DAILY MAINS NEWSLETTER FOR UPSC |26 Feb 2021| RaghukulCS

Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

26 FEB 2021

Index

Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name

Source

1

Single party dominance, democracy imperilled

 The Hindu

2

The absurdity of the anti-defection law.

The Hindu

3

“Inhibiting free speech”.

The Hindu

4

State pushback

Indian Express

5

NEP emphasises child-centred pedagogy as opposed to exam-centred approach.

Indian Express

Mains Value Addition

Union Minister inaugurates “India Pharma 2021” & “India Medical Devices 2021”:

Analysis: –

  • Union Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister Shri D V Sadananda Gowda has inaugurated a four day Global Investors meet: India Pharma 2021 & India Medical Devices 2021.
  • This meet is organized by FICCI along with Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers, Government of India, and Invest India.
  • EY-FICCI report titled ‘Indian Pharmaceutical Industry 2021: future is now’ was also launched during the event.
  • Union Minister along with MoS also presented 6th India Pharma and medical device award.

Union Minister inaugurates the latest technology Integrated Bamboo Treatment Plant:

Analysis: –

• Dr. Jitendra Singh today inaugurated the latest technology Integrated Bamboo Treatment Plant in the premises of North East Cane and Bamboo
Development Council (NECBDC) near Guwahati. North Eastern Council and the Ministry of DoNER have initiated a country wide drive and are also encouraging Start-Ups and new entrepreneurs to explore business
opportunities through bamboo.


• Union Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh announced that Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir will set up three Bamboo Clusters through technical
knowhow and collaboration from North East Cane and Bamboo Development Council (NECBDC).

CCI approves proposed merger of NAM Estates and Embassy One with IBREL:

Analysis: –

  • Competition Commission of India (CCI) approves proposed merger of NAM Estates and Embassy One Commercial Property Developments Pvt. Ltd (EOCPDPL) into Indiabulls Real Estate (IBREL).
  • NAM Estates is engaged in the business of real estate development of commercial and residential assets and other related activities.
  • EOCPDPL is engaged in the business of providing common area maintenance services to construction and development of real estate.
  • IBREL is a publicly listed, real estate company in India.

16th FICCI Higher Education Summit 2021

Analysis: –

  • Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry in collaboration with Ministry of Education and Ministry of Commerce and Industry organised the “FICCI Higher Education Summit 2021”. This year is the 16th edition of this summit.
  • The theme of the summit is ‘‘Higher Education @ 2030: R.I.S.E. – Resilience. Innovation. Sustainability. Enterprise.”
  • Union Education Minister Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ delivered the inaugural address at this summit.
  • FICCI- EY report ‘Higher Education in India: Vision 2040 was released in this event.

City Innovation Exchange (CiX) Platform Launched:

Analysis: –

  • The Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs Shri Durga Shanker Mishra launched the “City Innovation Exchange” (CiX) platform. This platform has been designed on the philosophy of ‘everyone is an innovator’.
  • This platform will bring together Citizen Organisations-Academia- Businesses- Government to co-create for the future of Urban India in a transparent and sustainable manner.
  • City Innovation Exchange (CiX) is a platform which will connect cities to innovators across the national ecosystem to design innovative solutions for their pressing challenges.

Mains Analysis

Single party dominance, democracy imperiled

Why in News: –

The progressive politics must ensure that winning polls through any means can never be an objective.

Syllabus:

GS-2: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

GS-4: accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance.

  • Till March 2018, the single party dominated India’s map.
  • It along with its allies controlled 76 per cent of the country’s area and over 69 per cent of its population.
  • Single party dominance most has democracy implication with miner opposition.
  • The nation is set to witness a series of elections to several State Assemblies elections.
  • Normally they do not attract too much attention, but has gain significance as the nation moves inexorably towards single party dominance.
  • India is more accustomed to glacial changes in political behaviour and attitudes.
  • India is today confronting a new phenomenon that the winner seeks to take all at any cost, the outcome of each and every Assembly Election becomes critical to the end objective.

