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Editorials/Opinions Analyses For UPSC 5 October 2021

Contents

  1. Peace at the heart of education
  2. Taproots to help restore India’s fading green cover

Peace at the heart of education

Context:

The International Day of Non-Violence is celebrated every year on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi (October 2nd) – this day presents an opportunity to explore the causes of violence and reassert a commitment to building a culture of dialogue through education.

Relevance:

Essay, GS-IV: Ethics, GS-II: Social Justice (Issues related to Education and Children)

Mains Questions:

  1. “Education can impart the skills and values needed to prevent potential conflicts.” Discuss.
  2. Education for peace has a rich history in India. What is the need for working on how peace is promoted now? What can be some of the reforms in our education system to imbibe peace in the younger generations?

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Recent Concerns which call for imbibing peace in education
  2. Preventing conflicts and the role of education
  3. What is the importance of imbibing peace in education system?
  4. Issue with our current education system and teaching peace
  5. Steps in India towards promoting “peace” through education
  6. Way Forward for Teachers and the Education System

Recent Concerns which call for imbibing peace in education

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new forces of division globally – levels of hate speech and fear of the ‘other’ have grown, as people have assigned blame for the virus.
  • Forms of structural violence – economic, racial and gendered forms- have been aggravated as marginalised groups have been disproportionately affected during the pandemic.
  • Around the world, the surge in inequality is driving instability, tension and is fuelling potential social unrest.
  • ‘Pathways for peace’ – a flagship 2018 report by the World Bank and the United Nations showed that many of the world’s conflicts arise from exclusion and feelings of injustice.

Preventing conflicts and the role of education

  • In order to rebuild solidarity, the root causes of human animosity must be understood.
  • There is a need to make peace with one another. The structures, attitudes and skills that create and sustain peace is the need of the hour.
  • Ignorance and fear of the unknown should be overcome through understanding and dialogue.
  • According to UNESCO, education is a significant part of the answer because it can impart the skills and values necessary to recognise and prevent potential conflicts and promote tolerance.
  • Education for peace has a rich history in India. The philosophies of various religions, cultures and of Gandhi have non-violence, syncretism and tolerance at their core.

What is the importance of imbibing peace in education system?

  • Our future depends on how well we nurture the best qualities of children — instinctive empathy, curiosity and an eagerness to express themselves.
  • Empathy brings sensitivity, compassion and acceptance.
  • Curiosity brings a willingness to learn about others and to explore new solutions to old problems.
  • Encouraging the impulse to self-expression can go beyond an individual articulation of feelings and grievances when we also model honesty, thoughtful speech, listening, discussion, debate and conflict resolution through dialogue.
  • These everyday habits, or ways of being, make us citizens inclined to choose peace-promoting behaviours.

Issue with our current education system and teaching peace

It can be said that teaching feels more like consumer appeasement or crowd management than a scholarly avocation in our ‘Average Indian School’ because of various issues like:

  • A marks-driven system that requires “covering” a syllabus at a military clip;
  • Aspirational parents looking anxiously at a competitive job market for their children;
  • Mounting vacancies and structural inadequacies racing fighting a relentless clock.

Steps in India towards promoting “peace” through education

NCERT

  • Since the 1990s, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has mandated that peace education be integrated into classroom practice across the curriculum (schools and teachers should find a way to teach peace in every class and subject they cover in a school).
  • The NCERT has created courses, tool kits and guidelines to facilitate this transformation.

The potential way forward: NEP 2020

  • The National Education Policy (NEP) of 2020 presents a unique opportunity to contribute to strengthening equity, justice and social cohesion. The policy has a broad focus on value-based and experiential education, including promoting critical thinking, cultural exchanges, teaching in regional languages, and a commitment to education for all.
  • Peace education can be integrated within national curricula and the broader learning environment to promote non-violence, conflict resolution and compassion.
  • Equipping children from a young age with the skills to respect the dignity of others is key to building resilient and peaceful societies.
  • Teachers and educators also need to be equipped with skills to promote peace through experiential and interactive methods.

Way Forward for Teachers and the Education System

How can the Education system (Esp. Teachers) help in promoting peace? (Research by an instructor and doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education)

Several ways that teachers and school leaders can incorporate peace education into their work, teaching students how to be empathetic, responsible, and active learners and leaders:

Model kindness and empathy

  • Teachers, principals, and staff throughout the building can model how to love and care for others through their interactions among each other and with students.
  • Adults should get to know students individually, appreciating the unique strengths and needs of each student and member of the school community.

Repair, don’t punish

  • When students commit an offense, use models of restorative justice to help them understand the effects of their actions and how they can repair any damage done.
  • Instead of punishing or excluding offenders, facilitate conversations on what would need to happen to restore balance in the community. The end goal is for children to understand the impact of their actions and to learn to take responsibility for them.

Create a democratic space

  • Involve student voices in establishing and revising school and class norms.
  • Create classrooms where children are encouraged to share their ideas and share power with students and give them the space to question authority.
  • Great injustices, inequalities, and atrocities take place when people either are uncritical of authority or aren’t given the appropriate space and courage to question and resist it.

Give a voice to the excluded

  • On a micro level, this means encouraging students who are commonly excluded to speak up in class.
  • On a macro level, this means incorporating into lessons the narratives of people who have been historically discriminated against or excluded.

Encourage collaboration in diverse groups

  • Emphasize collaboration and teamwork and deemphasize competition and self-interests.
  • Intercultural competencies, like empathy and critical thinking, are best learned through intercultural exchanges and scenario-based learning and not rote learning.
  • Opportunities in which children get to know one another as individuals, “may help break prejudices and establish caring relationships among members of different groups.”

