LIST OF NEWSPAPERS COVERED
ASIAN AGEBUSINESS STANDARDDECCAN HERALDECONOMIC TIMESFINANCIAL EXPRESSHINDUHINDUSTAN TIMESINDIAN EXPRESSSTATESMANTELEGRAPHTRIBUNE
BACKWEARD CLASSES 3-4BLACK MONEY 5-9CIVIL SERVICE 10-13 DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION 14-16EDUCATION 17-22ELECTIONS 23EMINENT PERSONALITIES 24-29EMPLOYMENT 30-31ENVIRONMENT 32HEALTH SERVICES 33JUDICIARY 34-36LABOUR 37-38LIBRARIES 39-43MONEY 44-45NATIONAL ANTHEM 46-53NONGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS 54 POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT 55-59RAILWAYS 60-61WATER SUPPLY 62
DECCAN HERALD, DEC 6, 2016
State plan to raise quota illogical
The Karnataka governments proposal to increase the caste-based total reservation in government jobs and educational institutions from the existing 50% to 70% is ill-conceived, illogical and, on the face of it, politically motivated. Speaking at the Belagavi session of the state legislature, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announced that his government will bring forward a new legislation to enhance reservation for various categories of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes based on the findings of the socio-economic census conducted by the government. Though the findings are yet to be made public some leaked information on the reported population figures of various communities have already created a huge controversy the chief minister said the government will move forward on increasing the reservation after tabling the report in the legislature by the end of December or January 2017.
After the Supreme Courts judgment in the Indira Sawhney vs Union of India case in 1992, it has been settled for almost a quarter century that the total reservation shall not exceed 50% and it has been universally accepted across the country, except in Tamil Nadu, whose case is under litigation. Attempts by several state governments to increase the reservation quota by including Muslims and others, have been thwarted by various high courts and the apex court itself. Siddaramaiah did mention the special provision under which the neighbouring Tamil Nadu set the reservation at 69% and wants the Centre to similarly bring in a Constitutional amendment to help Karnataka. The argument is deeply flawed because when the Centre yielded to Tamil Nadus pressure in 1994 to amend the Constitution, it was done so under the 9th Schedule circumventing fundamental principles of equality, and the issue is still before the SC. Secondly, Karnatakas contention that it wants to increase the reservation based on new figures of population being tabulated under the socio-economic survey, also fails the test of law as the SC has clearly held in the Indira Sawhney case that there can be only adequate representation and not proportional representation while fixing quotas for different communities.
Considering the fact that increasing reservation is legally untenable at this point of time and that the NDA government is also unlikely to heed Karnatakas request to bring forward such an amendment as such, requests from several other states have already been rejected it appears that the Siddaramaiah government, by raking up this issue, is trying to make a political statement before the Assembly elections due in about 16 months. Instead of getting into this misadventure, the state government would do well to ensure that the existing quotas are fully utilised for the benefit of reserved classes.
ECONOMIC TIMES, DEC 1, 2016
Govt approves inclusion of 15 new castes in Central OBC list
NCBC examines requests for inclusion of any class of citizens as a backward class in the lists and hear complaints of over-inclusion or under-inclusion of any backward class in such lists. Its advice is binding upon the Central Government.
NEW DELHI: The Government today approved inclusion of 15 new castes and modification in 13 other castes in the Central list of Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the proposal.
The National Commission of Backward Classes (NCBC) had recommended a total of 28 changes in respect of 8 states --- Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand.
Out of these 28, 15 were new entries, 9 were synonyms or sub-castes of the castes which were already in the list and 4 were corrections.
"The changes will enable the persons belonging to these castes/communities to avail the benefits of reservation in Government services and posts as well as in Central Educational Institutions as per the existing policy," according to an official statement.
They will also become eligible for benefit under the various welfare schemes, scholarships etc. being administered by the Central Government, which are at present available to the persons belonging to the Other Backward Classes, it added.
On the NCBC recommendation, a total of 2479 Entries for inclusion, including its synonyms, sub-castes, etc. in the Central List of OBCs have been notified in 25 States and 6 Union
The last such notification was issued till September, 2016.
NCBC examines requests for inclusion of any class of citizens as a backward class in the lists and hear complaints of over-inclusion or under-inclusion of any backward class in such lists. Its advice is binding upon the Central Government.
Meanwhile, the Centre is already considering to relax the creamy layer norms for the OBC and note in this regard was already under consideration.
TRIBUNE, DEC 2, 2016
50 days to salvation
Cashless payday, broken promises for many
It is a rare salaried family man who still has money left in his pocket in the last week of the month. Many like to withdraw all of their salary on the day it becomes available in the bank; it gives a certain degree of confidence, and the sky seems bluer for the first week. That would explain why Radio Ceylon of yore would on the first of every month make the exception of playing Kishore Kumars Din hai suhaana aaj pehli tarikh hai in the last slot of its morning song programme, otherwise reserved for the venerated KL Saigal. And all would wait for the song that brought a smile. Payday and the rustle of cash give a high like none else. Not this December 1.
Out of any notes, old or new, people lined up in the wee hours outside banks and ATMs, which had handed out no money for the previous two days, presumably because they were saving up for the payday. Little did the cashless flock know, many banks would not receive any money, and nor would most of the ATMs. What little was received, vapourised in the first two hours. A contract here stood broken. A workers right to salary for his months labour had been denied. Unlike in Kishore Kumars ditty, the wife would not have her promised movie the coming weekend. The bearer of the note had been refused the promised rupees by the RBI.
The country stands at a threshold. What lies beyond is anyones guess, but the promise is of a nation that shines like gold. Economists have their theories, and people their faith in the elected government both are on test, as is patience. Under attack on various points of the demonetisation scheme, the government has been shifting its goalposts from black money to security to building a cashless economy. All of those are valid aspirations, but what people want desperately right now is a normal payday. And the time sought by none other than the Prime Minister is 50 days.
TELEGRAPH, DEC 1, 2016
Inclusive banking- Delving deeper into the critique of demonetization
On the evening of November 8, I had just reached Mumbai when I heard the news from my wife that 500 and 1,000 rupee notes will no longer be legal tender from the next day. I usually do not carry cash but since I was travelling I had withdrawn four 500 rupee notes from the ATM in case I needed cash. So, here I was, in Mumbai with a wallet whose only value lay in the credit cards in it. Luckily for me, I did not have to use any cash in Mumbai and reached home three days later without any adverse impact because of demonetization. Actually, this demonetization did not affect our household at all since our reason for using cash is because we cannot pay by credit card or cheque. Obviously, this means that all our expenditure in cash occurs when we are buying things, or services, that add up to less than 500 in total.
The government has two stated policy goals: to catch people with black money and to get rid of fake notes in circulation. People have criticized the government's move on three major fronts. The first set of criticisms involves the policy goals: (a) only about 20 per cent of black money is held in cash, the rest in property and other assets like gold (b) the estimated fake notes constitute only 0.025 per cent of the total budget of close to 20,000 billion, that is five billion, a pittance (according to a study by the Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta). The second criticism is that while this may catch or destroy some of the black money accumulated in the past, it does not do anything to stop corruption in the future. Indeed, the introduction of the new 2,000 rupee note, something the government announced along with the demonetization drive, will make it easier to store black money. The suitcase can now carry twice the amount that 1,000 rupee notes could. And, finally, theaam aadmiand aam aurat have been made to go through a lot of pain to convert their current notes into the new ones. Let me delve a bit deeper into these criticisms.
The total size of the black economy, as reported by the chief economist of SBI in a business daily, is estimated at 45,000 billion rupees. If 20 per cent of this is held in cash, as suggested by the critics of this policy, this works out to 9,000 billion rupees. In 1978, when 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000 rupee notes were demonetized, 25 per cent of the notes in circulation did not come back. The current estimate of 20 per cent is actually less than what we had in our last experience with demonetization. Even then, reducing the size of the black economy by 9,000 billion rupees cannot be a bad idea.
Actually, the impact on the size of the black economy will have to be more than this. Holding the black money in property and other real assets is a way to hedge against inflation. But this works only if there are people with black money. Property and assets generated by black money maintain their value only if there are people with enough black money to exchange these for cash. If there are only white purchasers available, the price of property will take a beating and this, too, will shrink the size of the black economy. This was evident in the overnight (closing price on November 8 and opening price on November 9) fall in the price of real-estate stocks. Indeed, according to some reports attributed to the Estate Agents Association of India, one could see a 30 per cent fall in real estate prices. This means more houses will be constructed for people to live in, rather than for investment purposes only, leading to a fall in tenancy rates too.
