Title of the editorial: Education, the nation and the states
Written by: Krishna Kumar – He is a former Director of the National Council of Educational Research
and Training and editor of the Routledge Handbook of Education in India.
Topic in syllabus: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources. (GS-2)
Analysis about: This editorial talks about effects of centralisation of education & how the National Education Policy 2020 underestimates the problem of reconciling the three systems of education in India.
Basics: Evolution of education policy in India after independence.
- The National Policy on Education,1986: In 1968 the Government of India had formulated the National Policy on Education, in response to the recommendations of the Kothari Commission. The National Policy on Education sought ‘total reformation’ and aimed at extending the prospects of education to all sections of the society to accomplish the goal of harmony and integration.
- The National Policy on Education,1986: Its major objective was to provide education to all sections of society, with a particular focus on scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, other backward classes and women, who were deprived of educational opportunities for centuries.
- Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan or The Education for All Movement: It is a central government programme which aimed at universalising elementary education in a time bound manner
- Right to Education Act or The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act: It emphasises the importance of free and compulsory education for children who are in the age group of 6 to 14years.
- The National policy on education,2020: It is to be induced at school level from pre-school to class 12th and it aims to empower each student in one vocational skill. Continuing to Higher Education, it aims to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3% (2018) to 50% by 2035.
Introduction: In 2019, the Ministry of Human Resource Development released a Draft New Education Policy 2019. The Draft NEP discusses reducing curriculum content to enhance essential learning, critical thinking and more holistic experiential, discussion-based and analysis-based learning. On 29th July 2020, the cabinet approved a new National Education Policy with an aim to introduce several changes to the existing Indian education system.
What are three systems of education in India?
- First system: There is a Central system, running an exam board that has an all India reach through
affiliation with English medium private schools catering to regional elites. Two school chains run by
the Centre are part of this system.
- Second system: advanced professional institutes and universities, provincial secondary boards affiliating schools teaching in State languages.
- Third system: It is based on purely private investment. Internationally accredited school boards and
globally connected private universities are part of this third system.
What issues writer points out in New education policy?
- The new policy document underestimates the problem of reconciling the three systems of education.
- The new policy observes federal courtesy.
- New education policy favours a functional uniformity, which is unlikely to offer any real solution.
- At the school level, the new policy proposes a post RTE structural shift, ignoring the fact that
the RTE itself has not yet been fully implemented.
Issues in education policies so far:
- There is no reliable mechanism to reconcile the marking standards of different Boards and universities.
- The trend has been to assume that a national system will evolve and iron out provincial variations. That is a strange assumption.
- There is a considerable history of strong recommendations made by national commissions to states but States have their own social worlds to deal with, and they often prefer to carry on with the ways they became familiar with in colonial days. E.g. intermediate or junior colleges in several States.
- When the national policy was drafted in 1986, it emphasised national concerns and perspective without specifically referring to provincial practices that indicated strong divergence.
- The rapidly expanding and globalising urban middle class had already begun to secede from the
public system, as a result of this privatisation increased, systemic chaos grew, leaving the policy behind.
- Inequalities have become sharper with the rise in overall prosperity – education policy do not focus on it.
- A vital role was played by the highest judiciary in pushing the polity towards recognising children’s right to be at school rather than at work.
- Autonomy for educational institutions is interpreted in financial terms only.
What are the solutions?
- For education to fulfil its social role, it must respond to the specific milieu in which the young are growing up.
- Coordination required in adherence to social responsibilities in a period of rapid economic change.
- Education must mediate between different social strata divided by caste and economic status.
- There should be the equitable public education
- There should be a continued financial support for the implementation of RTE and policy guidance for the proper use of this support so that regional disparities diminish.
Conclusion: The architect of many of our national level institutions, the late J.P. Naik, used to say that we must ask what kind of human being and society we want before we draft a policy in education.
Title of the editorial: Serosurveys underestimate building of herd immunity
Written by: Dr. M.S. Seshadri is Retired Professor of Clinical Endocrinology and Medicine, Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, and now Medical Director, Thirumalai Mission Hospital, Ranipet, Tamil Nadu; Dr. T. Jacob John is Retired Professor of Virology, CMC
Topic in syllabus: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health. (GS-2) | Science & technology (GS-3)
Analysis about: This editorial discuss why antibody prevalence data derived from serosurveys must be interpreted with caution and correction factors.
Basics: Some scientific terms you should know.
- Antibodies: They are specialized, Y-shaped proteins that bind like a lock-and-key to the body’s foreign invaders — whether they are viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites. They are the “search” battalion of the immune system’s search-and-destroy system, tasked with finding an enemy and marking it for destruction.
- Herd Immunity: Herd immunity (or community immunity) occurs when a high percentage of the community is immune to a disease (through vaccination and/or prior illness), making the spread of this disease from person to person unlikely. Even individuals not vaccinated (such as newborns and the immunocompromised) are offered some protection because the disease has little opportunity to spread within the community.