Discuss controversial issues

  • Facilitate discussions about divisive civic and ethical issues for children of all ages
  • These debates teach students not only about viewpoints different from their own, but also that it’s okay to disagree with authority figures and peers as long as it’s done respectfully and in a safe environment.

-Source: The Hindu


Taproots to help restore India’s fading green cover

Context:

Despite various international conventions and national policies in place to improve green cover, there is a decline in global forest cover.

This is the prime reason for forest restoration activities including tree planting to become increasingly popular – and in forest restoration, the participation of local communities and adequate financing and incentives are essential.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Conservation of Environment and Ecology, Challenges with management of Forest Resources)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. State of the World’s Forests (SOFO) 2020
  2. Global Forest Goals Report 2021
  3. Forest degradation in India
  4. Steps taken by India
  5. Challenge and solution: Lack of research support
  6. Challenge and solution: Financing

State of the World’s Forests (SOFO) 2020

  • The State of the World’s Forests report 2020, says that since 1990, around 420 million hectares of forest have been lost through deforestation, conversion and land degradation.
  • Of this, nearly 178 million hectares have decreased globally due to deforestation alone (1990-2020).
  • Fire is a prevalent forest disturbance in the tropics. Fire burned about 4 percent of the total forest area in tropics.
  • More than 54 per cent of the world’s forests are in only five countries — the Russian Federation, Brazil, Canada, the United States of America and China.
  • Among the world’s regions, Africa had the largest annual rate of net forest loss in 2010–2020, at 3.9 mha, followed by South America, at 2.6 mha. Asia had the highest net gain of forest area in 2010–2020, followed by Oceania and Europe.

Suggestions in the State of World’s Forests 2020

  • There is a need to transform our food systems to halt deforestation and the loss of biodiversity.
  • Embracing healthier diets and reducing food waste are all actions that urgently need to be scaled up.
  • There is a need for effective governance; integrated policies for interrelated issues; land-tenure security; respect for the rights and knowledge of local communities and indigenous peoples; and enhanced capacity for monitoring of biodiversity outcomes.
  • Ensuring positive outcomes for both biodiversity and people requires a realistic balance between conservation goals and demands for resources that support livelihoods.
  • Countries must move away from the current situation where the demand for food results in inappropriate agricultural practices that drive large-scale conversion of forests to agricultural production and the loss of forest-related biodiversity.

Global Forest Goals Report 2021

  • An estimated 1.6 billion people, or 25% of the global population, rely on forests for their subsistence needs, livelihoods, employment, and income.
  • Of the extreme poor in rural areas, 40% live in forest and savannah areas, and approximately 20% of the global population, especially women, children, landless farmers, and other vulnerable segments of society look to forests to meet their food and income needs.
  • On the economic front, forest-dependent populations have faced job loss, reduced income, diminished access to markets and information, and for many women and youth, a contraction in seasonal employment.
  • Socially, many of these populations are already marginalized and vulnerable groups, such as indigenous peoples, least able to access critical socio-economic safety nets.
  • Many forest dependent populations, especially those in remote or hard to reach places, have faced difficulties accessing healthcare or find that government assistance programmes and basic services are disrupted.
  • Pandemic driven health and socio-economic outcomes have increased pressure on forests.
  • To ease their growing vulnerability, many indigenous peoples and local communities, as well as returning migrants and urban workers, have retreated deeper into the woods to seek food, fuel, shelter, and protection from the risks of Covid-19.

Suggestions in the Global Forest Goals Report 2021

  • Sustainably resourced and managed forests can bolster employment, disaster risk reduction, food security and social safety nets, for starters.
  • With regard to global health, safeguarding and restoring forests are among the environmental actions that can reduce the risk of future zoonotic disease outbreaks.
  • The report called for a future course of action that included greater sustainability and a greener and more inclusive economy to tackle the threats of Covid-19, climate change and the biodiversity crisis faced by forests.

Forest degradation in India

  • Out of its 21.9% population living under the poverty line, nearly 275 million people including local tribals depend on the forest for subsistence.
  • The high dependence on forests in India has put immense pressure on forest ecosystem and this has resulted in the degradation of 41% of its forests.
  • Further, encroachment of nearly 1.48 MHA of forest and grazing in nearly 75% of forest area is also linked to the livelihood of local communities.

Steps taken by India

  • To combat reducing forest cover, India joined the Bonn Challenge with a pledge to restore 21 MHA of degraded and deforested land which was later revised to 26 MHA to be restored by 2030. The first-ever country progress report under the Bonn Challenge submitted by India by bringing 9.8 million hectares since 2011 under restoration is an achievement.
  • There have also been remarkable initiatives to involve local people in the protection and development of forests by forming joint forest management committees (JFMC).

Challenge and solution: Lack of research support

  • Restoration, being a scientific activity, needs research support for its success. Whether one goes for active restoration which includes planting or passive restoration with more focus on halting environmental stressors or adopting an intermediate approach of aided natural regeneration, it needs critical examination before putting restoration interventions into practice.
  • Further, much of the research done so far on restoration is not fully compatible with India’s diverse ecological habitats hence warranting due consideration of local factors.
  • So, the relevance of local research duly considering ecological aspects, local disturbances and forest-dependent communities is vital to formulate guidelines for locally suitable interventions and to meet India’s global commitment.

Challenge and solution: Financing

  • Adequate financing is one of the major concerns for the success of any interventions including restoration.
  • The active approach of restoration which includes tree planting and the involvement of communities seeks incentives and rewards and make the whole affair quite cost-intensive.
  • The contribution of corporates in restoration efforts so far has been limited to 2% of the total achievement. Hence, alternate ways of financing such as involving corporates and dovetailing restoration activities with ongoing land-based programmes of various departments can help to make it easy for operation.

-Source: The Hindu

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