Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS | 21th September 2021

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1.  Tackling Hate Speech

UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: Hate Speech- Meaning, Problems and Strategies needed | UPSC

Freedom of expression and Hate speech  

  • Rights are the cornerstone of individual autonomy.
  • They are guaranteed as limits on the power of State.
  • In democratic societies they have been granted to protect individual from undue State interference. Freedom  of expression has been enshrined in article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.  • It is considered to be one of the most significant rights as it allows a person to attain self fulfilment and  strengthen the capacity to fully enjoy freedom.
  • Democracy thrives on disagreements provided they do not cross the boundaries of civil discourse. Critical and  dissenting voices are important for a vibrant society.
  • However, care must be taken to prevent public discourse from becoming a tool to promote speech inimical to  public order.
  • The mode of exercise, the context and the extent of abuse of freedom are important in determining the  contours of permissible restrictions.
  • The State therefore assumes an important role in ensuring that freedoms are not exercised in an  unconstitutional manner.
  • Article 19(2) places reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right to freedom of speech and expression  in the interests of

o the security of the State and sovereignty and integrity of India,

o friendly relations with foreign States,

o public order,

o decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence. • Further Article 21 highlights that liberty is not exercised to the detriment of any individual or the  disadvantaged section of the society.

Legal provisions for Hate speech  

Indian Penal Code :  

  • Section 124A IPC penalises sedition
  • Section 153A IPC penalises ‘promotion of enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place  of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony’.  • Section 153B IPC penalises ‘imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration’.  • Section 295A IPC penalises ‘deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class  by insulting its religion or religious beliefs’.
  • Section 298 IPC penalises ‘uttering, words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any  person’.
  • Section 505(1) and (2) IPC penalises publication or circulation of any statement, rumour or report causing  public mischief and enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes.

The Representation of The People Act, 1951  

  • Section 8 disqualifies a person from contesting election if he is convicted for indulging in acts amounting to  illegitimate use of freedom of speech and expression.
  • Section 123(3A) and section 125 prohibits promotion of enmity on grounds of religion, race, caste, community  or language in connection with election as a corrupt electoral practice and prohibits it.
  • Protection of civil Rights act 1955
  • The Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1988
  • Section 107 empowers the Executive Magistrate to prevent a person from committing a breach of the peace  or disturb the public 8 tranquillity or to do any wrongful act that may probably cause breach of the peace or  disturb the public tranquillity.
  • Section 144 empowers the District Magistrate, a Sub-divisional Magistrate or any other Executive Magistrate  specially empowered by the State Government in this behalf to issue order in urgent cases of nuisance or  apprehended danger.

Impact of Hate speech on freedom of expression  

  • Hate speech is an expression which is likely to cause distress or offend other individuals on the basis of their association with a particular group or incite hostility towards them.
  • It would undermine the “implicit assurance” that citizens of a democracy, particularly minorities or  vulnerable groups are placed on the same footing as the majority
  • The accessibility of internet allows offensive speeches to affect a larger audience in a short span of time.

Human Rights Council’s ‘Report 

Freedom of expression can be restricted on the following grounds – child pornography (to protect the  rights of children),

  • hate speech (to protect the rights of affected communities)
  • defamation (to protect the rights and reputation of others against unwarranted attacks)  • direct and public incitement to commit genocide (to protect the rights of others)
  • advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or  violence (to protect the rights of others, such as the right to life).

Some of the Parameters to define Hate speech  

  • The extremity of hate speech – the speech must be offensive and project the extreme form of emotion.  • Incitement  
  • Status of the author of the speech – People who hold power to influence society on a large scale.  • Status of the victims of the speech – a politician for example knowingly lays himself open to close  scrutiny of his every word and deed by both journalists and the public at large, and he must  consequently display a greater degree of tolerance.
  • Context of the speech – Every seemingly hateful speech may not be termed as a hate speech. The context in which the speech was made is essential in determining its permissibility.