 Issues with Electoral Politics:

  1. The electoral politics in the country appears to be out of sync with this portrayal.
  2. Threats to the conduct of orderly elections are increasing, more so in some States than perhaps in others, and must not be underestimated.
  3.  Pressing the stop button is not a viable option as of now, as it is a reflection of the pervasive decline in political attitudes and behaviour in the nation.
  4. The Violence, money power, and communal attitudes tend to exercise, disproportionately greater influence on the outcome of elections as of now.
  5. Across India, we are witnessing a near daily ritual of individuals belonging to one political party or the other shifting their allegiance and, while doing so, indulging in a diatribe against the party they exited.

Northern VS Southern politics:

  • It is only to be anticipated that northern stateelections will witness the finessing of a strategy employed successfully previously, including that of encouraging defections of key Opposition members.
  • An incitement to violence, specially of the communal and sectarian kind, selective use of state agencies to build an atmosphere of fear, to gain an unfair advantage, etc.
  • In the southern States that will be going to the elections, there could be one significant variant, viz., the objective of achieving power would be through proxy means.
  • The greater fear is that in return for electoral support this time, many more demands would be made, resulting in an acceptance of subalternity.

 Regional Problems:

  1. The principal objective of the ruling party at the Centre would be to reduce the Congress into insignificance.
  2. While it also seeks to simultaneously reduce the influence exercised by the Left, even as the BJP can hardly hope to capture power here just yet in the Northeast, Assam.
  3. In the backdrop of controversial policies such as the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens, which created quite a stir and dented the image and influence of the BJP to some extent,

 Issue with West Bengal:

  • Almost all the tactics mentioned would be, or are already on display in the State.
  • This is likely to intensify further as elections approach.
  •  In west Bengal where caste identity has seldom if ever been a factor in elections or otherwise, a manifest attempt is being made to whip up caste frenzy.
  • The rallying slogans ‘Vande Mataram and Jai Sri Ram’ by rival groups are being projected as the battle cry of the Forward versus the Subaltern classes.
  • In west Bengal where communal tensions are manifestly evident, the State has been witnessing severe communal violence over many months, some of it as serious, as that seen during Partition.

 The Democratic Concerns:

  1.  The extant circumstances, is that pent-up anger against a distortion of electoral verdicts or confronted with unpredictable results should result in something more serious and dangerous as an open rebellion against participative democracy.
  2.  Electorates are singularly ill-prepared for such eventualities.
  3. History is replete with instances of this kind. There is only a thin line which protects democracy from the ravages of its opponents.
  4. The 19th and 20th centuries provide enough examples of how wittingly, or unwittingly, democracy could become imperilled, leading to unforeseen situations.
  5. Ensuring that the current status quo is not challenged beyond a significant threshold is critically important for the future of democracy.

  Way Forward

  • The shifting patterns of party alignments are, in turn, converting democratic politics into a kind of charade which could damage the fabric of both electoral and democratic politics.
  • Questions do arise as to what kind of polity will emerge as a consequence of all this.
  • Of serious concern is that elections could hereafter become an instrument to traduce democracy.
  •  With all political debate becoming highly polarised, elections could well degenerate into a ritualistic exercise, without truly reflecting the democratic will of the people.
  • Attributing motives is no panacea for what could well lead to the demise of electoral democracy.

Question: –

In the light of recent controversy of election issues ranging from shifting party alliances to unpredicted results, what are the challenges before the Election Commission of India to ensure the trustworthiness of elections in India?

The absurdity of the anti-defection law.

Why in News: –

The Puducherry events (Four Ruling MLAs have resigned) highlight, yet the absurdity of the anti-defection law.

Syllabus: – GS-2:

issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure.

GS-2: Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

Background:-

  • Another bastion of the Congress has fallen with the Congress-led Puducherry government falling. Chief Minister V Narayanasamy resigned even before a trust vote as four of his MLAs resigned plunging his party into a minority in the picturesque Union Territory of Puducherry.
  • After the recent resignation of five of its MLA’s egged on by the BJP, it was a foregone conclusion that the government would fall when the state was on the brink of state elections.

