Current Affairs August 5

Technical courses in native languages


  • the decision of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), to permit B. Tech programmes in 11 native languages in tune with the New Education Policy (NEP), is a momentous one.
  • mother tongue as the medium of instruction will instil confidence in students from poor, rural and tribal backgrounds.
  • Importantly, he added that even in elementary education, the mother tongue is being promoted and referred to one of the key drivers in this regard — the Vidya Pravesh programme launched on the occasion
  • Multiple studies have proved that children who learn in their mother tongue in their early, formative years perform better than those taught in an alien language.
  • Nobel Laureate, Sir C.V. Raman, who, demonstrating exemplary vision, observed, “We must teach science in our mother tongue. Otherwise science will become a highbrow activity. It will not be an activity in which all people can participate
  • Among the G20, most countries have state-of-theart universities, with teaching being imparted in the dominant language of their people.
  • In the digital age, technology can be suitably leveraged to increase accessibility of these Indian language courses to students in remote areas
  • A welcome development in this regard is the collaboration between the AICTE and IIT Madras to translate SWAYAM’s courses in eight regional languages such as Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam and Gujarati.
  • It is not a ‘Mother tongue versus English’, but a ‘Mother tongue plus English’ approach



Major issues/problems with GST


  • The promise of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) remains substantially unrealised.
  • It is a far cry from the attempted avoidance of cascading and continues to be a not very transparent multi-rate system with associated difficulties in computing and assessing tax liability, tax burden and tax incidence
  • The tax base of GST does not appear to be expanding
  • The fundamental weakness of the GST is its political architecture which is asymmetrically loaded in favour of the Centre.
  • Disputes between States and between the Centre and the States are inevitable in a mosaic arrangement.
  • But in the current structure, no particular body is tasked to adjudicate this though the original Constitution (115th Amendment) Bill 2011 (GST Bill) had a provision for such an institution.
  • In the voting, the central government has one-third vote and States have two-thirds of total votes (with equal voting rights regardless of size and stake).
  • With the support of a dozen small States whose total GST collection is not more than 5% of the total — and their Budget is mostly underwritten by the central government — the game is hugely in the Centre’s favour
  • The second problem is the design flaws in the tax structure. Nearly 45% to 50% of commodity value is outside the purview of the GST, such as petrol and petroleum products.
  • In addition, States which export or have inter-State transfers or mineral and fossil fuel extractions are not getting revenue as the origin States and need a compensation mechanism.
  • Third, exemptions from registration and taxation of the GST have further eroded the GST tax base compared to the tax base of the pre-existing VAT.
  • Exemptions are purely distortionary and also provide a good chance to remain under the radar, thereby directly increasing evasion or misclassification.
  • The fourth is that of exclusion. Petroleum products remaining outside the purview of GST has helped the Centre to increase cesses and decrease central excise, in what would otherwise have been shareable with the States.
  • Fifth, compliance with GST return (GSTR-1) filing stipulation and the resultant tax information is not up to date.
  • These policy gaps with regard to a higher threshold (when in sales tax, it was lower) exemption level and multiple tax rates have led to a base erosion.
  • Policy gaps along with compliance gaps do need to be addressed.



Katalin Kariko and mRna


  • the scientist who should be feted the most for her work on developing vaccines to fight COVID-19 is Katalin Kariko, a Hungarian-origin biochemist working in the U.S. Dr. Kariko has not only led the creation of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is one of the most effective,
  • But in doing so, she has also invented and perfected a new technique involving a molecule called the mRNA.
  • This has revolutionised biotechnology, paving the way for unheard-of miracles in drug development.
  • The mRNA (messenger-Ribonucleic Acid) is a molecule naturally manufactured by animal cells that gives signals to cells about which proteins to make.
  • That is, it carries to the cells vital genetic information upon which protein synthesis, one of the most critical physiological functions, thoroughly depends.
  • Kariko thought mRNA could be modified in labs to harness their code-carrying ability for triggering the manufacture of specific proteins by cells — proteins that would generate precise antibodies needed to fight particular antigens or disease causing micro-organisms


Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021


  • Recently, the Minister of Defence introduced the Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021, in the Lok Sabha to provide for the maintenance of essential defence services so as “to secure the security of nation and the life and property of the public at large” and prevent staff of the government-owned ordnance factories from going on strike.
  • The Bill seeks to empower the government to declare services mentioned in it as “essential defence services” and prohibit strikes and lockouts in any industrial establishment or unit engaged in such services.
  • Under Article 33 of the Constitution, Parliament, by law, can restrict or abrogate the rights of the members of the armed forces or the forces charged with the maintenance of public order so as to ensure the proper discharge of their duties and maintenance of discipline among them.
  • Thus, for the armed forces and the police, where discipline is the most important prerequisite, even the fundamental right to form an association can be restricted under Article 19(4) in the interest of public order and other considerations
  • The Supreme Court in Delhi Police v. Union of India (1986) upheld the restrictions to form association by the members of the non-gazetted police force after the Police Forces (Restriction of Rights) Act, 1966, and the Rules as amended by Amendment Rules, 1970, came into effect.
  • While the right to freedom of association is fundamental, recognition of such association is not a fundamental right.
  • Parliament can by law regulate the working of such associations by imposing conditions and restrictions on their functions, the court held.
  • In T.K. Rangarajan v. Government of Tamil Nadu (2003), the Supreme Court held that the employees have no fundamental right to resort to strike.
  • Further, there is prohibition to go on strike under the Tamil Nadu Government Servants’ Conduct Rules, 1973.
  • Gandhi said that “the police… should never go on strike. Theirs was an essential service and they should render that service, irrespective of their pay.
  • There were several other effective and honourable means of getting grievances redressed…”
  • There is no fundamental right to strike under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.



Air quality management bill for NCR



  • The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Bill to formalise the Commission for Air Quality Management For National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas.
  • The body has a full time chairperson and a range of members consisting of both representatives from several Ministries as well as independent experts and will have the final say on evolving policy and issuing directions to address air pollution in Delhi and the adjoining region
  • the new organisation would be a ‘permanent’ body to address pollution in the National Capital Region Delhi and address sources of pollution in Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
  • The all-powerful body assumed several powers to coordinate action among States, levy fines — ranging up to ₹1 crore or five years of prison — to address air pollution
  • While the Central Pollution Control Board and its State branches have the powers to implement provisions of the Environment Protection Act for air, water and land pollution, in case of dispute or a clash of jurisdictions.
  • the Commission’s writ would prevail specific to matters concerning air pollution.



  • The Members of Parliament Local Area Development Division is entrusted with the responsibility of implementation of Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS).
  • Under the scheme, each MP has the choice to suggest to the District Collector for works to the tune of Rs.5 Crores per annum to be taken up in his/her constituency.
  • The Rajya Sabha Members of Parliament can recommend works in one or more districts in the State from where he/she has been elected.
  • The Nominated Members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha may select any one or more Districts from any one State in the Country for implementation of their choice of work under the scheme.
  • The Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) has enabled MPs to play a leadership role in the developmental process of his constituency and sort out its day-to-day problems
  • Implementation of these projects is done by district level officers under the vigilant eye of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
  • The projects are implemented according to the Ministry’s guidelines.
  • Furthermore, the Scheme undergoes an impartial and meticulous auditing.
  • The second instalment of funds is released only when the first instalment is fully utilised with no audit objections.
  • This procedure leaves no place for corruption