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The Hindu Editorial

6-January-2024

1. The need to examine the examination system.

Topic: GS2 – Social justice – Education

UPSC aspirants should focus on the article as it highlights issues in India’s examination system, crucial for governance and education reforms.

Context:

  • The article discusses challenges in the Indian examination system, emphasizing credibility concerns, memory-based testing, flaws in question papers,
  • It also emphasises the need for transparency, oversight, and technology integration to enhance assessment quality and ensure a credible education system.

Challenges in Examination System:

  • Credibility Concerns: Scandals during examination seasons impact university and school board credibility.
  • Influence on Education Standards: Examination system affects learning as it conditions teaching methods to cater to specific patterns.
  • Focus on Memory: Known examination patterns, especially memory-based, lead to rote memorization and limit critical thinking.
  • Inflation of Marks: Education administration prioritizes achieving high pass percentages and inflating marks, affecting talent search costs for employers.

Decentralized System Issues:

  • Diversity in Higher Education: India has over 1,100 universities and 60 school boards, leading to diverse assessment modes.
  • Secrecy and Standardization: Hallmarks of good examination boards; however, unchecked secrecy can lead to scandals, and standardization hampers experimentation.

Assessment Quality Concerns:

  • Validity of Summative Examinations: Over time and across institutions, the validity of summative exams becomes questionable.
  • Complaints about Memory Testing: Often, exams focus solely on memory, prompting teachers to prioritize rote learning over higher-order thinking.
  • Flaws in Question Papers: Instances of language errors, conceptualization issues, and irrelevant questions undermine the quality of assessments.
  • Inconsistent Evaluation: Grades often do not reflect differences in students’ learning achievements due to indiscriminate evaluation.

Improving the Examination System:

  • Outcome-Based Learning Emphasis: Regulatory institutions advocate outcome-based learning, but lack of oversight hampers implementation.
  • Transparency and Oversight: Transparency in teaching and assessment, along with proper oversight, are crucial for a credible examination system.
  • Autonomy Challenges: Autonomous colleges lack effective oversight, leading to inconsistencies in examination systems.

Steps to Enhance Assessment Quality:

  • Minimum Standards Specification: Define minimum learning outcomes and explore various ways to achieve them.
  • Continuous Assessment: Allow teachers to assess students continuously, complemented by real-time oversight and student feedback.
  • Technology Integration: Use technology for standardized question paper setting, evaluation, and checks and balances.
  • Codification of Quality Issues: Establish codes for negligence, fraud, and academic inadequacies, linking corrective measures to these codes.
  • External Audit: Conduct external audits of assessment systems, releasing reports with transparency, reliability, and consistency evaluations.
  • Grading Systems Improvement: Grades should distinguish students based on academic achievements, emphasizing transparency and credibility.

Conclusion:

  • A transparent, technology-enabled, and externally audited examination system, focused on minimum standards and continuous assessment, is essential for ensuring credibility, consistency, and improvement in the education system.

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: Examine the challenges in India’s examination system and suggest reforms for ensuring credibility, transparency, and alignment with educational objectives. (250 words/15 m)

2. Bringing back the faith in India’s politics.

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Important aspects of governance- Transparency and accountability

UPSC candidates must grasp the article’s insights on political trust, influential roles, and legal reforms for governance and democracy.

Context:

  • The article addresses the erosion of good faith in Indian politics, advocating for acknowledgment of behaviors on both sides.
  • It suggests restoring trust through influential individuals, reconsidering the anti-defection law, and promoting responsible journalism.

Challenges in Indian Politics:

  • Erosion of Good Faith: Good faith in Indian politics is eroding, leading to a zero-sum antagonism that hampers public interest.
  • Need for Acknowledgment: Behaviors by the government and opposition, such as impatience in Parliament and abuse of state power, must be acknowledged.
  • Opposition’s Strategy: Some in the opposition, particularly civil society, pursue a strategy of refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of the government, hindering effective communication.

Restoring Trust:

  • Role of Influential Individuals: Individuals valuing civility and moderation can influence democratic principles by restraining their party’s excesses and focusing on substantive issues.
  • Anti-Defection Law: Reevaluate the anti-defection law’s impact on inner-party democracy and consider its repeal to promote transparency and issue-based mobilization across parties.
  • Media’s Role: Individuals with influence can promote responsible journalism, rebuilding trust in the media to foster a more public-interest-oriented narrative.

Lessons from Israel:

  • Cross-Ideological Support: Like Israel’s protests, concerned citizens from diverse ideological backgrounds in India should unite to preserve democratic values.
  • Common Ground: Despite ideological contradictions, diverse citizens can find common ground to restore trust in political institutions and uphold democratic principles.

Practice Question: Discuss the significance of restoring political trust in India, highlighting key measures and reforms to strengthen democratic principles. (150 words/10 m)

 

3. Antimicrobial resistance is a health issue that will negate advances in medicine.

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice – Health

UPSC candidates must comprehend the consequences of antibiotic misuse, its impact on global health, and the urgency for regulation.

Context:

  • The article addresses the alarming misuse of antibiotics in India, highlighted by a survey.
  • It emphasizes the risks of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the need for rational prescription, and urgent measures for research and development.

 Concerns with Prophylactic Antibiotic Use:

  • Survey Findings: The ‘First Multicentric Point Prevalence Survey of Antibiotic Use’ in India reveals startling statistics on antibiotic use.
  • Prevalence of Antibiotic Prescription: Over 70% of patients in tertiary-care hospitals across 15 States and two Union Territories were prescribed antibiotics.
  • Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Risk: More than 50% of prescribed antibiotics have the potential to cause AMR, posing a significant health risk.

Prophylactic Antibiotic Usage Trends:

  • Prophylactic Use Statistics: The survey highlights that 55% of patients were prescribed antibiotics as preventive measures, not to treat infections.
  • Low Identification of Bacteria: Only 6% of patients prescribed antibiotics for infections had the drugs administered after identifying the specific bacteria.

Impact and Dangers of Antimicrobial Resistance:

  • Global Health Impact: AMR, driven by misuse and overuse of antimicrobials, is a global health crisis contributing to 1.27 million deaths in 2019.
  • Compromised Medical Treatments: AMR makes infections harder to treat, jeopardizes medical procedures like surgery and chemotherapy, and undermines medical advancements.

Urgent Measures Needed:

  • Need for Rational Prescription: Specialists advocate for rational antibiotic prescription, emphasizing the importance of curbing misuse in medical and animal husbandry practices.
  • Research and Development Crisis: There is a crisis in the antibiotic research and development pipeline, demanding urgent measures for new drug candidates and equitable access.
  • Role of Government and Doctors: Effective regulation by the government and responsible prescription by doctors are crucial in combating AMR.

Conclusion:

  • The Battle Against AMR: To address AMR, strict regulations on antimicrobial use, promotion of research, and equitable access to new antibiotics are imperative for the medical community and governments.

PYQ: Can overuse and the availability of antibiotics without doctor’s prescription, the contributors to the emergence of drug-resistant diseases in India? What are the available mechanisms for monitoring and control? Critically discuss the various issues involved.

(200 words/12.5m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2014)

Practice Question: Discuss the implications of antibiotic misuse in India, focusing on antimicrobial resistance and measures needed for effective regulation. (150 words/10 m)

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