 The Anti-Defection Law:

  • The anti-defection law introduces (Tenth Schedule, 1985) to combat the “evil of political defections”, and purpose was to preserve the stability of governments, time to review.
  • The 52nd Constitutional amendment act 1985, introduce anti-defection law. ‘Defection’ has been defined as, “To abandon a position or association, often to join an opposing group”
  • The decision on disqualification questions on the ground of defection is referred to the Speaker or the Chairman of the House, and his/her decision is final.
  • All proceedings in relation to disqualification under 10th Schedule are considered to be proceedings in Parliament or the Legislature of a state as is the case.

 Provisions of anti-defection:

  1.  The provision was not limited to confidence motions or money bills, which are quasi-confidence motions.
  2. It applies to all votes in the House, on every Bill and every other issue.
  3.  It even applies to the Rajya Sabha and Legislative Councils, which have no say in the stability of the government.
  4. Because an MP (or MLA) has absolutely no freedom to vote their judgement on any issue.
  5.  They have to blindly follow the direction of the party.
  6. This provision goes against the concept of representative democracy.

The roles MP/MLA anti-defection act:

  • MP/MLA is agents of the voters and is expected to vote according to the wishes and for the benefits of their constituents.
  • The duty to their constituents is to exercise their judgment on various issues towards the broader public interest.
  • In this, they deliberate with other MPs and find a reasonable way through complex issues.
  • The anti-defection law turns the concept of a representative on its head.
  • It makes the MP neither a delegate of the constituency nor a national legislator but converts them to be just an agent of the party.

 Need for Accountability:

  • In India, this chain of accountability of MP/MLA has been broken by making legislators accountable primarily to the party.
  • This means, anyone from the party has a majority in the legislature which is, by definition, the party forming the government is unable to hold the government to account.
  • All legislators have a ready explanation for their voting behaviour: they had to follow the party’s direction.
  • This negates the concept of them having to justify their positions on various issues to the people who elected them to the post.

 Effect of Anti-Defection law on legislatures:

  • The consequence of the anti-defection law is the hollowing out of our legislatures.
  • The core role of an MP to examine and decide on policy, Bills and budgets is side-lined. Instead, the MP becomes just another number to be tallied by the party on any vote that it supports or opposes.
  • The anti-defection law not even provide stability and political system has found ways to topple governments.
  •  The Constitution was amended to ensure that any person disqualified for defecting cannot get a ministerial position unless they are re-elected; the way around this has been to resign rather than vote against the party.
  • The Speaker usually from the ruling party has delayed taking a decision on the disqualification, led to strange situations such as members who continue to be part of the main Opposition party becoming Ministers.

Onus is on parties:

  1. If stability of government is an issue due to people defecting from their parties, the answer is for parties to strengthen their internal systems.
  2.  If they attract members on the basis of ideology, and they have systems for people to rise within the party hierarchy on their capabilities there would be a greater exit barrier.
  3. These characteristics seem absent in many of the political parties, and we have seen a large number of defections despite the anti-defection law.

Way forward:

  • Political parties have over the years learned to manipulate the law and find loopholes to escape it. There is a law that says that anyone convicted with a prison term of over two years cannot contest elections.
  • The voters may decide to reject the legislator for re-election and that is the core design element of representative democracy.
  • The legislator is accountable to voters, and the government is accountable to legislators.
  • If voters believe that they have been betrayed by the defectors, they can vote them out in the next election.
  • The premise that the anti-defection law is needed to punish legislators who betray the mandate given by the voters also seems to be flawed.
  • The anti-defection law has been detrimental to the functioning of our legislatures as deliberative bodies which hold the executive to account on behalf of citizens.
  • It has turned them into fora to endorse the decision of the government on Bills and budgets. And it has not even done the job of preserving the stability of governments. The Tenth Schedule to the Constitution must be repealed.

Value-Addition

Global example: –

In the absence of an anti-defection law, MPs are free to vote based on their conscience on all issues. Just recently, in the United States, seven Republican senators voted to convict President Trump by breaking ranks with their party. Two months ago, in the United Kingdom, 55 MPs from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s party voted against the government’s proposal for stricter lockdown restrictions.

