The News Editorial Analysis 21 September 2021 | Shikara Academy

COVID-19 vaccine export to resume| India has to fulfil its supply commitment towards COVAX, says  Health Minister.

Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Mansukh Mandaviya September 20, 2021, announced the resumption of the export of novel corona virus disease (COVID-19) vaccines starting from October 2021.

The Vaccine Maitri policy of the Union government had come in for a lot of flak earlier this year when the second wave of COVID-19 had swept across India.

The government and especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi had come in for criticism as thousands died in the months of April and May.If India-made Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune as ‘Covishield’, as well as ‘Covaxin’ made by Bharat Biotech Intl Ltd had been used to inoculate Indian citizens rather being sent abroad, many lives would been saved, it was felt.

India will resume the export of vaccines under Vaccine Maitri in order to fulfill its commitment towards COVAX, Mandaviya told journalists. This would be in line with India’s motto of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, meaning the whole world is a family, he added.

The surplus supply of vaccines will be used to fulfill India’s commitment towards the world for the collective fight against COVID-19, Mandaviya said.

COVAX is the international vaccine initiative, co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations or CEPI and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The health minister said India’s vaccination drive had been a role model for the world and it was marching ahead with great speed. “We have crossed the 10 million vaccination mark more than four times since the vaccination drive was commenced January 16,” he said.

More than 300 million doses would be produced in October and more than a billion in the next quarter, Mandaviya said.

There were 318,181 active COVID-19 cases as on 8 AM September 20, according to the Union health ministry website.

Some 32,715,105 patients had been discharged since the beginning of the pandemic. There also had been 445,133 deaths. A total of 80, 85, and 68,144 had been vaccinated.

Tamil Nadu waives fee of those admitted to professional courses under 7.5%  quota for govt school students.

The DMK government had recently enacted a law to provide 7.5% reservation in professional courses to students who have studied in government schools from Class VI to XII

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin Monday announced that the state government will absorb the education, hostel and counseling fees of candidates admitted to professional courses under the 7.5 per cent quota set aside for government school students.

At an event organized at Anna University, Stalin handed over allotment letters to 50 candidates who have been admitted to various engineering courses under the quota.

 The endgame: On the new ‘bad bank’

Guarantees for the ‘bad bank’ may help, but not suffice to fix lenders’ woes.

The Government has offered a sovereign guarantee to help the new ‘bad bank’, proposed in this year’s Budget, extract better value from non-performing loans worth ₹2-lakh crore in the banking system. To begin with, the National Asset Reconstruction Company Limited (NARCL) will pitch to take over toxic assets worth ₹90,000 crore that banks have already fully provided for. It will offer a certain value to the lead bank for troubled loans of over ₹500 crore, and pay 15% upfront in cash, and issue the balance as tradable security receipts. The bad bank will then rope in a separate asset manager being incorporated — the India Debt Resolution Company Ltd. (IDRCL) — to add value to the ailing asset, and resolve it as a ‘going concern’ or liquidate it. The guarantee, worth ₹30,600 crore over five years, can only be invoked once an asset is resolved and will cover any shortfall between the face value of the security receipts issued by the NARCL and the actual amount realized from a bad loan. The guarantee fee will be increased each year as a nudge for NARCL and the IDRCL to speed up resolution. After losing precious time dithering over its pros and cons, the Government now believes this approach will be more expeditious to fix the substantial NPAs that persist despite the existing debt recovery mechanisms including the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. Terming banks’ high provisioning for legacy loans a ‘unique opportunity’, the Centre thinks NARCL will also help free up bank personnel to focus on faltering credit growth and spur the economy.

To the extent that the NARCL and IDRCL managements will streamline decisions once a loan is taken over, instead of seeking consensus among multiple lenders as the IBC entails, the idea holds some weight. But banks have already provided for these loans, so this is perhaps a tardy gambit and may not work in jump-starting credit flows unless accompanied by their recapitalization. On the likelihood of the guarantee being invoked, the Finance Ministry has said once the assets are pooled together, ‘it is reasonable to expect’ that many of them will realize more value than NARCL’s acquisition cost.

