Cabinet okays setting up of National Recruitment Agency
NRA will conduct a screening examination for non-gazetted jobs.
NRA will eliminate need for candidates to take separate examinations of the Railway Recruitment Board, Staff Selection Commission and Institute of Banking Personnel Selection.
This is a welcomeadministrativereform measure.
The gains from a single examination, when offered at the district level in the regionallanguage, as opposed to a multiplicity of tests in far fewer locations are self-evident.
Overall, the posts coming under the ambit of the proposed NRA would cover about 1.25 lakh jobs a year, which typically attract about 2.5 crore aspirants.
Candidates would no longer have to travel to urban centres at considerable expense and hardship to take an employment test.
Opportunities to improve performance, subject to age limits, and a three-yearvalidityforscoresare positive features.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her budget speech said the NRA would be an independent, professional, specialistorganisation.
New posts are sanctioned periodically, but a large number of vacancies remain unfilled.
With growing emphasis on transferring core railway services to the private sector, there may be fewer government jobs on offer in the future.
Reform must, therefore, have a wider reach to achieve scale. Recruitment must be marked by well-definedprocedures, wide publicity and open competition, besides virtual elimination of discretion.
As a preliminary screening test, the NRA can potentially cut delays, which are a familiar feature with government, boost transparency and enable wider access.
The entire process of candidate selection must be a model, raising the bar on speed, efficiency and integrity.
Make in India, for the world | ToI
This signifies India’saspiration to be a powerfultrading nation on the back of quality products, competitive manufacturing, and integration into the world economy.
A robust trading nation is in a better position to set the agenda and influencenarratives.
In 1817, David Ricardo, provided the foolproof argument in support of trade.
His theory of comparative advantage says all countries gain from trade even when one country’s workers are more efficient at producing every single product than workers in other countries.
Free trade principles work only as long as everyone plays by the book.
China uses a combination of massive subsidies and intellectual property theft, to become the dominant producer and exporter of many essential products.
For solar panels alone, China used to give an annual subsidy exceeding $15 billion.
China also uses the third country FTAroute to sell subsidised products.
Reduce input costs
High duties on raw materials, expensive credit, erratic power supply, time taking land transactions, delay in refund of taxes, and less productive labour increase the input cost.
Deep reforms in these areas will make India an attractive place to do business.
Define ‘Make in India for the world’ standards and make it a quality label
This will require setting up a large number of design studios, innovation labs, and strengthening of standards and quality infrastructure.
MSMEs should have free access to such resources.
Expand manufacturing and trade of the products the world buys most
Electronics, organic chemicals, machinery, apparel, telecom etc.
We must avoid becoming a hub for superficial assembly of imported components.
A better alternative is becoming a component manufacturing hub.
We need joint ventures and external investments.
India will also need reforms in import duty structure, building efficient ports, and online systems.
Avoid critical dependence on any country.
We need to develop self-sufficiency in bulk drugs/ APIs, power equipment, everyday use goods, and defence related products etc.
We should be willing to pay the additional price for this.
Becoming a great trading power would require participation of business and technology experts and not mere economists and bureaucrats.
It will transform our agriculture, manufacturing, technology, logistics, education, and most other sectors
The marriage age misconception | TH
PM from the Red Fort on Independence Day, declared that the government is considering raising the legal age of marriage for girls, which is currently 18 years.
It is believed that the committee is working on raising the marriage age of women in India to 21, thus brining it on a par with that for men.
Government believes that simply raising the age of marriage is the best way to improve the health and nutritional status of mothers and their infants.
The big question is from where this belief is coming from?
The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, by Nyugen, Scott, Neupane, Tran and Menon, on May 15, 2019.
It was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
This article analyses data on stunting in children and thinnessinmothers (as measures of under-nourishment) in the latest round of the National Family Health Survey 4 (2015-16).
The authors examine the strength of the association between many different causal factors (the mother’s age at childbearing, her educational level, living conditions, health conditions, decision-making power, and so on) and the health status of mother and child.
