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Vice president on science education and innovation:- Addressing the 27th edition of the National Children’s Science Congress in Thiruvanathapuram, The Vice President of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu called for inculcating scientific temper and nurturing the spirit of inquisitiveness among the children from a young age as science provides answers to challenging problems and contributes to the technological progress of a nation.

Following are excerpts from his speech
⦁ I am delighted to be present here at the National Children’s Science Congress, the flagship programme of National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC), Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India.

⦁ The primary objective of the National Children’s Science Congress is to make a forum available to children both from formal and informal school systems, to exhibit their creativity and more particularly their ability to solve a societal problems using science.

The primary objective of the National Children’s Science Congress is to make a forum available to children both from formal and informal school systems, to exhibit their creativity and more particularly their ability to solve a societal problems using science.

⦁ The innovative mind of the youth is the most powerful resource on the earth in this knowledge era.  You have the invaluable treasure of creativity and imagination within you.  You should draw inspiration from the words of former President APJ Abdul Kalam, who had said “Dream, dream, dream.Dream transforms into thoughts. Thoughts result in action” in the ‘Ignited Minds’.

⦁ Historically, India has been a lighthouse of knowledge. Our Ayurveda system of medicine can be traced back to 5000 BC, Indus Valley Civilization had irrigation and sewerage systems as far back as 2500 BC. By 200 BC, South India was making high quality wrought iron and, of course, the invention of ‘zero’ and contributions to astronomy are well known.

Aryabhatta’s ‘Aryabhattiyam’ is considered a seminal work; equally pioneering work is Panchasidhhantika of Varahamihira. Of course, Charaka and Sushruta are known as Fathers of Surgery.

Rishi Kanad first spoke of “anu’’ (atom) as an indestructible particle of matter in Kanada Sutra, while Patanjali is considered as Father of Yoga. There are innumerable legendary scientists of ancient India who have enriched the world’s scientific treasure.

⦁ India’s contribution to science in modern era is also quite significant. In early 20th century, Prof. Satyendranath Bose’s ‘BOSON’, Prof. Subramanian Chandrasekhar’s ‘Chandrasekhar limit’, Sir C.V. Raman’s ‘Raman effect’ and Prof. Jagadeesh Chandra Bose’s ‘wireless communication’ have earned global recognition. As a matter of fact, there is no dearth of talent in India. The only thing required is to create the right ecosystem for innovation to thrive.

⦁ Students must be made aware that the real purpose of science is to make people’s lives comfortable and happy.   We must understand that advancements in Science and technology and innovation will be of no use if they remain in laboratories.

⦁ I was informed that the Department of Science and Technology (DST) announced that they would prepare a data base of the participants at the National Children’s Science Congress (NCSC) and also would showcase success stories to motivate the children.

⦁ The world is facing the ill-effects of climate change and global warming. We need not only need to find sustainable solutions but we must protect and preserve nature.

⦁ Science provides answers to challenging problems. Hence, science education is important for the development and growth of a nation.

⦁ Scientific thinking involves Curiosity, Reasoning, and Open-mindedness.  This science congress is a platform for the young children to understand scientific principles and interact with scientists and develop a scientific attitude.

⦁ Science, technology and innovation  are key drivers of economic and social development.  Science, technology and innovation can contribute to the sustainable and inclusive development.  Innovative and appropriate technologies can ensure steady improvements in living conditions and ensure rising incomes.

⦁ In the global innovation landscape, India continues to be the most innovative economy in the Central and Southern Asia.  India can make a true impact on global innovation in the years to come only with your intellectual contributions in innovation and creativity.

2)In conversation with Dr K. SIVAN

Satellite instructional television experiment (SITE)
⦁ SITE was the largest sociological experiment in the world considering its outreach.

⦁ This satellite communication experiment was performed for one year during 1975-76 by ISRO and involved 2400 villages across 6 states.

⦁ Chicken Mesh antennas of about 10 feet diameter capable of receiving TV signals directly from a satellite were established along with special TV sets.

⦁ TV programmes on subjects such as health, hygiene, family planning and agriculture were beamed through American satellite ATS-6, which revolved around earth in 36000 km high geostationary orbit.

⦁ This programme exposed our rural folk to very important issues of day to day life and broadened their outlook.

