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DIALOGUE FOR CHANGE

Parties Received Over Rs 11,000 Crore In Donation From Unknown Sources: ADR

It refers to the funds declared in the IT Returns without naming the source for donations below Rs 20,000.

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NEW DELHI: National parties collected Rs 11,234 crore in donation from unknown sources from 2004-05 to 2018-19, according to election watchdog Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).

For this analysis, the ADR said it considered the submission made before the Election Commission of India by seven national parties – BJP, Congress, Trinamool Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Nationalist Congress Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Communist Party of India (CPI).

The income from unknown sources refers to the funds declared in the Income Tax Returns without naming the source for donations below Rs 20,000.


This report, prepared by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), focuses on donations received by the National Political Parties, above Rs 20,000, during the Financial Year 2018-19, as submitted by the parties to the Election Commission of India (ECI). The National Parties include Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Indian National Congress (INC), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) and All India Trinamool Congress (AITC).

The executive summary below lists the key observations drawn from the report:
 
Status of Submission of Contributions reports by National Parties, FY 2018-19
  1. The due date for submission of Contributions reports for the parties was 30 September 2019.
  2. BSPINCNCP and AITC submitted their Contributions reports on time while CPI submitted after 3 daysCPM submitted after 21 days and BJP submitted after a delay of 31 days.

Donations above Rs 20,000 to National Parties from all over India (FY 2018-19)

  1. The total donations (above Rs 20,000) declared by the National Parties was Rs. 951.66 cr, from 5520 donations. 
  2. A total of Rs 742.15 cr was declared by BJP from 4483 donations while INC declared receiving Rs 148.58 cr from 605 donations. The donations declared by BJP is more than three times the aggregate declared by INC, NCP, CPI, CPM and AITC for the same period. 
  3. BSP declared that the party did not receive any donations above Rs 20,000 during FY 2018-19, as it has been declaring for the past 13 years.
Comparison of donations received by National Parties during FY 2017-18 and FY 2018-19
  1. The total donations of the National Parties during FY 2018-19 increased by Rs 481.77 cr, an increase of almost 103%, from the previous financial year 2017-18. 
  2. Donations to BJP increased from Rs 437.04 cr during FY 2017-18 to Rs 742.15 cr during FY 2018-19 (70% increase). Party’s donations decreased by 18% during FY 2017-18 in comparison to FY 2016-17. 
  3. INC donations increased from Rs 26.658 cr during FY 2017-18 to Rs 148.58 cr during FY 2018-19 (457% increase). While INC’s donations decreased by 36% between FY 2016-17 and FY 2017-18.
State-wise donations to National Parties
  1. Segregation of donations according to State was made by ADR based on the address provided by the parties in their donations report to the ECI. 
  2. A total of Rs 548.22 cr was donated to the National Parties from Maharashtra, followed by Rs 141.42 cr from Delhi and Rs 55.31 cr from Gujarat. 
  3. A total of Rs 65.84 cr, (6.92% of total donations received by the National parties, FY 2018-19), could not be attributed to any State/ Union Territory due to incomplete information provided by the parties.
Donors from corporates/ business sectors Vs. individual donors
  1. 1776 donations to the National Parties were made by corporate/business sectors amounting to Rs 876.11 cr (92.06% of total donations) while 3509 individual donors donated Rs 71.407 cr (7.50% of total donations) to the parties during FY 2018-19. 
  2. 1575 donations from corporate/business sectors were made to BJP (Rs 698.092 cr) while 2741 individual donors donated Rs 41.70 cr to the party during FY 2018-19. 
  3. INC received a total of Rs 122.5 cr via 122 donations from corporate/business sectors and Rs 25.39 cr via 482 individual donors during FY 2018-19.
Top donors to National Parties, FY 2018-19
  1. Progressive Electoral Trust donated a total of Rs 455.15 cr to BJP, INC and AITC together and is one of the top 2 donors to the three parties that received the maximum donations. The Trust donated Rs 356.535 cr to BJP (48.04% of total funds received by the party) and Rs 55.629 cr to INC (37.44% of total funds received by the party). 
  2.  BJP and INC received a total of Rs 67.25 cr (9.06%) and Rs 39 cr (26.25%), respectively from Prudent Electoral Trust.
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DIALOGUE FOR CHANGE

NCERT To Revise Curriculum Framework For School Education After 15 Years

Subject experts will initiate this process for school education, and give an interim report by December 2020.