This may be a tad optimistic. As the Finance Minister herself said, 28 existing private ARCs are hesitant about taking a jab at extracting value from these bad loans, perhaps owing to their size. That begs the question about the calibre of professionals NARCL and the IDRCL would need to outdo private players. The new entities’ ability to get a few good men to deliver more bang for sunk capital would be critical, as would structures to pre-empt a moral hazard that the guarantee poses (of not bothering too much about final realization value). This self-proclaimed endgame of India’s bad loans crisis needs sustained attention for a satisfactory culmination.

‘Fund and faculty’ count in higher education rankings.

The new edition of the National Institutional Ranking Framework highlights the huge gap between the best and the rest.

Sixth edition of National Institutional Ranking Framework for Higher Education (NIRF) It was released by the Union Education Minister on 9 September 2021. Jubilants are those who have made it to the top 100 or have improved their ranking or score by a few notches. Downcasts are those who have slipped in rank or score but are still upbeat as they are in the coveted list. Frustrated, they will already be busy finding their faults. Unranked people can prepare with their excuses and commitment to do better next year. Since NIRF only ranks in the top 100, an estimated 935 universities are, in any case, bound to remain closed. Every higher educational institution in the country goes through a stroke of hope and despair several times a year when the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), Times Higher Education (THE) and Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) rankings are published.

Ranking can offer many advantages. Its signaling effect can help students, faculty and prospective employers to choose institutions for admission, respectively, increasing their chances of securing research funding and targeting campuses for hiring. This can promote competition among institutions, which in turn leads to an overall improvement in their quality. As in the current policy, the ranking leads to privileges such as gaining autonomy, the power to offer open and distance mode programs, and the permission to enter into collaborations with foreign universities.

The most useful purpose that the ranking can serve – but has so far been overlooked – is to identify areas of improvement and then actively work to address those shortcomings and thus ensure quality and promote excellence. Is. This will reduce the huge gap that currently exists between the best and the rest of the higher education institutions. After all, no nation can afford some ‘islands of excellence surrounded by a sea of ​​mediocrity’, which condemns them to eternal inferiority.

Basis of metrics

Universities must offer quality dissemination of knowledge, skills and application orientation, but to achieve excellence, they must contribute significantly to research, publications, patents and innovations. Since the performance of universities cannot be measured by a single indicator, they are evaluated, and ranked on a metric of measure. Much of the research attaches great importance to production, quality and its impact. ARWU ranks universities solely on the basis of their research performance while THEE and QS give 60% and 20% weightage to research, respectively. Following the trend, NIRF gives 30% weightage to Research Performance and Business Practices (RPP).

This, in turn, is measured through the combined metric of publications (PU, 35%), the combined metric of the quality of publications (QP, 35%), IPR and patents (IPR, 15%) and the footprint of projects and business practice. Is. FPPP, 15%).

Analyzed in this context, the top 100 universities of NIRF also present a very disturbing trend which needs immediate attention. nirf 2020 ranking shows that the best university in the country scored 92.16 per cent on research performance. The score for the 10th best university has dropped drastically to 60.52%. And going down, the 20th and 50th best universities scored 50.32% and 28.69% respectively. In the case of the 100th best university, the RPP dropped to 4.35%. It is not difficult to estimate the condition of the remaining 935 universities in the country.

On salary and research

NIRF does not disclose data on the total number of teachers, but reports that it includes total expenditure on salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff and the total number of PhD students enrolled in each of the ranked universities. Using both of the above as a proxy for university size in terms of faculty members and research staff, they were ranked against research and professional practice (RPP) ranks grouped into 10 categories.

The data reveals in no uncertain terms that, on average, the more employees’ salaries are spent, the higher the university’s ranking. For example, the average annual expenditure on salaries of top 10 universities is ₹391.72 crore. In contrast, universities ranked between 41-50 were found to spend only ₹ 119.64 crore on salaries. Expectedly, those ranked at the bottom between 91-100 only spent ₹79.26 crore. Same is the case with researchers. The data shows that the top 10 universities in the NIRF had an average of 2,627 research students, while those ranked between 41-50 had only 1,036 PhD students. Strengthening the trend, universities ranked in the bottom 10 had no more than 165 research scholars. The higher the number of research scholars, the higher the rank of the universities in terms of RPP. What was previously known intuitively is now proved by data.

To conclude, funds and faculty, the two most neglected sectors, are important not only for research performance but also for overall ranking, as both have a high degree of positive correlation.

