1. RBI WITHDRAW 2000 NOTES FROM CIRCULATION
TAGS: GS 3: ECONOMY
THE CONTEXT: Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to withdraw the Rs 2000 denomination banknotes from circulation, but existing notes will continue to be legal tender.
- The Rs 2000 note was introduced in November 2016 under Section 24(1) of The RBI Act, 1934, primarily with the objective of meeting the currency requirement of the economy expeditiously after the legal tender status of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes was withdrawn.
- With the fulfilment of that objective, and once notes of other denominations were available in adequate quantities, the printing of Rs 2000 notes was stopped in 2018-19.
- This denomination is no longer commonly used for transactions besides, there is adequate stock of banknotes in other denominations to meet currency requirements.
- In pursuance of the ‘Clean Note Policy’ of the Reserve Bank of India, it has been decided to withdraw the Rs 2000 denomination banknotes from circulation.
Clean Note Policy:
- Clean Note Policy seeks to give the public good-quality currency notes and coins with better security features, while soiled notes are withdrawn out of circulation.
- The RBI had earlier decided to withdraw from circulation all banknotes issued prior to 2005 as they have fewer security features as compared to banknotes printed after 2005.
- However, the notes issued before 2005 continue to be legal tender. They have only been withdrawn from circulation in conformity with the standard international practice of not having notes of multiple series in circulation at the same time.
What is Legal tender?
- Legal tender refers to a form of currency that can be in the form of a coin or a banknote that is recognised by law as an acceptable means for settling debts or obligations.
- The Government of India issues coins under Section 6 of The Coinage Act, 2011, which are considered legal tender for making payments or settling accounts, provided that the coins are undamaged and meet the prescribed weight requirements.
- Similarly, banknotes issued by the Reserve Bank of India, such as Rs 2, Rs 5, Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50, Rs 100, Rs 200, Rs 500, and Rs 2000, are legal tender throughout India and can be used for making payments or settling accounts based on the amount stated on the banknote.
- These banknotes are guaranteed by the Central Government, as per the provisions outlined in sub-section (2) of Section 26 of the RBI Act, 1934. Additionally, Rs 1 notes issued by the Government of India are also recognized as legal tender.
Legal Tender status of Rs 2000:
- Rs 2000 banknote will continue to maintain its legal tender status.
- Members of the public can continue to use Rs 2000 banknotes for their transactions and also receive them in payment.
Reserve bank of India:
- The Reserve Bank of India was established in the year 1935 in accordance with the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. The Reserve Bank of India is the central Bank of India entrusted with the multidimensional role.
- It performs important monetary functions from issue of currency note to maintenance of monetary stability in the country.
Some Important Functions of Reserve bank of India:
- Banker to Government: The Reserve Bank of India accepts and makes payment on behalf of Central Government. It carries out its exchange, remittance, management of public debt and other banking functions of the Central Government. The Central Government entrusts its money, remittance, exchange and banking transactions in India with the Reserve Bank of India. It deals in repo or reverse repo.
- Right to Issue Bank note: The Reserve Bank of India has the sole right to issue bank notes in India. The banknotes are legal tender guaranteed by the Central Government. The issue of bank note is conducted by a separate department called issue department. The Central Government on the recommendation of Central Board specifies denomination of bank notes including discontinuance of bank notes. The Central Government approves design, form and material of Bank notes on consideration of recommendations of the Central Board.
- Formulates Banking policy: The Reserve is empowered to formulate banking policy in the interest of the public or depositors banking policy in relation to advances and provide direction on the purpose of the advances, margins to be maintained in a secured advances, the maximum amount of advance may be made, the rate of interest, terms and conditions for advances or guarantees may be given.
- Licensing Authority: The Reserve Bank of India is empowered to grant license to commence banking business in India, including the power to cancel a license granted to a banking company.
- Banker’s Bank: The banks listed in second schedule and non schedule banks shall maintain a cash reserve ratio with the Reserve bank of India with a view to securing the monetary stability in the country. It provides loans and advances in foreign currency to scheduled Banks and to other financial institution. It purchases, sells or discount any bill of exchange or promissory note or makes a loan or advances to schedule bank.
