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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 6 August 2020


NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


General Studies – 1


 

Topic : Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

1. Give an account of the distribution of different types of soils found in India. (250 words)

Reference:  Indian geography by Majid Hussain

Why the question:

The question is straightforward and is from the static portions of GS paper I, geography.

Key Demand of the question:

One has to account for the distribution of different types of soils found in India.

Directive:

Account – Weigh up to what extent something is true. Persuade the reader of your argument by citing relevant research but also remember to point out any flaws and counter- arguments as well. Conclude by stating clearly how far you are in agreement with the original proposition.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

The first scientific classification of soil was done by Vasily Dokuchaev.  In India, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has classified soils into 8 categories. Alluvial Soil, Black Cotton Soil, Red Soil, Laterite Soil, Mountainous or Forest Soils, Arid or Desert Soil, Saline and Alkaline Soil, Peaty and Marshy Soil are the categories of Indian Soil.

Body:

There are eight types of soils categorized by ICAR but some Indian Soil like – Karewa soil, Sub-Montane Soil, Snowfield, Grey/Brown Soil are all sub-types of main Indian Soil.

Then move onto discuss each of the soil variety and their distribution in India with the help of a map. Ensure maps are more informative and conveying and not mere outline of the Indian land borders.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance of the diversity in soli varieties owing to regional characteristics and other geomorphological factors.

Introduction:

Soil is our prime natural and economic resource. Soils in India differ in composition and structure. In India, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has classified soils into 8 categories. Alluvial Soil, Black Cotton Soil, Red Soil, Laterite Soil, Mountainous or Forest Soils, Arid or Desert Soil, Saline and Alkaline Soil, Peaty and Marshy Soil are the categories of Indian Soil.

Body:

There are a variety of reasons for these variations in soil. Primarily soils are different from region to region due to the climatic conditions (like temperature, rainfall etc). The variety of flora and fauna of a region also has an influence on the soil profile. And there can even be a human influence.

india

  • Alluvial Soil:
    • These are formed by the deposition of sediments by rivers.
    • They are rich in humus and very fertile. These soils are renewed every year.
    • This soil is well-drained and poorly drained with an immature profile in undulating areas. This soil has potash deficiency.
    • The colour of soil varies from light grey to ash.
    • This soil is suited for Rice, maize, wheat, sugarcane, oilseeds etc.
    • They are found in Great Northern plain, lower valleys of Narmada and Tapti and Northern Gujarat.
    • This soil is divided into Khadar Soil (New) and Bhangar Soil (Old).
  • Black or Regur Soil:
    • These soils are made up of volcanic rocks and lava-flow.
    • It is concentrated over Deccan Lava Tract which includes parts of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
    • It consists of Lime, Iron, Magnesium and also Potash but lacks in Phosphorus, Nitrogen and Organic matter.
    • It has high water retaining capacity and good for the cotton cultivation, Tobacco, citrus fruits, castor, and linseed.
  • Red Soil:
    • These are derived from weathering of ancient metamorphic rocks of Deccan Plateau.
    • The presence of ferric oxides makes the colour of soil red. The top layer of the soil is red and horizon below is yellowish.
    • Generally, these soils are deficient in phosphate, lime, magnesia, humus and nitrogen.
    • This soil is good for the cultivation of wheat, cotton, pulses, tobacco, millets, orchards, potato, and oilseeds.
    • They cover almost the whole of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and parts of Orissa.
  • Laterite Soil:
    • These soft, when they are wet and ‘hard and cloddy’ on drying.
    • These soils are formed due to intense leaching and are well developed on the summits of hills and uplands.
    • They are commonly found in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and hilly areas of Orissa and Assam.
    • These are poor in organic matter, nitrogen, potassium, lime and potash.
    • These iron and aluminium rich soils are suitable for the cultivation of rice, ragi, sugarcane and cashew nuts.
  • Mountain Soil:
    • These soils are formed as a result of the accumulation of organic matter derived from forest growth.
    • They are found in Himalayan region and vary in different regions according to altitude.
    • Tea is grown in those areas which receive sufficient rainfall.
    • These soils are immature and dark brown in colour.
    • This soil has very low humus and it is acidic in nature.
    • The orchards, fodder, legumes are grown in this soil.
  • Desert Soil:
    • This soil is deposited by wind action and mainly found in the arid and semi-arid areas like Rajasthan, West of the Aravallis, Northern Gujarat, Saurashtra, Kachchh, Western parts of Haryana and southern part of Punjab.
    • They are sandy with low organic matter.
    • It has low soluble salts and moisture with very low retaining capacity. If irrigated these soil give a high agricultural return.
    • These suitable less water requiring crops like Bajra, pulses, fodder, and guar.
    • As evaporation is in excess of rainfall, the soil has a high salt content and saline layer forms a hard crust.
  • Peaty and Marshy Soils:
    • This soil originates from the areas where adequate drainage is not possible.
    • It is rich in organic matter and has high salinity.
    • They are deficient in potash and phosphate.
    • These mainly found in Sunderbans delta, Kottayam, and Alappuzha districts of Kerala, Rann of Kachchh, deltas of Mahanadi etc.
  • Saline and Alkaline Soils:
    • Theses also called as Reh, Usar, Kallar, Rakar, Thur and Chopan.
    • These are mainly found in Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra.
    • Sodium chloride and sodium sulphate are present in this soil.
    • It is suitable for leguminous crops.