⦁ Technologically, SITE experience enabled us to evolve our own INSAT system for rapid expansion of the country’s telecommunication, TV broadcasting and weather monitoring infrastructure.

⦁ The EDUSAT programme was conceived through the rich experience we gained through SITE, APPLE and INSAT experiment utilisation.

⦁ GSAT-3 or EDUSAT, a dedicated satellite for the educational field, was launched by our GSLV and utilised for enhancing the outreach as well as the quality of formal and informal education.

⦁ These were mainly intended for rural and Semi-urban students.
ISRO’s efforts to encouraging students community for developing satellites

⦁ ISRO has encouraged students to build micro and nano satellites and has launch them in trusted workhorse PSLV.

⦁ Besides, ISRO has helped students in the design, development and testing of those satellites.

⦁ Till now, ten student satellites developed by different universities of the country have been launched successfully.
DHRUV ( an MHRD programme)

⦁ DHRUV, the Pradhan mantra innovative learning programme was started to identify and encourage talented children to encourage their skills and knowledge.

⦁ Gifted children will be mentored and nurtured by renowned experts in different areas in centres of excellence across the country.

⦁ DHRUV acts as a platform to explore the talent of outshining and meritorious students.

⦁ With children drawn from all over the country, the DHRUV programme reflects the true spirit of EK BHARAT SHRESHTHA BHARAT.

⦁ DHRUV programme was launched from the ISRO headquarters.

Role of space technology in imparting Informal education to Farmers

During SITE, APPLE and INSAT programme, TV documentaries on agriculture made in vernacular languages were beamed to farmers on improving agricultural practices.

⦁ Weather monitoring satellites like KALPANA and INSAT-3 D have become instrumental in accurate weather prediction and climate studies which has an important bearing on farmer.

⦁ Remote sensing satellites have enabled our agricultural scientists to detect crop diseases, accurately estimate crop acreage, crop yield, soil quality which will bring benefits to farmers.

Young scientists programme (YUVIKA)

⦁ Yuvika programme launched by ISRO is primarily aimed at imparting basic knowledge on space technology and its applications as well as space science to the younger ones with the intent of arousing their interest in the emerging areas of space activities.

⦁ The two week long residential training programme involves invited talks and experience sharing by eminent scientists, facility and lab visits, hands on training, exclusive sessions for discussions with experts and feedback session.

⦁ The first batch of 110 students representing every state and union territory have already participated in the two week Yuvika resident training programme in may 2019.

Forthcoming programmes of ISRO

⦁ In the forthcoming months, we will be launching many communication and earth observation satellites to ensure the continuity of services provided by such satellites already serving from their orbital home.

⦁ This year, we also endeavouring in earnest to realize Chandrayaan-3 mission with a lander and rover.

⦁ Plans are also in the offing to launch Aditya-1 satellite for studying sun.

⦁ Challenge to realise the Indian Human space flight programme Gaganyaan by 2022.
Tools and education in science and technology’s contribution to realize aim of $5 trillion economy by 2024-25

⦁ Space technology has already proven its worth by facilitating rapid development of our telecommunications, TV broadcasting, weather monitoring, educational, healthcare, transportation and banking infrastructure as well as in the planning, implementation and review of various developmental tasks.

⦁ With more broadband communication satellites, more capable earth observation satellites as well as navigation satellites, the potential for more significant development definitely exists.

⦁ Science and technology education provides the necessary skilled manpower for these tasks and enables the indigenous development of potent tools of science and technology as well as their utilisation.

Samwad with students
⦁ Interaction of scientists with students goes a long way in awakening the curiousity and creativity lying inside our student community. With this in mind as well as with the intention of making our young students proud of their country’s achievements in space through the narrative of ISRO scientists themselves, we began this Samwad with students programme.

Artificial Intelligence: Challenges and Opportunities for India

⦁ AI can be described as a system’s ability to learn and interpret external data via software/algorithms or machines/devices for problem solving by performing specific roles and tasks currently executed by humans.

⦁ Although the origin of term AI can be traced back to 1950s, the relatively recent advancement in IT ( big data, improved computing, storage capability and super-fast speed of speed of data processing machines) and robotics has enabled AI to gain significant momentum in terms of its development, application and use within public and private sector organizations.