2. RADIOMETRIC DATING
TAGS: GS 3: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
THE CONTEXT: New study shows a way to use calcium-41 the same way carbon-14 has been used in carbon-dating, but with several advantages.
- Since its invention in 1947, carbon dating has revolutionised many fields of science by allowing scientists to estimate the age of an organic material based on how much carbon-14 it contains.
- However, carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,700 years, so the technique can’t determine the age of objects older than around 50,000 years.
- In 1979, scientists suggested using calcium-41, with a half-life of 99,400 years.
- It’s produced when cosmic rays from space smash into calcium atoms in the soil, and is found in the earth’s crust, opening the door to dating fossilised bones and rock.
What is Radiometric Dating?
- When an organic entity is alive, its body keeps absorbing and losing carbon-14 atoms. When it dies, this process stops and the extant carbon-14 starts to decay away.
- Using the difference between the relative abundance of these atoms in the body and the number that should’ve been there, researchers can estimate when the entity died.
- A significant early issue with carbon dating was to detect carbon-14 atoms, which occur once in around 10 to 12 carbon atoms. Calcium-41 is rarer, occurring once in around 10 to 15 calcium atoms.
- In a new study, Scientist pitched a technique called Atom-Trap Trace Analysis (ATTA) as a solution.
- ATTA is sensitive enough to spot these atoms; specific enough to not confuse them for other similar atoms; and fits on a tabletop.
How does Atom-Trap Trace Analysis (ATTA) work?
- A sample is vaporised in an oven and the atoms in the vapour are laser-cooled and loaded into a cage made of light and magnetic fields.
- As it is known that atom, an electron in one orbital can transition to the next if it’s given a specific amount of energy; then it jumps back by releasing that energy.
- In ATTA, a laser’s frequency is tuned such that it imparts the same energy as required for an electron transition in calcium-41. The electrons absorb and release this energy, revealing the presence of their atoms.
- ATTA’s success is due to innovations with lasers as laser power is a lot higher, and laser frequency control is better.
- ATTA also avoids potassium-41 atoms, which are similar to calcium-41 atoms but lack the same electron transition.
- It can also be modified to study isotopes of some noble gases that have defied techniques developed for carbon-14, such as argon-39, krypton-81, and krypton-85.
What are the applications of ATTA + calcium-41?
- The successful application of ATTA to a calcium isotope now opens the possibility of extension to other metal isotopes.
- It can be used in an earth-science application. In warmer climate, glaciers retreat and allow rock below to accumulate calcium-41. In colder climate, glaciers advance and block the calcium-41 from reaching the rock. Here, ATTA can be used to study how long some rock has been covered by ice.
3. ROW OVER POWER OF THE DELHI LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR UNDER ARTICLE 239AA
TAGS: GS 2: GOVERNANCE
THE CONTEXT: The Centre promulgated an ordinance extending powers to the Delhi Lieutenant Governor over services in the administration of the national capital, which essentially involves the power to transfer and appoint bureaucrats posted to Delhi. Also, Central government moved the Supreme Court filing a review petition against the Court’s judgment that gave control over the subject of administrative services to the Delhi government.
- Central government promulgated an ordinance to create a National Capital Civil Service Authority, empowered to recommend transfers, postings and disciplinary actions relating to all Group A and DANICS officers (Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar, Lakshadweep, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli civil services).
- The Ordinance is aimed at nullifying the effect of the Constitution Bench’s verdict, which gave the Delhi government power over administrative services in the capital.
Article 239AA of the Constitution:
- It was inserted into the Constitution by the 69th Amendment Act, 1991.
- It conferred special status on Delhi following the recommendations of the S Balakrishnan Committee that was set up in 1987 to look into Delhi’s demands for statehood.
- According to this provision, the NCT of Delhi will have an administrator and a Legislative Assembly.
- Legislative Assembly, “shall have the power to make laws for the whole or any part of the NCT with respect to any of the matters in the State List or Concurrent List in so far as any such matter is applicable to Union territories,” except on the subjects of police, public order, and land.
Supreme Court about Article 239AA:
- SC interpreted Article 239AA, the provision that deals with the governance structure of Delhi, that underlines principles of federalism, participatory democracy, and collective responsibility.
