Daily Current Affairs 30.07.2020 (New Education Policy, Cyber Security)

Daily Current Affairs 30.07.2020 (New Education Policy, Cyber Security)

1. 4-year UG courses in, M.Phil. out in new education policy

Common higher education regulator to be set up; focus on mother tongue

  • The new National Education Policy approved by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday will introduce four-year undergraduate degrees with multiple entry and exit options, abolish the M.Phil. degree, and establish a common higher education regulator with fee fixation for both private and public institutions. It also envisions universalisation of early childhood education from ages 3 to 6 by 2030, a new school curriculum with coding and vocational studies from Class 6, and a child’s mother tongue being used as the medium of instruction till Class 5.
  • This is the first new education policy in 34 years, and was a poll promise of the BJP in 2014. A panel headed by former ISRO chief K. Kasturirangan submitted a draft in December 2018, which was made public and opened for feedback after the Lok Sabha election in May 2019.

Language issues

  • Language issues caused the most outrage at that time, as the original draft called for mandatory teaching of Hindi to all school students. That clause was dropped and the final policy document makes it clear that “there will be a greater flexibility in the three-language formula, and no language will be imposed on any State. The three languages learned by children will be the choices of States, regions, and of course the students themselves, so long as at least two of the three languages are native to India. Sanskrit will be offered as an option at all levels of school and higher education,” said the policy, adding that other classical languages will also be available, possibly as online modules, while foreign languages will be offered at the secondary level.
  • “Wherever possible, the medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be the home language/ mother tongue/ local language/ regional language … This will be followed by both public and private schools,” said the policy.
  • Senior officials said that as education was a concurrent subject, with most States having their own school boards, State governments would have to be brought on board for actual implementation of this decision.
  • A new curricular framework is to be introduced, including the pre-school and anganwadi years. A National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy will ensure basic skills at the Class 3 level by 2025. Students will begin classes on coding as well as vocational activities from Class 6 onwards. Indian knowledge systems, including tribal and indigenous knowledge, will be incorporated into the curriculum in an accurate and scientific manner, said the policy.

Draft National Education Policy 2019

Committee Report Summary

  • The Committee for Draft National Education Policy (Chair: Dr. K. Kasturirangan) submitted its report on May 31, 2019. The Committee was constituted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in June 2017.  The report proposes an education policy, which seeks to address the challenges of: (i) access, (ii) equity, (iii) quality, (iv) affordability, and (v) accountability faced by the current education system. 
  • The draft Policy provides for reforms at all levels of education from school to higher education. It seeks to increase the focus on early childhood care, reform the current exam system, strengthen teacher training, and restructure the education regulatory framework.  It also seeks to set up a National Education Commission, increase public investment in education, strengthen the use of technology and increase focus on vocational and adult education, among others.  Key observations and recommendations of the draft Policy include:

School Education

  • Early Childhood Care and Education: In addition to problems of access, the Committee observed several quality related deficiencies in the existing early childhood learning programmes.  These include: (i) curriculum that doesn’t meet the developmental needs of children, (ii) lack of qualified and trained teachers, and (iii) substandard pedagogy.  Currently, most early childhood education is delivered through anganwadis and private-preschools.  However, there has been less focus on the educational aspects of early childhood.  Hence, the draft Policy recommends developing a two-part curriculum for early childhood care and education.  This will consist of: (i) guidelines for up to three-year-old children (for parents and teachers), and (ii) educational framework for three to eight-year-old children.  This would be implemented by improving and expanding the anganwadi system and co-locating anganwadis with primary schools.
  • The Right to Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act): Currently, the RTE Act provides for free and compulsory education to all children from the age of six to 14 years.  The draft Policy recommends extending the ambit of the RTE Act to include early childhood education and secondary school education.  This would extend the coverage of the Act to all children between the ages of three to 18 years. 
  • In addition, the draft Policy recommends that the recent amendments to the RTE Act on continuous and comprehensive evaluation and the no detention policy must be reviewed. It states that there should be no detention of children till class eight.  Instead, schools must ensure that children are achieving age-appropriate learning levels.
  • Curriculum framework: The current structure of school education must be restructured on the basis of the development needs of students.  This would consist of a 5-3-3-4 design comprising: (i) five years of foundational stage (three years of pre-primary school and classes one and two), (ii) three years of preparatory stage (classes three to five), (iii) three years of middle stage (classes six to eight), and (iv) four years of secondary stage (classes nine to 12).
  • The Committee noted that the current education system solely focuses on rote learning of facts and procedures. Hence, it recommends that the curriculum load in each subject should be reduced to its essential core content.  This would make space for holistic, discussion and analysis-based learning. 
  • School exam reforms: The Committee noted that the current board examinations: (i) force students to concentrate only on a few subjects, (ii) do not test learning in a formative manner, and (iii) cause stress among students.  To track students’ progress throughout their school experience, the draft Policy proposes State Census Examinations in classes three, five and eight.  Further, it recommends restructuring the board examinations to test only core concepts, skills and higher order capacities.  These board examinations will be on a range of subjects.  The students can choose their subjects, and the semester when they want to take these board exams.  The in-school final examinations may be replaced by these board examinations.
  • School infrastructure: The Committee noted that establishing primary schools in every habitation across the country has helped increase access to education.  However, it has led to the development of very small schools (having low number of students).  The small size of schools makes it operationally complex to deploy teachers and critical physical resources.  Therefore, the draft Policy recommends that multiple public schools should be brought together to form a school complex.  A complex will consist of one secondary school (classes nine to twelve) and all the public schools in its neighbourhood that offer education from pre-primary till class eight.  
  • The school complexes will also include anganwadis, vocational education facilities, and an adult education centre. Each school complex will be a semi-autonomous unit providing integrated education across all stages from early childhood to secondary education.  This will ensure that resources such as infrastructure and trained teachers can be efficiently shared across a school complex.
  • Teacher management: The Committee noted that there has been a steep rise in teacher shortage, lack of professionally qualified teachers, and deployment of teachers for non-educational purposes.  The draft Policy recommends that teachers should be deployed with a particular school complex for at least five to seven years.  Further, teachers will not be allowed to participate in any non-teaching activities (such as cooking mid-day meals or participating in vaccination campaigns) during school hours that could affect their teaching capacities.
  • For teacher training, the existing B.Ed. programme will be replaced by a four-year integrated B.Ed. programme that combines high-quality content, pedagogy, and practical training. An integrated continuous professional development will also be developed for all subjects.  Teachers will be required to complete a minimum of 50 hours of continuous professional development training every year.
  • Regulation of schools: The draft Policy recommends separating the regulation of schools from aspects such as policymaking, school operations, and academic development.  It suggests creating an independent State School Regulatory Authority for each state that will prescribe basic uniform standards for public and private schools.  The Department of Education of the State will formulate policy and conduct monitoring and supervision.

Higher Education

  • According to the All India Survey on Higher Education, the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education in India has increased from 20.8% in 2011-12 to 25.8% in 2017-18.

Table 1: GER comparison across countries (2014)

 Primary (Class 1-5)Upper Primary (Class 6-8)Upper Secondary (Class 9-12)Higher Education

Source: Educational Statistics at Glance (2016), MHRD; PRS.

  • The Committee identified lack of access as a major reason behind low intake of higher education in the country. It aims to increase GER to 50% by 2035 from the current level of about 25.8%.  Key recommendations in this regard include:
  • Regulatory structure and accreditation: The Committee noted that the current higher education system has multiple regulators with overlapping mandates.  This reduces the autonomy of higher educational institutions and creates an environment of dependency and centralised decision making.  Therefore, it proposes setting up the National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA).  This independent authority would replace the existing individual regulators in higher education, including professional and vocational education.  This implies that the role of all professional councils such as AICTE and the Bar Council of India would be limited to setting standards for professional practice.  The role of the University Grants Commission (UGC) will be limited to providing grants to higher educational institutions.
  • Currently, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) is an accreditation body under the UGC. The draft Policy recommends separating NAAC from the UGC into an independent and autonomous body.  In its new role, NAAC will function as the top level accreditor, and will issue licenses to different accreditation institutions, who will assess higher educational institutions once every five to seven years.  All existing higher education institutions should be accredited by 2030. 
  • Establishment of new higher educational institutions: Currently, higher educational institutions can only be set up by Parliament or state legislatures.  The draft Policy proposes that these institutions could be allowed to be set up through a Higher Education Institution Charter from NHERA.  This Charter will be awarded on the basis of transparent assessment of certain specified criteria.  All such newly constituted higher educational institutions must receive accreditation as mandated by NHERA within five years of being established.
  • Restructuring of higher education institutions: Higher education institutions will be restructured into three types: (i) research universities focusing equally on research and teaching; (ii) teaching universities focusing primarily on teaching; and (iii) colleges focusing only on teaching at undergraduate levels.  All such institutions will gradually move towards full autonomy – academic, administrative, and financial.
  • Establishing a National Research Foundation: The Committee observed that the total investment on research and innovation in India has declined from 0.84% of GDP in 2008 to 0.69% in 2014.  India also lags behind many nations in number of researchers (per lakh population), patents and publications. 

