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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 21 July 2023


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 21 July 2023


Contents

  1. Empowering Women for a Safer Digital Future: Combating Technology-Facilitated Sexual Violence
  2. Enhancing Indian Research

Empowering Women for a Safer Digital Future: Combating Technology-Facilitated Sexual Violence


Context

The disturbing prevalence of technology-facilitated sexual violence (TFSV), which has a disproportionately high impact on young women, has recently been made public by study.

Relevance –

  • GS Paper 1 – Society
  • GS Paper 2 – Social Justice
  • GS paper 3 – Technological Developments and its Consequences

Mains Question

Examine the effects of TFSV and the difficulties in solving this issue. Examine how government programmes like the Digital Literacy and Online Safety Programme and the Information Technology Act 2000 have helped to combat TFSV, and make suggestions for additional steps that may be taken to make the internet a safer place for women. (250 Words)


The Reality

TFSV is a collection of malevolent behaviours, including modified photos, sexualized blackmail, digital flashing, rape threats, and explicit remarks and messages. The prevalence of these crimes on social media and messaging services, particularly Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp, has a substantial negative impact on Indian college students. According to a private assessment of 400 students from 111 higher education institutions in India, an astounding 60% of women reported having TFSV, compared to only 8% of men.

As a result of TFSV:

The effects of TFSV are severe since offensive content associated with a person’s identity and online profile stays on the internet forever. Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and even suicide thoughts frequently burden survivors. Survivors may experience physical disadvantages in addition to psychological ones, such as lowered academic or professional prospects, social isolation, and, in severe cases, violence or ostracization by their own family. In the meantime, criminals frequently take advantage of their anonymity, making it difficult to hold them responsible for their acts.

Problems and worries:

Despite India’s IT Act of 2000, which makes some types of TFSV illegal, legal difficulties prevent survivors from reporting cases. Technology behemoths like Meta have come under fire for not being driven to improve security measures beyond the bare minimum, leaving customers vulnerable to misuse. Furthermore, poorly made artificial intelligence systems support online harassment and discrimination. Higher education institutions are key intervention areas, however norms are frequently not followed and Internal Complaints Committees (ICCs) are not always established, which results in severe underreporting and poor awareness.

Summary of the Information Technology Act 2000’s (IT Act 2000) Provisions and Goals

The Information Technology Act of 2000 intends to support and offer legal recognition for a variety of electronic transactions, promoting the development of secure information systems and e-commerce in India. The following succinctly describes its main clauses and goals:

1. Legal acknowledgment for Electronic Transactions: The IT Act 2000, which has replaced conventional paper-based communication systems, gives legal acknowledgment to transactions made through electronic data exchange or electronic commerce.

2. Authentication using digital signatures: The Act gives digital signatures legal legitimacy, permitting their use for information or things that need to be authenticated in accordance with any legislation.

3. Electronic Filing and storing: The Act makes it easier to file government papers electronically with the appropriate agencies and permits the storing of data electronically.

4. Electronic Funds Transfer: The Act gives financial organisations and banks the legal authority to accept and process payments electronically, encouraging effective electronic banking procedures.

5. Digital Books of Accounts: It provides convenience and flexibility for bankers by granting legal recognition for the maintenance of books of accounts in an electronic format.

6. Supporting E-Commerce and Secure Information Systems: The IT Act 2000 aims to provide the legal framework for e-commerce and secure information systems, fostering the development of the digital economy.

7. Amending Existing Laws: The Act updates pertinent statutes such the RBI Act of 1934, the Bankers Book Evidence Act of 1891, and the Indian Penal Code to reflect modern technology.

8. Addressing Cyber Crimes: The Act upholds regulations to control and lessen cybercrimes on a global and national scale. It regulates all online activities in India, and breaking it can result in fines and legal action.

In order to promote a safe and legally recognised digital environment, the Information Technology Act of 2000 is essential in facilitating and regulating electronic transactions and internet activities in India.

Mitigation suggestions:

In order to effectively tackle TFSV, a multifaceted strategy-based approach is required. First and foremost, the future Digital India Act will urgently need to improve governmental oversight of digital platforms and hold social media corporations accountable. It is also critical to conduct more research to comprehend how TFSV affects people from marginalised backgrounds, taking into consideration variables like caste, religion, sexual orientation, class, and geography. To empower students, educational institutions must set up anonymous helplines, offer mental health assistance, and hold frequent workshops on safety and awareness. In order to promote a culture of support and understanding, it’s essential to promote open discussions regarding TFSV while making sure that survivors are not stigmatised or placed under reproach.

Initiatives from the government:

India has taken some action to combat TFSV, with sections in the IT Act expressly addressing cybercrime against women. Regulation of digital media and abuse prevention are goals of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules of 2021. The “Digital Literacy and Online Safety Programme” also aims to empower women in universities throughout a number of states by giving them the know-how and abilities to use the internet safely, raise awareness about cybercrimes, and gain access to resources for help and prevention.

