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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 20 August 2022


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 20 August 2022


Contents

  1. An India Blockchain Platform
  2. India’s treatment of women

An India Blockchain Platform


Context

  • In order to transform India’s digital ecosystem, the article discusses the need for blockchain-based digital infrastructure.
  • A draught National Strategy on Blockchain was also published by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in 2021. It identifies the potential for blockchain adoption in India and plans to establish a “National Level Blockchain Framework.”
  • With the launch of the Digital India mission in 2015, India’s payment systems, provident funds, passports, driving licences, toll roads, and checking of land records have all undergone significant transformations thanks to modular applications based on Aadhaar, UPI, and the India Stack.

Relevance

GS Paper 3: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Mains Question

What does blockchain technology mean to you? Consider the challenges and prospects. (150 words)


About National Blockchain Strategy

  • The National Blockchain Strategy seeks to develop state-specific block chain applications and provides a trusted digital platform for e-governance services using blockchain technology.
  • It involves the development of human resources, teamwork, a legal framework, a technology stack, and standards development.
  • However, virtual and digital currencies like bitcoin have been excluded from the scope of this framework.

Regarding Blockchain

  • Satoshi Nakamoto first used blockchain, a cutting-edge distributed/decentralized ledger technology, in the design and development of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin in 2009.
  • It makes use of a special data structure where verification information pertaining to transactional records is stored in blocks and cryptographically protected against modification.
  • It provides a unique blend of auditability, real-time transaction transparency, and permanent, tamper-evident record keeping.
  • Each computer or user connected to other computers or users in a network has access to an exact copy of the blockchain.

Blockchain is required

  • Public digital infrastructure’s limitations: It is well known that digital infrastructure should be planned using the availability, affordability, value, and trust principles.
  • As networks get bigger, it becomes more difficult to validate data because it must cross multiple systems and rely on private databases, which raises costs and results in inefficiencies.
  • To make the existing diverse digital infrastructures conversant and interoperable, a technical integration is needed because they are not already connected by design.
  • On the other hand, blockchain enables innovations in a variety of procedures requiring the management, storing, retrieval, and safety of vast and crucial data.
    • Take, for instance, the management of data related to financial transactions (such as those involving cryptocurrencies), voting in elections, medical records, academic assignments, records of property ownership, and professional references, etc.

Web 3.0 will address issues

  • Web 3.0 is the upcoming third generation of the internet, which will connect data in a decentralised manner as opposed to the second generation’s (Web 2.0) predominant practise of storing data in centralised repositories.
  • Therefore, Web 3.0 is a potential future iteration of the internet that is built on open blockchains, a system for keeping records, and doesn’t need “permission.

Finance and blockchain

  • Decentralized finance, or DeFi, is a feature of Web 3.0 that entails carrying out actual financial transactions on the blockchain without the assistance of banks or the state.
  • The well-known DeFi platforms that rely on blockchain technology, such as Ethereum, are pegged to the base cryptocurrencies that platform is currently holding.
  • DeFi platforms are present and used in numerous countries and are not subject to any specific regulatory framework.
  • DeFi gives users the option to borrow and lend cryptocurrencies on a short-term basis at rates set by an algorithm.
  • DeFi users receive tokens as a reward that grant governance rights, which are comparable to positions on the protocol’s board.

Blockchain and Web 3.0

  • A large number of Indian technology companies are developing layer 2 chains (L2) on top of layer 1 chains (L1) that have already been proven to work while delivering value-ads like scale, throughput, etc., primarily by bundling the transactions.
    • These applications illustrate how blockchain technology will shape Web 3.0 in the future.
  • Comparing Layers 1 and 2: The primary blockchain architecture, or Layer 1, refers to the fundamental framework of a blockchain network. Blockchains at Layer 1 include Bitcoin, Ethereum, and BNB Chain.
    • Networks constructed on top of other blockchains are referred to as Layer 2. For instance, if Layer 1 is Bitcoin, Layer 2 is the Lightning Network, which sits on top of it.
  • Therefore, a Layer 1 solution will alter the original blockchain’s rules and mechanisms directly, whereas a Layer 2 solution will enable transactions off the mainchain using an external, parallel network.
  • Layer-2 is required, for instance At first, Bitcoin was meant to be a decentralised payment system that users could use anonymously and from any location. Transactions did, however, gradually become much slower and more expensive as a result of its popularity.
  • As a result, cryptocurrency layers were made, with the main blockchain serving as the top layer. Each layer below that enhances and adds functionality to the layer above it.
    • Lightning Network is a second layer for Bitcoin that scales the blockchain’s ability to handle transactions more effectively by using micropayment channels.

