1. Humans Are Still Coring To Digital India
GS 2- Important aspects of governance
Many intermediates continue to balance between government and citizens. During the pandemic, they also address people's daily needs because more services went online.
What is Governance
- It comprises all of the processes of governing whether it is undertaken by the government, market, network over a social system.
- It relates to the processes of interaction and decision-making among the actors involved in a collective problem.
- It is also the political processes that exist in and between formal institutions.
- This is a process by which authority is applied to management by which they make the rules, and those rules are enforced and modified.
Way Forward For Governance
- Works by intermediates is underway in governance.
- During Pandemic, eGovernments Foundation (eGov) and Aapti Institute came together to explore how digitally excluded communities engage with governance.
- Both of them also learnt that even in ‘Digital India', humans are also engaged in brokering trust between governments and citizens.
- These intermediaries generally worked without any formal backing and role.
- Only a few States have built a cadre of intermediates for last-mile governance.
- For example, Andhra Pradesh rolled out a ward secretariat programme.
- According to this scheme, over 16,000 ward secretaries and volunteers delivering government services at citizens’ doorstep.
Classification of Intermediates
- Offline intermediaries can be both political and apolitical, individuals or collectives with differents aims to do there works.
- Apolitical social workers and community leaders do their work as service.
- While the political individual does their work as constituency service to secure vote bases.
- As well as Community based organisations and NGOs see their work as related to their core work.
Advantage of Intermediates
- Intermediaries help citizens to overcome barriers, also to support by awareness of the availability of digital services and rights from the state and to provide ability, which includes the ability to navigate these solutions with trust.
- The barriers are worse for citizens who are marginalised, poor, women, the elderly, and caste and gender minorities.
- But the Intermediaries support individuals by placing complaints, also help by directing them to the right authorities.
- So we can say that these people help us to see the government.
- They are also important offline architectures that enable the state to do its work better.
- According to research, leaning on intermediaries can unlock the capacity of the state to serve citizens.
- As well as intermediates are a reality of everyday life for the average Indian.
- According to this study, intermediaries struggled because they were placing a complaint about someone else, and with communicating the impact.
Challenges Before Us
- There is going on the extension of the governance model of Various types.
- There is also the extension of intermediation emerge based on regional, social, cultural and economic contexts.
- So there is a need to make different approach for all intermediates.
- As well as to think about leveraging the strengths of intermediaries.
- It is essential to pay attention to the varying incentives of intermediaries and not reduce their benefits.
- These intermediates are as fundamental to governance.
- The Republic of India has formalised intermediation in traditional markets (such as mutual funds).
- As well as in intermediation areas, formal governance mechanisms, structured capacity building, awareness campaigns, and process re engineering enabled growth and usage are crucial.
- At the widespread level, increasing digitisation of governance across domains including healthcare, financial inclusion, justice and social services is important.
- There is a need to work with intermediaries to raise citizens awareness, build intermediaries’skills and capabilities, and establish governance frameworks with suitable feedback loops.
- With these supports, we will be able to support the process of responsible, responsive and data driven governance across domains.
2. Key Steps To Getting the Spectrum Auction Right
GS 3- Infrastructure
- The Union Cabinet has cleared the much-awaited auction of radio spectrum in various bands for commercial mobile services.
- Following this decision of December 16, the auction that will use the well-proven methodology of Simultaneous Multiple Round Ascending (SMRA) Auction will be the seventh of its type and is being held four years after the last one.
- Based on the recommendation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, the government is planning to auction spectrum in the sub GHz bands of 700, 800 and 900 MHz along with mid-band frequencies in bands of 1800, 2100, 2300, and 2500 MHz across the 22 Licensed Service Areas (LSAs) of the country.
What is Trai?
- The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is a statutory body and the independent regulator of telecommunication business that ensures a fair and accountable environment is built to promote level playing and growth of the telecommunications industry in India.
- TRAI sends out orders on various subjects such as mobile number porting, tariffs, interconnections, Direct to Home (DTH) services, service quality, etc.
- The total spectrum to be auctioned is about 2,251 MHz, compared to about 2,355 MHz put on the block in 2016.
- The cumulative reserve price — and hence the potential revenue accrual to the government at reserve prices — is about $50 billion.
- Total reserve price of spectrum put on auction in 2016 was about $90 billion while the realised value was just about one-tenth of that, with none of the 700 MHz spectrum band being sold.
➢ Factors That Determine the Success of Spectrum Auction
- Reserve Price
(a) Database shows that the reserve price significantly and is positively correlated to the winning bid price.
(b) However, a higher reserve price also inhibits bidders from bidding for more spectrum blocks, resulting in lower amounts of spectrum sold.
(c) If the quantity effect is more than the price effect, then it results in reduced revenues for the government exchequer, as it happened in 2016.
- Factor of Voip Subscribers
(a) The willingness to pay by the telcos depends on their position via a vis Over The Top (OTT – streaming across various platforms without the need for a cable connection) providers who are providing substitute goods such as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP);
(b) Capturing a greater mind share of customers while remaining relatively invisible to government regulators.
(c) Rise of VoIP subscribers could have a positive effect on winning bid prices.
(d) However, the erosion of the position of telcos vis-à-vis OTTs in the context of their relationship in the overall digital value network of devices, connectivity and apps, could result in a lower willingness to pay.
- Allocation of Unlicensed Spectrum For Wi-Fi
(a) By off-loading mobile data, Wi-Fi supplements the carrier network and reduces the demand for mobile network capacity.
(b) A number of countries including the United States have unlicensed the V-band spectrum in 60 GHz — pencil beam band. Referred to as “wireless fibre”, the 60 GHz spectrum provides huge capacities in a limited area, ideally to be used for Wi-Fi and fixed wireless access.
