INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
1. PM LAUNCHED 5 INITIATIVES UNDER NEP 2020
THE CONTEXT: PM addressing the inauguration of a 10-day Shikshak Parv, rolled out five initiatives as part of the implementation of the National Education Policy. The theme of the ‘Shikshak Parv-2021′ is “Quality and Sustainable schools: Learning from schools in India.”
- A 10,000-word Indian Sign Language Dictionary (audio and text embedded sign language video for the hearing impaired).
- A talking books project for visually challenged students.
- A teacher training programme for early childhood education (NISHTHA teachers’ training programme for NIPUN Bharat)
- A standards setting authority for the Central Board of Secondary Education (School Quality Assurance and Assessment Framework of CBSE).
- The Vidyanjali 2.0 portal to facilitate private donors, corporate social responsibility contributions and volunteering activities.
ABOUT VIDYANJALI 2.0
- Vidyanjali 2.0 is an amalgamation of the words Vidya meaning “correct knowledge” or “clarity” and Anjali meaning “an offering with both hands” in Sanskrit language.
- Vidyanjali 2.0 is an initiative taken by the Ministry of Education, Government of India with the aim to strengthen Schools through community and private sector involvement in schools across the country.
- This initiative would connect schools with varied volunteers from the Indian Diaspora namely, young professionals, retired teachers, retired Government officials, retired professionals and many others.
- Vidyanjali has two verticals: “Participate in school Service/Activity” and “Contribution in Assets/ Material/ Equipment” in which volunteer can support and strengthen the government and government aided schools.
2. 37% STUDENTS IN RURAL AREAS NOT STUDYING AT ALL
THE CONTEXT: A survey on learning gaps conducted after schools across the country remained closed due to the pandemic states that only eight per cent children in rural households attended regular online classes.
- The survey called School Children’s Online and Offline Learning (SCHOOL) was conducted in August and was coordinated by economists Jean Drèze, Reetika Khera, Nirali Bakhla and Vipul Paikra with the help of a team of volunteers across states.
- The team conducted the survey on 1,400 school children in underprivileged households across 15 states and UTs — Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
- The report said an “absolutely dismal” picture emerged from the survey.
- It found major discrepancies in the learning levels of children as they did not attend school for a prolonged period. Nearly 42 percent of children in classes 3-5 from rural household were unable to read a single word.
- Children in Grade 2 — 65 percent in urban areas and 77 percent in rural areas could not read more than a few letters.
- Even at the upper-primary level (Grades 6-8), the proportion of children who are able to read fluently is just over half, in both rural and urban areas.
- The report also compared literacy rates of school children with average literacy rate of the same age group from the 2011 population census.
- Among school children, however, literacy rates in the 10-14 age group are as low as 75 percent in urban areas, 67 percent in rural areas, and 61 percent for rural Dalits and Adivasis.
- An overwhelming majority of parents felt that their child’s reading and writing abilities had declined during the lockout.
3. DELEGATION OF FINANCIAL POWERS TO ARMED FORCES
THE CONTEXT: Raksha Mantri released order on Delegation of Financial Powers to Defence Services (DFPDS) 2021, providing enhanced delegation of Revenue Procurement powers to the Armed Forces.
- The DFPDS 2021 aims to empower field formations; focus on operational preparedness; promote ease of doing business and enhance jointness among the Services.
- The enhanced delegation of Financial Powers to functionaries in Service Headquarters and lower formations would result in quicker decision making at all levels leading to better planning and operational preparedness of the Services in a quicker time frame and optimum utilisation of resources.
- The primary focus of the enhanced delegation of financial powers is to empower Field Commanders and below to procure equipment/war-like stores in a speedy manner for urgent operational necessities and meeting essential sustenance requirements. Last such enhancement at all levels for the Defence Services was done in 2016.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
4. THREE NEW HEATWAVE HOTSPOTS IN INDIA
THE CONTEXT: North-Western, Central, and further to south-central region of India are the new hotspot of intense heatwave events over the past half-century, said a study which found an increase in deadly Indian heat waves in recent years.
- The study also highlights the need for developing effective heat action plans in the three heatwave hotspot regions with a focus on different vulnerabilities among the inhabitants.
