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Q.1) In the light of recent Sharada Prasad Committee’s report, discuss the paradigm shift that needs to be taken for a successful Skill India Mission. (GS – 3)

Introduction:

  • In 2016, a review committee, Sharada Prasad Committee, for Rationalization and Optimization of the Functioning of the Sector Skill Councils (SSC) was constituted.
  • In 2017, Sharada Prasad Committee submitted its two fold overview the recommendations:
    • Vocational education/training (VET) is not just for underprivileged communities.
    • It is should not be confirmed to those who cannot make it through formal education.
  • In 2018, after an year of Sharada Prasad Committee’s report on Skill India, it is important to look at the reforms it suggested and action taken in the (VET) system.

Core recommendations made by Sharada Prasad Committee and actions to be taken for its implementation are:

Changing the dynamics of VET:

  • Separate stream for vocational education (in secondary education), creating vocational schools and vocational colleges for upward mobility, and having a Central university to award degrees and diplomas.
  • Please note: Vocational education/training (VET):
    • Must be for a minimum of a year,
    • Must includes internship (without which certification is not possible), and
    • Short-term training should be confined to recognising prior learning of informally trained workers who are already working.
  • Action to be taken: industry-employer engagement with each pillar of the VET ecosystem:
    • secondary schools;
    • ITIs, public and private;
    • National Skill Development Corporation  (NSDC-funded) VTPs;
    • Ministries that train, and
    • Firms that conduct enterprise-based training.

Realization of human potential:

  • Aligning the courses to international requirements, ensuring a basic foundation in the 3Rs, and life-long learning.
  • Actions to be taken: The focus should be in strengthening:
    • Reading,
    • Writing and
    • Arithmetic skills.

Keeping a check on Sector Skill Councils (SSCs):

  • The number of Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) should correspond to the National Industrial (Activity) Classification.
  • Please note: Sector Skill Council are:
    • Autonomous,
    • Industry-led,
    • Sector-specific skill builders, and
    • Ensure that skills training meet employer needs.
  • Action to be taken: Credible assessment board to keep a check on ethics and accountability issue when there are too many sector skill councils.

Other actions to be taken:

  • Engaging SSCs with each pillar of the VET eco-system, and not just NSDC-funded VTPs.
  • Enhance employer ownership and responsibility.
  • More reflection from stakeholders on the actual value addition done by the skilling initiative.
    • Note: The NSDC receives 99% of its funding from government, but its flagship scheme has a less than 12% record of placement for trainees.

Conclusion:

  • Thus, with appropriate measures and guidelines, the reforms suggested by the Sharada Prasad Committee can be a good starting point to restore India’s demographic dividend.

Q.2) As recently confirmed there has been a significant growth in Central compensatory afforestation fund (CAF). This growth indicates an escalating threat for India’s forests and its underpinnings. Elaborate. (GS – 3 )

Introduction:

  • Recently, Ministry of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change has collected over Rs. 50,000 core in a Central compensatory afforestation fund (CAF).
  • This money is to be used though the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act, 2016 or CAF.
  • The recent raise in fund measures the forest destruction under way in India.
  • It also indicates a potent scale of resource appropriation from some of India’s most marginalized citizens living in and around forests.

Challenges of Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016 are:

Forest bureaucracy:

  • No safeguards against the forest bureaucracy implementing compensatory-plantations on already dense forests.

Availability of non-forest land for Afforestation:

  • Difficulty is faced especially in smaller states and heavily forested states like Chhattisgarh to find non-forest lands for afforestation.

Diversion of Fund:

  • The diversion of funds for other activities would take away the focus from the prime objective of compensating for the forest cover lost to developmental or industrial development.

Provisions of Forest Rights Act, 2006 being ignored:

  • Consultations, an important guideline to be followed, are not stipulated for all afforestation projects nor involve the affected gram sabhas.

Against democratic devolution:

  • Provisions of the act are against the principles of democratic devolution as laid down in the 73rdand 74th constitutional amendments.

Way ahead:

  • Enable independent audit of all connected programmes.
  • Implementation of the projects should be through the Compensatory Afforestation Fund to ensure effective and proper utilization of funds.
  • Address concerns over its discordances with Forest Rights Act (FRA), lack of livelihood generation and eviction and poor participation of local communities.

Q.3) Write short notes on:

a)    ‘Scramble Competition’ in Environment (GS – 3)

Introduction:

  • ‘Scramble Competition’ refers to a form of ecological competition.
  • A number of species compete for a resource that is limited in supply.

Impact:

  • Lowers the survival chances of all the competing species.
  • Since there is no limit placed on the exploitation of the resource, it may be used up aggressively by all the species that have free access to it.
  • Might cause most, or even all, species in need of the resource to go without enough of it to sustain themselves.
  • Can lead to mass extinction even when the competition for a resource is limited exclusively to the members of only a particular species.

b)    Bitcoin-mining in Economics (GS – 3)

Introduction:

  • Bitcoin mining is the process by which transactions are verified and added to the public ledger, known as the block chain, and also the means through which new bitcoin are released.

Eligibility:

  • Anyone with access to the internet and suitable hardware can participate in mining.  

Mining process:

  • The mining process involves compiling recent transactions into blocks and trying to solve a computationally difficult puzzle.  
  • The participant who first solves the puzzle gets to place the next block on the block chain and claim the rewards.  
  • The rewards, which incentivize mining, are both the transaction fees associated with the transactions compiled in the block as well as newly released bitcoin.
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