 

KihotoHollohon v. ZachilhuCase: –

Question: –

“The river of power politics seems to be a great cleansing purgatory where the stains of defections are rewarded as heroic exploits.  The voters too seem to forgive and forget as all the defectors in MP gotre-elected.” Discuss.

“Inhibiting free speech”.

Why in News: –

The Delhi Assembly summoned Facebook to depose before its Peace and Harmony Committee, who examining the Delhi riots that took place in February last year.

Syllabus:

GS-2:

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

GS-3:
Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security

  1.  The Delhi Assembly summoned Facebook is based on, the peculiar character assigned to the Delhi Assembly which has been denuded under the Constitution from legislating on three subjects – land, law and order and police.
  2. The constitution of India (8th schedule, Entry 39) in State List by which Assemblies can enforce attendance of witnesses for purpose of recording statements.

Freedom of speech and expression

  • Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India states that, all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression.
  • The philosophy behind this Article lies in the Preamble of the Constitution, where a solemn resolve is made to secure to all its citizen, liberty of thought and expression.

The Parliamentary privileges:

  1. Parliamentary privileges are a set of rights and immunities that are essential for the functioning of Parliament.
  2. The right to free speech in the House, guaranteed to the Commons since 1689, and the right to call for evidence and witnesses, are central to the role of the legislature.
  3. In Constitution, both Parliament and State Assemblies were conferred with the same privileges as the Commons.
  4. Apart from discussions about judges, no other speech is barred for legislators in the text of the Constitution.

Implications on federalism:

  •  Federalism imposes an insuperable challenge to the traditional broad reading of parliamentary privilege.
  •  Unlike the House of Commons, the powers of State Assemblies are more limited.
  • If the State Assembly cannot pass a law on a subject, how can it claim a right to discuss it or call witnesses for that’
  • The Legislatures have a separate non-judicial power of inquiry which has been judicially regarded as being inherent to the legislature, expert call the expressive and informative function of the House.
  •  The Assembly is the voice of the people of a State and their discussions are an expression of popular will.

 The separation of powers:

  1. The legislative lists frequently overlap and courts resolve any conflict by adopting a test of pith and substance of the law in question.
  2. Like Atomic energy is the exclusive preserve of the Union.
  3. This apply pre-emptively at the inquiry stage when the discussions may or may not lead to legislation.
  4.  here is the delicate issue of whether the courts can or ought to sit in judgment on the proceedings of State Assemblies determining what can or cannot be discussed based on the courts’ view of the topic.
  5.  No theory of judicial review would justify such a deep dive into the “political thicket” to examine the proceedings of the House, something our Constitution expressly bars.

 The experiences of Canada and Australia:

  1. Canada and Australia both have common law federal jurisdictions, are also instructive.
  2. The Canadian chronicler Maingot hints about restrictions based on legislative competence but is careful to add that they are self-imposed, not court mandated,
  3.  In Australia, the Privy Council in appeal from the High Court held that “it is hardly possible for a Court to pronounce in advance as to what may and what may not turn out to be relevant to other subjects of inquiry on”.

Ajit Mohan v Legislative Assembly, NCT of Delhi, 2020

  • When the Peace and Harmony Committee of the Delhi assembly (P&H Committee) summoned Facebook’s Indian vice-president (VP) in connection with an inquiry into occurrences during the Delhi riots of 2020, Facebook refused to appear and instead challenged the authority of the P&H Committee to issue summons before the Supreme Court of India.
  • Thus, the ability to summon a witness such as the Facebook VP is a power and privilege of the P&H Committee, and the disregard of such summons would amount to a breach of privilege, which is punishable as contempt of the house.
  • The Supreme Court has acknowledged the power of the assembly/parliament to punish for contempt in a plethora of cases, including Raja Ram Pal v Speaker, Lok Sabha.

 Recognize free speech:

  1. In 1399, the Commons recognized free speech in the House as a tradition by reversing the judgment of treason on Sir Thomas Haxey.
  2.  It is this ancient privilege that found its way into our Constitution. It is a landmark of liberty as it allows elected representatives to challenge the most powerful people of the land on behalf of commoners.
  3. This ancient tradition would be effaced if the court were to appoint itself an arbiter of legislative discussions.
  4. It is difficult to craft any discernible principle upon which such unprecedented power could be judiciously exercised without inhibiting free speech that is the hallmark of our legislative tradition.

