means 400 million people don’t have antibodies.
A vaccine supply ramp up is expected in August. In mid-July, GoI placed an order for 660 million doses, the largest so far. Last month, the average jab rate was about 3.84 million doses a day. This has to be scaled up to close to 9.2 million doses a day if GoI hopes to meet its year-end target. However, we need to remember that while expanding the coverage of vaccination is the primary defence against Covid, it cannot be the only one. The spread of the virus is also influenced by variants.
Therefore, the vaccination drive needs to be backed by behaviour that arrests the spread of infection. Universal masking and banning unnecessary gatherings are unavoidable .Both messaging and enforcement by authorities need to be consistent. India needs to learn from experiences elsewhere. The most important takeaway here is that opening up of the economy will come with risks. Those risks however can be minimised if a country gets both its vaccination and behavioural strategies in place. Everyone has both a stake and a role in preventing another surge.
4.a Diversity and inclusion are sources of strength
While India remains in contention for other medals, there is a lesson in Ms Chanu and Ms Borgohain’s success
With weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu’s silver medal, India got its first win in the Tokyo Olympics. PV Sindhu’s bronze has given India a second medal. And boxer Lovlina Borgohain’s success assured India of a third medal. And while India remains in contention for other medals, there is a lesson in Ms Chanu and Ms Borgohain’s success. The former is from Manipur (as is Mary Kom, a previous Olympic winner who lost out narrowly this time around) and Ms Borgohain is from Assam. The lesson is not just how the Northeast is a potential hub for sporting excellence — it is indeed and must be developed — but how diversity and inclusion helps.
To be sure, the primary identity that matters in the case of Ms Chanu, Ms Kom and Ms Borgohain is that they are all champions. It would also be inaccurate, as is often done, to group all those from different states of the Northeast into one category when they come from distinct political, social, ethnic, linguistic and cultural traditions. But there is little doubt that identity has been a basis of discrimination and exclusion for those from the Northeast, reflected in dismal representation across all professional spheres. This has not just deprived people of opportunities and perpetuated structural injustice, but also left those spheres poorer.