November 2020: Current Affairs Polity & Economy Notes | EduRev

UPSC Mains: International Relations, Social Issues & others

UPSC : November 2020: Current Affairs Polity & Economy Notes | EduRev

The document November 2020: Current Affairs Polity & Economy Notes | EduRev is a part of the UPSC Course UPSC Mains: International Relations, Social Issues & others.
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Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme

A recent investigation has found that the money meant for poor students under the Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme in Jharkhand has been siphoned off and is not reaching the students.

Key Points

About the Scheme:

  1. It is a centrally funded scholarship scheme for students in all states, which opens every year and has to be applied between August and November.
  2. Aim: To help students of minority communities
  3. viz. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains and Buddhists from families with annual income below Rs. 1 lakh.
  4. Eligibility: Students need to score at least 50% in their class exams.
  5. Structure of the Scholarship: It is given in two tiers every year to:
    • Students in class 1 to 5: Rs. 1,000 per year.
    • Students of class 6 to 10: Rs. 10,700 if a hosteller or Rs 5,700 if a day scholar.
  6. Application Process:
    • Eligible students need to register at the National Scholarship Portal (NSP) and submit educational documents, bank account details and Aadhaar numbers among other documents.
    • The scheme is online and one can apply for a fresh or renewal scholarship on the NSP or through a mobile application of NSP.

Suggestions for Improvement:

  • The government is planning to bring a single national scholarship scheme by merging all the current scholarship schemes.
  • The move came after a multi-crore scam was reported in the post-matric scholarship scheme for Scheduled Castes (SC) in Punjab in August 2020.

National Scholarship Portal

  • It is a "one-stop" solution through which various services, starting from student application, application receipt, verification, processing, and disbursal of various scholarships to students are facilitated.
  • It is taken as Mission Mode Project (MMP) under Digital India and aims at providing a simplified, accountable, responsive and transparent system for faster and effective disbursal of scholarship to eligible applicants directly into their account through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) without any leakages.

Rising Cybercrimes

The Ministry of Home Affairs has recently written to all States to examine and register First Information Reports (FIRs) based on the complaints received on the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal.

Key Points

  1. Low Conversion Rates: As per the ministry, only 2.5% of total complaints registered on the portal are converted into FIRs.
  2. Cyber Crime Volunteers: Through the portal, the Government seeks to promote Cyber Crime Volunteers to identify, report, and remove illegal/ unlawful online content.
  3. Increase in Cases: According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the number of registered cyber crimes increased by 63.5% in the year 2019 compared to 2018.

➤ Benefits:

  1. It will help curb rising cyber fraud, cyberbullying, child pornography, etc. 
  2. It is in consonance with the government's Digital India drive as with rising digital footprint, cyber crimes are bound to rise. 
  3. Massive digitalisation in the post-covid world in the sectors of education, health, etc highlights the importance of cyber governance initiatives such as this.

Initiatives to Tackle Cybercrime

  1. Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C): The I4C will assist in centralising cybersecurity investigations, prioritise the development of response tools and bring together private companies to contain the menace.
  2. Draft Personal Data Protection Bill 2018: It is based on the Justice BN Srikrishna Committee's recommendation to secure citizens data.
  3. Cyber Swachhta Kendra: The Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre is a part of the Government of India's Digital India initiative under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
  4. Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN):
    • It is an organisation of the MeitY, with the objective of securing Indian cyberspace. It is the nodal agency which deals with cybersecurity threats like hacking and phishing.

National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal

  1. Launched in 2019, it is a citizen-centric initiative enabling citizens to report cybercrimes online.
  2. The portal specifically focuses on crimes against women, children, particularly child pornography, child sex abuse material, online content pertaining to rapes/gang rapes, etc.
  3. It also focuses on crimes like financial crime and social media related crimes like stalking, cyberbullying, etc.
  4. It will improve law enforcement agencies' capacity to investigate the cases after successful completion by improving coordination amongst the law enforcement agencies of different States, districts, and police stations.
  5. Budapest Convention
  6. The Council of Europe's (CoE) Cybercrime Convention, also known as the Budapest Convention is the sole legally binding international multilateral treaty on cybercrime.
    • It coordinates cybercrime investigations between nation-states and criminalizes certain cybercrime conduct.
  7. It was opened for signature in 2001 and came into force in 2004.
  8. It is supplemented by a Protocol on Xenophobia and Racism committed through computer systems.
  9. India is not a party to it.
    • In November 2019, India voted in favour of a Russian-led UN resolution to set up a separate convention.
    • The resolution seeks to set up new cyber norms considered as a counter alternative to the US backed Budapest Accord.