Manner of Regulation of hate speech – 

  • Any attempt to regulate hate speech need not shrink the space for criticism and dissent, which are  covered by the human right of a person to free speech and expression. As a consequence, not all hate  speech can legitimately be made the subject of legal prohibition.
  • The right is curtailed by means of a law passed through the appropriate procedures and through  provisions worded in explicit and unambiguous language
  • The measure must directly satisfy a legitimate aim.
  • The measure must be necessary to achieve its stated aim and must be proportionate to the harm that  it attempts to prevent or redress.

Recommendation –

  • Incitement to violence cannot be the sole test for determining whether a speech amounts to hate  speech or not. Even speech that does not incite violence has the potential of marginalising a certain  section of the society or individual.
  • The term “hate speech” has been used invariably to mean expression which is abusive, insulting,  intimidating, harassing or which incites violence, hatred or discrimination against groups identified by  characteristics such as one’s race, religion, place of birth, residence, region, language, caste or  community, sexual orientation or personal convictions.
  • Political speeches should take place in an environment that does not foster abusive or hateful  sentiments.
  • The Model code of conduct should be amended to expressly provide a provision that prohibits any kind  of speech that promotes, or attempts to promote, feelings of enmity or hatred between different  classes of the citizens of India on grounds of religion, race, caste, community, or language.
  • Care must also be taken to differentiate hate speech from sedition.

Non legal measures – 

  • Popular television dramas which subtly and effectively promote harmony between warring  communities,
  • the involvement of religious heads to build empathy across religious lines to reduce communal tension,  and
  • strategic interventions (especially in the context of social media) to monitor the dissemination of hate  speech and mob mobilisation.
  • Persuading people who are the weakest links, to stop spreading a harmful rumour.  Amendments to IPC sections – 
  • Whoever on grounds of religion, race, caste or community, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation,  place of birth, residence, language, disability or tribe –
  • (a) uses gravely threatening words either spoken or written, signs, visible representations within the  hearing or sight of a person with the intention to cause, fear or alarm; or
  • (b) advocates hatred by words either spoken or written, signs, visible representations, that causes  incitement to violence 52 shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which  may extend to two years, and fine up to Rs 5000, or with both.
  • Whoever in public intentionally on grounds of religion, race, caste or community, sex, gender, sexual  orientation, place of birth, residence, language, disability or tribeuses words, or displays any writing,  sign, or other visible representation which is gravely threatening, or derogatory;
  • (i) within the hearing or sight of a person, causing fear or alarm, or;
  • (ii) with the intent to provoke the use of unlawful violence, against that person or another, shall be  punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year and/or fine up to Rs 5000, or  both”.

 

2.  The end Game (Bad Bank)

UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper III- Indian Economy
Sub Theme: Bad bank in India- Pros and Cons | UPSC

The Union Budget 2021-22 had proposed to set up a Bad Bank in the form of Asset Reconstruction company  (ARC) and Asset management Company (AMC) to solve the twin balance sheet problem of the Indian banks  and kick start the credit creation in the Indian Economy. Recently, the Government has announced the  formation of “National Asset Reconstruction Company Limited (NARCL)” and “India Debt Resolution Company  Ltd. (IDRCL)” to deal with the problem of NPAs.  

Understanding the Twin Balance Sheet problem (TBS) and its impact 

The Twin Balance sheet problem highlights that the balance sheets of the banks as well as companies are in bad  shape. While, the balance sheet of the Banks is dominated by the higher NPAs, on the other hand, the balance  sheet of the companies is dominated by higher debt levels and their inability to repay back loans. Such a TBS  problem puts the economy into vicious economic cycle as seen below.

What is a Bad Bank? 

The Bad Bank is a bank which takes over the NPAs of the other banks and hence leads to improvement in their  financial position. For example, let’s say a Bank XYZ has total NPAs of around Rs 1000 crores. In accordance with  RBI’s norms, the Bank here would be required to set aside certain percentage of its profits to cover the loss  arising from such NPAs. This is referred to as Provisioning norms. Hence, the increase in the NPAs accompanied  by higher provisioning requirements would severely constraint ability of the Bank to lend loans and hence  affects its overall financial position. That is where, a Bad Bank comes into picture.

