Cabinet Approves DNA Technology Regulation Bill 2018 :-
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill 2018. The utility of DNA based technologies for solving crimes, and to identify missing persons, is well recognized across the world.
The primary intended purpose for enactment of “The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill” is for expanding the application of DNA-based forensic technologies to support and strengthen the justice delivery system of the country.
Features of DNA Technology Regulation Bill :-
By providing for the mandatory accreditation and regulation of DNA laboratories, the Bill seeks
- To ensure that with the proposed expanded use of this technology in the country, there is also the assurance that the DNA test results are reliable and the data remain protected from misuse or abuse in terms of the privacy rights of our citizens.
- Speedier justice delivery.
- Increased conviction rate.
- Bill’s provisions will enable the cross-matching between persons who have been reported missing on the one hand and unidentified dead bodies found in various parts of the country on the other, and also for establishing the identity of victims in mass disasters.
- Forensic DNA profiling is of proven value in solving cases involving offences that are categorised as affecting the human body (such as murder, rape, human trafficking, or grievous hurt), and those against property (including theft, burglary, and dacoity).
- The aggregate incidence of such crimes in the country, as per the statistics of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2016, is in excess of 3 lakhs per year. Of these, only a very small proportion is being subjected to DNA testing at present.
- It is expected that the expanded use of this technology in these categories of cases would result not only in speedier justice delivery but also in increased conviction rates, which at present is only around 30% (NCRB Statistics for 2016).
MSP for paddy hiked by Rs.200/- :-
In keeping with the promise made in this year’s Budget speech, the Union Cabinet has approved a hike in minimum support prices (MSPs) for kharif crops so that they are 50% higher than the cost of production, not including land costs.
The decision was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
This includes a Rs. 200 per quintal increase in the MSP for paddy, which is likely to inflate the food subsidy bill by over Rs. 15,000 crore.
Jowar, cotton also in list :-
MSPs were announced for 14 commodities, with major hikes being seen in cereals such as bajra, jowar and ragi, as well as cotton.
Seven of these 14 crops have reported hikes of nearly 20% or more, compared with the MSP of these crops in 2017-18. However, in percentage terms, this year’s MSP for paddy of Rs. 1,750 per quintal is only a 12.9% increase from last year’s MSP of Rs. 1,550 per quintal.
The larger message of the new MSP regime is to encourage farmers to cultivate pulses, oilseeds and millets. Pulses and millets will ensure nutritional security while more oilseed production will help reduce the import bill.
LG bound by Aid & Advice of Delhi Govt. says Supreme Court :-
- In a landmark verdict on the power tussle between the Delhi government and the Centre, the Supreme Court today held that Lieutenant Governor does not have independent decision making powers, LG cannot act as an “obstructionist”. & is bound to act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
- The judgement is pronounced in the court by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who was heading a five judge Constitution bench
Key points of SC judgement on power sharing tussle between Delhi & Centre Govt :-
- LG has no independent decision-making power and cannot behave as an obstructionist when the Constitution gives primacy to the representative form of government.
- Except for the three issues, including land and law and order, over which Centre has exclusive power, Delhi government must be allowed to legislate and govern on other issues and LG cannot stall decisions mechanically.
- Both the LG and the CM are constitutional functionaries and must work harmoniously with mutual respect and none of them should feel superior to the other.
- LG being the administrative head of Delhi must be informed of all executive powers but he cannot stall all the decisions of council of ministers who have been elected to address aims and aspirations of the electorate.
- Delhi’s council of ministers headed by CM must communicate all decisions taken by it to the LG but it does not mean LG’s concurrence is required on every issue.
- LG should not act in a mechanical manner to refer all decisions of the council of ministers to the President citing difference of opinion. Only in exceptional situations, the LG can refer the issue to President when he has legitimate and serious difference of opinion with the decision taken by the council of ministers headed by Delhi CM.
- Delhi enjoys a unique position under Constitution and neither the LG nor the CM heading the council of ministers should consider themselves bigger than the other.
- Executive power of Delhi government must be given some degree of independence within the areas on which the Constitution allows it to legislate and administer.
HEFA to allot Rs. 1 lakh crore for education :-
- The Union Cabinet on Wednesday permitted the Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA) to mobilise Rs. 1 lakh crore to fund research and academic infrastructure in higher educational institutions by 2022.
- The funding will also be available to government-run schools Kendriya Vidyalayas and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas.
- This will help build speedier infrastructure of new Kendriya Vidyalayas and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas.
- Indian Institutes of Technology, National Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research, other Central universities and medical colleges will also get funds from the agency.
- HEFA was set up last year as a non-banking financing company for mobilising extra-budgetary resources.
Opening up to the World :-
- Since Independence, the challenges of building a mass higher education system with inadequate government funding has meant poor quality, increasing privatisation and politicisation.
- Traditionally, colleges and universities have been restricted from deep international collaboration, and there has been little emphasis on attracting international students — only 47,575 international students study in India compared to the almost 400,000 in China.
Initiatives taken towards innovation :-
The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) :-
- It was implemented in 2016 & it is India’s first government-supported ranking of colleges and universities.
- It may in the future guide government financial support for higher education.
- It also provides the basis for differentiating among colleges and universities, and forces participating institutions to submit data on critical areas, permitting government to make key decisions.
- Unsurprisingly, there are allegations that a few private institutions manipulate the process.
Institutions of Eminence (IoE) project :-
- The IoE project will recognise 20 universities, 10 public and 10 private, and provide significant government funds to the public institutions (no extra money to the privates) and give enhanced autonomy for them.
- It is similar to many of the “excellence initiatives” common worldwide in providing extra funding in return for innovative ideas to the winners.
Graded Autonomy project :-
- The Graded Autonomy programme provides considerable freedom for academic, financial and administrative innovation to the colleges and universities participating.
- Given the often stifling bureaucracy of higher education, it will be a significant stimulus for innovation.
- Both public and private institutions are involved.
- It also makes it easier to hire international faculty.
Study in India :-
The new Study in India initiative seeks to attract international students mainly from a group of African and Asian countries, and is aimed at doubling India’s tiny share of global student mobility from 1% to 2%.
Other Steps :-
- India is moving towards signing a pact on mutual recognition of academic qualifications with 30 countries.
- Recently a government-to-government MoU was signed between India and France to mutually recognise academic qualifications, a historic development.
- Upgrading 20 or more Indian universities to world-class quality will be complex. It will also take time and consistent funding, probably at a scale beyond what is envisaged in current plans.
- Further, greatly increased autonomy will be needed — and freedom from the bureaucratic shackles of government is not easy to attain.
- Internationalisation is central to academic success in the 21st century — and India has been notably weak. The inability in recent years to pass legislation relating to foreign branch campuses and other relationships with overseas universities is an indication of the problem.
Way forward :-
- Releasing the imagination of Indian professors is necessary. Ensuring that universities have imaginative leadership is also a key necessity.
- Carefully studying what has worked abroad may also provide useful ideas.
- The national ranking initiative needs to be extended throughout the higher education system and requires simplification. Overly complex arrangements must not get in the way of practical solutions.
- The Study in India initiative and proposals relating to relationships between Indian and foreign institutions are useful beginnings. But more thinking must go into these ideas.
For example :- it is not enough to focus on Asia and Africa and full degree programmes. Students and post-docs from Western countries for shorter-term study are necessary to provide new ideas — such students will not be attracted for degree study, but can be lured for other arrangements. India has the advantage of using English as the main language of higher education.