9 PM Daily Brief – July 23rd,2020

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GS-2

  1. Transforming Higher Education
  2. Right to Internet – Needed for inclusive development
  3. Set up a High Court for Puducherry
  4. Another front: On India, Bhutan and China
  5. Issues with School Education System in India

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FACTLy


 1.Transforming Higher Education

Source –  The Hindu

Syllabus – GS 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

Context – In normal times, maintaining the status quo or implementing incremental and marginal reforms was all one could hope for. The pandemic has opened the doors for ushering in massive, bold and transformational reforms in higher Education.

Ideal learning outcomes of higher education

  1. Knowledge– The first ideal learning outcomeis to provide knowledge in the relevant discipline to the students.
  2. Skill development– Second, since higher education students are on the verge of joining the workforce, it is expected that their education will also impart them with the skills needed for their jobs/enterprises.
  3. Value-based learning– Students are expected to play a constructive role in shaping the society and the world at large using the values and ideals of a modern, progressive society; the teaching-learning process is expected to mould their character accordingly.

Issue with India’s higher learning institutions  

  1. Students focus on acquisition of degree not skills– The reality is that part from a handful of institutions in the technology, management and liberal arts streams, and a small number of extremely self-motivated students, a vast majority of other students just meander through college and acquire a degree.
  2. Curriculum’s relation with employability skills– That there is a huge gulf between the curriculums taught in the colleges and actual job requirements are universally known.

Suggested solutions for Higher Education Reformation

  1. Completely re-evaluating the syllabus periodically.
  2. Introducing substantive industrial internships.
  3. Evaluation can be a mix of regular assignments, performance in the internship as rated both by the industry and the college, and a light, home-based proctored exam.
  4. Utilization of time for learning values– The time saved in attending regular classes in the institution can be compensated for by spending time on the development of skills and prosocial attitudes and values that will help the student lead an enriching life.

Way Forward – India is uniquely positioned in the world today to benefit from its demographic dividend. Yet, in many contexts, it has been pointed out that this dividend can actually turn into a liability since those in the population bracket that are ready to join the workforce have practically no skills or knowledge that add to their employability. Thus, need is to utilize this big opportunity for country’s growth and to accommodate aspirations of youth.

2.Right to Internet – Needed for inclusive development

Source The Hindu

Syllabus – GS 2 – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Context – Across the world, despite the structural hurdles to access, the Internet has become indispensable to human freedom.

Internet Ban in Jammu and Kashmir

Reason for suspension of Internet

  • National security – To limit communications and movement internet was suspended with the aim of thwarting terrorism.

Arguments given against such ban in Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India (2020)

  1. Order not made public– The government had refused to make public its orders blocking the Internet which violated a basic tenet of the rule of law: that people have a right to know why their freedoms have been constrained.
  2. Link between ban on internet and security– The empirical evidence demonstrated that there was no link between shutting down the Internet and the state’s objective of protecting security. Indeed, available materials pointed the other way: that the Internet was a valuable tool that could be used to counter the spread of incendiary rumors and fake news.
  3. Use of alternative options– The government had at its disposal less restrictive options, such as the blacklisting of specific websites and targeted surveillance measures. It is unclear if these alternatives were even considered.
  4. Affected entire population– There was no justification for a blanket Internet shutdown that impacted a territory of eight million people, a vast majority of whom had nothing to do with terrorism.

Supreme Court’s ruling in Anuradha Bhasin Case

  1. Right to Internet linked with other rights– The Court held that the ability to access the web had an instrumental bearing on a number of other fundamental rights, including the rights to free speech and freedom of business; and that therefore any limitation placed on the web must be necessary and proportionate to the goal that the State seeks to achieve.

Foundation for Media Professionals Case (2020) – This petition pointed out that it had been eight months since the web was restricted in J&K, and now the combination of the pandemic and a lockdown had made Internet deprivation even more unconscionable.

Supreme Court’s Ruling – The court created a new three-member special committee headed by the Union Home Secretary — an exercise wholly outside the legal framework — to take stock of things.

Issue with the judgment – The executive that was responsible for restricting access to the Internet in the first place was now tasked with reviewing its own actions.

Way Forward – The Internet is known as a great equalizer. Its evolution was meant to herald a more equal society. However, blanket bans are still being imposed which deprive citizens of their basic rights and create unequal societies. The government needs to become the facilitator of rights for inclusive development of all.

3.Set up a High Court for Puducherry

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2  Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

Context: Analysing the need of setting up a High Court (HC) in Puducherry.

