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Inclusion, Equity and Elementary Education
For education to be truly inclusive and equitable, a strong political will and greater efforts are required on part of the government to ensure that all children are not just in school but receiving an education which they can relate to, which represents their experiences and enables them to make sense of their lives and things around them
Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE) has been unequivocally accepted as an objective in all countries which have still not been successful in bringing all its school going children into the fold of a formal system of education. As an integral part of ‘right to life’, a life of self-respect and dignity, ‘right to education’ was recognised as a fundamental right by the Supreme Court in 1993 itself (Unnikrishnan Vs State of Andhra Pradesh) but it took almost 16 years for the Constitution to be amended and the Right to Education to be enacted as a justiciable right in 2009. Despite its limitations, one of which is the most obvious exclusion of children under six and those above fourteen, it needs to be celebrated and mechanisms put in place to ensure that all children get good quality and meaningful education that they rightfully deserve.
It must be noted that ‘inclusion and equity’ have several meanings in the context of education- all children, irrespective of their age, gender, region, religion, caste and class etc are able to access education (complete school cycle) of a formal type as against a part-time, short-term or non-formal education; all children receive an equitable, uniform and good quality education and; there is adequate and proper representation in the curriculum, syllabus and textbooks of the lives, experiences and worldviews of children studying in those schools. While the myriad meanings that ‘inclusion and equity’ imply are acknowledged by almost everyone, there are still innumerable challenges in translating them into reality. India on one hand revels in its rich geographical and cultural diversity and on the other hand, moans its deeply divided and hierarchical nature. With its multiple social contexts, a child has several identities and not all of them are a matter of pride to him because of the social placing of pegs (class, caste, gender, religion etc) onto which those identities are hinged. For instance, being an upper class, upper-caste, urban male is certainly considered to be superior to being a female, or belonging to a working class, low caste or tribal. While it is well known that there are complex ways in which these multiple identities actually interact with each other in real lives of these children, what is disturbing is the perpetuation of these social inequalities in the education system.
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Education : An Ambitious Aspiration
Would it not be wiser to concentrate on school education and on raising the quality of higher education and gearing it more effectively to the country’s needs? Should we not use the excellent strategies in the plan presented by the Minister to gear education to facilitate the country’s advance in the global economy before we talk of making India the Education Super Power of the Future
TTA conference on education entitled “Educationext-The Way Forward” held in Delhi earlier this year, the Minister for Human Resources Development Shri Kapil Sibal, in his inaugural address, launched the idea of India as "the Education Super Power of the Future". I could see that if used successfully these strategies could transform education in the country and make it the strong and powerful engine of advance that the country desperately needs in order to be able to forge ahead in today’s highly competitive global economy.
A four point program was outlined in the conference : (i) increasing enrolment in higher education from the existing 12.2 per cent of the population of the relevant age group to 30 per cent by 2025. (ii) the introduction of hundreds of new courses. (iii) the massive use of modern technologies for the delivery of education. And (iv) the inclusion of private players and the corporate sector as partners in the provision of education.
The principal strength of the plan is the idea of making an extensive use of technology. The five point program which runs as follows:
(1) Low cost devices such as tablets and mobile telephones
(2) The proliferation of cloud computing.
(3) Open education, provided through information technology highways.
(4) The provision of hundreds of courses with the idea of giving students extensive choice and the freedom to make combinations of their choice-for instance music and mathematics
(5) The creation of a communications structure designed to give students exposures such as hands on work experience, laboratory experimentation and research.
Finally to start with, 2.5 lakh villages will be connected with the use of fiber optics to create a powerful information highway.
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Equality and its demands on democratic Institutions
One can understand the Pre-legislative Process to be an opportunity for people to re-engage with matters of governance and functions of the State in general. This is a welcome change from many of the more recent agendas of “good governance reforms” that absolve the State from its core duties of implementation by relying on private sector expertise to replace inefficient public sector functionalities
It is popular, both in current casual and serious discourse, to talk of a trust deficit in the interaction between the people and the state. The nature of a relationship between an institution called the State and its citizens can only be in the nature of a social contract. This definition and expectation of trust, is an act of faith and takes away from the equal, causal and rational relationship that democracy seeks to establish through its systems. If we look at some of the essential requisite of democratic institutional structures; to send representatives to panchayat, assembly and parliament, there is implicit in the election process an obligation for representatives to be accountable for their actions. We transfer our sovereignty under contract and constitutional obligation to perform in accordance with the promises made to us. The act of faith and trust seems a misplaced concept in the relationship between the citizen and the State. One quarrels even with Gandhiji’s dream of a just relationship emerging through ‘trusteeship’. It is not possible in any, but in an Utopian society. In the Indian political context of democracy and governance, skewed by caste, class, gender and religious prejudices, with layers of identities and divides, a concept such as trust would do well to be left alone - to individual and intimate relationships.