The ISI estimate of five billion rupees worth of fake currency is negligible in reference to the total size of the Indian economy. This has led many critics of demonetization to describe as hogwash the government's stated goal of removing the fake currency. However, if one believes that a significant part of the fake currency is used to fund terrorism, then this is not a small amount. It is not the total amount but the use being made of the fake notes that is alarming and must be sorted out.
To address the second criticism, one must appreciate the incentive that the government is giving to those who do not want to exchange but deposit their money in the bank. There are enough instances of poor people hoarding their money in cash and not using savings bank accounts. The new policy says that one can deposit as much money as they want into one's bank account provided one can explain how one obtained it and this does not constitute under-reported, or misreported, income. This will encourage poor people to start banking practices. While the Jan Dhan programme created the feasibility of opening bank accounts for the poor, the use of bank accounts by the poor needed a behavioural change in them and this change has been induced by this policy. Remember, these are the same people who accepted prepaid phone payments and have taken to Paytm. To think that they will not be able to handle banking because of illiteracy is elitist. They do not want to go to the bank because bankers treat them badly and with more poor people being forced into banks, bankers will change their behaviour towards them.
More people with bank accounts create a platform for the move towards a cashless economy. A study carried out by the India Development Foundation in 2011 investigated the challenges faced in India in moving towards a cashless economy. This was based on a survey of businesses and consumers who used cash in their daily transactions. The study recommended a number of steps to move India towards a cashless economy. These were based on the so-called MIN approach - mandatory, incentives and network. The essential first step is inclusive banking. The Jan Dhan, as well as the current drive, are incentives to enter the banking system. The DBT (direct benefit transfer) is a mandatory instrument. As more and more people become part of this system, the network effect automatically develops. And that reduces transaction costs and transaction hassles, encouraging more people to use cashless transactions. It is always more difficult to be corrupt in a cashless economy for transactions in such economies tend to leave behind a digital trail.
Finally, there is the criticism that this has adversely affected the informal sector. A large part of the informal sector is unbanked simply because many of the people who drive the informal sector are also those who evade taxes. Think of the small businessman who does not allow credit-card payments, the doctor or lawyer or private tutor who takes fees in cash, and the labour contractor who pays the daily labourer. It would be interesting to know which daily labourer earns 500 or 1,000 rupees a day. They usually do not deal in 500 or 1,000 rupee notes on a daily basis. The same applies to your corner grocery store or the vegetable vendor who comes to your house. Yes, they have a lot of hundred rupee notes but these are all still valid.
There is, however, a big lacuna that still needs to be addressed. All the poor people who are being induced to practise banking must also have the non-cash instruments with them. The government must now ensure that all those with bank accounts possess credit or debit cards. The poor do not usually default on their loans, the Vijay Mallyas do.
The author is Research Director, India Development Foundation
TRIBUNE, DEC 1, 2016
Misery in rural India: The government should listen to its own bureaucrats
If the government thought media was exaggerating the prevailing cash chaos and focusing excessively on urban India, its own officers report has confirmed that the situation is far worse in rural India. A team of 81 Central bureaucrats sent on November 18 to assess the ground-level impact of demonetisation in rural India has pointed to a loss of jobs in farms and factories. Among those badly hit are tiny, small and medium enterprises where cash payments used to be the norm. Handlooms have suffered as cloth sales have declined. In the absence of currency notes of smaller denominations farm produce prices have dipped. The non-operation of cooperative banks has added to farmers worries during Rabi sowing.
The uneven spread of bank branches and ATMs has deprived villagers and daily wagers of whatever limited currency relief that has been rushed to tide over the situation. It is a known fact that rural and semi-urban bank branches cater to more customers than the urban branches do. A geographically large state like Rajasthan has fewer bank branches than Delhi. Given the limited reach of banking, much of rural India relies on cash deals. Media reports say actual or rumours of scarcity have led to the hoarding of 100-rupee note, while the inadequate availability of the new 500-note has also contributed to financial dislocation. Even where the 2000-note is available, it is of limited use since the lower denomination currency needed for change is unavailable.
The net effect is hiring has slowed and reports of retrenchment stand confirmed. Though people in rural India often show greater patience in moments of crisis, their capacity to bear pain is lower than those in urban India. For them it is not just inconvenience, it is a loss of livelihood. Maybe the government should put the national rural job guarantee scheme to greater use, particularly in areas where survival is already at the marginal level. This is callousness foretold. A regime that prides itself on knowing the country and its needs better has been found wanting. Its incompetence and arrogance are spelling misery in rural India.
ECONOMIC TIMES, DEC 2, 2016
LS Secretary General Anoop Mishra gets 1-year extension
"Lok Sabha Secretary Anoop Mishra has been given one-year extension," a source said.
NEW DELHI: Lok Sabha Secretary General Anoop Mishra has been given one-year extension.
Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Mishra was appointed as the Secretary General of the Lok Sabha by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on December 1, 2014 for a period of two years and his term ended yesterday.
The UP-cadre IAS officer of 1978 batch was appointed the Secretary General of the Lok Sabha Secretariat in the rank and status of Cabinet Secretary.
"Lok Sabha Secretary Anoop Mishra has been given one-year extension," a source said.
An accomplished civil servant, Mishra has held several important positions at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh.
He was the Chief Secretary for a year with the overall responsibility of the state administration, superintendence of law and order and developmental and infrastructure schemes in Uttar Pradesh.
He had also held the position of the Chairman of UP State Road Transport Corporation for two years, overseeing its operations and management.
At the Centre, Mishra held, among others, the position of Joint Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, with the responsibility of strategic ministries such as Home, Defence, External Affairs, Atomic Energy and Space and the economic ministries such as Finance, Commerce besides the Planning Commission.
TRIBUNE, DEC 1, 2016
Guvs office returns ordinance on regularising jobs in Punjab
Ruchika M Khanna
Punjab Governor Vijayendrapal Singh Badnore is learnt to have sent back to the government the ordinance on regularising the services of over 27,000 contractual/ad hoc employees.
Sources said the Governor had returned the ordinance owing to technical reasons. An ordinance cannot be issued until the House has been prorogued, they said.
Interestingly, the 14th session of the Vidhan Sabha was prorogued by the Governor yesterday (November 29).
However, to save face, senior officials said the ordinance had been sent again with a request to the Governor to prorogue the House.
The SAD-BJP government is banking on the ordinance to woo contractual employees as also the youth before the Assembly elections.
Earlier, the Governor had refused to give his assent to bringing a money Bill during the special Vidhan Sabha session on November 16.
The government had proposed the Punjab State Ownership, Utilisation and Imposition of Cess on Water Bill, 2016, to seek charges from non-riparian states for sharing Punjabs riverwaters. The government failed to get the Governors nod. Subsequently, two resolutions were passed in the Vidhan Sabha against the construction of the SYL canal.
Even the Punjab Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal Land (Transfer of Property Rights) Bill, sent to the Governors office in March, is yet to be accorded approval. Badnore assumed office in August, but has yet to grant his assent.
The government sought to bring a Bill for regularising services of employees, since it entails an annual financial implication of Rs 2,500 crore (after the two-year probabation).
It had proposed to do so during the November 16 Assembly session. However, several objections were raised by the Personnel Department and the Legal Remembrancer on regularising the services of Group A, B, C and D employees. The Bill was not ready at that time. So the government decided on an ordinance.
HINDUSTAN TIMES, DEC 1, 2016
Govt staff in MP fret over no cash salary payment
MP Mahila Congress workers burn an effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to protest against demonetisation in Bhopal on Wednesday. (Mujeeb Faruqui/ HT photo)
Government employees associations in MP are miffed that the state government did not pay heed to their request for making arrangements to dole out a portion of salary in cash.
According to employees associations, there are approximately 3.45 lakh Class III and IV employees, 2.5 lakh teachers, 2 lakh contractual employees, 1 lakh government-run boards and corporations besides 1.3 lakh class I and II officers in Madhya Pradesh.
MP Class III Employees Association general secretary Laxminarayan Sharma told HT that the associations had written to the chief secretary urging employees be given some cash against their salaries but there was no response from the government.
The central government and even neighbouring Chhattisgarh have decided to give `10,000 each in cash to the employees against their salaries, he said.