- The study showed a shift in the Spatio-temporal trend of HW events from the eastern region of Gangetic West Bengal and Bihar to North-Western, Central and further to south-central region of India.
- The research also observed an alarming southward expansion and a spatial surge in SHW events in the last few decades that may put a greater population at additional risk of heat stress in a region already characterized by low Diurnal temperature range (DTR), or the difference between the maximum and minimum temperatures within one day and high humidity. Importantly, the HW/SHW events were found to be positively correlated with mortality in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, highlighting that human health is highly susceptible to severe heatwave disasters.
- With an ever-increasing extreme-temperature threshold, a heat resilient future is the need of the hour. Dense population with an intensive outdoor work culture calls for an equitable heat resilient mitigation and adaptation strategies covering each section of the society depending on their vulnerability.
- The study highlights the need for developing effective heat action plans in the three heatwave hotspot regions.
5. 13TH BRICS SUMMIT
THE CONTEXT: As part of India’s ongoing Chairship of BRICS in 2021, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will chair the 13th BRICS Summit on 9 September 2021 in virtual format.
- The theme for the Summit is ‘BRICS@15: Intra-BRICS cooperation for continuity, consolidation and consensus’. India had outlined four priority areas for its Chairship.
- These are Reform of the Multilateral System, Counter Terrorism, Using Digital and Technological Tools for achieving SDGs and Enhancing People to People exchanges. In addition to these areas, the leaders will also exchange views on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other current global and regional issues.
- This is the second time Prime Minister Modi will be chairing the BRICS Summit. Earlier he had chaired the Goa Summit in 2016.
- The Indian Chairship of BRICS this year coincides with the fifteenth anniversary of BRICS, as reflected in the theme for the Summit.
6. MULLAH AKHUND TO HEAD INTERIM TALIBAN GOVERNMENT
THE CONTEXT: Taliban veteran and head of the Shura council Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund would serve as its acting Prime Minister.
- Mullah Akhund had served as Deputy ForeignMinister under the earlier Taliban regime and is on a UN blacklist.
- The position of Interior Minister was given to Sirajuddin Haqqani.
- The new government would be an interim government.
ABOUT MULLAH HASAN AKHUND
- He has been an influential figure in Afghanistan since the inception of the militant group in the 1990s. But unlike other Taliban leaders from that period, he was not involved in the Soviet-Afghan war of the 1980s.
- He is seen much more as a religious influence in the Taliban.
- He served on the Taliban’s shura councils, the traditional decision-making body made up of religious scholars and mullahs — an honorific given to those trained in Islamic theology.
- Akhund is probably best known as one of the architects of the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, the giant cliff statues destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.
- Initially, Omar had no intention of destroying the statues. But the Taliban founder was angered at seeing conservation money being made available for the UNESCO world heritage site while failing to secure humanitarian aid from the United Nations for Afghanistan. As such, Omar sought out the advice of his shura, and Akhund was part of the council that ordered the destruction of the sixth-century statues.
- Akhund held a political role in the Taliban government of the 1990s, serving as foreign minister; however, his importance lies more in the development of the group’s religious identity. He, like Mullah Omar, was schooled in a brand of strict Islamist ideology, known as Deobandism.
- After the Taliban was ousted from Afghanistan in 2001, Akhund remained an influential presence, operating mostly from exile in Pakistan. From there he would give spiritual and religious guidance to the Taliban throughout the 2000s and 2010s. In this role, he provided the ideological justification for the ongoing insurgency against the United States and the U.S.- backed Afghan government.
- Today, there are broadly two factions in the Taliban — a military wing that carries out the day-to-day campaigns, and a conservative religious elite grounded in Deobandism that acts as its political wing. Mullah Akhund aligns very much with the religious faction of the Taliban.
Q1. Which of the following initiative aims to strengthen schools through community and private sector involvement in government and government aided schools?
- Vidyanjali 2.0
ANSWER FOR SEPTEMBER 04, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS (REFER RELEVANT ARTICLE)
- Statement 1 is incorrect: Manda Buffalo is unique breed of buffalo found in the Eastern Ghats and plateau of Koraput region of Odisha.
- Statement 2 is correct: It is resistant to parasitic infections, less prone to diseases and can thrive on modest resources.