Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

03 July 2021 - Saturday


Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name



Net loss: On Internet access to schools

The Hindu


When ex-officers speak up

Indian Express

Mains Value Addition

4,000-year-old settlement found during Odisha excavation

Syllabus–GS 1: History

Analysis: –

  • The Odisha Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies (OIMSEAS), an archaeological wing of the State government, has discovered a 4,000-year-old settlement and ancient artifacts in Balasore district.
  • After uncovering traces of fortified early historic sites near Balasore town, the OIMSEAS had sought permission from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to document the site at the Durgadevi village in Remuna tehsil.
  • Durgadevi is located 20 km from Balasore town. According to the ASI, the site has a circular mud fortification of about 4.9 km etween the Sona river to the south and the Burahabalang river on its northeastern margin.
  • Excavation was started with an aim to correlate the simultaneous growth and development of maritime activities, and urbanisation in the east coast of India, linking the Ganga valley in north and the Mahanadi valley in central Odisha, more particularly to focus on early cultural development in northern Odisha, the institute informed.

Anganwadi workers struggle with Centre’s order on ‘Poshan’

Syllabus – GS 2: Government Policy – schemes

Analysis: –

  • Anganwadi workers in several States, including Punjab and Haryana, are up in arms after a government order threatened them with a pay cut if they did not download the government’s mobile application called Poshan Tracker to record delivery of services by them.
  • They demanded to know who would give them the mobile phones and bear the expenses for recharge.
  • The mobile application and the use of technology for real time growth monitoring and tracking of beneficiaries is the mainstay of the government’s Poshan Abhiyaan or Nutrition Mission which aims to improve nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
  • In Punjab’s Gurdaspur, several thousand anganwadi workers and helpers held a demonstration on Friday registering their protest against the mandatory use of the mobile application.

Mains Analysis

Net loss : On Internet access to schools

Why in News?

The Centre must help provide Internet links to all schools as an essential service

Syllabus— GS 2 Education

  • The digital divide in India’s school education system, reflected by the absence of computers and Internet access on campus, emerges starkly from the Education Ministry’s Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+), for the pre-pandemic year of 2019-20.
  • Even before the coronavirus outbreak, hybrid learning made web access and computers vital adjuncts to make the learning process more interesting.

Facts: –

  • The latest data confirm that a mere 22% of schools across the country on average had Internet access, while government institutions fared much worse at 11%.
  • On the second metric of functional computer access, the national average was 37% and for government schools, 28.5%.
  • Beyond the averages, the range of deficits reflects deep asymmetries: 87.84% of Kerala schools and 85.69% in Delhi had an Internet facility, compared to 6.46% in Odisha, 8.5% in Bihar, 10% in West Bengal and 13.62% in Uttar Pradesh.

Challenges to Online education: –

  1. During 2020-21, it became painfully clear that most students would have to rely on remote learning, but many would face the double whammy of not having their own computing equipment and smartphones at home, and their schools staying without such resources.
  2. The absence of laptops and Internet connection on campus reflects the digital divide in India’s school education system, according to the Education Ministry’s Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+) for the pre-pandemic year of 2019-20.
  3. Students and teachers not being able to use computers and the Internet is acknowledged to be a form of deprivation, especially during the pandemic, just as the inability to attend in-person classes is another. Many scholars see the teaching-learning process as multi-dimensional, helping to inculcate social skills.
  4. Many people in rural areas, notably in the Northeast, had to go closer to cell phone towers to obtain their lessons via shared phones.
  5. According to the most recent data, only 22% of schools had Internet connectivity on average across the country, with government institutions faring even worse at 11%.
  6. According to the UDISE+, many schools have fallen through the net and require immediate assistance to reconnect.

Hybrid Education Models: –

  • Many academics believe that the teaching-learning process is multi-dimensional and that it aids in the development of social skills.
  • COVID-19, on the other hand, has prompted all countries to consider hybrid education approaches, with a mix of virtual and on-campus instruction offered now and on campus later after the virus threat has passed.
  • Bringing computers and the Internet to all schools cannot be postponed any longer in such a multi-layered procedure.

Way Forward: –

  • The Centre must look into all options, including the National Broadband Mission, the BSNL network, and other service providers, to connect schools, including all government institutions that are severely underserved; the upcoming 5G standard, with its high wireless bandwidth, may also be able to help quickly bridge the gap.
  • Apart from government support, communities, firms, and hardware manufacturers can employ recycling and donation options to get computers to schools.