As it turns out, the poverty of the motherplaysthe greatest role of all by far — both in relation to her undernourishment and that of her child, but this is not acknowledged.
It would be to address the poverty of the mother, which could be done in a myriad ways, beginning with the most direct method of nutritional programmes for girls and women through a range of institutional mechanisms from Anganwadis to schools.
It is unfortunate that such thinking is finding a home in the highest office of the Indian government.
Raising the age at marriage by amending the law is costless and can be effortlessly achieved by legal fiat.
Those who fervently believe that the minimum age of men and women should be the same in the name of gender equality can suggest that India follow global norms of 18 years for both.
In Bihar, EC’s challenge | IndExp
Bihar assembly elections
The Election Commission of India has put its foot down and announced the timely conduct of elections to the 243-memberlegislativeassembly.
This is not the first time that the EC would be holding polls during the coronavirus pandemic.
June 2020 onwards, RajyaSabha and legislativecouncilelections of various states under strict COVID-specific guidelines.
As many as 34 countries have conducted their national assembly or presidential elections while fighting against COVID-19.
Election Commission has come up with its own set of rules that would be implemented during the Bihar elections.
Reduction of the number of electors per polling booth to 1,000 from the current 1,500
Addition of 33,797 auxiliary polling stations to prevent over-crowding
COVID-sensitive capacity-building of election officials
Counting tables have been reduced to seven per assembly constituency from 14
Opposition parties’ fear of poor voter turnout
EC’s decision to extend the postal ballot option to senior citizens over the age of 80, COVID-positive patients, persons with disabilities and voters in essential services.
Making use of its now famous SVEEP (Systematic Voter Education for Electoral Participation) programme and technological facilities to ensure voter education and mobilisation.
The political parties in Bihar are mostly likely to resort to digital campaigning
Virtual rallies are going to be a dominant feature of digital campaigning, besides social media.
Virtual rallies have their own limitations, like inaccessibility to every nook and corner of rural, hilly and forest areas.
The internet penetration in Bihar being an abysmal 37 per cent.
Sparse usage of smartphones in Bihar, which stands at just 27 per cent.
The problem of equal opportunity also exists on the other mode of digital campaigning, social media.
Other than social media funding, the Election Commission has another task in the realm of social media campaigning — fake news and hate propaganda.
The recent example of its strict stance against hate propaganda came during legislative assembly elections of Delhi, when the Commission ordered Twitter to take down a communal post by a BJP leader (KapilMishra) and followed it up by asking the Delhi Police to file an FIR against him — setting a strong precedent.
There exists a Voluntary Code of Ethics, issued by the ECI in collaboration with social media platforms, allowing a direct engagement of the Commission and these platforms over problematic posts during election season.
The Bihar election could be an opportunity for the Election Commission to prove its efficiency once again to every sceptic out there.
At a time when all countries of the world are looking at each other for lessons, Bihar could provide a leading example of successful election management, and the ECI a leading electoral management body.
Saving a tree| IndExp
For decades, Class 7 students across India have been taught that “only God can make a tree”.
But the poem by JoyceKilmer, included in the NCERT textbook, forgot to add that if enough people get together, they can bring one back to life.
People from across the country and the world banded together to resurrect a fallen banyan tree.
The tree was uprooted during a storm and thought to be dead.
After much coordination, fundraising and multiple efforts, it was put back into place earlier this week.
There is an intrinsic value to the 200-year-oldtree — by sheer virtue of its size, it is a small ecosystemuntoitself.
Apart from being home to a snake, the resting place for a bull and many other insects, birds and animals, it served as a source of income for the owner: She charged a modest fee for the tourists and expats who gathered around it.
The “community” that led the restoration effort was bound together by the memories, stories, dance and music — culture, really — fostered around the giant banyan.
There is a lesson in the resurrection. Too often, “nature” is seen in opposition to people.
The banyan at Arambol is just one tree.
But perhaps, at a time when much of the world is isolated, it can serve as an example of how to build a better world, with people, not despite them.
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