current-affairs-based-mains-drill-13-february-2021

 

Q.1)In what way Science and technology can influence the methods of teaching, learning and enrich classroom processes in India .

Why this question:

An important part of GS paper III.

Key demand of the Question:

Ways in which use of science and technology can reform the learning process in Indian classrooms.

Introduction:

Give a brief introduction of the current system of classroom education that follows a traditional approach.

Body:

In the first part, explain the ways in which science and technology can be used in the learning process- online learning, Project-based activities incorporating technology, Game-based learning and assessment, etc.

In the next part, highlight the reforms that the use of S&T can bring in the education system and also outline the challenges in this process. Provide some statistics about digital penetration in India.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answer

The Indian education system has traditionally relied on the older methods of learning i.e. the blackboards and chalks based learning. This is especially the case for the government schools in India. However, the recent reforms in the education sector have pushed for greater use of science and technology in the classrooms in India. 

Ways in which Science and Technology can influence learning processes 

  1. Digital Textbooks- these help in effective engagement of students to their textbooks who find it easier, interesting and fascinating to learn things digitally.
  2. Multi-Sensory Classrooms- technology has helped build multi-sensory classrooms equipped with interactive white boards that support visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles, leading to consistent improvement in the learning outcomes. They aid in teaching abstract and complex concepts to the students in a more engaging and fun way.
  3. Remote Learning- Technologically equipped method of learning is not bounded by any classroom or school and hence it becomes easier for it to reach to even the remote areas with adequate data facilities. This helps the students in these areas to learn from experts from their places.
  4. Interactive gamification- Gamification is the concept of applying game-design thinking to various classroom activities to make them more engaging and fun. Educational video content can be taken to the next level by adding gamification.
  5. Virtual Reality- It cuts across all the barriers and gives a feeling of things being right in front of one’s eyes. Thus, students find themselves immersed in what they are learning and are able to process the information better.
  6. Augmented Reality- it can be used in many innovative ways to make any boring lesson interesting and interactive. It can be used to overlay interactive digital elements like text, image, video clip, animation etc. to give real-time experience. It can promote 21st century skills like critical thinking analysis, creativity and problem-solving.
  7. Blockchain Technology – in the education sector, Blockchain can be very useful in examination management, verification of student credentials, certificate etc. Life-long learning records can also be managed using blockchain.
  8. Artificial Intelligence – AI can bring phenomenal change in the way learning takes place in the classrooms with the help of digital learning, easy management of administrative works, etc. AI has revolutionized the way curriculums are being implemented in schools, and has given birth to innovative ideas.

Technology today has flourished in each and every sector around us and the education sector is no exception.  However, the development of science and technology in classrooms has some prerequisites like digital education, financial resources, electricity connection, high speed internet, etc. 

Way Forward 

  • Policies to promote digital education and bridge the digital gap.
  • Policies to strengthen the data networks in the country especially in rural and remote areas. 
  • Incentives to schools for shifting to technology equipped classrooms.

Recently, we have seen that online education has proved to be a saviour during the Covid 19 pandemic when the schools were abruptly shut to ensure social distancing. Keeping up with the emerging technology trends can have a major impact on the way education is being imparted in schools today. It will help offer students with the latest opportunities and unique learning experiences that they need and deserve. This in turn will help India in achieving its goal of universal education.

 

Q.2)The technological innovations in the healthcare industry are providing new ways to improve the quality of care delivered and improve the state of global healthcare. In the light of the above statement, elaborate on the role of technological innovations in the health care sector.

Why this Question: 

Healthcare and its policies have been in the news due to the pandemic.

Key demand of the Question:

Role that technological innovations can play in reforming the healthcare sector.

Directive:

Elaborate- To give in more detail, provide more information on.

Introduction:

Give a brief introduction about the healthcare policies in India and the traditional approach they follow.

Body:

In the first part, explain the ways in which technology can be used in the health sector.

In the next part, highlight the reforms that use of technology can bring in the healthcare sector and delivery of health services to the people.

Also, suggest measures that can be adopted by the government.

