IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


30th June, 2020

DNA 30th June


Share public data with the public

Open access to public data is essential for policy analysis and evidence-based policymaking. Policy framework for sharing of public data by the government is also looked into in this article.

Open Data Charter-Origin

-Open-source software enthusiasts and civil society activists in the U.S. and U.K. came with a demand to unlock the data gathered by governments for unfettered access and reuse by citizens.

-After all, the data collected at public expense must belong to the people.

-This principle is the basis for the Open Data Charter adopted by 22 countries since 2015.

-It calls upon governments to disseminate public data in open digital formats.

-In return, the Charter argues, governments can expect “innovative, evidence-based policy solutions”.

Steps toward making data accessible-NDSAP

-The National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP) was adopted in 2012.

-It was a step towards making non-sensitive government data accessible online.

-The main thrust of the policy is to “promote data sharing and enable access to Government of India owned data for national planning, development and awareness”.

-The implementation guidelines for NDSAP include ideals such as “openness, flexibility, transparency, quality” of data.

-It aims to facilitate “access to Government of India shareable data in machine-readable form”.

-The guidelines prescribe open digital formats suitable for analysis and dissemination.

-Opaque formats such as the portable document format and the image format are discouraged.

-As part of the Open Government Data (OGD) initiative, data.gov.in was launched in 2012.

-However, the implementation has lagged far behind its stated objectives.

How data could have helped policymaking in Covid pandemic?

-The district-wise, demographic-wise case statistics and anonymous contact traces released in the public domain would have proved useful.

-Reliable model forecasts of disease spread and targeted regional lockdown protocols could have been generated.

-Model forecasts have limitations, but models without inputs from empirical data are even more unreliable.

Violation of OGD in data shared for pandemic

-Principles of OGD notwithstanding, sufficiently granular infection data are not available.

-Violating the data format guidelines, OGD portal provides COVID-19 data only as a graphic image unsuitable for any analysis.

-The Indian Council of Medical Research and mygov.in fare no better.

-They too do not publish district-wise statistics, and the available data are not in usable formats.

Global examples:

-The data portals of Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. present district-wise COVID-19 cases data.

-These countries also provide data about the emergent effects on mental health, jobs and education.

-According to the latest report of the Open Data Barometer, an independent group measuring the impact of open data, these nations lead the pack.

-India is a contender to reach the top bracket and not a laggard.

Way forward

-The government must provide the impetus and incentive to exploit this voluminous data by invigorating the dated national data portal.

-Every department must be mandated to share substantive data respecting privacy concerns.

-The government should look within for examples of creative outcomes of opening up the database.

-Start-ups have built novel applications using Indian Railways data to provide ticket confirmation prediction and real-time train status.

Sharing public data is a way to create beneficial social impact. So, the government must ensure the implementation of policy measures and encourage the analysis of public data to come at the informed policy decision.

Source:  https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/share-public-data-with-the-public/article31947468.ece


STARS project by World Bank

What is it?

-STARS stands for Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States Program (STARS).

-It is a project to improve the quality and governance of school education in six Indian states.

-Six states are- Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Rajasthan.

-Some 250 million students (between the age of 6 and 17) in 1.5 million schools, and over 10 million teachers will benefit from the program.

Reform initiatives under the project:

-Focusing more directly on the delivery of education services at the state, district and sub district levels by providing customized local-level solutions towards school improvement.

-Addressing demands from stakeholders, especially parents, for greater accountability and inclusion by producing better data to assess the quality of learning; giving special attention to students from vulnerable section.

-Equipping teachers to manage this transformation by recognizing that teachers are central to achieving better learning outcomes.

-Investing more in developing India’s human capital needs by strengthening foundational learning for children in classes 1 to 3 and preparing them with the cognitive, socio-behavioural and language skills to meet future labour market needs.

Education and Atmanirbhar Bharat:

-Atmanirbhar Bharat calls for an India that is able to produce and deliver local goods and services to its citizens. This applies equally to education for all children.

-Delivering a service, like education, requires a capable state, especially given the scale and complexity of its large and diverse population.

-Building state capability involves a process of learning to do things on one’s own. This is precisely the idea behind an Atmanirbhar Bharat.

-Fundamentally, therefore, it cannot be outsourced.

-In other words, state capability is about getting things done in the government, and by the government, by ensuring effective implementation that is responsive to local needs, but also about being able to design and conduct reforms.

Flaws in the STARS approach to build state capacity:

-It fails to address the basic capacity issues: major vacancies across the education system from District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs), district and block education offices, to teachers in schools, remain unaddressed.

