There are two aspects to the news- knowing the headline and understanding the intricacies of it. We at The Connectere focus on both. While The First Forum edition gives a brief about the headlines, The Weekly Analysis Edition is meant to educate the reader on what do various news mean and what are their intricacies. This initiative is meant to educate the reader on how to understand the important news. In the Thirty Fourth Edition we are covering the following news:
- The wave of anger in Poland
- Boycott France Controversy
- Will the New Law curb air pollution in Delhi-NCR?
- Banks can choose their own tech partners for digital documentation, government clarifies
- Skills development ministry launches guidelines for awarding bodies and assessment under NCVET
Thousands of women in Poland have been protesting a court ruling that drastically restricts their right to access safe and legal abortions. Carrying Placards with slogans such as “we want choice, not terror” and “Girls just wanna have fundamental rights”, the huge crowd marched through the center of the capital Marsaw, while demonstrations were also held in other cities by ignoring the threat of danger posed by a Coronavirus pandemic. Many women have been pouring into the streets for days to demand the reversal of the ruling by Poland Highest court. Let’s see what was the Court’s verdict and its implications.
The immediate trigger of the wave of anger among the people was a decision by the constitutional court which ruled that abortion in the cases of severe fetal deformities including Down Syndrome is unconstitutional. This shows that Poland’s abortion laws are considered some of the strictest in Europe. As of now, once the court’s decision is enacted, abortions will only be permitted in cases of rape, incest, or if there is a threat to women’s life. Finally, it is being seen as an attack on women’s basic human rights. If we see the implications of it, less than 2,000 legal abortions are carried out in Poland each year. So, the court’s ruling essentially translates to a nearly complete ban on abortions in the country. It is estimated by the Women’s Right group that 80,000 to 1,20,000 polish women either go abroad or seek illegal abortions every year due to the country’s strict abortion laws. They fear that the number could surge even further if terminations due to malformed fetuses are outlawed.
The Council of Europe immediately condemned the abortion ruling. And some renowned International organizations like Amnesty International and the Centre for Reproductive Rights and Human Rights group have also criticized the ruling. Meanwhile, the country’s President Andrzej Duda welcomed the court decision. Hence this is not the first time people in Poland have protested the country abortion laws. In 2016, thousands of women went on a complete ban on abortions. They all dressed in black to signify that they were mourning the death of their respective rights.
France President Emmanuel Macron is being heavily criticized in the Muslim world for making controversial remarks on Islam which have been perceived as “anti-Islam” have led to calls for boycotting French brands, hashtags such as #BoycottFrenchProduct, #MacronApologisetoMuslims and #NevertheProphet has been trending on social media across Qatar, Egypt, Kuwait, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, etc.
Let’s see what the France controversy is all about.
Calls for boycott French products began emerging on social media after France President made remarks against Islam while criticizing the killing of a teacher Samuel Paty in Paris by radical Islamists. A middle school teacher Samuel Paty was killed for showing students caricatures of the prophet Muhammad – an act regarded as blasphemy in Islam. But President Macron came out in support of the teacher because he embodied the Republic which comes alive every day in classrooms, the freedom that is conveyed and perpetual in schools. Moreover, his comment that Islam was in crisis all over the world and announced a derive to separate religion from education and the public sector in the country has caused a furor in many parts of the Muslim world.
The first nation whose leader openly challenged Macron’s comment was Turkey. And other Islamic countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan have been protesting and calling for a boycott of French goods. The leaders accused the country of not respecting the freedom of belief and marginalizing the Muslim minority. But India came out in support of the France President who has been criticized strongly and also condemned the murder of a school teacher as a brutal terrorist attack. With this support, Twitter saw a new hashtag trending #westandwithFrance as thousands of Indians supported Macron’s decision to take a call against extremism.
On the other hand, the France President who is accused of attacking Islam and “encouraging Islamophobia”; the latter in response tweeted that the French government respects all differences in a spirit of peace. France has called the protest unjustified and has urged the middle eastern countries to prevent the boycott. The French ministry, however, has termed the boycott as ” baseless” and being “pushed by a radical minority”.
The central government has introduced a new law to check the quality of air which is deteriorating in the Delhi-NCR through an ordinance that puts in place a powerful oversight body. With the introduction of the new law by the Ministry of Law and Justice, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) was dissolved by the Central government and had been replaced by a commission comprising over 20 members. Those found guilty of non-compliance will attract a fine of Rs 1 crore or a jail term of up to five years or both.