Furqan Qamar, Professor in Finance at Jamia Millia Islamia, is a former General Secretary of the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) and is also the former Vice Chancellor of the Central University of Himachal Pradesh and the University of Rajasthan.

The end of the doing business rankings: The Ease of Doing Business index was plagued with problems and deserved to be scrapped.

The Ease of Doing Business Index was plagued with problems and deserves to be scrapped.

On 16 September, the World Bank Group canceled its flagship publication, the ‘Doing Business’ report. This report publishes impressive annual rankings of countries Ease of Doing Business (EDB) Index. The group worked on its commissioned study to examine the ethical issues flagged in preparing the 2018 and 2020 editions of the EDB Index. The allegations against International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva are the closest reason for the publication’s cancellation. As chief executive officer of the World Bank in 2018, Georgieva has been accused of pressurizing the internal team working on the Doing Business report to falsely boost China’s rank by distorting underlying data. Similarly, in the case of Saudi Arabia’s rank, reportedly, tensions among others were brought to bear.

How index works

The World Bank’s decision has wide-ranging implications, as the index serves a variety of purposes. Many countries perform better rankings to signal market-friendly policies to attract foreign investment. National leaders often set EDB rank targets. This helps them measure domestic policies against global “best practices” and stuns domestic critics. For example, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted his administration to ensure that India was among the top 50 ranks of the EDB index. Some countries seem to use their political stature to improve their ranks, to bolster their international image, and to influence public opinion (as appears to be the case with China).

The EDB index ranks countries based on the ease of rules designed to make businesses set up and operate. Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto’s theory underlies the index. The theory claims that property rights secured with minimal state intervention are a precondition for a free market to flourish. Management consultants and corporate lawyers collect information to index at the time required for regulatory compliance – by statute (legally) and not in practice (actually) – from select cities and large firms.

Advanced countries usually hold the top ranks of the index. India was at the bottom around 130-140 till 2014. However, it jumped to 63rd position in 2019-20 (see table). Showing the achievement, India has claimed the success of ‘Make in India’ campaign. Major initiatives launched in 2014 sought to increase the share of the manufacturing sector in GDP to 25% (16-17%) and create 100 million additional jobs by 2022 (later revised to 2025).

However, success is absent on the ground (see table). The annual growth rate of GDP formation (at constant prices) fell from 13.1 per cent in 2015-16 to (-) 2.4% in 2019-20. Net FDI inflows as a ratio of GDP have fluctuated around 1.5%. The fixed investment to GDP ratio (at current prices) fell from 30.1% in 2014-15 to 26.9% in 2019-20. Why is there such a difference between a spectacular rise in EDB index rank and economic results?

The underlying principle in an EDB index may be ambiguous, the measurement and data may be faulty, or both. For example, China’s phenomenal economic success, especially its agricultural performance (after the 1978 reforms), is perhaps the most anecdotal evidence showing that a lack of clarity on property rights cannot be a binding constraint in a market economy. What matters is the economic stimulus. Measuring regulatory actions under the index can be difficult and subjective and possibly politically motivated, as evidenced by the controversies surrounding the index. Instances of data manipulation brought to light by an independent investigative agency corroborate such a view.

The EDB index also appears to be sensitive to changes in the underlying method. For example, India’s improved ranking was reportedly the result of a similar effort. When the index was re-estimated with irreversible processes, the needle barely moved. Similarly, Chile’s rank in the EDB index rose sharply when the conservative government was in power and went down when the socialists were ruling, despite no change in policies and procedures. This was reportedly the result of reforms in methodology and had deep political implications. Former World Bank chief economist and later Nobel laureate Paul Romer publicly apologized to Chile’s socialist president for the World Bank’s less-professional conduct in preparing the index.

Dilution of labor regulations

India has weaponized the mandate to improve the ranks in the EDB index to ease labor laws and their enforcement and bring them closer to the free market ideal of ‘hire and fire’. Most states have followed Maharashtra’s administrative order, which defies labor laws by eliminating official labor inspection systems and allowing employers to file self-regulation reports.

The government has drawn up important safety regulations such as annual inspection and certification of industrial boilers for ‘third party’ private agencies (awarded more in violation than in compliance).

