Current Affair



1. Context
Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi’s membership of Parliament has been cancelled following his conviction and sentencing by a local court in Surat 
A notification issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat  said Rahul “stands disqualified from the membership of Lok Sabha from the date of his conviction i.e. 23 March, 2023 in terms of the provisions of Article 102(1)(e) of the Constitution of India read with Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951”
2.Key Takeaways
  • In a note on October 13, 2015, the Election Commission of India had asked state chief secretaries to issue appropriate instructions to the department dealing with prosecutions to ensure that cases of conviction of sitting MPs or MLAs were brought to the notice of the Speaker or Chairman of the House, and to the Chief Electoral Officer of the state, along with the order of conviction within seven days of the order
  • In the case of a disqualified MLA, the notice is issued by the Vidhan Sabha concerned
  • The Supreme Court in its ruling in Lok Prahari v Union of India (2018) clarified that a disqualification triggered by a conviction will be reversed if the conviction is stayed by a court. “Once the conviction has been stayed during the pendency of an appeal, the disqualification which operates as a consequence of the conviction cannot take or remain in effect,”
  • The notification by the House Secretariat regarding Rahul will cease to be in effect if and when his conviction is stayed
3. Article 102 of the Constitution
The disqualification of a lawmaker is prescribed in three situations
  1. First is through Articles 102(1) and 191(1) for disqualification of a member of Parliament and a member of the Legislative Assembly respectively.The grounds here include holding an office of profit, being of unsound mind or insolvent or not having valid citizenship.
  2. The prescription of disqualification is in the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, which provides for the disqualification of the members on grounds of defection
  3. The prescription is under The Representation of The People Act (RPA), 1951. This law provides for disqualification for conviction in criminal cases
Article 102 deals with the disqualification of MPs from either house of the Parliament
Part (1) of the article lists the reasons why an MP can be disqualified. These include
  1. if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State, other than an office declared by Parliament by law not to disqualify its holder
  2.  if he is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court
  3. if he is an undischarged insolvent
  4. if he is not a citizen of India, or has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign State, or is under any acknowledgment of allegiance or adherence to a foreign State
  5. if he is so disqualified by or under any law made by Parliament.
4. Representation of Peoples Act 1951
  • The Representation of the People Act, 1951 is an act of Parliament of India to provide for the conduct of election of the Houses of Parliament and to the House or Houses of the Legislature of each State, the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of those Houses, the corrupt practices and other offences at or in connection with such elections and the decision of doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with such elections -  It was introduced in Parliament by law minister Dr BR Ambedkar
  • There are several provisions that deal with disqualification under the RPA. Section 9 deals with disqualification for dismissal for corruption or disloyalty, and for entering into government contracts while being a lawmaker. Section 10 deals with disqualification for failure to lodge an account of election expenses. A key provision, Section 11, deals with disqualification for corrupt practices
  • Section 8 of the RPA deals with disqualification for conviction of offences. The provision is aimed at “preventing criminalisation of politics” and keeping ‘tainted’ lawmakers from contesting elections
  • First, disqualification is triggered for conviction under certain offences listed in Section 8(1) of The Representation of The People Act. This includes specific offences such as promoting enmity between two groups, bribery, and undue influence or personation at an election
  • Section 8(2) also lists offences that deal with hoarding or profiteering, adulteration of food or drugs and for conviction and sentence of at least six months for an offence under any provisions of the Dowry Prohibition Act
  • Section 8(3) states: “A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.”
5. Disqualification Process
  • The disqualification can be reversed if a higher court grants a stay on the conviction or decides the appeal in favour of the convicted lawmaker
  •  Significantly, the stay cannot merely be a suspension of sentence under Section 389 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), but a stay of conviction
  • Over the years, the law has changed when it comes to disqualification. Under the RPA, Section 8(4) stated that the disqualification takes effect only “after three months have elapsed” from the date of conviction
  • Within that period, lawmakers could file an appeal against the sentence before the High Court
  • However, in the landmark 2013 ruling in ‘Lily Thomas v Union of India’, the Supreme Court struck down Section 8(4) of the RPA as unconstitutional. This is what has allowed the Lok Sabha Secretariat to immediately disqualify Rahul Gandhi.
6. Re-Election to Vacant MP Position
The Election Commission can announce a byelection to the seat  in Azam Khan’s case, the schedule for the byelection to Khan’s 37-Rampur seat (along with byelections to fill four other vacancies across the country) was announced within a few days
However, in the more recent case of Lakshadweep MP P P Mohammed Faisal, the EC, which had announced the bypoll on January 18 after the MP’s conviction, had to withdraw the announcement on January 30 after Faisal’s conviction was suspended by the Kerala High Court on January 25
7. IPC Sections 499 and 500
  • Defamation is a wrong that deals with damage caused to a person’s reputation
  • In India, defamation can both be a civil wrong and a criminal offence, depending on the objective they seek to achieve
  • A civil wrong sees a wrong being redressed with monetary compensation, while a criminal law seeks to punish a wrongdoer and send a message to others not to commit such acts, with a jail term
  •  In a criminal case, defamation has to be established beyond reasonable doubt but in a civil defamation suit, damages can be awarded based on probabilities
  • Section 499 of the IPC defines what amounts to criminal defamation and subsequent provisions define its punishment
  • Section 499 elaborates on how defamation could be through words  spoken or intended to be read, through signs, and also through visible representations
  • These can either be published or spoken about a person with the intention of damaging reputation of that person, or with the knowledge or reason to believe that the imputation will harm his reputation
  • Section 500 stipulates imprisonment of up to two years, with or without a fine, for someone held guilty of criminal defamation
For Prelims: Disqualification of MP's, Article 102, Representation of People's Act 1951
For Mains:
1.Is law of criminal defamation a threat to freedom to speech and expression? (250 Words)
Previous year Questions:
1.Consider the following statements (UPSC 2020):