The new law vests overarching powers with the commission to regulate, monitor and take penal action in matters pertaining to air pollution in Delhi-NCR and adjoining areas, including Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The new commission holds the power to lay down parameters of air quality, parameters of discharge of environmental pollutants, to inspect premises violating the law, ordering closure of non-abiding industries/plants, punish the defaulters etc. This new commission will also limit the role of the judiciary and multiple agencies functioning till date in checking air pollution in Delhi-NCR.
However, environment experts and activists are already questioning the need for such an ordinance. Rather than finding drawbacks of existing EPCA, introducing a new body is not going to solve the problem. Crop stubble and municipal waste burning is one of the major causes and it can only be stopped through execution of provisions on the ground. Identifying pollution sources, talking to stakeholders and grassroots activists is what is needed to improve the situation and not just creating a new top heavy commission. Moreover, the focus should not be just on the capital region but the country as a whole. Rather than a hasty decision, creating a proper consultation committee for the same could have helped to create a more efficient and effective plan.
Banks can choose their own technology services providers for digital documentation services, the government has said, amid a growing push for paperless loan applications during the Covid-19 pandemic. Integration with National eGovernance Services (NeSL), a government entity that stores information related to financial contracts in electronic format, is not compulsory, it clarified in response to a petition in the Delhi High Court. The Ministry of Finance had in August issued a circular to the managing directors and chief executive officers of all commercial banks saying it was ‘critical’ that all lenders complete integration with the government-owned information utility ‘urgently’.
The circular “does not, in any manner, seek to compulsorily direct the banks to avail the services” of the NeSL. It would be open to the banks to choose their service provider, including the petitioner (SignDesk) if so advised. NeSL is owned by a consortium of financial institutions, including State Bank of India, Life Insurance Corporation, Canara Bank, Bank of Baroda and ICICI Bank. It is registered with the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI). The e-stamping service for loan applications is a process that has gone live only in select states and lending institutions since July, to encourage social distancing are followed at government offices and bank branches.
Only seven states, including Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, and a handful of banks currently allow digital stamping for account holders. The central government has cleared up a level-playing field for RegTech innovators to jump in with cost-effective and cutting-edge products that will undoubtedly expedite the documentation process. Many companies are quite happy with the business-friendly stance that the central government has taken and the support being extended to businesses. According to Saru Tumuluri, CEO – Khosla Labs, the entry of third-party tech service providers can accelerate innovation and attract investments. “For any country….there is a very important place for digital service providers. We are already seeing the KYC processes as well as moving towards remote and digital modes where reg-tech players are playing a vital role. The DDE (Digital Document Execution) integrations, too, will be a step in this direction,” she said. With the pandemic not ending, every industry will have to leave some space out of their constant strictness and rigidity to recover from the falling economy.
The skills development ministry on Tuesday issued guidelines for awarding bodies, which set the standards for various skill training, and assessment agencies, which evaluate learning outcomes, so as to improve and standardize processes of skilling and certification under Skill India Mission. These guidelines under the National Council for Vocational Education and Training (NCVET) will strengthen regulation of bodies that certify a skilled candidate across sectors and help create a vibrant policy framework to transform the skilling network in the country, skills development minister Mahendra Nath Pandey said.
NCEVT will soon come up with a monitoring mechanism to ensure the successful implementation of these guidelines. As per the guidelines, assessment agencies will be recognized under five categories – standard, dual, sectoral, geographical, and vocational education in schools. An agency will be recognized for an initial period of three years and the recognition will be renewed for another two years based on its performance and adherence to the continuation criteria. Applying agencies should have three years of experience (inclusive of the year of application) and must have conducted at least 100,000 assessments in a year. The criteria, however, would be relaxed for government bodies and other institutions operating in niche areas. In the past, most of the country’s skill training needs were met through courses offered by the Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and under the Modular Employable Scheme (MES) regulated by NCVT.
However, in the absence of adequate regulatory oversight, numerous stakeholders had been offering training programs of varying standards with multiplicity in assessment and certification systems which are not comparable, with serious consequences for the vocational training system and thus the employability of the country’s youth. Consequently, the government had in 2018 set up skills regulator NCVET as a non-statutory regulatory authority under the skill development and entrepreneurship ministry. The erstwhile National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT) and National Skills Development Agency (NSDA) have been merged into NCVET.