Conclusion:

However, in south and central India, floods wash away rich, weathered soil, which are deposited in reservoirs or as sand bars along the river bed or in the sea. Any rehabilitation programme must consider this lost soil. Organic matter plays a key role in maintaining soil fertility by holding nitrogen and sulphur in organic forms and other essential nutrients such as potassium and calcium. The loss of organic matter is accelerated by frequent tillage. The need of the hour is to educate farmers in other regions as well about what they can do to improve the health of their nutrient-depleted soil by following practices such as crop rotation, and using organic manure boosters such as cow dung and dried leaves.

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

2. Do you think the three-language formula is an attempt to ‘homogenize’ the diverse linguistic fabric of the country which consists of many regional languages? Analyse. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami has rejected the possibility of implementing the three-language formula advocated in the National Education Policy (NEP 2020) in the state of Tamil Nadu. Thus the context of the question.

Key Demand of the question:

The question aims to critically analyse the objective behind the three language formula proposed in the NEP 2020 and if it’s an attempt to ‘homogenize’ the diverse linguistic fabric of the country which consists of many regional languages.

Directive:

AnalyzeWhen asked to analyse, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Present in short the background of coming of the concept of three language formula.

Body:

The three-language formula for language learning was formulated in 1968 by the Ministry of Education of the Government of India and made part of the National Policy on Education, 1968.

The three-language formula provides for the study of “Hindi, English and modern Indian language (preferably one of the southern languages) in the Hindi speaking states and Hindi, English and the Regional language in the non-Hindi speaking States”.

Present arguments in favour and against the three language formula.  Discuss why critics of the three-language formula have alleged that its implementation is an attempt to ‘homogenize’ the diverse linguistic fabric of the country which consists of many regional languages.

Conclusion:

Conclude with solutions to address the concerns of the state as India’s federal nature and diversity demand that no language is given supremacy over another.

Introduction:

The three-language formula has its roots back in the year 1961 and it was implemented as a result of a consensus during the meeting of various CMs of the Indian states. The Three-Language Formula was supposed to be not a goal or a limiting factor in language acquisition, but rather a convenient launching pad for the exploration of the expanding horizon of knowledge and the emotional integration of the country.

The National Education Policy 2020 has pushed for the three-language formula, to promote multilingualism and national unity. This move has restarted the debate over suitability of three language formulas all over India. It has been rejected by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister recently and has only reiterated the State’s unwavering position on an emotive and political issue.