1. According to the Constitution of India, a person who is eligible to vote can be made a minister in a State for six months even if he/she is not a member of the Legislature of that State.

2. According to the Representation of People Act, 1951, a person convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to imprisonment for five years is permanently disqualified from contesting an election even after his release from prison.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer (d)

Source: indianexpress


1. Context 

Recently, the Indian Patent Office rejected an application by pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to extend its patent on the drug bedaquiline beyond July 2023.
Bedaquiline is a drug in tablet form used to treat drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB).
This opens the door for drug manufacturers to produce generic versions of bedaquiline, which are expected to be more affordable and contribute to India's goal of eliminating TB by 2025.

2. About drugresistant TB

  • As of 2017, India accounted for around one-fourth of the world's burden of multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB and of extensively drug-resistant (XDR) TB and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) TB.
  • MDR TB resists treatment by at least two frontline drugs in TB treatment, isoniazid and rifampicin.
  • XDR TB resists these two drugs, fluoroquinolones, and any second-line injectable drug.
    XDR TB is rarer than MDR TB there were 1, 24, 000 cases of the latter in India (2021) versus 2, 650 cases of the former (2017).
  • TB incidence in India has been on the decline, but MDR TB and XDR TB endanger initiatives to locally eradicate the disease.
  • In the first two years of the pandemic, there were reports that TB treatment was hit by disrupted supply chains, availability of healthcare workers for non-pandemic work, and access to drug distribution centres.
  • A peer-reviewed 2020 study found that the incidence of MDR TB was "strongly correlated with treatment failure and spread through contact and not to treatment compliance".