- Two Constitution Benches of the Supreme Court, in July 2018 and May 2023, have dealt with the issue of the powers of the Delhi government. Both of these judgments involve the interpretation of Article 239AA of the Constitution, which deals with the governance structure of the national capital.
- In the majority ruling in 2018, the Constitution bench held that although Delhi could not be accorded the status of a state, the concept of federalism would still apply to it.
- The 2018 ruling said that with the introduction of Article 239AA in the Constitution, Parliament envisaged a “representative form of Government” for Delhi while seeking to provide a directly elected Legislative Assembly with legislative powers over matters within the State List and the Concurrent List. It also sought to mandate the Lieutenant Governor to act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, except when he decides to refer the matter to the President for a final decision.
- The dispute over whether the Lieutenant Governor or the Chief Minister would have powers over these administrative services in Delhi went to the Supreme Court and a judgment was delivered recently.
- The ruling on May 5 places three constitutional principles – representative democracy, federalism and accountability – to an elected government within the interpretation of Article 239AA.
- The Bench in 2023 held that NCTD (Delhi), just like other states, represents the representative form of government”. However, it outlined that “the involvement of the Union of India in the administration of NCTD is limited by constitutional provisions, and any further expansion would be contrary to the constitutional scheme of governance.
- Constitution, under Article 137, gives the Supreme Court the power to review any of its judgments or orders.
- The court has the power to review its rulings to correct a “patent error” and not “minor mistakes of inconsequential import”.
- It is not necessary that only parties to a case can seek a review of the judgment on it. As per the Civil Procedure Code and the Supreme Court Rules, any person aggrieved by a ruling can seek a review.
- As per 1996 rules framed by the Supreme Court, a review petition must be filed within 30 days of the date of judgment or order.
In a 2013 ruling, the Supreme Court itself laid down three grounds for seeking a review of a verdict it has delivered:
- The discovery of new and important matter or evidence which, after the exercise of due diligence, was not within the knowledge of the petitioner or could not be produced by him
- Mistake or error apparent on the face of the record
- Any other sufficient reason. In subsequent rulings, the court specified that “any sufficient reason” means a reason that is comparable to the other two grounds.
4. STARS PROGRAM
TAGS: PRELIMS PERSPECTIVE
THE CONTEXT: Ministry of Education and World Bank organized a one of its kind workshop on School-to-Work Transition under the STARS Program.
Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) Project
- It was approved in October 2020 and it became effective on 23rd February 2021 for a period of five years i.e. up to FY 2024-25.
- It builds on the partnership between India and the World Bank for strengthening public school education and to support the country’s goal of providing ‘Education for All’.
- STARS project would be implemented as a new Centrally Sponsored Scheme under Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education.
- The STARS Project is being implemented in six identified States viz. Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala.
- The STARS Program is carved out of Samagra Shiksha, with a focus on those elements of the scheme that will most directly support school education enhancement.
- It seeks to support the states in developing, implementing, evaluating and improving interventions with direct linkages to improved education outcomes and school to work transition strategies for improved labour market outcomes.
- The overall focus and components of the STARS project are aligned with the objectives of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 of Quality Based Learning Outcomes.
- The Project envisions improving the overall monitoring and measurement activities in the Indian School Education System through interventions in selected states.
- The project shifts focus from the provision of inputs and maintaining of outputs to actual outcomes by linking the receipt and disbursement of funds to these outcomes.
- The STARS project also aims to focus on initiatives of PM e-Vidya, Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Mission and National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.
The STARS Project has two major components:
At the national level, the project envisages the following interventions which will benefit all states and UTs:
- To strengthen MOE’s national data systems to capture robust and authentic data on retention, transition and completion rates of students.
- To support MOE in improving states PGI scores by incentivizing states governance reform agenda through SIG (State Incentive Grants).
- To support the strengthening of learning assessment systems.
- To support MOE’s efforts to establish a National Assessment Center (PARAKH). Among the tasks of such a center would be to leverage the experiences of states selected for the operation by collecting, curating and sharing these experiences with other states through online portals (e.g. Shagun and DIKSHA), social and other media engagement, technical workshops, state visits and conferences.
At the State level, the project envisages:
- Strengthening Early Childhood Education and Foundational Learning
- Improving Learning Assessment Systems
- Strengthening classroom instruction and remediation through teacher development and school leadership
- Governance and Decentralized Management for Improved Service Delivery.