Table 2: Investment on Research and Innovation

 Spending on research and innovation (% GDP)Researchers (per lakh population)Total Patent Applications

Source: Economic Survey of India 2017-18; PRS

  • The draft Policy recommends establishing a National Research Foundation, an autonomous body, for funding, mentoring and building the capacity for quality research in India. The Foundation will consist of four major divisions: sciences, technology, social sciences, and arts and humanities, with the provision to add additional divisions.  The Foundation will be provided with an annual grant of Rs 20,000 crore (0.1% of GDP).
  • Moving towards a liberal approach: The draft Policy recommends making undergraduate programmes interdisciplinary by redesigning their curriculum to include: (a) a common core curriculum and (b) one/two area(s) of specialisation.  Students will be required to choose an area of specialisation as ‘major’, and an optional area as ‘minor’.  Four-year undergraduate programmes in Liberal Arts will be introduced and multiple exit options with appropriate certification will be made available to students.  Further, within the next five years, five Indian Institute of Liberal Arts must be setup as model multidisciplinary liberal arts institutions.
  • Professional development of faculty: The Committee observed that poor service conditions and heavy teaching loads at higher education institutions have resulted in low faculty motivation.  Further, lack of autonomy and no clear career progression system are also major impediments to faculty motivation.  The draft Policy recommends development of a Continuous Professional Development programme and introduction of a permanent employment (tenure) track system for faculty in all higher education institutions by 2030.  Further, a desirable student-teacher ratio of not more than 30:1 must be ensured.
  • Optimal learning environment: The Committee observed that the curricula remain rigid, narrow, and archaic.  Moreover, the faculty often lacks the autonomy to design curricula, which negatively impacts pedagogy.  It recommends that all higher education institutions must have complete autonomy on curricular, pedagogical and resource-related matters.

Education Governance

  • The Committee observed that there is a need to revisit the existing system of governance in education, and bring in synergy and coordination among the different ministries, departments and agencies. In this context, it recommends:
  • Creation of a National Education Commission or Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog, as an apex body for education, to be headed by the Prime Minister. This body will be responsible for developing, implementing, evaluating, and revising the vision of education in the country on a continuous and sustained basis.  It will oversee the implementation and functioning of several bodies including the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), the proposed National Higher Education Regulatory Authority, and National Research Foundation.
  • The Ministry of Human Resources and Development must be renamed as the Ministry of Education in order to bring focus back on education.

Financing Education

  • The Draft Policy reaffirmed the commitment of spending 6% of GDP as public investment in education. Note that the first National Education Policy (NEP) 1968 had recommended public expenditure in education must be 6% of GDP, which was reiterated by the second NEP in 1986.  In 2017-18, public expenditure on education in India was 2.7% of GDP.

Table 3: Total Public Investment in Education

CountryInvestment in 2017
(as % of GDP)
  • The draft Policy seeks to double the public investment in education from the current 10% of total public expenditure to 20% in the next 10 years. Of the additional 10% expenditure, 5% will be utilised for universities and colleges (higher education), 2% will be utilised for additional teacher costs or resources in school education and 1.4% will be utilised for early childhood care and education.
  • The Committee also observed operational problems and leakages in disbursement of funds. For instance, it observed that District Institutes of Education and Training have about 45% vacancies which have led to their allocations not being used or being used ineffectively.  It recommends optimal and timely utilisation of funds through the institutional development plans.

Technology in Education

  • The Committee observed that technology plays an important role in: (a) improving the classroom process of teaching, learning and evaluation, (b) aiding in preparation of teachers and continuous professional development of teachers, (c) improving access to education in remote areas and for disadvantaged groups, and (d) improving the overall planning, administration and management of the entire education system. It recommends focused electrification of all educational institutions as electricity is a pre-requisite for all technology-based interventions.  Further, it recommends:
  • National Mission on Education through information and communication technology: The Mission will encompass virtual laboratories that provide remote access to laboratories in various disciplines.  A National Education Technology Forum will also be setup under the Mission, as an autonomous body, to facilitate decision making on the induction, deployment and use of technology.  This Forum will provide evidence-based advice to central and state-governments on technology-based interventions. 
  • National Repository on Educational Data: A National Repository will be setup to maintain all records related to institutions, teachers, and students in digital form.  Further, a single online digital repository will be created where copyright-free educational resources will be made available in multiple languages.