3. Treatment for drug-resistant TB

  • TB is an infection of the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis in the lungs, but often in other organs as well.
  • It can be treated by strictly adhering to the doses and frequencies of drugs prescribed by a physician.
  • Deviations from this schedule can lead the bacteria to become drug-resistant.
  • Yet they happen because the drugs often have side effects that diminish the quality of life and or because patients haven't been afforded access to the requisite drugs on time.
  • Drugresistant TB is harder to treat. One important option for those diagnosed with pulmonary MDR TB is bedaquiline.
  • In 2018, the World Health Organisation replaced two injectable drugs for MDR TB with an oral regimen that included bedaquiline.
  • At this time, bedaquiline had not completed phase III Trials.
  • The recommendation was based on smaller studies, outcomes in TB elimination programmes worldwide, the difficulty of treating MDR TB and close monitoring of patients receiving the drug.

4. Effectiveness of Bedaquiline

  • Typically, bedaquiline needs to be taken for six months: at a higher dose in the first two weeks followed by a lower dosage for 22 weeks.
  • This period is shorter than other treatment routines for pulmonary MDR TB, which can last 924 months.
  • One phase II Clinical trial observed that culture conversion (turning a patient's sputum culture from positive to negative) "at 24 weeks was durable and associated with a high likelihood of response at 120 weeks", due to bedaquiline.
  • Unlike Second-line treatment options that are injected and can have severe side effects, like hearing loss, bedaquiline is available as tablets and is less harmful, although it has potential side effects of its own.
  • Studies until 2018 found that it could be toxic to the heart and the liver. This is part of why it is recommended only as a treatment of last resort.
  • India's Health Ministry has guidelines for bedaquiline use as part of the Programmatic Management of MDR TB under the National TB Elimination Programme.
  • The WHO's decision revitalised a debate about the ethics of making a much-needed but insufficiently tested drug available quickly versus lowering the safety threshold for pharmaceutical companies producing drugs for desperate patients.

5. Reasons for the rejection of the Patent application

J&J's patent application was for a fumarate salt of a compound to produce bedaquiline tablets.
Two groups opposed the patent:
1. Network of Maharashtra people living with HIV and
2. Nandita Venkatesan and Phumeza Tisile, both TB survivors, are supported by Medecins Sans Frontieres.
  • Both groups argued that J&J's method to produce a "Solid pharmaceutical composition" of bedaquiline is "obvious, known in the art" and doesn't require an "inventive step".
  • According to the Indian Patent Act 1970 Section 2 (1) (ja), an "inventive step" is an invention that is "not obvious to a person skilled in the art".
  • The latter also contended that the current application drew significantly from a previous patent, WO 2004/011436, which discussed a similar compound on which bedaquiline is based and whose priority date (2002) well preceded the new application.
  • The Patent Office rejected the application on these and other grounds, including Sections 3d and 3e of the Act.
  • These pertain to the "mere discovery of a new form of a known substance which does not result in the enhancement of the known efficacy of that substance" and "a substance obtained by a mere admixture resulting only in the aggregation of the properties of the components thereof", respectively, which are not patentable.

6. Significance of the rejection 

  • India has the largest population of people living with drug-resistant TB.
  • J&J's patent on bedaquiline meant the drug cost $400 (revised to $340 in 2020) per person, plus the cost of other drugs.
  • The rejection is expected to lower the cost of bedaquiline by up to 80 per cent.
  • So far, the Indian government has directly procured and distributed the drug through Statelevel TB programmes.
  • After July 2023, manufacturers of generic drugs such as Lupin will be able to produce generic versions of bedaquiline.
  • The argument based on WO 2004/011436 is also relevant to "evergreening a strategy where a patent owner continuously extends their rights and or applies multiple patents for the same entity. Indian law disallows this.

For Prelims & Mains

For Prelims: TB, Johnson & Johnson, bedaquiline, XDR TB, MDR TB, World Health Organisation, Indian Patent Act 1970, 
For Mains:
1. How will Drug Resistant TB help the treatment of multi­drug­resistant tuberculosis? What are the costs and production implications?  What is India’s target year to eliminate TB? (250 Words)

Previous Year Questions

Read the following passages and answer the question, your answers to these items should be based on the passages only.