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NEW DELHI: In view of the decision of setting up of Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Mission under Atma Nirbhar Bharat, Union Ministry of Human Resource Development MHRD has prepared a roadmap for the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) for the academic year 2020-21.

The new roadmap for NCERT has been prepared with a learning outcome-centric approach and NCERT has been tasked to develop the required resources for its implementation leading to all-around improvement in learning outcomes and learning levels of students.

The interim report on the new National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for school education, which is being revised after 15 years, will be submitted by December and the new curriculum is expected to be ready by March next year, according to the HRD Ministry.


The new NCF for school education has been initiated. NCERT will be expected to make changes in the textbooks in accordance with the new NCF. Subject experts will initiate this process for school education, and give an interim report by December 2020. The new NCF is expected to be ready by March 2021,” the HRD Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry has directed the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) that while redesigning textbooks, it is to be ensured that nothing but the core content is placed in them.

Also, the cognitive load of the textbooks is too high. Additional areas, such as creative thinking, life skills, Indian ethos, art, and integration, need to be integrated. NCERT will also start working on the layout and design of the new textbooks well in advance, however, the new textbooks shall be written based on the new NCF.”


Under Atma Nirbhar Bharat, for PM E-Vidya, NCERT is also expected to prepare content for classes I–XII for SWAYAM PRABHA channels (1 class 1 channel) and start the channels by August this year,” the ministry said.

The revision of the curriculum framework will be in sync with the implementation of the examination reforms such as uniform assessment and evaluation system under the proposed National Assessment Centre as proposed by the New Education Policy draft.

The new National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for School Education has also been initiated. NCERT will be expected to make changes in the textbooks in accordance with the new NCF. Subject experts will initiate this process for school education, and give an interim report by December 2020.

While redesigning textbooks, it is to be ensured that nothing but the core content is placed in textbooks. Also, the cognitive load of the textbooks is too high. Additional areas, such as creative thinking, life skills, Indian ethos, art, and integration, etc. need to be integrated.

NCERT will also start working on the layout and design of the new textbooks well in advance, however, the new textbooks shall be written based on the new NCF. The new NCF is expected to be ready by March 2021.


Under AtmaNirbhar Bharat, for PM E-Vidya, NCERT is also expected to prepare content for Class 1 – 12 for SWAYAM PRABHA channels (1 class 1 channel) and start the channels by August this year.

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AGENTS OF CHANGE

MEA Lists Out India’s Priorities For UNSC Seat Campaign

The election for the UN Security Council is slated to be held on June 17.

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NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar launched a brochure earlier today outlining India’s priorities for its forthcoming campaign to secure an elected seat on the UN Security Council at elections slated for June 17, 2020.

As a single endorsed candidate of the Asia-Pacific Group, India’s candidature is very likely to succeed. In this case, this would be India’s eighth term on the UN Security Council; this two-year tenure will start in January 2021.

India’s approach at the United Nations Security Council will be guided by the following tenets:


  1. Samman (“Respect“)
  2. Samvad (“Communication“)
  3. Sahyog (“Cooperation“)
  4. Shanti (“Peace“)
  5. Samriddhi (“Prosperity“)

External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar asserted that India’s overall objective during the fresh tenure in the UN Security Council will be the achievement of N.O.R.M.S. , New Orientation for a Reformed Multilateral System.

