DAILY EDITORIAL (UPSC) |28 Jan 2021| RaghukulCS

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DAILY EDITORIAL (UPSC) |28 Jan 2021| RaghukulCS

Emphasising self­reliance in science

Source: The Hindu

Written by: C.P. Rajendran(professor in the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru.)

Topic in the syllabus: Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology; Indigenization of Technology and Developing New Technology. (GS-3)

Analysis about: This editorial talks about the issues associated with the new Science policy draft, 2020 released by India’s Department of Science and Technology.

Introduction:

  • India’s Department of Science and Technology released a draft of the 5th Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy.

What are the features of this policy draft?

  • The new policy aims to position India among the top three scientific superpowers and envisages technological self­ reliance
  • The draft policy says we need to attract best Indian minds to remain in India by developing a “people-centric” science, technology, and innovation “ecosystem”.
  • It states that the private sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Expenditure on Research and Development should be two-fold every five years.
  • The draft policy aims for “a decentralized institutional mechanism balancing top-­down and bottom-­up
    approaches, focusing on administrative and financial management, research governance, data and regulatory frameworks and system inter connectedness, for a very robust STI Governance”.
  • Policy makers are considering alternative mechanisms of financial landscape governance; that they realise the administrative burdens of researchers and the problem of journal paywalls.
  • It promises to explore international best practices of management of the grant.
  • As apart of inculcating an inclusive culture in academia, the document promises to tackle discriminations in the institutions “based on gender, caste, religion, geography, language, disability and other exclusions and inequalities”.
  • It mentions more representation of women and the LGBTQ community in academia.

What are the issues associated with this draft policy& the whole science sector?

  • The document full of jargon and clichés, making the task of separating the grain from the chaff a major exercise in itself.
  • The 2020 draft policy does not mention what we have achieved on these fronts since 2013.
  • The 2020draft policy blames the “lower investment on R&D” in GDP, on “inadequate private sector investment” and adds that “a robust financial landscape remains at the core of creating an STI­ driven Atmanirbhar Bharat.”
  • It looks as if the government is trying to shift the responsibility offinancing R&D to the States, private enterprises, and foreign multinational companies. But it is doubtful if the various funding models that are presented are workable or practical, especially during a covid pandemic.
  • The basic science research in India is suffering from the lack of sufficient funding despite grand proclamations.
    • Even elite institutes like the Indian Institutes of Technology are finding it difficult to run their laboratories on a day­-to-­day basis because of the lack of funds.
  • The intention of “The de centralised institution mechanism” is defeated in the document itself, where several new authorities, observatories and centres have been proposed, which may end up feeding up the already fattened bureaucracy in science administration.
  • It concerns the disconnect between science and society are valid. But the fact is that hyper­ nationalism is not conducive to the propagation of evidence­ based science and a rational outlook.
  • The document does not mention how to stem the rot within belief systems, althoug hit speaks extensively about science communication and scientific temperament.
    • Our belief systems, values, and attitudes have an impact on the quality of research.
    • It explains why Indians who have chosen to work in labs abroad can make path­breaking discoveries.

What is the way forward?

  • Common sense informs us that the only private sector cannot be expected to pay for basic research. This is because the return on investment in basic research is low for a private sector perspective. Only the government can have long­ term interest to mainly support such research.
  • Decentralisation of administrative architecture is essential, but we need to explore the practical option of providing more autonomy& freedom to research and academic centres for financial management.
  • The policy document should prioritise important issues and amplify first the problems which have cultural and administrative dimensions.

Conclusion:

  • India has no time to waste because, with the advent of new disruptive technologies, global competitiveness will be increasingly determined by the quality of science and technology, which in turn wil ldepend on raising the standard of Indian research/education centres and on the volume of R&D spending.

Troubling trends

Source: The Hindu

Topic in the syllabus: Inclusive Growth and issues arising from it.(GS-3)

Analysis about: This editorial talks about how Inequality is widening across the world as well as India.