It is this growing recognition which led people to a serious assessment of the way governments function, and the nature of power relationships, influenced by feudal social norms, colonial administrative patterns and the emerging pattern of neo socio-political-economic vested interests. The demand for rights is the sum of the current understanding of this obligation of the State. It is under contract to its people through the vote, and promises made on assuming office. A people cheated of equality in the conception of policy, legislation and implementation, in the discharging of democratic and constitutional obligations often by an indifferent and often callous State; cannot but see the relationship with the State, as a contractual relationship, monitored by transparency and accountability, at every step of governance.
at 8:19 AM
People’s Movement, a Quest for Inclusive Democracy?
India has made a departure from ‘benefits of growth’ and ‘trickle down’ to ‘inclusive growth’. Thanks to the Panchayati Raj, the country is also moving towards inclusive governance
Churchill defined democracy as “the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.” Democracy, the least bad system, has been the flavour of the 21st century. According to Amartya Sen, “democracy remains the only system of government that commands global respect.” Ironically, democracy is in trouble in many places, even as its triumph is proclaimed. There is a lot of backsliding in a number of electoral democracies as well as setbacks in countries that experienced democratic revolutions following the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Larry Diamond, author of The Spirit of Democracy, calls it “democracy recession.” There is also consolidation of dictatorships among authoritarian rulers wary of democratic advance in their neighbourhoods. Even though democracy is not yet ‘sell-by-date’, we may have progressed democratically but democracy is regressing.
Pitfalls of Representative Democracy
The dominant oligarchic system of representative democracy cannot be equated with democracy itself. Many democracies have simply become Polyarchies. One of the major problems with representative democracy is that the business of government has become the privilege of the few. Representative democracy emerged in the 19th century in countries that had experienced an industrial revolution. Given the context of unprecedented production levels, representative democracy came to symbolise development and progress. The experience suggests that instead of becoming a bridge between state and society, representative democracy has practically become statist which ends up excluding the vast majority of the population from political power. Representative democracy is leading to oligarchisation of political system.
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Copyrights and Copywrongs
Why the Government Should Embrace the Public Domain
When copyright doesn’t serve public welfare, states must intervene, and the law must change to promote human rights, the freedom of expression and to receive and impart information, and to protect authors and consumers
Each of you reading this article is a criminal and should be jailed for up to three years. Yes, you. “Why?,” you may ask.
Have you ever whistled a tune or sung a film song aloud? Have you ever retold a joke? Have you replied to an e-mail without deleting the copy of that e-mail that automatically added to the reply? Or photocopied pages from a book? Have you ever used an image from the Internet in presentation? Have you ever surfed the Internet at work, used the ‘share’ button on a website, or re-tweeted anything on Twitter? And before 2012, did you ever use a search engine?
If you have done any of the above without the permission of the copyright holder, you might well have been in violation of the Indian Copyright Act, since in each of those examples you’re creating a copy or are otherwise infringing the rights of the copyright holder. Interestingly, it was only through an amendment in 2012 that search engines (like Google and Yahoo) were legalized.
Traditional Justifications for Copyright
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Challenges of the Marginalised
The strategy for inclusive growth should not be just a conventional strategy for growth to which some elements aimed at inclusion have been added. On the contrary, it should be a strategy which aims at achieving a particular type of growth process which will meet the objectives of inclusiveness and sustainability
It is now well established that economic growth and prosperity in India has generally bypassed a large number of marginalised and disadvantaged people such as the dalits, adivasis, nomadic tribes, women, slum and pavement dwellers, the disabled and old people, and people living in remote areas, who have remained voiceless and ignored. The crux of such a hopeless situation for them lies in their inability to access and retain their rightful entitlements to public goods and services due to institutionalised structures and processes of exploitation.
Excluded groups are disadvantaged in many ways. They are victims of prejudice, are ignored, and are often treated as less than human beings by the village elite and government officials. They live in remote hamlets and are thus geographically separated from the centres of delivery. Their hamlets are scattered so that the cost of contacting them is higher. Finally it is their extreme poverty that prevents them from taking advantage of government schemes, whether it is free schooling (children are withdrawn because their labour is needed at home or for work), or immunization (they migrate along with their parents and therefore not present in the village when the health worker visits).
The 12th Five Year Plan, as expected, gives a high priority on paper to inclusive growth and reduction of inequality, but the past trends have not been very encouraging, as inequality seems to be going up, and the much needed policies and programmes for the disadvantaged are still to be put on ground.