The MP government could have followed the suit. But despite written and verbal requests, we didnt get any assurance.
Banks would be overburdened in the next few days, particularly when employees turn up to withdraw money in a large number from their accounts, he added.
Sudhir Nayak of State Secretariat Employees Association said government employees were mentally prepared to endure the sufferings in the national interest.
But if this trend and situation continue for a long time, we will have to think our course of action.
But parliamentary affairs minister Narottam Mihra claimed he was unaware of any such demand raised by the government employees for part payment of salary in cash.
Meanwhile, banks claimed they were geared up to meet the salary rush.
State Bank of India, Madhya Pradesh, public relations officer Udai Bhagwat said the bank has enough cash and employees would not face any inconvenience.
We are not facing any problem The limit is sufficient. This is the salary week yet we havent run out of cash or received any complaint, Narendra Mishra, branch manager of Central Bank of India, said.
I dont know why certain banks are complaining about shortage of cash. We are receiving sufficient cash. There was a shortage in the beginning but now everything is well settled, said Monika Chhatri from Axis bank.
HINDU, DEC 5, 2016
NITI Aayog announces incentives for Collectors
The NITI Aayog will provide incentives to District Collectors for every individual shifting to digital payment mode, its Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant said in a missive on Sunday.
An incentive of Rs. 10 will be provided to District Collectors or DMs or deputy commissioner for every individual who has transited to digital payment mode and has undertaken at least two successful transactions, Mr. Kant said in a letter to Collectors.
Forms of transactions
The transactions should be in either of the following forms: unified payment interface, USSD, Aadhaar-enabled payments, digital wallets, debit cards and prepaid cards. To kick-start the activity, the NITI Aayog will be immediately transferring amounts up to Rs. 5 lakh per district based on population figures, the letter said.
The top ten best performing districts of India will be awarded the Digital Payment Champions of India award and the first 50 panchayats which go cashless will be awarded the Digital Payment Award of Honour by the NITI Aayog, Mr. Kant said.
HINDUSTAN TIMES, DEC 1, 2016
Ghaziabad DM stops salary of 11 top officials over public complaints
The Ghaziabad district magistrate (DM) has ordered holding of November salary of 11 top district officials on alleged laxity shown in redressal of public complaints. The DM has said that the salaries would be released once the pending public complaints are attended to.
The officials who have figured in the midst of the issue are Ghaziabad municipal commissioner, who is a promoted IAS officer, additional district magistrate (city) and three subdivisional magistrates all PCS officers chief medical officer, regional manager, UP pollution control board; project officer, district urban development authority; executive engineer, public works department and project manager, UP state highways authority.
There are 11 officials identified whose salary will be on hold till they complete the disposal of pending public complaints which are received through various modes. Since municipal corporation is an autonomous department, we have written to their bank about the issue, said Nidhi Kesarwani, district magistrate, Ghaziabad.
Municipal commissioner Abdul Samad did not respond to calls. The district receives various public complaints through different modes like chief ministers office, Tehsil Diwas, Janata Darshan, online mode and even from government of India level. The complaints are also reflected on states Integrated Grievance Redressal System (IGRS) portal, the UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadavs initiative.
Officials from pollution board and the chief medical officer said that there are no pending complaints. Acting after directions, the official machinery at municipal corporation was seen disposing of complaints on a war footing. By Wednesday evening, the corporation also held up the November salary of a number of their officials.
We have acted in case of 42 officials and they will be able to withdraw salaries only when they give written certificate that they dont have any pending reference of IGRS. Their salaries will not be credited till then, said DK Sinha, additional municipal commissioner.
According to IGRS figures, a total of nearly 141 online complaints, 173 from public grievance portal, 147 at district headquarters and another 139 received through CM office level were pending till the morning of November 30.
DECCAN HERALD, DEC 5, 2016
IITians with 8.5 CGPA to get direct admissions to PhD programmes
Students of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) securing at least a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 8.5 in BTech will get direct admission to PhD programmes. Such students will be entitled for a fellowship of Rs 60,000 per month for a period of five years at the premier technical institutes from next year. Besides, they will also get a suitable research grant, to cover the expenses like attending international conferences required to complete their research projects, a Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry official said.
The IITs, particularly the seven older ones, are set to increase their PhD intake by at least 20% in the next three years, starting from the academic session of 2017-18. The council of the premier technical institutes agreed to increase the seat intake to one lakh by 2020, particularly at the post-graduate level, accepting a proposal of the HRD ministry. This came at a meeting of the council chaired by HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar in August.
We will increase our intake by 20% over the next three years, particularly the post-graduate level. We will admit more students to the PhD programmes from next year, an official source in IIT Delhi told DH. The institute is considering increasing the number of MTech seats.
We are much keen on increasing PhD seats as the aim is to increase our research output and provide innovative and affordable technological solutions necessary to meet the requirement of our country as well as society, the source added.
The HRD minister has assured the IITs of making a proposal to the government for rolling out a new fellowship scheme to support research scholars. The proposed Prime Minister Research Fellows (PMRFs) programme would seek to support at least 1,000 PhD students every year, the source said.
FINANIAL EXPRESS, DEC 2, 2016
Niti Aayog to revamp UGC for better qualityeducationThe regulatory framework of the University Grants Commission (UGC) will undergo revamp to enhance the quality of higher education in India, the government said on Thursday.
The minister said NITI Aayog along with the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the UGC were assigned the task of finalising a regulatory framework for setting up of 20 world-class institutions. (Source: Express photo)
The regulatory framework of the University Grants Commission (UGC) will undergo revamp to enhance the quality of higher education in India, the government said on Thursday. The NITI Aayog has been assigned to recommend measures for improvement in the regulatory framework of the UGC, Minister of State for Human Resource Development Mahendra Nath Pandey informed the Rajya Sabha.
The objectives of this task are to examine and improve the existing higher education regulatory framework in line with contemporary national and global requirements and to enhance the quality of higher education in India, Pandey said in a written reply to the house.
The minister said NITI Aayog along with the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the UGC were assigned the task of finalising a regulatory framework for setting up of 20 world-class institutions.
The guidelines will suggest the roadmap for implementation of the regulatory framework. The identification/selection of the institutes for world class institutions will be made only after the guidelines and regulations are finalised and notified, he said.
The draft regulations and guidelines for the same have been placed in the public domain for comments, Pandey added.
STATESMAN, DEC 3, 2016
Rights in education
It has been a little over seven years that one of the most comprehensive and radical education measures in modern history was introduced -- the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. The Act envisaged, the creation of an infrastructure at the primary and elementary levels of education that would aim at removing all conceivable hurdles which stood in the way of a childs access to the nearby school.
While the Act has led to significant improvement in terms of enrolment at the primary level, universal enrolment is still a far cry. Governments at the Centre or in most of the states, have failed to fulfil the commitments promised in the Act. Chief among the impediments are the dearth of trained teachers, the general lack of elementary infrastructure across the country, unsuitable transition from the elementary to the secondary level, and poor monitoring of retention of children. To that can be added the fact that since education is on the Concurrent List of the Constitution, the Centre and the states have equal say on how the provisions of the Act are to be implemented. With most states refusing to make a commitment on the share of funds because of resource constraints, a large percentage of the countrys children are yet to benefit from the provisions of the Act.
Glitches have surfaced even in those states that have implemented the Act. These include the problem of admission of underprivileged children in non-government or privately-run neighbourhood schools. The elitist focus persists as does the plight of underprivileged children. There is little or no legal remedy that the child can look forward to. She/he has been denied the benefit of being educated in the neighbourhood school. In the net, a critical provision of the Act has failed to achieve its objective. This has aggravated the divide in society and in terms of quality education.
In contrast, the task of making education universally available to children has been handled with remarkable flexibility and seriousness in most countries of the world, except perhaps the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. The movement to promote universal education has shifted from Right to Education to Rights in Education. And India needs to attain a standard that is at a par with most developing countries of the world.
National-level data over the past two years has thrown up distresing trends. There is a disconnect between enrolment and continuation, with most states showing a near-universal enrolment figure and meagre continuation statistics. This indicates that enrolment incentives are going to waste, resulting in enormous drain of resources. Even the inputs of the proposed New Education Policy, 2016, anticipate a serious crisis. The progress has been sluggish in terms of reducing the number of non-literates. This is a matter of considerable concern. India currently has the largest non-literate population in the world, with the number (above the age of 7) being 282.6 million in 2011. The country is also home to the largest number of young and adult illiterates in the world with the youth literacy rate (15-24 years) and adult literacy rate (15 years and above) being 86.1 per cent and 69.3 per cent respectively in 2011.