A majority of the TB infected in India are poor and lack sufficient nutrition, suitable housing and have little understanding of prevention. TB then devastates families, makes the poor poorer, particularly affects women and children, and leads to ostracisation and loss of employment. The truth is that even if TB does not kill them, hunger and poverty will. Another truth is that deep-seated stigma, lack of counselling, expensive treatment and lack of adequate support from providers and family, coupled with torturous side-effects demotivate patients to continue treatment - with disastrous health consequences.

Which one of the following is the most logical, rational and crucial message conveyed by the above passage? (UPSC 2019)

  1. TB is not a curable disease in Indian circumstances.
  2. Curing TB requires more than diagnosis and medical treatment.
  3. Government's surveillance mechanism is deficient, and poor people have no access of treatment.
  4. India will be free from diseases like TB only when its poverty alleviation programmes are effectively and successfully implemented.

Answer: 2

Curing TB requires more than diagnosis and medical treatment.

Source: The Hindu



1. Context

In 2018, anatomists at the Toho University Graduate School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan, performed a sleep deprivation experiment on lab mice. Mice usually sleep for 12 hours a day. In this experiment, researchers induced sleep deprivation using the ‘gentle handling method’ during sleep hours so that the mice could sleep only for six hours daily.

2. Experiment Findings

They discovered that liver fat content us sleep deprived mice increased without total weight gain compared to another group of mice who were allowed to sleep normally. The liver cells were stressed, and the activity of certain genes that escalate insulin resistance and fat content within liver cells also increased with sleep deprivation.

3. Importance of Sleep

  • A study of nearly 55,000 people from Europe showed that those who slept 7-8.5 hours daily had higher life expectancy than those who slept less than seven hours.
  • In those between ages 50 and 75 without sleep disturbances, the expectation of living longer without chronic disease development was significantly higher.
  • Yoga interventions improved overall sleep quality, efficiency, latency, and duration, contrary to all claims.

4. Healthy sleep

  • Sleep is a vital function of human life and accounts for up to one third of the life span.
  • Contrary to normal belied, during sleep, the brain is not 'resting' but is engaged in various activities necessary to improve wellbeing, increase life, and especially impact the liver.
  • The minimum required duration for 'healthy' sleep in seven hours.
  • When 10,000 persons with sleep disorders were followed up for one year, incident fatty liver disease was noted in 14, while in those without sleep disorders, it was only six.
  • Non alcoholic fatty liver disease association was significantly higher among persons with shorter sleep duration (less than six hours per night) and excessive daytime sleepiness.
  • A high quality study showed that inadequate sleep duration was strongly associated with an elevated risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and adequate sleep helped prevent it.
  • With every one hour decrease in sleep time from the recommended seven eight hours, the risk of fat deposition in the liver increased by 24% compared with those who slept adequately.

5. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

  • Non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an umbrella term for a range of liver conditions affecting people who drink little to no alcohol.
  • The main characteristic of NAFLD is too much fat stored in liver cells.
  • Early-stage NAFLD does not usually cause any harm however individuals with NAFLD can develop nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), an aggressive form of fatty liver disease, which is marked by liver inflammation and may progress to advanced scarring (cirrhosis) and liver failure.
  • This damage is similar to the damage caused by heavy alcohol use.
  • Having high levels of fat in the liver is also associated with an increased risk of serious health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease.
  • Increase in NAFLD in diabetic patients will heighten the chances of developing heart problems.
  • If detected and managed at an early stage, its possible to stop NAFLD getting worse and reduce the amount of fat in the liver.

6. Risks associated with Non alcoholic fatty liver diseases

  • Over the last two decades, the global burden of NASH has more than doubled. NASH caused 40 lakh prevalent cases of compensated cirrhosis in 1990, which increased to 94 lakh cases in 2017.
  • Epidemiological studies suggest that prevalence of NAFLD is around 9% to 32% of the general population in India with a higher prevalence in those with overweight or obesity and those with diabetes or prediabetes.
  • Once the disease develops, there is no specific cure available, and health promotion and prevention aspects targeting weight reduction, healthy lifestyle, etc. can prevent the mortality and morbidity due to NAFLD.