Opportunities and Applications

⦁ Within education sector, AI can be deployed to improve teacher effectiveness and student engagement by offering capabilities such as intelligent game based learning environments, tutoring systems and intelligent narrative technologies.

⦁ AI enabled hyper- personalisation helps in developing student specific learning profile and in developing customised learning environments based on ability, preferred mode of learning and experience.

⦁ The use of smart assistants and associated technologies help answer common questions about campus, student schedules and courses.

⦁ AI systems can assist educators with secondary tasks such as grading activities, providing personalized responses to students, handling routine and repetitive paperwork and dealing with logistic related matters.

⦁ AI based systems can be utilised for conducting remote diagnosis supporting doctors to help health service delivery.

⦁ AI based systems can help by assisting in resource allocation for predicting adverse environmental conditions, diagnose crop diseases and identify pests in timely manner to mitigate the risk of catastrophic agricultural events.

⦁ AI based systems can be used to predict energy and utility demand to help in achieving SDGs such as “Clean, water and sanitation” and “Affordable clean energy”.

Application of AI in India

India has 0.8 per thousand-to-patient ratio. This low ratio implies a heavy workload on Indian doctors. AI could be a valuable assistive tool for doctors in helping reducing their workload. AI assisted diagnostics can provide access to quality healthcare for people in remote areas.

⦁ The per hectare cereal productivity in India is almost half that of China. There is significant loss of productivity due to pests and diseases.

Within education sector, India has about 50% less teachers per thousand students when compared with developed countries.

⦁ India has 1.18 billion mobile phone users with 600 million internet users and 374 million smart phone users. It has one of the cheapest data rates in the world and an average data speed of 6 Mbps. These factors open up huge potential for adoption of AI technology in India.

The Tamil nadu agency has partnered with Anna University to launch a tamil smart assistant called Anil. The agency has recently launched an AI-based agricultural pest and disease identification system and made it available to over a half a million farmer familes through a mobile app.

Challenges and Shortcomings

⦁ Lack of explainability– AI operates effectively as a black box based system that does not transperantly provides the reasoning behind a particular deicision, classification or forescast made by the system.

⦁ Lack of contextual awareness and inability to learn– AI-based systems cannot learn from their environment. This limits the application of AI to specific domains.

⦁ Lack of standardisation– how can the inferences delivered by different AI components be integrated coherently when they may be based on different data and subject to different ecosystem conventions. Furthermore, organisations face challenges on how to ensure AI and human work together.

⦁ Job losses- increasing automation will lead to significant job losses particularly at operational level and lower skill levels for repetitive tasks.

⦁ Lack of competency and and need for re-skilling and up-skilling workers- a large number of organisations still lack in-house competency successfully develop and implement AI-based systems. Using or working with AI-based systems requires workers to be equipped with a new set of skills, which is a challenge for government, organisations and individuals.

⦁ Lack of trust and resistance to change-due to above mentioned issues and negative media coverage on the consequences of AI, people are generally apprehensive about its implementation.

Ethics AND AI

There are two dimensions of ethics in AI

⦁ Privacy and Data protection- User’s sensitive and highly granular data is likely to be stored and shared across the AI network.

⦁ Human and Environmental values- Has the AI system been sensitised to human values such as respect, dignity, kindness, compassion, equity or not? Does the system know that it has a preferential system towards children, elderly, pregnant women, sick and the vulnerable? An important aspect which needs to be built into AI systems is the overall cost of their decisions on the society.

Transparency and Audit

In the future many AI based systems will be interacting with humans in the fields such as finance, education, healthcare, transportation and elderly care. The technology providers must explain the the decision making process to the user so that the AI system doesn’t remain a black box.

Digital divide and Data Deficit
Countries where the data is of poor quality or of poor granularity would be left behind in harnessing the power of AI to improve lives of its citizens adversely affecting the low-resource communities.

Fairness and Equity
An AI system designed with equity as a priority would ensure that no one gets left behind in this world. Another key need is fairness. They must not exhibit any gender or social profiteering. The recent reports questioning the neutrality of AI systems used by police to identify crime prone individuals has brought this issue out in sharp focus.