To ensure universal, free and quality education is a tall order even in the most developed of countries. In the United States, President Lyndon Johnsons path-breaking Elementary and Secondary Education Act, 1965, which was projected as a direct attack on poverty, had to contend with challenges and impediments... just as our own Right to Education Act. Different priorities of counties, dearth of resources, lack of trained teachers were the factors which almost threatened to reduce the 1965 Act to an ineffectual piece of legislation. However, subsequent administrations were able to pass remedial legislation. School education in America began to reveal its true potential within a decade of the passage of the original Act. Indeed, the talented set in American universities today are products of Johnsons legislation on elementary education and subsequent laws passed by the Reagan and Bush administrations. Even as late as December 2015, the Obama administration fine-tuned the original spirit of the 1965 legislation by incorporating provisions of greater accountability in quality school education. Indeed, the entire administrative chain down to the teacher was made responsible for the quality of education that was imparted.
Regretably, this is a sphere where India lacks adequate flexibility. Our consultative process can be as prolonged as legislative intervention, and the time-lag between consultation, legislation, implementation, feedback and correction are so separated as to dissipate the objectives of the original Act before its benefits reach the targeted group.
Even as we struggle to bring the benefits of the Right to Education Act to our children seven years after its promulgation, UNICEF has recommended a transition of the context -- from right to education to rights in education. This implies that once universal enrolment and retention are attained, the focus should shift to quality and its effectiveness. The consultative paper on the New Education Policy admits for the first time the enormity of the costs of a compromised primary education -- The biggest challenge facing school education relates to the unsatisfactory level of student learning. The findings of the National Achievement Surveys (NAS) covering Grades III, V, VIII and X suggest that learning levels of a significant proportion of students do not measure up to the expected learning levels. Poor quality of learning at the primary and upper primary stages affects learning at the secondary stage. Poor quality of learning at the secondary stage spills over to the college/university years, leading to poor learning outcomes in the higher education sector.
The first national level official education document in independent India has admitted that the quality of school education is suffering from crippling factors. The new National Education Policy would do well to address this critical issue before such poor standards permeate our higher educational institutions to a level from where it would be difficult, if not impossible, to recover.
The writer is an assistant professor in English at Raiganj B.Ed College in West Bengal.
INDIAN EXPRESS, DEC 1, 2016
Tension between DU, teachers bodyescalates
However, it has only made matters worse between the administration and the Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA).
The Delhi University Academic Council meeting, held on Tuesday, was supposed to stamp out confusion on the teachers recruitment process.
However, it has only made matters worse between the administration and the Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA).
Watch what else is making news:
The meeting was called to consider a proposal to adopt a University Grants Commission notification regarding minimum qualification for appointment of teachers and other academic staff.
However, the teachers association rejected the amendment and said it would push thousands of teachers out of jobs, despite them having taught in the university for several years.
The university, however, claimed after the meeting that the contentious amendment had been adopted.
In a media statement, the university said the amendment has been adopted in the academic council meeting in principle and a committee on appointments and promotions will be set up to look into how the appointments will take place.
Calling the universitys declaration a gross misrepresentation of facts, DUTA has now demanded that the university issue a clarification and announce the names of the teachers who will be included in the three-member committee on appointments and promotions.
Teachers demanded that those teaching in ad hoc positions be absorbed in the positions that they are teaching in, based on their experience.
The long-standing impasse over teachers appointments will be further extended if the teachers and the university do not reach an understanding. Of 10,000 teachers in the university, close to 4,000 are working in an ad-hoc capacity.
HINDUSTAN TIMES, DEC 7, 2016
Delhi govt schools to hire retired teachers
Retired school teachers will now be appointed in Delhi government-run schools in case of shortage of teachers or temporary vacancies.
Deputy chief minister and education minister Manish Sisodia on Tuesday said school principals can appoint retired teachers without getting prior approval from the education department.
If there is shortage of teachers in any school, then the principal need not ask the deputy director or send the file to him. Now, the principals will be able to appoint retired teachers of government schools for such vacancies, Sisodia said.
He said the decision has been taken to ensure children do not suffer due to lack of teachers or in case existing teachers go on leave or training.
Sisodia announced the decision during the annual function of a Sarvodaya Vidyalaya in Mayur Vihar Phase I.
It is often difficult to permit teachers to go on leave due to shortage of teaching staff. Appointment of retired teachers as per need will solve this problem, Sisodia said.
Retired TGT and PGT teachers of government schools will have to register themselves on the education departments website if they want to apply for these posts.
They can select a school of their choice, officials said.
The government also plans to hire visiting teachers to meet the shortage.
The policy being worked out by the government will allow principals to hire subject teachers for a period of three months. I will give principals the power to hire teachers for a fixed period.These teachers will act as substitutes for those on leave. But, we have named them visiting teachers, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia told HT.
DECCAN HERALD, DEC 5, 2016
Make election funding transparent
Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently mooted the idea of state funding of elections. It is not a new proposal and has been discussed on different forums in the past. So, another debate on it, as proposed by the prime minister, may not add much to what is already known. State funding of elections means providing public funds to political parties and candidates to contest elections. The main intention is to make it unnecessary for candidates to take money from businessmen or other vested interests. Most of such finance that parties and candidates get is black money and other illicit funds, and therefore, election funding is considered to be a major source and beneficiary of black money. However, state funding of elections is no solution to the problem, though outwardly it may seem to be a way to put an end to the use of big private funds in elections.
Private funding of political parties becomes a problem when the sources of funding are kept secret and when the funds are made up of black money. The remedy is not to go in for public funding but to make private funding transparent. The account books of political parties should be open and clean. For this, the rules for political donations should be changed. At present, parties do not have to disclose the names of those who donate less than Rs 20,000. This is used to channel black money into politics. All donations, big and small, to parties should be accounted for. Unrealistic election expense limits should also be done away with. State funding makes no sense when there is easy availability of funds for political parties. There is no certainty that such funding will stop even when there is state funding. Public resou-rces can be used for better purposes than for an idea of dubious merit.
State funding is difficult to implement when the party system is not very stable and political loyalties are fickle. The criteria that may be used to determine the share of state funds like share of votes, number of seats etc in one election may not be relevant in the next. Most parties have personalised systems of functioning which will not go well with the norms of state spending. The first requirement is for transparency in the funding and expenditure of political parties at every level. There is indirect state funding of elections even now with parties and candidates getting many facilities, subsidies and opportunities for campaigning through the official media. It should also be noted that the Election Commissions view is that the country is not ripe for state funding of elections now.
HINDU, DEC 7, 2016
Adversity brought out the best in Jayalalithaa. As a Chief Minister fighting for the rights of her State, as a politician trying to spring back from electoral defeats, as a woman standing up to sexist taunts in what is still very much a mans world, she was courageous to the point of being adventurist. In her passing, India has lost a leader who played a vital role in the shaping of Tamil Nadu during a crucial phase of the countrys economic development and social progress. It may be true that Jayalalithaa owed her success in politics in no small measure to her film-world association with M.G. Ramachandran, the founder of the AIADMK. Soon after she joined the party, her mentor, in 1983, made her its propaganda secretary. But all that MGR did was to set her on a political career. He did not anoint her his successor, and after his death Jayalalithaa needed to win the battle for his political legacy. This she did by reuniting the two factions of the party, retrieving its election symbol, reviving the alliance with the Congress and, finally, becoming Chief Minister in 1991. She continued with MGRs policies, targeting the weaker sections, the rural peasants and the unorganised workers through food subsidies and social welfare schemes, expanding the AIADMKs reach. Unlike MGR, who lived under the constant shadow of the Centres power to dismiss a State government under Article 356, she had the luxury of doing business with a Congress government at the Centre led by P.V. Narasimha Rao, one dependent on outside support from her party for survival. This allowed her to take a strong stand on issues such as Cauvery, forcing the Centre to toe her line, or at least heed her views. However, towards the end of her first term as Chief Minister, her government became enmeshed in a series of corruption scandals. Her association with V.N. Sasikala, who was perceived by some as functioning as an extra-constitutional authority, alienated sections of her support base. Also, she drove away allies she had struggled to win back following MGRs passing.
