- Making India a global knowledge superpower
- High fiscal borrowings won’t crowd out private sector: Chief Economic Advisor
- India’s 14 Tiger Reserves set global standard in Tiger Conservation
- Information-Monitoring, Evaluation and Social Audit (I-MESA)
- Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Unnat Krishi Shiksha Yojana (PDDUUKSY)
- Food System Summit
1.Making India a global knowledge superpower
#GS2 #Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors
#GS #Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Prime Minister recently addressed the education community to mark the first anniversary of National Education Policy 2020 and launched multiple key initiatives to mark the occasion.
Highlights of PM’s address:
- Prime Minister lauded the hard work of teachers, professors, policymakers in realizing the new education policy on the ground, even during Covid-19.
- The Prime Minister opined that our future progress and growth is dependent on the level of education and direction given to our youth today.
- These Schemes aims at making India a global knowledge superpower.
- The Prime Minister also noted the role played by portals like Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA) and Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM) in online education during the pandemic.
- More than 23 hundred crore hits on Diksha portal bear testimony to the utility of portals like Diksha and Swayam.
- The Prime Minister highlighted the openness and absence of pressure in the New Education Policy.
- Academic Bank of Credit:
- Academic Bank of Credits shall be a national-level facility to promote flexibility of curriculum framework and interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary academic mobility of students across higher education institutions in the country.
- It will be rolled out for students in over 290 top institutions from the current academic year 2021-22 onwards.
- All institutions in the top 100 of the National Institutional Ranking Framework as well as those who have achieved an A grade under the National Assessment and Accreditation Council will be allowed to participate in the credit transfer system
- It will make the youth future-oriented and open the way for an Artificial Intelligence (AI) -driven economy.
- Engineering in Regional Languages:
- Fourteen engineering colleges across eight states have secured permission from the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) to collectively admit over 1,000 students in undergraduate programmes that will be taught in regional languages from the new academic year.
- The languages in which the B Tech course is being launched now include Hindi, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil and Bengali.
- This is being done using a tool developed by All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) that can translate engineering courses in 11 regional languages.
- The AICTE is also creating a database of resources to allow colleges to offer more programmes in regional languages.
- This emphasis on mother tongue as the medium of instruction will instil confidence in the students from poor, rural and tribal and other backward classes.
- In a recent survey, the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) discovered that 42% of the students surveyed nationally, favoured pursuing Engineering in regional languages.
- Vidya Pravesh:
- Vidya Pravesh program is a program for the Grade 1 students.
- This program will consist of a three-month play module for these children to prepare them for school. The program will also include a subject of Indian Sign language at the Secondary Level.
- SAFAL (Structured Assessment For Analyzing Learning Levels), a competency based assessment framework for Grades 3, 5 and 8 in CBSE schools.
- National Digital Education Architecture (NDEAR):
- It will help in building up a new education ecosystem that will create a digital foundation leading to self-governance of all parties involved, particularly states and the Centre.
- It lets educationists do evaluation based on talents and abilities, helping students understand their area of specialties that can be utilised in their future profession.
- National Education Technology Forum (NETF):
- NETF provides a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration.
- Through the technology forum, new technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, machine learning, smart boards, computing devices, adoptive computer testing for student development and other forms of educational software and hardware will be integrated into all levels of education to improve classroom process, support teachers’ professional development, enhance educational access for disadvantaged groups and streamline educational planning, administration and management.
- NETF will also facilitate decision-making on the induction, deployment and use of such technologies by providing educational institutions, governments and other stakeholders the latest knowledge to consult and share the best practices.
- It will be funded by the government but at a later stage, private funding and support from industry bodies would be invited.
- NISHTHA 2.0:
- NISHTHA is a national initiative for School Heads and Teachers Holistic Advancement at the elementary stage under Samagra Shiksha.
- It will provide training to teachers as per their needs and they will be able to give their suggestions to the department.
- It will have 68 modules including 12 generic and 56 subject-specific modules and will cover around 10 lakh teachers.
- NISHTHA is the largest teachers’ training programme, first of its kind in the world to motivate and equip teachers to encourage and foster critical thinking in students.
- Sign Language as a Subject:
- Indian sign language, for the first time, has been accorded the status of language subject. Students will be able to study it as a language also.
- There are more than 3 lakh students who need sign language for their education. This will give a boost to Indian sign language and will help the divyang people.
- National Educational Policy: Highlights
- All higher education institutions, except legal and medical colleges, to be governed by a single regulator.
- Common norms to be in place for private and public higher education institutions.