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Arguing that “bad Panchayat Raj is perhaps worse then no Panchayat Raj”, the report stresses that Panchayat Raj must not deteriorate into sarpanch raj. To this end, the Report urges that PRIs be structured legally and administratively to function as collegiate bodies, with all elected members being involved in preparing programmes, key decisions being taken by the Panchayat as a whole and not at the whim and fancy of the President, and implementation being under the effective supervision of the Panchayat members concerned and not just the sarpanch
It is not by coincidence that this article carries the same title as our Report1, for this is by way of an introduction to a Report that we believe should be essential reading for all those who would like to see the fulfillment of Gandhiji’s dream for independent India. Replying to a query on his “Dream for Independent India”, he wrote in his journal, Young India, 10 September 1930:
“I shall work for an India in which the poorest will feel it is his country, in whose making he has an effective voice”
This vision is inscribed on the cover of the Report and constitutes its leitmotif.
There is no way in which the aam admi, let alone the poorest Indian, can have a sense of belonging in a Parliament in which his MP represents 15-20 lakh others, or an effective voice in decisions are taken in remote State capitals or Delhi, let alone even in the inaccessible reaches of the Collector’s office. 65 years after Independence, almost every Indian feels alienated from the political and administrative process, the sense of alienation being the greater the lower down the economic scale and social hierarchy that person finds himself or herself in, and also the more distanced he or she is geographically from the imposing Bhawans where his or her future is decided. Six and a half decades of democracy leave most individuals as distant from having an “effective voice” in the making of their country as their parents and grandparents were under colonial rule.
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Economic Paradigms and Democracy in the Age of Financial Globalization
Whether or not there exists a standard definition of the term Globalization, there is a broad agreement with the fact that the process of Globalization has had and continues to have profound impact on various aspects of human life. Globalization is not a new phenomenon for it has been a long-term gradual process of change, which affects every aspect of human life and being affected by the human enterprise, since the days of Columbus, and yet at the same time it is irregularly punctuated by episodes of dramatic change. Ever since the Columbian voyage initiated the process of intermingling of the continents of Europe and the Americas, Globalization has been influencing and reshaping every part of the world in all aspects of human life – social, cultural, economic, political, biological and ecological aspects.
In the recent past, there were two intense periods where the process of globalization induced dramatic changes across the world. The first wave happened in the late nineteenth century up to the First World War, which was characterized by extensive trade networks across various continents under European Colonialism. The second wave happened in the twentieth century, starting from the 1980s to the present day, characterized as free market Capitalism led by the phenomenal development of the financial markets, and called as the financialization phase of Globalization or simply Financial Globalization.
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What is Participatory Note?
Participatory Note (PN) is an instrument issued by registered Foreign Institutional Investor (FII) to investors abroad, who want to invest in Indian stock Markets without registering themselves with the market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). Trading through PN is easy because these are like contract notes which are transferred through endorsement and delivery.
PN are said to constitute 15-20 percent of cumulative investments by FIIs. In 2007 SEBI had proposed curbs on PNs. This led to immediate reaction and the markets came cradling down. In view of this sharp reaction, the proposal was shelved.
PNs are mostly used by overseas High Net Worth Individuals (HNIs), hedge funds and other foreign institutions. These instruments allow them to invest in Indian markets through registered. Foreign Institutional Investors. (FIIs). These save time and costs associated with direct registrations According to a news agency report, SEBI data shows foreign investment into Indian markets through PNs rose to 1.64 lakh crore rupees (USD 30 billion) in February 2013. In January 2013 PN investment in Indian market was 1.62 lakh crore rupees. Investment into Indian shares through PN was Rs 1.77 lakh crore rupees in November 2012 and 1.75 lakh crore rupees in October 2012 on policy reform measures taken by the government and its initiative to address tax related issues.
The quantum of FII investment through PNs increased to six month high at 12.33 percent in February 2013 from 11.83 percent in previous month. This was the highest figure since August 2012.
Until recently PNs used to account for more than 50 percent of total FII investments but their share has fallen after SEBI tightened its disclosure and other regulations for such investment. Since 2009 PNs constitute 15-20 percent of FII holdings in India, while it used to be 25 to 40 percent in 2008. During 2007 PNs share was as high as 50 percent.
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What is Carbon Trading?
Carbon Trading refers to the buying and selling of the right to release carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases into the environment by various countries. The carbon trade across the world began in 1997 with the signing of Kyoto protocol in Japan by 180 countries. The Kyoto protocol called for 38 industrialised countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emission.
Growing environmental pollution across the world has been a cause of concern to everyone. Rapid development and industrialisation have only added to the problem. Carbon is an element stored in fossil fuels such as coal and oil when these fuels are burnt, carbon dioxide is released.
