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14th March Current Affairs

Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+) 2020-21

(GS-II: Issues related to Education)

In News:

The Ministry of Education has released a detailed report on Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+) 2020-21 on school education of India.

Details:

The UDISE+ system of online data collection from the schools was developed by Department of School Education & Literacy in the year 2018-19.

It was aimed to overcome the issues related to erstwhile practice of manual data filling in paper format and subsequent feeding on computer at the block or district level in the UDISE data collection system since 2012-13.

In UDISE+ system, improvements have been made particularly in the areas related to data capture, data mapping and data verification.

Highlights of the report:

Students and Teachers in schools:

In 2020-21 total students enrolled in school education from primary to higher secondary stood at 25.38 crore.

There is an increase of 28.32 lakh enrolments as compared to the 25.10 crore enrolment in 2019-20.

The GER:

Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) which measure the general level of participation has improved in 2020-21 at all levels of school education compared to 2019-20.

Level wise GER in 2020-21 as compared to 2019-20 are:  92.2% from 89.7% in upper primary, 99.1 % from 97.8% in elementary, 79.8% from 77.9% in secondary and 53.8% from 51.4% in higher secondary respectively.

96.96 lakh teachers are engaged in school education during 2020-21.

This is higher by about 8800 in comparison with number of teachers in school education in 2019-20.

The Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR):

In 2020-21 the Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR) stood at 26 for primary, 19 for upper primary, 18 for secondary and 26 for higher secondary, showing an improvement since 2018-19.

The PTR for primary, upper primary, secondary and higher secondary was 28, 20, 21, and 30 respectively during 2018-19.

In 2020-21 over 12.2 crore girls are enrolled in primary to higher secondary showing an increase of 11.8 lakh girls compared to the enrolment of girls in 2019-20.

School Infrastructure:

Schools with functional electricity have made impressive progress during 2020-21 with net addition of 57,799 schools provided electricity.

Now 84% of the total schools have functional electricity facility in comparison with 73.85% in 2018-19 showing remarkable improvement of 10.15% during the period.

Percentage of the schools with functional drinking water has increased to 95.2 % in 2020-21 from 93.7 % in 2019-20.

Percentage of the school with functional girl’s toilet facility has increased to 93.91 % in 2020-21 in comparison with 93.2 % in 2019-20 by adding the facility in additional 11,933 schools during the year.

Number of schools having functional computers increased to 6 lakh in 2020-21 from 5.5 lakh in 2019-20 showing an increasing of 3 %. Now, 40% of the schools have functional computers.

Number of schools having internet facility increased to 3.7 lakh in 2020-21 from 3.36 lakh in 2019-20 with an increase of 2.6%.

Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on enrolment:

During 2020-21, 39.7 lakh students of government aided, private school students shifted to Government schools.

‘Most favoured nation’ status

(GS-II: Effects of policies of developed nations)

In News:

The United States, the European Union, Britain, Canada and Japan are planning to move jointly to revoke Russia’s “most favoured nation” (MFN) status over its invasion of Ukraine.

What is MFN Status?

Most Favoured Nation is a treatment accorded to a trade partner to ensure non-discriminatory trade between two countries vis-a-vis other trade partners.

Under WTO rules, a member country cannot discriminate between its trade partners. If a special status is granted to a trade partner, it must be extended to all members of the WTO.

Does MFN mean preferential treatment?

In literal explanation, MFN doesn’t mean preferential treatment. Instead it means non-discriminatory trade that ensures that the country receiving MFN status will not be in a disadvantageous situation compared to the granter’s other trade partners.

When a country receives MFN status, it is expected to lower trade barriers and decrease tariffs.

It is also expected to open up the market to trade in more commodities and free flow of goods.

Removal of MFN status:

There is no formal procedure for suspending MFN treatment and it is not clear whether members are obliged to inform the WTO if they do so.

India suspended Pakistan’s MFN status in 2019 after a suicide attack by a Pakistan-based Islamist group killed 40 police. Pakistan never applied MFN status to India.