- MPhil courses to be discontinued.
- Board exams to be based on knowledge application.
- Home language, mother tongue or regional language to be medium of instruction up to class 5.
- Common entrance exams to be held for admission to universities and higher education institutions.
- School curriculum to be reduced to core concepts; integration of vocational education from class 6.
2.High fiscal borrowings won’t crowd out private sector: Chief Economic Advisor
#GS3 #Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment
#Mixed Economy Approach #Need for Resource Mobilisation #Role of Savings & Investment
Context: Chief Economic Advisor Krishnamurthy Subramanian reacting to comments made by a member of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on the impact of the high fiscal borrowing from the government.
- The bond markets have an important role in supporting the economy’s rebound at a time when banks were ‘overburdened from the overhang of non-performing assets’
- As per a whole-time member of SEBI, the government has lately raised around ?14-15 lakh crore through government bonds leading to crowding out of all then corporate bonds. And the market is dominated by the BFSI [banking, financial services and insurance sector], which means manufacturing companies continue to depend on the banks as a source of capital.
- Chief Economic Advisor Krishnamurthy Subramanian has argued that the concerns about high government borrowings crowding out the private sector’s fund-raising efforts were misplaced and not based on evidence.
- On the contrary, the CEA contended that the government’s increased capital spending would impart a ‘crowding-in effect’ spurring more investment.
- CEA also implies that savings are pro-cyclical with growth.
- A government bond or sovereign bond is an instrument of indebtedness issued by a national government to support government spending to either finance projects or day-to-day operations.
- It generally includes a commitment to pay periodic interest, called coupon payments, and to repay the face value on the maturity date. Some government bonds do not pay coupons and are sold at a discount instead.
- It can be issued by both the Central and the State governments of India.
- The government bond could be government securities (G-Secs) issued by the central government, or state development loans issued by the state government.
- G-Secs carry practically no risk of default and, hence, are called risk-free gilt-edged instruments.
- Gilt-edged securities are high-grade investment bonds offered by governments and large corporations as a means of borrowing funds.
- Because of their relative low risk, government bonds typically pay low interest rates.
- Government Bonds are primarily long-term investment tools issued for periods ranging from 5 to 40 years.
Crowding out effect:
- The crowding out effect suggests rising public sector spending drives down private sector spending.
- The government borrowing absorbs a part of the economy’s lending capacity and the private sector is left with a smaller share.
- There are three main reasons for the crowding out effect to take place: economics, social welfare, and infrastructure.
- Sometimes, government adopts an expansionary fiscal policy stance and increases its spending to boost the economic activity. This leads to an increase in interest rates. Increased interest rates affect private investment decisions. A high magnitude of the crowding out effect may even lead to lesser income in the economy.
- With higher interest rates, the cost for funds to be invested increases and affects their accessibility to debt financing mechanisms. This leads to lesser investment ultimately and crowds out the impact of the initial rise in the total investment spending.
- Usually the initial increase in government spending is funded using higher taxes or borrowing on part of the government.
- Macroeconomic theories such as Chartalism and Post-Keynesian explains that government borrowing, in a modern economy operating significantly below capacity, can actually increase demand by generating employment, thereby stimulating private spending as well. This process is often referred to as “crowding in.”
3.India’s 14 Tiger Reserves set global standard in Tiger Conservation
#GS3 # Conservation #In-situ & Ex-Situ #BioDiversity
Context: On the occasion of Global Tiger Day, 2021, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC) announced Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CATS) accreditation for 14 out of India’s 51 tiger reserves.
About Global Tiger Day:
- Global Tiger Day is celebrated every year on July 29th as a way to raise awareness about Tigers.
- It was created in 2010 at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit in Russia, when the 13 tiger range countries came together to create Tx2 – the global goal to double the number of wild tigers by the year 2022.
- Recently, at the virtual meeting celebrating International Tiger Day (29th July), Prime Minister of India reiterated India’s commitment to ensuring safe habitats for its tigers and nurturing tiger-friendly eco systems.
- The theme for this year Global Tiger Day is- “Their Survival is in our hands”.
Accredited Tiger reserves:
About Conservation Assured | Tiger Standards (CA|TS):
- CATS are globally accepted conservation tool that sets best practices and standards to manage tigers and assessments to benchmark progress.
- It was launched in 2013, implemented across 125 sites, including 94 in India.
- Global Tiger Forum and WWF India are implementing partners of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for CATS assessment in India.
- There are currently 13 tiger range countries – India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.
- There are currently more than 100 sites registered with CA|TS globally, covering more than 70% of the global tiger population.
