Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - June 28, 2018

Educational Reforms

University Grants Commission (UGC) going to be replaces with a new Higher Education Commission of India (HECI)
The central govt. places draft Bill in public domain for suggestions from educationists
Government announced a complete overhaul of the apex higher education regulator- University Grants Commission, repeal of the UGC Act, 1951 and a fresh legislation to set up the Higher Education Commission of India

What’s the NEWS

  • A draft Act for repeal of UGC & setting up HECI (Higher Education Commission of India) has been prepared,” Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar tweeted.
  • The Centre has placed in the public domain a draft Bill for eliciting suggestions from educationists.
  • The draft Higher Education Commission of India (Repeal of University Grants Commission Act) Act, 2018, takes away funding powers from the proposed regulator and gives it powers to ensure academic quality.
  • There is no plan to merge all higher education regulators, as was proposed through a planned agency called HEERA, which was supposed to be put in place as a super regulator.
  • The present proposal is to replace the UGC. Once this is done after the HECI Bill is passed by Parliament, the technical education regulator AICTE and the teachers' education regulator NCTE will also be reformed on similar lines.

Enlighten about the highlights of the draft legislation

  • The new regime separates the academic and funding aspects of higher education.
  • While HECI will be in charge of ensuring academic quality in universities and colleges, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) – or another mechanism that will be put in place later – will be responsible for funding universities and colleges.
  • Another key feature of the draft legislation is that “the Regulator will have powers to enforce compliance to the academic quality standards and will have the power to order closure of sub-standard and bogus institutions
  • Moreover, non¬compliance could result in fines or even a jail sentence.
  • Till now, the UGC had no such powers all it could do was to release a list of bogus institutions and not recognise their degrees.
  • HECI is tasked with the mandate of improving academic standards with specific focus on learning outcomes, evaluation of academic performance by institutions, mentoring of institutions, training of teachers, promote use of educational technology, etc.
  • It will develop norms for setting standards for opening and closure of institutions, provide for greater flexibility and autonomy to institutions, lay standards for appointments to critical leadership positions at the institutional level irrespective of university started under any law (including State list)
  • HECI regime would be fully digital and do away with file work.
  • The HECI will have a Chairperson, a Vice ¬Chairperson and 12 other members, including ex officio members, eminent academics and a doyen of industry.

Agreements(Health Sector)

IGNOU and health ministry tie up to train 14 lakh professionals

  • The Union Health Ministry signed an agreement with Indira Gandhi National Open University(Ignou) as part of its attempt to train 14 lakh youth in healthcare sector over the next four years to meet the growing demand for skilled professionals
  • Health Ministry already has a very strong collaboration with Ministry of Skill Development through an MoU which was signed in 2015 and had launched 'Skills for Life, Save a Life' initiative in June 2017
  • Under the initiative, 10 short term training programmes have been launched in the health sector
  • This agreement will give a boost and support to the government’s flagship healthcare programme Ayushman Bharat which aims to establish 150,000 Health and Wellness Centres across the country.
  • The courses are mostly in preventive and tertiary care sector
  • All the courses under this initiative are aligned to National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF).
  • The MoU aims to scale up the healthcare programs and create trained and quality personnel in the healthcare sector.
  • The MoU also envisages setting up of dedicated cell for developing, implementing and certifying NSQF aligned skill-based programmes at IGNOU

Report

Up To 1.8 Million Women May Lose Jobs After Maternity Law Changes
Government introduced the law that entitles women working in the organized sector to 26 weeks paid maternity leave, up from 12 weeks.

Enlighten about the Survey Highlights ( by TeamLease Services Ltd )

  • A new law to improve maternity benefits for women in India's workforce and encourage them to further their careers is likely to have the opposite effect
  • The law, which makes India the most progressive country after Canada and Norway in enabling women to stay on in the workforce, will probably lead to job losses and discourage smaller businesses and start-ups from hiring women
  • An estimated 1.1 million to 1.8 million women will lose their jobs across 10 sectors in the financial year to March 2019 because of the law
  • If this estimate is computed across all the sectors, the job loss number would be an estimated 10-12 million across all sectors, according to the survey by the staffing and human resources company.

What’s the present statics of women in workforce

  • The share of women in the workforce has shrunk to around 24 percent in the fiscal year ended 2016 from 36 percent a decade earlier.
  • McKinsey and Co. estimates more than $700 billion could be added to the country's gross domestic product by 2025 if more women were in jobs.
  • The survey was conducted among 300 employers across sectors like aviation, information technology and IT-enabled services, real estate, education, e-commerce, manufacturing, banking and financial services, as well as retail and tourism.
  • It showed that while large and professionally managed companies will back the reform measure, which is fully funded by the employer, small and medium sized companies would resist hiring women as they find the costs prohibitive.
  • In the eight years since 2004, about 20 million women -- the size of the combined populations of New York, London and Paris -- vanished from India's workforce, the World Bank estimates.
  • To stem this, the government introduced the law that entitles women working in the organized sector to 26 weeks paid maternity leave, up from 12 weeks.

What is the cause for this

  • According to the survey the post-maternity retention could cost 80 percent to 90 percent of the annual salary for white collar employees, and up to 135 percent of annual salary for blue collar employees
  • These kind of reforms are essentially supported by proactive governments across the world with complementing tax concessions, which are missing in India
  • Small and medium sized companies generally operate with less staff. If two of five women employees opt for maternity leave, that can cripple the firm itself.

Economy

2000-cr. capital infusion for export guarantor across FY2017-20 This will help ECGC provide cost-effective credit insurance to exporters

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved a capital infusion of ₹2,000 crore into the Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC) to be infused over the three financial years 2017-20.
  • The break-up of the infusion would be ₹50 crore in 2017-18, ₹1,450 crore in 2018-19, and ₹500 crore in 2019-20.

Beneficial for the MSME’S

  • The infusion would enhance insurance coverage to MSME exports and strengthen India’s exports to emerging and challenging markets like Africa, CIS and Latin American countries

Other benefits of this capital infusion

  • With enhanced capital, ECGC’s underwriting capacity and risk to capital ratio will improve considerably.
  • With a stronger underwriting capacity, ECGC will be in a better position to support Indian exporters to tap new and unexplored markets.”
  • The increased capital infusion would also help ECGC to diversify its product portfolio and provide cost-effective credit insurance to exporters
  • Covers from ECGC will help in improving competitive position of India exporters in international markets
  • More than 85% of customers benefited by ECGC’s covers are MSMEs. ECGC covers exports to around 200 countries in the world

National Export Insurance Account Trust (NEIA).

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs also approved the contribution of grant-in-aid of 1,040 crore to the National Export Insurance Account Trust (NEIA).
  • The corpus is to be utilised during three years from 2017-18 to 2019-20
  • The corpus would strengthen NEIA to support project exports from the country that are of strategic and national importance

Enlighten about Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC)

  • The ECGC Limited (Formerly Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India Ltd) is a company wholly owned by the Government of India based in Mumbai, Maharashtra
  • It provides export credit insurance support to Indian exporters and is controlled by the Ministry of Commerce.
  • Government of India had initially set up Export Risks Insurance Corporation (ERIC) in July 1957.
  • It was transformed into Export Credit and Guarantee Corporation Limited (ECGC) in 1964 and to Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India in 1983.
  • It functions under the administrative control of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Department of Commerce, Government of India. It is managed by a Board of Directors comprising representatives of the Government, Reserve Bank of India, banking, insurance and exporting community.

Sources – PIB, The Hindu , Business Standard