18th Feb Current Affairs
February 18, 2021
20 Feb Current Affairs
February 20, 2021
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19th Feb Current Affairs

Impact of School closure on foundational abilities of students

In News:

Azim Premji University conducted a field study to assess the impact of Covid- 19 induced lockdown on students.

The study was titled ‘Loss of Learning during the Pandemic’.

Key findings:

Children missed out on the regular curricular learning they would have acquired had schools remained open.

They are also ‘forgetting’ what they had learnt in previous year.

On an average, 92% of students from Classes II to VI have lost at least one specific foundational ability in languages that they may have acquired in previous years. The corresponding figure for mathematics is 82%.

What are foundational abilities?

Foundational abilities are those that form the basis for further learning. Some examples of foundational abilities include reading a paragraph with comprehension, addition and subtraction.

In mathematics, foundation abilities include identifying single and two-digit numbers; performing arithmetic operations; using basic arithmetic operations to solve problems; and reading and drawing inferences from data, among others.

What are the challenges ahead?

When schools reopen, teachers have to be given time to cover this deficit and be provided with other support. A carefully synchronised set of measures across States will be required.

Suggestions:

Eliminating vacations, extending the academic year well into 2021 and perhaps beyond depending on when schools open and reconfiguring the syllabus.

Indo-Pacific

In News:

India is an important partner in the Indo-Pacific region, says U.S.

Details:

It has also welcomed India’s emergence as a leading global power and its role as a net security provider in the region.

What is Indo- Pacific?

The idea of the Indo-Pacific as a single strategic space is an outgrowth of China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean region. It signifies the interconnectedness of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the importance of the oceans to security and commerce.

Importance of Indo-Pacific region:

  • Maintaining regional stability.
  • Strong ties with the US are seen as a vital tool for enhancing India’s strategic posture.
  • For the long-term vision of national interest.
  • China’s increasingly active presence in the Indian Ocean region as well as its efforts to expand geopolitical reach in Asia and beyond by the use of trade and military.
  • For adhering to freedom of navigation, adherence to rules-based order and stable trade environment.
  • For free sea and air lanes, connectivity and upholding international rules and norms.

Role and Implications for India in the Indo – pacific region:

  • The Indo-Pacific, as described in the National security strategy, represents the most populous and economically dynamic part of the world and stretches from the west coast of India to the western shores of the United States.
  • India has always been a country with great national ambitions and is one of the most important advocates of the concept of “Indo-Pacific Strategy”.
  • With opening of economy, India has been connecting with its Indian Ocean neighbours and major maritime powers of the world.

Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020

In News:

The Rajya Sabha passed the Major Ports Authority Bill, 2020 with 84 votes in favour and 44 against.

Details:

The Bill aimed to make the ports world class and give the port authorities power to make their own decisions.

The bill will replace the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963.

Aims and objectives:

Decentralise decision making and infuse professionalism in governance of major ports.

Impart faster and transparent decision making benefiting the stakeholders and better project execution capability.

Reorient the governance model in central ports to landlord port model in line with the successful global practice.

Key features:

The Bill proposes to create a Board of Major Port Authority, for each major port. These Boards will replace the existing Port Trusts under the 1963 Act, that are comprised of members appointed by the central government.

Composition of Board:

The Board will comprise of a Chairperson and a Deputy Chairperson, to be appointed by the central government on the recommendation of a selection committee. Further, it will include one member each from (i) concerned State Government in which the Major Port is situated, (ii) Ministry of Railways, (iii) Ministry of Defence, and (iv) Customs Department.

The Board will also include two to four independent members, two members representing the interests of the employees of the Major Port Authority, and one member not below the rank of Director (nominated by the Central Government).

Powers of the Board:

The Bill allows the Board to use its property, assets and funds as deemed fit for the development of the major port. The Board can also make rules on: (i) declaring availability of port assets for port related activities and services, (ii) developing infrastructure facilities such as setting up new ports, jetties, and (iii) providing exemption or remission from payment of any charges on any goods or vessels.

Adjudicatory Board:

The Bill proposes to constitute an Adjudicatory Board, to be appointed by the Central Government, to replace the existing Tariff Authority under the 1963 Act. It will consist of a Presiding Officer and two members.

Functions of Adjudicatory Board:

Functions of the Adjudicatory Board will include: (i) certain functions being carried out by the Tariff Authority for Major Ports, (ii) adjudicating on disputes or claims related to rights and obligations of major ports and PPP concessionaires, and (iii) reviewing stressed PPP projects.

What are the concerns against the Bill?

The Bill may encourage privatization of Shipping & Ports sector.

There is no clarity so far as the Selection Committee that will appoint the Chairperson to the Adjudicatory Board is concerned.

What is landlord model?

  • In the landlord port model, the publicly governed port authority acts as a regulatory body and as landlord while private companies carry out port operations—mainly cargo-handling activities.
  • Here, the port authority maintains ownership of the port while the infrastructure is leased to private firms that provide and maintain their own superstructure and install own equipment to handle cargo.
  • In return, the landlord port gets a share of the revenue from the private entity.
  • The role of the landlord port authority would be to carry out all public sector services and operations such as the award of bids for cargo terminals and dredging.