Value Addition:-

  • Romesh Thappar v. State of Madras(1950)was amongst the earliest cases to be decided by the Supreme Court declaring freedom of press as a part of freedom of speech and expression.
  • In the case of Indian Express v. Union of India,(1985),it has been held that the Press plays a very significant role in the democratic machinery.
  • In Tata Press Ltd. Vs. Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd., the Supreme Court held that a commercial advertisement or commercial speech was also a part of the freedom of speech and expression, which would be restricted only within the limitation of Article 19(2).

Question: –

“Free speech in the assembly has been held by the judiciary in numerous cases to be ‘absolute’, ‘unfettered’, and ‘sacrosanct’, limited solely by rules of procedure and express Constitutional restrictions.” Explain.

State pushback

Why in News: –

On Thursday, the government unveiled the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 that seek to define the contours for oversight of social media as well as digital media and OTT platforms in the country.

Syllabus:

GS 3: Social Media and Related Issues

Background

  • Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Law & Justice and Information Technology, accused social media platform Twitter of double standards in its response to events at the Red Fort and the US Capitol Hill.
  • The rulesare a response to the growing realisation of the immense power wielded by Big Tech, and concerns that the governance of public spheres cannot be left in the hands of a few.
  • It is also a repudiation of the shield extended to social media platforms under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in the US that provides legal immunity to internet companies for content shared on their websites.
  • This marks the first salvo in the battle between Big Tech and the Indian state.

Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code

  • The Information Technology Rules 2021 has been framed in exercise of powers under section 87 (2) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and in supersession of the earlier Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules 2011.
  • Due Diligence to Be Followed By Intermediaries: The Rules prescribe due diligence that must be followed by intermediaries, including social media intermediaries.
  • Grievance Redressal Mechanism: The Rules seek to empower the users by mandating the intermediaries, including social media intermediaries, to establish a grievance redressal mechanism for receiving resolving complaints from the users or victims.
  • Ensuring Online Safety and Dignity of Users, Specially Women Users: Intermediaries shall remove or disable access withing 24 hours of receipt of complaints of contents that exposes the private areas of individuals, show such individuals in full or partial nudity or in sexual act or is in the nature of impersonation including morphed images etc.
  • Two Categories of Social Media Intermediaries: To encourage innovations and enable growth of new social media intermediaries without subjecting smaller platforms to significant compliance requirement, the Rules make a distinction between social media intermediaries and significant social media intermediaries.
  • Voluntary User Verification Mechanism: Users who wish to verify their accounts voluntarily shall be provided an appropriate mechanism to verify their accounts and provided with demonstrable and visible mark of verification. 
  • Giving Users An Opportunity to Be Heard: In cases where significant social media intermediaries removes or disables access to any information on their own accord, then a prior intimation for the same shall be communicated to the user who has shared that information with a notice explaining the grounds and reasons for such action.
  • Removal of Unlawful Information: An intermediary upon receiving actual knowledge in the form of an order by a court or being notified by the Appropriate Govt.

Need of the Code: –

  • First, to create a grievance redressal mechanism for timely resolution of complaints.
  • Platforms will need to appoint grievance officers who will acknowledge the complaints within 24 hours, and resolve them within 15 days of receipt.
  • Second, to bring about transparency and accountability with regards to social media and digital platforms.
  • By asking platforms to appoint chief compliance officers, who shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act, and publish monthly compliance reports, the rules seek to address complaints regarding non-responsiveness and bias on the part of these platforms.
  • Third, to ensure a degree of uniformity between the rules that govern print and TV media and online media platforms.

