NEP 2020

An analysis of the National Educational Policy formulated by the Union Cabinet.

The pace at which the world is advancing is simply magnificent, promising a totally different way of human lifestyle within the next 30 odd years. Showing even promises of human life on a second planet, to cater to the present needs. 

This paves the need to adapt to such changes. To be a catalyst, rather than a fly on the windshield in the process.

The rapid advancements in most sectors aided by technology has only the human element slogging it in most developing and underdeveloped nations. But most developed nations showing promises of being able to provide to such changes, make them stand out as model nations.

It’s quite ironic, Us, humans, slowing down the process of advancements; the very reason behind such advancements and the very factor slowing it down.

Modern problems do require modern solutions. 

A brief analysis of the incompetency of ours, shows traces of troubleshooting in the education system. 

To quote the father of the nation would be the ideal solution to the current crisis. The Mahatma had signified the importance of education in the pre-independence era and post too; the relevance of it, in the present century shows evidence of where we’ve fell short in our rat race. His overviews require praise for looking out like a true father.

The importance of education in the thoughts of people and society is quite significant and needs no more emphasis. But still the turn over is indeed minimal.

It’s more of a necessity than a luxury, in the pursuit of overall development as an individual and the development of the nation. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

The Union Cabinet by the end of the last month announced a New policy governing the education system in India. Promising overhaul changes both in the school and higher education system, to cater to the needs  of the twenty first century. 

A change much needed to be precise.

It’s still a policy and not a law, as the Union has the mammoth task of passing it, as after all India is a federal state and education being a subject on the concurrent list, requires forward of all the states and Union Territories.

Rather than beating around the bush more, I’ll get to the point of emphasises on the highly ambitious New Education Policy, which was formulated only after a whopping gap of 34 years.

The National policy on education was last formulated in 1986 and modified in 1992. It took the nation more than a few decades to propose a change in one of the most important sectors.

The National Education Policy proposes radical changes to the educational system of India. The norms of the policy even makes it sound ‘too good to be true’, with the promise of implementing all the proposed, heavily criticised policy by 2040.

However, most proposed comprehensive changes like completely redefining the age-old school curriculum structure of 10+2 into a structure of 5+3+3+4 has been received well.

The new school structure puts emphasis on formative education via early childhood education with an overview to implement absolute literacy and numeracy education(ability to understand basic terms and do basic calculations) by the end of the second grade.

The reports of low literacy and numeracy rates among students of elementary schools had pushed the policy formulators towards universal implementation by 2025.

The need of ensuring proper nutrition and health of students have also been targeted, with the implementation of mandatory breakfasts and midday meals in schools.

With a strive to impart quality education, the pupil-teacher ratio has been set at 30:1 and a lesser ratio for socially backward areas with a view to eradicate the socio-economic differences.

As a step in the right direction, provisions for vocational education and internships from grade 6th with a restructuring of the curriculum to inculcate critical thinking and inquiry based, discovery based learning has also been put forward.

The need for education via mother tongue till grade five has received much friction from all sides. The often negligence of regional languages and mother tongue had made the Union consider it. 

Experts from the educational field has however resented such a decision hinting that in a Country like ours with high mobility, there’s a greater need for universal mediums in the education provided in schools. Making the students who’d have to travel for reasons outside their control adversely affected by the same.

The economically constrained sections of the society has also made their voice heard, stating the inadequacy of funds from their sides, would put their children at a disadvantage compared to the children of well off families, who could afford multiple tuitions to learn English.  (Sighting the universal application)

A crown jewel in the policy, is the widened scope of universal education from transforming the 6-14 years to 3-18 years of students, while incorporating further lifelong learning habits.

The policy of a multi-disciplinary approach in higher education is also mentioned, but a foolproof framework is what it lacks, as of now.

The policy also incorporates aspirational moves towards doing away with the need for coaching class trends for higher education and to reduce the hysteria towards private english medium schools by bridging the adversities faced by the public schools.

With regards to higher education, the union focuses on allowing prestigious foreign universities to set up shop in the country and to also to aid the setting up of glamorous Indian higher education institutions in other countries. But the policy fails to make promises to further expand the number of premium institutions like IIT’s on Indian soils.