Conclusion:

Conclude with the need of reforming the health sector to achieve the goal of Health for All and Universal Health Coverage.

Model Answer

Technological innovations have reformed almost every other sector including agriculture, manufacturing, education and healthcare. Technological innovations provide for abundant reforms in the healthcare sector ranging from basic patient care to larger treatments. Technology-based therapeutic and care coordination systems, that embrace web-, mobile-, sensing-, computing, and bioinformatics technologies, offer considerable promise for enabling entirely new models of healthcare both within and outside of formal systems of care and offer the opportunity to have a large public health impact.

Role of Technological Innovation in Healthcare Sector 

  1. Digitisation of health records – this helps in easier retrieval of patient’s records about the history of medical care they have received and based on that the decision of the present treatment can be taken. This also minimises the healthcare costs for the patient. 
  2. Telemedicine- innovation in technology has helped in the growth of telemedicine where the doctor communicates with the patient over any network as he cannot reach a particular area and prescribes her the adequate treatment. It also helps in good quality healthcare reaching the remote areas.
  3. Quantum computing- this would help in finding cures to some of the incurable diseases until now like cancer, alzheimer’s, etc.
  4. Blockchain technology- it has the potential to transform health care, placing the patient at the center of the healthcare ecosystem and increasing the security, privacy, and interoperability of health data. This technology could provide a new model for health information exchanges (HIE) by making electronic medical records more efficient, disintermediated, and secure.
  5. Artificial intelligence- AI equipped robots can help in basic healthcare for patients suffering from communicable diseases like leprosy, etc. It was recently used during the COVID19 pandemic. 
  6. Artificial organs- These comprise complex medical devices that have active mechanical or biochemical functions such as heart, lung, kidney, liver, pancreas, or neurosensory organs. Else called as bio-printing it is an upcoming area in technology in healthcare that could save patients every year.

There are reasons to be excited as well as cautious about this evolution of technological innovation in the healthcare sector as it poses few challenges viz. Since healthcare would be dependent on technology it has high chances of abruptly shutting down due to faults in the technology, lack of human emotions in healthcare, resistance of patients to get treated by robots, continuous supply of electricity, high speed internet connection, etc. 

But we definitely cannot ignore the immense benefits that it has and the potential it has to reform the healthcare sector. India aspires to achieve the goal of “Universal Health Coverage” in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goal no. 3 by 2030 and technological innovations can help in realizing this goal in the stipulated time. Therefore, the government should focus on developing policies that promote technological innovation in the healthcare sector and at the same time ensure that it receives adequate funding required.

 

Q.3)Whenever global rankings of universities are announced, there is always a discussion about India’s poor performance. The overall culture of research is largely missing in Indian institutions. What are the reasons behind it and what should be the way out?

Why this Question:

Recently, the World University Rankings for 2021 have been announced.

Key demand of the Question:

Causes of the underdeveloped research culture in India and the measures needed to develop it.

Introduction:

Introduce the level of research in Indian Universities. Use some statistics like the level of GDP allocation for research and development.

Body:

In the first part, categorically explain the causes behind the low level of research in India- faulty education system, focus on rote learning of facts, little or no focus on aptitude, etc.

In the next part, mention some of the steps that have been taken by the government in this context and enlist the measures that should be adopted to further promote a research culture in India. 

Conclusion:

Conclude with the importance of research culture in the development of any country using examples of some other countries like US, China, etc.

Model Answer

Over the years investment on research and development in India has increased. But it still remains minuscule when compared to the developed countries or even some of the developing countries of the world. The overall expenditure on the research and development in the Indian economy has been between 0.6%- 0.7% of GDP for the past two decades. The increase is due to the increase in GDP and not due to the allocation by the government. 

