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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 13 November 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Survey on Remote education accessibility
  2. Government to assess learning gaps
  3. PM to inaugurate Kashi Corridor project
  4. Small investors can now buy govt. bonds easily: PM
  5. Cybercrime went up by 500% during pandemic: CDS

Survey on Remote education accessibility

Context:

According to a new national sample survey only 20% of school age children in India had access to remote education during the pandemic, of whom only half participated in live online lessons.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Issues Related to Education)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights of the Survey on Remote Education
  2. What are the implications of the digital divide?
  3. Steps taken by the Government to reduce the internet usage gap
  4. Conclusion

Highlights of the Survey on Remote Education

  • 38% of households said at least one child had dropped out of school completely due to COVID-19.
  • Only 20% of school age children in India had access to remote education during the pandemic.
  • Although digital connectivity shot up 40% during the pandemic, low access to devices, poor signal and high costs prevented most children from reaping the benefits.
  • Among children aged 5-18 years, it found that 80% of those who were enrolled in schools prior to the pandemic did not receive any educational services at all during school closure.
  • Among the 20% who received education, only 55% had access to live online classes, while 68% had access to recorded audio or video lessons.
  • Of households with school aged children, 64% had internet connections, but only 31% of those received remote education, often because of a lack of access to devices or a lack of larger screen devices.
  • However, among those without internet connections the situation was worse, with only 8% receiving remote education.

What are the implications of the digital divide?

  1. Political: In the age of social media, political empowerment and mobilization are difficult without digital connectivity.
  2. Governance: Transparency and accountability are dependent on digital connectivity. The digital divide affects e-governance initiatives negatively.
  3. Social: Internet penetration is associated with greater social progress of a nation. Thus, digital divide in a way hinders the social progress of a country. Rural India is suffering from information poverty due to the digital divide. It only strengthens the vicious cycle of poverty, deprivation, and backwardness.
  4. Economic: The digital divide causes economic inequality between those who can afford the technology and those who don’t.
  5. Educational: The digital divide is also impacting the capacity of children to learn and develop. Without Internet access, students cannot build the required tech skills.

Steps taken by the Government to reduce the internet usage gap

  1. The Indian government has passed Information Technology Act, 2000 to make to e- commerce and e-governance a success story in India along with national e-governance plan.
  2. Optical Fibre Network (NOF-N), a project aimed to ensure broadband connectivity to over two lakh (200,000) gram panchayats of India by 2016.
  3. Digital Mobile Library: In order to bridge the digital divide in a larger way the government of India, in collaboration with the Centre for Advanced Computing (C–DAC) based in Pune.
  4. Unnati, is a project of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) which strives to bridge the digital divide in schools by giving the rural students with poor economic and social background access to computer education.
  5. E-pathshala: to avail study materials for every rural and urban student.
  6. Common Service Centres: which enabled the digital reach to unreachable areas.

Conclusion

  • The benefits of increased digitalization have been unevenly spread across the geography and population.
  • Trickle down to lower income groups and laggard regions is not a given and will require policy support.
  • The journey to digital inclusion must look at an expansive understanding of access which goes beyond laying fibre and providing cheap smartphones — the latter is necessary, but certainly not sufficient.

-Source: The Hindu


Government to assess learning gaps

Context:

The first National Achievement Survey in four years was conducted in a bid to assess the competencies of children in Class 3, 5 and 8.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Issues related to Education, Government Policies and Initiatives)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the National Achievement Survey (NAS)
  2. Importance of NAS

About the National Achievement Survey (NAS)

  • The National Achievement Survey (NAS) is a nationally representative large-scale survey of students’ learning undertaken by the Ministry of Education.
  • It is implemented on a sample size aiming to assess students of 3rd, 5th, 8th and 10th
  • It gives a system level reflection on effectiveness of school education.
  • The NCERT has developed the Assessment Framework for gauging the competencies attained by the student’s vis-a-vis learning outcomes.