Body:

Three language policy:

  • According to the National Education Policy of 1968, the three-language formula means that a third language (apart from Hindi and English), which should belong to Modern India, should be used for education in Hindi-speaking states.
  • In the states where Hindi is not the primary language, regional languages and English, along with Hindi shall be used.
  • This formula was altered and amended by Kothari Commission (1964–66) so as to accommodate regional languages and mother tongues of the group identities. Also Hindi and English remained at the two ends of the line.
  • The First Language that students should study Mother tongue or the regional language.
  • The Second Language:
    • In Hindi-speaking states, this would be English or some other language belonging to Modern India.
    • In Non-Hindi states, this will be English or Hindi
  • The Third Language:
    • In Hindi-speaking states, this would be English or some other language belonging to Modern India, but the one that is not chosen as the second language.
    • In Non-Hindi states, this will be English or some other language belonging to Modern India, but the one that is not chosen as the second language.

Concerns associated over three language formula:

  • Though TLF provides scope for mother tongue language education, the emphasis is lost due to varied implementation.
  • Amidst asserting political rights of dominant ethnic groups, this policy fails to protect various mother tongues from becoming extinct.
  • Students have to face increased burden of subjects because of the three language formula.
  • In some areas, students are forced to learn Sanskrit.
  • The draft policy’s push for Hindi seems to be based on the premise that 54% of Indians speak Hindi.
  • But according to the 2001 Census, 52 crore out of 121 crore people identified Hindi as their language.
  • About 32 crore people declared Hindi as their mother tongue.
  • This means that Hindi is the language of less than 44% Indians and mother tongue of only little over 25% people in India.
  • But there has been greater push for making Hindi a pan-India language, which is seen as imposition of Hindi by many states, especially that of the South.
  • The states like Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Tripura were not ready to teach Hindi and Hindi-speaking states did not include any south Indian language in their school curriculum.
  • State governments often do not have adequate resources to implement the three –language formula.
  • The inadequacy of resources is perhaps the most important aspect of the challenge. For resource strapped state governments, it will be an extraordinarily difficult task to invest in so many language teachers in a short span of time.

Way forward:

  • Language is primarily a utilitarian tool.
  • While acquisition of additional tools can indeed be beneficial, compulsory learning should be limited to one’s mother tongue.
  • Besides, English, as the language that provides access to global knowledge and as a link language within India, could be a supportive language.
  • Given this, not everyone is satisfied by the changes, and the three-language formula itself is seen as an unnecessary imposition.
  • Even if there is intent all around, implementing the three-language formula is not really doable in the current situation. Moreover, the two-language formula, or a shoddy version of the three-language formula has not undermined national harmony.

Conclusion:

The three language formula is well intended to bring about national unity by bridging the linguistic gap between the states. However, it is not the only option available to integrate the ethnic diversity of India. States like Tamil Nadu with their own language policy have managed not only to enhance the education standard levels but also promote national integrity even without adopting the three language formula. Hence, providing the states autonomy in the language policy seems to be a much more viable option than homogenous imposition of three language formula all over India.

 

Topic : Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

4. Examine the issues in the effective functioning of the anti-defection law. Does the law, while discouraging defections, also lead to defeat of healthy intra-party debates and dissent? Analyse. (250 world)

Reference: www.prsindia.orgHindustan Times

Why the question:

The question is premised on the concept of anti-defection law and its utility.

Key Demand of the question:

Critically analyse the failures and lacunae of the anti-defection law in the country and suggest way out to it.

Directive:

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we must look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

The Anti-Defection law was passed by the parliament in 1985, by the 52nd amendment to the Constitution which added the Tenth Schedule which laid down the process by which the legislators may be disqualified on grounds of Defection. It was passed by parliament to provide stability to governments and promoting party discipline, however the repeated cases of defections have questioned the viability of Anti-Defection Law.

Body:

Mention briefly what is Anti-Defection law, its importance but how it has been misused. Mention about the working of Anti-Defection law, the issues concerning the same.

Also, mention the importance of intra-party debates and dissent and the effect of anti-defection law on healthy democracy.

Present relevant court judgments to substantiate your stand wherever required.

Conclusion:

Conclude that there is a need to define the procedure clearly and set a definite and reasonable time limit for each step of the process, ensuring transparency.