Evaluation of National Monsoon Mission

Recently, the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) has evaluated the National Monsoon Mission's economic benefits (NMM).

Established in 1956, NCAER is India's oldest and largest independent, non-profit, economic policy research institute, based in New Delhi.

Key Points

  1. The study spanned across 173 rain-fed districts in 16 states which appropriately represented agro-climatic zones, rain-fed areas, coverage of major crops, and incidence of extreme weather events in the country. It was conducted on behalf of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).
  2. The study refers to economic benefits as direct monetary gains to crop farmers, livestock rearers, and fishermen in the country.
    • India's investment of nearly Rs. 1,000 crore in the NMM and High-Performance Computing (HPC) facilities would provide benefits worth Rs. 50,000 crore to nearly 1.07 crore Below Poverty Line (BPL) agricultural households and 53 lakh BPL fisherfolk households in the country.
  3. The total annual economic benefits to agricultural households, farmers and livestock owners taken together, has been calculated at Rs. 13,331 crore and the incremental benefits over the next five years are estimated to be about Rs. 48,056 crore.
  4. The benefits are from accurate weather forecasting by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) and other agencies working under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
    • Agro-meteorological services for farmers are among the most prominent weather services of IMD.
    • Every day Ocean State Forecast (OSF) and warnings to fishermen going out to the sea by the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) helped in elimination of less or not so productive trips to the ocean.
    • Potential Fishing Zone (PFZ) advisories resulted in successful trips generating additional catches.

Data Analysis of the Benefits:

  • Based on weather advisories, 98% farmers made modifications such as changing variety/breed of the crop, arranging storage of harvest, early/ delayed harvesting, changed crop, early/delayed sowing, changed the schedule of ploughing/ land preparation, changed pesticide application schedule, changed fertiliser application schedule and changed scheduled irrigation. 
  • 94% of farmers were able to avoid losses and increase income because of services provided through NMM.
  • 82% of fishermen surveyed, reported using OSF advisories before they venture into the sea every time.
  • A total of approximately Rs 1.92 crore additional income was generated from 1,079 successful fishing expeditions made using PFZ advisories.

National Monsoon Mission

  • The Ministry of Earth Sciences launched it in 2012.
  • Aim: To improve the forecasting skills by setting up a state-of-the-art dynamic prediction system for monsoon rainfall different time scales.
  • NMM builds a working partnership between the academic and research and development (R&D) organisations, both national and international.

Its augmentation with the HPC facilities has helped the country in achieving a paradigm shift in weather and climate modelling for operational weather forecasts.


Centre’s Stand on Central Vista Redevelopment Project

The Central Government has recently tried to justify its decision to construct a new Parliament building under the proposed 'Central Vista Redevelopment' project, in the Supreme Court (SC).

  • One of the issues raised by the petitioners was if it's possible to refurbish and use the existing Parliament building.

Key Points

Centre's Stand:

  • Underlining the cost and infrastructure advantages of the proposed project, the Centre told the SC that whether or not to have a new Parliament building is a policy decision that the government is entitled to take. 
  • The government had taken an important policy decision to construct a Parliament complex and central secretariat as the existing one is under tremendous stress. Further, the project cannot come up at Noida or elsewhere, but on Central Vista.

Arguments Put Forward by the Government:

Central Vista Redevelopment Project

  1. The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs proposed the Central Vista redevelopment project in 2019.
  2. The project envisages:
    • Constructing a triangular Parliament building next to the existing one. 
    • Constructing Common Central Secretariat. 
    • Revamping of the 3-km-long Rajpath — from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate.
    • North and South Block to be repurposed as museums.
  3. Currently, the Central Vista of New Delhi houses Rashtrapati Bhawan, Parliament House, North and South Block, India Gate, and National Archives.
  4. Pre Independence building: The current one was built in 1927 to house the legislative council and was not intended to house a bicameral legislature that the country has today.
  5. Lack of Space: The current building will be under more stress when Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are raised. Both Houses are already packed and members have to sit on plastic chairs when joint sessions are held, diminishing the House's dignity.
  6. Safety Concerns: The existing building does not conform to fire safety norms. Water and sewer lines are also haphazard, damaging its heritage nature. Security concerns in the wake of the 2001 Parliament attack shows its vulnerable nature. It is also not quake-proof.
  7. Cost Advantage: Many central ministries are housed in different buildings with the result that the government ends up paying rent for many of them. The new building, a new central secretariat will help avoid this.
  8. Environmental Benefits: The fact that people and officials have to run around the city to go to different ministries also increases traffic and pollution. The project also proposes interlinking of metro stations which will minimise use of vehicles.


