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Draft National Education Policy released by the Government

Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?

  • Dr. K Kasturirangan Committee submitted the National Education Policy to the Union Minister of Human Resources Development (HRD)
  • The Government of India had initiated the process of formulating a New Education Policy to meet the changing dynamics of the requirements of the population with regard to quality education, innovation and research, aiming to make India a knowledge superpower by equipping its students with the necessary skills and knowledge and to eliminate the shortage of manpower in science, technology, academics and industry.
  • The extant National Policy on Education, 1986 modified in 1992 required changes to meet the contemporary and futuristic needs of our large youth population.
  • A ‘Committee for Evolution of the New Education Policy’ under the Chairmanship of Late Shri T.S.R. Subramanian, Former Cabinet Secretary, was constituted, which submitted its report in May, 2016. Based on this report, the Ministry prepared ‘Some Inputs for the Draft National Education Policy, 2016’.

 

What are the key highlights of the Draft National Education Policy?

  • The Draft National Education Policy, 2019 is built on the foundational pillars of Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability and Accountability.

 

School Education

  • In School Education, a major reconfiguration of curricular and pedagogical structure with Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) as an integral part of school education is proposed.
  • The Committee also recommends Extension of Right to Education Act 2009 to cover children of ages 3 to 18.
  • A 5+3+3+4 curricular and pedagogical structure based on cognitive and socio-emotional developmental stages of children: Foundational Stage (age 3-8 yrs): 3 years of pre-primary plus Grades 1-2;  Preparatory Stage (8-11 years): Grades 3-5; Middle Stage (11-14 years): Grades 6-8; and Secondary Stage (14-18 years): Grades 9-12. Schools will be re-organized into school complexes.
  • It also seeks to reduce content load in school education curriculum. There will be no hard separation of learning areas in terms of curricular, co-curricular or extra- curricular areas and all subjects, including arts, music, crafts, sports, yoga, community service, etc. will be curricular.
  • It promotes active pedagogy that will focus on the development of core capacities: and life skills, including 21st century skills.
  • Three-language formula for learning for students from the school level

 

Teacher Education

  • The Committee proposes for massive transformation in Teacher Education by shutting down sub-standard teacher education institutions and moving all teacher preparation /education programmes into large multidisciplinary universities/colleges.
  • The 4-year integrated stage-specific B.Ed. programme will eventually be the minimum degree qualification for teachers.

 

Higher Education

  • A restructuring of higher education institutions with three types of higher education institutions is proposed- Type 1: Focused on world-class research and high quality teaching; Type 2: Focused on high quality teaching across disciplines with significant contribution to research; Type 3: High quality teaching focused on undergraduate education. This will be driven by two Missions -Mission Nalanda & Mission Takshashila. There will be re-structuring of Undergraduate programs (e.g. BSc, BA, BCom, BVoc) of 3 or 4 years duration and having multiple exit and entry options.

 

Administrative and Regulatory

  • The Committee has proposed to rename MHRD as Ministry of Education (MoE).
  • A new apex body Rashtriya Shiksha Ayog is proposed to enable a holistic and integrated implementation of all educational initiatives and programmatic interventions, and to coordinate efforts between the Centre and States.
  • The National Research Foundation, an apex body is proposed for creating a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education.
  • The four functions of Standard setting, Funding, Accreditation and Regulation to be separated and conducted by independent bodies: National Higher Education Regulatory Authority as the only regulator for all higher education including professional education; Creation of accreditation eco-system led by revamped NAAC; Professional Standard Setting Bodies for each area of professional education and UGC to transform to Higher Education Grants Commission (HEGC). The private and public institutions will be treated on par and education will remain a ‘not for profit’ activity.
  • Several new policy initiatives for promoting internationalization of higher education, strengthening quality open and distance learning,  technology integration at all levels of education, adult and lifelong learning and initiatives to enhance participation of under-represented groups, and eliminate gender, social category and regional gaps in education outcomes are recommended.
  • Promotion of Indian and Classical Languages and setting up three new National Institutes for Pali, Persian and Prakrit and an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI) has been recommended.