India’s digital road map is powered by blockchain

  • The role of the Indian digital community should be to support standardisation, interoperability, and other types of research. For instance, fintechs, academia, think tanks, and institutions should do this.
    • The effective management of currently recognised distributed technology issues, such as scalability and performance, consensus mechanisms, and automatic vulnerability detection, also requires careful consideration.
  • Inclusive blockchain: Currently, blockchain-based technology is not supported by end-user devices like smartphones, which means that the last mile is always outside of the network. As a result, by including extensions, smartphone manufacturers could deliver products that comply with the blockchain.
    • A prototype smartphone with hardware and security that can support decentralised apps for people interested in crypto wallets, Web3, and NFTs was recently released by blockchain service provider Solana.
  • Middle course: At the moment, blockchain models are either public, like Ethereum, which is unregulated and dependent on inherent standards, or permissioned.
    • To create a dependable and effective network for the Indian digital economy, a national platform operating at Layer-1 (L1) that connects blockchains (both permissioned and public), application providers (decentralised applications, or dApps), token service providers, and infrastructure managers could be mapped out.
    • Additional Layer-2 (L2) deployment of pertinent and use-specific applications can be done for very little money and effort.
    • All L2 chains on the public infrastructure L1 will communicate with one another, eliminating the need for existing Indian digital infrastructures to undergo complicated Internet integrations.
    • Permissioned block chain is a hybrid of public and private blockchains that anyone can access provided they have the appropriate authorization from the administrators.
  • Homegrown solution: According to reports, NITI Aayog is creating a platform called “IndiaChain,” a blockchain infrastructure tailored to India. A blockchain platform for India is also urgently needed given the global trend toward blockchain at the moment.

India’s Treatment of Women


Context

  • The nature and scope of employment, political engagement, educational attainment, health status, representation in decision-making bodies, access to property, etc. are some pertinent indicators of a person’s status within a society. But not all members of a society, particularly women, have equal access to the elements that make up these status indicators.
  • Patriarchal norms limit Indian women’s options for education and employment, limiting their ability to enter the workforce and choose their line of work.
  • Let’s examine the current state of women’s rights to freedom, dignity, equality, and representation in the country, who make up nearly half of the population.

Relevance

GS Paper 1: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies. Social empowerment.

GS Paper 2: social Justice

Mains Question

What obstacles stand in the way of India’s women’s status being improved? List a few significant government programmes that promote women’s empowerment. (250 Words)


How Does the Constitution Address the Empowerment of Women?

  • In the Indian Constitution, the idea of gender equality is firmly established.
    • In addition to guaranteeing women’s equality, the Constitution gives the State the authority to implement positive discrimination policies in their favour in order to lessen the cumulative socio-economic and political disadvantages that women face.
  • Women have the fundamental right to equal protection under the law and to be free from sex-based discrimination (Article 15). It also places a fundamental obligation on every citizen to renounce behaviours that are disrespectful of women’s dignity (Article 14).

What are the Sectors in India where Women have excelled?

  • Women have long been subjected to social injustice and prejudice. But as times have changed, they have established a reputation for themselves. They have freed themselves from the constraints of gender norms and are now free to pursue their aspirations. For illustration:
  • Sindhutai Sapkal (Padma Shri 2021) is a social activist who raises orphaned children.
    • Environmentalist: Tulsi Godwa, Encyclopaedia of Forest, Padma Shri 2021
      • Avani Chaturvedi, the first woman in India to fly a fighter jet solo (MiG-21 Bison)
    • In sports, Mary Kom became the first woman from her nation to take home an Olympic boxing medal.
      • PV Sindhu, the first woman from India to win two Olympic medals (Bronze in Tokyo 2020); and (Silver- Rio 2016).
      • The Indian Women’s Cricket Team placed third at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
  • International organisations include Gita Gopinath, the IMF’s first female chief economist (International Monetary Fund).
    • Space Technology: Tessy Thomas, the Indian missile woman (Agni-V missile project)
    • Education: Shakuntala Devi holds the record for fastest human computation in the Guinness World Records.
      • First Women’s Batch of the National Defense Academy AIR 1 Entrance Exam, held in Shanan Dhaka
      • The Top 3 in India Female candidates in the UPSC Civil Services Examination 2021 achieved ranks.

