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G.S II - Governance

Flaws in the NIRF’s Ranking


What is the issue?

The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)’s ranking of higher education institutions (HEIs) has received considerable criticism.

What is NIRF ranking?

  • The NIRF was approved by the MHRD (Ministry of Human Resource Development) and launched in 2015.
  • The framework outlines a methodology to rank institutions across the country.
  • The ranking framework evaluates institutions on five parameters:
  1. Teaching, Learning & Resources
  2. Research & Professional Practice (RP)
  3. Graduation Outcomes
  4. Outreach & Inclusivity (OI)
  5. Perception (PR)
  • 2022 Ranking
    • IIT-Madras topped the overall category for the fourth consecutive year, and in engineering for the seventh straight year.
    • The top-ranked private institutions are Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham (16), Manipal Academy of Higher Education (17), Vellore Institute of Technology (18).
    • The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) stood first in the research institutions category.
    • AIIMs occupied the top slot in the medical education category for the fifth straight year.
    • IIM-Ahmedabad remained the best institute in the management segment.
    • The National Law School of India University, Bengaluru, retained the first position in law.

What were the criticisms against the ranking?

  • Data fudging- The NIRF ranking shows that a private law university scored 100% in perception.
  • But the Common Law Admission Test admission choice shows that this institution figures below 10 NLUs as a preferred place to study.
  • Lack of rigorous verification- There seems to be a lack of a rigorous system of verification by the NIRF of the data submitted by HEIs.
  • Regarding the faculty-student ratio (FSR), some private multi-discipline universities have claimed the same faculty in more than one discipline.
  • Funds- Enormous funds have been claimed as expenditure on equipment for laboratories by some private multi-discipline institutions which offer law as a subject.
  • But labs are not required for law.
  • No transparency- The NIRF requires the data submitted to it be published by all the participating HEIs on their website so that such data can be scrutinised.
  • Some private multi-discipline universities have not granted free access to such data on their website.
  • There is also discrepancy in the data submitted to the NIRF and the data on the websites of these institutions.
  • Methodology- The NIRF applies almost the same parameters to all the institutions across varied disciplines in research and professional practice.
  • There is a gap between the methodology employed for accreditation purposes and for ranking purposes.
  • While the National Assessment and Accreditation Council gives due weightage to publications in UGC-Care listed journals, the NIRF uses publication data only from Scopus and Web of Science.

 

References

  1. https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/rankings-that-make-no-sense/article65752557.ece
  2. https://indianexpress.com/article/education/nirf-iits-sweep-rankings-iisc-tops-universities-delhi-colleges-shine-8032259/
  3. https://www.nirfindia.org/About

 

G.S II - Governance

Media Accountability


Why in news?

Recently, the Chief Justice of India objected to the lack of media accountability in the media’s coverage of legal issues.

What is the issue?

  • The police as source- The police is a crucial source for the media and communication between the two institutions is often a starting point of the troubles of media trials.
  • Most police departments do not have dedicated media cells, making officials of all levels authoritative sources of information.
  • Unregulated divulgence of case details by an eager police force and disproportionate reliance on this information by the media results in a public stripping of the rights that typically accompany a fair trial.
  • Impact- Reportage of this nature violates the presumption of innocence and the right to dignity and the privacy of suspects, the accused, victims, witnesses and persons closely related to them.
  • They often face social ostracisation and difficulties in retaining employment, making them vulnerable to crime and exploitation.
  • Ignorance of these nuances of the justice system has significant implications for citizens and contributes to the public apprehension and mistrust in the system.

What instances report this issue?

  • Bhima Koregaon violence- While the investigation of the Bhima Koregaon violence (2018) was underway, the police exposed letters purportedly written by the activists that were still undergoing forensic analysis.
  • While these letters received extensive news coverage, none of them was presented as evidence in court.
  • Mohammed Zubair’s case- The Delhi police recently admitted to informing the media about the outcome of AltNews’ co-founder Mohammed Zubair’s bail hearing before the judicial order was even pronounced in open court.
  • The matter of how this information was known to the police remains an open issue.

What efforts were taken in this aspect?

