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November 18, 2020
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17 November Current Affairs

Electronic Exchange of Customs Data

In News:

Recently, the Department of Posts, Government of India (India Post) and United States Postal Service signed an agreement for electronic exchange of customs data related to postal shipments between the two countries.

Key Points:

Objective: The primary objective of this agreement is to facilitate ‘ease of exports’ for small and large exporters through postal channels from different parts of the country.

Features: The agreement will make it possible to transmit and receive electronic data of international postal items prior to their physical arrival at the destination and would enable customs clearance of postal items in advance in line with the evolving global postal framework.

Exchange of Electronic Advance Data (EAD) will be a key driver towards promoting mutual trade with emphasis on the exports.

USA is the top export destination for India (~17%) which is also reflected in exchange of goods through postal channels.

In 2019, around 20% of international Express Mail Service (EMS) and 30% of Letters & Small Packets transmitted by India Post were destined to the USA whereas 60% of the Parcels received by India Post were originated from the USA.

Benefit: This will fulfill a major demand of the export industry to expedite customs clearances of export items and will contribute towards making India an Export Hub for the world.

The agreement will also improve the performance of postal services in terms of reliability, visibility and security.

India Post:

India Post is the trade name for the Department of Posts (DoP), a government-operated postal system in India under the Ministry of Communications.

With 1, 55,531 Post Offices, the DoP has the most widely distributed postal network in the world.


Delivering mails, accepting deposits under Small Savings Schemes, providing life insurance cover under Postal Life Insurance (PLI) and Rural Postal Life Insurance (RPLI) and providing retail services like bill collection, sale of forms, etc.

It also acts as an agent for the Government of India in discharging other services for citizens such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) wage disbursement and old age pension payments.

Single Male Parent

In News:

Male Government employees who are single parents will now be eligible for child care leave.

Key Points:

Aim: Ease-of-living for government servants.

Eligibility: Male government employees who were single parents.

Single male parents, includes unmarried employees, widowers and divorcees, who may be expected to take up the responsibility of caring for a child single-handedly.

Features: Child care leave can be granted at 100% of leave salary for the first 365 days and 80% of leave salary for the next 365 days.

In case of a disabled child, the condition of availing child care leave up to the age of 22 years of the child has been removed and now child care leave can be availed by a government servant for a disabled child of any age.

Child Care Leave: It is treated as earned leave and is generally granted to women employees.

Women employees having minor children (children upto 18 years of age) may be granted child care leave for a maximum period of two years (i.e. 730 days) during their entire service for taking care of upto two minor children.

The child care leave is granted either for rearing children or to look after any of the needs of children like examination, sickness etc.

What is a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC)?

In News:

The Joint Committee of Parliament on the Data Protection Bill sought an affidavit from Twitter Inc., the U.S.-based parent company of the social media platform, asking them to explain why it had shown Ladakh as a part of China.

What’s the issue?

Display of wrong map is not only a question of the sensitivity of India or Indians. It is a question about national integrity and sovereignty of the country, and not respecting that is a criminal offence.

And displaying Indian map improperly and incorrectly is an offence of treason and attracts imprisonment of seven years.

What is a JPC?

A Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) is set up to examine a particular bill presented before the Parliament, or for the purpose of investigating cases of financial irregularities in any government activity.

The JPC is an ad-hoc body.

It is set up for a given period of time and is aimed at addressing a specific issue.


In order to set up a JPC, a motion is passed in one House and supported by the other House.

The committee’s members are decided by Parliament.

The number of members can vary. There are twice as many Lok Sabha members as the Rajya Sabha.

Powers and Functions:

A JPC is authorised to collect evidence in oral or written form or demand documents in connection with the matter.

The proceedings and findings of the committee are confidential, except in matters of public interest.

The government can take the decision to withhold a document if it is considered prejudicial to the safety or interest of the State.

The Speaker has the final word in case of a dispute over calling for evidence.

The committee can invite interested parties for inquiry and summon people to appear before it.

The committee gets disbanded following the submission of its report to Parliament.

Annual State of Education Report (ASER) survey

In News:

Findings of the Annual State of Education Report (ASER) survey conducted in September.


The survey provides a glimpse into the levels of learning loss that students in rural India are suffering, with varying levels of access to technology, school and family resources, resulting in a digital divide in education.

About ASER:

ASER is a nationwide survey of rural education and learning outcomes in terms of reading and arithmetic skills.

It has been conducted by the NGO Pratham for the last 15 years. This year, the survey was conducted via phone calls.

Key findings- impact of Covid- 19 Pandemic:

About 20% of rural children have no textbooks at home. In Andhra Pradesh, less than 35% of children had textbooks. More than 98% had textbooks in West Bengal, Nagaland and Assam.

In the week of the survey, about one in three rural children had done no learning activity at all.

About two in three had no learning material or activity given by their school that week, and only one in 10 had access to live online classes.

3% of rural children aged 6-10 years had not yet enrolled in school this year, in comparison to just 1.8% in 2018.

Enrolment patterns also show a slight shift toward government schools, with private schools seeing a drop in enrolment in all age groups.