Question: –

Physical infrastructure has traditionally meant good buildings, playgrounds, libraries and access to water and toilets, but the advent of hybrid learning even ahead of the coronavirus crisis has made essential online access and computers key adjuncts to make the learning process more engaging. Discuss the statement.

When ex-officers speak up

Why in News?

Recently govt brought a new order that prohibits officers who retired, from any of the 25 listed critical organizations that deal with state security, to publish without taking prior clearance from the govt.

Syllabus—GS2: Issues related to Civil Servants

Background: –

  • In an attempt to stop retired security and intelligence officials from commenting critically on issues relating to current policy, the Narendra Modi government has notified an amendment to the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules 1972 prohibiting them from communicating to the media or publishing any letter or book or other document on subjects that fall within the “domain” of the organisations they served without prior clearance.

What are the amendments?

  • The amendment has been introduced in Rule 8, dealing with ‘Pension subject to future good conduct’, which means any violation of the new guideline would jeopardise a retired officer’s pension.
  • The new prohibition placed on any writing that touches upon the “domain of the organisation… and expertise or knowledge gained by virtue of working in that organisation” is so broad and vague that some retired officials from the security and intelligence establishment who comment on public affairs see this as an attempt to browbeat critics of the government into silence.
  • In effect, the new rule means former R&AW officials can no longer write articles in the media on any foreign or security related subject such as Pakistan, Afghanistan or China without prior clearance as the organisation’s ‘domain’ covers them. A former Intelligence Bureau official will be barred from writing on communal violence or the mishandling of internal security issues or even domestic politics since the IB’s domain includes those.

Rationale behind the rules:

  • The present dispensation takes no chance with retired bureaucrats & sternly reminds them not to disclose information that would prejudicially affect
  • the sovereignty & integrity of India,
  • the security & strategic,
  • Scientific or economic interests of the state.
  • It is unusual for the current regime to be so explicit for those who worked in specific intelligence & security organizations & organizations prone to raiding like the CBI or ED.
  • The notification also amends the central pension rules enabling the govt to withhold the pension of those who defy.
  • Also says that pension is not in the nature of reward but there is a binding obligation that can be claimed as a right.
  • But the catch is that it insists on future good conduct as a condition of every grant of pension & its continuance.

Judiciary role:

  • The courts have not amused & have historically ruled in favor of pensioners.
  • There are several judgments against executives using pensions against troublesome retirees.
  • But courts in the recent past have been appeared to be quiet when the security clause is invoked by the govt.
  • However, SC in Dr. Hira Lal v. State of Bihar 2020 case held that the right to pension cannot be taken away by a mere executive fiat or administrative instruction.
  • Pensions & gratuity are not mere bounties or given out of generosity by the employer.
  • The employee earns these benefits by virtue of his long, continuous, faithful & unblemished service.
  • This does not entitle a retired officer to endanger the nation’s security but one is surely mature enough to distinguish between genuine protest & sedition.

Counter to the rules:

  • Holding a view contrary to the govts prevailing narrative can surely not be equated with treachery.
  • Many of opinion & feel that it would be beneficial for India’s security system if experienced police officers analyzed why & how grievous lapses in intelligence & security took place in a tightly controlled zone like Pulwama.
  • Hence the orders that were meant for colonial times or even for the late 20th century may not suffice.

Way Forward: –

  • The counter strategy to muster obliging retired bureaucrats and diplomats to speak in the government’s favour and attack their former colleagues has not been a box-office hit.
  • It may certainly have been more productive if the government tried to understand what drives such large numbers of retired secretaries, ambassadors, directors-general of police and others to speak out against its policies.
  • After all, till recently, senior bureaucrats retired in peace and were quite satisfied with playing bridge or golf. Even now, the vast majority holds its tongue, as it has been trained to, over a whole lifetime.
  • Many bureaucrats surely know better than the public what benefits accrue from silence and acquiesce.
  • The risks of contesting the government are high, but then, there comes a crossroad in life when a 92-year-old Julio Ribeiro and many of his retired colleagues just have to speak up.

Question: –

There is no doubt that there is alarm over the retired officers who are flashing too many yellow & red flags on the current regimes’ acts of omission & commission. The govt rather than attacking the retired officers, the more productive way is for govt to understand those officers’ intention of speaking against its policies. Comment

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