Reasons for Low Research Culture in India 

  1. Dominated by the Public sector- The R&D sector in India is mostly dominated by the public sector and the private sector hesitate to invest in this due to lower returns on their investments.
  2. Faulty education system- the education system in India focuses on rote learning and not on the analytical and practical skills of the students thus diminishing their interest in research. 
  3. Middle Income of individuals- Most people in the country are from the middle income group and they focus on earning a living to sustain their families even after earning a Ph.D and since research as a field is not fairly remunerative they hesitate to pursue it.
  4. Funding: Inadequate funding especially in private institutes has led to minimal R&D activity in India. Even the premier institutions in the country- the IITs face a resource crunch and have to approach alumni for funding.
  5. Institutional Framework - University system in India has more emphasis on teaching than research. This in addition to rigid admission rules, like bar on change of discipline, age restrictions and lack of inter and intra disciplinary culture in universities has led to poor scientific research in Indian universities.
  6. Weak linkages: India has a weak linkage between universities, institutes of higher education and the industry. This is a lot stronger in countries like the US, UK, Germany, and even a small country like Israel. Most Indian universities have not been able to modify their curriculum with changing times.
  7. Weak IPR: The most important issue is the weak IPR regime. Any investment in R&D pre-supposes a strong intellectual property rights (IPR) regime to protect the IPs. In most areas, R&D IPs are either too weak structurally or are very hard to enforce.

Measures to strengthen the Research Culture in India

  1. Increase the Government spending- the government has to increase the allocation for research and development in the annual budget to provide a conducive environment for research culture to flourish. 
  2. Change in education system- the schools in India should focus on developing scientific, mathematical and analytical skills in the students rather than just memorizing the facts in the books.
  3. Encourage the private sector- this is the key to developing the research culture. Adequate steps should be taken to encourage private investment in the R&D. They should be incentivised for participating in research and this can also be made an integral part of corporate social responsibility (CSR).
  4. Change in approach: India needs to redouble its efforts to improve science and R&D in the country.Taking a more mission-driven approach in areas such as dark matter, genomics, energy, agriculture and mathematics is needed. Matching efforts are required directed at improving “ease of doing business” to the “ease of doing science” index.
  5. Strengthening the IPR regime- A well-developed research culture requires enforcement of a strong intellectual property rights regime. Adequate steps should be taken in this direction. 
  6. Incentives to students- those pursuing research after higher education should be encouraged with incentives like recognition, stipend, etc.
  7. Ease of regulations- the higher education institutions should ease their admission and other rules like age criteria for entry of students who want to pursue research. 

India has an advantage of having a demographic dividend. Hence, potential for R&D in India is huge but there are ground level challenges. For India to make its place into the top five scientific nations, the country needs enabling policies with increased spending to create a conducive research environment. This is the fundamental step for India to become truly ‘Atmanirbhar’ or self-reliant.

 

Q.4)“The Special Marriage Act, 1954 (SMA) was enacted to address Inter-religious marriages and to establish marriage as a secular institution bereft of all religious formalities”. In this context critically examine the recent anti conversion laws enacted by several states.

Why this Question:

Anti-conversion laws have been in the news in recent times.

Key demand of the Question:

Analysis of the anti- conversion laws and the impact it has on the fundamental rights of individuals.

Directive:

Critically examine- Look in close detail and establish the key facts and important issues surrounding the topic. Try and offer reasons as to why the facts and issues identified are most important, as well as explain the different ways they could be construed.

Introduction:

Briefly introduce the SMA, 1954 and its aim.

Body:

In the first part, explain what the anti-conversion laws enacted by some states intend to do and why are the state governments passing the law.

In the next part, highlight the impact that such laws would have on the secular fabric of the country. Explain the correlation with the infringement of fundamental rights.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answer

The Special Marriage Act is a central legislation made to validate and register interreligious and inter-caste marriages in India. It allows two individuals to solemnize their marriage through a civil contract. No religious formalities are needed to be carried out under the Act. This act is in consonance with the fundamental rights of young men and women. 

But recently this Act has come under controversy due to the anti-conversion laws passed by some of the state governments like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, etc. These laws prohibit conversion from one religion to another by “misrepresentation, force, fraud, undue influence, coercion, allurement or marriage”. Marriage will be declared null and void if the “sole intention” is to “change a girl’s religion”.

