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Indian Express Editorial Analysis

28-February-2024

1. Our burdened children

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice – Education
This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains as this analysis delves into the societal impacts of educational pressures on children, parents, and teachers, providing valuable context for understanding these broader social dynamics.
Context:
  • Sporadic experimentation in the field of education is a familiar phenomenon in the history of our country.
  • The latest experiment under scrutiny is the open-book examination. While not entirely new, its implementation this time aims to alleviate the pressure faced by students.
  • This pressure has been a subject of inquiry for decades, with committees attempting to address its underlying causes.
The Persistent Problem of Educational Pressure: A Historical Perspective:
  • The issue of educational pressure has persisted despite past attempts at addressing it.
  • In the early 1990s, a committee chaired by the late Professor Yash Pal focused on the stress experienced by school children.
  • The emotional speech by novelist RK Narayan in the Rajya Sabha spurred the formation of this committee, highlighting the daily ordeal faced by children due to heavy school bags and excessive homework.
  • The Yash Pal committee identified systemic factors contributing to this pressure, including a flawed conception of knowledge, poor curriculum design, and a competitive social ethos perpetuated by schools.
Evolution of the Problem: From Systemic Issues to New Challenges:
  • Over the years, the educational landscape has witnessed both gains and setbacks.
  • Reforms initiated in the school curriculum and teacher education have made some progress, but the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted these advancements.
  • Deletions from textbooks, a chronic shortage of teachers, and the uncharted territory of technology’s impact on education pose new challenges.
  • The proliferation of coaching institutes and the rise of technology-driven testing methods have further exacerbated the pressure on students.
Pervasive Anxiety: A Shift in Educational Burden
  • The burden discussed in the Yash Pal report has evolved into a broader issue of pervasive anxiety among parents, teachers, and children.
  • Economic uncertainties and dwindling career opportunities have intensified the pressure to excel in traditional professions like medicine and engineering.
  • The popularity of coaching institutes and technology has reshaped the testing landscape, emphasizing rote learning and multiple-choice formats over understanding and critical thinking.
The Unforeseen Impact of Technological Transformation:
  • The transformative changes in children’s lives, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, have highlighted the inadequacies of online education.
  • Despite its shortcomings, the push for online learning in the post-pandemic era reflects a lack of teacher involvement in educational decision-making.
  • The compounding of existing pressures by new forces underscores the need for a comprehensive solution to address intrinsic motivation and genuine interest in learning.
Conclusion:
  • The open-book examination, while a step in the right direction, may not fully resolve the deeper issues highlighted by the Yash Pal report.
  • Addressing the lack of intrinsic motivation in education requires a broader remedy that involves rethinking the educational system’s goals and priorities.
  • As the educational landscape continues to evolve, it is imperative to prioritize holistic reforms that foster genuine curiosity and passion for learning among students.
Yashpal Committee Report 
  • The Yashpal Committee was established in 2009 by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) as a committee focused on higher education.
  • The committee, chaired by Dr. Yash Pal, was established to investigate proposed reforms for higher education in India.
  • Yash Pal was a well-known physicist, scholar, and reformer of higher education throughout the world.
  • The Yashpal Committee promoted several significant structural reforms and emphasised the concept of a university in its report.
Suggestions from the Report of the Yashpal Committee Following are the important recommendations of the Yashpal Committee Report:
  • It was suggested in the committee’s Final Report, which was turned in to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), that the deemed university status be dropped.
  • Additionally, it was suggested that all of the worthy universities be eliminated or transformed into full-fledged institutions.
  • The report also suggested that an exam like to the GRE should be developed for university admissions.
  • The committee recommended that the Commission for Higher Education and Research (CHER), a seven-member organisation, take the place of organisations such as the NCTE, AICTE, UGC, and others.
  • It was suggested that political pressure not be applied to this new regulator.
  • It was suggested that the chairman of CHER hold a position equivalent to that of the election commissioners.
  • It was suggested that the universities should assume full responsibility for all academic duties, leaving the authority of other regulators, like the Indian Bar Council, Indian Medical Council, etc., to deal only with administrative issues.
  • According to the report, IITs and IIMs ought to be pushed to broaden their horizons and become fully-fledged universities.
PYQ: National Education Policy 2020 is in conformity with the Sustainable Development Goal-4 (2030). It intends to restructure and reorient education system in India. Critically examine the statement. (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2020)
Practice Question:  Discuss the evolution of educational pressures in India, as highlighted by the findings of the Yash Pal committee and subsequent developments. Examine the systemic factors contributing to these pressures and evaluate the effectiveness of past reforms in addressing them. (250 words/15 m)

