Daily Mains Newsletter for UPSC 31 Dec 2021

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Daily Mains Newsletter for UPSC 31 Dec 2021

Daily Mains Newsletter For
UPSC | RaghukulCS

31 Dec 2021 - Friday

The Blockchain technology and Digital Education Ecosystem

  • A bigger story about blockchain technologylies there in the potential of blockchain technology to transform other key sectors like
  • In this context, the Prime Minister of India recently launched a system to award blockchain-based educational degrees in digital forms.

About Blockchain: 

  • Blockchain derives its name from the digital databases or ledgers where information is stored as “blocks’’ that are coupled together forming “chains”.
  • It offers a singular combination of permanent and tamper-evident record-keeping, real-time transaction transparency, and audibility.An exactcopy of the blockchain is available to each of the multiple computers or users who are joined together in a network.
  • Any new information added or altered via a new block is to be vetted and approved by over half the total users.

    Significance of Blockchain:

    • Blockchain technology can facilitate innovations across a range of processes and applications including – management of information pertaining to financial transactions, electoral voting, medical records, academic lessons, property ownership records, and professional testimonials.
    • decentralized frameworklike blockchain makes the system and the information stored therein fraud-proof, transparent, and credible.

    Blockchain and Digital Education:

    • Fulfilling the Objectives of NEP 2020:
    • TheNational Education Policy (NEP) 2020 calls for introducing multidisciplinary education where students would be able to choose their own combination of major and minor subjects along with flexibility in course duration.
      • Displaying Skill Badges:
    • The technology could enable educators to display their certified Skill Badges,allowing students to opt for courses in an informed manner and the students can adopt Skill Badges to indicate their proficiencies.
    • This would enable faculty to identify the right students for projects.
      • A blockchain-based ecosystem could also be used to design a scholarship system incentivizing students to maintain consistencyand achieve academic excellence.
      • It would be a secure system thatensures educational records remain immutable.
      • The blockchain ledger would provide a time-stamped and tamper-proof record of faculty performance.
      • Using blockchain in education will lead to a truly learner-centric model where learners are not just receivers but also the co-creators and teachers are not just sending information one way but becoming more participative.

    Challenges Associated with Blockchain Technology

    • Blockchains work fine for a small number of users and increase in the number of users on the network, the transitions take longer to process.As a result, the transactions cost higher than usual.
    • Blockchains are vulnerable to network attacks as they were not originally designed for network protocols.
    • It still is in its nascent stage in the country and a lot needs to be done in many key areas.
    • One of the features of the technology is its immutability i.e., once some data has been entered, it cannot be altered or deleted.It poses a challenge as it eliminates the possibility of modifying student records for legitimate purposes.
    • In the current regulatory environment, Indian developers do not have the ability to develop open blockchain solutions at scale.Blockchain professionals are migrating rapidly to countries with more friendly regulations.

    Way Forward

    • The adoption of blockchain in education could help improve the efficiency of the education ecosystem,while doing so, concerns such as data privacy, cost, scalability, and integration with legacy systems will have to be addressed.
    • For students, teachers, and institutions, more investment and better infrastructure is a necessity for Transition from teacher-class-based teaching to digital education.
    • Investments are required in digital education and related technologies to achieve the ambitious targets of NEP 2020 and to provide education that is holistic and multidisciplinary.
    • Stakeholders such as educational institutions, prospective employers, mentors and certification agencies can be integrated into a DEE.
    • There is also an inherent need for more secure and fool-proof systems for tracking students’ academic activities and providing the required information to all stakeholders.


    • The Covid-19 pandemic has affected educational institutions worldwide and it seems like the widespread use of digital technology in education is here to stay.
    • With better investments, technological expertise and government interventions, Blockchain technology has the potential to write a new chapter in the field of digital education.

    Facial Recognition Technology and Problem with Private Play

    What is the issue?

    • Clearview AI, an American facial recognition company has scraped images from across the Internet to design a powerful facial recognition tool, rekindling the debates on the private play in FRT.