Introduction:

Defection is “desertion by one member of the party of his loyalty towards his political party” or basically it means “When an elected representative joins another party without resigning his present party for benefits”. The institutional malaise is defection and party-hopping is state- neutral, party-neutral, and politics-neutral.

The Anti-Defection Law was passed in 1985 through the 52nd Amendment to the Constitution, which added the Tenth Schedule to the Indian Constitution.  The main intent of the law was to combat “the evil of political defections” which may be due to reward of office or other similar considerations.  The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies. However, there are several issues in relation to the working of this law.

Body:

Former Congress deputy chief minister of Rajasthan, Sachin Pilot and his companions, who are revolting with the possible objective to bring down the government of the political party that had set them up as candidates in the last legislative election, stand automatically disqualified as such by virtue of Article 191(2), read with the Tenth Schedule. In the recent past, there have been multiple instance of defections in Manipur, Karnataka etc.

Background:

  • For a very long time, the Indian political system was impacted by political defections by members of the legislature. This situation brought about greater instability and chaos in the political system.
  • Thus, in 1985, to curb the evil of political defections, the 52nd constitution amendment act on anti-defection was passed and the 10th Schedule was added in the Indian Constitution.
  • 91st Constitution Amendment Act-2003 was enacted and was aimed at limiting the size of the Council of Ministers to debar defectors from holding public offices, and to strengthen the anti-defection law.

Flaws of the current Anti-defection law

  • Does not prevent Defection: The Anti-defection law has failed to curb “horse trading” and defection, leading to toppling of governments through machinations of corrupt legislators.
    • Eg: The 17-MLA’s of coalition government resigned in Karnataka, leading to change in government. The 17 MLA’s later contested from the party that formed new government.
  • Wholesale defection: The law prevents individual defections, but not wholesale defections.
    • Eg: Congress government in Madhya Pradesh lost majority due to resignations of MLA’s.
  • Against the true spirit of representative democracy: The anti-defection law seeks to provide a stable government by ensuring the legislators do not switch sides.
    • However, this law also enforces a restriction on legislators from voting in line with their conscience, judgement and interests of his electorate.
  • Impedes legislative control on government: The anti-defection law impedes the oversight function of the legislature over the government, by ensuring that members vote based on the decisions taken by the party leadership.
    • In short, if legislators are not able to vote on laws independently, they would not act as an effective check on the government.
    • The Anti-Defection Law, in effect, dilutes the separation of powers between the Executive and the Legislature – and centralises power in the hands of the executives.
  • Role of presiding officer of the house: The law lays down that legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection by the Presiding Officer of a legislature based on a petition by any other member of the House.
    • However, there are many instances when presiding officers play a part with the vested interests of a political party/government in power.
    • Also, the law does not specify a time period for the Presiding Officer to decide on a disqualification plea.
    • The decision thus is sometimes based on the whims and fancies of the presiding officer.
  • Affects the debate and discussion: The Anti-Defection Law has created a democracy of parties and numbers in India, rather than a democracy of debate and discussion.
    • In this way, it does not make a differentiation between dissent and defection and weaken the Parliamentary deliberations on any law.

Steps to be taken

  • To be used for major decision making: Several experts have suggested that the law should be valid only for those votes that determine the stability of the government. e.g. passage of the annual budget or no-confidence motions as recommended by Dinesh Goswami Committee.
  • Non-partisan authority: Various commissions including National Commission to review the working of the constitution (NCRWC) have recommended that rather than the Presiding Officer, the decision to disqualify a member should be made by the President (in case of MPs) or the Governor (in case of MLAs) on the advice of the Election Commission.
  • Independent committee for disqualification: Justice Verma in Hollohan judgment said that tenure of the Speaker is dependent on the continuous support of the majority in the House and therefore, he does not satisfy the requirement of such independent adjudicatory authority.
    • Also, his choice as the sole arbiter in the matter violates an essential attribute of the basic feature.
    • Thus, the need for an independent authority to deal with the cases of defection.
  • Intra-party democracy: 170th Law Commission report underscored the importance of intra-party democracy by arguing that a political party cannot be a dictatorship internally and democratic in its functioning outside.
    • Thus, the parties should listen to the opinions of the members and have discussions on the same. This would give the freedom of speech and expression to its members and promote inner-party democracy.
  • Limiting Speaker’s discretion: Recent Supreme Court Judgement ruled that Speaker must decide on disqualification within three months of receiving application. It cannot be the discretion of the Speaker to take no action.