What are the current issues that women in India face?

  • Despite government efforts to ensure that men and women in our society have equal access to education, the literacy rate for women in India, particularly in rural areas, continues to be extremely low.
    • Due to the great distances between schools in rural India and the lack of strong local law and order, it is unsafe for women to travel great distances to attend school.
    • Because many families find it economically impossible to afford to send their daughters to school, traditional practises like female infanticide, dowry, and early marriage have also contributed to the issue.
  • Role Stereotyping: In a significant portion of our Indian society, men were still expected to handle all of the household finances and perform manual labour.
    • Stereotypes about women’s gender roles have typically resulted in prejudice and discrimination against them.
      • For instance, because of the responsibilities associated with raising children, women may be viewed as less dependable workers.
  • Differentiation in the Socialization Process: Socialization norms for men and women continue to differ in many areas of India, particularly in rural areas.
    • Women are expected to be quiet, composed, and soft-spoken. They must behave in a particular way when they sit, walk, talk, and walk. Men, on the other hand, should be assertive, loud, and free to act however they please.
  • Women’s Legislative Representation: In India, there are still few women in the various legislative bodies.
    • India ranks 148th out of 193 nations in the report by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and UN Women regarding the proportion of elected female lawmakers.
  • Safety Concern: Despite ongoing efforts to improve safety, women in India continue to face threats from a variety of crimes such as honour killings, rape, trafficking, forced prostitution, and feticides.
  • Period poverty refers to a lack of access to the sanitary products, education about menstruation, and sanitation facilities needed to manage menstruation in a healthy way.
    • A 2011 study by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) found that only 13% of Indian girls are aware that they can start menstruating before menarche.
  • Glass Ceiling: Women face a social barrier that prevents them from being promoted to management’s highest positions not just in India but throughout the world.

What recent government initiatives are there for the empowerment of women?

The Beti Bachao Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, Swadhar Greh, Ujjawala Yojna, and Beti Padhao Scheme

What should the next step be?

  • Better Education Opportunities: Educating women also educates the rest of the family. In order to increase women’s self-confidence, education is crucial.
    • It also gives people the chance to alter their social standing. Education empowers and instils confidence in the ability to make better decisions.
      • Also, education policy should target young men and boys to positively change their attitudes toward girls and women. o The Education policy needs to be more inclusive to ensure girls’ right to education and their right to be free from discrimination within educational institutions.
  • Skill-based microfinancing can help women become financially independent so they are no longer dependent on other people in the community.
    • Women’s financial empowerment depends on providing them with non-traditional skill training that matches market demand and more employment opportunities in the public and private sectors.
  • Women’s Safety: To ensure the safety of women across the nation, a multi-sectoral strategy should be developed to educate women about current government initiatives and mechanisms.
    • The Panic Button and the Nirbhaya Police Squad are two positive steps for women’s safety.
    • The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, was passed to protect female employees’ right to equality in status and opportunity and to create safe work environments for women.
  • Specific Actions at the Lowest Level of Governance: In order to increase inclusivity in governance and enhance the status of women in India, it is necessary to design, support, and promote projects at the Lowest Level of Governance. For illustration:
    • Swagatam Nandini (Katni, Madhya Pradesh): This initiative was started with the goal of celebrating the birth of girls. Parents of new-born baby girls are congratulated with baby kits under the Ladli Lakshmi Scheme, and there is a small procession to mark the occasion.
    • Nanhe Chinh (Panchkula, Haryana): Supported by Anganwadi Workers (AWWs), families bring young girls to neighbourhood AWCs where their footprints are traced on chart paper and displayed alongside the names of the mother and the child.
  • Financial Incentives for Higher Education: There is a need to offer relatively higher financial incentives for higher education in order to reduce the higher dropout rate among girls.
    • Villages and districts should receive rewards for achieving equal child sex ratio through education, information, and communication campaigns.
    • E-governance should receive more attention so that timely oversight of the funds released by the federal government and various state governments for scholarships for female students can be ensured.
  • Improvements to the most fundamental services at the rural level can lighten the load on domestic labour.
  • For instance, rural women’s domestic work frequently entails taxing tasks like collecting fuelwood and water. Clean natural gas (which is already improving) and piped drinking water will lessen this load.
  • From women’s development to women-led development: Instead of being passive recipients of the benefits of development, women should be reimagined as the architects of India’s progress and development.
  • An educated and empowered woman will ensure education and empowerment for future generations, so the effects of women-led development are undeniable.

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