The Priorities Paper, issued as a brochure by the Minister, set out the key priorities for India, as under:

  1. New Opportunities for progress
  2. Effective response to international terrorism
  3. Reforming the multilateral system
  4. A comprehensive approach to international peace and security
  5. Promoting technology with a human touch as a driver of solutions

He said this today at the launch event of a brochure outlining India’s priorities for its forthcoming campaign to secure an elected seat in the UN Security Council.


The election for the UN Security Council is slated to be held on June 17.

As a single endorsed candidate of the Asia-Pacific Group, India’s candidature is very likely to succeed. This would be the nation’s eighth term in the UN Security Council which will begin from January next year.

In his remarks, EAM referred to the international context that the Security Council will confront, with regard to both new and continuing traditional challenges to international peace and security.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has further contributed to a more complex international economic and political environment, including by limiting the capacity of States to respond to local, regional and global challenges.

Dr Jaishankar emphasized India’s long-standing role as a voice of moderation, an advocate of dialogue, and a proponent of international law.

He set out India’s principled approach to international relations, which India’s foreign policy establishment would bring to the table at the UN Security Council once India is elected to a two-year term on the Council.

New opportunities for progress, an effective response to international terrorism, reforming the multilateral system, comprehensive approach to international peace and security and promoting technology with a human touch as a driver of solutions have been underlined as the key priorities for the country in its stance at the UN Security Council.


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DIALOGUE FOR CHANGE

Trump Vs Twitter: Here’s The “Executive Order On Preventing Online Censorship”

The executive order challenges lawsuit protections for “unrestricted speech” on the internet.

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WASHINGTON DC (United States): A day after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey slammed Donald Trump, the US President on Friday signed an executive order challenging lawsuit protections that have served as a bedrock for the unrestricted speech on the internet.

Trump said the fact checks were “editorial decisions” by Twitter amounting to political activism and that such actions should cost social media companies their liability protection for what is posted on their platforms.

Here is the complete executive order, as released by The White House:


By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Policy.  Free speech is the bedrock of American democracy.  Our Founding Fathers protected this sacred right with the First Amendment to the Constitution.  The freedom to express and debate ideas is the foundation for all of our rights as a free people.

In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand pick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the internet.  This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic.  When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power.  They cease functioning as passive bulletin boards, and ought to be viewed and treated as content creators.


The growth of online platforms in recent years raises important questions about applying the ideals of the First Amendment to modern communications technology.  Today, many Americans follow the news, stay in touch with friends and family, and share their views on current events through social media and other online platforms.  As a result, these platforms function in many ways as a 21st century equivalent of the public square.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube wield immense, if not unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events; to censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or do not see.

As President, I have made clear my commitment to free and open debate on the internet. Such debate is just as important online as it is in our universities, our town halls, and our homes.  It is essential to sustaining our democracy.

Online platforms are engaging in selective censorship that is harming our national discourse.  Tens of thousands of Americans have reported, among other troubling behaviors, online platforms “flagging” content as inappropriate, even though it does not violate any stated terms of service; making unannounced and unexplained changes to company policies that have the effect of disfavoring certain viewpoints; and deleting content and entire accounts with no warning, no rationale, and no recourse.

Twitter now selectively decides to place a warning label on certain tweets in a manner that clearly reflects political bias.  As has been reported, Twitter seems never to have placed such a label on another politician’s tweet.  As recently as last week, Representative Adam Schiff was continuing to mislead his followers by peddling the long-disproved Russian Collusion Hoax, and Twitter did not flag those tweets.  Unsurprisingly, its officer in charge of so-called ‘Site Integrity’ has flaunted his political bias in his own tweets.