Written off after receiving a drubbing in the 1996 Assembly election, losing even her own seat, no one had forecast Jayalalithaa would reinvent her political career so swiftly and effectively. The DMK government, which slapped a slew of corruption cases against her, had possibly thought it was writing her political epitaph, but Jayalalithaa turned the tables by struggling to survive and remain relevant. The haughty aloofness of the years in power was replaced by a refreshingly accommodative nature, enabling her to stitch together a brand new alliance with smaller parties such as the Pattali Makkal Katchi, the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Bharatiya Janata Party for the 1998 Lok Sabha election. The sheer arithmetic of the alliance gave it a majority of the seats, pitchforking Jayalalithaa back into a game that she seemed well out of. At the Central level, her comeback bore a resemblance to the Narasimha Rao years: this time it was the BJP-led government that was wholly dependent on her support for survival. However, Jayalalithaa squandered this opportunity by insisting that the Centre dismiss the DMK government in the State. Evidently, she had not factored in theBommaijudgment of the Supreme Court that had made arbitrary use of Article 356 almost impossible. The end result was the premature dissolution of the Lok Sabha in 1999, and the formation of an unlikely alliance between her arch-rival, the DMK, and her closest ideological ally, the BJP, which eventually defeated the AIADMK-led alliance. Once again, the hard-fought gains of the years in the opposition were frittered away. Without power in either New Delhi or Chennai, Jayalalithaa went back to the old familiar way of building a new alliance in 2001. The Congress and its breakaway group, the Tamil Maanila Congress, which owed its nascence to opposition within the Congress to an alliance with the AIADMK, were now roped in, along with the Left parties, which were fighting the Congress in Kerala. Although the DMK did not suffer majorly from any anti-incumbency sentiment, the AIADMK-led alliance won on the strength of electoral arithmetic. Jayalalithaas propensity to drive away friends was more than matched by her ability to bring together foes.
Her political successes were challenged by legal setbacks. Jayalalithaa was unseated twice: in 2001 the Supreme Court ruled she could not continue as Chief Minister when she stood disqualified from contesting in an election. But she got her conviction overturned and returned as Chief Minister after winning a by-election. In 2014 she was convicted by a trial court in the disproportionate assets case. But she was back as Chief Minister after winning an appeal in the Karnataka High Court. The case is now awaiting a judgment in the Supreme Court following an appeal. Jayalalithaa took ill after one of her most remarkable wins in the 2016 Assembly election, following up on her 2014 Lok Sabha win, both achieved without the benefit of allies, thanks to a divided opposition.
Like MGR before her, Jayalalithaa commanded the unflinching loyalty, even adulation, of her party supporters. From the time she was admitted in hospital, tens of thousands had gathered outside praying for her. The AIADMK enjoys a comfortable majority in the House, and the transition to a government headed by the new leader has been smooth. But Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam now has the unenviable task of holding the party together. Without the political acumen and personal charisma of Jayalalithaa, this will be a tough task.
TELEGRAPH, DEC 6, 2016
Of the oppositional type- Remembering Ambedkar then and now
October 14, 2016, marked the 60th anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar's conversion to Buddhism. The event went unnoticed by the political class, notably by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, the two most powerful men in India, both of whom have in recent months otherwise professed great admiration for Ambedkar. Nor, so far as I could find, did Rahul or Sonia Gandhi, or any of the major regional leaders in India, or indeed any Marxist politician, remember or mark the occasion. That Ambedkar rejected Hinduism was a fact neither the Bharatiya Janata Party nor the Congress would like us to be reminded of; that Ambedkar chose another religion and not atheism is not something the Marxists can acknowledge or appreciate.
Today, December 6, 2016, is the 60th anniversary of Ambedkar's death. One can be certain that, unlike on the anniversary of his conversion to Buddhism, on this occasion many tributes will be offered to Ambedkar, from leaders across the political spectrum, these varying in their sincerity (or lack thereof).
But how was Ambedkar's death received at the time? How did Indian political or thought leaders in 1956 react to the event as it happened? What, if anything, did they say about Ambedkar and his legacy at the very moment he left this earth? This column provides some answers to these questions, based on a reading of some old, fadedmicrofilms of newspapers printed 60 years ago.
Ambedkar died in Delhi in the morning of December 6, 1956. Through the day the tributes kept pouring in. Speaking to Parliament before it adjourned in his memory, the prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, referred to him as "the architect of the Constitution", adding "that no one took greater care and trouble over Constitution-making than Dr. Ambedkar". Turning next to Ambedkar's great interest in the reform of Hindu personal laws, Nehru remarked that he was "happy that he saw that reform in a very large measure carried out, perhaps not in the form of that monumental tome that he had himself drafted, but in separate bits". Above all, said Nehru, Ambedkar would be remembered most "as a person, as a symbol of the revolt against all the oppressive features of Hindu society".
Nehru then turned to the paradox of Ambedkar joining a government led by the Congress, a party he had so long and so bitterly opposed. "When I invited him to join the government," remarked the prime minister, "some people were surprised that I should do so because it was thought his normal activities were of the oppositional type rather than of the governmental type."
Nehru continued: "Nevertheless I felt at that time that he had played a very important part and constructive role in the making of the Constitution. I felt that he could continue to play [an] important constructive role in governmental activity and indeed he did."
The first part of Nehru's tribute was generous, recognizing as it did that Ambedkar symbolized "the revolt against all the oppressive features of Hindu society". However, the second part was patronizing, with the prime minister drawing attention to himself, by speaking of howhewas instrumental in persuading this Opposition and indeed oppositional leader to join his government.
The sources I consulted had no reports of any tributes offered at the time by any leader of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, or of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. They seem to have stayed silent. However, one Hindu conservative who did comment was N.C. Chatterjee of the Hindu Mahasabha, and in terms even more patronizing than Nehru's. Chatterjee called Ambedkar "one of the Greatest Hindu leaders of modern India". Chatterjee spoke of how Hindus like Dayananda Saraswati, Gandhi and Savarkar had "strongly championed the cause of the uplift of Harijan brothers and sisters", adding: "But it was Dr. Ambedkar who gave a new orientation to that movement due to the spontaneous urge of one who was directly afflicted by the terrible handicaps imposed by the blight of untouchability".
The Hindu Mahasabha leader downplayed two major aspects of Ambedkar's opposition to the caste system. First, by seeing it as merely "spontaneous", he ignored the substantial intellectual critique that Ambedkar had offered of the iniquitous and oppressive Hindu social order, in books such as theAnnihilation of Caste. Second, Chatterjee ignored, or perhaps more accurately suppressed, Ambedkar's decisive rejection of Hinduism. To refer to Ambedkar as "one of the Greatest Hindu leaders" was dishonest. From 1935, Ambedkar refused to see himself as a "Hindu", and of course, he died a Buddhist.
Consider next the comments on Ambedkar's death by the president of the republic, Rajendra Prasad. Back in 1949-50, Prasad had bitterly opposed Ambedkar's (and Nehru's) attempts to reform Hindu personal laws. Now, six years later, he sent a message calling Ambedkar "the architect of our Constitution" and a "great personality" in "Indian public life". Meanwhile, the chief minister of Ambedkar's home state, Y.B. Chavan, claimed him as a son of the soil, saying that the death was a great loss "to India generally, and Bombay State in particular". While praising him in anodyne terms, neither the president of Ambedkar's country nor the chief minister of Ambedkar's state paid any attention to the radical, egalitarian legacy that the man had left behind.
A more insightful assessment came from the young socialist leader, Madhu Dandavate. He called Ambedkar "a great scholar, an eminent educationist, the architect of free India's Constitution, a great rebel against social injustice... [and] a dynamic force of social change". I think Ambedkar himself would have approved of the ordering of these achievements; for the likes of Chatterjee and Prasad, and even Nehru, forgot to remember that he was also a considerable scholar. The best tribute to Ambedkar's memory, continued the socialist Dandavate, would be to create "a society free from the evils of casteism".
Ambedkar's body was flown to Bombay by an Indian Airlines plane on the 6th. It lay in "Rajgriha", his home in Dadar Hindu Colony, as people filed in all day long to pay their tributes. The next day, the body was taken in a procession to be cremated by the seashore, the cortge accompanied by a contingent of the Bombay police. More than half the city's textile mills were shut, the workers lining the kerbs to pay homage. A more stunning tribute still was a mass conversion ceremony of Ambedkar's followers and admirers, with some 50,000 of them choosing to become Buddhists on this day.