Introduction:

  • The recovery from the pandemic is uneven among countries, and within countries, but the emerging truth all over the world is that economic inequality is rising sharply in all countries.
  • A new report by Oxfam has revealed that the 1,000 richest people world wide recovered their losses from the pandemic in just nine months as opposed to the world’s poorest who might take a decade to limp back to their pre-pandemic standing.
  • Inequality was very high and destabilising social and political order in much of the world even before the pandemic struck.

What is the severity of inequality?

  • Inequality in India has risen to levels last seen when it was colonised by Britishers.
  • The additional wealth acquired by India’s 100 billionaires since March since the lockdown was imposed is enough to give every one of the 138 million poorest ₹94,045, according to the report.
  • An unskilled worker in India would take 3years to earn what the country’s richest person earned
    in just one second last year, the report calculates.
  • The worsening inequality in income and opportunities impacts many sections disproportionately due to discrimination based on gender, caste and other factors.
  • In addition to the inequality, poorer people were worst affected by the disease itself.

How do we see towards inequality?

  • The focus merely on growth had led politicians and policymakers to accept rising inequality as inevitable for decades.
  • Inequality came to be seen as an out come of economic growth which led to the reduction of absolute poverty. Concerns about inequality could also be very easily dismissed as being informed by socialism.
  • Any criticism of capitalism was viewed with the scepticism of development debates until the crisis of capitalism could no longer be ignored.
  • There is now agreement all over among economists that the distribution of new wealth between capital and labour has become so one-­sided that workers are constantly being pushed to penury while the rich are getting richer everyday.

Conclusion:

  • The theme of the World Economic Forum at Davos this week is ‘the Great Reset’ which it says is a “commitment to jointly and fastly build the foundations of our economic and social system for a more fair, sustainable and resilient future”. We should act in this direction.

The ecological is political

Source: The Indian Express

Written by: Manas Ray (former professor in cultural studies at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata.)

Topic in the syllabus: Economy, Environment issues (GS-3)

Analysis about: This editorial talks about how the Anthropocene era has placed an ethical challenge before the human race.

Introduction:

  • With the rapid advance of the manufacturing sector and deeper penetration of the global market since the 2nd World War — what is known as the Great Acceleration — the emission of carbon dioxide increased in high proportions. It has been observed that Keynesianism did not replace capitalism but made it ordinary, acceptable to the masses.
  • In the mid-1980s, the Thatcher-Reagan joint economic regime dismantled the welfare system of the previous decades and turned towards neoliberalism. The result is humankind’s entry into an era where everything they do will have a direct& major impact on the planetary history from now on.
  • It means mankind has entered the Anthropocene era leaving behind that of the Holocene.

Geological timeline:

Why the scientists are saying that we have entered in Anthropocene?

  • Because humans are the main factor which are affecting Earth’s systems.
  • Human-kind has caused mass extinctions of plant and animal species, polluted the oceans and changed the atmosphere, among other lasting impacts.

What is Keynesian economics is all about?

  • Keynesian economics is all about how the economic output is strongly influenced by aggregate demand.
  • According to him, the aggregate demand does not necessarily equal the productive capacity of the economy. Instead, it is influenced by a host of factors.

What is Thatcherism & Reaganism?

  • They were believing in reducing the public sector and Increasing the Liberalisation & Privatisation.

What does the author Manas Ray want to convey?

  • The figure of the Anthropocene has now been shown as the ultimate test of humanity’s capacity for self-overcoming through technological solutions.
  • Apart from ensuring the belief of the global populace in the prevailing economic-technological order, it offers capitalism a new market.
  • The author asks, Is it possible even now for us as a collective to work out an escape from the impending doom? Can the Anthropocene be made liveable for humans today?
  • Time has come to develop a species sense, the sense that we as a species were born through the geological and biological changes so far.
  • But along with this, we need what may be called an ethical understanding at the level of species. Though not connected, the issues of power and ethics can be brought on a similar plane through patient reflection.
  • The only criticism of capitalism will not suffice. We need to imagine a very feasible global systemic alternative where the human considers itself a part of the natural order and actively cooperates with it.
  • There is little awareness at present that unless the question of ecological impact is woven into the question of justice in human affairs, it will be of very less practical relevance. The compass of the political must also include ecological.

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