EDUCATION/SOCIAL SECTOR REFORMS
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Need for Reforms in the Education Policy
Introduction- Education and Economy
With half of the term of the present government over, amongst all policy areas the most important area that needs all the focus and reforms is India’s education policy.
Indian economy faces two challenges in the form of a deteriorating environment and employment especially underemployment. The factors that are responsible for the slow growth of productive jobs include poor infrastructure, poor governance, anti employment bias in the economic policies and most importantly a failed education policy.
India and the World
On an international comparison, India lags behind various countries in different areas. The same has been illustrated below:
- 5% of India’s workforce has had any skill training and only 2% have any formal skill certification in comparison to over 70% in European countries and 80% to 90% in East Asian countries.
- In 2012, over 26% of India’s population was still illiterate compared to 5% in South Africa, 4% in China.
- 50% of India’s population has received only primary education or less, compared to 24% in South Africa and 38% in China.
- As per the 2015 Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), about 50% of class V students could not read a simple text meant for class II students and also could not could not do a simple arithmetic meant for class II students.
India has also performed very poorly in other international reports and surveys such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) conducted by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Reasons for ineffective education policy of India:
- Education policy in India is focused on inputs rather than learning outcomes.
- Education policy has a strong elitist bias in favour of higher education as opposed to primary or secondary education.
- The public expenditure by India on tertiary education is way higher than the expenditure on primary education. This is against the trend as observed in countries across the world.
- The lack of incentives for teachers to enhance their performance level.
- Inadequate performance appraisal methods to evaluate the performance of teachers. There are no effective checks and balances to act as benchmarks for their performance measurement.
- Teachers in government schools in India have very low accountability to students, their parents and the society.
- Other teacher related problems include:
- High absenteeism
- Involvement in non-teaching activities.
- Poorly qualified teachers.
- Inadequate compensation to teachers.
Consequences of ineffective education policy of India:
- Due to the poor education profile of the presently underemployed workers, they are able to get employment in low- or medium-skill jobs rather than the organised sector.
- Inefficient education system in India has led to lack of basic skill training which leads to low productivity
- Poor human resource development leads to poor economic growth.
- Lack of proper education at the basic level also leads to increase in crimes and social evils.
- The focus on theoretical learning at the primary level makes students dependent on rote learning. This leads to lack of practical knowledge.
Suggestions for Reforms in the Education Policy in India
India can reform it’s education policy rapidly if it undertakes the following measures:
- Introducing learning through activity and reduce rote learning.
- Implement a child friendly pedagogy.
- Introduce various reform measures as provided for in the Right To Education Act to ensure adequate emphasis on primary education.
- Implementation of strict performance evaluation standards for teachers.
- Qualitative and regular training and testing techniques for teachers.
- Performance based compensation for teachers along with regular incentivization for quality performance.
- More diversion of funds by the government towards policies focusing on primary education.
Education holds both intrinsic and instrumental value. The instrumental value lies in the utilization of education in obtaining quality employment and skill-set. The intrinsic value, on the other hand, lies in education assisting the citizens in having a fulfilling life and participating in the functioning of robust democracy. Along with policies such as Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) and National Skill Development Mission (NSDM), the government needs to ensure that it devotes sufficient focus and resources, both financial and human, towards basic and primary education.
These reforms in the primary education system will not only go a long way in improving the social indicators of the country but also improve it standing in the global economy. Additionally, they will help India in ensuring that the demography proves to be a dividend rather than a burden.
Connecting the dots
- Skill development, higher education and primary education are the three sides of the triangle of human resource development. Comment. Also highlight the challenges and the reforms needed in Indian education policy with respect to primary education.
TOPIC: General Studies 3
- Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
- Awareness in the fields of IT
- Challenges to internal security through communication networks
- basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention
Vulnerable cyberspace in India
Recently, a hacker group ‘Legion’ broke into twitter accounts of Congress Party, its vice president Rahul Gandhi, controversial liquor baron Vijay Mallya, TV journalists Barkha Dutt and Ravish Kumar. Such hacker groups have exposed the vulnerability of cyber market in India which may fall to prey easily, thereby compromising on the privacy of data.