Conservation Status of Tiger:
- India achieved the target of doubling the tiger population 4 years ahead of St. Petersburg Declaration on tiger Conservation in 2010. India is now home to 70% (an estimated 2,226) of the total Tigers globally.
- Project Tiger,1973 to provide central assistance to tiger States for tiger conservation in designated tiger reserves in India.
- National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA): It is a statutory body under the MoEFCC and was established in 2005 following the recommendations of the Tiger Task Force.
- IUCN status: Endangered
- Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I
Significance of Tiger Conservation:
- Tiger conservation is a symbol of conservation of forests.
- The WWF claims that protecting tigers and their habitat will also benefit thousands of other species of animals, as well as helping to mitigate climate change, reduce the impact of natural disasters and provide livelihoods for local communities.
- It is a top predator which is at the apex of the food chain and keeps the population of wild ungulates (primarily large mammals) in check.
- Without enough tigers, herbivores can overgraze and damage the land which will eventually disrupt the balance of the local environment.
- The conservation of tigers leads to the conservation of the entire ecosystem.
- Information-Monitoring, Evaluation and Social Audit (I-MESA)
#GS1 # Population and Associated Issues #GS2 #Governemnt policies and Interventions # Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services
Context: The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has formulated a scheme, namely Information-Monitoring, Evaluation and Social Audit (I-MESA) in FY 2021-22.
About the scheme:
- Under this scheme, Social Audits are to be conducted for all the schemes of the Department starting FY 2021-22.
- These social audits are done through Social Audit Units (SAU) of the States and National Institute for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj.
What is Social Audit:
- Social Audit is the audit of a scheme jointly by the Government and the people, especially by those who are affected by the scheme or its beneficiaries.
- It is a powerful tool to promote transparency, accountability and people’s participation in the schemes meant for them.
- It helps assess the physical and financial gaps between needs and resources available for local development.
Social Audit in India:
- 73rd Amendment of the Indian Constitution empowers Gram Sabhas to conduct Social Audits in addition to its other functions.
- Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005(MGNREGA): Section 17 of this Act provides for regular “Social Audits” so as to ensure transparency and accountability in the scheme.
- Meghalaya became the first state in India to operationalise a social audit law – ‘The Meghalaya Community Participation and Public Services Social Audit Act, 2017’.
- Most States have set up an independent Social Audit Unit (SAU) and some have even begun to facilitate Social Audit in other programmes, including Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, National Social Assistance Programme, Midday Meal Scheme and Public Distribution System.
Impediments to institutionalizing social audits:
- Lack of support from government machineries:
- The lack of adequate administrative and political will in institutionalising social audits to deter corruption has meant that social audits in many parts of the country are not independent of the influence of implementing agencies.
- Social audit units, including village social audit facilitators, continue to face resistance and intimidation and find it difficult to even access primary records for verification.
- Most Indian states have delayed conducting social audits, despite these being in place since 2006. They are held back by a lack of political will and entrenched vested interests.
- Untimely transfer of functionaries makes it difficult to have appropriate responsibility fixation.
- Failure of the social audit process to deter leakage of programme fund.
- Systematic and regular audits with beneficiary participation have not taken off in other parts of the country.
- Problem of difference in work culture
- Citizens groups need to campaign for strengthening social audits and make real progress in holding the political executive and implementing agencies accountable.
- Team of social audit experts should be established in each district who are responsible for training social audit committee members (stakeholders).
- Training programmes should be created on social auditing methods such as conducting and preparing social audit reports, and presentation at Gram Sabha.
- Implementation of training programmes on social auditing methods conducting and preparing social audit reports, and presentation at Gram Sabha.
- Investment in education and awareness of Public/ Gram Sabha members is required.
- Support may be provided to committed and competent NGOs to play the catalytic role including conducting Social Audit.
- Media need be more Rural and Development focused.
- Recognize and reward the members who have contributed to the process of strengthening
- Promoting proactive disclosure of information to facilitate social audits.
5.Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Unnat Krishi Shiksha Yojana (PDDUUKSY)
#GS2 #Human Resources #GS3 #Agriculture and allied activities
Context: So far, 108 training programmes have been organised across 24 states/UTs under Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Unnat Krishi Shiksha Yojana by ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
Key Provisions of the Scheme:
- The scheme was launched in 2016 to develop human resource in organic farming, natural farming and cow-based economy for environmental sustenance and soil health.
- Training programmes were organized for the farmers under the scheme in the above-mentioned fields.
- To build skilled Human Resource at village level relevant to national needs towards organic farming and sustainable agriculture.
