- The Higher Education Finance Agency will raise Rs. 20,000 crore from market floatation of bonds and from loans for development of infrastructure in Central education institutions.
- It will be a SPV and will work from a state run bank.
- This money will be lent to Higher educational institutions to develop infrastructure and will need to be returned with interest to the lender.
- Hence, it could lead to market-linked fees in various higher education institutions that use such funding.
- CSR Funds: HEFA would also mobilize corporate social responsibility funds from corporate entities, which would in turn be released for promoting research and innovation in these institutions on a grant basis.
Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs also approved the third phase of the Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme—a joint effort between the central government and the World Bank for improving the quality of education in engineering colleges. The total project outlay for this will be Rs 3,600 crore.
Problem of Hepatitis C in India — bigger than HIV AIDS
Lawyer’s Collective, a non-profit has indicated that there are over 8 million Hept. C patients in India.
- No central scheme or policy to contain and address the disease
- The government has no data available to know the extent of problem in the country — the Health ministry has agreed to this in a Parliamentary presentation on Hept. C as well
- The drugs for Hepatitis C are very expensive and out of reach for the poor. The NPPA has not taken the note of this and not included it in Essential medicines list to control the price.
- Poor handling of injections and other instruments in hospitals is leading to spread of Hept. C at a fast rate.
Right to Privacy and declaration of Assets by Public Servants (Does declaration of assets violate right to privacy?)
- Lokpal Act has been amended recently to put on hold declaration of assets of spouses and kin of public servants, which includes NGO chiefs as well.
- United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), to which India is a signatory, required a legal framework for asset declarations of government officials.
- Transparency International India also says that Compulsory disclosure of assets by government employees is not a violation of individual privacy since there is a direct link between the income/salary and the assets declared.
- Also, the Supreme Court has declared in PUCL Case judgment that in case of conflict between Right to Privacy and Right to Information in public interest, the latter would take precedence over the former.
- Transparency Measures in India:
- Supreme Court enforced mandatory filing of assets (on EC website) and election expenses, and also that of wife and kin by candidates standing in elections
- RTI Act, 2005
- ARC Report recommendations for setting up the ombudsman
- Transparency International Report ranked India at 76 out of 168 countries in its latest Corruption Perception Index
- Candidates with Criminal Records — law not enough?
- Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) argues, having the law is not enough. It points out that the number of candidates with criminal records has only increased since 2004 — despite the system of candidates declaring their assets publicly on the Election Commission website. “If the number of elected MPs with criminal record was 125 in 2004, the number went up to 162 in 2009 and further up to 185 in 2014.”
- It is not the voter selecting a corrupt candidate, but the political parties who are fielding them. While it doesn’t change the fact that the number of corrupt candidates has only increased, it does make the scale of corruption public. And exposure is also a key deterrent when it comes to fighting corruption.