Mains Marathon

Answered: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – December 30

1.“Gross Enrollment ratio among tribal students in the primary school level has declined from 113.2 in 2013-14 to 109.4 in 2015-16.” Cite reasons for the same. (GS 1)

प्राथमिक विद्यालय स्तर में आदिवासी छात्रों के बीच सकल नामांकन अनुपात वर्ष 2013-14 में 113.2 से 2015-16 तक घट गया है। कारण बताएं।

Suggested Answer:

Education of children is one of the most crucial investments that a government can make. The importance of education can be gauged from the fact that different kinds of measures are used to constantly monitor the levels of education. Gross Enrollment ratio is one of the many measures. It indicates the number of children enrolled in the schools in a specific class or grade or level. This statistical measure is used as a proxy for the accessibility and ease of obtaining education in any country. It is in this light that the recent reports about fall in the Gross Enrollment ratio among tribal students from 113.2 in 2013-14 to 109.4 in 2015-16 are particularly worrisome.

The blame of this gloomy reality cannot be pinned down on any one single reason. A combination of factors plays a role in this, like –

  • Poverty-
    The tribals are living in abject poverty. When everyday subsistence is a struggle, it becomes difficult to send kids to schools and parents choose to send kids in search of food or livelihood. It is because of poverty that parents tend to send young children to cities to work as house-help or in factories. It is poverty only that sometimes leads to the trafficking of these kids.
  • Lack of Schools and supporting Infrastructure
    More often than not, the distribution of schools in tribal areas is very less. And to add to that, very few teachers are willing to teach in the tribal hinterland as a result of which we have multiple classes being taught by a single teacher. The supporting infrastructure is also absent in these schools.
  • Geographical Location
    The tribal population is thinly spread across dense forests. Schools often are at a long distance from homes. It is very difficult for small kids to travel for such large distance, in dense forests, without adult supervision.
  • Maoist Insurgency
    Time and again schools are targeted by the Maoists and are burnt or damaged. Tribals are threatened to not send their kids to schools. There are also the instances where security forces use schools for staying during counter-insurgency operations. All this creates  an atmosphere of fear and reduces the inclination of parents to send their kids to schools.
  • Pedagogical techniques-
    The pedagogical techniques used for tribal kids are same as those used for kids in cities. The rationale behind such an approach is that this will help in easier assimilation of tribal kids in mainstream society, which is a valid point. But, some consideration should be given to their background and certain changes should be made in the curricula especially with respect to the language barrier.
  • Opportunities after schooling
    One of the biggest hindrance in the way of realization of higher GER and low dropout rates is the fact that there are not many opportunities of employment available for tribal population post schooling. As a result of this parents are not very enthusiastic about enrolling their kids in schools.

Tribal population in India today is very vulnerable. They are physically, culturally and materially very distant from mainland. The approach of Government has always focused on rehabilitation of tribals. May be its time to recalibrate the approach and focus on empowerment of Tribals by devising a policy which is a mix of best of worlds- by being forward looking in its outlook and being equally rooted in their culture.

2.Critically examine India’s ‘Digital India’ programme, and concerns raised against it. (GS 3)

भारत की ‘डिजिटल इंडिया’ कार्यक्रम, और इसके खिलाफ उठाए गए मुद्दों की गंभीर रूप से जांच करें।

Suggested Answer:

Digital India is a campaign launched by the central government to ensure that Government services are made available to citizens electronically. This programme aims to transform India into digital empowered society and knowledge economy. It focuses on delivering good governance to citizens by synchronized and coordinated engagement with both Central Government and State Government. Digital India consists of three core components: Creation of digital infrastructure, delivery of services digitally and digital literacy. This programme has been envisaged by Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) and will impact ministry of communications & IT, ministry of rural development, ministry of human resource development, ministry of health and others. Various benefits of this programme are-