Accountability and Legal issues
Almost all evil civil and criminal liability laws of the world fairly unanimously attribute accountability to the operator, owner and manufacturer. However, once machine equipped with AI and take autonomous decisions, the question of accountability becomes very hard to answer.

Misuse Protection
How internet proliferated across the globe benefitting billions but also carried along with it a wave of cybercrime, malware, viruses and violent online games which resulted in loss of innocent lives of teens around the world. Autonomous AI systems must be designed for misuse protection.

Innovation in Higher Educational Institutions
⦁ Premier higher educational institutes in India have always been a gateway to a secure and prosperous life for many.

⦁ These higher educational institutions have been transforming themselves to produce next generation of leaders who are willing to take up entrepreneurship, foregoing assured income, thereby creating multiple jobs for the society.

Catalysing student innovation and Entrepreneurship
⦁ The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) under aegis of NITI Aayog is promoting the formation of Atal Tinkring Labs (ATL) in schools to promote the maker space culture.

⦁ At IIT Madras, an after class activity called the centre for innovation (CFI) transformed the students from passive listeners to active leaners.

⦁ Recently the CFI team Avishkar became the only Asian team to qualify and was placed within the top 25 in the hyper loop competition held at SpaceX.

Innovation as catalyst

⦁ These innovation centres fosters team spirit and the ability to work beyond classroom lectures. It prepares the students to take collective ownership of outcomes and work on multi generational products.

⦁ The higher educational institutes such as IITs are also gradually transforming themselves into R&D powerhouses catering to the needs of the country.

⦁ Many centres of excellence in various domains of national importance has been set up at these institutes. For example the recently established Robert Bosch Centre for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (RBC-DSAI) promotes next generation fundamental research in the areas of deep learning, network analytics as well as its applications in various areas such as manufacturing analytics, smart cities, system biology and health care.

⦁ National centre for Combustion Research and Development (NCCRD) originally set up with interdisciplinary faculty to promote advanced research in the domain of combustion has already started producing niche start ups in areas like micro-gas turbine, emission sensors, electric planes etc.

Where are the Problems?
⦁ The innovation ecosystem can be divided into four buckets
⦁ Ideate
⦁ Pre-incubate
⦁ Incubate
⦁ Support
⦁ Among these the incubation and support eco-system are highly instrumental.

⦁ Society for innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE) in IIT Bombay is one of the earliest incubators in an academic setting supporting tech start ups and socially relevant projects.

⦁ The Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer (FITT) in IIT Delhi has been supporting entrepreneurship development since 1992.

⦁ IIT Madras established India’s first university based research park, collocating established companies with start-ups.

Role of Pre-incubation

⦁ Pre-incubation can serve as a soft launch for the fleeting entrepreneurial ventures, where the solutions waiting for problems can explore the market for potential customers and the elusive market fit.
Way forward

⦁ Institutes such as the IITs, are adapting to the evolving trend of rapid experimentation and development of technology for the society where it is embedded in.

⦁ Our institutions will have to imbibe the spirit of entrepreneurial thinking, which includes rapid adaptation to the societal needs.

Education and Technology for the Blind

Our history of last millennium is etched with the footprints of a few savants like Soordas, Gattu Maharaj, Swami Birjnand, Swami Gangeshwaranand etc. they are a class by themselves, a product of their extraordinary intellectual prowess, exceptional endeavour and perseverance.

Educational services for Blind
We can categorise educational services for blind into three stages:

