1. How mother’s education correlates with child’s school and ability

Relevant for GS Mains Paper I; Social Issues

Preference for private school by children of educated mothers

Among the key findings of ASER 2019 is that the mother’s education often determines the kind of pre-schooling or schooling that the child gets. The report says that among children in the early years (ages 0-8), those with mothers who had completed eight or fewer years of schooling are more likely to be attending anganwadis or government pre-primary classes, whereas their peers whose mothers had studied beyond the elementary stage are more likely to be enrolled in private LKG/UKG classes.

With a little less than half (46.9%) the mothers surveyed having studied up to Class 9 or more, the child of a mother whose educational qualification is Class 11 or more is more likely to be in a private LKG/UKG class (37.8%) or a private school (35.3%) than in an anganwadi or government pre-primary class (11.1%) or government school (37.8%).

Mother’s education and academic performance of children

ASER 2019 also shows how, among 4- and 5-year-olds who were administered a four-piece puzzle and 6- to 8-year-olds who were asked to solve a 6-piece puzzle, those whose mothers had completed Class 11 or more had a higher chance of solving these cognitive tasks. For example, 7.9% of all 4-year-olds whose mothers never went to school could do all three cognitive tasks given to them as compared to 16% of all children in the same age group whose mothers had completed Class 11 or higher.

This correlation between mothers’ education and children’s learning levels has been stressed in several studies, including previous ASER reports. Between 2011 and 2012, researchers at MIT’s Poverty Action Lab worked with Pratham to study whether literacy classes and other interventions for mothers could improve children’s learning outcomes. They found that their interventions have “had small positive impacts on mothers’ math and literacy skills, the home learning environment, some forms of school attendance, and ultimately children’s learning levels”.

Source: The Indian Express

2. Centre eases CRZ rules for ‘Blue Flag’ beaches

Relevant for GS Prelims & Mains Paper III; Environment

The Environment Ministry has relaxed Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules that restrict construction near beaches to help States construct infrastructure and enable them to receive ‘Blue Flag’ certification.

What are blue flag beaches?

Last year, the Ministry selected 13 beaches in India to vie for the certificate. This is an international recognition conferred on beaches that meet certain criteria of cleanliness and environmental propriety.

The earmarked beaches are — Ghoghala beach (Diu), Shivrajpur beach (Gujarat), Bhogave beach (Maharashtra), Padubidri and Kasarkod beaches (Karnataka), Kappad beach (Kerala), Kovalam beach (Tamil Nadu), Eden beach (Puducherry), Rushikonda beach (Andhra Pradesh), Miramar beach (Goa), Golden beach (Odisha), Radhanagar beach (Andaman & Nicobar Islands) and Bangaram beach (Lakshadweep).

What constructions are mandatory for blue flag certification?

The Blue Flag certification, however, requires beaches to create certain infrastructure — portable toilet blocks, grey water treatment plants, a solar power plant, seating facilities, CCTV surveillance and the like. However, India’s CRZ laws don’t allow the construction of such infrastructure on beaches and islands. Via an order on January 9, the Environment Ministry eased these restrictions for the “purposes of Blue Flag certification”.

“…Central Government hereby declares that for the purpose of Blue Flag Certification in such identified beaches, the following activities and facilities shall be permitted in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ), including Islands, subject to maintaining a minimum distance of 10 meters from HTL (High Tide Line),” the gazette notification notes.

Who provides the certification?

The certification is accorded by the Denmark-based Foundation for Environment Education, with 33 stringent criteria under four major heads for the beaches, that is, (i) Environmental Education and Information (ii) Bathing Water Quality (iii) Environment Management and Conservation and (iv) Safety and Services.

Blue flag tag is example of ‘Eco-tourism’

The ‘Blue Flag’ beach is an ‘eco-tourism model’ and marks out beaches as providing tourists and beachgoers clean and hygienic bathing water, facilities/amenities, a safe and healthy environment, and sustainable development of the area.

The Blue Flag Programme started in France in 1985 and has been implemented in Europe since 1987, and in areas outside Europe since 2001, when South Africa joined.