  • The Supreme Court in Romila Thapar vs Union of India , (2018) has repeatedly directed law enforcement authorities not to reveal details of their investigations, especially the personal details of the accused, before trial is complete.
  • Kerala is one of the few States to have disallowed photographs and parades of persons in custody within its Police Act.
  • Most other States have issued media policy guidelines with enforcement mechanisms through administrative circulars.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs issued an office memorandum outlining a media policy over a decade ago, but this is of limited value given that ‘Police’ is an entry in the State List.

What role do media possess regarding accountability?

  • Apart from making sure that police narratives are accurate before making them public, reporters bear the burden of translating the significance of police versions in a criminal trial.
  • Media ethics extend beyond verification of facts.
  • Weakness- Current media regulation is limited and is not uniform for print and television media and enforcement of these regulations is also slow.
  • Self-regulation set-ups such as the National Broadcasting Standards Authority and Indian Broadcasting Foundation are membership-based and easily avoided by simply withdrawing from the group.
  • Need of the hour- With an increasing call for media regulation, it is in the immediate interest of the media and the general interest of free press, that media institutions look inward to find an answer to what is essentially an ethical crisis.
  • A structured and well-designed media policy with training and enforcement mechanisms is the need of the hour for the police.

 

Reference

  1. https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/fair-trial-goes-beyond-courts-to-the-police-and-media/article65752398.ece

 

G.S III - Renewable Energy

India’s Solar Power Dream


Why in news?

From less than 10 MW in 2010, India has added significant photovoltaics capacity over the past decade, achieving over 50 GW by 2022.

What is India’s status and target on solar energy?

The Indian renewable energy sector is the fourth most attractive renewable energy market in the world with fifth rank in solar power, as of 2020.

  • Current status- India’s current solar module manufacturing capacity is limited to 15 GW per year.
  • India only produces 3.5 GW of cells currently.
  • India has no manufacturing capacity for solar wafers and polysilicon ingots, and currently imports 100% of silicon wafers and around 80% of cells even at the current deployment levels.
  • Also, out of the 15 GW of module manufacturing capacity, only 3-4 GW of modules are technologically competitive and worthy of deployment in grid-based projects.
  • India remains dependent on import of solar modules for field deployment.
  • Target- By 2030, India is targeting about 500 GW of renewable energy deployment, out of which 280 GW is expected from solar PV.
  • This necessitates the deployment of nearly 30 GW of solar capacity every year until 2030.

renewable

What is the current government policy on solar technology?

  • The government is rolling out various policy initiatives to push and motivate the industry to work towards self-reliance in solar manufacturing, both for cells and modules.
  • Key initiatives include
    • A 40% duty on the import of modules
    • 25% duty on the import of cells
    • PLI scheme to support manufacturing capex
  • It is mandatory to procure modules only from an approved list of manufacturers (ALMM) for projects that are connected to state/ central government grids.

What are the challenges in reaching the target?

More than 90% of the world’s solar wafer manufacturing currently happens in China.

  • Land- Land, the most expensive part of solar projects, is scarce in India.
  • Raw material- There is a huge gap on the raw material supply chain side as well.
  • Silicon wafer, metallic pastes of silver and aluminium, etc. is not manufactured in India.
  • Nature of Indian hubs- India is more of an assembly hub than a manufacturing one.
  • Access to technology- It is unlikely that companies that have spent millions of dollars on in-house and external R&D would make it easy for India to access the latest technologies easily or at a lower cost.
  • India has hardly invested in creating high-quality high-TRL technology centres such as IMEC Belgium or the Holst Centre in the Netherlands.

What is the way forward?

  • The path to become a manufacturing hub for the same requires more than just putting some tax barriers and commercial incentives in the form of PLI schemes, etc.
  • It needs strong industry-academia collaboration to start home-grown technologies which could work with the industry to provide them with trained human resource, process learnings, root-cause analysis through right testing and to develop India’s own technologies.
  • High-end technology development requires substantial investment in several clusters which operate in industry-like working and management conditions.
  • India needs to create high-quality high-TRL technology centres to work on specific technology domains with clear roadmaps and deliverables, monitored by specialists from industry and academia.