Labor Department inspection is no longer mandatory; this is optional only by giving prior notice to the employers. Such abandonment of the government’s responsibility towards workers has reportedly affected industrial relations. An example of this is the workers’ strike at Wistron’s iPhone assembly factory in Karnataka last year. In addition, serious industrial accidents are on the rise, causing damage to life and productive industrial properties. Although comprehensive data is lacking, available evidence indicates a sharp increase in such accidents in recent years, which may be linked to a lack of independent inspections and employers’ self-reporting of labor law compliance.

The decision of the World Bank to cancel its annual publication Doing Business Report is welcome. The investigation into “data irregularities” in the preparation of the EDB index, as brought out by the independent agency, confirms several shortcomings that have now come to light repeatedly over the years. The index appears to be driven to support the ideal of a free market. It has been prepared in scientific disguise and is underpinned by objective methods and data collection. Strong leaders (and motivated officials) seem to have used their position to manipulate the index to suit their political and ideological objectives.

India claimed the success of the Make in India initiative by relying on its ranking on the EDB index without any concrete evidence. It weaponized the index to dilute labor regulations. Delegating law enforcement to employers by self-reporting compliance appears to have led to an increase in industrial unrest and accidents. It probably calls for honest soul-searching to see what havoc a questionable benchmark can wreak.

R Nagaraja is with the Center for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram.

Tackling hate speech| As there are no laws on hate speech as such, India needs a political and pedagogical solution to the menace.

Critical and dissenting voices are important for a vibrant democracy. However, care must be taken to prevent hate speech which is inimical to public order. Evaluate the legal Provisions to deal with hate speech. Are they sufficient?

Topic: Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure

Why the question:

As there are no laws on hate speech as such, India needs a political and pedagogical solution to the menace

Key Demand of the question:

To evaluate the impact of hate speech and the provisions to deal with it, if they are sufficient to tackle it.

Directive word: 

Evaluate – When you are asked to evaluate, you have to pass a sound judgement about the truth of the given statement in the question or the topic based on evidence.  You must appraise the worth of the statement in question. There is scope for forming an opinion here.

Structure of the answer:


Begin by mentioning how democracy thrives on disagreements provided they do not cross the boundaries of civil discourse and constitutional has guaranteed fundamental rights for that.


In the first talk about speech which is contravention to the rights. Briefly mention various types of hate speech.

Next, bring out the legal Provisions to deal with Hate Speech in India – Constitutional provisions, IPC, RPA act, 1951, CrPC and Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955. Evaluate if it is sufficient to tackle hate speech and write about the shortcomings of the above in tackling it and the impact of it.


Suggest a way forward in order to prevent hate speech without stifling dissent.

Western Ghats offer major additions to flora| Botanical Survey of India says 202 species were discovered across the country in 2020.

Botanical Survey of India says 202 new species were discovered across the country in 2020.

The Botanical Survey of India, in its new publication Plant Discoveries 2020 has added 267 new taxa/ species to the country’s flora. The 267 new discoveries include 119 angiosperms; 3 pteridophytes; 5 bryophytes, 44 lichens; 57 fungi, 21 algae and 18 microbes. In 2020, 202 new plant species were discovered across the country and 65 new records were added. With these new discoveries the latest estimate of plant diversity in India stands at 54,733 tax including 21,849 angiosperms, 82 gymnosperms, 1310 Pteridophytes, 2791 bryophytes, 2961 lichens, 15,504 fungi, 8979 algae and 1257 microbes.“The year 2020 will remain marked in global history for the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, with the havoc it caused and still continues in 2021. This overwhelming addition of 267 plant taxa to the Indian Flora, which were discovered as either new species or as new distributional records for India, is nowhere less than the average number of new plant discoveries made from India during the past one and half decade,” said Director of Botanical Survey of India, A.A. Mao.

