IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


13th June, 2020

DNA 13TH June


Streamed education is diluted education

This editorial states that Massive open online courses (MOOC) are not a panacea for the problems of education.

UGC circular on MOOC

-In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University Grants Commission had issued a circular to universities.

-Through this circular, it encouraged them to adopt massive open online courses (MOOCs) offered on its SWAYAM platform for credit transfers in the coming semesters.

-But the move poses a great danger.

Why it’s dangerous?

-Because it is also being seen as an instrument to achieve the country’s target Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education.

-GER in higher education is envisioned to be 30% by 2021; it was 25.8% in 2017–18.

Issues with MOOC

-MOOC-based e-learning platforms tend to reinforce a top-down teacher-to-student directionality of learning.

-This misses the point that teaching and learning are skills that are always in the making.

-The teacher is after all “an intellectual midwife” who facilitates in the birth of students’ ideas and insights through engaging in critical dialogue.

-In a conducive classroom environment, this role is often switched and the student plays intellectual midwife to the teacher’s ideas.

-Moving to a MOOC-based degree system would rob young teachers and students of these essential lessons in teaching and learning from each other.

-Policymakers behind the SWAYAM platform have left out courses in engineering, medicine, dental, pharmacy, nursing, architecture, agriculture, and physiotherapy on the grounds that they involve laboratory and practical work.

-This move makes sense.

But it seems to suggest that the pure sciences, the arts, the social sciences, and humanities curricula are largely lecture- and theory-based, and, therefore, readily adaptable to the online platform.

-Nothing can be farther from such a misconception.

What classrooms offers?

-Implicit in every curriculum is the tacit assumption that the classroom is a laboratory for hands-on testing of ideas, opinions, interpretations, and counterarguments.

-A diverse and inclusive classroom is the best litmus test for any theory or insight.

-Multi-disciplinarily happens more through serendipity — when learners across disciplines bump into each other and engage in conversations.

-Classroom and campus spaces offer the potential for solidarity in the face of discrimination, social anxiety, and stage fear, paving the way for a proliferation of voluntary associations that lie outside the realm of family, economy, and state.

-In the absence of this physical space, teaching and learning would give way to mere content and its consumption.

-Without a shared space to discuss and contest ideas, learning dilutes to just gathering more information.

-This could also dilute norms of evaluation, whereby a “good lecture” might mean merely a lecture which “streams seamlessly, without buffering”.

Online mode: Adding more value to the classroom education:

-One could think of greater value-sensitive and socially just architectures and technologies that further foster classroom engagement.

-It also makes it accessible for students of various disabilities and challenges, thereby adding more value to the existing meaning of education.

-But public education modelled on social distancing is a functional reduction and dilution of the meaning of education.

-It could add value only as an addendum to the classroom.

Such platforms must be seen only as stopgap variants that help us get by under lockdown situations and complement classroom lectures.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/streamed-education-is-diluted-education/article31816279.ece

World Food Prize

Context: Eminent Indian-American soil scientist Rattan Lal has been named this year's recipient of the World Food Prize for developing and mainstreaming a soil-centric approach to increasing food production that conserves natural resources and mitigates climate change.

About the Prize:

-The World Food Prize recognizes the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.

-It recognizes contributions in any field involved in the world food supply such as plant, animal and soil science; nutrition; rural development; marketing; food processing and packaging; water and the environment; physical infrastructure; policy analysis etc.

-In addition to the cash award of $250,000, the Laureate receives a sculpture designed by the noted artist and designer, Saul Bass.

Presented by: World Food Prize Foundation, with various sponsor companies.

-The prize was conceived by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work in global agriculture.

-The Prize was created in 1986 and was first awarded in 1987 with M. S. Swaminathan of India being the first recipient.

Source: http://newsonair.com/News?title=Indian-American-soil-scientist-Rattan-Lal-gets-2020-World-Food-Prize&id=391082


Context: Union Agriculture Minister launched Sahakar Mitra: Scheme on Internship Programme (SIP).

Salient features:

-Objective: To help cooperative institutions access innovative ideas of young professionals while the interns will gain experience of working in the field to be self-reliant.

-The scheme is an initiative by National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC), the cooperative sector development finance organization.

-Eligibility under scheme:

Professional graduates in disciplines such as Agriculture and allied areas, IT etc. will be eligible for internship.

Professionals who are pursuing or have completed their MBA degrees in Agri-business, Cooperation, Finance, International Trade, Forestry, Rural Development, Project Management etc. will also be eligible.