What are the pros of MFN?

MFN status is extremely gainful to developing countries.

Provides access to a wider market for trade goods.

Reduced cost of export items owing to highly reduced tariffs and trade barriers.

Lead to more competitive trade.

Cuts down bureaucratic hurdles and various kinds of tariffs are set at par for all imports.

Increases demands for the goods and giving a boost to the economy and export sector.

Heals the negative impact caused to the economy due to trade protectionism.

What are the disadvantages of MFN?

The main disadvantage is that the country has to give the same treatment to all other trade partners who are members of the WTO.

This translates into a price war and vulnerability of the domestic industry as a result.

The country is not able to protect domestic industry from the cheaper imports and in this price war, some domestic players have to face heavy losses or growth restrictions.

Re-launch of CEPA between India – Canada

(GS-II: Bilateral agreements)

In News:

India – Canada have agreed to re-launch the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) negotiations to unlock full potential of bilateral trade.

Details:

They are also considering an Interim Agreement or Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA) that could bring early commercial gains to both the countries.

Need for:

The trade agreement would help in expanding bilateral trade in goods and services through unlocking the potential across sectors.

India-Canada Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA):

In September 2008, the India-Canada CEO Round Table recommended that India and Canada would benefit enormously from CEPA by elimination of tariffs on a substantial majority of the bilateral trade.

CEPA would cover trade in goods, trade in services, rules of origin, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade and other areas of economic cooperation.

Difference between CECA, CEPA and FTA:

CECA – Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.

CEPA – Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

The major “technical” difference between a CECA and CEPA is that CECA involve only “tariff reduction/elimination in a phased manner on listed/all items except the negative list and tariff rate quota (TRQ) items.

CEPA also covers the trade in services and investment and other areas of economic partnership”.

So CEPA is a wider term that CECA and has the widest coverage.

Usually, CECA is signed first with a country and after that, negotiations may start for a CEPA.

It is a kind of free trade pact which covers negotiation on the trade in services and investment, and other areas of economic partnership.

It may even consider negotiation on areas such as trade facilitation and customs cooperation, competition, and Intellectual Property Rights.

Partnership agreements or cooperation agreements are more comprehensive than Free Trade Agreements.

CEPA also looks into the regulatory aspect of trade and encompasses an agreement covering the regulatory issues.

Enacting of Dandi March on March 12

(GS-I: The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country)

In News:

The Salt March, which took place from March to April 1930, was an act of civil disobedience led by Mahatma Gandhi to protest the British rule in the country.

About Dandi March:

Mahatma Gandhi and 78 others from his Sabarmati Ashram had embarked on the Dandi Yatra on March 12, 1930 to break the law which had imposed tax on salt.

After walking for 21 days, they reached Dandi on April 5 and broke the law.

After making salt at Dandi, Gandhi headed to Dharasana Salt Works, 40 km south, but was arrested on May 5.

Facts related to Salt Satyagraha:

The Congress Party in the Lahore session of December 1929, passed the Purna Swaraj resolution. It was proclaimed on 26 January, 1930 and decided that civil disobedience was the way to achieve it.

Mahatma Gandhi chose the path of non-violence to break the salt tax against the British government.

Why salt?

Salt was a commodity used by all people of every community and the poor people were affected more by the salt tax.

Until the passing of the 1882 Salt Act, Indians were making salt from seawater free of cost.

But the Salt Act gave British monopoly over the production of salt and authority to impose a salt tax. Violation of the Salt Act was a criminal offence.

With the Salt Satyagraha, Mahatma Gandhi tried to unite Hindu and Muslims because the cause was common.

Outcomes of Salt March or Salt Satyagraha:

A lot of people came together including women, depressed class.

The movement showed the power of non-violence in fighting against colonialism for the freedom struggle.

In 1931, Mahatma Gandhi was released and met Lord Irwin who wanted to put an end to the civil disobedience movement.

As a result, Gandhi-Irwin pact was signed, the civil disobedience movement ended and Indians were allowed to make salt for domestic use.