Among the new discoveries this year, nine new species of balsams (Impatiens) one species of wild banana (Musa pradhanii) were discovered from Darjeeling, one species each of wild  jamun (Sygygium anamalaianum) from Coimbatore and fern species (Selaginella With the actual charge of return on financial institution deposits remaining damaging “for a considerable period of time”, it’s time to revisit the taxation of curiosity on financial institution deposits, State Bank of India stated in a analysis report.
Arguing for extra sops to depositors, the SBI report stated the edge of exemption for senior residents needs to be reviewed. “The RBI can relook at the regulation that does not allow interest rates of banks to be determined as per age-wise demographics,” it stated. The curiosity earnings from financial institution mounted deposits is topic to TDS (tax deducted at supply) at 10 per cent however will be deducted at 20 per cent if PAN shouldn’t be furnished. Banks deduct TDS on curiosity paid on mounted deposits when curiosity earnings exceeds Rs 40,000 (Rs 50,000 for senior residents) in any given monetary 12 months. So, if the depositor is in highest tax bracket of 30 per cent, merely paying TDS of 10 per cent won’t be sufficient. Retail inflation is above 5 per cent whereas one-year time period deposit will get lower than 5 per cent rate of interest, giving damaging returns on deposits.

Explained Inflation woes Currently, retail inflation is above 5 per cent whereas one 12 months time period deposit will get lower than 5 per cent rate of interest, giving damaging returns on deposits.

The whole variety of depositors within the banking system is round 207 crore and the variety of collectors is at 27 crores. The whole financial institution deposits at Rs 151 lakh crore represent Rs 102 lakh crore of retail deposits, together with that of senior residents. “Clearly, real rate of return on bank deposits has been negative for a sizeable period of time and with RBI making it abundantly clear that supporting growth is the primary goal, the low banking rate of interest is unlikely to make a north bound movement anytime soon as liquidity continues to be plentiful,” stated the report authored by Soumya Kanti Ghosh, group chief financial adviser, SBI.

The damaging return from financial institution deposits could possibly be one of many causes for households to divert funds to the inventory markets for extra returns. “This (negative returns on deposits) implies that the current bull run in financial markets is possibly a break from the past as households may have got into the bandwagon of self-fulfilling prophecy of a decent return on their investment,” the report stated.

According to the SBI report, in banking sector’s whole time period deposits, contribution by 40 -million plus senior residents, who stay a lot depending on accrued curiosity earnings for assembly most of their mounted expenditure wants, hovers round 20 per cent.

 odishana were recorded from Kandhamal in Odisha. There are 14 new macro and 31 new micro fungi species recorded from various parts of India. An assessment of the geographical distribution of these newly discovered plants reveals that 22% of the discoveries were made from the Western Ghats followed by Western Himalayas (15%), Eastern Himalayas (14%) and Northeast Ranges (12%). The West coast contributed 10% while East Coast contributed (9%) in total discoveries; Eastern Ghats and South Deccan contribute 4% of each while Central Highland and North Deccan added 3% each.

Ravi Agrawal, Additional Secretary, MoEF&CC, who released the publication, said India being a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is committed to work towards the prime objective of Global Strategy of Plant Conservation and the newly discovered species may offer potential source of wild edible plants, traditional drugs, cosmetics and wild relative of crop plants.

Another scientist from the BSI, S.S. Dash who played a crucial role in the discoveries, said 45% of novelties published in various national and international journals are of seed plants, 21% fungi, 8% algae, 16% lichen and 7% microbes while 2% are bryophytes and 1% pteridophytes. This year one new monogeneric family Hanguanaceae has been recorded for the first time from India, he added.

Sanjay Kumar, botanist with the BSI, associated with the compilation work of plant discoveries since 2012, explained that during the last decade a total number of 3,245 taxa of plants from different plant groups have been discovered from India. Most discoveries have been made from seed plants, with 1,199 (37%) taxa, followed by fungi 894 (27%), he added.

Buddha collection on display soon| Artefacts of the National Museum will be showcased in new locations.

National Museum to open Buddha galleries soon, arms gallery in 2 months.

National Museum building on Janpath is among buildings proposed to be demolished as part of the Central Vista redevelopment project and the museum itself moved to North and South Block

The National Museum’s extensive collections are set to be displayed in new locations in the city, with galleries on Buddhist art expected to be opened within the next few weeks and work on museums of arms and armour, Freedom struggle and Jammu and Kashmir underway at the Red Fort.

The Buddhist galleries, located in the Archaeological Survey of India’s former offices next to the National Museum, were set to be opened within a week or two, a National Museum source said on Monday.

The National Museum building on Janpath is among the buildings proposed to be demolished as part of the Central Vista redevelopment project and the museum itself moved to the North and South Block. However, the plans for these projects and timelines have not been announced.


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