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Daily NEWS Summary: 29.07.2020

The Union Cabinet today approved the new National Education Policy (NEP) and renamed the Human Resource and Development Ministry as Education Ministry. A panel led by former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief K Kasturirangan had submitted the draft new NEP to Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal when he took charge last year. The draft was in the public domain for feedback from various stakeholders, and over two lakh suggestions were received by the HRD Ministry.

Highlights of NEP 2020

  • 4-year undergraduate degrees with multiple entry and exit options.
  • A single higher education regulator, the Higher Education Council of India (HECI), for all higher education institutions (except medical and law colleges).
  • While the current expenditure on education stands at 4% of the GDP, the NEP envisages increasing it to 6%.
  • Medium of instruction should be mother tongue or regional language till Class V.
  • A National Testing Agency (NTA) will offer a “high quality common aptitude test”. This test, however, will not be mandatory for university entrance exams.
  • NEP aims to expand access to higher education for 50% of high school students by 2035, and achieve universal adult literacy before that date.
  • Every child should have one vocational skill by the time they complete school.
  • Target of 100% gross enrolment ratio from pre-school to secondary level by 2030.
  • Report cards will be a comprehensive report on skills and capabilities instead of just marks and statements.
  • There will be a National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy.
  • Computer coding will be taught from Class VI.
  • There will be no rigid separation between arts and sciences, curricular and extra-curricular.
  • Vocational integration will be from Class 6, and internships will be included.
  • Aim to reduce the importance of Board exams, which will be split into two parts: objective and descriptive.

The number of corona virus cases reported from India stood at 15,79,601 at the time of publishing this news summary, with the death toll at 34,961.

  • According to the Central government, India’s case fatality rate stood at 2.23% on Wednesday — the lowest since April 1. The Centre added that “coordinated implementation of ‘Test Track Treat’ strategy” has ensured that the case fatality rate remained low when compared to other countries.
  • Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced de-linking of hotels from hospitals in view of the improving Covid-19 situation in the national capital. All beds in such hotels, which were recently attached to hospitals, have reportedly been lying vacant for many days.
  • Also, a sero-surveillance study done in Mumbai in collaboration with the Niti Aayog has revealed that 57% of the slum population and 16% of non-slum residents in three civic wards had developed antibodies, indicating that many more people would have been affected by Covid-19 than the official tally suggests.

Forty-six months after the €7.87 billion contract was signed, five Rafale fighter jets landed at Ambala airbase today afternoon in the presence of Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Air Chief Marshal (ACM) R.K.S. Bhadauria. This is the first imported fighter to be inducted into the IAF since the Sukhoi-30s from Russia in the late 90s.

Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra today returned Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s note requesting an assembly session, for the third time. Gehlot had today called on Mishra – the second such meeting in recent days – to press for a session of the state assembly. The meeting lasted for about 15 minutes. There seemed to be no convincing reason to call a session on Friday, without a 21-day notice, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, the Governor reportedly said.

In one of the biggest signs that the Indian economy is in the grip of a downturn, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd posted a quarterly loss for the first time in at least 15 years, as the country’s largest automaker’s production and sales were hit due to coronavirus lockdowns and supply chain disruptions.

  • The New Delhi-headquartered company logged a net loss of Rs. 2.49 billion rupees for the three months ended June 30, compared with a profit of Rs.14.36 billion a year ago.
  • Unit sales at the carmaker dropped 81% to 76,599 vehicles for the quarter ended June 30, compared to the same quarter last year, but Maruti said the numbers were not comparable as it had to suspend operations from March 22 when the country went into a lockdown.

Moderna Inc. is planning to price its coronavirus vaccine at $50 to $60 per course, at least $11 more than another vaccine from Pfizer Inc and BioNTech, the Financial Times reported. Moderna’s proposed price for a two-dose course sold to governments is in contrast to the $39 for two doses under a deal that Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech struck with the U.S. government.

A record number of 212 environmental campaigners worldwide were killed last year, according to watchdog group Global Witness, The Guardian reported. According to research conducted by the NGO, over four defenders were killed every week in 2019. Agribusiness and oil, gas and mining have consistently been the biggest drivers of attacks against land and environmental defenders, the NGO study revealed. Colombia and the Philippines accounted for half of the 212 people killed last year, followed by Brazil, Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala.

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