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22-02-2023

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What is a ‘corrupt act’ according to the Representation of People Act, 1951?

GS-2: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.


Recently, the Supreme Court noted that voters do not choose a candidate based on their educational qualifications in India. Therefore, misrepresenting a candidate's educational qualifications cannot be considered a "corrupt practice" under Sections 123 (2) and 123 (4) of the Representation of People's Act, 1951.


 

The Anugrah Narayan Singh v. Harsh Vardhan Bajpayee Case 

  • The Supreme Court heard a plea challenging a 2017 Allahabad High Court ruling in the case of "Anugrah Narayan Singh v. Harsh Vardhan Bajpayee".
  • The plea was filed by former Congress MLA Anugrah Narayan Singh who sought to declare the election of BJP MLA Harsh Vardhan Bajpayee as "null and void".
  • Singh alleged that Bajpayee committed a "corrupt practice" under Section 123(2) of the Representation of People Act by not disclosing his liabilities and correct educational qualifications in his nomination affidavit, thereby interfering in the free exercise of electoral rights of voters.
  • Singh also alleged that Bajpayee committed a "corrupt practice" under Section 123(4) of the Act by publishing a false statement of fact about his character and conduct to influence the outcome of the election.
  • However, the Allahabad High Court held that the inaccuracy or concealment of Bajpayee's educational qualifications did not unduly influence voters and was not of substantial character that could have materially prejudiced the prospects of the election.
  • The Supreme Court refused to interfere with the High Court's order of dismissal.

 

Corrupt practices under Representation of the People Act, 1951

  • Section 123 of The Representation of the People Act, 1951 defines what amounts to a "corrupt practice" during an election in India. The section includes the following:
  • Bribery: Offering or giving money or any other gratification to a voter with the intention of inducing them to vote for a particular candidate.
  • Section 123(2) defines undue influence as any attempt to interfere with the free exercise of electoral rights, including using threats, force, coercion, or any other undue influence to induce a voter to vote for a particular candidate.
  • Appeal to religion, race, caste, community or language: Making an appeal to a voter's religion, race, caste, community, or language in order to induce them to vote for a particular candidate.
  • Section 123(4) covers intentionalPublication of false statements: Publishing or circulating any false statement in relation to a candidate's personal character or conduct in order to affect the election.
  • Propaganda on basis of religion, race, caste, community or language: Propagating any opinion or acting in any way prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious, racial, caste, community or language groups in order to affect the election.
  • Hiring vehicles or vessels for election purposes: Hiring or procuring any vehicle or vessel for the free conveyance of any voter to or from any polling station.
  • Other corrupt practices: Any other act or practice which is deemed to be a corrupt practice by the Election Commission.
  • Violation of any of these provisions is considered a "corrupt practice" and is punishable by law.
  • Conviction of certain offenses, failing to declare election expenses, having interests in government contracts or works can lead to disqualification of an elected representative under the Act.

 

Supreme Court's past rulings on corrupt practices in elections

  • In 2017, the Supreme Court held that seeking votes in the name of a candidate's religion, race, caste, community, or language constitutes a corrupt practice under Section 123(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. 
  • In the past, the court has also prohibited mixing religion with secular activities and upheld the constitutional validity of Section 123(3). 
  • However, the court is currently reconsidering its 2013 judgment on whether promises of freebies constitute a corrupt practice.

 

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Dr Rukmini Banerji: ‘Enrolment is higher than 98% despite Covid, people realise schooling is important’

GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

Recently, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) was released, providing insight into educational achievements in schools. This marks the revival of an essential nationwide study that assesses the state of basic literacy and numeracy in the country. The Pratham Foundation spearheaded the survey, which was last executed on this magnitude in 2018. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, ASER shifted to a phone-based approach, concentrating on investigating digital disparity and school enrollment rates.


 

Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)

  • ASER is an annual survey that provides reliable estimates of children's enrolment and basic learning levels for each district and state in India.
  • The survey has been conducted every year since 2005 in all rural districts of India and is the largest citizen-led survey in the country.
  • ASER is the only annual source of information on children's learning outcomes available in India.
  • Unlike most other large-scale learning assessments, ASER is a household-based survey, which means it includes all children regardless of their school status, such as those who have never been to school or have dropped out.
  • Information on schooling status is collected for all children aged 3-16 living in sampled households, and those aged 5-16 are tested in basic reading and arithmetic.
  • ASER tools and procedures are designed by ASER Centre and coordinated by the Pratham network, which involves close to 30,000 volunteers from partner organisations in each district.
  • The ASER model has been adapted for use inseveral countries around the world, such as Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Pakistan, Mali, and Senegal.