Tele-Law

Tele-Law touched a new milestone on october 30th 2020 by providing legal advice to 4 million beneficiaries through Common Service Centres.

  • Common Services Centre (CSC) programme is an initiative of the Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY), that serves as the access points for delivery of various electronic services to villages in India, thereby contributing to a digitally and financially inclusive society.

Key Points

  1. About: Tele-Law programme was launched by the Ministry of Law and Justice in collaboration with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) launched in 2017 to address cases at pre­litigation stage.
  2. Connect Lawyers to Litigants: It is a service that uses video conferencing facilities and telephone services to connect lawyers to litigants who need legal advice. This service aims to reach out to the needy especially the marginalized and disadvantaged.
  3. Common Service Centres: Under this programme, smart technology of video conferencing, telephone /instant calling facilities available at the vast network of Common Service Centres at the Panchayat level are used to connect the indigent, down-trodden, vulnerable, unreached groups and communities with the Panel Lawyers for seeking timely and valuable legal advice.
  4. Benefits: Tele Law service enables anyone to seek legal advice without wasting precious time and money. The service is free for those who are eligible for free legal Aid as mentioned under Section 12 of the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987. For all others a nominal fee is charged.
    • According to a recent report titled 'Quality of Legal Representation: An Empirical Analysis of Free Legal Aid Services in India', most people who are entitled to the free legal aid system see the service as an option only when they cannot afford a private lawyer.
  5. Supports SDGs: It can be noted that this initiative is in line with Sustainable Development Goal-16 , which seeks to "Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels".

Legal Services Authorities (LSA) Act

  1. In 1987, the Legal Services Authorities (LSA) Act was enacted to give free and competent legal services to the poor and paved the way for the constitution of National Legal Service Authority (NALSA) and other legal service institutions at the State, district and taluka level.
  2. Free legal services under LSA Act are available to a person belonging to Schedule Tribe and Schedule Caste, woman, child, victim of human trafficking, differently abled person, industrial workman, and person in custody in a protective home and the poor.
  3. Constitutional Provision
  4. Article 39A of the Constitution of India provides that State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disability.
  5. Articles 14 and 22(1) also make it obligatory for the State to ensure equality before the law and a legal system which promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity to all.

Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Awards

The Union Minister of Science and Technology has recently given Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (GYTI) Awards to encourage technology students to move towards setting up biotechnology and other start-ups.

Key Points

GYTI awards constitute two categories of awards:

  1. Students Innovations for Advancement of Research
  2. Explorations-Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (SITARE-GYTI):
  3. Given To: Every year to the most promising technologies developed by the students in life sciences, biotechnology, agriculture, medical devices, etc.
  4. Given By: The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a public sector enterprise, set up by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
  5. Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technological Innovations-Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (SRISTI-GYTI):
  6. Given To: Every year to students in other engineering disciplines except for the ones covered by SITARE-GYTI.
  7. Given By: Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technological Innovations (SRISTI), a developmental voluntary organisation.

Initiatives Aimed at Boosting Start-Ups

  1. Scientific Social Responsibility Policy:
    • Currently, the government is working on a Scientific Social Responsibility Policy focusing on how scientists' efforts can benefit all sections of society.
  2. Biotechnology Ignition Grant Scheme:
    • It is the flagship programme of BIRAC, which provides support to young startups and entrepreneurial individuals.
    • It is the largest early-stage biotech funding programme in India with the funding grant of up to Rs. 5 million to best in class innovative ideas to build and refine the idea to proof-of-concept.

Aims:

  • Foster generation of ideas with commercialisation potential.
  • Upscale and validate proof of concept.
  • Encourage researchers to take technology closer to market through a start-up.
  • Stimulate enterprise formation.

