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Monthly DNA

25 Jan, 2021

115 Min Read

Impact of COVID-19 on adolescent girls and Education

GS-I : Social issues Issues related to Child

Impact of COVID-19 on adolescent girls and Education

Prelims Pointers: Education is in the Concurrent List. It was put into the Concurrent list (List III under Article 246) after the 42nd Constitution Amendment Act, 1976.

  • Like the rest of the population, as many as 120 million adolescent girls (data for Mains) — roughly one-tenth of the nation — are experiencing a never-before situation. However, the disruption they are facing is likely to push back the gains made in the previous decades.
  • Adolescent girls’ welfare and entitlements are linked to a host of development indicators, including women’s workforce participation, morbidity rates and maternal mortality among others.
  • This is a generation that was — until the pandemic struck — breaking a millennium of stereotypes and deprivation.

Pre-COVID Situation of Adolescent girls

  • Born just as the new century began, adolescent girls in India were seeing never-before school-going rates (10.3% out-of-schoolgirls in 2006 to 4.1% in 2019, according to the 2019 ASER report).
  • They were pushing the boundaries of academic achievement with a 92.15% pass percentage in class XII versus 86.19 % for boys in the 2020 CBSE board exams).
  • They were marrying later; the rate of child marriage was 50% in 2000 as against 27% today (UNICEF report on Ending Child Marriage).
  • Fewer women were dying in childbirth, thanks to work done by the Government, health and education systems, NGOs, communities, and families.
  • Large-scale change makers including the Government were recognizing that working with this age group could potentially nip a host of life-long deprivations like income poverty, food insecurity and preventable morbidities in the bud.
  • And, then, the pandemic struck. Girls in schools, working towards their first professional degrees or gaining new exposure and perspectives from the world suddenly found themselves confined to the home.

COVID-19 Impact on Adolescent girls

The impact of such a phenomenon on day-to-day lives needs to be taken into account, says a recent survey among 7,200 teens from Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Odisha.

  • Instead of going to school, girls reported spending more time cleaning the household (61%), cooking (59%), washing clothes (44%), washing utensils (41%), and taking care of siblings (23%).
  • Boys, on the other hand, said they spent most of their time watching TV and farming, among others.
  • Nor did girls have optimal access to the Internet. Among girls, just 22% knew how to use online learning platforms. Just 12% had access to mobile phones against 35% for boys.
  • More than half the girls surveyed said they did not have essential textbooks.
  • Not surprisingly, more girls than boys felt they were likely to drop out of school.
  • Further, a high number of adolescent girls reported that they felt vulnerable to domestic violence and sexual harassment during the lockdown.
  • Curbs on their mobility also increased; only 39% of girls said they were allowed to go out alone compared to 62% of boys of the same age.
  • The closure of schools has also led to a lack of a safe space for girls.
  • All this underscores what practitioners have highlighted: without formal school and Internet access, practices such as domestic work, child labour, and early marriage become the only available coping strategies for families, often enforced through patriarchal norms.

Government Efforts

  • The Government of India’s ambitious Rashtriya Kishore Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) and School Health and Wellness programmes, for instance, take a community and school-based approach towards health, nutrition, gender equity, injuries and violence, non-communicable diseases, mental health, and substance misuse.
  • Another specific and scalable example is the Kerala State Education Department’s ‘First Bell’ initiative, launched on June 1, 2020. Over 600 classes are now running via the ‘KITE Victers’ television channel, making lessons accessible to students without smartphone and internet access.
  • While the Government of India has programmes such as Beti Bachao Beti Padao, Skill India Mission and Digital India Mission, a localised approach needs to be worked out, considering the diversity of the country.
  • Coordinated action to end the pandemic-induced crisis for adolescent girls calls for reinforcing programming strategies.
  • Addressing health, empowerment, and education needs this early in life will not only help overturn the disruptions of 2020 but also help go a long way towards achieving the Sustainable Goals for Development.

Source: TH

India China Border Disputes: Demchok

GS-II : International Relations Border disputes

India China Border Disputes: Demchok

  • Nomads were asked to vacate traditional grazing areas in Demchok.
  • As India and China started the ninth round of Corps Commander talks to address the 9-month-long standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, the head of one of the border villages claimed that Chinese vehicles were using Indian roads to enter Indian territory.
  • “On December 10, some villagers went there and saw that the Chinese had entered Indian territory and had transgressed more than 1 km from the border. We contacted the authorities who asked us to camp there and not recede even by an inch. We stood guard for four or five days. The two Chinese vehicles came back again on December 16, but this time the SDM and ITBP officials were there.
  • He said People’s Liberation Army personnel were interspersed with Chinese civilians.
  • He said the Chinese aggression could be caught red-handed as everything was recorded on phones.
  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had informed Rajya Sabha last September that face-offs with the Chinese PLA happened because “patrols were interrupted”.
  • Mr. Singh had said there was no commonly delineated LAC and there was an overlap in the perception of the LAC in many areas.