    What is FRT and how does it work?

    • FRT is a system for automated matching or identification of faces usually using a database representing facial characteristics.
    • Technologies vary, but the basic steps in the working of an FRT are as follows.
    • Step 1- Capture– A picture of a face is captured from a photo or video.
    • Step 2– Extraction– Facial recognition software reads the geometry of the face.
    • Key factors include the distance between the eyes and the distance from forehead to chin. The software identifies facial landmarks produced in facial signatures.
    • Step 3– Comparison– The facial signature which is a mathematical formula is compared to a database of known faces.
    • Step 4- Matching- A determination is made depending upon the matching of the faceprint with an image in a facial recognition system database.

    What is the significance of FRT?

    • To identify criminals, missing people, and unidentified dead bodies as used in CCTNS
    • To prevent the use of fake citizen IDs by fraudsters, infiltration of terrorists, illegal immigrants, etc.
    • For easier and automatic identification and doesn’t need huge manpower
    • Use of NAFRS eases the checking procedural delays in airports

    Has it been deployed previously in India?

    • In August 2018, Telangana police launched their own facial recognition facility.
    • Ministry of Civil Aviation’s “DigiYatra” has used the facial recognition system, on a trial basis in Hyderabad airport.
    • NCRB’s Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) uses automated facial recognition to identify suspects of a crime, monitor crowded areas during festival times for habitual offenders, and find missing children.
    • In more extreme cases, like the reported use by the Lucknow police, FRT is even being deployed to identify women in distress through their facial expressions and, apparently to keep them safe.
    • To empower the Indian police with information technology, India has approved the implementation of the National Automated Facial Recognition System (NAFRS).

    What are the risks associated with the use of FRT by private players?

    • Since FRT relies on vast amounts of datasets, it is unclear how these are being made available to private players.The public does not know if the government has entered into data-sharing agreements for this purpose.
    • It mightcompromise the informational autonomy that the Supreme Court read in the fundamental right to privacy in the Puttaswamy judgment.
    • There is an absence of any information on what personalinformation is being shared and to what end under FRT procurement.It is unclear as to whether the role of private enterprises is merely to develop FRT or to even help in deployment and upkeep.
    • It raises doubt on whether the surveillance functions of the state might get transferred to a private citizen or entity.
    • The potential delegation of functions can lead to unclear legal liability as to who is to be held responsible if the technology is inaccurate, biased, or applied unjustly.
    • Large-scale state surveillance is being deployed in the absence of any publicly available information on tendering and procurement.
    • There is a lack of clarity on who is allowed to bid, the manner in which selection is made, the terms of reference around which such procurement contracts are issued, etc.
    • Venture-capital-funded FRT companies can provide deep discounts to attract greater and more consistent clients.
    • Inside an opaque system, it is unlikely that social pressure will check the efforts to proliferate the technology for surveillance.
    • In the past two years, since the surge in the global conversation around FRT, several big names (Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, and most recently Meta) have claimed toimpose a temporary prohibition on their in-house FRT programmes.


    • There are social and legal questions to be answered on the scope of participation by private enterprises and to establish adequate checks and balances to protect constitutional and legal rights of the citizenry.

    Ethics | Paper – IV


    • It is a school of thought that argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good. In very simple terms, a hedonist strives to maximize net pleasure.
    • Hedonism refers to a family of theories, all of which have in common that pleasure plays a central role in them.
    • Psychological or motivational hedonism claims that human behavior is determined by desires to increase pleasure and to decrease pain.
    • Examples: playing in fallen leaves, moments of connection with friends, or cuddling the dog.

     Altruistic Hedonism

    • Propounds that we ought to sacrifice personal happiness in order to bring any increase of happiness to others.
    • Egotistical hedonism requires a person to consider only his or her own pleasure in making choices.
    • Conversely, altruistic hedonism says that the creation of pleasure for all people is the best way to measure if an action is ethical.

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