➤ Encouraging Youth for Undertaking Innovative Research through Vibrant Acceleration (E-YUVA) Scheme:

  1. It will engage a number of universities and technology institutes to serve as mentors, which will help to create a pan-India network to encourage a larger number of student entrepreneurs. 
  2. It aims to promote a culture of applied research and need-oriented (societal or industry) entrepreneurial innovation among young students and researchers. 
  3. It is implemented through E-YUVA Centres (EYCs) to inculcate entrepreneurial culture through fellowship, pre-incubation and mentoring support.
  4. It provides support for students under the following two categories:
    • BIRAC's Innovation Fellows (for postgraduates and above).
    • BIRAC's E-Yuva Fellows (for undergraduate students).

Biologically-inspired Resilient Autonomic Cloud

  • (BioRAC) helps more and more students who try to set up start-ups and help India become Atmanirbhar (self-reliant).
  • BioRAC employs biologically inspired techniques and multi-level tunable redundancy techniques to increase attack and exploitation resilience in cloud computing, helping it tolerate and minimise the impact of novel cyber-attacks.


Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Awards

The Union Minister of Science and Technology has recently given Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (GYTI) Awards to encourage technology students to move towards setting up biotechnology and other start-ups.

Key Points

  1. GYTI awards constitute two categories of awards:
  2. Students Innovations for Advancement of Research
  3. Explorations-Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (SITARE-GYTI):
  4. Given To: Every year to the most promising technologies developed by the students in life sciences, biotechnology, agriculture, medical devices, etc.
  5. Given By: The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a public sector enterprise, set up by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
  6. Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technological Innovations-Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (SRISTI-GYTI):
  7. Given To: Every year to students in other engineering disciplines except for the ones covered by SITARE-GYTI.
  8. Given By: Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technological Innovations (SRISTI), a developmental voluntary organisation.

Initiatives Aimed at Boosting Start-Ups

  1. Scientific Social Responsibility Policy:
    • Currently, the government is working on a Scientific Social Responsibility Policy focusing on how scientists' efforts can benefit all sections of society.
  2. Biotechnology Ignition Grant Scheme:
    • It is the flagship programme of BIRAC, which provides support to young startups and entrepreneurial individuals.
    • It is the largest early-stage biotech funding programme in India with the funding grant of up to Rs. 5 million to best in class innovative ideas to build and refine the idea to proof-of-concept.

Aims:

  • Foster generation of ideas with commercialisation potential.
  • Upscale and validate proof of concept.
  • Encourage researchers to take technology closer to market through a start-up.
  • Stimulate enterprise formation.

➤ Encouraging Youth for Undertaking Innovative Research through Vibrant Acceleration (E-YUVA) Scheme:

  1. It will engage several universities and technology institutes to serve as mentors, which will help to create a pan-India network to encourage a larger number of student entrepreneurs. 
  2. It aims to promote a culture of applied research and need-oriented (societal or industry) entrepreneurial innovation among young students and researchers. 
  3. It is implemented through E-YUVA Centres (EYCs) to inculcate entrepreneurial culture through fellowship, pre-incubation and mentoring support. 
  4. It provides support for students under the following two categories:
    • BIRAC's Innovation Fellows (for postgraduates and above).
    • BIRAC's E-Yuva Fellows (for undergraduate students).

Biologically-inspired Resilient Autonomic Cloud

  • (BioRAC) helps more and more students who try to set up start-ups and help India become Atmanirbhar (self-reliant).
  • BioRAC employs biologically inspired techniques and multi-level tunable redundancy techniques to increase attack and exploitation resilience in cloud computing, helping it tolerate and minimise the impact of novel cyber-attacks.

Impacts:

  1. Reduced job creation due to deterrence for industries in a state with such restrictions. This would do more harm to natives than actually benefiting them. 
  2. Such restrictions may hamper the growth and development prospects of the respective state as well as the country by affecting ease of doing business.
  3. Restrictions on labour mobility would disregard this advantage of the diverse labour pool, which is a strength of the Indian economy. 
  4. May promote aggressive regionalism and thus a threat to India's unity and integrity. 
  5. Increased risks of labour shortages, rise in unemployment, aggravate wage inflation and worsened regional inequalities are few other possible impacts.