 

References

  1. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/experts-explain-what-it-will-take-to-fulfill-indias-solar-power-dream-8078876/
  2. https://www.ibef.org/industry/renewable-energy

 

Prelim Bits

Prelim Bits 10-08-2022 | UPSC Daily Current Affairs


Vasculitis

  • Vasculitis is a general term for several conditions that cause inflammation of blood vessels.
  • It is also called angiitis (“inflammation within blood vessels”) or arteritis (“inflammation in arteries”).
  • It is an auto-immune disease in which the body’s immune system turns on healthy blood vessels, causing them to swell up, narrow down, stretched, or weak. The blood vessels might close entirely.
  • The trigger for vasculitis may be an infection or a drug or blood cancers or immune system diseases, although the precise reason is often uncertain or unknown.
  • Vasculitis can be only a minor problem affecting the skin, or it can be a serious condition that impacts the heart, kidneys or other vital organs.
  • Types of Vasculitis - There are around 20 different disorders that are classified as vasculitis.
  • Although the diseases are similar in some ways, they often differ with respect to which organs are affected, which medications are used to treat them, and other characteristics.

Diseases associated with Vasculitis

Characteristics

Behcet’s Disease

Oral and genital ulcers and eye inflammation.

Buerger’s Disease

Mainly affects smokers and leads to decreased flow of blood to the hands and feet.

Eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis or Churg-Strauss Syndrome

Associated with asthma, sinusitis, and tends to involve the lungs, kidneys, and heart as well.

  • Treatment - Different types of inflammation cause different diseases, which have their own symptoms and treatment protocols.
  • Steroids are frequently prescribed, as are some other medicines that reduce the activity of the immune system.

Reference

  1. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-health/ashton-kutcher-vasculitis-explained-8080014/
  2. https://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/guide/vasculitis-treatment
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vasculitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20363435

Payment Aggregator

Mswipe Technologies has received in-principle approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for a payment aggregator (PA) licence.

  • A PA licence will allow Mswipe to develop an in-house online payment gateway, moving away from outsourcing transaction settlements.
  • A payment aggregator (or payment service provider) is a third-party that manages and processes merchants’ online transactions with consumers, allowing merchants to be more hands-off in their payment process.
  • It allows e-commerce sites and merchants to accept a diverse range of payment options without the upfront work, whether payment is by credit card, debit card, e-wallet, or bank transfer.
  • It facilitates merchants to accept various payment instruments from the customers for completion of their payment without the need for merchants to create a separate payment integration system of their own.
  • Getting Licence - In 2020, the RBI issued guidelines that said only approved firms could acquire and offer payment services to merchants.
  • Banks do not need approval separately, but non-bank entities offering payment aggregator services had to apply for authorisation from the RBI under the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.
  • The RBI had, but, allowed them to continue their operations till they received communication from it regarding the fate of their application.
  • The central bank had specified the criteria the entities have to fulfil to secure such a license and a number of firms have seen their applications being rejected while many have also got the nod from the RBI.
  • Though they have the option to apply afresh on meeting the prescribed criteria, ceasing operations may lead to disruption in payment systems.

Reference

  1. https://www.business-standard.com/article/finance/mswipe-technologies-gets-rbi-approval-for-payment-aggregator-s-licence-122080901096_html
  2. https://tipalti.com/what-is-a-payment-aggregator/
  3. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/startups/mswipe-gets-rbi-nod-on-payment-aggregator-licence/articleshow/93460619.cms

National Children Fund

  • The National Childrens Fund (NCF) or the Rashtriya Bal Kosh was set up in the International Year of the Child (1979) under the Charitable Endowment Act 1890.
  • The secretariat of the fund is located in National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD), an autonomous body under the aegis of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • The NCF raises funds from individuals, institutions, corporates and others for the welfare and development of programme for children.

The National Policy for Children, announced in 1974 recognises children of the Nation as a ‘Supremely important asset’.