Vocational Education

  • The Committee observed that less than 5% of the workforce in the age-group of 19-24 receives vocational education in India. This is in contrast to 52% in the USA, 75% in Germany and 96% in South Korea.  It recommends integrating vocational educational programmes in all educational institutions (schools, colleges and universities) in a phased manner over a period of 10 years.  Note that this is an upward revision from the National Policy on Skills Development and Entrepreneurship (2015) which aimed at offering vocational education in 25% of educational institutions.  Key recommendations in this regard include:
  • Vocational courses: All school students must receive vocational education in at least one vocation in grades nine to 12.  The proposed school complexes must build expertise in curriculum delivery that is aligned to the competency levels under the existing National Skills Qualifications Framework.
  • The proposed Higher Education Institutions must also offer vocational courses that are integrated into the undergraduate education programmes. The draft Policy targets to offer vocational education to up to 50% of the total enrolment in higher education institutions by 2025, up from the present level of enrolment of well below 10% in these institutions.
  • National Committee for the Integration of Vocational Education: The Committee will be set up to work out the steps that need to be taken towards achieving the above goals.  A separate fund will be setup for the integration of vocational education into educational institutions.  The Committee will work out the modalities for the disbursement of these funds.

Adult Education

  • As per Census 2011, India still had over 3.26 crore youth non-literates (15-24 years of age) and a total of 26.5 crore adult non-literates (15 years and above). In this regard, the draft Policy recommends:
  • Establishing an autonomous Central Institute of Adult Education, as a constituent unit of NCERT, which will develop a National Curriculum Framework for adult education. The Framework will cover five broad areas: foundational literacy and numeracy, critical life skills vocational skills development, basic education, and continuing education.
  • Adult Education Centres will be included within the proposed school complexes. Relevant courses for youth and adults will be made available at the National Institute of Open Schooling.  A cadre of adult education instructors and managers, as well as a team of one-on-one tutors will be created through a newly-established National Adult Tutors Programme.

Education and Indian Languages

  • The Committee observed that a large number of students are falling behind since classes in schools are being conducted in a language that they do not understand. Therefore, it recommended that the medium of instruction must either be the home language/mother tongue/local language till grade five, and preferable till grade eight, wherever possible.
  • Introduced by the first National Education Policy, the three-language formula stated that state governments should adopt and implement study of a modern Indian language, preferably one of the southern languages, apart from Hindi and English in the Hindi-speaking states, and of Hindi along with the regional language and English in the non-Hindi speaking states. The draft Policy recommended that this three language formula be continued and flexibility in the implementation of the formula should be provided.
  • The Committee remarked that the implementation of the formula needs to be strengthened, particularly in Hindi-speaking states. Further, schools in Hindi speaking areas should also teach Indian languages from other parts of India for the purpose of national integration.  To provide flexibility in the choice of language, students who wish to change one or more of their three languages may do so in grade six or grade seven, subjected to the condition that they are still able to demonstrate proficiency in three languages in their modular board examinations.
  • To promote Indian languages, a National Institute for Pali, Persian and Prakrit will be set up. All higher education institutes must recruit high quality faculty for at least three Indian languages, in addition to the local Indian language.  Further, the mandate of the Commission for Scientific and Technical Terminology will be expanded to include all fields and disciplines to strengthen vocabulary in Indian languages.


Important Highlights

School Education

Ensuring Universal Access at all levels of school education

NEP 2020 emphasizes on ensuring universal access to school education at all levels- pre school to secondaryInfrastructure support, innovative education centres to bring back dropouts into the mainstream, tracking of students and their learning levels, facilitating multiple pathways to learning involving both formal and non-formal education modes, association of counselors or well-trained social workers with schools, open learning for classes3,5 and 8 through NIOS and State Open Schools, secondary education programs equivalent to Grades 10 and 12, vocational courses, adult literacy and life-enrichment programs are some of the proposed ways for achieving this. About 2 crore out of school children will be brought back into main stream under NEP 2020.

Early Childhood Care & Education with  new Curricular and Pedagogical Structure

With emphasis on Early Childhood Care and Education, the 10+2 structure of school curricula is to be replaced by a 5+3+3+4 curricular structure corresponding to ages 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years respectively.  This will bring the hitherto uncovered age group of 3-6 years under school curriculum, which has been recognized globally as the crucial stage for development of mental faculties of a child. The new system will have 12 years of schooling with three years of Anganwadi/ pre schooling.

NCERT will develop a National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (NCPFECCE) for children up to the age of 8 . ECCE will be delivered through a significantly expanded and strengthened system of institutions including Anganwadis and pre-schools that will have teachers and Anganwadi workers trained in the ECCE pedagogy and curriculum. The planning and implementation of ECCE will be carried out jointly by the Ministries of HRD, Women and Child Development (WCD), Health and Family Welfare (HFW), and Tribal Affairs.