National Water Awards

The Department of Water Resources, River Develop­ment and Ganga Rejuvenation of the Ministry of Jal Shakti, is organising the 2nd National Water Awards (NWAs) for the year 2019.

Key Points

National Water Awards:

  1. The awards are organised by the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti. 
  2. The NWAs were launched in 2007 for the first time along with the Ground Water Augmentation Awards and the winners in different categories are given a citation, trophy and cash prize. 
  3. These focus on the good work and efforts made by individuals and organisations across the country, and the government's vision for the path to 'Jal Samridh Bharat, 
  4. Objectives:
    • To motivate individuals/organisations who are doing commendable work in the field of water resources conservation and management.
    • To create awareness among the people about the importance of water and encourage them to adopt the best water usage practices.
  5. Opportunities Provided: Start-ups, leading organisations, and people can deliberate and strengthen existing partnerships on water conservation and management activities.

Need for Water Conservation and Management: 

  • Depletion of water resources due to overuse and decline in water supplies due to climate change is pushing India closer to the tipping point of water scarcity.
  • Apart from these, several government policies, especially agriculture, resulted in over-exploitation of water. These factors make India a water-stressed economy. There is a need for water resource conservation and management in this context.

Initiatives by the Government

  1. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act:
    • The huge workforce employed under the MGNREGA has enabled the government to introduce water conservation as a project under the Act.
    • The government aims to improve groundwater harvesting, build water conservation and storage mechanisms through MGNREGA.
  2. Jal Kranti Abhiyan:
    • Under it, the government is making active efforts to revolutionise villages and cities through block-level water conservation schemes. 
    • For example, the Jal Gram Scheme under the Jal Kranti Abhiyan is aimed at developing two model villages in water-starved areas to lead the other villages towards water conservation and preservation.
  3. National Water Mission: It was launched with the objective of conservation of water, minimising wastage and ensuring more equitable distribution both across and within States through integrated water resources development and management.
  4. NITI Aayog's Composite Water Management Index: o With the objective of achieving effective utilization of water, NITI Aayog has developed the Composite Water Management Index.
  5. Jal Shakti Ministry and Jal Jeevan Mission: The efforts like the formation of Jal Shakti Ministry (to tackle water issues holistically) and the goal to provide piped water to all rural households by 2024, under the Jal Jeevan mission, are steps in the right direction.
  6. Atal Bhujal Yojana:
    • It is a central sector scheme worth Rs. 6,000 crore for sustainable management of groundwater with community participation.
    • It envisages people's participation by forming 'Water User Associations', water budgeting, preparation and implementation of Gram-panchayat-wise water security plans, etc.
  7. Jal Shakti Abhiyan: It was launched in July 2019 as a campaign for water conservation and water security.

Regulations on OTT and Digital Content

Recently, the Government has brought Over The Top (OTT) platforms or digital video streaming service providers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and others under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Key Points

Background:

  1. The government had indicated the necessity to monitor these platforms and wanted the platforms to come up with a self-regulatory body. 
  2. In January 2019, eight video streaming services had signed a self-regulatory code that laid down a set of guiding principles for content on these platforms which prohibited five types of content:
    • Content that deliberately and maliciously disrespects the national emblem or national flag.
    • Any visual or storyline that promotes child pornography.
    • Any content that “maliciously" intends to outrage religious sentiments.
    • Content that “deliberately and maliciously" promotes or encourages terrorism.
    • Any content that has been banned for exhibition or distribution by law or court.
  3. However, the government refused to support this code and expressed displeasure at a model suggested by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), and Digital Curated Content Complaints Council (DCCC).
    • IAMAI is a not-for-profit industry body registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. Its mandate is to expand and enhance the online and mobile value-added services sectors.
    • DCCC was launched by the Online Curated Content Providers (OCCP) in February 2020 to empower consumers to make informed choices on viewing content over OTT platforms and also to provide consumers with a complaints redressal mechanism.
  4. It held that the model lacked independent third- party monitoring, did not have a well-defined code of ethics and did not clearly enunciate prohibited content.

Current Order:

  1. It covers “Digital/Online Media", including “films and audio-visual programmes made available by online content providers" and “news and current affairs content on online platforms".
  2. It will give the government control over these platforms, which were unregulated till now as no law or autonomous body is governing digital content.
  3. Online content providers come under the legal framework of the Information Technology Act 2000 but were not directly under any Ministry unlike print and broadcast media.
  4. However, there are no details on how the government will regulate it. There is a possibility that the Programme Code of the Cable Television Network Regulation Act 1995, that governs content on TV, may serve as a template to frame rules for online content.