(c) Wi-Fi 6 (a.k.a. IEEE 802.11 ax) that operates in the 2.4/5 GHz unlicensed band requires additional unlicensed spectrum allocation to provide Gigabit speeds.
(d) The more the unlicensed spectrum allocation, the lower will be the demand for licensed spectrum.
- Spectrum Visibility
(a) Visibility of spectrum will be up for auction, henceforth.
(b) While there is an indication by the government that the spectrum for 5G auction, namely 3.4-3.6 GHz, will be held in late 2021, the amount of spectrum that will be made available is not clear.
(c) There is still uncertainty about the release of 26 GHz by the Department of Space for mobile services.
(d) With this limited visibility, the bidders will be in a quandary whether to acquire the spectrum now, or wait for subsequent auctions.
(e) Further, some part of the current spectrum holding of all the operators is coming up for renewal in mid-2021, and hence there is additional pressure on them to retain them in the forthcoming auction.
- A re-visit of reserve prices and lower it further, especially that of 700 MHz (even though it was re-estimated to be lower by TRAI) which is the “golden band” for covering the hinterlands of the country;
- Releasing more unlicensed spectrum in 2.4/5/60 GHz for proliferating Wi-Fi as a suitable complement to [the] carrier network; this will also augment the deployments of the Public Wi-Fi project which the cabinet approved recently;
- Provide visibility of future auctions, especially the quantum of spectrum that can be put on the block in 3.3/3.6/26/28 GHz;
- Now that OTT firms have been brought under regulation under the ambit of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the government should release guidelines on how they will be regulated and what will be regulated so that the telcos and OTTs can join hands to provide superior services for the benefit of the consumers.
- Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson, the Nobel Laureates this year in Economic Sciences pioneered the SMRA (partly with Preston McAfee) as a proven methodology for successful auctions. However, the methodology alone cannot guarantee a successful auction without the accompanying features mentioned above.
Spectrum is a perishable scarce resource. If it cannot be used, then its value is lost. When the whole country is adopting a new norm for Work from Home due to the COVID-19 crisis, it is important for the government to ensure that the spectrum put on the block is sold successfully.
3. Lessons From Monash: Formation of International Branch Campuses
GS 2- Issues relating to the education
- According to one of the recommendations of National Education Policy 2020, universities in the top 100 categories of the World University Rankings can operate in India.
- This recommendation has generated a lot of discussions, mainly on the potential role and suitability of international branch campuses(IBC) in the Indian environment.
What is International Branch Campus
- It is a form of international higher education whereby one or more partnering institutions establishes a physical presence in a foreign location.
- Its purpose is of expanding global outreach and student exchange.
- With offering undergraduate and graduate programs, graduate students are conferred degrees from one or all partnering institutions, dependent on the agreement.
- Here the Instruction occurs in properties owned or leased by the foreign institution, sometimes with a local partner.
- In these campuses, may include additional services and facilities to mirror Western universities.
- IBCs have currently existed all over the world.
- According to the Cross Border Education Research Team (CBERT), an IBC is an “entity that is owned, at least in part, by a foreign higher education provider; operated in the name of the foreign education provider; and provides an entire academic program, substantially on-site, leading to a degree awarded by the foreign education provider.”
- In the republic of India, there is only a single model of IBC which means a self funded model.
- According to this model, foreign universities establish campuses on their own without any major support from the host country.
- There are various other models of IBCs. In these models, some of them are following: fully or partially funded by the host government, supported by private organisations, getting government facilities in designated hubs/zones, and as well as working in collaboration with a local partner in the partner’s campus.
World's Phenomenon in This Regard
- There are more than 300 IBCs are functioning in around 80 countries.
- According to data, a large number of IBCs are operated by universities from the U.S., the U.K., Australia, France and Russia.
- Main hosting countries of IBCs are China, Malaysia, Qatar and Singapore.
- As well as some Indian private institutions also operate IBCs in countries such as Australia, Mauritius, Uzbekistan, Singapore, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Lesson From Others
- It is important to understand and review the experiences of not only the countries that have hosted them but also the top 100 universities that have ventured out of their home country to establish IBCs abroad.
- For example, Australia’s Monash University’s branch campus in South Africa from 2001 to 2019 is one which may prove useful.
- South Africa’s branch campus strategy for the last 20 years has been focussed on a dual track approach. In this dual-track, IBCs were promoted in parallel with the pre existing higher education system.
- The South African regulatory framework permits foreign universities to operate as private entities, legally registered as a company.
- Monash University was the first to obtain registration in 2001 to operate an IBC in Johannesburg as ‘MonashSouth Africa (MSA)’.
- This is also among the top 100 universities in the QS World University Ranking.
- It operates IBCs in China and Malaysia as well.
- The student population at MSA had increased in 2018, from where almost half were from South Africa, and the other 40% of the remaining were from other African countries.
- This university also started operating as a joint venture with U.S.based majority owner Laureate Education in 2013.
- Under this agreement, Monash University sold 75%of its shares to Laureate.
- In 2018, this university transfers the ownership of the campus to the Independent Institute of Education (IIE), South Africa.
- Now Monash South Africa is called IIEMSA.
Challenges in This Regard
- There are some of the biggest lessons from Monash University’s South Africa experience.
- Foreign university's public nature may not be reflected in its branch campus.
- As well as even a university that is among the top 100 could become a local private institution through mergers.
- Ensuring the quality of programmes offered at the home campus would be a challenge.
- As well as domestic market demand can influences course offerings, and there is dependence on contract academic staff.
- There are also some limitations in substituting existing institutions.
- So there is a big gap between the state’s desired objectives and the actual impact on the ground.