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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today
About 9 PM Brief- With the 9 PM Daily Current affairs for UPSC brief we intend to simplify the newspaper reading experience. In 9PM briefs, we provide our reader with a summary of all the important articles and editorials from three important newspapers namely The Hindu, Indian Express, and Livemint. This will provide you with analysis, broad coverage, and factual information from a Mains examination point of view.
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List of Contents
Source: Indian Express
Synopsis: India and Pakistan have agreed to ceasefire along the Line of Control. But further strengthening of relations will depend upon the security improvement in the region.
- Recently, India and Pakistan agreed to a “strict observance” of all agreements and cease-fire along the Line of Control. This statement was delivered by Director Generals of Military Operations of India and Pakistan.
- It has become possible due to a strong leadership in India. Also, in South Asia there is a chance of building “security community”.
- A security community is defined as a region where countries have agreed not to use violence to settle their conflicts.
Why this agreement is important?
- This development is an important confidence-building measure. It is very important because the number of reported violations of the cease-fire across the LoC have increased dramatically in the last year.
- Due to firing impacts collateral damage takes place on the both sides. The most vulnerable sections is the one, living close to the LoC and other sectors.
- They will be the immediate beneficiaries if the statement is implemented in letter and spirit.
Now there is a hope that this move will be the first step towards a gradual normalisation of diplomatic relations. Relations deteriorated since the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019.
What are the positive signals for good bilateral relations of India and Pakistan?
- Pakistan’s leadership (including its army) has now started to understand the futility of a confrontationist course with India.
- Also, it is in interest of India to strengthen these tendencies by offering incentives to Pakistan that include the promise of a robust engagement.
- India has also proved that its Neighbourhood First slogan is not an empty one. Under Vaccine Maitri initiative, India is providing free vaccine to its neighbours.
- There is a possibility of signing Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with Bangladesh.
- If bilateral relations improve, we would witness a SAARC summit in Islamabad with participation of India in it.
What are the challenges?
- Strengthening connectivity and collaboration between India and Pakistan totally depends upon the security commitments.
- The big question now is, Would Pakistan avoid any interference in the Jammu and Kashmir? It would be the test of Pakistan’s strategic commitment to rebuilding bilateral relations.
Source: The Hindu
Synopsis: Ministry of education’s circular for regulating online conferences is not well thought out. It will discourage innovation.
What was the circular?
- Recently, the education ministry released a circular to state-funded universities and educational institutions. A per this circular, these institutions and universities need prior official approval from the external Affairs ministry for hosting online “international conferences and seminars online”.
- It also prohibits the conference topics related to the security of the state, border, the northeast, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, and broadly, any “internal matters”. Not only topics, but a background check of participants will be required.
- Event organisers are required to give preference to technological tools and channels not owned or controlled by hostile countries or agencies.
- The circular was issued in consultation with the External Affairs Ministry. Indian Academy of Sciences protested against this circular and suggested a rethink on it.
Importance of virtual conferences
- First, in a pandemic-hit phase, virtual conferences are the only viable channel for researchers to collaborate and discuss various issues with their global peers. The circular created a new bureaucratic hurdle for scientists in public universities, colleges, and organizations.
- Second, virtual conferences were instrumental in the increased participation of thousands of Scientists. It increased attendance at events by 80% in 2020 over 2019 for the Plant Biology Worldwide Summit and over 300% for the American Physical Society meeting.
- Third, these conferences clear out many hurdles like visas, expensive travel, and physical disability, and so on, for the scientists who don’t have resources for that. Even researchers and students in the smallest towns can attend these conferences.
- Fourth, India has also made progress in peer-reviewed publications due to these collaborations. It reduces the concerns of biopiracy by documenting natural assets.
Thus, online conferences are very beneficial for research and technology in India. The government should adopt a more liberal approach towards it.
Source: The Indian Express
Syllabus: GS-3: role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges
Synopsis: The new Social media code is much-needed to ensure the online platforms are subject to law of the land
Recently, the government introduced the Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. The rules have the potential to transform the online media platforms to fit into the Indian ecosystem.