At the same time online platforms are invoking inconsistent, irrational, and groundless justifications to censor or otherwise restrict Americans’ speech here at home, several online platforms are profiting from and promoting the aggression and disinformation spread by foreign governments like China.  One United States company, for example, created a search engine for the Chinese Communist Party that would have blacklisted searches for “human rights,” hid data unfavorable to the Chinese Communist Party, and tracked users determined appropriate for surveillance.  It also established research partnerships in China that provide direct benefits to the Chinese military.  Other companies have accepted advertisements paid for by the Chinese government that spread false information about China’s mass imprisonment of religious minorities, thereby enabling these abuses of human rights.  They have also amplified China’s propaganda abroad, including by allowing Chinese government officials to use their platforms to spread misinformation regarding the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to undermine pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

As a Nation, we must foster and protect diverse viewpoints in today’s digital communications environment where all Americans can and should have a voice.  We must seek transparency and accountability from online platforms, and encourage standards and tools to protect and preserve the integrity and openness of American discourse and freedom of expression.

Sec. 2.  Protections Against Online Censorship.  (a)  It is the policy of the United States to foster clear ground rules promoting free and open debate on the internet.  Prominent among the ground rules governing that debate is the immunity from liability created by section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act (section 230(c)).  47 U.S.C. 230(c).  It is the policy of the United States that the scope of that immunity should be clarified: the immunity should not extend beyond its text and purpose to provide protection for those who purport to provide users a forum for free and open speech, but in reality use their power over a vital means of communication to engage in deceptive or pretextual actions stifling free and open debate by censoring certain viewpoints.

Section 230(c) was designed to address early court decisions holding that, if an online platform restricted access to some content posted by others, it would thereby become a “publisher” of all the content posted on its site for purposes of torts such as defamation.  As the title of section 230(c) makes clear, the provision provides limited liability “protection” to a provider of an interactive computer service (such as an online platform) that engages in “‘Good Samaritan’ blocking” of harmful content.  In particular, the Congress sought to provide protections for online platforms that attempted to protect minors from harmful content and intended to ensure that such providers would not be discouraged from taking down harmful material.  The provision was also intended to further the express vision of the Congress that the internet is a “forum for a true diversity of political discourse.”  47 U.S.C. 230(a)(3).  The limited protections provided by the statute should be construed with these purposes in mind.

In particular, subparagraph (c)(2) expressly addresses protections from “civil liability” and specifies that an interactive computer service provider may not be made liable “on account of” its decision in “good faith” to restrict access to content that it considers to be “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing or otherwise objectionable.”  It is the policy of the United States to ensure that, to the maximum extent permissible under the law, this provision is not distorted to provide liability protection for online platforms that — far from acting in “good faith” to remove objectionable content — instead engage in deceptive or pretextual actions (often contrary to their stated terms of service) to stifle viewpoints with which they disagree.  Section 230 was not intended to allow a handful of companies to grow into titans controlling vital avenues for our national discourse under the guise of promoting open forums for debate, and then to provide those behemoths blanket immunity when they use their power to censor content and silence viewpoints that they dislike.  When an interactive computer service provider removes or restricts access to content and its actions do not meet the criteria of subparagraph (c)(2)(A), it is engaged in editorial conduct.  It is the policy of the United States that such a provider should properly lose the limited liability shield of subparagraph (c)(2)(A) and be exposed to liability like any traditional editor and publisher that is not an online provider.

(b)  To advance the policy described in subsection (a) of this section, all executive departments and agencies should ensure that their application of section 230(c) properly reflects the narrow purpose of the section and take all appropriate actions in this regard.  In addition, within 60 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary), in consultation with the Attorney General, and acting through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), shall file a petition for rulemaking with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requesting that the FCC expeditiously propose regulations to clarify:

(i) the interaction between subparagraphs (c)(1) and (c)(2) of section 230, in particular to clarify and determine the circumstances under which a provider of an interactive computer service that restricts access to content in a manner not specifically protected by subparagraph (c)(2)(A) may also not be able to claim protection under subparagraph (c)(1), which merely states that a provider shall not be treated as a publisher or speaker for making third-party content available and does not address the provider’s responsibility for its own editorial decisions;

(ii)  the conditions under which an action restricting access to or availability of material is not “taken in good faith” within the meaning of subparagraph (c)(2)(A) of section 230, particularly whether actions can be “taken in good faith” if they are:

(A)  deceptive, pretextual, or inconsistent with a provider’s terms of service; or


(B)  taken after failing to provide adequate notice, reasoned explanation, or a meaningful opportunity to be heard; and

(iii)  any other proposed regulations that the NTIA concludes may be appropriate to advance the policy described in subsection (a) of this section.