Japan and South Korea are the only countries in south and southeastern Asia to have Blue Flag beaches. Spain tops the list with 566 such beaches; Greece and France follow with 515 and 395 Blue Flag beaches, respectively.

Source: The Hindu

3. Retail food inflation for December has touched a more than six-year high. When are prices likely to fall? And what could prevent that from happening? What steps can the government take?

Relevant for GS Prelims & Mains Paper III; Economics

Recently, the National Statistical Office released data that showed annual consumer price index (CPI) inflation for December at 7.35%, which was the highest since the 7.39% of July 2014, and also more than the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) upper target limit of 6%.

But the real shocker was retail food inflation, which soared to a more than six-year high of 14.12%. Given that food items have a 45.86% weight in the overall CPI, this raises the question whether the current surge is merely transitory, or there are other factors that may come in the way of prices falling in the near future.

How serious is the spike in food inflation?

The sudden and sharp increase in the consumer food price index (CPFI) inflation has caught everyone by surprise. For an extended period from September 2016 to August 2019, the year-on-year CPFI inflation consistently remained below the overall CPI inflation. But CPFI inflation went up from 2.99% in August to 5.11% in September to 7.88% in October, then to 10.01% in November and 14.12% in December. This last figure was the highest since the 17.89% for November 2013. The extent of both the earlier decline and now the rise, is much more pronounced in the case of food than general consumer inflation.

So what accounts for this sudden spike?

The main reason seems to be the uneven rains. The southwest monsoon season (June-September) this year brought little rain almost until the last week of July. The late onset of the monsoon resulted in lower and delayed sowing of the kharif crop. However, September, October, and even the first half of November saw heavy rain, which caused damage to the standing crop that was in the late maturity stage, or due for harvesting. The production disruptions during kharif, ironically from more and not less rain, are the main reason for prices rising, especially from September onward.

Is this then temporary and once-for-all?

The same heavy and unseasonal rain that wreaked havoc on the kharif (monsoon) crop has helped recharge groundwater aquifers, and filled the major irrigation reservoirs to near full capacity. This is proving beneficial to the rabi (winter-spring) crop. Government data show farmers have sown 8% more area during the current rabi season. That, together with vastly improved soil moisture conditions and a normal winter, should hopefully translate into a bumper harvest, offsetting any kharif losses.

An illustrative example could be onions. The Agriculture Ministry has estimated the total production in 2019-20 for kharif/late-kharif at 54.73 lakh tonnes (lt), which is nearly 22%

below the corresponding level of 69.91 lt last year. However, transplanting during the rabi season — which accounts for over two-thirds of India’s onion production — has been about 19.5% more than in 2018-19 due to a combination of better water availability and higher prices received by farmers. This crop will start hitting the market towards March-end, which should go some way in easing prices.

The same would apply to many other vegetables, which incidentally have reported the highest year-on-year CPI inflation of 60.5% for December.

Will prices of all foods fall similarly in the next couple of months?

The likelihood is more for vegetables, which are mostly seasonal and short-duration crops. Farmers generally respond to the high prices in one season by expanding production in the following one. The situation could, however, be trickier in crops where supply cannot be ramped up in the immediate run. The best example here is milk, where farmers experienced low price realisations for much of 2015 to 2018.

Many of them gradually reduced herd sizes or diverted more fodder and feed to animals yielding milk. The undernourished calves have grown to be less productive milkers, just as the pregnant females that have undergone delayed calvings. Better prices now — dairies in Maharashtra are now procuring cow milk at Rs 31-32 per litre, compared to Rs 21-22 a year ago — may make farmers invest in more animals and also feed them better. But the results will take time to show. It is not unlikely that the prices of milk will go up further in the next few months, particularly in the “lean” summer months, when production by buffaloes and cows falls in the natural course.

Is there anything else that could keep food prices high even after March?

