Current Affairs (3rd July 2021)
Report on Unified Information System for Education Plus
- Union Education Minister has released the Report on Unified Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+) 2019-20 for School Education in India.
- UDISE+ report collates data from more than 15 lakh schools across India.
- The Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSEL) has developed the UDISE+ system.
- The UDISE+ system of online data collection was developed in 2018-19 to overcome the issues related to manual data filling in paper format and subsequent feeding at the block or district level, which was in practice from 2012-13.
- Being an online application, UDISE+ has a number of entry-level checks built in the data entry module at all levels in real-time. That helps to improve data quality and speed up data entry and its verification.
- UDISE+ data is hosted on the server of the National Informatics Centre (NIC).
- The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) at all levels of school education has improved in 2019-20 compared to 2018-19.
- 98% of students in Classes 1-8 attended school, though the GER for secondary and senior secondary students stood at 78% and 51% respectively.
- Efforts have been made to ensure universal accessibility of education for persons with disabilities.
- The enrolment of Divyang students has increased by 6.52% (2018-19).
- Pupil-Teacher Ratio (PTR) has improved at all levels of school education.
- Between 2012-13 and 2019-20, the Gender Parity Index (GPI) at both Secondary and Higher Secondary levels have improved.
- At present, the GPI is 1 or more at all levels of school education.
- In 2019-20,more than 90% of schools in India had hand wash facilities as compared to only 36.3% in 2012-13.
- In the academic year that ended with school closures due to COVID-19, only 22% of schools in India had Internet facilities.
- Among government schools, less than 12% had Internet in 2019-20, while less than 30% had functional computer facilities.
- This affected the kind of digital education options available to schools during the pandemic, as well as plans for hybrid learning in the days ahead.
- UDISE+ data makes clear the digital divide. The internet connectivity divide is even starker.
Global cooperation to combat pandemics
- Recently, the Indian Foreign Minister flagged ‘vaccine equity’ Calls for global cooperation to combat pandemics at the G-20 ministerial meetings.
- These remarks came in the wake of the European Union’s (EU) opposition to India’s and South Africa’s proposal to increase large-scale manufacturing of vaccines by waiving some parts of the intellectual property rules under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement).
- These rules prevent international firms with the capacity to produce approved vaccinations from doing so owing to issues with licencing.
- In January 2021, WHO issued a call to all countries to work together in solidarity – and in each of their best interests – to ensure that within the first 100 days of the year, vaccination of health workers and older people was underway in all countries.
- This call to action is at the heart of WHO’s campaign for #VaccinEquity, which aims to overcome the pandemic and the inequalities that lie at the root of so many global health challenges, as well as drive a global recovery.
- By day 100, tens of thousands of individuals and nearly 1500 organizations around the world signed the #VaccinEquity Declaration. Over half a billion COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered worldwide, with over 38 million COVAX doses shipped to more than 100 countries and economies.
- However, a lack of supply and inequitable distribution of vaccines still remains the biggest threat to ending the acute stage of this pandemic and driving global recovery.
- India has sought Maldivian government action on persons behind media reports and social media posts attacking the dignity of its resident diplomats.
- President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s government is seen to be a close ally of India, with enhanced development and defence cooperation since 2018.
- However, some government critics are sceptical of greater military ties with India.
- In May 2021, an announcement made in India, on the Cabinet clearing a proposal to set up a second mission in the Maldives, sparked concern among sections.
- This prompted a renewed “#Indiaout” campaign on Maldivian social media.
- The High Commission of India said the repeated attacks on resident diplomats were motivated, malicious and increasingly personal.
- It urged the Foreign Ministry to take steps to ensure enhanced protection of the Mission and its officials.
- It urged the authorities to ensure action, in accordance with International Law and Maldivian Law against the perpetrators for gross violations of the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations.
Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations:
- Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations is an international treaty that defines a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries.
- It was adopted in 1961 by the United Nations Conference on Diplomatic Intercourse and Immunities held in Vienna, Austria.
- It specifies the privileges of a diplomatic mission that enable diplomats to perform their functions without fear of coercion or harassment by the host country.
- This forms the legal basis for diplomatic immunity.
Goods and Service Tax (GST)
- For India, a completely new journey commenced on July 1, 2017, with goods and services tax, being touted as one of the biggest economic reforms of independent India.
- Goods and Services Tax is an indirect tax used in India on the supply of goods and services.
- It is a value-added tax levied on most goods and services sold for domestic consumption.
- It was launched in India on 1 July 2017 as a comprehensive indirect tax for the entire country.
- It is a comprehensive, multistage, destination-based tax– comprehensive because it has subsumed almost all the indirect taxes except a few state taxes.
- It is paid by the consumers and is remitted to the government by the businesses selling the goods and services.
- It is of three types i.e.
- CGST to be levied by the Centre,
- SGST to be levied by the States and
- IGST a tax levied on all Inter-State supplies of goods and/or services.
- All these taxes are levied at rates mutually agreed upon by the Centre and the States.
- The GST Council headed by the Union Finance Minister is the governing and key decision-making body for GST.
- Better Compliance: GST helped in achieving better tax compliance by subsuming multiple taxation and reduction in taxation burden in the last four years.
- Automated tax ecosystem: It helped the country in transitioning to an automated indirect tax ecosystem.
- E-invoice & More Revenue: The E-invoicing system helped reduce fake invoicing. Use of technology with online bill generation has resulted in smoother consignment movement and much fewer disputes with officials.
- Logistical efficiency, production cost cut: Another major achievement of this regime is the fact that over 50% of logistics effort and time is saved since GST has ensured the removal of multiple checkpoints and permits at state border checkpoints.
- Lesser transaction costs: After the introduction of GST, there has been a significant reduction in transaction costs. This reduction has been a huge breakthrough in the interstate movement of products, allowing the country to boast of a single national unified market for businesses.
- Cooperative Federalism: The customs portals are linked with the GST portal for credit availing on imports constitution of the GST Council and ensuring Centre-State partnership in the decision-making process. It ensured cooperative federalism to be its major part.
- Ease of doing business: India’s ease of doing business ranking has improved significantly in the last four years. Before GST was implemented, India’s Ease of Doing Business ranking was 130 in 2016. In 2020, India was ranked 63rd on the list.
- More Freedom: Since the GST rate is the same across the country for a particular supply, traders and manufacturers in the organized sectors have gained more freedom to choose the best vendors, suppliers, and other stakeholders with better pricing, regardless of their location.
- Improved Competitiveness: GST has improved the competitiveness of domestic industries in the international market by removing hidden and embedded taxes.
- Constant amendment: Over the last few years, the GST law has seen many amendments. During this time, all these revisions often confused the taxpayer and as well the tax administrators which created misunderstandings and misconceptions. To date, more than 1,000 notifications/circulars/instructions/orders have been issued by the government machinery.
- Refund delay issues: Since there are manual approvals involved in the existing process, there are chances of a discrepancy, human error, delay in refund processing which goes against the expectations of the exporters from the system.
- Adaption & Technical Issues: Small and medium businesses are still grappling to adapt to the tech-enabled regime. The fundamental principles on which the GST law was built viz. seamless flow of input credits and ease of compliance has been impaired by IT glitches,
- Complex Penalties: Many businesses are genuinely not able to monitor their vendor behaviour and feel that they should not be penalised for the tax compliance deficiencies of their vendors once they have paid the GST amounts to their vendors.
- Low Revenue: Widespread non-compliance and non-filing of GST returns was considerable in the first three years of GST which led to low revenue collections.