When, this past October, I wrote in these columns of Ambedkar's conversion to Buddhism I used as my major source the reports in theBombay Chronicle. After Ambedkar died in December, 1956, the same newspaper printed a long, and quite wonderful, assessment of Ambedkar's legacy in an editorial entitled "A Great Son of India". Ambedkar's life, remarked theBombay Chronicle, was "an inspiring example of what a man in the direst of circumstances can achieve by his indomitable courage... and unswerving faith". The paper saluted the many struggles Ambedkar had to undertake to overcome the social disadvantages he was born with. And it also noted the many bouts of ill-health that plagued him in adult life.
TheChroniclementioned Ambedkar's late conversion to Buddhism, something most other memorialists had omitted to speak of. Speaking of his work for the Constitution and for the emancipation of the Untouchables, the paper said that some critics thought he could have achieved all he did without the "volcanic and volatile qualities" he occasionally exhibited. TheChronicleitself thought that the "apparent convolutions and contradictions" in his thinking and personality notwithstanding, "what is supremely significant now is that his influence in ushering a social and economic democracy in this country has been deep and profound".
The editorial in theChroniclewas unfortunately unsigned. It was written by a man who had clearly followed Ambedkar's life and career closely. The tribute ended with a fascinating series of reflections, or perhaps revelations, about his personality. "Though a profound scholar," the paper noted, Ambedkar "had a sense of rustic humour. His rough and rugged exterior concealed many human emotions". He was capable of being moved by the cinema, loved his pet dog dearly (shedding tears when it died), and liked to hear music and draw pictures - indeed, in his last months he was taking violin lessons. In his death, concluded the Chronicle, "India has lost a profound, pugnacious and picturesque personality of a rare kind". And so it had.
Sixty years after his death, the go-to book on Ambedkar remains Dhananjay Keer's biography, first published in the 1950s and many times reprinted since. This is rich in factual detail but altogether devoid of historical analysis. And it is excessively reverential.
In 1996, responding to the rise of Ambedkar to iconic status among Dalits, the conservative commentator, Arun Shourie, wrote a book entitledWorshipping False Gods. It was a crude and tendentious polemic. Then came a series of books that went to the other extreme, turning appreciation into adulation, if not idolatry, by not recognizing a single flaw, a single false step, in Ambedkar's life.
Compared to these one-sided works, theBombay Chronicle's obituary was a model of its kind. It distilled, in a mere thousand words, the main features of Ambedkar's public life and legacy, drawing attention to his personal characteristics, juxtaposing his achievements with his contradictions. What we now need is a full-length biography that shall be as subtle and nuanced, and yet far more comprehensive than a mere newspaper article can be. Ambedkar deserves nothing less.
ECONOMIC TIMES, DEC 2, 2016
1% central job and education quota for mentally impaired
By Nidhi Sharma
A Group of Ministers had examined the issue in detail whether jobs could be entrusted to persons with mental illness. The matter was then referred to Prime Ministers Office, which also took independent views from medical and disability experts.
NEW DELHI: Ahead of International Day of Disabled Persons on December 3, the Narendra Modi government has paved the way for a landmark initiative increase in reservation for the differentlyabled from 3% to 4% in public sector jobs and educational institutions.
For the first time, the government would reserve jobs for persons with intellectual disability and mental illness. The government would introduce the Right of Persons with Disabilities Bill in Rajya Sabha on Friday a day before the International Day.
This would end a three-year wait for the Bill, which increases the number of disabilities from 7 to 21. The biggest initiative is increase in reservation for jobs and educational institutions.
So far, jobs and places in educational institutions were reserved for three categories of disabilities hearing, visually and orthopaedically impaired and orthopaedically impaired.
The three categories each got 1% reservation totaling up to 3%. Now another percentage point has been added opening up jobs and educational institutions for other categories including mental illness, intellectual disability and cerebral palsy.
The government would follow the set procedure of referring the matter to a committee, which would identify certain jobs that can be reserved for persons with intellectual disability.
A senior official told ET, There are several repetitive jobs, like in a laundry, which persons with intellectual disabilities do very well. These will be identified. The move to reserve jobs for people with intellectual disabilities comes after much debate within the government.
AGroup of Ministers had examined the issue in detail whether jobs could be entrusted to persons with mental illness. The matter was then referred to Prime Ministers Office, which also took independent views from medical and disability experts.
The final view was in favour of reserving jobs for them. The government is hoping to get political support for the Bill as both Houses are facing repeated adjournments. The Bill comes after a three-year delay.
It had been introduced under UPA-II in February 2014 when the government pushed for a 5% quota for thedisabled.
ECONOMIC TIMES, DEC 3, 2016
SC approves Pollution Code for Delhi-NCR with provision for odd-even scheme
The code is classified into four categories, moderate to poor, very poor, severe, very severe or emergency.
NEW DELHI: In an endeavour to put a check on pollution level in the national capital, the Supreme Court on Friday approved a Pollution Code and asserted all concerned agencies to take a note of it.
The code is classified into four categories, moderate to poor, very poor, severe, very severe or emergency.
The Apex Court three judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Tirath Singh Thakur, accepted the submissions made by all parties and asked the Centre to notify the level of four categories of pollution level.
The apex court will hear the matter in the third week of January 2017.
The Supreme Court on Thursday November 18 had directed framing and submission of graded response action plan for various categories of National Air Quality Index.
The apex court also directed the Centre to ascertain harmful effects of petro coke and furnace oil.
Pollution Code is said to have measures such as introduction of odd-even scheme, consider shutting schools, etc if pollution level is very severe.
TRIBUNE, DEC 1, 2016
Govt to issue health cardsContract staff to be hired directly: Vij
Chandigarh: The Haryana Government has decided to directly recruit 50,000 employees on contract basis, instead of through contractors, under its Outsourcing Policy. This was stated by Health Minister Anil Vij here on Wednesday. He said the employees would be recruited to fill up vacant posts in different departments. TNS
The Haryana Government has decided to issue computerised health cards containing health data to its 2.5 crore residents with unique identification (UID).
Health Minister Anil Vij said all essential tests of each individual would be conducted, the test reports entered into the computer and uploaded on the health card . The entire soft data of each individual would be preserved in a central server so that the same could be accessed by any health facility in the state on the basis of unique ID of the person concerned.
He said that the Health Department had invited expression of interest to make health cards. The proposals for expression of interest were to be submitted at the Directorate of Health and Family Welfare, Panchkula by December 15.
Vij said whenever a patient would visit a health facility, his/her record with all details, including old and new investigations, shall be visible to the doctor.
the patient shall have to use an identitfy proof or registration like Aadhaar card or ID proofs as approved by the state government or the resident data base record. The registration shall be linked to Haryana Resident Data Base and Aadhaar and authentication shall be possible from that data base.He said the company or agency or institute would have to arrange Aadhaar-certified biometric machines to make health cards.
HINDUSTAN TIMES, DEC 7, 2016
JS Khehar to be next Chief Justice of India
Chief Justice of India TS Thakur wrote to the government on Tuesday recommending the name of Justice JS Khehar as his successor.
Justice Khehar will be sworn in as the head of Indian judiciary on January 4, 2017, a day after Justice Thakur demits office. First Sikh to be Indias Chief Justice, Justice Khehar will hold the post till August 28, 2017. He will be the 44th CJI.
His appointment comes at a time when the judiciary and executive have failed to arrive at a consensus over the new procedure to appoint judges. Both have been at loggerheads since the October 2015 judgement when the apex court struck down the controversial National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, brought in to end decades-old collegium system where judges appointed judges, an opaque process unique to India.
Justice Khehar headed the five-judge bench that ruled the new law impeached judicial independence. However, the court had asked the government to frame a new memorandum of procedure (MoP) under which judges are hired in consultation with the SC collegium headed by the CJI and comprising the top four judges after him. Justice Khehar is a member of the collegium.
But, the MoP continues to be a bone of contention between the two. Judiciary seems to be opposed to two suggestions the government has made one giving executive the power to decline a recommendation to appoint a judge on the ground of national security and the other to set-up a secretariat that will assist the SC collegium to scrutinize the applicants.
Sources said although the collegium members strongly opposed the last say to the executive, there was a difference on opinion among them on having a secretariat. Its possible that Justice Khehar is able to work out a solution since the new collegium headed by him will consist atleast three judges, including him, who heard the NJAC case and later asked the government to alter the MoP, the source said.