Conclusion:

To secure the protection and empowerment of women in the digital world, the issue of technology-facilitated sexual violence requires prompt attention and comprehensive response. To implement strict rules, improve safety features, and develop widespread awareness and support systems for survivors, cooperation between the government, technology corporations, educational institutions, and society at large is essential. By doing this, we can give women the tools they need to safely access the internet, enhancing their autonomy, mobility, and overall economic development. A deeper comprehension of the causes and effects of TFSV can help policymakers develop effective solutions, including as fines and treatment plans, to hold offenders accountable and promote a more secure and welcoming online environment for everyone. Together, we can work to create a world without sexual assault and where technology is a force for good.


Enhancing Indian Research


Context

The National Research Foundation (NRF) Bill of 2023 is one of the key pieces of legislation that will be discussed during the current monsoon session of Parliament.

Relevance

GS Paper 3 – Science & Technology

Mains Question

Talk about the main difficulties the Indian educational system has in promoting a vibrant research atmosphere. Examine the government’s initiatives for tackling these issues and advancing research in higher education, such as the National Research Foundation (NRF) Bill, 2023, and the “Institutes of Eminence (IoE)” programme. (150 Words)


Indian research fields’ current state

  • Spending on research: For many years, India’s research spending has stayed in the lower range of 0.6% to 0.8% of its GDP. For example, nations like China, the U.S., and Israel have private sector contributions accounting for approximately 70% of their research budget. This amount is noticeably less than the 1%-2% contributed by nations whose economies primarily rely on science and technology. The private sector’s share of all research spending in India, in comparison, was just around 36% in the fiscal year 2019–20, or roughly 1.2 lakh crore.
  • Low Enrollment: In 2018, there were roughly 161,412 students enrolled in PhD programmes. Less than 0.5 percent of all higher education students in the nation, including those enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programmes at universities, colleges, and independent institutes, are represented by this number.

Obstacles and Challenges

  • Early Education: The fundamental problems with India’s educational system can be linked to early education. The issue of students simply memorising and regurgitating textbook material during exams without using critical thinking abilities has repeatedly been brought up by analysts. Unfortunately, higher education institutions still reflect this culture.
  • Lack of Scientific Training: Our nation faces a serious challenge in finding qualified researchers due to the dearth of sufficient scientific training in research technique.
  • inadequate coordination
  • Between corporate enterprises, government agencies, and research institutes on the one side and university research departments on the other, there is a lack of efficient cooperation.
  • Inadequate Investment: Government financing for universities and research institutions is a major cause of the difference in private sector research contributions among nations. This encouragement prompts people to start organisations and businesses that prioritise research and development spending. However, there aren’t many of these businesses in India.
  • Lack of a well-defined code of behaviour for researchers presents a significant obstacle, since it can foster rivalries between academic institutions and departments and thwart cross-disciplinary collaboration.
  • Delays: It frequently takes Indian researchers longer than necessary to finish research studies because it is difficult for them to secure sufficient and timely secretarial and computer assistance.
  • Lack of awards: One major cause in India’s institutions’ poor research performance is the lack of suitable awards and acknowledgment for their work.

Initiatives by the government to advance research in India

  • In order to increase the number of researchers in higher education, the Government of India (GoI) has launched a number of initiatives.
  • RUSA, or Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan:
    • The National Higher Education Mission, also known as the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan, was started by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD). The funding for higher education institutions around the nation is judiciously distributed via this programme.
  • Rankings ‘Research’ inclusion:
    • The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), which rates universities and institutes based on a variety of factors, including their performance and research output, was introduced by the GoI in 2015.
  • Scheme for “Institutes of Eminence” (IoE):The GoI then unveiled the “Institutes of Eminence (IoE)” programme, which aimed to assist 20 institutions in becoming into top-tier universities. More than a dozen more institutions are waiting to be upgraded, while six have already attained this distinguished designation.

Referring to the National Research Foundation (NRF) Bill, 2023

  • The National Research Foundation (NRF), a new centralised organisation created under the proposed bill, will have a budget of 50,000 crore over the following five years. The National Research Foundation (NRF) is modelled after effective organisations like the European Research Council, which funds both basic and applied research, and the National Science Foundation of the United States, which has a budget of about $8 billion and is a key source of funding for college and university research.
  • Administrators have stated that the NRF’s objective is to obtain the vast majority of its budget—36,000 crore—from the private sector. In many industrialised nations, the private sector has made a significant contribution by funding close to 70% of research expenses. In order to revitalise university research in India, the government believes that luring more private funding is an essential strategy.

The Way Forward

  • While researching other nations’ educational systems might provide insightful knowledge, it’s important to understand that the Indian educational system has its own distinct complexity and diversity. Any new efforts must be specifically crafted to meet the demands and difficulties of the Indian setting.
  • The current reliance on textbook-based learning is an important issue that has to be addressed. The Indian educational system should look at creative ways to modernise its instructional strategy by combining more hands-on and research-based techniques.
  • The introduction of undergraduate research opportunities in educational institutions can significantly improve the calibre of faculty and students. Such activities may also result in the production of pertinent academic research that will benefit not only India but the entire world’s body of knowledge.
  • Additionally, organisations like the NRF should concentrate on fostering an environment that encourages private sector businesses to spend money on R&D, innovation, and the creation of proprietary technologies. By encouraging innovation and technical advancement, this funding can help the private sector and the country as a whole.

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