Conclusion:

There is a need to prevent unholy defections that lead to instability in the governance system of the nation. The current law is clearly flawed and has not effectively curbed defection due to lure of power and money. There is a need for a more rationalised version of anti-defection laws which will help establish a truly representative democracy.

 

Topic : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

5. Analyse the importance of reviving the sports culture in India at the grass-root level by building a strong framework for all sports. (250 words)

Reference: pib.gov.in 

Why the question:

The article talks about identifying grass root talent and strengthening sports infrastructure, Sports Minister recently urged states to host annual Khelo India Games to strengthen grassroots-level talent identification.

Key Demand of the question:

One must present a detailed analysis of the importance of reviving the sports culture in India at the grass-root level by building a strong framework for all sports.

Directive:

AnalyzeWhen asked to analyse, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Highlight the present Sports culture in India in brief.

Body:

Discuss how sports culture in India has evolved from nothing to something where efforts to recognise talent is being made, To make India a sporting superpower, we need to identify talent as young as 5-10 years old and groom them to be future champions.

Discuss the efforts of government in this direction, quote the programs such as Khelo India etc.

Present the concerns and challenges associated, suggest solutions.

Conclusion:

Conclude with need and importance of identifying the talent from the grassroots.

Introduction:

Sports in India refers to the large variety of games played in India, ranging from tribal games to more mainstream sports such as football and cricket. Sports infrastructure plays a crucial role in achieving excellence in the global arena of sports. It not only helps in producing sportspersons of international repute but also encourages the young population of a country to participate in sporting activities with the objective of creating a culturing of sports

Body:

Importance of reviving the sports culture in India at grass-root level:

  • To make India a sporting superpower, we need to identify talent as young as 5-10 years old and groom them to be future champions.
  • It takes at least 8 years to groom an athlete for the Olympics, and if we identify talent at a later stage, then their chances of making it to the Olympic podium is limited.
  • Therefore, the states must concentrate on identifying young talent and to do that organizing competitions at the state, district, block and panchayat-level is crucial.
  • Sports and physical education play an important role in developing human capital, increase productivity and foster social harmony
  • Typically, School athletic activities provide enjoyable, supervised activities for youth. Student-athletes report healthier eating habits, higher levels of cardiovascular fitness, increased parental support and decreased anxiety and depression.
  • The Khelo India programme created in 2018 has been one of the most comprehensive policies India has seen for sport.

Challenges in promotion of sports culture in India:

  • Lack of infrastructure: This is one of the most important factors for the apathy of the sport in India. Since infrastructure is necessary for training and organizing games, its non-availability and its access to only a few sections of the society have adversely impacted the sport participation and the quality of sports persons.
  • Corruption & Mismanagement of sports authorities: Corruption has become synonymous with sports administration in India. Whether it is the most popular cricket or hockey or weightlifting, most of the sports authorities in India have come under attack due to corruption charges.
  • State subject: sport is a State subject. The state governments allocate funds for the development of sports and sports infrastructure as per their priority. There is no comprehensive approach to the development of sports infrastructure uniformly throughout the country
  • Social and economic inequalities: Social and economic inequalities have a negative impact on the Indian sport. Denial of access to sports infrastructure due to poverty, concentration of stadiums and other sports avenues only in cities, lack of encouragement to girls to participate in sports, etc, have impaired the development of a positive sports culture in the country.
  • Policy lacunae: For the development of any sector, formulation and execution of an effective policy is a sine qua non. This is true for sports also. Till date, the sports policy planning and implementation is centralized in the country due to the paucity of resources and the expertise by the State and local governments. Moreover, the absence of a separate ministry of sports at the union level reflects the apathy towards sports.
  • Meagre allocation of resources: Compared to other developed and developing countries, allocation of financial resources is meager in India. In the Union Budget 2017-18, Rs 1943 crore allocated for sports. While it is Rs 450 crore higher than the previous year, it is much below than the around Rs 9000 crore spent annually by the UK for the sports sector.