What is Line of Actual Control (LAC)?

  • The Line of Actual Control (LAC) is a demarcation line that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory in the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, formed after the 1962 war.
  • The border is not fully demarcated and the LAC is neither clarified nor confirmed by the two countries.

India-China border is divided into three sectors:

  • Western Part: The LAC in the western sector falls in the union territory of Ladakh and is 1597 km long,
  • Middle Part: The middle sector of 545 km length falls in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, and
  • Eastern Part: The 1346 km long eastern sector falls in the states of Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • So basically, the entire Sino-Indian border (including the western LAC, the small undisputed section in the centre, and the MacMahon Line in the east) is 4,056 km (2,520 mi) long and traverses one Indian union territory – Ladakh and four Indian states: Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The main differences are in the Western and Eastern sectors. India sees China as occupying 38,000 sq km in Aksai Chin. In the east, China claims as much as 90,000 sq km, extending all across Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The middle sector is the least disputed sector, while the western sector witnesses the highest transgressions between the two sides.

For recent news on India – China Trade Deficit: click here

For India – China border disputes: click here

Source: TH

Electoral Reforms: Remote voting project, e-EPIC

GS-II : Governance Electoral reforms

Electoral Reforms: Remote voting project, e-EPIC

  • 25th January is National Voters Day. On this occasion, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said that the trials of the Election Commission’s remote voting project would be carried out soon.
  • “We have already started a research project on remote voting using cutting-edge technology with IIT-Chennai and other leading institutions and it has made good progress. Mock trials of this project will begin soon,” he said.
  • The system being developed by the IIT-M uses blockchain for two-way remote voting at designated centres, an EC official had said when the project was started in 2020.

Blockchain Technology

  • Blockchains are a new data structure that is secure, cryptography-based, and distributed across a network. The technology supports cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, and the transfer of any data or digital asset.
  • Spearheaded by Bitcoin, blockchains achieve consensus among distributed nodes, allowing the transfer of digital goods without the need for centralized authorisation of transactions.
  • The technology allows transactions to be simultaneously anonymous and secure, peer-to-peer, instant and frictionless.
  • It does this by distributing trust from powerful intermediaries to a large global network, which through mass collaboration, clever code and cryptography, enables a tamper-proof public ledger of every transaction that’s ever happened on the network.
  • A block is the “current” part of a blockchain which records some or all of the recent transactions, and once completed, goes into the blockchain as permanent database. Each time a block gets completed, a new block is generated. Blocks are linked to each other (like a chain) in proper linear, chronological order with every block containing a hash of the previous block.
  • Benefits of blockchain technology:
    1. As a public ledger system, it records and validate each and every transaction made, which makes it secure and reliable.
    2. All the transactions made are authorized by miners, which makes the transactions immutable and prevent it from the threat of hacking.
    3. Blockchain technology discards the need of any third-party or central authority for peer-to-peer transactions.
    4. It allows decentralization of the technology.

  • Mr. Arora said “another significant change we can look forward to is grant of postal ballot facility to overseas electors”.

Electronic versions of the elector photo ID card, or e-EPIC

  • In another development, electors will be able to download electronic versions of the elector photo ID card, or e-EPIC with the Election Commission launching it during the National Voter Day celebration.
  • The digital version of EPICs would be available for download from the voter helpline app, voterportal.eci.gov.in and nvsp.in, the EC said.
  • The e-EPIC would be a non-editable PDF version of the EPIC that can be downloaded on the phone and stored on the DigiLocker app or printed from a computer.
  • All general voters who have valid EPIC numbers would be able to do so from February 1 and those who applied in November and December will be able to download it from Monday till January 31.