In this case, the Bad bank can take over NPAs worth Rs 1000 crores from Bank XYZ at say Rs 800 crores. Now,  the Bad Bank can undertake restructuring of such loans or undertake any other mechanism to recover the NPA  amount. As far as Bank XYZ is concerned, it is at least able to get Rs 800 crores. (In the absence of Bad Bank, the  Bank XYZ would not even recovered that much amount).

Idea of Bad Bank

The Economic Survey 2016-17 had proposed to set up Bad Bank, which should be called as Public Asset  Rehabilitation Agency (PARA). The PARA should be funded and owned by the Government of India. Such a  proposal was also put forward by the Indian Banks Association (IBA) recently in June 2020.

Difference between Bad Bank and National Asset Reconstruction Company Limited (NARCL): The Bad Bank, initially proposed by the Economic Survey 2016-17 was to be set and owned by the Government.  However, NARCL has been set up by banks themselves. So, one major difference is in nature of ownership.  However, since the nature of role performed by them is same, the terms “Bad Bank” and “ARC” can be used  interchangeably.

Note: The Asset Reconstruction Companies are registered with the RBI under the provisions of SARFAESI Act.  The NARCL has been incorporated under the Companies Act and has applied to Reserve Bank of India for license  as an Asset Reconstruction Company (ARC). Apart from NARCL, India Debt Resolution Company Ltd. (IDRCL) has  been set up as Asset Management Company (AMC) to deal with NPAs.

Difference between ARC and AMC: 

The ARC buys the Bad loans from the Banks and then transfers them to the AMC. The AMC would then carry  out restructuring to recover the bad loans. The AMC would be manned by professionals who have necessary  expertise in recovering the Bad loans. For example, they may have requisite capability to take over the  management of the company (which has defaulted), revive the company, make it profitable and then sell it off  to recover the NPAs.

In case of India, India Debt Resolution Company Ltd. (IDRCL) has been set up as AMC which will manage the  asset and engage market professionals and turnaround experts.

How Bad Loans will be resolved through Asset Reconstruction Companies? 

Step 1: The ARC would buy NPAs from the Banks. The Money is paid to the Banks in the form of Cash and  Security Receipts. 15% of money is paid in form of Cash and 85% in form of Security Receipts (SR). The SARFAESI  Act provides for the issuance of Security Receipts.

Step 2: Decrease in NPAs on Banks’ Balance Sheets–> Lower Provisioning–> Capital gets unlocked–> Increase  in Credit Creation–> Economic growth.

Step 3: The ARC recovers the NPA either through Debt restructuring or sale of mortgaged assets. Step 4: The ARC makes the payment for the security receipts after deducting its management fee.

Role of the Government 

The Government has decided to give guarantee worth Rs 30,000 crores on the payment of security receipts by  the NARCL. If the NARCL is unable to sell the bad loan, or sold it at a loss, then the government guarantee will  be invoked and the difference between what the bank was supposed to get and what the NARCL was able to  raise will be paid from the Rs 30,000 crore that has been provided by the government.

Why a new ARC has been proposed to be established? 

Presently, there are around 10-15 ARCs, out of which only 3-4 ARCs are well capitalised to take over NPAs worth  Rs 500 crores. However, the total NPAs concentrated in 70 large accounts is high as 2-2.5 lakh crores. Obviously,  we could have strengthened the existing ARCs to solve this. But, the Government believes that a new ARC  without any legacy issues would be well equipped to handle this.

Pros and Cons of Bad Bank 

Way Forward 

The Economic Survey 2016-17 emphasized that addressing the stressed assets problem would require 4 R’s:  Reform, Recognition, Recapitalization, and Resolution. The setting up of Bad Bank without focussing on these 4  R’s would mean that the fundamental problems that led to NPAs in first place continue to remain. Hence, the  setting up of ARC-AMC model to resolve the stressed assets should be accompanied by 4 R’s.

 

3.  Fund and faculty’ count in higher education rankings 

UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper II: Polity & Government
Sub Theme: NIRF Ranking |Higher Education in India | UPSC

Context: Union Ministry of education released India ranking 2021 under NIRF(national Institutional ranking  framework).