7. Government Initiatives

  • Aligning NPCDCS programme strategies to prevent and control NAFLD by encouraging behavior changes, early diagnosis and capacity building at various levels of healthcare.
  • Promoting screening of cancer, diabetes and hypertension under Ayushman Bharat Scheme.
  • Along with the focus of 'Eat Right India' and 'Fit India Movement', the entire vision of the government is to move from Diagnostic cure to Preventive Health.

For Prelims & Mains

For Prelims: Non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), Ayushman Bharat Scheme, 'Eat Right India' and 'Fit India Movement'.
For Mains: 1. What is Non alcoholic fatty liver disease and discuss the risks associated with it. What are the steps taken by the government to curb the disease?
Source: The Hindu


1. Context
Xi Jinping, China’s leader, met with President Vladimir Putin of Russia in Moscow in the most high-profile visit by any world leader to Russia since before the pandemic
Coming more than a year after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, the meeting was watched closely by Western officials for any indications of how far China may be willing to go to act as a mediator in the conflict
Source: Wikimedia
2. China and Russia's Alliance
  • China and Russia are not formal allies, meaning they have not committed to defend each other with military support
  • But the two countries are close strategic partners, a relationship that deepened during the war in Ukraine as Russia became increasingly isolated from many other countries
  • The partnership is fueled by a shared goal of trying to weaken U.S. power and influence
  • The relationship between China and Russia has not always been so warm
  • The two sides were fierce adversaries in the 1960s and clashed in 1969 over disputed territory along their border, raising fears at the time of a nuclear showdown between the two countries
  • The two countries have also been competing for influence in Central Asia, a region the Kremlin has long seen as its turf but is becoming increasingly important to China’s geopolitical and economic ambitions
  • China is building more railroads, highways and energy pipelines in former Soviet republics such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, which still rely on Russia as a crucial security partner
3. Economic relationship
  • Economic ties between China and Russia have strengthened significantly since Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine in 2014, when it annexed Crimea
  • At the time, China helped Russia evade the sanctions imposed by the Obama administration that were supposed to cut off Russia’s access to global markets
  • In the wake of harsher sanctions against Russia following the start of the Ukraine war last year, China has helped to supply many of the products that Russia previously purchased from Western-allied countries, including computer chips, smartphones and raw materials needed for military equipment
  • Putin needs China to help bolster his economy, which has been battered by Western sanctions
  • For the Russian leader, China has increasingly become a lifeline for investment and trade
  • After Western countries restricted their purchases of Russian crude oil and natural gas last year, China helped offset the decline by buying more energy from Russia
  • At the start of the Ukraine war, Russia asked China for military equipment and economic assistance
  • China has refrained from condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, even though China’s foreign policy is rooted around the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity
  • Although China has portrayed itself as a neutral party in the Ukraine war, it has endorsed Russian narratives, blaming the U.S. and NATO for starting the conflict
  • China has also hesitated to put its full backing behind Russia. The turmoil and instability stemming from the war could threaten China’s growth and complicate its efforts to strengthen its economic ties around the world
4. Alliance against Western Dominance
  • Xi wants Putin to join him as a like-minded ally in confronting U.S. and Western dominance
  • China and Russia needed to cooperate to overcome challenges to their security, including “damaging acts of hegemony, domination and bullying.”
  • Xi has pursued a harder stance against what he calls a U.S. effort to contain China’s rise, portraying China as a nation besieged — much as Putin has done in speeches to Russians