Pre-independence Era
⦁ Miss Annie Sharp, an Anglican was instrumental in launching a facility in Amritsar for the blind in 1887. It imparted basic training in bead work, reed work and reading of religious scriptures.
⦁ Ms Jane Askwith was an educationist commenced a facility in 1890 with a desire to impart good education and training to visually impaired.
⦁ Miss Millard gathered some poor blind from some villages during the draught and launched a facility for them in 1990.
⦁ The major features of this era were
⦁ Institutions were limited to primary level only.
⦁ Lack of an all India Braille code.
⦁ Absence of Braille printing unit in the country.
⦁ Lack of production facility even for simple equipment needed by blind.
⦁ In April, 1947 a small unit for education and rehabilitation of visually impaired was established in the Ministry of Education. The Unit came into existence as per the recommendations contained in the Government of India report on Blindness, 1944.
Post-independence Era
⦁ India adopted the uniform Braille codes for various languages in India in 1951.
⦁ The government established the first-ever Braille printing plant named the Central Braille Press at dehradun in 1952.
⦁ The Central Braille Press was followed by manufacturing of Braille appliances unit set up in 1954 to produce and provide simple equipment like Braile slate and Stylus, Arithmetic Board and required types.
⦁ Government set up its first school called Model school for Blind Children in 1959 at dehradun.
⦁ A paradigm shift was witnessed in 1974 when India launched the Integrated Education for Disabled children (IEDC) scheme to be implemented through govt. Schools. It provided financial assistance for special teachers, equipment and educational material to individual student covered under the scheme.
⦁ The IEDC scheme was transferred to the MoE in 1982 and a cell was set up at NCERT which developed into a department later.
⦁ The MHRD began to include the education of the PWD children also in the mainstream policy from the National policy on Education, 1986.
⦁ With a view to ensure a minimum standard, the Government passed the Rehabilitation council of India (RCI) Act, 1992.
⦁ India enacted the persons with disabilities act, 1995 to give effect to the decisions taken in the Beijing meeting in 1992. The law allowed free and universal education for the disabled up to age of 18 years.
⦁ Commencing with District Primary Education Programme with the world bank assistant in mid 1990s, the 21st century witnessed the SSA and RMSA taking shape and being implemented on all India basis. Both the Abhiyans contained necessary components for motivating visually impaired children.
⦁ Assistance to disabled persons for purchase, fitting of aids and appliances Scheme extends financial help for purchasing required gadgets.
⦁ With a view to meet the stipulations of the UN convention on Rights of persons with disabilities, Indian parliament enacted the Rights of Persons with disabilities (RPD) act,2016. The act provides another category among the blind called ‘low vision’.

Quality education for weaker section and disadvantaged groups
⦁ The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, entitles every child of age 6 to 14 years to a right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school till completion of elementary education.

⦁ Section 8(c) of the RTE Act, 2009 provides that the appropriate government would ensure that the child belonging to weaker section and the child belonging to disadvantaged group are not discriminated against and prevented from pursuing and completing elementary education on any grounds.

⦁ Further, Section 12 (1) (c) of RTE Act, 2009 provides that all specified category schools and unaided schools shall admit at least 25% children belonging to weaker section and disadvantaged group in the neighbourhood in class I and provide free and compulsory elementary education till its completion.

Steps taken to ensure quality education for children with disability

⦁ Samagra Shiksha, an overarching programme for the school education sector extending from pre-school to class XII, aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels of school education. The scheme reaches out to girls, Children with Special Needs (CwSN) and children belonging to Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), minority communities and transgender.

⦁ Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat: It is a sub-programme of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan launched in August, 2014 with special focus on improving language development and to create interest in mathematics. The two tracks of Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat are: Early reading and writing with comprehension (ERWC) and Early mathematics (EM).

⦁ The Navodaya Vidyalaya Scheme provides for opening of one JNV in each district of the country to bring out the best of rural talent. Its significance lies in the selection of talented rural children as the target group and the aim to provide them quality education comparable to the best in a residential school system.

Promoting vocational educational in backward regions
⦁ Government has recognized the requirement for spreading vocational education throughout the country including backward regions.

⦁ Presently, there are 188 Community Colleges, 289 Institutes and 68 DDU Kaushal Kendras functioning under University Grants Commission (UGC) and operating vocational education in various sectors.

⦁ State Governments can offer vocational education through their institutional network as per UGC guidelines.

⦁ There are various steps already been taken by Government to promote vocational education throughout country, including backward regions. They are as follows:

⦁ Developing internship/apprenticeship based degree courses in sectors like Retail, Logistics, Media and Entertainment, etc.

⦁ Increasing number of institutions offering B.VoC courses in the country.

⦁ Aligning the content of existing skill courses with National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF).

Key Initiatives in Education

In pursuance  Prime Minister’s vision for ‘Transforming India’, Ministry of Human Resource Development took a leap forward in transforming education sector with the motto of “सबकोशिक्षा, अच्छीशिक्षा ”(Education for All, Quality Education).