  • The NCF has limited funds because of which it is not implementing a large-scale countrywide grant-in-aid programme.
  • The objectives of the scheme are as follows,
    1. Improve the academic performance of children living in CCIs run as per the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015;
    2. Enable children to inculcate a sense of self-dependence and confidence in their innate ability and capacities to take on the challenges, the future would hold before them; and
    3. Create an enabling atmosphere by providing equitable opportunities and further the pursuit of excellence in life.
  • The NCF’s mandate is to provide financial assistance to arrest the discontinuation of education of talented and meritorious children of Child Care Institutions (CCIs) due to economic hardship.
  • This will be done by providing scholarship support for pursuing their academic goals, leading to an improved quality of life in future.
  • Status - The Fund is reaching out to the designated target population through Grants-in-Aid to voluntary agencies until 2016 and through Scholarships to children living in the CCIs.
  • From 2017 onwards, the NCF has continued only scholarships for children living in the CCIs.

Reference

  1. https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1848644
  2. https://vikaspedia.in/education/policies-and-schemes/scholarships/scholarship-scheme-of-national-children-s-fund
  3. https://www.nipccd.nic.in/uploads/page/unnatipdf-2c4e7fc62868bcae1da06ff678f0203d.pdf
  4. https://pib.gov.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=101681

Enhanced Access and Service Excellence

Similar to the Enhanced Access and Service Excellence (EASE) for Public Sector Banks (PSBs), the Centre has asked the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) to prepare a viability plan for Regional Rural Banks (RRBs).

  • EASENext is well-positioned to channel reforms with a specific focus on customer-centric initiatives and emphasised on customer-first strategy and focus on employee development.
  • The EASENext reforms should bring ease for customers as well as for employees.
  • EASENext would comprise 2 major initiatives:
    1. EASE 5.0 (Common reform agenda for Public Sector Banks) and
    2. Bank specific strategic 3-year roadmap (Based on individual bank's business priorities).
  • EASE 5.0 - The Enhanced Access and Service Excellence is a common reform agenda for Public Sector Banks (PSBs) aimed at institutionalizing clean and smart banking.
  • It commits PSBs to tech-enabled, simplified and collaborative banking to further the agenda of customer-centric digital transformation.
  • Under EASE 5.0, PSBs will continue to invest in new-age capabilities and deepen the ongoing reforms to respond to evolving customer needs, changing competition, and the technology environment.
  • EASE 5.0 will focus on digital customer experience, and integrated and inclusive banking, with emphasis on supporting small businesses and agriculture.
  • 3-year roadmap - All PSBs will also create a bank-specific three-year strategic roadmap. It will entail strategic initiatives beyond EASE 5.0.
  • The initiatives will be across diverse themes - business growth, profitability, risk, customer service, operations, and capability building.

EASE index is prepared by the Indian Banking Association, along with Boston Consulting Group. It is commissioned by the Union Ministry of Finance.

Reference

  1. https://www.business-standard.com/article/finance/centre-asks-iba-to-come-up-with-ease-like-reform-plan-for-regional-banks-122080901179_html
  2. https://www.cnbctv18.com/finance/fm-nirmala-sitharaman-unveils-ease-50-psb-reforms-agenda-1375872htm
  3. https://www.business-standard.com/article/finance/nirmala-sitharaman-launches-ease-5-0-common-reforms-agenda-for-psbs-122060801399_1.html

SC on Consensual Sex & Promise of Marriage

The Supreme Court has held that it is not rape if consensual physical relationship was based on a genuine promise of marriage that could not be fulfilled.

  • The SC marked the difference between a false promise to marriage which is given on understanding by the maker that it will be broken and a breach of promise which is made in good faith but unable to be fulfilled.
  • The court quashed an FIR registered in 2016 by a woman who had accused the appellant of rape and cheating.
  • They were in a consensual relationship based on an assurance of marriage given by the man. However, the duo fell apart.
  • The SC said that the parties chose to have physical relationship without marriage for a considerable period of time. For some reason, the parties fell apart.
  • It can happen both before or after marriage. Therefore, this will not amount to rape.

Reference

  1. https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/consensual-sex-on-a-genuine-promise-of-marriage-not-rape-sc/article65751925.ece
  2. https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2022/04/13/can-promise-to-marry-a-married-woman-be-legally-enforceable-wherein-she-voluntarily-formed-sexual-relations-with-a-man/

  IAS Parliament Current Affairs December 2016


  IAS Parliament Current Affairs October 2016


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