-World Bank ignores that decentralising decision-making requires the devolution of funds and real decision-making power. It requires not just investment in the capacity of the front-line bureaucracy but also in increasing their discretionary powers while fostering social accountability.

-Trust is entirely ignored in the World Bank project. Instead, the Bank displays yet again an over-reliance on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as a panacea that lacks any backing in evidence (Trust here implies listening and collaborating across different levels within the administration).

-Outsourcing basic governance functions by “expanding private initiatives” and “reducing government tasks” will not make education “more relevant to local needs” or “democratically promote people’s participation by empowering local authorities” as stated in the project document.

What should be done?

-Administration must be equipped with adequate physical, financial and human resources. An overburdened bureaucracy with vacancies and without basic equipment cannot be expected to be effective.

-Administrative or governance reforms must give greater discretion to the front-line bureaucracy to address local issues and innovate if required.

-There needs to be trust within the administration among peers and across different levels within the administration.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/the-stars-project-needs-an-overhaul/article31947675.ece


In 24 hours, Palestine faces an existential threat


-On June 24, the UN Secretary General António Guterres told a virtual meeting of the United Nations Security Council that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at a “watershed moment”.

-The Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank have alarmed the Palestinians, many Israelis and the international community.

-Such annexation would be “a most serious violation of international law”.

-He called upon the Israeli government to abandon its annexation plans and asked the Middle East Quartet (the United States, Russia, the European Union and the UN) to resume its mandated mediatory role.

More about the issue:

-The UN Secretary General’s alarm has been sounded in the context of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reported plan to annex on July 1 around 30% of the Occupied West Bank.

-This will include annexation of all the existing (post-1967) settlements in addition to areas surrounding them and access roads.

Why Israel’s move is illegal?

-Under international law, annexation is forcible acquisition of territory by one state at the expense of another state.

-Such an act even if sanctified by Israeli law is illegal under international law and would violate the universally acknowledged principle of the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force”.

-This is the accepted position of all international legal bodies including the International Court of Justice.

-Even, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) has described the annexation of occupied territory as a serious violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the Geneva Conventions.

-It is also contrary to the fundamental rule affirmed many times by the UN Security Council and the General Assembly that acquisition of territory war or by force is inadmissible.

West Bank

It is a landlocked territory near the Mediterranean coast of Western Asia, bordered by Jordan to the east and by the Green Line separating it and Israel on the south, west and north. The West Bank also contains a significant section of the western Dead Sea shore.



What are the disputed settlements here?  Who lives there?

-Israel snatched it during the Six Day War of 1967, and has occupied it ever since.

-It has built some 130 formal settlements in the West Bank, and a similar number of smaller, informal settlements have mushroomed over the last 20-25 years.

-Over 4 lakh Israeli settlers — many of them religious Zionists who claim a Biblical birthright over this land — now live here, along with some 26 lakh Palestinians.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/in-24-hours-palestine-faces-an-existential-threat/article31948506.ece


59 Chinese Apps Banned


-Indian government has put a ban on 59 apps including TikTok and WeChat.

-This marks the largest sweep against the Chinese technology companies.

More about the news:

-Meity has issued instructions to Google and Apple to remove the banned applications from their respective application stores.

-Additionally, telecom operators and Internet service providers will be asked to block access and use of these applications on their networks.

-For this, the Ministry has invoked its power under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009.

Reason behind the ban:

-These measures have been undertaken since there is credible information that these apps are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.

-The government had received complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorised manner to servers which have locations outside India.

-Therefore, the decision has been taken in a bid to safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile users.


-The ban comes days after Indian intelligence agencies red flagged these Chinese apps over safety and privacy issues of users and could be detrimental to the country’s security.

How it will affect Indians?

Jobs at stake:

-Most of these platforms have Indian creators, for many of whom this is the only source of income.

-Some apps on the banned list are widely popular among Indians.

-TikTok (one of the banned apps) has more than 100 million active users in India. TikTok was the only source of income for many users.

-Besides, many of these apps such as UC News and others have offices and employees in India, hence following the ban, scores of jobs could be at stake.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/govt-bans-59-apps-including-tiktok-wechat/article31947445.ece




-It is India’s first COVID vaccine candidate approved by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).

-Covaxin is an inactivated vaccine created from a strain of the infectious SARS COV-2 virus.

-It is the first vaccine that has got approval of the drug controller for phase 1 and II human clinical trials.

-The vaccine has been developed by Hyderabad Major Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR and the National Institute of Virology (NIV).

-The company is also involved in the development of CoroFlu, a nasal vaccine for COVID-19, as part of an international collaboration of virologists at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and vaccine firm FluGen.