Key reforms in school education

⦁ NISHTHA –A National Mission to improve learning outcomes at the elementary level through an Integrated Teacher Training Programme called NISHTHA – National Initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement has been launched on 21st August, 2019. This integrated programme aims to build the capacities of around 42 lakh teachers and Heads of Schools, faculty members of SCERTs and DIETs and Block Resource Coordinators and Cluster Resource Coordinators.

⦁ DHRUV– Pradhan Mantri Innovative Learning Programme will act as a platform to explore the talent of outshining and meritorious students, and help them achieve excellence in their specific areas of interest may it be science, performing arts, creative writing, etc. These talented students apart from  realizing their full potential are expected to contribute to the society in a big way.

⦁ SHAGUN- school Education Shagun (URL: htpp://shagun.govt.in/) is an over-arching initiative to improve school education system by creating a junction for all online portals and websites relating to various activities of the Department of School Education and Literacy in the Government of India and all States and Union Territories.

⦁ Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+): To ensure quality, credibility and timely availability of information from all the schools in the country, the revamped UDISE + has been launched by the Department. The GIS based mapping portal gives information about location of more than 15 lakh schools in the country along with some salient highlights. The Data Analytics portal gives percent information about the aggregate position of the school.

⦁ Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA) 2.0:- Diksha Portal was launched in 2017 for providing digital platform to teachers giving them an opportunity to learn and train themselves and connect with teacher community. This initiative has been taken forward to enhance coverage and improve the quality of e-content for teachers.

⦁ Operation Digital Board (ODB): The aim is to provide by March 2023, two smart classrooms for every Secondary/Senior Secondary schools  in1,01,967 Government and 42,917 Aided schools in all States/UTs and 1704 KVs and NVs making a total of 1,46,588 schools.

Key reforms in Higher Education

⦁ Five-year vision plan ‘Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme (EQUIP)’- EQUIP is a vision plan aiming at ushering transformation in India’s higher education system by implementing strategic interventions in the sector over five years (2019-2024).

⦁ Institution of Eminence (IoE): 10 institutions in public sector and 10 institutions in private sector have to be declared as IoE. Each Public institute (IoE) will be eligible to receive Rs. 1000 crore during next 5 years.

⦁ SWAYAM 2.0- Launch of SWAYAM 2.0 with enhanced features and facilities. To offer Online Degree Programmes through SWAYAM by Top Ranking Universities.

⦁ SWAYAM PRABHA- DTH Educational Channels: Project for telecasting high quality educational programs through 32 DTH channels on 24×7 basis to reach out to student/learners of India with wide reach and minimal cost.
Implementation of Quality Improvement Programme

⦁ Deeksharambh – A guide to Student Induction Programme’ has been launched on 18.07.2019. In 8 Regional Workshops 1650 candidates participated. Total 319 HEIs have implemented the Student Induction Programme.

⦁ Learning outcomes based curriculum framework (LOCF) revision: New curriculum in 16 subjects which is based on LOCF has been uploaded on UGC website to facilitate universities to revise the curriculum.

⦁ Use of ICT based learning tools for effective teaching learning process: 125 Universities have come on board for accepting credit transfer for MOOCs courses done through SWAYAM platform.

⦁ Scheme for Trans-disciplinary Research for India’s Developing Economy (STRIDE): launched on 01.07.2019 for Promoting quality research by faculty and creation of new knowledge.

⦁ PARAMARSH- A scheme to mentor institutions seeking National Assessment and Accreditation Council accreditation Launched on 18th July, 2019.

Open and Distance Learning: A futuristic Approach

⦁ ODL is defined as a way of providing learning opportunities that is characterised by the separation of teacher and learner in time, place or both, learning that is certified in some way by institution or agency, the use of variety of media including print and electronic, two way communications that allow learners and tutors to interact, the possibility of occasional face to face meetings and a specialized divison of labour in the production and delivery of courses.

⦁ ODL can be made more effective through the use technology like managing virtual classroom with the use of internet, development of web-based hypermedia, learning through computer-aided interaction, use of interactive teleconferencing and radio counselling etc.

⦁ In the virtual classroom the learners and teachers meet in the cyberspace, a question and answer session follows. This method not only helps the students to learn more but it also facilitates more interaction.

⦁ The web-based study helps the learners and teachers to access the information at their own choice of time and convenience. The web-based hypermedia is generally a module, which contains teaching materials aimed at achieving a specific outcome.