Reasons Behind the Order:

  1. The Ministry also keeps receiving complaints from the public underlining the concerns of unregulated content and need to regulate it. In October 2020, the Supreme Court issued notice to the Centre and the IAMAI, on a petition to regulate OTT platforms.
  2. The Ministry is already regulating news and entertainment content on TV and radio through statutory bodies so it is important to bring the digital content under its purview as well. 
  3. With the growth of the digital media and a significant shift of viewership from traditional media platforms to digital media, there is a real need for having an appropriate oversight framework for online news and content, at par with traditional media platforms.

Rules and Regulatory Bodies for Other Platforms

Regulations:

  • The Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act, 1995 penalises television channels for any violation of the programming and advertising.
  • Complaints can be sent directly to the Ministry or raised through the Electronic Media Monitoring Centre's internal mechanism.
  • In November 2019, the Government had brought out a draft Registration of Press and Periodicals (RPP) Bill, which sought to replace the 150-year- old Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867. 
  • Cable Networks Regulation Act 2005 regulates both news and entertainment on television.

Various Sectors and Regulating Bodies:

  1. Print Media: Press Council of India (a statutory, quasi-judicial authority).
  2. Television: 
    • News Broadcasting Standards Authority (self- regulatory body) set up by the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) regulates television news.
    • Electronic Media Monitoring Centre, set up in 2008, monitors content on TV.
    • Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (independent and self-regulatory) for television entertainment.
  3. Films: Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
  4. Advertisement: Advertising Standards Council of India (a self- regulatory body).

National Agricultural Education Policy

The first National Agricultural Education Policy is set to bring academic credit banks and degree programmes with multiple entry and exit options to the 74 universities focussed on crop sciences, fisheries, veterinary and dairy training and research.

  • The process for formulating the National Agricultural Education Policy was started about two months ago, after the release of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
  • Earlier, the Prime Minister had pitched for taking farm education to middle school level, saying necessary reforms have been made in this regard in the NEP 2020.

Key Points

Agricultural Education Policy to be Aligned with NEP 2020:

  1. Academic Credit Banks:
    • These may be a service provider available to a desirable student community. It may facilitate the campuses' integration and distributed learning systems, by creating student mobility within the inter and intra university system.
    • It may seamlessly integrate skills and experiences into a credit based formal system by providing a credit recognition mechanism.
    • It will digitally store academic credits earned from recognised Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and allow for credit redemption to be awarded a certificate, diploma or degree.
  2. Experiential Education:
    • In India, agricultural education is already ahead of its time, and already aligned with the NEP. The NEP wants a shift to four-year undergraduate degrees, and agricultural degrees are already four-year programmes.
    • The NEP mentions experiential education, which has been already mandated in agricultural education since 2016.
    • Experiential education is a teaching philosophy that informs many methodologies in which educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values, and develop people's capacity to contribute to their communities.
  3. The Student READY (Rural Entrepreneurship Awareness Development Yojana) programme requires all students to undertake a six-month internship, usually in their fourth year, to gain hands-on training, rural awareness, industry experience, research expertise and entrepreneur­ship skills.
  4. One major challenge is to ensure that experiential learning is made available to all students if the multiple entry-exit system gets implemented.
    • The option of multiple entry and exit provides students with the opportunity to earn a diploma or an advanced diploma, while they are given the choice to re-enter as and when they are able to resume their studies and earn a full college degree.

Issues:

  1. Challenge of Multi disciplinarity:
    • Agricultural universities have been modelled on the land grant pattern, with a focus on research and extension, and deep community connections, driven by the philosophy that farmers need holistic solutions to their problems.
    • However, in recent years, several domain specific universities in horticulture, veterinary science and fisheries sciences have come up. Incorporating humanities and social sciences into these settings could be a big challenge.
  2. Related to the ICAR:
    • Though agricultural education is a State subject, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR - Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare) is responsible for the quality of education across the country, and expects to continue in a standards-setting role under the new system of higher education regulation proposed by the NEP.
    • However, it is not clear whether it will continue in its accreditation and grant making roles under the new regime.
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