- The group ‘Legion’ has claimed access to ‘over 40,000 servers’ in India, ‘encryption keys and certificates’ used by some Indian banks, and confidential medical data housed in ‘servers of private hospital chains’.
- It is a group that trades in ‘zero days’ and makes money through ‘weaponised exploits’. A zero day vulnerability refers to a hole in software that is unknown to the vendor. This security hole is then exploited by hackers before the vendor becomes aware and fixes it—this exploit is called a zero day attack. Thus, a zero day vulnerability is a flaw.
- For example, Stuxnet, the cyber weapon developed jointly by the United States and Israel to slow down Iranian nuclear centrifuges, used a zero-day exploit that falsified digital certificates, allowing it to run in Windows operating systems.
- So, if Legion has gained access to a ‘Secure Socket Layer’ (SSL) certificate that an Indian bank’s website uses to validate its authenticity to a user’s computer or mobile phone, the group can easily retrieve confidential login information and cause unmitigated financial loss.
- Now the group aims to target to hack mail servers hosted by the government.
The loss that such security breaches induct is the corrosion of public trust reposed in digital transactions. This becomes more profound when more Indians are switching to online payment gateways in the aftermath of demonetisation.
Digital security in India
- As per a study by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India and PwC, in India, there has been a surge of about 350% of cybercrime cases registered under the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 from 2011 to 2014.
- Researchers in India at cybersecurity company FireEye discovered phishing websites created by cybercriminals that spoof 26 Indian banks in order to steal personal information from customers. This has been now notified to Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) team.
- At a time when an increasing number of Indians are going digital and doing transactions online, these hacking incidents expose the country’s cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
- As the digital economy grows, consumers should be aware of the risks that come with convenience. The ease of online payments opens new avenues for criminals to trick consumers into divulging their own sensitive information of banking, digi wallets etc.
Threat to privacy
- If the country’s digital assets are vulnerable to espionage and disruptive attacks, there are institutional, economic and social factors fuelling their neglect.
- The centre is yet to identify and implement measures to protect ‘critical information infrastructure’ indispensable to the country’s governance.
- The National Informatics Centre (NIC), which hosts the government’s mail servers, has been compromised several times in the past. It has just recently started using two-factor authentication (or 2FA, in which the user provides two means of identification) to access sensitive government communications.
- Not only government, but even private sector has failed to report and respond to breaches in digital networks.
- As per Interpol report of 2015, 1,11,083 security incidents were handled by CERT-In but less than 10% of those were registered with law enforcement agencies.
- Whether at the payment interface or the e-commerce website, electronic fraud is highly underreported in India.
- There are neither voluntary, sector-specific standards for reporting data breaches nor industry backchannels for sharing confidential security information.
- Most Indian applications available on Android and iOS stores allow for automatic updates or patches, increasing the likelihood that an exploit or malware can be introduced without the user’s knowledge.
- Many Indians don’t even realise that the digital identities have been now inextricably linked to their actual personas. An intrusion in the virtual social existence limited in its scope by 140 characters, may make way into person who owns the account- their identity, personality, private life and, more dangerously, financial profile.
- With many digital accounts linked to Aadhar platform, the breach of privacy may cause mayhem.
- There should be attitudinal change among the Indian elites and policy makers that cybersecurity is not ‘optional’. The successful hacking of accounts of highly visible politicians, journalists and industrialists shows that cybersecurity space needs boost in coming days.
- There should be a policy in place which deals strictly with cybercrimes. Even misuse of a digital wallet should be dealt with in the toughest way to send a message that cyber security is not something that can be messed with.
- There should be awareness and education about the digital platforms being used. There are many first-generation Internet users who might not understand the full risks and vulnerabilities associated with going online.
- There should be appointment of a National Cyber Security Coordinator, which was suggested in 2014, by creating liaison officers in the States.
- The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) should be adequately staffed.
- 2FA should be made mandatory even for Indian companies that rely on Gmail for official communication.
Frequent data breaches will steadily erode the confidence of Internet users and deter them from using digital gateways. The government has staked its future heavily on the success of the Digital India programme and hence it has to vindicate its goals by focusing on the importance of cyber security.
Connecting the dots:
- Why is cybersecurity important in this age? Examine the issues surrounding the fallouts of cyber breaches.
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