Attaining Foundational Literacy and Numeracy

Recognizing Foundational Literacy and Numeracy as an urgent and necessary prerequisite to learning, NEP 2020 calls for setting up of a  National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy by MHRD. States will prepare an implementation plan for attaining universal foundational literacy and numeracy in all primary schools for all learners by grade 3 by 2025.A National Book Promotion Policy is to be formulated.

Reforms in school curricula and pedagogy

The school curricula and pedagogy will aim for holistic development of learnersbyequipping them with the key 21st century skills, reduction in curricular content to enhance essential learning and critical thinking and greater focus on experiential learning. Students will have increased flexibility and choice of subjects. There will be no rigid separations between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, between vocational and academic streams.

Vocational education will start in schools from the 6th grade, and will include internships.

A new and comprehensive National Curricular Framework for School Education, NCFSE 2020-21, will be developed by the NCERT.

Multilingualism and the power of language

The policy has emphasized mother tongue/local language/regional language as the medium of instruction at least till Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond. Sanskrit to be offered at all levels of school and higher education as an option for students, including in the three-language formula. Other classical languages and literatures of India also to be available as options. No language will be imposed on any student. Students to participate in a fun project/activity on ‘The Languages of India’, sometime in Grades 6-8, such as, under the ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’ initiative. Several foreign languages will also be offered at the secondary level. Indian Sign Language (ISL) will be standardized across the country, and National and State curriculum materials developed, for use by students with hearing impairment.

Assessment Reforms

NEP 2020 envisages a shift from summative assessment to regular and formative assessment, which is more competency-based, promotes learning and development, and tests higher-order skills, such as analysis, critical thinking, and conceptual clarity. All students will take school examinations in Grades 3, 5, and 8 which will be conducted by the appropriate authority. Board exams for Grades 10 and 12 will be continued, but redesigned with holistic development as the aim.  A new National Assessment Centre, PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development),  will be set up as a standard-setting body .

Equitable and Inclusive Education

NEP 2020 aims to ensure that no child loses any opportunity to learn and excel because of the circumstances of birth or background. Special emphasis will be given on Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups(SEDGs) which include gender, socio-cultural, and geographical identities and disabilities.  This includes setting up of   Gender Inclusion Fund and also Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups. Children with disabilities will be enabled to fully participate in the regular schooling process from the foundational stage to higher education, with support of educators with cross disability training, resource centres, accommodations, assistive devices, appropriate technology-based tools and other support mechanisms tailored to suit their needs. Every state/district will be encouraged to establish “Bal Bhavans” as a special daytime boarding school, to participate in art-related, career-related, and play-related activities. Free school infrastructure can be used as Samajik Chetna Kendras

Robust Teacher Recruitment and Career Path

Teachers will be recruited through robust, transparent processes. Promotions will be merit-based, with a mechanism for multi-source periodic performance appraisals and available progression paths to become educational administrators or teacher educators. A common National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) will be developed by the National Council for Teacher Education by 2022, in consultation with NCERT, SCERTs, teachers and expert organizations from across levels and regions.

School Governance

Schools can be organized into complexes or clusters which will be the basic unit of governance and ensure availability of all resources including infrastructure, academic libraries and a strong professional teacher community.

Standard-setting and Accreditation for School Education

NEP 2020 envisages clear, separate systems for policy making, regulation, operations and academic matters. States/UTs will set up independent State School Standards Authority (SSSA). Transparent public self-disclosure of all the basic regulatory information, as laid down by the SSSA, will be used extensively for public oversight and accountability. The SCERT will develop a School Quality Assessment and Accreditation Framework (SQAAF) through consultations with all stakeholders.

Higher Education

Increase GER to 50 % by 2035

NEP 2020 aims to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3% (2018) to 50% by 2035. 3.5 Crore new seats will be added to Higher education institutions.

Holistic Multidisciplinary Education

The policy envisages broad based, multi-disciplinary, holistic Under Graduate  education with flexible curriculacreative combinations of subjectsintegration of vocational education and  multiple entry and exit points with appropriate certification. UG education can be of 3 or 4 years with multiple exit options and appropriate certification within this period. For example,  Certificate after 1 year, Advanced Diploma after 2 years, Bachelor’s Degree after 3 years and Bachelor’s with Research after 4 years.

An Academic Bank of Credit is to be established for digitally storing academic credits earned from different  HEIs so that these can be transferred and counted towards final degree earned.

Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs), at par with IITs, IIMs, to  be set up as models  of best multidisciplinary education of global standards in the country.