Changes brought by the ethical Code: –

  • The fresh obligations for social media companies and platforms.
  • The substance of many of these proposals has been retained and hurt both user privacy and free expression online.
  • the government regulating digital news media portals as well as online video streaming platforms. An oversight mechanism is being created without any clear legislative backing and will now increasingly perform functions similar to those played by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for TV regulation. 
  • The purview of the Information Technology Act, 2000, is limited.
  • The oversight function will be played by a body that is not an autonomous regulator but one composed of high-ranking bureaucrats.
  • This provides for the discretionary exercise of government powers of censorship over these sectors.

Concerns associated: –

  • The three-tier framework created for regulation envisages an oversight mechanism which includes an inter-departmental committee for hearing grievances — effectively ensuring the government has both the right to complain and the authority to enforce.
  • Further, the thresholds for intervention aren’t clearly defined.
  • In a country where laws are routinely abused, this vagueness in definitions can be easily misused.
  • The rules also call for social media platforms to identify the first originator of the information.
  • This is likely to require breaking the end-to-end encryption, affecting the right to privacy.
  • Considering that the power of anonymity extended by these platforms is a useful tool, this could have grave repercussions.
  • While it is true that social media platforms provide space for dissenting opinions, have unleashed suppressed voices and empowered communities, there is no denying that these platforms can be, and are, misused.

Disturbing Developments Are Observed On The Social Media Platforms:

  1. Persistent spread of fake news has compelled many media platforms to create fact-check mechanisms.
  2. Rampant abuse of social media to share morphed images of women and contents related to revenge porn have often threatened the dignity of women.
  3. Misuse of social media for settling corporate rivalries in blatantly unethical manner has become a major concern for businesses.
  4. Instances of use of abusive language, defamatory and obscene contents and blatant disrespect to religious sentiments through platforms are growing.
  5. Over the years, the increasing instances of misuse of social media by criminals, anti-national elements have brought new challenges for law enforcement agencies.
  6. These include inducement for recruitment of terrorists, circulation of obscene content, spread of disharmony, financial frauds, incitement of violence, public order etc.

 Problems with Digital Media and News portals:-

  1. It was found that currently there is no robust complaint mechanism wherein the ordinary users of social media and OTT platforms can register their complaint and get it redressed within defined timeline.
  2. Lack of transparency and absence of robust grievance redressal mechanism have left the users totally dependent on the whims and fancies of social media platforms.
  3. Often it has been seen that a user who has spent his time, energy and money in developing a social media profile is left with no remedies in case that profile is restricted or removed by the platform without giving any opportunity to be heard.
  4. The purview of the Information Technology Act, 2000, is limited. It only extends to the blocking of websites and intermediary liabilities framework, but does not extend to content authors and creators.
  5. Hence, the Act does not extend to news media despite which it is being stretched to do so by executive fiat. This may seem like legal semantics but all of this visits itself in terrible outcomes.
  6. For instance, the oversight function will be played by a body that is not an autonomous regulator but one composed of high ranking bureaucrats.
  7. This provides for the discretionary exercise of government powers of censorship over these sectors.
  8. Here, the argument is not against the complete absence of regulation, but one that proceeds from clear first principles of constitutionality and safeguards the right to receive information for end users while minimising threats.
  9. This could have ideally been achieved through more deliberative, parliamentary processes and by examining bodies in other democracies, which face similar challenges.
  10. For instance, OFCOM, a regulator in the United Kingdom, has been studying and enforcing regulations that promise higher levels of protection for citizens’ rights and consistency in enforcement.
  11. Instead, the present formulation increases government control that suffers from legality and core design faults. It will only increase political control.

 Way Forward: –

  1. Without question, recent announcement is a watershed moment in the history of the internet in India. It will radically transform the digital information ecology.
  2. Here, the substance of many of the requirements was never put to public consultation or deliberation by experts. This is particularly the case for the regulations for online news portals and video streaming platforms.
  3. On these aspects, there has been opacity. Many of the proposed changes continue with greater finesse, and what it had first in 2018 termed as a “Chinese model of online surveillance and censorship”.
  4. It is feared that despite material changes made to the draft rules, and some noticeable improvements in greater precision, the core and the substance of the autocratic approach that devalues free speech and privacy remains.
  5. In some respects, it has even become worse, with the proposal for an illegal and unconstitutional extension of executive power to regulate online news media and video streaming platforms.
  6. While every internet user in India needs oversight and accountability from big tech, it should not be at the cost of increasing political control, chilling our voices online and hurting individual privacy.