Issues in these laws:

  1. It is against the fundamental right to life and liberty of young individuals who have the freedom to decide whom to marry under Article 21.
  2. It is against the fundamental right to Freedom of Conscience and Free Profession, Practice and Propagation of Religion under Article 25 of the Constitution. 
  3. It is against the secular principles of the Indian Constitution that aim to protect the religious diversity in the country. 
  4. It has the potential of increasing communal tensions between different communities and destroying the secular fabric of the country. 
  5. It is asymmetrical with Various Supreme Court’s Judgments like the Shafin Jahan v Ashok KM (2018) case where SC upheld the right to marry a person of one’s choice as a part of Article 21; K.S. Puttaswamy v UOI (2017) judgment where it held that “right of choice of a family life” is a fundamental right.

Way Forward

  1. Strengthening existing legislations to prevent marriages based on forceful conversions.
  2. Backing these laws with concrete study at the ground level.
  3. Review of these laws by the Courts to check their interference with fundamental rights.
  4. Forming an adequate committee to find out solutions to the challenge of unlawful marriages and forceful conversions.

These anti conversion laws have increased the interference of state in the personal lives of the people. No doubt adequate measures should be taken to keep a check upon the forceful conversions but this is not the right way. Marriage is an extremely personal affair and criminalizing marriage for or after what is deemed to be ‘unlawful’ conversion in broad terms, in effect, would take away a choice from interfaith couples. It also has a chilling effect on the exercise of freedom to love and marry outside one’s community.

 

Q.5)What are the pardoning powers of the President of India? Discuss how they are different from those given to the Governors of states.

Why this Question:

Recently, the Tamil Nadu Governor has refrained from taking a call on a plea for the early release of Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict A.G. Perarivalan and referred the President as the appropriate authority to do so.

Key demand of the question:

Differences between the pardoning powers of the President and the Governors.

Directive:

Discuss- back up the answer by carefully selected evidence to make a case for and against an argument, or point out the advantages and disadvantages of the given context and finally arrive at a conclusion.

Introduction:

Define what pardoning powers are and their position in the Constitution of India.

Body:

In the first part, explain in detail the pardoning powers of the President of India. Mention some cases where the President used her pardoning powers.

In the next part, outline the differences between the pardoning powers of the President and those of the Governor. Highlight the controversy behind these powers in recent times.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answer
Pardoning is an act of kindness that reduces the punishment conferred under the law for the offence and restores the rights and privileges lost on account of the offence. The Article 72 of the Indian Constitution says that the President of India shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence or sentenced by a court martial (military court) or where the sentence is a sentence of death.

These powers include:

  1. Pardon –A pardon completely absolves the offender from all sentences and punishment and disqualifications and places him in the same position as if he had never committed the offence.
  2. Commutation– Commutation means exchange of one thing for another. In simple words to replace the punishment with less severe punishment. For example for Rigorous imprisonment-simple imprisonment.
  3. Respite – Respite means awarding a lesser punishment on some special grounds. For example- the Pregnancy of women offenders or due to physical disability.
  4. Remissions– Remission means the reduction of the amount of sentence without changing its character, for example, a sentence of 1 year may be remitted to 6 months.
  5. Reprieve– Reprieve means temporary stay on the execution of a sentence especially a death sentence. For example-pending a proceeding for pardon or commutation.

The Constitution of India also gives similar rights to the Governors of states under Article 161. However, there are some differences:

  1. The scope of the President’s pardoning power is much wider than that of the Governor.
  2. The power of the President to grant pardon extends in cases where the punishment or sentence is by a Court Martial but Article 161 does not provide any such power to the Governor.
  3. The President can grant pardon in all cases where the sentence given is the sentence of death but the pardoning power of the Governor does not extend to death sentence cases.

The pardoning power is based on the principle of consideration of public good and is exercised on the grounds of public welfare. Pardon may substantially help in saving an innocent person from being punished due to miscarriage of justice or in cases of doubtful conviction. The hope of being pardoned can serve as an incentive to the convicts to behave themselves in the prison institution and thus, helps considerably in solving the issue of prison discipline.