The National Research Foundation will be created as an apex body for fostering a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education.


Higher Education Commission of India(HECI) will be set up as a single overarching umbrella body the for entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education. HECI to have  four independent verticals  – National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) for regulation, General Education Council (GEC ) for standard setting, Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding,  and National Accreditation Council( NAC) for accreditation. HECI will  function through faceless intervention through technology, & will have powers to penalise HEIs not conforming to norms and standards. Public and private higher education institutions will be governed by the same set of norms for regulation, accreditation and academic standards.

Rationalised Institutional Architecture

Higher education institutions will be transformed into large, well resourced, vibrant multidisciplinary institutions  providing  high quality teaching, research, and community engagement. The definition of university will allow a spectrum of institutions that range from Research-intensive Universities to Teaching-intensive Universities and Autonomous degree-granting Colleges. 

Affiliation of colleges is to be phased out in 15 years and a stage-wise mechanism is to be established for granting graded autonomy to colleges. Over a period of time, it is envisaged that every college would develop into either an Autonomous degree-granting College, or a constituent college of a university.

Motivated, Energized, and Capable Faculty

NEP makes recommendations for motivating, energizing, and building capacity of  faculty thorughclearly defined, independent, transparent recruitment , freedom to design curricula/pedagogy, incentivising excellence, movement into institutional leadership. Faculty not delivering on basic norms will be held accountable

Teacher Education

A new and comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education, NCFTE 2021, will be formulated by the NCTE in consultation with NCERT. By 2030, the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree .Stringent action will be taken against substandard stand-alone Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs).

Mentoring Mission

A National Mission for Mentoring will be established, with a large pool of outstanding senior/retired faculty – including those with the ability to teach in Indian languages – who would be willing to provide short and long-term mentoring/professional support to university/college teachers.

Financial support for students

Efforts will be made to incentivize the merit of students belonging to SC, ST, OBC, and other SEDGs. The National Scholarship Portal will be expanded to support, foster, and track the progress of students receiving scholarships. Private HEIs will be encouraged to offer larger numbers of free ships and scholarships to their students.

Open and Distance Learning

Thiswill be expanded to play a significant role in increasing GER. Measures such as online courses and digital repositories, funding for research, improved student services, credit-based recognition of MOOCs, etc., will be taken to ensure it is at par with the highest quality in-class programmes.

Online Education and Digital Education:

A comprehensive set of recommendations for promoting online education consequent to the recent rise in epidemics and pandemics in order to ensure preparedness with alternative modes of quality education whenever and wherever traditional and in-person modes of education are not possible, has been covered. A dedicated unit for the purpose of orchestrating the building of digital infrastructure, digital content and capacity building will be created in the MHRD to look after the e-education needs of both school and higher education.

Technology in education

 An autonomous body, the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF), will be created to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration. Appropriate integration of technology into all levels of education will be done to improve classroom processes, support teacher professional development, enhance educational access for disadvantaged groups and streamline educational planning, administration and management

Promotion of Indian languages

To ensure the preservation, growth, and vibrancy of all Indian languages, NEP recommends setting an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI), National Institute (or Institutes) for Pali, Persian and Prakrit, strengthening of Sanskrit and all language departments in HEIs,  and use mother tongue/local language as a medium of instruction in more HEI  programmes .

Internationalization of education will be facilitated through both institutional collaborations, and student and faculty mobility and allowing entry of top world ranked Universities to open campuses in our country.

Professional Education

All professional education will be an integral part of the higher education system. Stand-alone technical universities, health science universities, legal and agricultural universities etc will aim to become multi-disciplinary institutions.

Adult Education

Policy  aims to achieve 100% youth and adult literacy.

Financing Education

The Centre and the States will work together to increase the public investment in Education sector to reach 6% of GDP at the earliest.

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2. A quest for order amid cyber insecurity

Better arrangements and intense partnerships, but with extra safeguards, are needed in a more contested domain

  • In cyberspace, it is the best of times for some and the worst of times for others. Between them, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft have added more than a trillion dollars in market value, since the start of 2020. On the other hand, cyber attacks have grown. In one week in April 2020, reportedly, there were over 18 million daily malware and phishing emails related to COVID-19 monitored by a single email provider, in addition to more than 240 million COVID-19-related daily spam messages. Twitter hackers collected $120,000 in full public gaze, while a “ransom ware” target in California quietly paid 116.4 bit coins or $1.14 million. There is also concern about the role of states. Australia mentioned of attacks by a state actor. China has been accused of hacking health-care institutions in the United States working on novel coronavirus treatment. The United Kingdom has warned of hackers backed by the Russian state targeting pharmaceutical companies conducting COVID-19 vaccine research. The ban on specified Chinese Apps, on grounds that they are “engaged in activities prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India” adds another layer of complexity to the contestation in cyberspace. Cyberin security of individuals, organisations and states is expanding amidst COVID-19.
  • While we are embracing new ways of digital interaction and more of our critical infrastructure is going digital, the parameters of the transformation under way are not understood by most of us. Like global public health, cyber security is a niche area, left to experts. COVID-19 made us realise the role of the global public health infrastructure and need to abide by agreed rules. Similarly, a better understanding of the global cyberspace architecture is required.