⦁ With the use of these potential technologies we will not only be able to fill the gap of traditional mode of education but also be able to reach to a relatively large gamut of learners.

⦁ ICT is a potentially powerful tool for extending educational opportunities, both formal and non-formal. It also facilitates access to experts, resource persons, researcher, professionals, mentors, business leaders and peers all over the world.

⦁ The main advantages of using technologies in distance education are cost effectiveness, independence of time and place, quality of education access resulting from the mass production of course materials, teaching a lot of students simultaneously and finding a lot of educational resources.

⦁ In the age of IT, effective and efficient learning is potentially possible at all levels round the clock. Content-centred presentation by teachers to large group students cannot be dominat method of instruction anymore.

⦁ Gradual encounters with the technologies are necessary to prepare themselves for the age of IT. Teachers will encourage students to use electronic databases in their searches, email to ask questions and for submitting assignments, make them aware about the advantages and disadvantages of technologies and exploring the capabilities of CD-ROM, tele/videoconferencing etc.

Cyber security: Issues and Challenges

⦁ Within relatively short time social media has empowered people and connected them. But, at the same time, they have also provided platforms for some decidedly unhealthy and destructive behaviour. Social media platforms have become one of the endless data channels that cyber criminals are exploiting.

⦁ Digital literacy empowers us with the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create and communicate information requiring both cognitive and technical skills.

⦁ There are many problems like bullying, cyber crime, copy right issues, security threat and social unawareness among others.


⦁ Bots and fake followers are a big concern in the social media platform. Bot programmes target specific hashtags and work by auto-commenting and auto-liking in order to attract followers who are mostly other fake bot accounts.

⦁ These are developed primarily for companies to engage with their users automatically for increasing customer engagement.

⦁ Bots are now being used much beyond their harmless cause and are misused for manipulating a conversation to creating a mirage of someone’s personality and much more.

Terrorist attacks
⦁ Social media spreads the horror created from terrorist attack far and wide and unknowingly amplify the chaos that terrorists intend to spread. In the process, misinformation and fear spread. It further traumatises the families of victims and also the public at large.

⦁ Extremists use social media to recruit, propagate and to connect. Fake news and rumours spread like wildfire in the social media and it is also increasingly used for militancy.

⦁ Social media site have now initiated reporting procedures that allow users to any kind of content that supports terrorism which can be then removed.

⦁ The law enforcement agencies make good use of the social media by keeping people informed regularly. For ex- Assam State police opened a cell to monitor social media and keep track of the spread of rumours.
Cyber security challenges

⦁ Some new threats have also come up like organised cyber crime, cyber crime trading, smishing (phising with sms), hackitivism (hacker with activism) etc.

⦁ Denial of service attacks (DDOS)- here the intruder is not interested in actually stealing your information but in bombarding your server with unnecessary traffic thereby crashing it. Huge servers like video streaming app and bank servers are under this type of attack.

⦁ If an individual by mistake clicks on a link that contains malware or accidently reveals sensitive information , their accounts get exposed to hackers, cyber criminals and identity thieves.

Mobile technologies

⦁ All the apps that you use let your smartphone know who you are, where you have been, where the people you know currently are and what you bought etc. when you download third party apps, are you really aware that you are giving the rights to collect your information?.

⦁ What if a hacker able to build your digital profile by collecting all these sensored information and the data from the third party apps and use it against you?

⦁ IOT is another such challenge whereby every object we use is equipped with the capabilities to identify, locate, sense its surroundings, compute and communicate. Now what will happen if all these objects could talk to each other and share information?


⦁ This ransom demanding malware is virus which gets into your computer, either when you download an attachment containing the virus or when you visit any such website and click on a link.

⦁ Once it gets into your computer, it start to encrypt all your files therby rendering them useless. The only way to unlock your files is to get a secret key from the hacker by paying a ransom.

⦁ This ransom is usually demanded through bitcoin which keeps the payee anonymous.