Way forward:

  • Sports deserve to be recognized as human resource development (HRD) activity in the Indian context.
  • Extension of Justice Lodha Committee recommendations on BCCI to all other sports bodies will be a right step in this direction.
  • Sports complexes like the DDA’s Siri Fort one are the need of the hour as they provide much-needed sports infrastructure for the public.
  • To arrange a dedicated land bank for the setting up of sports infrastructure
  • To adopt the PPP model in which the government will provide institutional and financial support for the building of infrastructure and the private sector will manage and maintain its operations
  • Use these facilities for multiple purposes, such as organizing exhibitions, conferences or for the setting up of sports academies
  • To make these infrastructural facilities open for the use of the public against membership fees.

Conclusion:

Despite the above mentioned measures taken by the government, the sports ecosystem is of poor quality in the country. For a country of over 1.33 billion, the existing sports infrastructure is not satisfactory. The lack of world-class infrastructure and the inadequate support of the government is reflected in poor performance of Indian athletes in major international events like the Olympics. Tiny countries like Cuba, Croatia and Lithuania performed better in the 2016 Olympics compared to India. It is high time, the public and private sector should come together to lift the Indian sport sector from the present deplorable situation.

 

Topic : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources. Disaster and disaster management.

6. Discuss in detail the impact of Covid-19 on the world’s education system. (250 words)

Reference: Hindustan Times 

Why the question:

The editorial explains in detail that while the focus must be now be ensuring the safety of students, teachers and staff, and putting in place protocols for school reopening, there has to be an extensive assessment of the learning loss and well-thought-out plans to bridge the learning gap, and schemes to retain students.

Key Demand of the question:

Present in detail the impact of Covid-19 on the world’s education system.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with some key data/facts such as – the closure of schools and other learning spaces have impacted 94% of the world’s student population (up to 99% in low and lower-middle income countries).

Body:

Start explaining the issues posed by the Covid-19 pandemic one by one; despite the delivery of lessons by radio, TV and online, and efforts of teachers and parents, many students still do not have access to education. It highlights how learners with disabilities, those from marginalised communities, displaced and refugee students, and those in remote areas are at highest risk of being left behind. And it warns that the knock-on effects on child nutrition, child marriage and gender equality could be enormous. The cumulative impact of all these on children may lead to a “generational catastrophe” that could waste human potential, undermine decades of progress, and exacerbate entrenched inequalities.

Discuss what needs to be done, present a case study of India and its education system facing the impact and blow of covid-19 and in what way government is taking steps in this regard to resolve.

Conclusion:

Conclude with solutions and suitable way forward.

Introduction:

The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered educational institutions across the globe. Closure of schools, colleges and universities, shutdown of routine life of students and teachers, disruptions in education and the education ministry remaining incommunicado, have created an unprecedented situation and thrown many unexpected challenges to administrators, educators, teachers, parents and students. According to UNESCO, nearly 321 million Indian children have been at home since April 2020. There is no clarity on when schools will reopen.

Body:

The United Nations (UN) recently released the secretary-general’s policy brief on the impact of Covid-19 on the world’s education system.

Key highlights of the policy brief:

  • The policy brief points to the fact that the closure of schools and other learning spaces have impacted 94% of the world’s student population and up to 99% in low and lower-middle income countries.
  • It suggests that despite the delivery of lessons by radio, TV and online, and efforts of teachers and parents, many students still do not have access to education.
  • It highlights how learners with disabilities, those from marginalised communities, displaced and refugee students, and those in remote areas are at highest risk of being left behind.
  • It warns that the knock-on effects on child nutrition, child marriage and gender equality could be enormous.
  • The cumulative impact of all these on children may lead to a “generational catastrophe” that could waste human potential, undermine decades of progress, and exacerbate entrenched inequalities.
  • This is not good news for any nation, more so for those in the low and lower-middle income segments such as India.