 Value Addition: –

  1. The Digital India programme has now become a movement which is empowering common Indians with the power of technology.
  2. The extensive spread of mobile phones, Internet etc. has also enabled many social media platforms to expand their footprints in India.
  3. Some portals, which publish analysis about social media platforms and which have not been disputed, have reported the following numbers as user base of major social media platforms in India:
  • WhatsApp users: 53 Crore
  • YouTube users: 44.8 Crore
  • Facebook users: 41 Crore
  • Instagram users: 21 Crore
  • Twitter users: 1.75 Crore

Question: –

Critically analyse the need of Social media regulation in the light of Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. 

NEP emphasises child-centred pedagogy as opposed to exam-centred approach.

Why in News: –

Union Cabinet approved the National Education Policy 2020, paving way for transformational reforms in school and higher education sector in the country.

Syllabus: – GS 2:

Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education.

Background: –

  1. If the goal of school education was indeed to prepare children for examinations, there was no need for the country to run 15.07 lakh schools, with 96.86 lakh teachers and to enrol 26.43 crore students.
  2. All need id to prepare rigorous SOPs and kunji-like textbooks, hand them over to children at their homes and ask them to appear on designated dates at examination centres to showcase their powers of memorisation.
  3. Examinations are not the final goal of a rewarding learning experience.
  4. They are, at best, one of the multiple milestones to be crossed by a child on her path to holistic growth and development.
  5. It is an open secret that the majority of the country’s schools fail in nudging children towards inquiry, curiosity or learning.
  6. The tyranny of marks has long crushed the spirit of many Indian students, but, at least, it had a limited use for higher education institutions in assessing their capacity for a degree.

 National Education Policy

  1. The NEP 2020 is the first policy after the one issued in 1986, and it has to contend with multiple crises in the system.
  2. It is no secret that primary schools record shockingly poor literacy and numeracy outcomes, dropout levels in middle and secondary schools are significant.
  3. The higher education system has generally failed to meet the aspirations for
  1. multi-disciplinary programmes.
  2. The National Education Policy (NEP), 2020, uses two interesting phrases: “No hard separations” and “elimination of silos”. These terms are used in the context of areas of learning.
  3. As the country begins to work on implementing the policy, it is imperative to understand these phrases and their implications.
  4. The most significant implications of the removal of “hard separations”, however, are at the classroom level.
  5. The barrier of language needs to go first by introducing the mother tongue/language spoken by the child as the medium to understand numeracy and all other items of knowledge, particularly in the foundational years.

What purpose does an NEP serve?

  • An NEP is a comprehensive framework to guide the development of education in the country. 
  • The need for a policy was first felt in 1964 when Congress MP Siddheshwar Prasad criticised the then government for lacking a vision and philosophy for education. 
  • The same year, a 17-member Education Commission, headed by then UGC Chairperson D S Kothari, was constituted to draft a national and coordinated policy on education. Based on the suggestions of this Commission, Parliament passed the first education policy in 1968.

 

Benefits of National Education Policy (NEP): –

  • The New Education Policy will give importance to students’ practical knowledge instead of just pushing them towards rote learning.
  • It will help students to develop scientific temper from a young age.
  • Teachers will also be given training in online educational methods relevant to the Indian situation in order to help bridge the digital divide
  • The NEP aims to make it easier to set up new quality of higher educational institutes which will be at par with the global standards.
  • Since NEP will make it easier for foreign colleges to set up their campuses here many students who are unable to go abroad due to multiple reasons will be able to experience it and get global exposure.
  • This will promote value-based education.
  • NEP 2020 makes a bold prescription to free our schools, colleges and universities from periodic “inspections” and place them on the path of self-assessment and voluntary declaration.
  • Transparency, maintaining quality standards and a favourable public perception will become a 24X7 pursuit for the institutions, leading to all-round improvement in their standard. 
  • A dedicated unit to coordinate digital infrastructure, content and capacity building will be created within the Education Ministry to look after the online learning needs of both school and higher education.
  • Teachers will also be given training in online educational methods relevant to the Indian situation in order to help bridge the digital divide.
  • The NEP emphasises universal access to schools, and aims to bring two crore out-of-school children back into the educational mainstream.
  • Another key aspect of school education in the new policy is the breaking of the straitjackets of arts, commerce and science streams in high school, and the laudable goal of introducing vocational courses with internship. 