Protection against cyber attacks
For securing information on the social networking sites, following guidelines can be followed:
⦁ Limit the amount of information that you disclose on social networking site.
⦁ Do not establish friendship with strangers.
⦁ Do not believe online information blindly as it can be misleading.
⦁ Learn how to use privacy settings on your social profiles properly.
⦁ Beware of third party applications. Avoid applications that seem suspicious, and make sure to modify your settings to limit amount of information application can access.
⦁ Secure your system because unsecured system can lead to loss of data.
⦁ Use antivirus software to secure your computer and electronic devices.
⦁ Use strong passwords to protect your account and personal information. Change your passwords frequently.
⦁ Do not set the same password for all social accounts.
⦁ Choose suitable authentication so that no one can access the details. Two-factor and multi-factor authentication should be in place. In two-factor authentication along with user name and password, another form of identification, often a security code in the form of a captcha, is used. In multi-factor authentication, more than one form of authentication to verify an identity is used. Some examples are facial recognition, iris recognition, voice ID and finger scanning.

Global synergy in Higher Education
⦁ With the size of Indian young demographics and demand, an increased and sustained focus on development of its human resource is imperative.

⦁ The realisation of $5 trillion economy goal is incumbent upon the capability of its education and training institutions to equip young Indians with knowledge and skills relevant to an evolving job market.

⦁ India’s draft education policy aims at increasing the gross enrolment ratio in higher education to 50% by 2035 from 26.3& currently which will require significant reforms both at planning and execution level.

Higher Education- Critical Challenges for India

⦁ India is world’s youngest country with an average age of 29 years. This comes at a time, when rest of the world is ageing. India will not only have a young workforce to fulfill its domestic needs but also has the opportunity to be global hub for skilled workforce.

⦁ Private colleges cater to 66.4 % of the total enrolment in higher education, which means that a mere 22% of govt colleges are catering to a disproporionately large number of students.

⦁ Increasing social aspirations have made the education divide between urban and rural centres more obvious. The opportunity cost of higher education for disadvantaged section is often too high and hinders the education process.

⦁ Low employability of graduates, poor quality of teaching, weak governance, insufficient funding and complex regulatory norms continue to affect the Indian higher education system.

⦁ Globally India caters to less than one percent of all international students. Indian institutes have failed to feature in the top 100 of world university. The outflow of Indian students for education abroad is itself more than 15 times the inflow of international students to India.

Global Synergy Scenario
⦁ India’s recently released draft National Education Policy 2019 proposes inviting the top 200 global universities to establish foreign branch campuses in India.

⦁ The MHRD has developed a five-year action plan named EQUIP to bring transformation in the higher education system in the upcoming 5 years.

⦁ NITI Aayog has more recently favoured the development of Exclusive Education Zones akin to SEZs in a few select cities in Bengaluru, hyderabad, Ahmedabad , Pune, Chandigarh and parts of Sikkim, to boost growth in the inflow of foreign students.

⦁ Getting right Education is critical for India to maximise the potential of its demographic dividend. India will not have the capacity to meet this demand on its own so there is need of international assistance in Higher Education.

Opportunity for deeper engagement

⦁ The present trend of only sending students to foreign countries is not a sustainable one and a creative and innovative collaboration may be established between universities of various countries.

⦁ Global education institutes may also consider looking at building partnerships, beyond HEIs in metro cities to Tier2 and Tier 3 cities and regional/ state instituions, which offer tremendous possibilities because of large number of students with untapped potential and lack foreign collaborations currently./

⦁ The joint student-academic mobility programmes, joint research, international collaborations boost rankings. India is also seeking to attract International faculty into the country for short-term research and teaching visits.

⦁ Indian government’s initiatives like the Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN), which provides funding for teaching at selected Indian higher education instituions and Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC) are oppoprtunities that can be expolred.

⦁ Partnerships may look beyond silos and into areas where developed countries has an advantage and India has a need, for instance, in mining safety, bio engineering, signal processing, health systems, AI, cyber security, climate change, integrated degrees and multi-disciplinary learning are emerging areas of interest.

⦁ English language teaching and training, use of technology for experiential learning and equipping and training teachers/faculty can be explored for building capacities including partnering with major Govt initiatives like Rashtriya Uchhatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA).

⦁ Research Partnerships can also be developed that could deliver solutions to clearly specified problems in water, infrastructure, health and governance.

⦁ Educational outreach in India must be a true partnership that is beneficial to both partner countries, driven by multiple policy dialogues, institutional partnerships, research collaborations, capacity building initiatives and student enrolments.


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