Background:

  • 1962: Puducherry was merged with India and the jurisdiction of the Madras HC was extended to it.
  • 2017: The Puducherry legislature unanimously resolved to have its own HC and the Madras HC was informed on July 7, 2017.
  • April 2017:The Pondicherry Bar Association also passed a resolution seeking establishment of the HC.
  • August 2019:Puducherry CM said that a Bench of the Madras HC at Puducherry on the lines of the one set up in Madurai was a felt need and sought the support of judges of the SC

Why should there be the need for a High Court at Puducherry?

  • Cost cutting:
    • The Puducherry government spends exorbitant sums of money towards expenses of the large HC.
    • As its population is small, this amount can be reduced to less than a quarter of the amount spent with a much smaller HC.
  • Breaching of constitutional provisions:
    • Administrative expenses: According to the Constitution, when a common HC is established for more than one State, this has to be paid only from the consolidated fund of the ‘State’ in which the principal seat of the High Court is situated.
    • But Puducherry shares the disproportionately exorbitant expenses with Tamil Nadu.
    • Also, administrative expenses of a High Court at the UT shall be drawn from the ‘Consolidated fund of India’ under the Constitution.
  • For quick action on pendencey:
    • A Puducherry HC with four to five judges can ensure quick action on pendency of matters of the HC matters, at least at Puducherry.
    • All India Judges Association And Others vs Union Of India (Uoi) And Ors: The Supreme Court observed that the time has now come for protecting one of the pillars of the Constitution, namely, the judicial system, by directing increase, in the first instance, in the Judge strength from the existing ratio of 10.5 or 13 per 10 lakhs people to 50 Judges for 10 lakh people.
    • It was also discussed in the Law Commission of India Report titled‘Arrears and Backlog: Creating Additional Judicial (wo)manpower’, in 2014.
  • Increasing ratio of judges:
    • As of 2016, the ratio is only 12 judges for one million population.
    • It can be increased if a separate High Court with four to five judges is established.

A data comparison:

  • Size of population and territory is irrelevant:
    • The number of cases filed and disposed of at Puducherry in 2010 is four times higher than the numbers at Sikkim, Manipur and Goa (with High Courts) put together.
    • Bigger States have more judges and staff whereas smaller States have lesser numbers of these.
  • The data collected by this writer show:
Sikkim Manipur Goa Puducherry
In terms of the number of cases filed in 2010 · (1,117) · (637) · (4,984) · (4,984)
The number of cases decided · (1,174) · (495), · (3,646) · (24336)
  • Memorandum provided by the All India Bar Association to the Chief Minister in 2017: It shows that the number of cases disposed from Puducherry (28,631 cases) is three times more than the number of cases (9,031 cases) disposed by four High Courts (Tripura, Manipur, Meghalaya and Sikkim) put together in 2016.
  • Presence of the Constitutional Court in the capital city: Itacts as a check on the executive and legislature.
  • Has to travel long distances: Even the exercise of safeguarding fundamental rights involves travel, time and expenses.
  • The Constitution permits Puducherry to have its own High Court under Article 241.

A High Court for Puducherry will also strengthen voices seeking Statehood.

Aiding Statehood demand:

  • Constitutional provision: It enabled establishment of a legislature and Council of Ministers for certain Union Territories with the intent of providing them Statehood gradually.
  • Under Article 293A:
    • Out of the seven UT originally placed all except Puducherry were granted Statehood by 1989.
    • Most UT under 239A at least had Benches of High Courts when they attained Statehood.
    • Tripura, Manipur, Meghalaya had Benches of the Gauhati High Court before they got their own High Courts.
    • Interestingly, the Delhi High Court was established in 1966 before Delhi got its legislature in 1993.

Even a Bench of the Madras HC as against a separate HC at Puducherry is unfavorable:

  • Puducherry will still have to share the expenses of such a large High Court
  • Judges might not prefer shuttling between Benches at Chennai, Puducherry and Madurai frequently
  • The protests against the setting up of the Madurai Bench a decade ago should be borne in mind.
  • Presidential order establishing the Bench was challenged before the Madras HC in 2004: Its demand for a Bench of the High Court has always been met with stiff resistance from the Bar practicing in the Court having jurisdiction.
  • The advantage that Puducherry enjoys is that the Constitution enables Parliament to establish separate High Courts in Union Territories.

Way Forward

  • In March 2016, the Government of India had suggested that the establishment of a High Court will be taken up if the Puducherry government proposes the idea. However, the decision of the Puducherry legislature has still not been conveyed to the Central government.
  • The Puducherry government should now form a committee to prepare a comprehensive report and a draft Bill backing its proposal and forward it to the Central government.
  • In this the nominated Lieutenant Governor and the elected Chief Minister must work in tandem.

4.Another front: On India, Bhutan and China

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2  India and its neighborhood- relations.

Context: China has repeated its claim that Bhutan’s eastern boundary was a “disputed” area.