- The OTT platforms together have to enact a code for self-regulation. Further, the OTT platforms also have to classify the content. So that, an underage minor will not be able to view the adult contents.
- The new social media code creates a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism.
- First-tier: The publishers of social media have to appoint officers to redress their grievances. These officers have to ensure the time-bound disposal of grievances.
- A self-regulating body headed by a retired judge will be at the Second-tier.
- The Central government oversight committee will be in the third tier.
- All the grievances have to be resolved within the framework of India’s laws. Recently, Twitter disobeyed government rules. After the implementation of New social media codes, social media have to obey the government’s directions.
Why do India need New Social Media Code?
- The policy will create a level playing field in two important things.
- Between the online news platforms and print media
- Between the online news platforms and television news media.
- The new social media rules will bring in the online news portals within the ambit of the code of ethics. It is a much-needed step considering the recklessness and irresponsibility shown by some of the digital media platforms.
- Further, the new social media rules aim to achieve oversight responsibilities. Like the film certification agency for Cinema, the social media platforms have to ensure a content classification.
- The new social media codes will ensure freedom of speech to the artists. This is achieved through self-regulation. Social media platforms can provide more freedom for artists to create content. Since they are the ones going to regulate it, they can classify the content of artists instead of banning them like other media (film, print, etc).
What are the global lessons for digital media platforms in self-regulation?
- Lessons from Australia: In Australia, Digital companies have drafted a code to deal with fake news and disinformation. This is called the Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation. The code has few important provisions including the removal of content and disabling the content from the digital platforms.
- Lessons from the UK: The UK government has proposed an “Online Safety Bill”. The Bill aims to deal heavily on digital platforms that promote violence, child abuse, terrorist material, cyber bullying, etc.
The New social media code has the necessary provisions to ensure free speech. At the same time, it will regulate and stop social media companies from violating the law of the land.
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS-3: Science and Technology- developments
Synopsis: The draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 202o has the potential to transform the science and research in India.
The government introduced a draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2020 in January 2021. The draft policy aims to address the issues in the past four science and technology policies.
Evolution of Science, Technology and Innovation Policies in India:
Right after independence, India realised the value of science in promoting the welfare of people. So far, India has released four policies in Science. These are:
- The Scientific Policy Resolution, 1958
- The policy aimed to lay the foundation of scientific temper and develop scientific enterprises around India.
- The policy led to the establishment of many research institutes and national laboratories across India.
- Achievement of the policy: By the end of 1980, India developed advanced scientific infrastructure along with sufficient scientific personnel.
- The Science and Technology Policy Statement, 1983
- This policy aimed to achieve technological self-reliance. The policy also aimed to use technology to benefit all sections of society.
- The policy aimed to strengthen the research in fields such as biotechnology and electronics.
- The Science and Technology Policy, 2003
- This is the first Science Policy in India after the economic reforms in 1991.
- This policy aimed to increase investment in research and development. The policy brought India’s investment in research to 0.7% of GDP.
- During this policy only, the Scientific and Engineering Research Board (SERB) was established in India to promote research.
- The Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, 2013
- This policy brought innovation into the science and technology policy.
- The policy aimed to make India as one of the top five global scientific leaders in the world.
- India achieved this by the following steps
- The Centre built partnerships with State governments,
- The government established more research and development centres throughout India
- India collaborated in international research projects such as the Neutrino research, Large Hadron Collider, etc.
What are the outcomes of these four scientific policies?
The US-based National Science Foundation released a report. The report highlighted the outcomes of the policies. They are
- Achievement of Policies:
- India was the third-largest publisher of peer-reviewed science and engineering journal articles and conference papers.
- India achieved this milestone at the pace of a 10.73% annual growth rate from 2008. This is higher than the growth rate of China (7.81%).
- Where do the policies lack?
- India’s index score was very low in Highly Cited Articles of the world. India has a score of 0.7. This is lower than the US, China and the EU.