Sec. 3.  Protecting Federal Taxpayer Dollars from Financing Online Platforms That Restrict Free Speech.  (a)  The head of each executive department and agency (agency) shall review its agency’s Federal spending on advertising and marketing paid to online platforms.  Such review shall include the amount of money spent, the online platforms that receive Federal dollars, and the statutory authorities available to restrict their receipt of advertising dollars.

(b)  Within 30 days of the date of this order, the head of each agency shall report its findings to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

(c)  The Department of Justice shall review the viewpoint-based speech restrictions imposed by each online platform identified in the report described in subsection (b) of this section and assess whether any online platforms are problematic vehicles for government speech due to viewpoint discrimination, deception to consumers, or other bad practices.

Sec. 4.  Federal Review of Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices.  (a)  It is the policy of the United States that large online platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, as the critical means of promoting the free flow of speech and ideas today, should not restrict protected speech.  The Supreme Court has noted that social media sites, as the modern public square, “can provide perhaps the most powerful mechanisms available to a private citizen to make his or her voice heard.”  Packingham v. North Carolina, 137 S. Ct. 1730, 1737 (2017).  Communication through these channels has become important for meaningful participation in American democracy, including to petition elected leaders.  These sites are providing an important forum to the public for others to engage in free expression and debate.  Cf. PruneYard Shopping Center v. Robins, 447 U.S. 74, 85-89 (1980).

(b)  In May of 2019, the White House launched a Tech Bias Reporting tool to allow Americans to report incidents of online censorship.  In just weeks, the White House received over 16,000 complaints of online platforms censoring or otherwise taking action against users based on their political viewpoints.  The White House will submit such complaints received to the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

(c)  The FTC shall consider taking action, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, to prohibit unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, pursuant to section 45 of title 15, United States Code.  Such unfair or deceptive acts or practice may include practices by entities covered by section 230 that restrict speech in ways that do not align with those entities’ public representations about those practices.

(d)  For large online platforms that are vast arenas for public debate, including the social media platform Twitter, the FTC shall also, consistent with its legal authority, consider whether complaints allege violations of law that implicate the policies set forth in section 4(a) of this order.  The FTC shall consider developing a report describing such complaints and making the report publicly available, consistent with applicable law.

Sec. 5.  State Review of Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices and Anti-Discrimination Laws.  (a)  The Attorney General shall establish a working group regarding the potential enforcement of State statutes that prohibit online platforms from engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices.  The working group shall also develop model legislation for consideration by legislatures in States where existing statutes do not protect Americans from such unfair and deceptive acts and practices. The working group shall invite State Attorneys General for discussion and consultation, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law.

(b) Complaints described in section 4(b) of this order will be shared with the working group, consistent with applicable law. The working group shall also collect publicly available information regarding the following:

(i) increased scrutiny of users based on the other users they choose to follow, or their interactions with other users;

(ii) algorithms to suppress content or users based on indications of political alignment or viewpoint;

(iii) differential policies allowing for otherwise impermissible behavior, when committed by accounts associated with the Chinese Communist Party or other anti-democratic associations or governments;

(iv) reliance on third-party entities, including contractors, media organizations, and individuals, with indicia of bias to review content; and

(v) acts that limit the ability of users with particular viewpoints to earn money on the platform compared with other users similarly situated.

Sec. 6.  Legislation.  The Attorney General shall develop a proposal for Federal legislation that would be useful to promote the policy objectives of this order.

Sec. 7.  Definition.  For purposes of this order, the term “online platform” means any website or application that allows users to create and share content or engage in social networking, or any general search engine.

Sec. 8.  General Provisions. (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)    the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)   the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

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