Chronology of Electoral Reforms

Electoral Reforms Pre-2000

  • Lowering of Voting Age: The 61st Amendment Act to the Constitution reduced the minimum age for voting from 21 to 18 years. (read about important amendments in the Indian Constitution, in the linked article.)
  • Deputation to Election Commission: All personnel working in preparing, revising and correcting the electoral rolls for elections shall be considered to be on deputation to the EC for the period of such employment, and they shall be superintended by the EC.
  • Increase in the number of proposers and the security deposit: The number of electors required to sign as proposers in the nomination papers for elections to the Rajya Sabha and the State Legislative Councils has been raised to 10% of the electors of the constituency or ten such electors, whichever is less chiefly to prevent frivolous candidates. The security deposit has also been hiked to prevent non-serious candidates.
  • Electronic Voting Machine (EVMs): First introduced in 1998 during the state elections of Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, EVMs are used widely now as they are fool-proof, efficient and a better option in terms of the environment.
  • Disqualification on conviction for violating the National Honours Act, 1971: This shall lead to disqualification of the person for 6 years from contesting to the Parliament and the state legislatures.
  • Restriction on contesting from more than 2 constituencies: A candidate cannot contest from more than 2 constituencies.
  • Death of a contesting candidate: Previously, the election was countermanded on the death of a contesting candidate. In the future, no election will be countermanded on the death of a contesting candidate. If the deceased candidate, however, was set up by a recognized national or state party, then the party concerned will be given an option to nominate another candidate within 7 days of the issue of a notice to that effect to the party concerned by the Election Commission.
  • It is prohibited by law to go to or near a polling booth bearing arms. This is punishable by imprisonment for up to 2 years.
  • On poll days, employees of organisations get a paid holiday and violation of this is punishable by a fine.
  • Prohibition on sale of liquor: No liquor or other intoxicants shall be sold or given or distributed at any shop, eating place, or any other place, whether private or public, within a polling area during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the conclusion of poll.
  • Time limit for bye-elections: Bye-elections to any House of Parliament or a State Legislature will now be held within six months of the occurrence of the vacancy in that House. (Read about Parliament & State Legislature in the linked article.)
  • The period of campaigning has been reduced.

Electoral Reforms Post 2000

  • The electoral reforms target the election process in the country. The list of such electoral reforms are given below:
  • Ceiling on election expenditure: At present, there is no limit on the amount a political party can spend in an election or on a candidate. But, the Commission has put a cap on individual candidates’ spending. For the Lok Sabha elections, it is Rs. 50 – 70 lakh (depending on the state they are contesting the Lok Sabha seat from), and Rs. 20 – 28 lakh for an assembly election.
  • Restriction on exit polls: The EC issued a statement before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections saying that exit poll results could be broadcast only after the final phase of the elections were over. This was done to avoid prospective voters being misguided or prejudiced in any manner.
  • Voting through postal ballot: In 2013, the EC decided to expand the ambit of postal ballot voting in the country. Previously, only Indian staff in missions abroad and defence personnel in a limited way, could vote via postal ballots. Now, there are 6 categories of voters who can use the postal ballot: service voters; special voters; wives of service voters and special voters; voters subjected to preventive detention; voters on election duty and Notified voters.
  • Awareness Creation: The government decided to observe January 25th as ‘National Voters Day’ to mark the EC’s founding day. Read more on the National Voters’ Day here.
  • Political parties need to report any contribution in excess of Rs 20000 to the EC for claiming income tax benefit.
  • Declaring of criminal antecedents, assets, etc. by the candidates is required and declaring false information in the affidavit is now an electoral offence punishable with imprisonment up to 6 months or fine or both.

Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)

  • VVPAT is an independent verification printer machine and is attached to electronic voting machines.
  • It allows voters to verify if their vote has gone to the intended candidate.
  • When a voter presses a button in the EVM, a paper slip is printed through the VVPAT. The slip contains the poll symbol and name of the candidate.
  • It allows the voter to verify his/her choice.
  • After being visible to the voter from a glass case in the VVPAT for seven seconds, the ballot slip will be cut and dropped into the dropbox in the VVPAT machine and a beep will be heard.
  • VVPAT machines can be accessed by polling officers only.


  • The cVIGIL App provides time-stamped, evidence-based proof of the Model Code of Conduct / Expenditure Violation, having live photo/video with auto location data.
  • Any citizen can lodge a complaint through the Mobile App. Flying Squads will then investigate the matter and the Returning Officer takes the decision.
  • The status of cVIGIL can be shared with the cVIGIL complainant within a specified time limit.

Prelims PT Pointers regarding Electoral Reforms

  • 1st Electoral Reforms committee was V M Tarkunde Panel during Janta Party Government. Dinesh Goswami Committee – Electoral reforms. Indrajit Gupta Committee. – State funding of elections.
  • Election Commission of India established on 25th Jan, 1950. Hence Voters Day is celebrated on this day 1st time in 2011.
  • 1st General Elections conducted in 1951-52.
  • EVM universalised in 2000. SVEEP launched in 2010.
  • Introduction of NOTA and filing of Affidavit by Candidates in 2013.
  • National Voter's Services Portal (NVSP) launched in 2015.
  • Use of VVPAT in 2017. Electoral Literacy Club launched in 2018.
  • 2019: Record participation of 67.4% voters in 2019. Gender gap reduced to 0.1%. Special facilitation to PwD and Senior Citizens.