 

Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) benefits withdrawn for India

Paper : General Studies 2, General Studies 3

Why in news?

US withdrew the GSP benefits extended to India w.e.f. June 5, 2019

 

What are Generalised System of Preferences?

  • Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is a preferential tariff system extended by developed countries to developing countries (also known as preference receiving countries or beneficiary countries). It is a preferential arrangement in the sense that it allows concessional low/zero tariff imports from developing countries.
  • Developed countries including the US, EU, UK, Japan etc., gives GSPs to imports from developing countries. GSP involves reduced/zero tariffs of eligible products exported by beneficiary countries to the markets of GSP providing countries.
  • The objective of GSP was to give development support to poor countries by promoting exports from them into the developed countries. According to the US Trade Representative Office website, GSP promotes sustainable development in beneficiary countries by helping these countries to increase and diversify their trade with the United States. “GSP provide opportunities for many of the world’s poorest countries to use trade to grow their economies and climb out of poverty” – USTR.
  • According to the USTR, “GSP also boosts American competitiveness by reducing costs of imported inputs used by U.S. companies to manufacture goods in the United States.”

 

What will the withdrawal of the benefits entail for India?

  • India exports nearly 50 products of the 94 products on which GSP benefits are stopped. The GSP removal will leave a reasonable impact on India as the country enjoyed preferential tariff on exports worth of nearly $ 5. 6 billion under the GSP route out of the total exports of $48 bn in 2017-18.   
  • In total India exports nearly 1,937 products to the US under GSP. 90 percent of Indian/Brazilian exports to America face normal US tariffs and hence will remain unaffected from the exit of the GSP program.
  • India is the 11th largest trade surplus country for the US and India enjoyed an annual trade surplus of $ 21 bn in 2017-18.

 

Rock Painting site in Nilgiri Forests

Paper : General Studies 1, Prelims Specific

Karikiyoor Rock Painting site

  • This site is one of the longest pre-historical rock art sites in Tamil Nadu. The paintings extend over a length of nearly 53 metres and go up to a height of 15 m. The shelter could accommodate more than 100 people at a time, with only two narrow entrances. A deep valley lies below the rock, thus making it a safe and secure site.
  • There are more than 500 images, but the elements have eroded a few. The subjects range from animal to human figures — a series on bulls and bull-fighting, the domestication of wild animals, deer, elephants, domestic fowl, a man riding an animal, a man carrying animals, monkeys, a mongoose and a snake fight and warriors with weapons.
  • The colours used here are ochre (red hematite) and white (lime), both available locally. (The paints used by pre-historic man were all derived from natural earth pigments, with the painting style adopted being the wet colour technique.)
  • The depiction of the skeleton and intestines of living animals is a widely diffused phenomenon in the art of hunting and gathering societies. Even in the earliest paintings, depictions in the x-ray style are plentiful
  • The painted shelter at Porivarai may have been used when early man was engaged in hunting or honey gathering. Even now the local people collect honey from high places in the cave using a creeper ladder. Neolithic stone tools and megalithic pottery pieces can also be found. The paintings seem to have been painted by different artist in different periods

 

Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO)

Paper : General Studies 3

What is the SFIO?

  • SFIO is a multi-disciplinary statutory organization under Ministry of Corporate Affairs, consisting of experts in the field of accountancy, forensic auditing, law, information technology, investigation, company law, capital market and taxation for detecting and prosecuting or recommending for prosecution white-collar crimes/frauds.
  • It has been established under the provisions of the Companies Act, 2013.
  • The SFIO is involved in major fraud probes and is the coordinating agency with the Income Tax Department and the Central Bureau of Investigation
  • The agency has four regional offices in Hyderabad, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.