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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 20 April 2023


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 20 April 2023


Contents

  1. Campus unity to save lives
  2. The leading proponents of deep-sea mining

Campus Unity To Save Lives


Context

  • In this context, it should be noted that 61 students graduated during the 2018–23 quinquennial, including 33 from Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), 24 from National Institutes of Technology (NITs), and 4 from Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).
  • There were 122 cases in various higher education institutions during the septennial 2014–21.
    • In both cohorts, the Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), Other Backward Castes (OBC), and Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) comprised the majority of the students.
    • As a result, there is an urgent need to resolve these problems in a thorough and efficient manner.

Relevance:

GS Paper-2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources; Stress Management

Mains Question

What are the causes of the stress in India’s higher education system? Offer some solutions to those problems. (150 Words)


Highlights

The three largest higher education systems in the world in terms of student enrollment are China, the United States, and India. The Indian Constitution lists education as a concurrent subject.

Reason of stress in Higher Education

  • Lack of family support is a major cause of stress in higher education, as more nuclear families now have working parents who are unable to provide the same level of parenting and guidance that joint families can.
  • Growing Individualism: Individualism is pervasive in today’s society.
  • As a result, early indications of emotional distress are missed, misunderstood, and left unattended.
  • Lack of Attention from the Institution’s Side: Institutions typically operate in denial and prefer to keep things quiet in the hopes that the parents will handle the situation.
  • It has occasionally been suggested that students experiencing emotional distress spend time with their families.
  • Lack of communication in the midst of a busy schedule: o The system in place at higher education institutions makes it difficult for students, their elders, teachers, and the administration to have open and honest conversations.
    • Interactions in the classroom are limited to academics, with repeated exhortations to be committed, dedicated, and hard workers, adding to the pressure already placed on emotionally troubled students.
    • Teachers may lack the time, the motivation, or even the knowledge to identify and address any troubling characteristics in their students.
  • As a result, students are denied access to crucial preventative measures.
    • Remedial and preventive actions are only prescribed after a tragedy has occurred, after which there is an investigation.

Cause of Campus Suicide

  • The majority of campus suicides are attributed to stress from academics, family issues, personal issues, various types of stress, financial hardship, caste-based discrimination, and a variety of forms of harassment.
  • Many of the sources of distress originate in larger economic and societal contexts, which are outside the purview of institutions of higher education.
  • Therefore, the government, society, institutions, parents, and families must address each of these causes at its root.

Measures Taken

  • There are formal mechanisms in place to offer students individualised, culturally relevant, and psychological counselling.
    • The majority of IITs, NITs, and institutions of a similar nature have put in place online and offline mechanisms to access private counselling and therapies in a private setting.
  • Most of these institutions also host awareness and sensitization programmes for students.
  • Apps like Dost, Saathi, and Mitr have also been released to access their services anonymously.

Unresolved Issues:

  • These counselling facilities seem to be lacking in many ways.
    • Students who are “in need” of assistance are responsible for making an appointment.
    • They work primarily during regular business hours and on weekdays, which makes it difficult for them to respond quickly.
  • A few of them have agreements with outside organisations to offer mental health counselling.
    • Based on the scant information that is available, it appears that they frequently delegate the responsibility of counselling to faculty members and have not yet come around to the idea of hiring counsellors with formal training.

Contract with USA

  • In contrast, American universities have specialised counselling centres that offer a variety of psychological services, including evaluation, counselling, consultation, and individual and group therapies.
  • They are accredited by the International Accreditation of Counselling Services (IACS) and staffed by social workers, clinical therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists who are all duly licenced.
  • The ratio of counsellors to students is carefully determined by combining empirical analysis and the opinions of seasoned counselling directors.In contrast, the availability of psychological counselling services on Indian campuses is restricted to a small amount of physical space in a building’s corner and a small number of psychologists and psychotherapists with formal training.

Need of the Hour:

  • Institutions’ approval and accreditation processes should give this aspect of student life the same weight as they do other factors like floor space, faculty, resources for learning, and even computers.
    • Many students require a well-functioning life support system.
  • It may be simple to strengthen and streamline counselling and therapies as preventative measures.
    • Conditions that foster respect for academic and socioeconomic diversity and an assimilative culture of cohesion are urgently needed.
    • Institutions are required to prevent and suppress all forms of discrimination.
  • A few outlaws on campus might be unfavourable towards admission restrictions and fee differentials.
  • As a result, it is necessary to develop a code of campus ethics that establishes guidelines for what can and cannot be discussed, even in casual settings.