- Serological survey: It is an antibody test conducted on a sample of the population to assess how many people have been infected by pathogens.
Why serological surveys are conducted recently?
- The theory behind population based serological surveys (seroprevalence surveys or serosurveys) to detect the prevalence of antibodies against COVID19 is robust.
- Their purpose is to measure the proportion of a population already infected, as evidenced by antibody positivity.
What are the problems associated with the serological test?
- Antibodies are the footprints of the host’s response to virus infection. Their presence in the bloodserum confirms past infection. But the virus carries several antigens, both on the surface and internally. The body responds to all of them.
- Detection of antibodies does not correlate well with the protective virus-neutralising function of immunity.
- These antibody levels decline over time, reaching 50% of the initial levels by about 36 days and become undetectable by 60 days after proven infection.
- The latent period between infection and the appearance of a detectable antibody is about four
weeks. Therefore, the results of the first serosurvey pertain predominantly to the antibody status of
subjects from April 13 to May 7. So the result is an underestimate of the true value.
Why there is a need to take precautions?
- Misinterpreting serosurvey results has serious consequences for understanding the epidemic profile.
- The predicted herd immunity level needed to end the epidemic was 60%, for a normal epidemic curve with peak at its halfway mark.
- Postpeak, many have no fear and are more relaxed about good practices to prevent infection.
- Major festivals are approaching. Unless care is taken, they may enhance transmission frequency, giving rise to local outbreaks and infection waves, but they are unlikely to disturb the downward slope of the national epidemic curve because half of the herd immunity level required to end the epidemic was already reached by mid-September.
What should be done?
- Antibody prevalence data derived from serosurveys must be interpreted with caution & correction factors.
- Serosurvey results have to be interpreted to arrive at the true level of prevalence of antibodies.
- Governments must continuously exhort citizens not to let their guard down, not only for the safety of those who celebrate, but also, more importantly, their family members, particularly senior citizens.
People can celebrate festivals but governments must enforce strict norms regarding crowding, especially inside buildings.
Title of the editorial: The nutrition fallout of school closures.
Written by: Jayashree B., Gopinath R., Bhavani R.V. has contributed to this article. The authors work with the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation
Topic in syllabus: Education, Hunger (GS-2)
Analysis about: This editorial talks about how COVID19 has exacerbated the problem of child hunger and malnutrition.
Basics: What is the objective mid-day meal scheme?
- To enhance the enrollment, retention and attendance and simultaneously improve nutritional levels among school going children studying in Classes I to VIII of Government, Government – aided schools, Special Training centres (STC) and Madarasas and Maktabs supported under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
- Mid-day meal programme – The largest school-feeding programme in the world, that has undoubtedly played an extremely significant role in increasing nutrition and learning among school-going children, has been one of the casualties of the COVID19 pandemic.
- A study estimated that as of April 2020, the peak of school closures, 369 million children globally were losing out on school meals, a bulk of whom were in India.
Why is this a pressing issue?
- The recent Global Hunger Index (GHI) report for 2020 ranks India at 94 out of 107 countries and in the category ‘serious’, behind our neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
- We are already far out in terms of achieving the ‘Zero Hunger’ goal, and in the absence of urgent measures to address the problem, the situation will only worsen.
- A report by the International Labour Organization and the UNICEF, on COVID19 and child
labour, cautions that unless school services and social security are universally strengthened, there is a risk that some children may not even return to schools when they reopen.
- The other worrying angle is the fact that there are reports of children engaging in labour to supplement the fall in family incomes in vulnerable households.
Why Mid-day meal programme is very important?
- A midday meal in India should provide 450 Kcal of energy, a minimum of 12 grams of proteins, including adequate quantities of micronutrients like iron, folic acid, Vitamin A, etc., according to the midday meal scheme (MDMS) guidelines.
- Many research reports, and even the Joint Review Mission of MDMS, 2015-16 noted that many children reach school on an empty stomach, making the school’s midday meal a major source of nutrition for children, particularly those from vulnerable communities.
Issues recently seen in the implementation of programme:
- The Government of India announced that the usual hotcooked midday meal or an equivalent food security allowance/dry ration would be provided to all eligible schoolgoing children even during vacation, to ensure that their immunity and nutrition is not compromised. Nearly three months into this decision, States were still struggling to implement this.
- Data and media reports indicate that dry ration distributions in lieu of school meals are irregular.
Let us see some innovative strategies to tackle these issues:
- Local smallholder farmers’ involvement in school feeding is suggested by experts, such as Basanta Kumar Kar.
- He suggests a livelihood model that links local smallholder farmers with the midday meal system
for the supply of cereals, vegetables, and eggs, while meeting protein and hidden hunger needs, which could diversify production and farming systems, transform rural livelihoods and the local economy, and fulfill the ‘Atmanirbhar Poshan’ (nutritional self-sufficiency) agenda.