  • Xi has urged Chinese industries to reduce their reliance on Western technology and hailed China’s growth as proof that it does not need to adopt Western political values
  • China has been buying more advanced weapons from Russia to modernize its military, and the two nations have increased their joint military exercises
  • President Joe Biden was visiting Tokyo, China and Russia sent bombers over the seas in northeast Asia as a show of force
5. Russia-Ukraine war through the prism of China
Beijing is unlikely to want an end to the Russian war in Ukraine for several reasons
  1. First, being tied down in Ukraine has the effect of weakening Russia militarily, economically, and politically, This is a vacuum that China can step into, especially in Eurasia
  2. Second, a prolonged conflict in Ukraine means that the West’s, and in particular the United States’, attention and resources are diverted  and this the Chinese see as a good thing.From Beijing’s point of view, it weakens the focus on and reduces the resources for any potential Western intervention on China’s eastern seaboard, particularly in the scenario of a crisis over Taiwan
  3. Third, a continuing crisis in Ukraine offers opportunities for international messaging about the relative rise in Chinese power vis-à-vis both the Russians and Americans
Source: BBC
  • Clearly, Russia’s regional and global stature has taken a hit from what it has done and what it is unable to do  that is, to prosecute a quick end to the conflict
  • Meanwhile, just as China’s role in helping Iran and Saudi Arabia restore diplomatic ties was intended to showcase Beijing’s rising influence and the decline of the US in the Middle Eastern region, the inability of the Ukrainians to expel the Russian invaders despite Western support can be used to send a signal in Europe
  • If anything, China’s political support at forums such as the United Nations and elsewhere has been crucial to Russia building a case for the legitimacy of the war
  • The agreement between Belarus and China earlier this year has sections on industrial production, joint R&D and defence cooperation  which could well allow for potential weapons production and transhipment to Russia
6. US and China
The two nations have fundamentally different interests on this and other issues, and more often than not, these are opposing interests
These differences are ideological and deep-rooted, and the recent American shooting down of a Chinese surveillance balloon in US airspace suggests that tensions in the US-China relationship are only set to grow
Even if their interests were to align temporarily, Xi has too close a relationship with Putin  and sees greater value in a Russian bulwark against the West  to try and actively promote Washington’s brief
7. Effects of War on China
  • The war brings costs to China  not just economic ones but political ones, too, especially from the major Western nations that are also big markets for Chinese manufacturing and sources for high technology
  • But these are costs that the Chinese economy appears large enough to bear, especially when it is able to procure oil at deep discounts from Russia, and has had its own version of technological self-reliance programmes underway for decades
  • China is also able to use its economic influence to carry out trade in its own currency with Russia and other sanctioned regimes — Iran, for example
  • The impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on China is not just external and economic but also internal.
  • An unstable external environment and its economic consequences can also be used to justify both China’s current economic difficulties in the wake of the pandemic as well as Xi’s continuing hold over the reins of power as being essential for national stability and recovery
8. Challenges for India
  • The China-Russia tango presents two challenges for India
  • Delhi’s exercise of “strategic autonomy” over the last year has been premised on its long-standing partnership with Russia, but Moscow’s cosying up with Beijing is putting pressure on that relationship. Putin and Xi have condemned the Quad grouping of which India is a part
  • Moscow’s positions on India’s LAC troubles with China fall well below what Delhi would like to hear from a friend, and it is not clear how that can be changed
  • Secondly, internationally, the success of India’s presidency of the G20 will be measured on the outcome document, which needs the cooperation of both Moscow and Beijing
Source: indianexpress