- Provide rural India with professional support in the field of Organic Farming/Natural Farming/Rural Economy/Sustainable Agriculture.
- To extend other activities of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Unnat Krishi Shiksha Yojana at village level through these established centres.
Criteria for Selecting Farmers:
- The designated Centers may select the farmers for this initiative, subject to the conditions that:
- The farmers must be assessed in terms of their interest in organic farming, natural farming and cow-based economy prior to their selection.
- Priority must be attached to the farmers who are currently practising organic farming, natural farming or cow-based economy.
- Farmers of all communities must be given a fair representation.
- The selection shouldn’t involve any gender discrimination.
- This has brought awareness about organic and natural farming.
- As organic and naturally raised commodities/ produce fetch more price, therefore, it is a step towards doubling their earnings.
- Some of India’s traditions and practices holds greater value than what was thought in the dawn of its modern state; and so is the case with the way the nation has always treated its cows.
- With respect to agriculture, Indian cow breeds are proven to possess genetic capacity that produces better quality milk.
- The milk so produced contains a higher level of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) which is anti-carcinogenic.
- Apart from that, cow urine can be used as a bio-fertilizer and post repellant which helps in increasing crop production with reduced costs.
- Given these facets, the government considers cow farms among its major focal areas.
- Modern day agriculture is known for its application of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, in sharp contrast to farming methods that involved the use of natural farm resources/products.
- Natural farming eliminates energy/production costs, fertilizer and other input costs, improves underground water level without contamination, helps conserving moisture and protects the crops from the effects of climate change.
- Most importantly, it curtails global warming by reducing greenhouse gases considerably and helps in sustainable development.
- Experts suggest that cattle-based natural farming could even tackle the issues of farmer suicides, mitigation of economic recession, empowerment of farmers and the improvement of the rural economy.
- Organic farming is a system of production management that promotes and improves the health of the agro-ecosystem, which includes biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity.
- The methodology is primarily aimed at cultivating the land and raising crops in such a way as to ensure the health and life of the soil. It involves the use of organic wastes and other biological materials along with beneficial microbes.
6.Food System Summit
#GS2 #Issues related to Hunger and poverty #GS3 # Food Processing and Related Industries in India
Context: The UN convened a UN Food Systems Summit (FSS) to raise global awareness and shape global commitments that can transform food systems to resolve hunger, reduce diet-related diseases and restore the planetary health.
About the Summit:
- The UN Food Systems Summit, including a Pre-Summit, was conceived following conversations with the joint leadership – the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme – at the High-level Political Forum in July 2019.
- The Pre- Summit is taking place in Rome.
- The Pre-Summit of the UN Food Systems Summit will set the stage for the culminating global event in September.
- The Summit will build on a number of global events and platforms as well as their agreements and collaborative actions.
- Preparations for the Summit will explore synergies between multiple regional and national initiatives that support the transformation of food systems.
- The FSS will draw knowledge from these sources to inform the Summit’s recommendations.
- The FSS will follow these Action Tracks:
- Ensuring access to safe and nutritious food
- Shifting to sustainable consumption patterns
- Boosting nature-positive production
- Advancing equitable livelihoods and
- Building resilience
- As the UN Anchor Agency for Action Track 3, UNCCD will prepare for the Summit in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund and with support from other UN organizations and international partners.
- Action Track 3 is based on the principle that systemic change toward nature-positive production requires cross-cutting levers of policy reform, coordinated investment, accessible financing and innovation, traditional knowledge, local governance, sound data and gender action.
- This integrated approach is key to managing the impacts of climate change, reducing emissions, increasing carbon sequestration, regenerating ecosystems, protecting biodiversity, curbing food waste and reducing energy consumption while supporting healthy and nutritious diets.
Why food systems?
- Food systems are the sum of actors and interactions along the food value chain—from input supply and production of crops, livestock, fish, and other agricultural commodities to transportation, processing, retailing, wholesaling, and preparation of foods to consumption and disposal.
- Food systems also include the enabling policy environments and cultural norms around food.
- Ideal food systems would be nutrition-, health-, and safety-driven, productive and efficient (and thus able to deliver affordable food), environmentally sustainable and climate-smart, and inclusive.
- The health of our food systems profoundly affects the health of our bodies, as well as the health of our environment, our economies and our cultures.
- When they function well, food systems have the power to bring us together as families, communities and nations.
- To realize this vision, continued investments must be made in agricultural research and development and technological innovations, paving the way for programs and policies that are based on sound evidence.