No global commons

  • Borderless cyberspace, as a part of the “global commons” does not exist. It is an illusion that connectivity across national boundaries nurtured. The Internet depends on physical infrastructure that is under national control, and hence is subject to border controls too. Each state applies its laws to national networks, consistent with its international commitments. States are responsible for cyber security, enforcement of laws and protection of public good. States are responsible for their actions, as well as for actions taken from within their sovereign territory. This is easier said than done. The infrastructure on which the Internet rests falls within jurisdictions of many states with differing approaches. Cyberspace has multiple stakeholders, not all of which are states. Non-state actors play key roles — some benign, some malignant. Many networks are private, with objectives differing from those of states. Finally cyber tools are dual use, cheap and make attribution and verification of actions quite a task.
  • Nevertheless, states alone have the rights of oversight. There is no equivalent of a World Health Organization which can monitor, assess, advise and inform about fulfilment of state commitments, in however limited or unsatisfactory a manner. In short, the search for cyber “rules of the road“ is still on. We are at an incipient stage of looking for “cyber norms” that can balance the competing demands of national sovereignty and transnational connectivity.

Gaps in current processes

  • It was in 1998 that Russia inscribed the issue of information and communications technologies (ICTs) in international security on the UN agenda. Since then six Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) with two-year terms and limited membership have functioned — the most on any issue at the United Nations. In addition, an Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) began last year with a broadly similar mandate, but open to all. More than 100 states evinced interest. However, it is meandering along, with a report likely next year. The discussions are narrowly focused in line with the mandate of the forum that set it up. Issues such as Internet governance, development, espionage, and digital privacy are kept out. While terrorism and crime are acknowledged as important, discussion on these has not been focused on, as ostensibly best done in other UN bodies.
  • The net result of the UN exercise has been an acceptance that international law and the UN Charter are applicable in cyberspace; a set of voluntary norms of responsible state behaviour was agreed to in 2015. What aspects of international law and in what circumstances will be applicable remains to be addressed. UN Secretary General António Guterres’s recent report, “Roadmap for Digital Cooperation”, gently calls for action. A few confidence building measures may follow. However, short of a cataclysmic event, these processes do not hold much hope in the current geopolitical circumstances.

More engagement needed

  • Generally the growth of technology is way ahead of the development of associated norms and institutions. Cyberspace is experiencing this too. It provides countries such as ours some time and space to evolve our approach, in tune with the relevance of cyberspace to India’s future economic, social and political objectives. Despite the digital divide, the next billion smart phone users will include a significant number from India. As India’s cyber footprint expands, so will space for conflicts and crimes (both of a private and inter-state nature). Shared “rules of the road” become imperative. We have a very active nodal agency for cyber security in the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. India has had representatives on five of the six GGEs. We participate actively at the OEWG. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, of which we are a member, voiced support for a code of conduct. India joined the Christchurch Call which brought together countries and companies in an effort to stop the use of social media for promoting terrorism and violent extremism.
  • The next phase in an increasingly contested and fragmenting domain requires better arrangements and more intense partnerships, but with more safeguards. Domestically, we need the clarity that adoption of a data protection legislation will bring. Globally, we need to partake in shaping cyber norms. Acceding to the Budapest Convention, or Convention on Cybercrime of the Council of Europe (CETS No.185), which started as a European initiative but has attracted others, is an option that we should examine. We need to encourage our private sector to get involved more in industry-focused processes such as the Microsoft-initiated Cybersecurity Tech Accord and the Siemens-led Charter of Trust. Engagement in multi-stakeholder orientations such as the Paris Call (for trust and security in cyberspace) can help. In preparation for the larger role that cyberspace will inevitably play in Indian lives, we need a deeper public understanding of its various dimensions. Cyberspace is too important to be left only to the experts.
  • Syed Akbaruddin has served as India’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations

3. Fewer species, more disease

Ecosystem integrity will restrict the transmission of pathogens from one species to another

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted human life and the economy in an unprecedented way. Across countries, lockdowns have kept people indoors and provided opportunities for wild animals to roam around spaces they otherwise don’t venture into. Scientists believe that the loss of biodiversity, and wildlife trade, have strong linkages with the emergence of epidemics. The pandemic is an opportunity for the global community to explore the consequences of its unscientific actions on nature and prepare for behavioural change.