1. Context 

A major announcement in Tamil Nadu's budget for 2023-24 was that the schools run by different departments for so long to cater to specific needs will be merged with the School Education (SE) department.
The announcement has evoked mixed reactions from civil society.
2. About these Schools
  • While the government is yet to spell out finer details, the budget announcement indicated that the schools run by the Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare (ADTW), Backward Classes, Most Backward Classes and Denotified Communities Welfare (BCW) Welfare of the Differently-abled Persons (WPD), Forest, and Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR &CE) departments will be merged.
  • These departments run 1, 834 schools with roughly 1.6 lakh students on their rolls.
  • The ADTW department alone accounts for 80 per cent of these schools (1, 466) and students (1.26 lakh). 
  • Within the ADTW department, there are 1, 138 Adi Dravidar Welfare schools.
  • The remaining 328 are Government Tribal Residential (GTR) and Eklavya Model Residential Schools, run mainly for Scheduled Tribes (ST).
  • The BCW runs 295 schools, HR&CE runs 32, WPD 22 and the forest department 19.
  • These schools, especially those run by ADTW and BCW departments, were created to focus on education for marginalised sections.
  • For instance, the Adi Dravidar schools have their origins in the British Raj.
  • They were created with the support of the labour department for the "Depressed Classes (as the Scheduled Castes were then referred)", who were denied education elsewhere.
  • They were then moved to the Social Welfare department and later to  ADTW when it was created.
  • Similarly, the BCW runs the Kallar reclamation schools, which have their origins before Independence.
  • They were created, mainly for the Piramalai Kallar community, who faced marginalisation due to the draconian Criminal Tribes Act brought by the British.

3. Reasons for the merging

  • The budget mentioned that the schools will be merged to "achieve the goal of social justice", "improve the quality of schools" and to ensure "quality education for all".
  • The relatively poor quality of these schools, especially those run by ADTW and BCW departments, has long been a concern.
  • Their infrastructure is below par and a lot of teaching posts are vacant.
  • Another key reason, although not officially acknowledged in the budget, was the caste identifier in the names of the schools run by ADTW and BCW departments.
  • In Tamil Nadu, Adi Dravidar refers to the SCs. Similarly, the names Kallar Reclamation and GTR refer to specific communities.
  • The argument by a section is that the caste identifiers, especially in case of Adi Dravidar welfare, especially in case of Adi Dravidar welfare schools, result in the students feeling isolated and prevent those from other communities from joining these schools in more numbers.
  • While there was a need in the past for such schools as these communities did not have access to education elsewhere, they argue that with the situation being improved, these schools were now resulting in "ghettoisation".

4. Concerns

  • While there seems to be a broad agreement that the poor quality of these schools needs to be addressed, there is concern over the merger being projected as the magic bullet. 
  • The discussion has focused on the ADTW department for many factors, including its higher share of schools, higher budget and historic and political context.
  • Many have highlighted that the schools were in poor shape due to prolonged negligence and widespread irregularities.
  • Merging the schools without addressing these issues would only result in them being denied the special focus they deserve by the SE department which is huge.
  • With successive T.N. governments already blamed for reduced spending under the SC and Tribal Sub Plans, there is concern that the merger will result in the further diversion of funds.
  • Importantly, many are surprised that such an announcement has been made without consultations with the stakeholders concerned.

For Prelims & Mains

For Prelims: Tamil Nadu School Education, Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare, Backward Classes, Most Backward Classes and Denotified Communities Welfare, Welfare of the Differently-abled Persons, Forest, and Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, Government Tribal Residential, Eklavya Model Residential Schools, 
For Mains:
1. Which schools run by different departments of the Tamil Nadu government are going to be merged with the school education department? What are the concerns with the merger? (250 Words)

Previous Year Questions

1. Consider the following statements:  (UPSC 2018)
1. As per the Right to Education (RTE) Act, to be eligible for appointment as a teacher in a State, a person would be required to possess the minimum qualification laid down by the concerned State Council of Teacher Education.
2. As per the RTE Act, for teaching primary classes, a candidate is required to pass a Teacher Eligibility Test conducted in accordance with the National Council of Teacher Education guidelines.
3. In India, more than 90% of teacher education institutions are directly under the State Governments.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 and 2
B. 2 only
C. 1 and 3
D. 3 only
1. Answer B
2. Consider the following: (UPSC  2011)
1. Right to education.
2. Right to equal access to public service.

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