Impacts on education due to COVID-19 pandemic:

  • school and university closures will not only have a short-term impact on the continuity of learning for more than 300 million young learners in India but also engender far-reaching economic and societal consequences.
  • The pandemic has significantly disrupted the higher education sector as well, which is a critical determinant of a country’s economic future.
  • Sluggish cross-border movement of students: Universities in many countries such as Australia, UK, New Zealand, and Canada are highly dependent on the movement of students from China and India.
  • A large number of Indian students—second only to China—enroll in universities abroad, especially in countries worst affected by the pandemic, the US, UK, Australia and China.
  • Many such students have now been barred from leaving these countries. If the situation persists, in the long run, a decline in the demand for international higher education is expected.
  • Passive learning by students: The sudden shift to online learning without any planning — especially in countries like India where the backbone for online learning was not ready and the curriculum was not designed for such a format — has created the risk of most of our students becoming passive learners and they seem to be losing interest due to low levels of attention span.
  • Unprepared teachers for online education: Online learning is a special kind of methodology and not all teachers are good at it or at least not all of them were ready for this sudden transition from face to face learning to online learning. Thus, most of the teachers are just conducting lectures on video platforms such as Zoom which may not be real online learning in the absence of a dedicated online platform specifically designed for the purpose.
  • Drop in employment rate: The bigger concern, however, on everybody’s mind is the effect of the disease on the employment rate. Recent graduates in India are fearing withdrawal of job offers from corporates because of the current situation. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy’s estimates on unemployment shot up from 8.4% in mid-March to 23% in early April and the urban unemployment rate to 30.9%.

However, there have been a few opportunities also that has risen during the times of pandemic:

  • Rise in Blended Learning:
    • Universities and colleges will shift to a model of blended learning where both face to face delivery along with an online model will become a norm.
    • This will require all teachers to become more technology savvy and go through some training to bring themselves to the level that would be required.
  • Learning management systems to be the new norm:
    • A great opportunity will open up for those companies that have been developing and strengthening learning management systems for use by universities and colleges.
    • This has the potential to grow at a very fast pace but will have to be priced appropriately for use by all institutions.
  • Improvement in learning material:
    • There is a great opportunity for universities and colleges to start improving the quality of the learning material that is used in the teaching and learning process.
    • Since blended learning will be the new format of learning there will be a push to find new ways to design and deliver quality content especially due to the fact that the use of learning management systems will bring about more openness and transparency in academics.
  • Rise in collaborative work:
    • The teaching community to a large extent has been very insulated and more so in a country like India.
    • There is a new opportunity where collaborative teaching and learning can take on new forms and can even be monetized.
    • Finally, it is expected that there will be a massive rise in teleconferencing opportunities which can also have a negative impact on the travel.
    • A large number of academic meetings, seminars and conferences will move online and there is a possibility that some new form of an online conferencing platform will emerge as a business model.

Way forward:

  • While the focus must now be ensuring the safety of students, teachers and staff, and putting in place protocols for school reopening, there has to be an extensive assessment of the learning loss and well-thought-out plans to bridge the learning gap, and schemes to retain students.
  • This entails tweaking the syllabus and changing pedagogy.
  • This forced break must also be used to align the sector to the National Education Policy (NEP), which was released last week, especially to its foundational learning goals.
  • Last but not least, governments will have to arrange for funds required for the sector.

 

Topic : Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

7. Analyse the potential of e-governance in India. (250 words)

Reference: Ethics by lexicon Publications

Why the question:

The question is straightforward and aims to analyse and present the potential of e-governance in the country.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss in detail the potential of e-governance in India.

Directive:

AnalyzeWhen asked to analyse, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Introduce the answer by defining e-governance.

Body:

As per the World Bank, e-governance can be defined as the use by government agencies of information technologies that have the ability to transform relations with citizens, businesses, and other arms of government. It aims to create SMART governance which is to provide smart, moral, accountable, responsive and transparent governance.

Highlight the potential of e-governance in India including examples of different initiatives taken by government.