Carbon trading is like any other market trading. Carbon has been given economic value allowing people, companies or nations to trade it. If a company purchases carbon, it gets the right to burn it. Similarly, the country selling it, gives up the right to burn it. The carbon’s value is based on the ability of the carbon owning country to store it and prevent it from release into the atmosphere.
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Constructing Change by Advancing Energy Efficiency
In a power-deficit country like India, energy efficiency can be a new kind of power plant that provides energy to millions who do not have access to it, and where economic growth can be driven by the savings from energy efficiency
A watershed event in human history took place in 2008, when the urban population of the world outnumbered that of the rural. Cities, which occupy a miniscule 0.05 percent of the earth’s surface, are projected to hold an immense 80 percent of the world’s total population by the end of the twenty-first century. In India too, the rate of urbanization is unprecedented and two-thirds of the commercial and high-rise residential structures that will exist in the country in 2030 are yet to be built. This urban sprawl is creating unique challenges related to the natural environment. As a result, to prepare for the coming decades, policy makers need to think innovatively about planning for and taking action on a range of issues from ecological and energy implications to protecting public health. The current urban sprawl and unparalleled demand for the construction of buildings is also creating vast opportunities. Buildings already account for more than 30 percent of India’s total electricity consumption. Looking ahead, India’s building sector is expected to increase five-fold from 2005 to 2050. India is thus at a unique crossroads with a singular opportunity to lock in energy and cost savings for the next several decades by implementing energy efficiency in buildings that are being constructed now.
The imperative for efficient construction is much more crucial than the individual savings from which owners and end-users benefit. India’s total energy requirement is projected to grow at 6.5 percent per year between 2010-11 and 2016-17, to support the country’s projected 9 percent growth rate. The meeting of this energy demand, however, is fraught with the challenges of peak electricity demand shortages, dependence on energy imports and vulnerability to the volatility in international energy prices. Furthermore, India is en route to becoming the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases and is already experiencing the adverse impacts of climate change. Each of these challenges can be addressed significantly and effectively by making energy efficiency a central plank in the country’s long-term growth planning.
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Climate Risk: Critical Challenges
No model of economic growth can sustain for long if it doesn’t respect ecology in local and regional context, and at the same time the environment as broad concern including the inter-relationships of natural, human-made and socio-cultural environments
I recall my first national publication in Yojana in June 1993 issue which reviewed the efficacy and status of India’s environmental legislation, following the strategic article by then Prime Minister Late Sri Narsimha Rao depicting the concern on environment and extrapolating it for sustainability of economic growth. India has a prestigious history on environmental fronts - be it the Stockholm Conference in 1972 which was attended by Late Smt. Indira Gandhi, or the UN Conference on Environment and Development, 1992 at Brazil where India’s contribution and eco-concerns also figured in shaping the historic Agenda 21. It was in 1991 that the Hon’ble Supreme Court issued a directive for compulsory environmental studies in all undergraduate programmes in the country. It is regrettable that it hasn’t been uniformly implemented even with the passage of two decades.
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Social Competencies: Human Development beyond the individual
Individuals cannot flourish alone; indeed, they cannot function alone. The human development approach, however, has been essentially individualistic, assuming that development is the expansion of individuals’ capabilities or freedoms. Yet there are aspects of societies that affect individuals but cannot be assessed at the individual level because they are based on relationships, such as how well families or communities function, summarized for society as a whole in the ideas of social cohesion and social inclusion.
Individuals are bound up with others. Social institutions affect individuals’ identities and choices. Being a member of a healthy society is an essential part of a thriving existence. So one task of the human development approach is to explore the nature of social institutions that are favourable for human flourishing. Development then has to be assessed not only for the short-run impact on individual capabilities, but also for whether society evolves in a way that supports human flourishing. Social conditions affect not only the outcomes of individuals in a particular society today, but also those of future generations.
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Serving Mankind with Dyslexia
Diagnosing a learning disability isn’t always easy. Don’t assume you know what your child’s problem is, even if the symptoms seem clear. It’s important to have your child tested and evaluated by a qualified professional
“I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn” says Albert Einstein. He is one among the several personalities who served the mankind with dyslexia. Dyslexia was discovered in the west very long ago. The history of disability can be traced back to the work of Straus and Lehtinen who wrote a book titled “Psychopathology of the Brain Injured Child” in 1947. The official beginning of the learning disability movement was started in 1963 when Dr. Samuel Kirk delivered an address to a group of parents to from the association for children with learning disability. The field of learning disability developed in United States during 1960’s and 1970’s.
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