Source: TH

India – Sri Lanka issues

GS-II : International Relations Sri Lanka

India – Sri Lanka issues

  • The tragic death of four fishermen from Tamil Nadu — one of them a Sri Lankan Tamil refugee living in India — allegedly when the Sri Lankan Navy was about to arrest them last week, is yet another instance of the unresolved fisheries conflict in the Palk Bay taking an unacceptable toll of lives.
  • India has lodged a strong protest with the Sri Lankan authorities, who have set up a committee to find a permanent solution to the incursions by Indian fishermen.
  • It was less than a month ago that the two countries resumed discussions through their Joint Working Group on fisheries after a three-year gap. India sought the early release of fishermen arrested in Sri Lankan waters, as well as the boats in Sri Lankan custody.
  • Sri Lanka underscored the need to curb the illegal fishing, which adversely affects the livelihood of its war-affected fishermen.
  • When the two sides decided to create a joint working group some years ago, they had agreed that there would be no violence or loss of life in the handling of the fishermen and that a hotline would be established between the respective Coast Guards. It is unfortunate that the hotline is yet to be operationalised, and deaths continue to occur.
  • The humanitarian approach that has been expected to be the cornerstone of the approach to this conflict has not always been discernible.
  • The plan to wean away Tamil Nadu fishermen from the tendency to exploit the remaining fishery resources on the Sri Lankan side by replacing their trawlers with deep sea fishing vessels has not really taken off.
  • Attempts to forge a negotiated settlement through direct talks involving fishermen from both sides have also reached a stalemate.
  • Sri Lanka favours joint patrolling by both countries, and a ban on unsustainable fishing practices by Tamil Nadu fishermen — such as bottom trawling — but the latter want a lengthy phase-out period.
  • Political leaders in Tamil Nadu rarely acknowledge that the State’s fishermen contribute immensely to the problem by crossing territorial waters.
  • Nor is there sufficient recognition that the incursion into Sri Lankan waters is driven by trawler owners who force their poor employees to do so, who then get killed or arrested, leading to the festering conflict.
  • So far there has not been enough political resolve to end this conflict.

What is the solution?

  • A comprehensive solution, one that would severely curtail unauthorised fishing and help in an orderly sharing of and sustainable use of resources by fishermen from both sides, is long overdue.

India – Sri Lanka relationship

Historical relations

  • The relationship between India and Sri Lanka is more than 2,500 years old. It started from the time of Mauryan Empire when Ashoka sent his son and daughter to Sri Lanka to propagate Buddhism. It continued in Chola Empire when Rajaraja Chola first time started to conquer Sri Lanka or Ceylon and Rajendra Chola (his son) conquered the Ceylon.
  • Both countries have a legacy of intellectual, cultural, religious and linguistic interaction.
  • In recent years, significant progress in implementation of developmental assistance projects has further cemented the bonds of friendship between the two countries.

Geopolitical Significance of Sri Lanka

  • Sri Lanka is located in the geostrategic zone of the Indian zone where all the major powers are converging in the 21st century.
  • It is located at the centre of the geopolitics of the USA through its Pivot towards Asia policy, China through Belt and Road Initiative and Japan through Asia Africa Growth Corridor.
  • China is building state-of-the-art gigantic modern ports all along the Indian Ocean to the south of it, in Gwadar (Pakistan), Chittagong (Bangladesh, Kyauk Peru (Myanmar) and Hambantota (Sri Lanka). China is using Sri Lanka as a tool to encircle India through the Maritime Silk Road Initiative and the erstwhile String of Pearl Strategy.
  • Sri Lanka’s Colombo Port is the 25th busiest container port in the world and the natural deep water harbor at Trincomalee is the fifth largest natural harbour in the world.

Importance of Sri Lanka for India

  • Sri Lanka is the nearest maritime neighbour of India. Hence in the situation where all the major powers are trying to pluck the low-hanging fruits of the Indian Ocean, the dominance of India in the Indian Ocean region is a must.
  • Sri Lanka is a member of regional groupings like BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) and SAARC in which India plays a leading role.
  • Sri Lanka is important to neutralising the efforts of China and OBOR in the Indian Ocean Region.
  • It is also important for cooperation in Terrorism and in the sphere of maritime security and surveillance.
  • Recently, India helped Sri Lanka in providing various medicines of COVID-19 and we are also sending them COVID-19 vaccines as a Confidence Building measure and India’s principle of Vasudeva Kutumbakam.
  • Recently, India has invited leaders of BIMSTEC member countries to attend the swearing-in of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his council of ministers. This is in line with the government’s focus on its ‘Neighbourhood First policy.
  • Sri Lanka is one of India’s largest trading partners among the SAARC countries. India in turn is Sri Lanka’s largest trade partner globally.
  • India is a net exporter to Sri Lanka. India’s exports to Sri Lanka amounted to $5.3 billion in 2015-17 whereas its imports from the country were at $743 million.
  • Trade grew especially after India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement which came into force in March 2000. Sri Lanka was the 1st country to sign FTA with India (Prelims Pointer).