 Discuss the constraints that limit the potential of e-governance in India.

Conclusion:

Conclude that thus, toward building a digital and inclusive India, various measures addressing above challenges need to be undertaken to ensure that e-governance initiatives can help the country achieve its socioeconomic and welfare targets.

Introduction:

E-Governance is basically associated with carrying out the functions and achieving the results of governance through the utilization of what has today come to be known as Information and Communications Technology. It is basically the application of ICT to the processes of Government functioning in order to bring about ‘Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent’ (SMART) governance.

Body:

Potential of e-governance in India:

  • Increased effectiveness and efficiency: Improved government services in terms of accomplishing the government purpose and functioning
  • Better services: E-government can provide quick and timely services to stakeholders
  • Transparency by dissemination and publication of information on the web: This provides easy access to information and subsequently makes the system publicly accountable. Also as the web enables the free flow of information, it can be easily accessed by all without any discrimination.
  • Accessible anytime and anywhere: As e-government services are provided through web-enabled technology they can be accessed anytime and anywhere
  • User-centred ICT enabled services: The services are primarily intended for the use of citizens, businesses, and the government itself
  • Reduced cost and time: As the services are provided through internet they are effective in terms of time and cost
  • Economic Development: The deployment of ICTs reduces the transaction costs, which makes services cheaper. For example, rural areas suffer on account of lack of information regarding markets, products, agriculture, health, education, weather, etc. and if all this could be accessed online would lead to better and more opportunities and thereby prosperity in these areas.
  • Social Development: The access to information empowers the citizens. The informed citizenry can participate and voice their concerns, which can be accommodated in the programme/ project formulation, implementation, monitoring and service delivery. Web-enabled participation will counter the discriminatory factors affecting our societal behaviour.
  • Reduced bureaucracy: E-government minimizes hierarchy of authority for availing any government services
  • Automation of Administrative Processes: A truly e-governed system would require minimal human intervention and would rather be system driven.
  • Enhanced communication and coordination between government organizations: An automated services can be accessed by different organizations coordination and further communication became relative
  • Paper Work Reduction: An immediate impact of automation would be on the paperwork. Paperwork is reduced to a greater extent with communication being enabled via electronic route and storage and retrieval of information in the electronic form. All this has led to the emergence of less paper office’.
  • Quality of Services: ICT helps governments to deliver services to citizens with greater accountability responsiveness and sensitivity. Quality of services improves, as now the people are able to, get services efficiently and instantaneously.
  • Elimination of Hierarchy: ICT has reduced procedural delays caused by hierarchical processes in the organisation. Through Intranet and LAN, it has become possible to send information and data across various levels in the organisation at the same time.
  • Change in Administrative Culture: Bureaucratic structures have been plagued by characteristics aptly described by Victor Thompson as ‘bureau-pathology’. From the day s of New Public Administration, efforts have been made to find ways to deal with the pathological or dysfunctional aspects of art.
  • Strategic Information System: Changing organisational environment and increasing competitiveness have put pressures on the performance of the functionaries. Information regarding all aspects needs to be made available to the management at every point to make routine as well as strategic decisions.

Some of the e-Governance models implemented in India: Customs and Excise (Government of India); Indian Railways; Postal Department; Passport/Visa; Bhoomi – Automation of Land Records (State Government of Karnataka); Gyandoot: Intranet in Tribal District of Dhar (State Government of Madhya Pradesh); e-Mitra – Integrated Citizen Services Center/ e-Kiosks (State Government of Rajasthan) etc.

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India, has visualized e-Governance in the Indian context to mean: “A transparent, smart e-Governance with seamless access, secure and authentic flow of information crossing the interdepartmental barrier and providing a fair and unbiased service to the citizen.”

Conclusion:

Thus, e-Governance has led to better access to information and quality services for citizens; Simplicity, efficiency and accountability in the government and expanded reach of governance. In the light of wide range of e-Governance initiatives that have been carried out in India with varying degrees of success as well as the diversity of conditions in the country, the report recognizes that e-Governance projects have to be designed for specific contexts and environments


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