News Wrap


The Government of India's New Education Policy 2020 (NEP) aspires to transform education to produce "good, thoughtful, well rounded and creative individuals." Most of our 800 plus universities presently churn out graduates and post graduates every year, with very little knowledge and skill. The Gross Employment Ratio (GER) in higher education being a paltry 26% compared to 58% in Senior Secondary and 79% in Secondary Schooling, most students are driven away from higher education because of debilitating deficiencies. The NEP aims a single minded focus on multi-disciplinarity, by creating large multi-disciplinary universities, and clusters of Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs). The total combined public expenditure on education by the central government and the states, currently is about 4% of the Gross Domestic Product, which falls way behind the target of 6% envisaged in all previous Education Policies.

Ban On Mgnrega Labourer
Koraput is the only district in Orissa state, which cultivates coffee. While thousands of labourers final work in these coffee plantations, it is the Tribal workforce that benefits at Koraput, Nandapur and Lamtaput blocks of the district. Being a manual work oriented plantation, the district had the opportunity to engage at least a section of workers, in convergence with MGNREGS. The government of India's recent restriction on the use of MGNREG funds for the purpose is acting as a dampener and adversely affecting the tribals. The coffee plantations are trying to offer employment to the locals, preventing them from migrating to other places, in search of wages. Orissa is facing a grant challenge in providing employment to the labour workforce, which has returned from other states, due to the pandemic.

Toll-Tax Revenues
At least fifteen panchayats, in Burdwan (East), consistently failed to give proper explanations on revenue generated from toll Tax collections in their respective areas. The district administration has reported the master to Wet Bengal secretariat. There has been non-compliance of construction of 95 kms of rural road under State Rural Development Agency, and a failure to lay 13.5 kms road against the targeted figure. 50% of the revenue generated by the Panchayats, from road toll Tax collection is to be spent on maintenance of the road, and the remaining 50% on other roads. The deteriorating road conditions, make them unfit for vehicles. Several panchayats have never maintained any financial records of the revenues generated out of toll tax. Most of these are Trinamol Congress (TMC) run panchayats, and located in Raina, Jamalpur, Khandaghosh, Madhabdihi and Galsi blocks.

Pangong Lake
In the Galwan Valley clashes on 15 June 2020, between India and China, 20 Indian army personnel were killed. China also suffered casualties, but it is yet to make the details public. But according to an American intelligence report, it was 35. There was a fresh conformtation in eastern Laddkh on 29/30 Aug 2000 Night, on the southern bank of Pangong Tso lake. There was no physical clash, between the troops of the to sides, during China's attempt to open a new front. It was for the first time, that such an incident occurred on the southern bank. India has undertaken measures to strengthen Indian positions in the southern bank of the Pangong TSO lake, Known as the Chishul Sector. China's PLA troops have reportedly dug themselves 8 kms inside India-claimed lines at Finger 4, and have refused to disengage, despite a series of military and diplomatic talks. As per reports, on the night of 29/30 Aug 2020. Indian commanders decided to send in the Vikas (SFF) battalion, to occupy Black Top, the southern side of Pangong Tso, on India's side of LAC, to preempt the Chinese from moving in. India has taken control of some strategic heights not only n the southern bank of Pangong TSO, but also its Northern bank, thereby bolstering its position. Digging in for the long haul with winter fast approaching would present its own set of serious physical and logistical challenges, at altitudes well over 4000 metres.

Climate Protesters
After 'Extinction Rebellion' climate change activities blocked printing presses used by Rupert Murdoch's News in United Kingdom, the publisher of "The Times" and "The Sun", the distribution of several British Newspapers was disrupted on 05 Sep 2020. Nearly eighty people had blocked roads leading to two print works, at Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, north east of London, and at Knosley, near Liverpod. Police have made several arrests. The Murdoch-owned Newsprinters' works also print the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times. Extinction Rebellion said it took the action to highlight what is regards as the newspaper's failure to accurately report climate change. The protests which continued on 05 Sep 2020, were condemned by UK interior minister Priti Patel.  

Vol. 53, No. 20, Nov 15 - 21, 2020