India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA)

  • India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA) was signed in 1998 and entered into force in March 2000.
  • The basic premise in signing the ISFTA was asymmetries between the two economies, local socio-economic sensitivities, safeguard measures to protect domestic interests, and revenue implications so as not to impact high revenue generating tariff lines in the short term.
  • In order to receive ISFTA benefits, the merchandise exported between India and Sri Lanka should comply with the Rules of Origin criteria.
  • The agreement CEPA (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) which is yet to be signed between the countries, seeks to build on the momentum generated by the FTA and take the two economies beyond trade in goods towards greater integration and impart renewed impetus and synergy to bilateral economic interaction.
  • The investments are in diverse areas including petroleum retail, IT, financial services, real estate, telecommunication, hospitality & tourism, banking and food processing (tea & fruit juices), metal industries, tires, cement, glass manufacturing, and infrastructure development (railway, power, water supply).

  • Tourism also forms an important link between India and Sri Lanka and India is the largest source market for Sri Lankan tourism. In tourism, India is the largest contributor with every fifth tourist being from India.
  • The Cultural Cooperation Agreement signed by the two Governments on 29 November 1977, forms the basis for periodic Cultural Exchange Programmes between the two countries.
  • The People of Indian Origin (PIOs) comprise Sindhis, Borahs, Gujaratis, Memons, Parsis, Malayalis and Telugu-speaking persons who have settled down in Sri Lanka (most of them after partition) and are engaged in various business ventures.
  • India and Sri Lanka conduct joint Military ( 'Mitra Shakti') and Naval exercises (SLINEX). – (Prelims Pointers)
  • India also provides defence training to Sri Lankan forces.
  • A trilateral maritime security cooperation agreement was signed by India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives to improve surveillance, anti-piracy operations and reducing maritime pollution in Indian Ocean Region.

Issues and Conflicts

China angle

  • China’s relationship with Sri Lanka has been a challenge for India since years. In recent years, China has extended billions of dollars of loans to the Sri Lankan government for new infrastructure projects, which is not good for India’s strategic depth in Indian Ocean Region.
  • Sri Lanka also handed over the strategic port of Hambantota, which is expected to play a key role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, to China on a 99-year lease.
  • China has also supplied arms as well as provided huge loans to Sri Lanka for its development.
  • China also invested sufficiently in the infrastructure of Sri Lanka, which included the building of the Colombo international container terminal by China Harbor Corporation.

Fishermen issue

  • Given the proximity of the territorial waters of both countries, especially in the Palk Straits and the Gulf of Mannar, incidents of straying of fishermen are common.
  • Indian boats have been fishing in the troubled waters for centuries and had a free run of the Bay of Bengal, Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar until 1974 and 1976 when treaties were signed between the two countries to demarcate International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).
  • However, the treaties failed to factor in the hardship of thousands of traditional fishermen who were forced to restrict themselves to a meagre area in their fishing forays.
  • The small islet of Katchatheevu, hitherto used by them for sorting their catch and drying their nets, fell on the other side of the IMBL.
  • Fishermen often risk their lives and cross the IMBL rather than return empty-handed, but the Sri Lankan Navy is on alert, and have either arrested or destroyed fishing nets and vessels of those who have crossed the line.
  • Both countries have agreed on certain practical arrangements to deal with the issue of bona fide fishermen of either side crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line.
  • Through these arrangements, it has been possible to deal with the issue of detention of fishermen in a humane manner.
  • India and Sri Lanka have agreed to set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries between the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare of India and Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development of Sri Lanka as the mechanism to help find a permanent solution to the fishermen issue.

However, the relation between Sri Lanka and India are improving.

  • In order to allay Indian concerns that the Hambantota port will not be used for military purposes, the Sri Lankan government has sought to limit China’s role to running commercial operations at the port while it retains oversight of security operations.
  • The two countries have signed civil nuclear cooperation agreement which is Sri Lanka’s first nuclear partnership with any country.
  • India is also investing into Sri Lanka’s infrastructure development in the Northern and Eastern provinces.
  • India is also planning to build Trincomalee Port to counterweight the Chinese developments at Hambantota Port.

Way Forward

  • As both countries have a democratic setup there is scope for broadening and deepening the ties.
  • Both countries should try to work out a permanent solution to the issue of fishermen through bilateral engagements.
  • A comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) must be signed to improve the economic cooperation between both countries .
  • India needs to focus more on its traditional and cultural ties to improve relations with Sri Lanka.
  • Starting of ferry services between India and Sri Lanka can improve people-to-people linkages.
  • Mutual recognition of each other's concerns and interests can improve the relationship between both countries.

Source: TH

Status of Education in India during COVID-19

GS-III : Economic Issues Education

Status of Education in India during COVID-19

  • On January 24, we celebrated the third edition of the International Day of Education, a day proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly to honour education and its value to humanity and sustainable development.
  • Our theme for 2021, ‘Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generation’, places an emphasis on the way the pandemic has negatively affected learning outcomes for students globally and how we should innovate and combine resources to invest more in education.
  • About 1.6 billion students from some 190 countries were affected by the shutdown of schools caused by COVID-19, reversing years of progress in education.
  • In India, more than 1.5 million school closures affected about 286 million schoolchildren. This added to the six million girls and boys who were already out of school prior to the crisis.
  • According to UNESCO estimates, schools worldwide were closed for an average of three and a half months since the onset of the pandemic. This figure rises to more than five months when localised school closures are taken into account.