National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF): 

  • The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) was launched by erstwhile MHRD (now Ministry  of Education) in 2015
  • This framework ranks institutions across the country based on the following parameters
Parameter Weightage
Teaching, Learning & Resources  

(This includes students strength including  doctoral students, faculty-student ratio etc.)

30%
Research and Professional Practice  

(Number of research papers published, IPRs  licensed and projects conducted)

30%
Graduation Outcomes 

(Number of Placements, median salary of the  placed students etc.)

20%
Outreach and Inclusivity 

(Percentage of students from other  states/countries, from socio & economically  backward sections, women students etc.)

10%
Perception 

(Peer perception and public perception etc.)

10%

Current Status of Higher education in India

According to AISHE (All India Survey on Higher education) report 2019-20

➢ GER: The Gross enrolment ratio (GER) of Higher education increased from around 10% in 2004-05 to  27.1% in 2019-20.

➢ College density i.e., the number of colleges per lakh eligible population is 30

➢ Gender Parity Index (GPI) in Higher Education in 2019-20 is 1.01 against 1.00 in 2018-19 indicating  an improvement in the relative access to higher education for females of eligible age group compared to  males

➢ Pupil Teacher Ratio in Higher Education in 2019-20 is 26.

Challenges in Higher education sector

  • Equity in enrolment:

Date: 07-Sept-2021 DNS Notes – Revision

Though Gross enrolment ratio increased over the period,

✓ India still lag behind the world average of 33% and comparable countries such as Brazil (46%)  and China (30%)

With the increase of enrolments at school level, the supply of higher education institutes is insufficient to meet  the growing demand in the country.

✓ Regional and social disparities continue to exist in higher education GER varies from 5.5 % in  Daman & Diu to 56.1 % in Chandigarh

✓ Students belonging to ST group constitute only 5.6%

  • Quality: 

Quality is a challenge in higher education in India. Only 3 Indian institutions feature in the top 200 in  world rankings (QS world university rankings)

  • Employability of graduates: According to India skills report 2021 less than half of our graduates  (45.9%) are employable
  • Infrastructure: Poor infrastructure like libraries and labs is another challenge to the higher education  system of India
  • Research and Innovation: There is inadequate focus on research in higher education institutes due to  scarcity of funds, ill equipped labs and weak linkage of Research, higher education and Industry. • Islands of excellence: India has developed islands of excellence such as IITs and the IISc. Govt allocates  a major chunk of the budget to few premier institutes and central universities while most of the regional  and state universities are poorly funded.
  • Governance issues: Management of the Indian education faces challenges of overcentralisation, lack of  autonomy and transparency

{Higher education institutes in India are affiliated to UGC or AICTE etc. Often these affiliation do not  give enough autonomy to design their own curriculum. The UGC document on guidelines for autonomous  colleges (2017) clearly states that “the only safe and better way to improve the quality of undergraduate  education is to delink most of the colleges from the affiliating structure and granting autonomy status to  deserved institutes” 

Government Initiatives taken

  • NIRF to increase the competitiveness of the higher education institutes
  • Institutes of Eminence:  

➢ The government intends to establish 20 ‘institutions of eminence’ to achieve world class status,  from amongst the existing government/private institutions and new institutions from the private  sector.

➢ Autonomy: Institutes with IoE tag will be given greater autonomy and freedom to decide fees,  course durations and governance structures.

➢ Grant: The public institutions under IoE tag will receive a government grant of Rs. 1,000 crore,  while the private institutions will not get any funding under the scheme.

  • HEFA (Higher education financing agency): 

➢ Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) is a joint venture of MoE and Canara Bank for  financing creation of capital assets in premier educational institutions in India

➢ Objective is to revitalize infrastructure and systems in higher education, their needs to be new  investments in research and related infrastructure.

  • Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA):  

➢ A Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS), launched aims at providing strategic funding to eligible  state higher educational institutions

➢ The central funding (in the ratio of 60:40 for general category States, 90:10 for special category  states and 100% for union territories) would be norm based and outcome dependent

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