-Each intern will get financial support over a 4 months internship period.

-National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) was established by an Act of Parliament in 1963 under Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare. It has many regional centres to provide the financial assistance to Cooperatives/Societies/Federations.

-FPO is a Producer Organisation (PO) where the members are farmers. Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) is providing support for the promotion of FPOs.

Source: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetailm.aspx?PRID=1631125

Universal Basic Income

Context: National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has informed the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that the recommended implementation of a universal basic income was “under examination and active consideration” of the Centre.


-In order to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, the governments across the world have imposed measures like lockdown and social distancing.

-However, these measures have caused collateral damage to almost every sector of the economy, so much so that the International Monetary Fund held the current economic crisis could be the worst ever since the Great depression 1929.

-With almost 90% of India’s workforce in the informal sector without minimum wages or social security, micro-level circumstances in India are worse than anywhere else.

-Therefore, regular payments through Universal Basic Income (UBI) can ensure the sustenance of the workers engaged in the informal sector, at least till the economy normalises.

What is Universal Basic Income?

-It is a programme for providing all citizens of a country or other geographic area/state with a given sum of money, regardless of their income, resources or employment status.

-The main idea behind UBI is to prevent or reduce poverty and increase equality among citizens. The essential principle behind Universal basic income is the idea that all citizens are entitled to a livable income, irrespective of the circumstances they are born in.

UBI has the following important components:

-Universality (all citizens included)

-Unconditionality (no prior condition)

-Periodic (Payments at periodic regular intervals)

-Payments in cash (not food vouchers or service coupons)

Benefits of Universal Basic Income (UBI):

-Reduce poverty and income inequality in society.

-Increase the purchasing power of every poor, which will further increase aggregate demand.

-Easy to implement because no identification of the beneficiary.

- Lesser administrative burden


-The Economic Survey of India 2016-17 advocated the concept of Universal Basic Income (UBI) as an alternative to the various social welfare schemes in an effort to reduce poverty.

-Other Supporters of the UBI programme include Economics Nobel Laureates Peter Diamond and Christopher Pissarides, and tech leaders Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk.

Challenges in Implementing UBI in India:

-High cost involved in implementing UBI is a major factor contributing towards lack of political will in working towards the universal basic income in India.

-It would reduce the motivation for work and might encourage people to live off assured cash transfers.

-Some social evils like liquor use etc may happen.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/govt-actively-considering-universal-basic-income-nhrc-tells-un/article31805107.ece


Context: It is an Integrated Flood Warning System and is a joint initiative between the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

Mumbai is only the second city in the country after Chennai to get this system.

How it works?

-The warning system will be able to relay alerts of possible flood-prone areas anywhere between six to 72 hours in advance.

-The system can provide all information regarding possible flood-prone areas, likely height the floodwater could attain, location-wise problem areas across all 24 wards and calculate the vulnerability and risk of elements exposed to flood.

-The primary source for the system is the amount of rainfall, but with Mumbai being a coastal city, the system also factors in tidal waves and storm tides for its flood assessments.

Why was this system needed in Mumbai?

-Mumbai, the financial capital of India, has been experiencing floods with increased periodicity.

-The recent flood on 29 August 2017 had brought the city to a standstill.

-Last year, post-monsoon and unseasonal rainfall as late as October, two tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea had caught authorities off guard and left a trail of destruction.

-The flood during 26th July 2005, when the city received a rainfall of 94 cm, a 100 year high in a span of 24 hours had paralyzed the city completely.

Significance of this system:

-Urban flooding is common in the city from June to September, resulting in the crippling of traffic, railways and airlines.-As a preparedness for floods before they occur, the system will help in warning the citizens so that they can be prepared in advance for flooding conditions.

Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-what-is-iflows-mumbai-and-how-will-it-benefit-the-maximum-city6455840/lite/


Lonar Lake:

Context: Team of Scientists To Examine Why Maharashtra’s Lonar Lake Has Turned Pink. Some experts have attributed it to the salinity and presence of algae in the water body.

Some facts:

-Lonar Crater Lake was identified as a unique geographical site by a British officer named CJE Alexander in 1823.

-It is an ancient circular lake created by a meteorite strike in Maharashtra.

-Lonar crater became a geo-heritage site in 1979.

-It is relatively young geologically, at just 50,000 years old.

-Lonar Lake lies within the only known extraterrestrial impact crater found within the great Deccan Traps, a huge basaltic formation in India.