- The COVID19 crisis has also brought home the need for such decentralised models and local supply chains.
- There are also new initiatives such as the School Nutrition (Kitchen) Garden under MDMS to provide fresh vegetables for midday meals.
- Hot meals can be provided to eligible children with a plan to prepare and distribute the meal in the school midday meal centre. This is similar to free urban canteens or community kitchens for the elderly and others in distress in States like Odisha.
- Adequate awareness about of the availability of the scheme is needed.
- Locally produced vegetables and fruits may be added to the MDMS, also providing an income to local farmers.
- Distribution of eggs where feasible (and where a State provision is already there) can be carried out. Most of all, the missed midday meal entitlement for April may be provided to children as dry ration with retrospective effect.
Conclusion: With continuing uncertainty regarding the reopening of schools, innovation is similarly required to ensure that not just food, but nutrition is delivered regularly to millions of children.
Title of the editorial: Outside the QUAD.
Written by: C. Raja Mohan – He is director, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore
Topic in syllabus: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting
India’s interests (GS-2)
Analysis about: This editorial talks about how will be the India’s future in global arena besides QUAD.
- QUAD: The Quadrilateral group or the Quad is an informal group which includes the trade spokesmen of the United States, Japan, Canada, and the European Union. It was first suggested during a private meeting during the 7th G7 summit in July 1981.
- G7: The Group of Seven is an international intergovernmental economic organization consisting of seven major developed countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, which are the largest IMF-advanced economies in the world.
- BRICS: BRICS is the acronym coined to associate five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on regional affairs. Since 2009, the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits.
- Australia’s participation in the annual Malabar exercises, kicking off this week in the Bay of Bengal, marks the emergence of the Quad as a new feature of the Indo-Pacific geopolitics.
- The question is no longer about the Quad’s sustainability, but India’s ability to take full advantage of the possibilities after the US elections to construct a wide range of new international coalitions. Despite many ideological contentions between them, Republicans and Democrats agree on the need for an overhaul of global structures to cope with the emerging challenges.
How global institution may change?
- The likely changes could envelop a range of old institutions like the Five Eyes — the Anglo-American alliance for sharing intelligence between the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — and the G-7 grouping that coordinates Western policies on global economic management. We could also see the creation of a new League of Democracies that will address a wide range of issues, including the defence of shared values, commerce, corruption, taxation, climate change and digital governance.
How QUAD provides India the global platform?
- The consolidation of the Quad reflects the political will in Delhi to break free from old shibboleths and respond to security imperatives. The post-Quad era opens a new phase in which India, for the first time, can help shape global institutions.
Evolution of India at the international stage:
- In the 1970s, India embraced the radical agenda of a New International Economic Order, as the leader of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77.
- With the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union & India’s own economic model collapsed, Delhi had no option but to temper its political ambitions, put its political head down, focus on economic reform and prevent the world from intruding too much into its internal affairs.
- While the imperative of growth demanded a greater engagement with the West, the fear of the US activism on Kashmir and nuclear issues saw Delhi turn to Russia and China in search of a “multipolar world” that could constrain American power.
- The BRICS forum with Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa became emblematic of this strategy.
- Delhi soon found that differences with the US on Kashmir and nuclear issues were easing.
- But Kashmir and the nuclear question became part of India’s deepening territorial and political disputes with China.
- Delhi also figured out that it was not possible for BRICS to constrain Beijing, since China was so much bigger than the other four members put together.
- As India’s focus inevitably shifted to the construction of a “multipolar Asia”, the Quad and its central role in constructing a stable balance of power in Asia became apparent.
- India’s multilateralism that is marked by three features — the relative rise in Delhi’s international standing, the breakdown of the great power consensus on economic globalisation, and the breakout of the US-China rivalry.
- The invitation to India to join a Five Eyes meeting earlier this month in Tokyo on communications security came amidst the bipartisan calls in the US Congress for the expansion of the forum and the inclusion of India.
- India is also engaged with Japan and Australia in developing resilient supply chains to reduce the reliance on China.
How USA see the changes in global institutions?
- Both Republicans and Democrats are veering around to ideas of the “free world” coming together to set up new international coalitions to address the emerging challenges from China. President Trump has proposed the expansion of G-7 grouping to include Australia, India, Russia and South Korea.
- A “Clean Network” that eliminates untrustworthy vendors from telecom systems, digital apps, trans-oceanic cables and cloud infrastructure. While it began with the targeting of Chinese suppliers like Huawei, Clean Network is now a broader effort to build secure technology ecosystems among like-minded countries.
Conclusion: Delhi’s participation in the sweeping rearrangement of the global structures that will have major consequences for India’s economic prosperity and technological future. Unlike in the past, Delhi now has the resources, leverage and political will to make a difference to the global order.