Criticism National Education Policy (NEP): –

  1. Usage of home language, mother tongue or regional language till Class 5
  • In the Maithili Department of my college in Patna, there was only one teacher and two students back in 2003-2006. One of the texts in BA (Hons) was probably written by a retired professor of the same college. 
  • There is not enough literature in the vernaculars. Creating all that in two months, publishing, and not to forget, training the teachers in that language is almost an impossible task, considering the pre-existing knowledge of the relevance of education in India (which is in the tertiary sector).
  1. Sanskrit to be mainstreamed
  • We proudly state that Sanskrit is called the mother of all languages. However, all literature that we have in it is ancient. Do you know the Hindi equivalent used for the word “hospital”? It is “haspataal”. 
  • This is called a ‘borrowing’, to use the linguistics terminology.
  • When a certain concept is not available in a particular language, that term or word is directly borrowed in the native language.
  • Again, new literature development will be required.
  • Sanskrit is the ancient language of the Hindu religion. Most of the literature available in Sanskrit is religious.
  1. English as optional till Class 8
  • In the global scenario, one does not need to stress more about the need for the English language. True, it all came due to colonisation, but even the Chinese are spending a lot of funds, resources and labour on learning the language. We have at least one advantage against them and we are sacrificing even that.
  1. Examinations only in Classes 3, 5 and 8
  • Examinations are not just for checking a student’s potential, but a touchstone — a check and a preparation for education and life. If the foundation is laid thus, the future is definitely under question. 
  • Eliminating annual examinations from junior classes is not the solution.
  • A more sensitive approach needs to brought about in parents and teachers to instill this life skill in children.
  1. Board Examinations will become holistic and easier
  • In addition to the already-suffering syllabus of CBSE and State Boards and lack of competent teachers, this will ensure the standard of education falling further in the country.
  • After Thomas Babington Macaulay and Kapil Sibal’s policies, NEP 2020 will have an equally catastrophic effect on Indian education.
  • While the NEP 2020 has been hailed by most as a progressive shift in the government’s approach to school education, certain changes regarding the three-language formula has been criticised as the new policy states the regional mother tongue to be the medium of instruction till 5th grade.
  • The document also emphasises on mathematics and computational thinking, besides mainstreaming Sanskrit to increase “knowledge on ancient India and its contributions to modern India”.
  1.  Implications on SEDGs (Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups)
  • There is no any mention of the term “caste”, apart from a fleeting reference to Scheduled Castes. 
  • Also absent is any mention of reservation in academic institutions, whether for students, teachers, or other employees.
  • Reservation, necessary but not sufficient, is the bare minimum required in terms of affirmative action in the highly differentiated socio-economic milieu in which we exist. 
  • Equally disturbing is the passing reference to educational institutions in tribal areas, designated as ashramshalas (NEP 1.8) and envisaged as part of the Early Childhood Children Education programme. 

Way Forward: –

  • NEP 2020 seeks to break a dogma: Testing only what is written in the textbooks.
  • A lot of research shows that an enabling environment is one in which a child is constantly learning — to collaborate, think critically, solve problems, be creative and articulate.
  • The end of the year examination results does not reflect the full potential or uniqueness of a child.
  • Therefore, there is need to look beyond examinations and look at assessment only as a means of learning.
  • With the force of the NEP behind us, we must plan to have less curriculum but more in-depth knowledge, less content but more competency, less textbooks but more diverse learning, less stress but more joy, less assessment by the teacher but more self and peer evaluation.

Question: –

“Education is the right of every Indian. It is an umbrella under which every individual should feel safe and identify with the prevalent system.” Discuss the statement considering the recent National Education policy 2020.

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