- Strengthening Vocational education in schools through mainstreaming, career guidance and counselling, internships and coverage of out of school children
Some of the measurable outcomes of the project:
- Increase in students achieving minimum proficiency in grade 3 language in selected states
- Improvement in secondary school completion rate
- Improvement in governance index scores
- Strengthened learning assessment systems
- Partnerships developed to facilitate cross-learning between states
- Strengthened school management by training of Head Teachers and Principals for improved education service delivery.
- It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme launched in 2018 under Ministry of Education.
- It is an overarching programme for the school education sector extending from pre-school to class 12 has been, therefore, prepared with the broader goal of improving school effectiveness measured in terms of equal opportunities for schooling and equitable learning outcomes.
- It subsumes the three erstwhile Schemes of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE).
- The major objectives of the Scheme:
- provision of quality education and enhancing learning outcomes of students
- Bridging Social and Gender Gaps in School Education
- Ensuring equity and inclusion at all levels of school education; Ensuring minimum standards in schooling provisions
- Promoting Vocationalisation of education; Support States in implementation of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009
- Strengthening and up-gradation of SCERTs/State Institutes of Education and DIET as a nodal agencies for teacher training.
5. ELECTION AND AIRWAVES
TAGS: GS 2: ELECTIONS
THE CONTEXT: In the recently-concluded Karnataka Assembly elections, political parties were provided free airtime on public broadcasters, All India Radio (Akashvani) and Doordarshan during elections.
- The allotment was available to six recognised national parties Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Indian National Congress (INC), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the National People’s Party (NPP), the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and one recognised State party, the Janata Dal (Secular).
- The parties were allocated a base time of 45 minutes and additional slots based on performance in previous polls.
What is the rationale of the scheme?
- It is available to both national and recognised State parties.
- The facility to provide free airtime for political parties during elections was given statutory basis through the 2003 amendment to the Representation of People Act, 1951.
- The Supreme Court, in its famed judgment (The Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting vs Cricket Association of Bengal and ANR, 1995), held that airwaves are public property, and its use should serve the greater public good.
Working of the scheme:
- Time vouchers are distributed by a lottery system by the Election Commission in a transparent process to obviate any preferential treatment in getting primetime slots.
- The transcripts of political parties are vetted to ensure that they adhere to relevant codes.
- These codes proscribe any content which are inter alia critical of other countries, attack religions or other communities or incites violence and personal attacks.
- In case of any disagreements over the content of the script as vetted by the public broadcaster, it is referred to an Apex Committee comprising members from Akashvani and DD whose decision is final.
- The guidelines by the Election Commission of India (ECI) also require that a maximum of two panel discussions are also aired by Akashvani and DD.
- Since 1998, national and state parties have been getting a minimum of 45 minutes’ airtime each on DD and AIR channels that cover the area where elections are due, and additional time according to their performance in the preceding poll.
- This is spread out in a maximum of 15-minute slots per session and continues for the period between the last day of filing nominations and the end of the campaign. This is paid for by the public exchequer. The time given to parties was doubled before the Assembly polls last year to promote virtual campaigning.
- The regulations on party broadcasts on public frequencies disallow
- a) Criticism of other countries
- b) Attack on religions or communities
- c) Anything obscene or defamatory
- d) Incitement of violence
- e) Anything amounting to contempt of court
- f) Aspersion against the integrity of the President and Judiciary
- g) Anything affecting the unity, sovereignty and integrity of the Nation
- h) Any criticism by name of any person.
Comparison around the World:
- Elections being the lifeblood of a democracy, the misuse or abuse of airwaves to gain unfair electoral advantage is a key regulatory apprehension of governments around the world.
- In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates the electronic media in the country, devised the fairness doctrine to keep electioneering on the airwaves equitable. The now defunct fairness doctrine placed a positive obligation on broadcasters who carry political content of one candidate on its programme to extend the same to another candidate in the electoral fray.
- In the U.K., political parties are allocated designated slots by Parliament, called the party political broadcasts (PPBs) to convey important political information to the people. The British Communication watchdog, Ofcom, is responsible for ensuring that PPBs are included in every licensed public service television channel and commercial radio services.