2021 census data will be stored electronically :-
- The data collected during the 2021 Census will be stored electronically, the first time since the decennial exercise was conducted in 1951 in Independent India.
- According to an amended rule notified by the Registrar General of India (RGI), “The schedules and other connected papers shall be disposed of totally or in part by the Director of Census Operations, after creating an electronic record of such documents.”
Any tampering will be a Punishable Offence
- Till now the “schedules” (a tabular form containing details of individuals), carried by enumerators to households, were being stored in a physical form at the government’s storehouse in Delhi.
- It is based on these schedules that the relevant statistical information on population, language, and occupation are sorted and published.
- The records running into crores of pages were occupying space in the government office and it has now been decided that they will be stored in an electronic format.
- Any tampering with the data will invite punishment under the Information Technology Act, 2000
Gearing Up for 2021 Census
- Enumerators will start “house listing” in 2020 and the headcount will begin from February 2021 onwards.
- An individual’s household data is not published by the RGI. They are published in the form of tables on the Census website. The data is preserved for 10 years and then it is destroyed.
- From 2021 Census it will be stored forever in electronic format.
How to List Cases Better :-
- Chief Justice of India recently flagged rising pendency in appeals lying with High Courts based on the findings of the Supreme Court’s Arrears Committee
What Actions did Chief Justice of India took to address this issue ?
- He has since directed High Courts to prepare action plans for disposal of five and 10-year-old cases
- He has also asked for High Court Arrears Committees to periodically review the situation.
But there is also a need to revisit the manner in which judicial performance & accountability is measured.
What have been the issues so far with judicial performance ?
The primary measure of court efficiency has been case disposal rates. Public perception of court performance and individual judges now hinges on the number of cases pending before them which also puts pressure on judges to dispose of as many cases as possible which leads to :-
- A problematic situation as it does not consider the quality of adjudication itself
- It also does not shed light on the exact nature of cases that have remained pending the longest, or the stage at which pendency recurs the most.
Why there is an Impact of Listing Techniques which influenced case movement and maintain pendency ?
- Listing patterns of cases in courts are generally erratic. The number of matters listed for the same courtroom range from 1 to 126 a month
- A large number of cases listed in a day means that inevitably, matters listed towards the end of the day remained left over
- Old pending matters barely make it to court.
What can judiciary do?
- Case listing needs to be made more systematic :- Courts must assess their performance based on the actual number of cases being heard. Cause List preparation can be made more scientific if supported by a consistent study of the variance in the number of cases listed across courts, identifying the exact stages at which cases are clogging the pipeline for the longest duration, and the nature of cases left over.
- The cause list should have cases methodically distributed by type and stage. The court can decide on a minimum and maximum number for particular matters.
- Disposing of old and pending matters must be prioritized.
- A solution would be to implement a policy where no adjournments are granted for frivolous reasons
Benefits of scientific listing :-
- It will introduce standardisation across courts and help dis-incentivise judges from using discretionary practices in the number and nature of cases listed before them
- It will promote fairness — a reasonable number of cases would be listed every day, and distributed across the day based on stage and case type
- There will be better quality of adjudication
- The quality and efficiency of court functioning can be improved with simple tweaks. It is time that the judiciary as an institution opens itself to the services of competent external agencies that can help them record, manage and analyse their data better, to build and sustain a healthy institution
Reforming Higher Education :-
- The draft Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) Bill is now in the public domain.
- The HECI will replace the main regulatory authority, the University Grants Commission (UGC), to “provide for more autonomy and facilitate holistic growth” of this sector and offer “greater opportunities to Indian students at more affordable cost”.
- The new commission will cover all fields of education except medical and, presumably, agriculture, and institutions set up under the Central and State Acts, excluding those of national importance.
Point of departure of the proposed bill :-
- The proposed Bill makes a clear separation between academic functions which will be discharged by the HECI and grant-giving ones by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) directly.
The academic functions include promoting the quality of instruction and maintenance of academic standards, as also fostering the autonomy of higher education institutions for, inter alia, comprehensive and holistic growth of education and research in a competitive global environment in an inclusive manner.
- In other words, the HECI will be bestowed with comprehensive and overriding powers, including ordering the closure of institutions, in all academic and related matters while the money matters will be controlled by the MHRD.
Reasons to bring HECI :-
The need for a single regulatory body arose largely in the context of multiple bodies set up over the years trying to cope with the ever increasing complexity of the sector, both in terms of
- Rapidly expanding number of institutions to meet the demands of surging student enrolment
- The deteriorating standards in the quality of student output against the requirements of the job market.
- Multiple regulators like the UGC and All India Council for Technical Education, together with the empowerment of professional bodies have not yielded the desired dividends.
What had to be done in the proposed bill ?
- Granting near complete autonomy to the Indian Institutes of Management,
- Providing graded autonomy to other institutions to free them from the clutches of regulations to enable them to develop into institutions of excellence.
Recent initiatives for sustainability across the higher education system
There have been recent initiatives to encourage public institutions to raise user charges so that they become self-sustaining as also allow such institutions to take a loan from the Higher Education Funding Agency to meet developmental costs. These initiatives might lead to:
- Institutions to abandon courses that have hardly any job prospects and starting ones that are market-friendly which is against the very idea of higher education
- The high fees to be paid by students for such courses might compel them to take concessional student loans which may result in the student loan crisis reaching alarming proportions on account of delay in payment and default
Structure of HECI and associated loopholes
- There will be a chairperson, vice-chairperson and 12 members
- The chairperson will be of the rank of Secretary to the Government of India
- The secretary of the HECI will be an officer of the rank of joint secretary and above or a reputed academic and will serve as its member-secretary
- The secretary, higher education is envisaged to don many hats, serving as a member of the search-cum-selection committee of the chairperson and vice-chairperson, then processing their appointment as a key functionary of the government, and finally acting as a member of the HECI
- Such multiplicity of roles may create difficulties and conflict of interest
Conclusion :- Despite some apparent infirmities, the proposed Bill shows the resolve of the government to move forward in reforming the sector.
But if the public expenditure in the sector continues to hover around the present level of over 1% of GDP, against the minimum requirement of 2% then Major issues like :-
- Making the universities the hub of scientific and technological research,
- Restoring the value of education in social sciences and the humanities,
- Ensuring that poor and meritorious students can afford to be educated in subjects of their choice,
- Improving the quality of instruction to enhance the employability of the students,
- Addressing the concerns of faculty shortage, etc.
It require a quantum jump in allocation of public resources to this sector. Tightening the screws of regulation in the absence of rapidly expanding public expenditure has obvious limitations.