Conclusion:

  • Social, economic, and cultural diversity on campuses is valuable for improving the quality of life for students.
    • As a result, it is important to establish an efficient and all-encompassing support system, particularly for the higher education sector.

The Leading Proponents of Deep-Sea Mining


Context

The push for deep-sea mining has been the subject of heated discussion in recent years, with supporters praising the potential advantages of the global switch to clean energy and opponents predicting dire environmental repercussions.

Relevance:

GS Paper-3: Conservation, Environmental Pollution, and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment

Mains Question

What issues does deep-sea mining raise, and why are some nations and environmental organisations against it? (150 Words)


International Seabed Authority

  • The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which was established in 1982, established the International Seabed Authority (ISA), an intergovernmental organisation with 167 member states and the European Union.
  • The dual objectives of the ISA are to protect the ecosystem of the seabed, ocean floor, and subsoil in “The Area,” which is outside of national jurisdiction, and to authorise and regulate the development of mineral-related operations in the international seabed, which is regarded as the “common heritage of all mankind.”

Concerns and criticism

  • Critics claim that the organization’s dual responsibilities as a guardian of the seabed environment and a regulator of mining are incompatible and that it has been tilting too heavily in favour of corporate interests. Additionally, they accuse it of lacking accountability and transparency, which it disputes.
  • Although ISA members are currently drafting a “mining code” that will permit the start of deep sea mining operations, a gap in its regulations may allow it to begin approving applications as early as July.

The Mining Code

  • The ISA’s “mining code” is the set of guidelines, procedures, and rules that govern the discovery and exploitation of mineral resources on the international seabed outside of the purview of any one nation.
  • The mining code is intended to make sure that the benefits of mining in the international seabed area are distributed fairly among all nations and that these activities are carried out in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner.

The Metals Company

  • The Metals Company (TMC) is collaborating with the Pacific states of Nauru, Tonga, and Kiribati to explore deep-sea metals.
  • The Canada-based company has downplayed concerns about the environmental impact of seabed mining, claiming that the collection of “loose-lying” polymetallic rock on the ocean floor was far less detrimental to the environment.

Exploration permits:

  • Nauru is anticipated to be the first country to submit an application to the ISA for permission to start mining deep sea.
  • Nauru announced its intention to do so in 2021, opening the door for it to start exploitation activities this year even though the mining code is not yet complete. This is known as the “two-year rule” loophole.
    • Additional sponsors include:
  • The ISA has already granted up to 31 exploration licences, supported by a total of 14 countries.
  • In addition to Nauru, Tonga, and Kiribati, they also include Brazil, Japan, Jamaica, China, Russia, South Korea, India, the United Kingdom, France, and Poland.
    • China: Three companies, including the state-owned conglomerate Minmetals, currently hold exploration licences issued by the ISA. China is a major proponent of deep-sea mining.

Deep-sea mining may pose the following risks:

  • Environmental effects: It has a negative impact on the environment, destroying deep-sea habitats and releasing pollutants into the ocean.
  • Deep-sea ecosystems are among the most diverse and poorly understood ecosystems on the planet, and deep-sea mining may lead to the extinction of certain species and the disruption of crucial ecological processes.
  • Disruption of carbon storage: Mining operations have the potential to interfere with the process of storing carbon in deep-sea sediments, which would increase carbon emissions.
  • Uncertainty regarding the long-term effects: Deep-sea ecosystems are poorly understood, so it is difficult to predict how mining operations will affect them in the long run.
  • Effects on local communities:

o Local communities that depend on the marine environment for their well-being may experience significant effects from deep-sea mining on their cultures and way of life.

  • Economic risks:

o There is no assurance that deep-sea mining will be profitable in the long run. It is an expensive and risky business. Companies may suffer sizable financial losses if they make significant investments in deep-sea mining but the sector does not take off.

The opponents:

  • The Deep-Sea Conservation Coalition, which is made up of more than 100 environmental organisations (including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and the Worldwide Fund for Nature), has also been fighting to stop deep sea mining.
  • As many as 14 countries, including France, Germany, New Zealand, Costa Rica, and Vanuatu, have now called for a moratorium or suspension of all mining activities.

Conclusion:

  • It is difficult, but not impossible, to find a solution that strikes a balance between the potential advantages of deep-sea mining and the need to safeguard marine ecosystems.
  • With a commitment to innovation and responsible management, we can harness the mineral wealth of the deep sea to support the global transition to clean energy while protecting ocean biodiversity.
  • To create transparent, accountable, and environmentally sustainable regulations, all stakeholders, including the ISA, mining companies, sponsoring nations, and opponents of deep-sea mining, must work together.

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