 

Key insights from the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)

  • School enrolment has increased and exceeded 98% during the pandemic, which is a notable achievement.
  • There has been a significant shift in enrolment from private to government schools, with government school enrolment increasing from 65-66% to nearly 73%.
  • Although learning loss was expected due to school closures, the variation in that loss is noteworthy.

Understanding the Surge in School Enrolment

  • The trend of getting closer to universal enrolment has been continuing for a long time, and recent years have reinforced the faith in schooling even more.
  • Despite economic distress, older children, especially girls, did not drop out of school post-pandemic, which was initially feared.
  • Out-of-school numbers have decreased for older age groups, even those over 14, which is a positive development.
  • The number of out-of-school girls in the 15 to 16-year-old category has also come down, which is a good sign.
  • There is strong support for the idea that schooling is essential for everyone, not only until the compulsory age of 14, but even beyond.

Attendance Trends and Patterns

  • Although enrolment numbers have changed and gone up, attendance patterns have not seen much change.With a high enrolment rate, there is a need to address attendance patterns more seriously.
  • In some states, there is not much difference between enrolment and attendance, particularly in southern and western states.
  • However, in several states, average attendance on a given day is only between 55% and 60%, which is a significant issue.
  • It is necessary to track attendance at the district, block, or cluster level and develop plans to address chronically absent patterns.
  • Disaggregated data by age or class needs to be routinely examined to ensure there is no discrepancy between enrolment and attendance on a given day.

The impact of the pandemic on learning outcomes

  • The period between the previous ASER report in 2018 and the 2022 report saw many changes. Schools were open from September 2018 to March 2020, then closed due to the pandemic and reopened in various states in a graded manner between 2021 and 2022.
  • Learning loss was expected, particularly among younger children who had less schooling. However, the 2022 report shows that their learning levels aren't as low as expected, which suggests they were still learning during the gap year.
  • For Class III children, their reading ability is at a Class II level, and their ability to subtract has gone down from 30% to 20-25%, which is not surprising given the two years of irregular schooling.

Understanding Differences in Learning Levels Within Grades

  • There is greater variation in the learning levels of Class III students in 2022 compared to 2018.
  • In Himachal Pradesh, the percentage of Class III students at or just below grade level has decreased from 70% in 2018 to 50% in 2020.
  • The lower end of the distribution has seen an increase in variation, which means teachers now have to teach Class III differently, as they must spend more time helping students who are struggling below grade level.
  • Age-grade linear progression, or finishing the syllabus within the given year, will work even less effectively than before.
  • For students in Classes III, IV, and V, who are cognitively advanced, the focus should be on achieving foundational literacy and numeracy.
  • Students struggling with reading words need help at that level, even if it means putting aside the grade level curriculum for an hour or two a day.
  • Once students achieve foundational literacy and numeracy, they can cope with the grade level curriculum.
  • By helping struggling students, they can quickly improve their skills.

Addressing the Disparity in Digital Access

  • While there was an increase in the use ofsmartphones, they were usually in the possession of the earning member, not the child.
  • Many rural primary schools did not attempt online teaching during the pandemic, which created a divide in digital access.
  • However, teachers made efforts at the local level, such as distributing worksheets and textbooks door-to-door in Himachal Pradesh.
  • Many State Governments distributed textbooks in the first year of the pandemic.
  • E-learning was not an option for many rural primary students, so there were attempts to use radio and TV as alternative learning methods.

 

Way Forward

  • Children can catch up if we provide appropriate basic education with specialized attention.
  • An hour of daily reading and math practice helped children bounce back for the basic level.

 

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Fact File


PM Modi congratulates winners: What are the SansadRatna Awards?

  • The SansadRatna Awards were established in 2010, and the first edition was launched by former President APJ Abdul Kalam in Chennai.
  • The awards aim to acknowledge and honor the top-performing Members of Parliament based on their work in the highest legislative body.

  • So far, 90 Parliamentarians have received the SansadRatna Awards.
  • The 13thedition of the awards ceremony is scheduled to take place on March 25 in New Delhi.
  • The SansadRatna Awards jury committee comprises distinguished Parliamentarians and members of civil society.
  • The awards are not given by the Government of India, although government officials have served on the jury panel in the past.
  • The SansadRatna Awards were the brainchild of K Srinivasan, a communication strategist who founded the Prime Point Foundation in 1999.
  • The foundation, which was established to promote communication awareness, is responsible for organizing the awards event and publishing a monthly eMagazine called PreSense.
  • The awards were launched with the support of IIT Madras.




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