- India’s Gross Domestic Expenditure on R&D (GERD) is only 0.6% of GDP. This is very low as compared to the U.S. and China (their GERD is greater than 2%).
- According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) report, India only filed 2053 patents in 2019. On the other hand, China filed 58,990 patents and the US filed 57,840 patents.
How India aimed to tackle the drawbacks?
The government aimed to tackle the drawbacks holistically by releasing a new science and technology policy. The government released the draft of the fifth Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2020 (STIP 2020) in January 2021
Salient provisions of Draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2020:
- The draft STIP aims to double the following things every 5 years.
- Number of full-time equivalent (FTE) researchers
- Private sector contribution to the GERD
- Gross Domestic Expenditure on R&D (GERD)
- Apart from that the draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy also aim to get India into the top three scientific superpowers of the world within a decade.
- The draft STIP 2020 also defined the Open Science Framework. The framework will provide pan India access to all scientific journals. This will be achieved by creating a “one nation, one subscription”.
- The draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy will improve Private sector participation. This will be achieved by a strategy.
Under it, the State governments will fund the research. The Private will participate in it. The government will provide fiscal incentives. Further, the government will also support innovation in the MSME sector.
- The other focus areas of the draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy are:
- The provision for supporting indigenous knowledge systems in India
- The draft STIP provide steps to improve artificial intelligence
- The policy will encourage the participation of Indian scientific diaspora
- The policy will set up a special fund for research known as the strategic technology development fund.
The draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy looks good on paper and also has the potential to transform the entire science, technology and innovation in India. But the actual results will occur only if the government fulfil its role as the primary funder of research and encourage the private sector.
Source: click here
Syllabus: GS 2
Synopsis: The end-of-the-year examination results do not reflect the full potential or uniqueness of a child. Thus, NEP attempts to look beyond examinations and emphasizes child-centered pedagogy.
Gijubhai Badheka, an educationist who helped introduce Montessori methods to India, wrote in his book that the school culture in India considers several things of children’s interest. It ranges from insects to stars which is irrelevant to classroom study.
- Teachers teach students from the textbook to prepare them for examination instead of developing the child’s curiosity. The school does not provide conditions in which the teacher could focus on the overall development of children.
- Examinations should not be the final goal of a rewarding learning experience as it only rewards the power of memorisation.
- Exams are one of the multiple milestones to be crossed by a child on her path to holistic growth and development.
What does the new education policy focus on instead of examinations?
The National Education Policy, 2020, uses two interesting phrases: “No hard separations” and “elimination of silos” in the context of learning.
- First, India is now working on implementing the policy. It is important to have an understanding of these phrases and their implications.
- For example, NEP 2020 requires the achievement of common standards for high-quality education in all schools. It means removing differences between public and private schools through the setting up of a State Standard-Setting Authority (SSSA). It requires a variety of learning from pre-school to higher education.
- Second, the removal of hard separations would include removing the barrier of language. For that, the mother tongue/language spoken by the child shall be the medium to understand the subjects, especially in the foundational years.
- Third, teaching and schooling should be activity-based and experiential. It helps in cognitive growth through story-telling, art, and craft, sports, and theatre.
- Fourth, classrooms need to discard the typical seating plan. At present all the children sit, facing the board. A flexible seating plan which has students sitting in a circle or in groups shall be introduced.
- Fifth, schools will need to embrace a variety of teaching and learning materials. For that, methods such as toys, puppets, magazines, worksheets, comic and storybooks, nature walks, visits to local crafts, etc. are useful.
- Last, assessment should only be viewed as a means of learning. The NEP would help in including more in depth knowledge with fewer curriculums, less content but more proficiency, less textbooks but more diverse learning, less stress but more joy, less assessment by the teacher but more self and peer evaluation.
The way forward
- A lot of research shows that a supportive environment is one in which a child is constantly learning to collaborate, think critically, solve problems, be creative and articulate.
- NEP 2020 wants to break the belief that taking exams on the basis of what is written in textbooks is sufficient. Examination results do not reflect the full potential or uniqueness of a child.