- The sixth edition of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) for higher education was released by the Union Minister of Education on September 9 2021.
- As in present policy, ranking leads to privileges such as getting autonomy, power to offer open and distance mode programmes, and permission to enter into collaboration with foreign universities.
- The most useful purpose that the ranking can serve — but ignored so far — is to identify areas of improvement and then proactively to work to overcome those deficiencies and thus ensure quality and promote excellence.
- Since performance of universities cannot be measured by a single indicator, they are assessed, and ranked on a metric of measures. Most give considerable weightage to research output, quality and impact thereof.
- NIRF does not disclose data on the total number of teachers but amongst a few statistics that it reports includes the total expenditure on salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff bunched together and the total number of PhD students enrolled in each of the ranked universities
NARCL AND IDRCL
- To begin with, the National Asset Reconstruction Company Limited (NARCL) will pitch to take over toxic assets worth ₹ 90,000 crore that banks have already fully provided for.
- It will offer a certain value to the lead bank for troubled loans of over ₹ 500 crore, and pay 15% upfront in cash, and issue the balance as tradable security receipts.
- The bad bank will then rope in a separate asset manager being incorporated — the India Debt Resolution Company Ltd. (IDRCL) — to add value to the ailing asset, and resolve it as a ‘going concern’ or liquidate it.
- The guarantee, worth ₹30,600 crore over five years, can only be invoked once an asset is resolved and will cover any shortfall between the face value of the security receipts issued by the NARCL and the actual amount realised from a bad loan.
- The guarantee fee will be increased each year as a nudge for NARCL and the IDRCL to speed up resolution
- Government now believes this approach will be more expeditious to fix the substantial NPAs that persist despite the existing debt recovery mechanisms including the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.
- Terming banks’ high provisioning for legacy loans a ‘unique opportunity’, the Centre thinks NARCL will also help free up bank personnel to focus on faltering credit growth and spur the economy.
- In Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942), the U.S. Supreme Court held that their Constitution does not protect “insulting or ‘fighting’ words — those which, by their very utterance, inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.”
- This is the core principle behind hate speech prohibition
- “(Hate speech) views members of the target group as an enemy within, refuses to accept them as legitimate and equal members of society, lowers their social standing, and… subverts the very basis of a shared life.
- It creates barriers of mistrust and hostility between individuals and groups, plants fears, obstructs normal relations…, and… exercises a corrosive influence on the conduct of collective life.
- Section 153-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which prohibits “promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc. and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony”.
Ease of doing business scrapped
- On September 16, the World Bank Group scrapped its flagship publication, the ‘Doing Business’ report.
- This report published the influential annual ranking of countries on the Ease of Doing Business (EDB) index
- accused of having exerted pressure on the internal team working on the Doing Business report to falsely boost China’s rank by doctoring the underlying data
- The EDB index ranks countries by the simplicity of rules framed for setting up and conducting businesses.
- India ranked low, around 130-140, till 2014. However, it zoomed to the 63rd position in 2019-20 (see table).
- Showcasing the accomplishment, India has claimed success of the ‘Make in India’ campaign.
- The flagship initiative, launched in 2014, sought to raise the manufacturing sector’s share in GDP to 25% (from 16-17%) and create 100 million additional jobs by 2022 (later revised to 2025
- The index appears motivated to support the free-market ideal.
- Mandate to improve the rank in the EDB index to whittle down labour laws and their enforcement and bring them close to the free-market ideal of ‘hire and fire’
Botanical survey 2020
- The Botanical Survey of India, in its new publication Plant Discoveries 2020 has added 267 new taxa/ species to the country’s flora.
- The 267 new discoveries include 119 angiosperms; 3 pteridophytes; 5 bryophytes, 44 lichens; 57 fungi, 21 algae and 18 microbes.
- Among the new discoveries this year, nine new species of balsam (Impatiens) and one species of wild banana (Musa pradhanii) were discovered from Darjeeling and one species each of wild jamun (Syzygium anamalaianum) from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu and fern (Selaginella odishana) were recorded from Kandhamal in Odisha.
- 22% of the discoveries were made from the Western Ghats followed by the Western Himalayas (15%), the Eastern Himalayas (14%) and the Northeast ranges (12%).
- The west coast contributed 10% while the east coast contributed (9%) in total discoveries; the Eastern Ghats and south Deccan contribute 4% each while the central highland and north Deccan added 3% each.