Justice Khehar, who also led the bench that struck down Presidents Rule in Arunachal Pradesh and ordered restoration of the Congress government dismissed by the NDA government, bears the burden to fill vacancies in the top court. SC is working with 24 judges as against the sanctioned strength of 31.
The collegium could not proceed with the appointments since Justice J Chelameswar, one of the members, rebelled against the non-transparency in the system. He refused to participate in the meetings and insisted minutes of discussion be recorded.
Justice Khehar also faces an uphill task to hire judges for various high courts facing severe manpower shortage. But, the immediate challenge Justice Khehar faces is regarding the appointment of 43 judges on which the government had raised objections.
The files were returned to the collegium, which in November first week reiterated its recommendation. However, government sources said the files could be returned again after Justice Khehar takes over as the CJI.
Justice Khehar became a judge with the Punjab and Haryana high court on February 8, 1999. He was elevated as the Chief Justice of Uttarakhand high court on November 29, 2009 and was later transferred to head the Karnataka high court. He was also nominated as a member of the Judges Inquiry Committee against Justice PD Dinakaran, constituted following allegations of corruption against the former judge. Justice Khehar was appointed as a judge to the apex court on September 13, 2011.
BUSINESS STANDARD, DEC 6, 2016
Centre pushes employers to cashless payment of wageProposes to amend law to allow payment of wage through cheque and bank transfer
Central ministries, depts draw plans to go cashless after Modi's directiveTransition from cash to cashless won't be easy30 lakh debit cards under threat? What we know about the security breach so farPM Modi wants $400 bn Amazon-like market place for all govt purchases
In its attempt to move towards acashlesseconomy, the labour ministry Monday proposed to empower state governments to notify industries which can specify employers to pay wages throughchequeor by directly crediting it to the worker'sbankaccount.
At present, an employer is required to obtain a written authorisation from the employee to pay wages either throughchequeor by crediting it into the employee'sbankaccount. The ministry has proposed to amend the Payment ofWageAct 1936 in order to make such payment legal. the Act covers all those employees in certain categories of establishments whosewagedoes not exceed Rs 18,000 per month.
The labour ministry has already sent an advisory to all state governments, labour department offices and concerned ministries asking them to ensure that payment of wages is done through banks only.
The labour ministry feels that payment in cash is the main reason why employees suffer from non-payment of wages. "With the passage of time, technology has gone a sea change. A large section of the employed persons have nowbankaccounts. So, payment of wages only throughchequeor throughbanktransfer in thebankaccount of employed persons will reduce the complaints regarding non-payment or less payment of minimum wages, besides serving the objectives of digital and less cash economy," the ministry said in the proposed amendments.
Sources in the ministry said the approval from cabinet will come by one week after which the act will be enforced.
Incidentally, the proviso relating to "cheques andbankaccounts" to the Section 6 of the Act was inserted in 1976. Following this insertion, the state governments of Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Kerala and Haryana have already made provision in the said Act through state amendments for payment of wages through cheques orbanktransfers.
The finance ministry has advised people not to pay any surcharge or convenience fee asked by shops for payment through debit cards.
In frequently asked questions (FAQs) on debit cards, the ministry informed the public that according to norms by card networks, shops should not ask for any additional amount called surcharge or convenience fee.
"You can refuse to pay an additional amount for use of your card and register a complaint with yourbankon its website or otherwise," FAQs said.
To another question, the ministry said although all banks have waived merchant discount rate (MDR) up to December 31 this year, customers are not required to pay additional amount even after that if demanded by the shopkeeper, as this is to be paid by the shopkeeper.
HINDUSTAN TIMES, DEC 7, 2016
Century-old Delhis Hardayal Library to be restored, 8,000 books to be preserved
As reported by HT last month, the library, which was established in 1862, has not purchased a single book due to the financial crunch. (Saumya Khandelwal//HTPHOTO)
Hurdles in the way of conservation of Delhis oldest library Hardayal Municipal Public Library near Chandni Chowk have been cleared with the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) handing over the task of preparing a detail project report for its restoration to Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
Apart from its cosmetic restoration work, INTACH has also planned preservation of rare books and their digitalisation. The library possesses a rare historical collection of 8, 000 books including Travaile Begvennes Relation of some year printed in 1634, a handwritten Koran by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, and Persian translation of Mahabharata by Abul Raizi.
As reported by HT last month, the library, which was established in 1862, has not purchased a single book due to the financial crunch.
The decision came after much persuasion and intervention of Delhi lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung. With the plaster peeling off, the century-year old building has been crying for urgent attention for long as roof and walls have developed cracks, leading seepages and leakages.
The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has agreed to shell out Rs3 crore for the project. Initially, provision for funds for structural restoration was made. Later, it was decided to take measures to prevent books from further damage. If we dont do the needful to preserve these rare books, no purpose is served. A library is nothing without books, said Shobha Vijender, librarys secretary.
Out of the total budget, Rs50 lakh will be spend on preservation of books and the equal amount has been set aside for their digitalisation.
Vijender said the management body had entrusted the task of preparing a detail project report (DPR) for preservation of the building and the collection of rare books to INTACH.
They are likely to submit the report soon after which the tendering for engaging experts for conservation will start the work. We are expecting the DPR by the end of this month and the entire project may take at least two-three years time for completion, she said, adding, that the agency recently gave a proposal in this regard and the management committee has also given its go ahead.
Though, the library is an autonomous body, its financial requirement is taken care of by the NDMC. The mayor of the corporation is the ex-officio president of the managing committee of the library.
The library committee has also planned a month-long events calendar to celebrate its centennial year. The first round of three days celebration will start from Wednesday in which authors such as Ashok Chakradhar and Vartika Nanda along with Union minister Smriti Irani, Dr Mahesh Sharma and Dr Harsh Vardhan will be present. Rock bank Indian Ocean will also perform at the event scheduled at Shanti Desai Cricket Ground, Kauria Pul, near Chandni Chowk.
Conserving Delhis oldest library
The Hardayal Municipal Public Library possesses a rare historical collection of 8,000 books. The DDA has allotted Rs3 crore for the restoration of the library after a team of experts from INTACH submitted a proposal of a detailed project report highlighting the damages to the structure and books
Proposals for restoration
1.The entire terrace requires water proofing layer and to be covered with ceramic tiles
2.Requirement of khurra, a depression just before the outlet of rain water pipe to avoid seepage
3.Coating of water retardant material on exposed sandstone chajjas
4.Removal of existing paints on outer walls and their repainting after repair
5.Relaying of flooring
6.Installation of air conditioners because a certain temperature is required for preservation of books
7.Adequate lighting arrangement
8.Preservation of rare books and their digitalisation
Oldest books in the library
1.Travaile Begvennes Relation of some year printed in 1634
2.A handwritten Koran by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb
3.Persian translation of Mahabharata by Abul Raizi
2.Jagmohan, former Jammu and Kashmir governor and Union minister
3.TN Chaturvedi, former home secretary and governor of Karnataka
4.Shanti Desai, former Delhi mayor
5.Shaukat Ali Hashmi, freedom fighter
6.Bhai Mahavir, RSS pracharak and former governor of Madhya Pradesh
1.Hardayal Municipal Library was originally set up in 1862 as Lawrence Institute Library in Town Hall, Chandni Chowk
2.It serves as reading club meant for British, who used to donate books to the library
3.In 1902, it was renamed as the Delhi Public Library and shifted to the small building in Kaccha Bagh in the vicinity
4.The library was renamed as Hardinge Municipal Public Library in 1916 when it shifted to a new premises
5.In 1942, an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the library and the erstwhile Municipal Committee
6.In the same year, it was declared an autonomous body with 100% grant-in-aid from the corporation
7.Eventually in 1970, Hardinge Library was renamed as Hardayal Municipal Public Library
8.Viceroy Lord Hardinge was attacked while he was going on an elephant in a procession through Company Bagh. The procession was organised by freedom fighters led by Lala Hardayal. But the viceroy escaped the bomb attack and to commemorate his escape, a committee was formed soon after to construct a building for the Delhi Public Library under the presidentship of Rai Bahadur Lala Sheo Prasad
HINDUSTAN TIMES, DEC 5, 2016
RBI to issue new Rs 20, Rs 50 banknotes, old currency will remain validDocuments posted on the central banks website said the RBI will shortly issue Rs 50 banknotes without an inset letter in both the number panels and will carry the signature of governor Urjit Patel.