  • Because of dire fiscal challenges and the overwhelming need to prioritise public health and social safety spending, global education financing has been significantly reduced.
  • UNESCO estimates that of the $11.8 trillion global COVID-19 fiscal response, a mere 0.78% (or $91 billion) was allocated to education, with $73 billion spent in high-income countries.
  • Yet, the governments of South Asia have made some real progress towards protecting education funding.
  • On average, it is estimated that South Asia allocated 0.85% of its fiscal package to education, compared to 0.73% for Europe and North America and 0.69% for Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • These shifts in public expenditures were mainly driven by Information and Communication Technology measures to support the delivery of education through a mix of radio, television, and mobile technology, as well as the home delivery of printed learning materials for the most vulnerable students who are excluded from technology.
  • In India, inspired by the release of the National Education Policy (NEP), the Education Ministry has made significant efforts to develop courses to reach all learners via the Internet and airwaves. The introduction of the NEP and the counter-effects of the pandemic have in fact provided a groundswell of change on which true reform is riding.
  • Still, much more needs to be done as remote learning remains out of reach for more than 500 million students globally.
  • As we continue to struggle through this volatile situation, it is more than ever our duty to ensure that learning never stops.
  • To highlight the remaining challenges, UNESCO is releasing new global figures now, one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, which show that over 800 million students, or more than half the world’s student population, still face significant disruptions to their education, ranging from full school closures to reduced or part-time academic schedules.

Way Forward

  • The learning crisis brought about by the pandemic, therefore, represents a clarion call to governments, development partners and businesses to increase funding and make education systems more resilient, inclusive, flexible, and sustainable.

Source: TH

Non Banking Financial Companies (NBFC)

GS-III : Economic Issues NBFC

Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFC)

  1. NBFCs are Companies registered under the Companies Act, 1956 engaged in giving loans; acquisition of shares, stocks, bonds, debentures & securities issued by Govt or local authorities; leasing higher purchase insurance, chit fund business..
  2. It does not include any institution whose principle business is Agriculture, Industry, buying or selling of goods other than security or providing any services and sale and purchase constitution of immovable properties.
  3. Both NBFC and Banks can issue Demand Draft and has Deposit insurance. NBFCs can’t issue Cheque book.
  4. RBI recently strengthened its hold over NBFCs mainly those engaged in infrastructure, deposit, lending and housing sector.
  5. After IL&FS case, Forensic auditing is now mandatory. As per RBI, service providers need to maintain the same high standard of care in performing services as it is expected by RBI. These NBFCs can also maintain SLR.
  6. Chit Funds: They are regulated under Chit Funds Act, 1982. They regulated by RBI as they come under NBFC.

Non-Banking Financial Companies

  • Companies registered under the Companies Act, 1956 engaged in
    1. Giving loans;
    2. Acquisition of shares, stocks, bonds, debentures & securities issued by Govt or local authorities;
    3. Leasing higher purchase insurance, chit fund business.
  • It holds 12.3% assets in Financial systems
  • It does not include any institution whose principle business is Agri, Industry, buying or selling of goods other than security or providing any services and sale and purchase constitution of immovable properties.
  • NBFC cannot accept Demand deposits.
  • They are not a part of the Payment and Settlement System. Hence cannot issue cheques drawn on itself.
  • Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC) deposit insurance not available.
  • A Non banking institution which is a Company and can receive deposit in any scheme also comes under NBFCs (Deposit taking NBFCs) aka Residuary Non-Banking Company. SLR is applicable to them.
  • NBFC with the paid up capital of 500 crore has to set aside Capital Adequacy Ratio.
  • Chit Funds: regulated by RBI under Chit Funds Act, 1982. They are NBFCs.
  • RBI prohibited NBFCs from outsourcing key functions like
    1. Internal audit,
    2. Investment portfolio and
    3. KYC compliance.
  • Forensic auditing is now mandatory.

