Current Affairs - January 2017

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NITI Aayog calls for review RTE Act

The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog has called for a review of the provisions of the Right To Education (RTE) Act that stipulate children who do not perform well cannot be held back up to 8th Class.

The RTE Act aims to provide primary education to all children aged 6 to 14 years. It stipulates that no child can be held back in a grade, regardless of his performance, all the way up to the 8th grade.  This means that a child is entitled to an 8th grade diploma even if he cannot recognise a single letter or a number if he has spent eight years in school.

Key Observations
  • The government think tank pointed out that the purpose behind this provision in the Act was to minimise drop-out rate as demoralisation from failing a class may result children to withdraw from school altogether.
  • However, despite good intention, the provision has a detrimental effect on learning outcomes, since it takes away the pressure to learn and to compete. So the NITI Aayog called revision of the RTE Act.
  • The real problem is the quality of education as measurement by student achievements. The education quality trend between 2010 and 2014 has been worsening instead of improving performance.

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014 report, the proportion of children aged 6-14 years enrolled in school in rural areas has been above 96% for the past six years but more than 50% of the 5th graders cannot read second standard level text.

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Industrial production grows 5.7% in November 2016

India’s factory output, measured by the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) has registered 5.7% growth in November 2016 as against 1.9% in October 2016.

It is the fastest growth recorded in more than four years and is largely on account of a low base effect. It also does not display the negative effects of demonetisation as production cycles in manufacturing take longer to adjust to any demand change.

Key Facts
  • Manufacturing sector grew by 5.5% in November 2016.
  • Mining sector output rose 3.9%.
  • Electricity generation sector increased 8.9%.
  • Capital goods output surged 15%.
  • Consumer durable output jumped 9.8%
  • Consumer non-durable production increased 2.9%
  • Overall growth in consumer goods output was 5.6%.

About Index of Industrial Production (IIP)

The IIP is compiled and published every month by Central Statistics Office (CSO) of the Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. It covers 682 items comprising Manufacturing (620 items), Mining (61 items) & Electricity (1 item). The weights of the three sectors are 75.53%, 14.16%, 10.32% respectively and are on the basis of their share of GDP at factor cost during 2004-05. The eight Core Industries comprise nearly 38 % of the weight of items included in IIP.

Base Effect: It is basically the consequence of abnormally high or low levels of inflation in a previous month distorting headline inflation numbers for the most recent month.

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SC refuses to pass judgment on Jallikattu before Pongal

The Supreme Court has rejected a plea urging it to pass judgement on Jallikattu before the harvest festival of Pongal. It had also dismissed the review petition against its 2014 verdict.

Earlier, the apex court had questioned the Union Government for its January 2016 notification allowing use of bulls in events like Jallikattu, saying that its 2014 verdict banning the use of the animals cannot be negated.

About Jallikattu

  • Jallikattu is a bull taming or bull vaulting sport played in Tamil Nadu on Mattu Pongal day as a part of Pongal celebrations i.e. harvest festival. It is one of the oldest living ancient tradition practiced in the modern era.
  • Jallikattu has been derived from the words ‘calli’ (coins) and ‘kattu’ (tie), which means a bundle of coins is tied to the bull’s horns.
  • In the ancient Sangam literature the sport has been called as ‘Yeru thazhuvuthal’ (means to embrace bulls). In older times Jallikattu was popular amongst warriors during the Tamil classical period.
  • The bull tamer sought to remove this bundle from the animal’s head to win gold or silver coins to be called ‘brave’ and ‘valourous’.
  • All castes participate in the event and majority of jallikattu and bulls used for the sport belong to the pulikulam breed of cattle.
Supreme Court Ban
  • The Supreme Court had banned Jallikattu in May 2014 and held that bulls could not be used as performing animals. It completely banned use of bulls for Jallikattu events or bullock-cart races across the country.
  • The ban was imposed by SC as it violated provisions of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCAA), 1960; fundamental duty Article 51A (g): compassion towards animal; Article 21 (Right to Life), which prohibits any disturbance to the environment, including animals as it is considered essential for human life.
  • It also had held that Jallikattu has nothing to do with exercise of the fundamental right of religious freedom. It also runs counter to the concept of welfare of the animal, which is the basic foundation of the PCAA.

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