Loss of biodiversity

  • Dangerous infectious diseases (Ebola, Bird flu, MERS, SARS, Nipah, etc.) have been transferred from wild animals to humans. In order to clear land for agriculture and development, forests and habitats have been destroyed. In the process, we have lost several species. Human-induced environmental changes reduce biodiversity resulting in new conditions that host vectors and/or pathogens.
  • It is not yet fully understood which species have contributed to the transmission of COVID-19 and how. However, according to experts, there is strong evidence that it spread from a wildlife market in Wuhan, China. Two hypothesis have been discussed: (a) the virus jumped from bats directly to humans; and (b) from bats to pangolins and then to humans.
  • Apart from wildlife markets, illegal trade of wildlife is part of the growing problem. Trafficking in wild plants and animals and wildlife products has become one of the largest and most lucrative forms of organised crime. By deliberately pursuing and hunting certain species or by establishing monocultures, habitats and ecosystems are being damaged, fragmented or destroyed.
  • Illegal wildlife smuggling is an emerging threat to India’s unique wildlife heritage. According to an NGO based in Guwahati, which works for the protection of Eastern Himalayan biodiversity, India shelters a number of vulnerable and threatened species. Body parts of animals including pangolins, Asiatic black bears and rhinos are being traded illegally to countries such as China, Vietnam, and Laos. Another study has found that there was a significant increase in the poaching of wild animals in India even during the lockdown. Species are being wiped out by organised trade networks, with new poaching techniques, for manufacturing traditional Chinese medicines.
  • The IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services shows that people extensively encroach natural habitats; hence biodiversity is declining significantly. By disturbing the delicate balance of nature, we have created ideal conditions for the spread of viruses from animals to humans. We should realise that we live in a world where biodiversity is our common heritage and natural capital.

The way forward

  • We need to revisit our relationship with nature and rebuild an environmentally responsible world. Nations should work towards realising the 2050 vision for biodiversity, ‘Living in Harmony with Nature’. We must follow a ‘one health’ approach which considers the health of people, wild and domesticated animals, and the environment. We need to strictly regulate high-risk wildlife markets, promote green jobs and work towards achieving carbon-neutral economies.
  • In order to ensure that another crisis such as this does not occur again, India should strictly enforce the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, which prohibits the trade of 1,800 species of wild animals/plants and their derivatives; the Biological Diversity Act of 2002; strategies and action plans including the National Biodiversity Targets; and the National Biodiversity Mission. The mainstreaming of biodiversity is needed in our post-COVID-19 development programme. The over 2 lakh biodiversity management committees (local-level statutory bodies formed under the Act) can play a significant role in this regard. Mass biodiversity literacy should be our mission. Ecosystem integrity will regulate diseases and restrict the transmission of pathogens from one species to another.

4. Trust set up to build mosque in Ayodhya

Five acres of land allotted 25 km from the Babri Masjid site

  • The Trust to build a mosque in Ayodhya, following the verdict of the Supreme Court in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title suit, would have a maximum of 15 members, the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board announced on Wednesday as it constituted the body.
  • The Trust would be called the Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation, U.P. Sunni Waqf Board chair person Zufar Faruqi said.
  • Nine trustees of the Trust have been announced, while it will “co-opt” the remaining six, the Board said. Four out of the nine trustees are affiliated to the Board, a source said.
  • The Board, through its CEO, would be the founder-trustee of the Trust, while Mr. Faruqi would be the chief trustee or president. Adnan Farrukh Shah of Gorakhpur would be vice-president, Athar Hussain of Lucknow secretary, and Faez Aftab of Meerut treasurer.
  • The Trust has also named four members — Imran Ahmad, Mohammad Junaid Siddiqui and Mohammad Rashid of Lucknow, and Sheikh Saiduzzaman of Banda.
  • On February 24, the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board decided to accept the five acres of land allotted to it by the State government for building a mosque in Dhannipur village in Sohawal tehsil of Ayodhya, around 25 km from the site where the Babri Masjid stood.
  • Mr. Faruqi had also announced that the Trust would construct a centre showcasing Indo-Islamic culture of several centuries, a centre for research and study of Indo-Islamic culture, a charitable hospital, a public library and other public utilities at the site in Dhannipur.
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