The different types of NBFCs:

The NBFCs can be categorised under two broad heads:

On the nature of their activity:

  • Asset Finance Company
  • Loan Company
  • Mortgage Guarantee Company
  • Investment Company
  • Core Investment Company
  • Infrastructure Finance Company
  • Micro Finance Company
  • Housing Finance Company

On the basis of deposits:

  • Deposit accepting Non-Banking Financial Corporations
  • Non-deposit accepting Non-Banking Financial Corporations

Recent news for NBFCs

  • RBI to create a Specialised Supervisory and Regulatory cadre for Commercial Banks, Urban Cooperative Banks and NBFCs. RBI is also internally setting up a Research and Analysis wing within the department of supervision which will collate and correlate all the data, see the inter-connectedness and will comprehensively look at the banking structure.
  • RBI directs NBFCs with asset size > 5000 crore to appoint Chief Risk Officer. To be functioned independently.
  • Budget 2019-20 widens RBI autonomy:
    1. Housing Finance Companies to be treated as NBFCs. To be regulated by RBI now.
    2. RBI can supersede the board of NBFCs in the public interest. RBI can also remove auditors, and call for an audit of any group company of an NBFC.
  • RBI raises the cap on the Bank’s exposure to a single NBFC to 20% of Tier I capital from 15%. On lending to the Agri sector 10 lakh, and 20 lakh to MSME and Housing will be treated as Priority Sector Lending. Mutual Funds and Insurance Companies are creditors to NBFCs. Hence Insurance companies are now part of Inter Creditor Agreement.
  • RBI has decided to merge 3 categories of NBFCs into a single category to provide greater operational flexibility to non-banking lenders. NBFCs categorized as Asset Finance Companies (AFC), Loan Companies (LCs) and Investment Companies (ICs), will be merged into a new category called NBFC - Investment and Credit Company (NBFC-ICC).
  • RBI intro Liquidity Management Framework for NBFCs
    1. All non-deposit taking NBFCs with asset size of >= 10000 crores and all deposit-taking NBFCs have to maintain a liquidity buffer in terms of Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR)
    2. From 1 Dec 2020 with the minimum High-Quality Liquid Assets (HQLAs) to be held being 50% of the LCR, progressively reaching up to the level of 100% by 1st December 2024.
    3. Assets to be included as HQLA include cash, government securities and marketable securities issued or guaranteed by foreign sovereigns. These assets should be free of any financial liability.
  • ECB Reforms: Relaxed norms for the end use of funds via ECB
    1. ECBs are done by Companies and NBFCs. Regulated by RBI. Now it is a bidder under IBA.
    2. Relaxation was for 3 things: Working capital requirements, General Corporate purposes and Repayment of Rupee loans.
    3. Borrowers can raise ECB for 10 years of Working capital and General corporate purposes requirements.
    4. For repayment of rupee loans and for on-lending by NBFC = 7 years.
  • Partial Credit Guarantee Facility for PSBs (Public Sector Banks)
    • It would enable the PSBs to purchase the high-rated pooled assets of financially sound NBFCs and housing finance companies (HFCs) worth rs 1 lakh crore. For a period of 6 months.
    • It is expected that this measure would provide liquidity to the NBFC Sector.
    • To address temporary asset-liability mismatches of otherwise solvent NBFCs/HFCs without having to resort to distress sale of their assets for meeting their commitments.
  • RBI moots lighter norms for CICs (Core Investment Companies)
    1. CICs are specialized NBFCs. It has an asset size of Rs. 100 crore.
    2. The main business is the Acquisition of shares and securities with certain conditions These should not hold < 90% of its net assets in the form of investment in equity shares, preference shares, bonds, debentures, debt or loans in a group company.
    3. CIC should have a 2 Tier structure and stronger boards with at least 50% independent directors.
    4. Step down CICs will not be permitted to invest in any other CICs, but can 'freely' invest in other group companies.
  • Peer to Peer (P2P) Lending
    • P2P lending is a form of crowdfunding used to raise unsecured loans which are repaid with interest. It serves as a link between borrowers & lenders. It refers to the financing of projects with small amounts of money raised from large number of people, with a portal serving as an intermediary.
    • The borrowing could be an individual or a legal person (such as company). Minimum Net worth of P2P lending is Rs. 2 crore. RBI in 2017 enabled P2P entities as NBFC. However, an existing NBFC will not be able to operate as NBFC P2P.
  • Ombudsman Scheme for NBFCs, 2018
    • It covered all deposits accepting NBFCs. Now it is extended to all eligible non-deposit-taking NBFCs having an asset size of >= Rs 100 crore with customer interface.
    • There is also an appellate mechanism against the decision of Ombudsman.
    • It still excludes various NBFC groups such as
      1. Infrastructure Finance Companies (NBFC-IFC),
      2. Core Investment Company (CIC),
      3. Infrastructure Debt Fund-Non-Banking Financial Company (IDF-NBFC) and
      4. also NBFCs under liquidation.
  • RBI changes the definition of "Relative" under the Companies Act, 2013: To check outward remittances. Now only to immediate relatives like parents, spouses, children and their spouses.