Background:

  • First claimed by china: At a UNDP-led Global Environment Facility conference when the Chinese representative tried to stop funding for the Sakteng forest reserve in Bhutan’s eastern district of Trashigang which abuts Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang district.
  • Surprising claims:
    • China has not objected earlier to funding provided to the sanctuary at the GEF.
    • The Trashigang area does not share a boundary with China.
    • Chinese officials have not raised the eastern boundary in 24 rounds of talks with Bhutan that began in 1984. Till now, talks have been only about the Pasamlung and Jakarlung valleys in Bhutan’s north and Doklam and other pasturelands to the west.

Current crisis:

  • Package solution by China: 
    • For the dispute that is believed to refer to an offer made in the 1990s to swap the northern and western areas. It was rejected by Bhutan due to India’s concerns.
  • Bhutan’s response:
    • At the start was to reject China’s claim at the GEF and it was able to secure the funding.
    • The Bhutanese Embassy in Delhi served a measure to the Chinese Embassy (Bhutan does not have diplomatic relations with China) but the Chinese MFA repeated the claim again and again.
  • Sober view by Bhutan: To China’s claims by saying that all disputes would be taken up in the next round of China-Bhutan talks. Talks. The last round was in 2016 that have been put off due to the Doklam stand-off in 2017, elections in 2018 and the pandemic this year.

Reasons for Beijing’s repeated statements on the boundary issue:

Way Forward

  • Problem in China’s package offer: It implies that Beijing is not giving up its push for the Doklam plateau where it has consolidated its military infrastructure and would like to inch towards India’s Chumbi valley which is a strategically sensitive location.
  • In order to respond purposively: India and Bhutan must stay the course with the close cooperation and complete understanding they have shared for decades,

5.Issues with School Education System in India

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-2- Education

Context: CBSE has declared Class X and XII Board results. Its evaluation system shows that the goal is that maximum students pass and large number of students score high marks.

  1. Funding:Total money allocated to school education reduced from Rs 38,600 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 37,100 crore in 2018-19.
  2. Gross Enrolment Ratio and Retention in School:The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in 2016-17 for Grades 1-5 was at 95.1%. However, the GER for Grades 6-8 was 90.7%, while for Grades 9-10 and 11-12 it was only 79.3% and 51.3%, respectively.  This indicates that a significant proportion of enrolled students begin to drop out after Grade 5 and especially after Grade 8.
  3. Access to Education:The RTE Act provides for free and compulsory education to all children from the age of six to 14 years. Despite advances in expanding access to education, participation rates are still not universal, particularly in rural regions and among lower castes and other disadvantaged groups.
  4. Rote learning: The K. Kasturiranjan committee observed that the current education system solely focuses on rote learning of facts and procedures. According to Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), 2018, only 16% of children in Class 1 in rural areas can read the text at the prescribed level, while almost 40% cannot even recognize letters.
  5. Outdated and Incoherent curriculum: The curriculum in school education remains outdated and largely theoretical.
  6. Evaluation system: Marks play the most important role in deciding the future of children and this often comes down upon students as a burdening factor and often leads to students underperforming.
  7. Quality of Teachers: The school education system faces issues of low teacher to student ratio and quality of teachers. Teachers are often unequipped with modern pedagogical methods of teaching.
  8. Infrastructural Issues: establishing primary schools in every habitation across India has helped increase access to education.  However, it has led to the development of very small schools which makes it operationally complex to deploy teachers and critical physical resources. The lack of proper physical infrastructure and human resource in schools is a major hinderance in imparting quality education.

Suggested Reforms:

Funding:  As suggested by NITI Ayog in its Strategy Paper for New India @75, Government spending on education as a whole should be increased to at least 6% of GDP by 2022

Curriculum: School education curriculum should focus on interconnectedness of the natural world with everyday lives in order to equip students with rising environmental challenges including climate change. Further, the curriculum load in each subject should be reduced to its essential core content.  This would make space for holistic, discussion and analysis-based learning.

Learning. there should be an increased focus on foundational literacy and numeracy. Further, schools should introduce conceptual learning rather than focusing on rote learning. An electronic national educational registry may be conceptualised for tracking each child’s learning outcomes.

Evaluation system: The focus of evaluation should be classroom participation by a student, projects, communication and leadership skills and extra-curricular activities.

  • Further, checks and balances should be there so as to not provide inflating marks (as in case of CBSE). The goal to pass maximum students only hampers learning outcomes as evaluation becomes flawed.

Teacher’s Training: The recommendations of National educational Policy 2019 should be followed-

  • The practice of ‘para-teachers’ (unqualified, contract teachers) should stopped across the country by 2022.
  • All teachers should be able to move into either educational administration or teacher education after a minimum number of years of teaching experience.
  • Merit-based scholarships to be instituted to undertake the four-year integrated B.Ed. program.

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