The Reserve Bank of India announced on Sunday it will issue new sets of Rs 50 and Rs 20 notes that have carry the year of printing, 2016, on the reverse side of the currency. All older notes will continue to be legal tender.
Documents posted on the central banks website said the RBI will shortly issue Rs 50 banknotes without an inset letter in both the number panels and will carry the signature of governor Urjit Patel.
The Rs 20 banknote will have the inset letter L in both number panels and carry Patels signature.
The security features of both banknotes will continue to be similar to the currency in circulation at present.
The inset letter is considered an additional security feature for a banknote that is said to indicate the press at which the currency denomination has been printed.
The Mahatma Gandhi series of notes are called so because they prominently display Gandhis portrait on the obverse side.
The issuance of new notes comes at a time the country is grappling with a cash crunch following the shock recall of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes three weeks back in a bid to drain illegal cash from the economy.
Millions of people have lined up outside banks and ATMs but have often gone back dissatisfied because authorities have little cash to disburse as 86% of the currency in circulation has been taken off the market.
HINDU, DEC 3, 2016
Making of a legislative court
The Supreme Court order on the national anthem relies exclusively on Fundamental Duties. This is not a coincidence as it closely follows the spirit of the Emergency-era 42nd amendment
TheSupreme Court of India, on November 30, gave an order that the national anthemwill have to be played before feature films at cinema halls all over the country, and that those present in these halls are obliged to stand up to show respect. Similar orders on respecting the national anthem have been delivered by two High Courts in recent years. Indeed such an order is not in any way an aberration in the post-Emergency trajectory of the higher judiciary. A few months back, the Madras High Court mandated that Thirukkural be taught in all schools in Tamil Nadu. Currently, in another case, the Supreme Court is considering making yoga compulsory in schools. While patriotism, education and health may all perhaps be desirable goals, what is common here is the court compulsorily prescribing highly specific modes of pursuing these lofty aims. Such judicial decisions have three other common attributes. First, all such cases are in the PIL (public interest litigation) jurisdiction. Second, they rely on Fundamental Duties and/or an expanded notion of Directive Principles, with a barely concealed contempt for Fundamental Rights. Third, the judges do not feel any need to justify their decisions in legal terms.
Invitation to legislate
While PIL was defined by its dilution oflocus standi, two new ways of conceptualising standing in PIL were initially envisaged: representative standing and citizen standing. The first would be in a case similar to a class-action suit, except with a non-class member representing the larger group. A petitioner under citizen standing, on the other hand, was to stand for the entire citizenry of India rather than individual victims of injustice. While both categories have been present since the inception of PIL, there has been a definite trend away from representative standing towards citizen standing. A PIL of the kind filed by the petitioner Shyam Narayan Chouksey is of the latter kind and is really an invitation to legislate. In fact, an order of this sort could only be made under the PIL jurisdiction, as it enables any citizen to come to court professing public concern on any issue, asking the court to act upon it. It should also not be surprising that Mr. Chouksey has had repeated success with the same judge over the same issue. The impulse to legislate as well as allegations of soliciting petitioners with their pet issues go back to the hallowed days of PIL under Justice P.N. Bhagwati. Passing far-reaching interim orders without any urgency, like in the anthem case, rather than in reasoned judgments is also unexceptional. Being a frankly legislative court, the Supreme Court does not feel the need to give any reasons, as legal scholar Tarunabh Khaitan has argued. Such are the occupational hazards of PIL.
The order of November 30 declares: Be it stated, a time has come, the citizens of the country must realize that they live in a nation and are duty bound to show respect to National Anthem which is the symbol of the Constitutional Patriotism and inherent national quality. It does not allow any different notion or the perception of individual rights, that have individually thought of have no space. The idea is constitutionally impermissible. The only statutory provisions the order relied on are Fundamental Duties. These Duties are, perhaps not coincidentally, currently in vogue even outside the judiciary. Last week, when November 26 was celebrated as Constitution Day for the first time, the exclusive focus of the University Grants Commission (UGC) directive to all universities and colleges for the occasion was to make students and teachers engage in activities propagating the Fundamental Duties.
A radical reshaping
No such Duties, however, existed in the original Constitution adopted on November 26, 1949. These provisions were incorporated by the 42nd amendment to the Constitution during the Emergency. It was passed by a Lok Sabha which had already finished its term of five years. This amendment radically reshaped the Constitution, amending as many as 59 Articles. The legacy of the 42nd amendment was partially undone by later amendments. But it could not be repealed in toto, and much of it remains in the Constitution, most prominent being its insertion of Socialist and Secular in the Preamble. This is unfortunate as the 42nd amendment should be undone in its entirety for the damage it has done to Indian democracy. To take a less conspicuous example, it froze delimitation of Lok Sabha constituencies, the logic being States with higher population increase ought not to be rewarded with more seats. Population control was thus deemed to be a more important principle than one person, one vote. As a result, the average Lok Sabha seat in Rajasthan today represents a much larger population than one in Kerala.
The official aims of the 42nd amendment included giving Directive Principles precedence over those Fundamental Rights that had frustrated the Principles implementation. Indira Gandhi had carried out a campaign for overriding Fundamental Rights with Directive Principles ever since her electoral victory in 1971. Commitment to Directive Principles was precisely what was implied by her infamous call for a committed judiciary during this period. Article 31C was inserted in the Constitution in 1971 through which any law declared to be implementing the socialistic directive principles of Articles 39(b) & 39 (c) could no longer be declared invalid even if they violated Articles 14, 19 or 31. This immunity was extended to all Directive Principles by the 42nd amendment in 1976. A similar immunity was to be granted to laws implementing Fundamental Duties, though this was not carried through. This approach then prevalent was pithily criticised by constitutional lawyer H.M. Seervai: It was an unfounded assumption that the Directive Principles were to secure social justice and the Fundamental Rights were mere selfish individual rights.
An enduring legacy
It is important to understand that this is precisely the implicit logic of the national anthem order this week: pesky Fundamental Rights have to be made subservient to the higher ideals of national integration and/or social revolution. This mode of argument, in which alleged Constitutional goals trump Fundamental Rights, has been embraced by the judiciary and is an enduring legacy of Mrs. Gandhis populism of the 1970s. The apotheosis of Directive Principles was accepted in the judicial discourse of the post-Emergency period. While the 42nd amendment to Article 31C was struck down in 1980, even this judgment mirrored Mrs. Gandhis language in astonishing fashion.
What makes the order on the national anthem so representative of PILs orientation is the fact of its open hostility to the Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Constitution. It has long been a popular misconception that PIL emerged as a corrective to the courts capitulation to violations of civil liberties during the Emergency. In fact, the post-Emergency court has been steadfast in its support of such state lawlessness. In the infamous Habeas Corpus case of 1976, the court had upheld the constitutionality of the draconian Maintenance of Internal Security Act. Far from departing from this dark legacy, the Supreme Court has since repeatedly upheld an entire alphabet soup of repressive statutes from the National Security Act in 1980 to the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in 1997. The populist spirit of the Emergency was never departed from by PIL and is entirely in conformity with its history. The underlying sense of judicial purpose in the post-Emergency period was derived not from entitlements drawn from rights, but from the goals of the Constitution. The courts had implicitly accepted the language of legitimation that Mrs. Gandhis formulation of committed judiciary offered. As Professor Upendra Baxi pointed out in 1980, the court referred to the people more frequently in 1977-79 than in 1950-77.
Even the so-called rights revolution of the post-Emergency court has involved an ever-expanding bunch of unnamed rights flowing from Directive Principles being read into Fundamental Rights. The right to life jurisprudence under Article 21 has been extrapolated to include all kinds of socio-economic rights. The only right it seems to exclude is the literal mandate of Article 21, a negative right against any deprivation of life or personal liberty by the state in an illegal manner. While this Article became a receptacle for all manners of positive rights, the all-important civil right it was meant to embody no longer gets the respect it is due. Rights are meant to lead to remedies, but the proliferation of rights under Article 21 exemplifies what legal scholar Clark Cunningham called Rights without Remedies and Remedies without Rights, that is, bare enunciation of unnamed rights without any chance of enforceability and its converse, grant of reliefs like state compensation as largesse without fixing responsibility.
The courts deference to legislative wisdom in the case of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, abdicating its cl
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