Analysis of NBFCs

  • The RBI has proposed a significant shift in its regulatory approach towards India’s non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), from a general approach of light touch regulation to one that monitors larger players almost as closely as it does banks.
  • If implemented, this could be the biggest overhaul of the regulatory framework for such finance companies (or shadow banks) in over two decades.
  • After multitudes of investors were left high and dry as CRB group firms reneged on high-interest fixed deposits in 1997, Parliament bestowed greater powers over such firms to the central bank to fix the mess.
  • The trigger now is similar though the scale of the problem has changed.
  • The size of NBFC balance sheets is now more than a quarter of that of banks’ balance sheets, from just about 12% in 2010.
  • In absolute terms, their balance sheets have more than doubled, from ?20.7-lakh crore in 2015 to ?49.2-lakh crore in 2020. While this growth is a reflection of how lighter regulations have given them the flexibility to meet a range of financing needs, from home loans to micro-finance and large infrastructure projects, it also manifested into a systemic risk.
  • And that risk was apparent when one of the largest infrastructure investment-focused NBFC players, IL&FS, unravelled in 2018, with its payment defaults catalysing a crisis for the entire sector.
  • The collateral damage meant NBFCs could not raise funds easily, and faced liquidity pressures that escalated to solvency concerns in some instances.
  • The descent of one such player, Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Limited (DHFL), began around the same time — its creditors approved a resolution plan for the firm last week.
  • The RBI’s proposed regulatory reaction to such large NBFC failures that have had a systemic impact on the sector, could not have come sooner. It has sought to strike a balance between the need to be nimble and mitigate systemic risks, with a four-tiered regulatory structure.
  • This entails a largely laissez-faire approach for smaller NBFCs, plugging some of the arbitrages available to mid-sized NBFCs vis-à-vis banks, and imposing tougher ‘bank-like’ capitalisation, governance and monitoring norms for the largest players and those which could pose a systemic risk due to the nature of their operations.
  • A top tier has been envisaged with even more scrutiny, but the RBI wants to ideally use this approach only when a certain large player poses ‘extreme risks’. Given the banking sector’s own woes over the past two years (PMC Bank, Yes Bank, Lakshmi Vilas Bank), a holistic reboot of the oversight mechanism for NBFCs and banks is critical to retain confidence and maintain financial stability which central bank Governor Shaktikanta Das has termed a ‘public good’.
  • It is hoped that the blueprint for the regulation of NBFCs which can lend for activities banks often do not support, be it micro-loans or infrastructure projects, is formalised soon.
  • This would ensure the fledgling economic recovery is not hampered by funding constraints.

Source: TH

SpaceX creates new world record after launching 143 satellites on a single rocket

GS-III : S&T Space

SpaceX creates a new world record after launching 143 satellites on a single rocket

SpaceX, an aerospace company, has beaten the record of the Indian Space Research Organisation- ISRO where it deployed 104 satellites in February 2017 in a single launch. The reusable rocket launched 143 satellites to space which are part of the SmallSat Rideshare program of SpaceX from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Source: HT

Padma Awards 2021

GS-I : Art and Culture Awards & Honours

Padma Awards 2021

On the evening of 72nd Republic Day, India honoured 119 people from the diverse fields with the Padma Awards.


  • These awards are conferred by the President of India at ceremonial functions at Rashtrapati Bhawan..
  • It also includes 10 persons from the category of Foreigners or NRI or PIO or OCI,16 Posthumous awardees and 1 transgender awardee.
  • Shri Ram Vilas Paswan has conferred the award (Posthumous) in Public Affairs Bihar category.

Padma Awards

  • It is one of the highest civilian Awards of the country.
  • This award is given in three categories namely, the Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri.
  • It is given in various disciplines and fields of activities including art, public affairs, social work, Trade and industry, science and engineering, medicine, literature, education, sports and civil service.

Padma Vibhushan

  • It is the second-highest civilian award of the Republic of India.
  • The award was Instituted on January 2, 1954.
  • This award is given for “exceptional and distinguished service”.
  • It does not differentiate between race, occupation, position, or sex.
  • The award is given for exceptional and distinguished service.
  • Satyendra Nath Bose, Zakir Hussain, Balasaheb Gangadhar Kher, and Nand Lal Bose were among the first recipient of the award in 1954.
  • In the year 2021, this award was given to:
  1. Shri Shinzo Abe – Public Affairs – Japan
  2. Shri S P Balasubramaniam (Posthumous) – Art – Tamil Nadu
  3. Shri Sudarshan Sahoo – Art – Odisha
  4. Belle Monappa Hegde – Medicine – Karnataka
  5. Shri B. B. Lal Others – Archaeology – Delhi
  6. Shri Narinder Singh Kapany (Posthumous) – Science and Engineering – United States of America
  7. Maulana Wahiduddin Khan – Others – Spiritualism – Delhi

Padma Bhushan

  • It is the third-highest civilian award in India.
  • The award is preceded by the Bharat Ratna & Padma Vibhushan while followed by the Padma Shri.

Padma Shri

  • It is the fourth-highest civilian award in India after Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan.

Source: PIB

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