2. Culture as development

Topic: GS2 – International Relations
This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains as the analysis delves into the global development strategy, emphasizing the importance of culture in inclusive and sustainable development.
Context:
  • Under India’s G20 presidency, a significant milestone was achieved as members unanimously endorsed the advancement of culture as a standalone goal.
  • This paradigm shift underscores the recognition of culture’s fundamental role in inclusive and sustainable development.
Culture’s Absence in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
  • Despite its profound societal influence, culture is notably absent from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • This contrasts with its acknowledged relevance in the 2030 Agenda, where its role remains vaguely defined.
  • This oversight overlooks the comprehensive contribution of culture to sustainable development.
Critical Role of Culture in Sustainable Development:
  • In contemporary contexts, culture has proven critical in ensuring rights-based and inclusive sustainable development models.
  • It encompasses the diversity of societies and supports the localization of SDGs.
  • Culture facilitates intergenerational communication, reinforces social norms and values, and permeates various public policies, serving as both catalyst and facilitator for multiple developmental objectives.
Integral Contribution to Achieving SDGs:
  • Despite the absence of a specific SDG dedicated to culture, its influence spans across all 17 SDGs.
  • Culture’s significance is recognized in targets related to poverty reduction, quality education, employment, social justice, and environmental preservation.
  • Its integrative nature transcends the social, economic, and environmental pillars of sustainable development.
Proposing Culture as a Standalone Goal:
  • Recognizing culture as a standalone goal within the post-2030 development agenda is imperative due to its transformative impact on society.
  • This standalone goal would galvanize global action, nurture creativity and intercultural dialogue, empower marginalized communities, and safeguard vulnerable heritage.
  • Integrating cultural considerations into the core fabric of development unlocks its transformative potential, ensuring a more equitable, just, and sustainable world.
India’s Commitment to Holistic Sustainability:
  • India’s support for culture on the global stage is rooted in its rich heritage and commitment to holistic sustainability.
  • Leveraging ancient wisdom and cultural practices, India has developed innovative solutions to contemporary challenges.
  • Sustainability has been ingrained in Indian society, fostering mutual co-existence, peace, and interdependence.
Innovative Solutions and Eco-Conscious Lifestyle:
  • India has leveraged its cultural ethos to develop innovative solutions, adapting traditional wisdom to modern needs.
  • Practices such as frugality, resource conservation, and recycling are deeply embedded in Indian lifestyle.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE) underscores India’s commitment to global sustainability, promoting eco-conscious living and responsible resource utilization.
Significance of G20’s Endorsement:
  • The unanimous endorsement of culture as a standalone goal by the G20 under India’s leadership holds profound significance for the international community.
  • It reaffirms the critical importance of culture in fostering inclusive, resilient, and interconnected societies.
  • Embracing culture as a core component of the global development agenda is essential for a brighter, more harmonious future for all nations and peoples.
Role of Cultural Diversity in Progress and Development
  • Various civilizations have various roles for cultural diversity in advancement and development. Diverse cultures are essential to development because they support societal ideals, raise living conditions for individuals, and make it possible for people to have sustainable lifestyles.
Cultural Diversity and Economic Growth:
  • Diversity in culture encourages creativity and innovation, which is a major factor in the advancement of businesses, societies, and organisations. It combines a diverse range of abilities, concepts, and knowledge.
  • Group heterogeneity, especially with regard to culture, affects self-employment and critical thinking for problem-solving, which in turn affects entrepreneurship. Increased ethnic diversity is very beneficial to sectors like hospitality, cuisine, and agriculture.
  • Canada is unique among varied societies that are economically prospering; Saskatchewan is a prime example.
Cultural Knowledge:
  • Many cultures bring a multitude of information with them. The diverse cultural practices that strive for a harmonious coexistence with environment, for example, embody the cultural ethos of different societies.
  • A variety of methods, both conventional and technological, have emerged to preserve nature as a result of the loss of this information in mainstream schooling.
  • Deeper knowledge is added to these domains through inclusive representation in corporations, corporate employee teams, political parties, administrative roles, educational institutions, and other settings. In an attempt to capitalise on the potential of variety for economic growth, Europe has promoted “inter-cultural cities.”
Progress towards a Peaceful World:
  • A more peaceful coexistence and a decrease in armed conflict can be achieved via acceptance of different cultural perspectives.
  • Fear of other cultures frequently results in attempts to homogenise them, sometimes to the point of extermination (e.g., the genocide in Turkey against the Armenians and the ethnocide against the Sami or Lapp people in Norway).
  • Instead of ghettoising people from war-torn nations, we should respect them as refugees in distant lands and work towards improving their quality of life.
Better and Just Development Policy Creation:
  • The presence of ethnically diverse populations in positions of power creates a cascading effect that guarantees more equitable distribution and access to resources.
  • Inclusive policy formation is the outcome of increased representation in local, national, and international knowledge creation and policy-making organisations that define development and implement it in varied cultures.
  • ·      Policies that embrace cultural variety can be formulated thanks to the Council of Europe’s support of intercultural cities.
  • ·      Protecting cultural variety is the goal of the Universal Declaration on Cultural variety and the UN Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, both of which have been ratified by 152 parties.
Development of Culture-Centric Tourism:
  • By offering distinctive, immersive cultural experiences that prioritise language, cuisine, and culture as a whole, we can lessen the threat of cultural degradation brought on by financially motivated tourism.
  • Encouraging local residents to take part in these initiatives helps to create a more equitable development process.
Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of the recent endorsement of culture as a standalone goal under India’s G20 presidency in the context of global development strategy. Analyze the implications of integrating cultural considerations into sustainable development frameworks and its alignment with India’s commitment to holistic sustainability. (250 words/15 m)

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