Features:

  • The Survey goes beyond the scorecard and includes the background variables to correlate student’s performance in different learning outcomes vis-a-vis contextual variables.
  • The Survey was conducted in a monitored environment in the sampled schools.
  • Selection of sampled schools was based on UDISE+ (Unified District Information System for Education) 2019-20 data.

Importance of NAS

  • NAS findings would help diagnose learning gaps of students and determine interventions required in education policies, teaching practices and learning.
  • Through its diagnostic report cards, NAS findings help in capacity building for teachers, officials involved in the delivery of education.
  • This will help to assess the learning interruptions and new learnings during the COVID pandemic and help to take remedial measures.

-Source: The Hindu


PM to inaugurate Kashi Corridor project

Context:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor project in Varanasi.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-I: Art and Culture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor
  2. About the Kashi Vishwanath Temple
  3. About the Ghats in Varanasi

About the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor

  • The Kashi Vishwanath Corridor project connects Kashi Vishwanath temple with the ghats of Holy Ganga.
  • It comprises of a paved walkway and also has facilities for a museum, library, a Mumuksha Bhawan (salvation house) and a facilitation centre for pilgrims.
  • This project encapsulates the vision of Ahalya Bai Holkar, the Holkar queen of Indore. She created a series of temples and vistas that lead towards Ganga ghat.
  • For this project, around 400 families were asked to vacate the area.
  • Several encroachments surrounding the historic temple were also cleared to make way for this project.

About the Kashi Vishwanath Temple

  • The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva.
  • It is located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh – standing on the western bank of the holy river Ganga.
  • It is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, or Jyotirlingams, the holiest of Shiva Temples.
  • It had been demolished by many Muslim rulers many times, last time It was demolished by Aurangzeb, the sixth Mughal emperor who constructed the Gyanvapi Mosque on its site.
  • The original Vishwanath temple was destroyed by army of Aibak in 1194 CE, when he defeated the Raja of Kannauj as a commander of Mohammad Ghori.
  • The temple was rebuilt by a Gujarati merchant during the reign of Delhi’s Sultan Iltutmish (1211–1266 CE).
  • It was demolished again during the rule of either Hussain Shah Sharqi (1447–1458) or Sikandar Lodhi (1489–1517).
  • Raja Man Singh built the temple during Mughal emperor Akbar’s rule. Raja Todar Mal further re-built the temple with Akbar’s funding at its original site in 1585.

About the Ghats in Varanasi

  • Ghats in Varanasi are riverfront steps leading to the banks of the River Ganges.
  • Most of the ghats are bathing and puja ceremony ghats, while two ghats, Manikarnika and Harishchandra, are used exclusively as cremation sites.
  • Most Varanasi ghats were rebuilt in the 18th century under the maratha patronage.
  • As a dip in Ganga is considered holy in the Hindu religion, most of the ghats are dedicated to religious rituals, the most popular being Dashashwamedh.
  • At one end of the line of ghats, is Assi, which is famous for morning yoga sessions.
  • The evening arti (a religious ritual with lamps) at the ghats, primarily at Dashashwamedh, is a sight to behold.
  • One of the more visually spectacular ghats is the Lalita Ghat.

-Source: The Hindu


Small investors can now buy govt. bonds easily: PM

Context:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicked off two Reserve Bank of India (RBI) initiatives to make it easier for small investors to directly invest in government securities and provide a simpler single-window redressal mechanism for customers of RBI-regulated entities.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (Growth and Development of Indian Economy, Planning usage and Mobilization of resources, Inclusive growth and issues therein)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. More about the RBI initiatives
  2. Conclusion

More about the RBI initiatives

To make it easier for small investors to directly invest in government securities:

  • The RBI Retail Direct Scheme will enable retail investors to participate into G-secs across various tenors with flexible investment horizons and with the ability to get regular cash flows through risk-free coupons.
  • The G-sec market is dominated by Institutional investors like Banks, Insurance companies, Mutual Funds, etc. with lot sizes of ₹5 crores & higher. Hence this segment was largely inaccessible to retail participants.
  • The initiative will make it easier for small investors to invest in a safe and simple manner in government securities.
  • So far, in the government securities market, our small investors class, salaried class, small traders had to invest through banks and mutual funds in an indirect manner.