  • Increased connectivity-
    • By 2019, 2.5 lakh villages will have broadband connection.
    • Over 2.5 lakh educational institutions including schools and universities will have wi-fi facility.
  • Employment generation and capacity building-
    • It will lead to creation of a variety of jobs directly and indirectly. By as estimate, it could lead to creation of 10crore jobs in next 4years.
    • It will help youth gain exposure to latest technologies and skills
    • Indian firms will gain internationally with their expertise in IT use in services like health, education and banking.
  • Improved governance-
    • It will help in identifying the intended beneficiaries and weeding out fake ones, thereby helping in better targeting of services.
    • Services will be available in real time to the people, cutting across the red tape and other hindrances. It will also increase the use of cloud services and enable citizens to receive their due just it from cloud services.
    • It will help in enhancing transparency and accountability thereby helping in checking corruption.
    • It will help in checking pilferages and diversions of subsidized food/fuel/fertilizer
    • It would help in improving delivery of services like obtaining licences, filing grievances etc.
  • Economic impact-
    • The program aims to eliminate all electronics imports from foreign countries by 2020 and make India an electronics manufacturing super power.
    • It will help improve Ease of Doing Business by reducing red tapism and inordinate delays as well as by checking corruption and improving service delivery.
  • Other impacts-
    • It will help in spreading digital literacy and digital empowerment.
    • It will help all industries big and small.

Despite the numerous benefits, Digital India faces many challenges too, like-

  • The biggest challenge that Digital India faces is that of funding. Government doesn’t have enough resources to fund all the aspects of the program. And due to various reasons like unviability, pending payments etc, private sector isn’t too keen either.
  • Slow pace of development of basic infrastructure is also a hindrance in making Digital India a success.
  • Change management- The government departments and employees have to change their traditional way of working (moving from paper files to computer based files). This also includes changing their behaviour and attitude, which is difficult.
  • The sheer variety of the projects makes implementation of various tasks difficult.
  • Cyber and data security- With the increasing number of cyber attacks on government websites, installations etc, cyber security measures of the government have come under scanner. It is necessary to take adequate measures to secure these services and customer data for building confidence of people.
  • Coordination among various state and central ministries and department is also an issue in implementing the program.

Like every program, Digital India has its own set of challenges. But if implemented well, the program provides a great opportunity to kick start a digital transformation in India and heralding the start of a golden digital age for the country.

3.“The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.” Discuss Aristotle’s views. (GS 4)

“असमानता का सबसे बुरा रूप असमान चीज़ो के समान बनाने के लिए प्रयास करना है।”  चर्चा करें।

Suggested Answer:

Equality as a normative issue has caught the fancy of normative thinkers from the very beginning. Aristotle, the genius student of Plato, in his path-breaking treatise “The Republic” romanced the idea of Equality and came up with memorable lines – “The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal”.

In order to understand Aristotelian notion of Equality, it is necessary to understand the ideas of Aristotle on Human capabilities. Aristotle was a firm believer of the fact that all men were not equal. He classified men, into men of gold, silver and copper, on the basis of their abilities. Men of gold were the learned gentry. Men of silver were the warriors and the men of copper comprised the general population. He believed in “distributive justice” i.e. the rewards of the society will be divided on the basis of capabilities of men. So, when Aristotle says that the worst form of in inequality is trying to make unequal things equal, he is basically supporting the notion of meritocratic society where everybody gets rewards in proportion to their ability and efforts.

But, there is also an altogether different way of looking at it. It can also be interpreted to promote the idea of “affirmative action”. As unequal men should not be treated equally, it means that disadvantage sections of the society should be provided some protection or support before they are made to compete in the mainstream. It is precisely this interpretation that has found place in Indian Constitution when our founding fathers made provisions for reservation for socially and educationally backward classes.

Both the above interpretations are correct in their own right. But taken together they form a more balanced notion of equality, for equality, when tempered with liberty and dignity, becomes inclusive and in interest of everybody.


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