The thing to watch is global prices. The 2000s were a decade of high agri-commodity prices. Between 2003 and 2011, the world food price index (base year: 2002-04 = 100) of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) soared from an annual average of 97.7 to 229.9. It then crashed to 161.5 by 2016. That major reason for benign food prices, including in India, has started showing signs of reversal. The FAO’s benchmark index in December 2019 was 12.5% higher than in December 2018. This is also reflected in a hardening trend in the international prices of individual food commodities.

What can the government do?

Food inflation is not bad news for farmers who have suffered from low crop prices and the end of the global commodity boom after 2014. A price recovery would give a boost to rural incomes, which is beneficial for consumption and overall economic growth in the current circumstances. But neither the government nor the RBI can afford to ignore food inflation that will hurt consumers and make further cuts in interest rate impossible.

There is pressure now to open up — or allow more imports of — commodities such as pulses, milk powder, and edible oils. The government will ultimately have to take a considered decision that balances the interests of both producers and consumers.

Source: The Indian Express

4. What is a police commissionerate system?

Relevant for GS Prelims & Mains Paper II; Polity & Governance

The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet approved the commissionerate system of policing for Lucknow and Noida. The system gives more responsibilities, including magisterial powers, to IPS officers of Inspector General of Police (IG) rank posted as commissioners. Depending on its success here, the policing system may gradually be implemented in other districts as well.

What is police commissionerate system?

Under the 7th Schedule of the Constitution, ‘Police’ is under the State list, meaning individual states typically legislate and exercise control over this subject. In the arrangement in force at the district level, a ‘dual system’ of control exists, in which the Superintendent of Police (SP) has to work with the District Magistrate (DM) for supervising police administration.

At the metropolitan level, many states have replaced the dual system with the commissionerate system, as it is supposed to allow for faster decision-making to solve complex urban-centric issues.

In the commissionerate system, the Commissioner of Police (CP) is the head of a unified police command structure, is responsible for the force in the city, and is accountable to the state government. The office also has magisterial powers, including those related to regulation, control, and licensing.

The CP is drawn from the Deputy Inspector General rank or above, and is assisted by Special/Joint/Additional/Deputy Commissioners.

How many states have it?

Almost all states barring Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, UT of J&K, and some Northeastern states have a commissionerate system. The British brought the system first in Kolkata and followed it in Mumbai and Chennai presidencies. Delhi turned into a commissionerate during the Morarji Desai regime. In 1978, an initiative to introduce the system in UP, beginning with Kanpur, never materialised.

From where the opposition comes to commissionerate system
The delay in UP was due to resistance from the IAS lobby. Bureaucracy in India has resisted it (commissionerate system) tooth and nail. Even now in UP, the bureaucracy has wrenched some powers off the commissionerate. Only 15 Acts have been kept under police commissionerates. Bureaucracy has kept with itself issues of licensing, the Arms Act, Excise laws etc with themselves.

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has said that as per the Police Act, the system is to be implemented in cities with more than 10 lakh population and added, “But because of lack of political will it could not be implemented. For years, there was a demand in Uttar Pradesh but it was neglected.”

What is different under the system?

Policing is based on the Police Act of 1861. Under the colonial system, the overall in-charge of a district or region was the district collector; the SP reported to him. The powers of the executive magistrate, such as issuing orders for preventive arrests or imposition of Section 144 CrPC, were vested in the district collector. This was called the dual system of police administration.

“The primary objective of the British was revenue collection in rural India. They needed a force that could support this objective and unleash tyranny and oppression when needed to suit the objective. The worst of officers from the British police were sent to India. So there was need to put them under the District Collector. That system continued post-Independence,” former UP DG Prakash Singh said.

Under the commissionerate system, the commissioner does not report to the DM. In Mumbai and Delhi, he reports directly to the government. “It gives an integrated command structure. It helps fix responsibility with the Commissioner and eliminates blame game between civil administration and police when something goes wrong,” Singh said.

Source: The Indian Express

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Que. How does Commissionerate system gives larger power to State Police to maintain law and order? Why it is being implemented mostly in metropolitan and larger cities and not in small urban areas? (250 words, 15 marks)