To provide a simpler single-window redressal mechanism for customers:

  • Three existing ombudsman schemes of the RBI for banking, non-banking financial companies and digital transactions will be integrated, and will provide ‘cost-free redress of customer complaints involving deficiency in services.’
  • It will provide cost-free redress of customer complaints involving deficiency in services.

Conclusion

  • These schemes could encourage financial inclusion and bring more money into the capital market from the unorganized sector. But, on the contrary, these schemes could also take retail money from the banking system and directly into the central bank’s kitty.
  • The One-Ombudsman scheme centralizes grievance redressal and focuses on preventing financial crime and catching cyber fraud through artificial intelligence promises to encourage investor trust.

-Source: The Hindu


Cybercrime went up by 500% during pandemic: CDS

Context:

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) has emphasised the necessity for a national framework to combat the growth in cyberattacks in the country.

Relevance:

GS-III: Internal Security Challenges (Cybercrime and Cyber Security issues)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Cyber Attack and Cyber Security?
  2. The need for improved Cybersecurity
  3. What are the Concerns of Cyber Security?

What is Cyber Attack and Cyber Security?

  • A cyber attack is an assault launched by cybercriminals using one or more computers against a single or multiple computers or networks. A cyber attack can maliciously disable computers, steal data, or use a breached computer as a launch point for other attacks. Cybercriminals use a variety of methods to launch a cyber attack, including malware, phishing, ransomware, denial of service, among other methods.
  • Cybersecurity means securing the cyberspace from attack, damage, misuse and economic espionage. Cyberspace is a global domain within the information environment consisting of interdependent IT infrastructure such as Internet, Telecom networks, computer systems etc.

Cyberwarfare and cyberterrorism

  • Cyberwarfare utilizes techniques of defending and attacking information and computer networks that inhabit cyberspace, often through a prolonged cyber campaign or series of related campaigns. It denies an opponent’s ability to do the same, while employing technological instruments of war to attack an opponent’s critical computer systems.
  • Cyberterrorism, on the other hand, is “the use of computer network tools to shut down critical national infrastructures (such as energy, transportation, government operations) or to coerce or intimidate a government or civilian population”. That means the end result of both cyberwarfare and cyberterrorism is the same, to damage critical infrastructures and computer systems linked together within the confines of cyberspace.

The need for improved Cybersecurity

  • The country is in dire need of a data protection law, with cybercriminals increasingly weaponising data as a tool against national security in the post-pandemic era.
  • In the post-pandemic period, hackers are increasingly weaponizing data as a tactic against national security.
  • The rise of digital payments has also increased complex cybercrime. The government urgently needs data protection legislation.
  • The sensitive information and fragmented approach that prevailed in handling the threat is becoming prime targets for cyber attacks.
  • There are emerging threats from new technologies such as drones, ransomware, Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
  • The role of nation-states in such cyberattacks also needs to be considered.
  • The lockdown has witnessed a deeper adoption of interconnected devices and hybrid work environments. It has increased our dependence on technology, rendering us digitally more vulnerable than ever before.

What are the Concerns of Cyber Security?

  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 is not equipped to consider new-age changes in the mode of functioning of businesses and modus operandi of crimes in cyberspace.
  • The delay in passing the Personal Data Protection Bill states the inefficiency of the government to deal with cybersecurity and cybercrimes.
  • Data is the new goldmine for any organisation, especially for the bad elements that lurk in the dark web.
  • With cybercriminals and inimical actors increasingly using information to threaten national security, the matter is of serious concern.

-Source: The Hindu

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