Even though the experts have welcomed most policy reforms with both hands, they’ve also presented their fair share of doubts regarding the implementation of the nuances of the policy, sighting the lack of political will towards public education and fiscal burden upon the government.

The suggestion of educational expenditure to be bumped upto 6% of GDP has been doing the rounds and has been neglected by consecutive governments. The economic slowdown caused by the pandemic also raises further doubts of the finances, also considering the surge in health and defence sector expenditures in the following years.

The policy on paper encourages the need for critical thinking, holistic learning and increase of campus activities. However, the attacks on free and critical thinkers on campuses in the recent past, raises obvious red flags.

Sighting the surge in the number of educated unemployeds and the mishap regarding the imparting of appropriate skillsets to match the employment opportunities, overhaul have been suggested regarding the formulation of 4 year undergrads shows great promise and putting an end to MPhil programs. The union also aims to restrict the functions of the UGC.

Even though the overall policy has the potential to transform the nation into a status of a powerhouse of knowledge, subsequent formulation of clear and foolproof plans which wouldn’t aggrieve any promises of tomorrow would be the ideal path to tread upon.

New Covid-19 Cases in New Zealand

On Tuesday, New Zealand announced that Auckland, its largest city, would be shutting down since 4 new cases has been found in the city.  It is the first case of domestic transmission for the nation after remaining covid free for 102 days.

New Zealand’s fight against Covid was recognised across the world. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was congratulated for her effective method and governance. A vigorous and decisive response to the pandemic had effectively curbed down the rates of infection. The Pacific island nation of 5 million citizens was considered to be the safest place as it remained Covid free for 100 days at a stretch. It had made a record of zero new cases of community transmission of Covid-19. From a first case on Feb 26 to the last one recorded on May 1st, the whole process of elimination took about 65 days. The nation was placed under lockdown for weeks when the virus first broke out and it had achieved a milestone of 100 days. After the last case was recorded on May 1st, the government had warned from before as countries like Australia and Vietnam which were once free from the virus are now fighting a second battle.

The Director General of Health had said that the 4 new cases are from a single family in South Auckland. It is the first local case in 102 days. The patients had no international travel history and contact tracing has been started.

With the announcement of shutdown, media reports suggested that people have started panic buying. The Prime Minister has made a surprise news conference and announced that Auckland will have Level 3 restriction from Wednesday as a “precautionary approach”. According to it, people should be staying at home, away from work, school or any social gathering. Any gathering of more than 10 people will not be allowed. This restriction would be applicable for 3 days, until Friday. This was done to assess the situation and gain further information about contact tracing. Immediate steps have been taken to find the source of the infection and to prevent further spread. There is an added concern because the source of the virus is not known this time. Travelling to Auckland, on North Island, would be restricted for people other than the ones who live there. The rest of New Zealand would go into Level 2 restriction from Wednesday for 3 days. Social gatherings would be restricted and mass gatherings of over 100 people would not be allowed. Since sources are unknown for the new cases, it is expected that there could be a rise in numbers in the coming few days.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has said, “I am urging Aucklanders to come together like we did last time to stamp out community transmission. Please remain calm, please do not panic buy and please follow the lockdown rules.” People have been instructed to use masks and to avoid all kinds of social gathering. Jacinda Ardern has told reporters, “No other country in the world was free of community transmission as long as New Zealand. Together we have beaten the virus before. We can do so again.”

New Zealand elections are scheduled to happen on September 19. The break of new cases was unexpected. Till now, the government has fought against the situation and done quite well as a result Ardern’s Labour Party has got a lot of support before the elections.

World Photography Day

The term “Photography” goes hand-in-hand with ‘camera’ and ‘pictures’. Photography is actually an artistic form of work which demonstrates clicking pictures of any objects, place or thing with details. Capturing a picture is not as easy as it seems, being a good photographer is really a task as one has to keep in mind the angles, focus, light etc. Several cameras and phones support a good quality of photography i.e., a person who clicks pictures, August 19, every year is celebrated as the World Photography Day to cherish the custom of Photography as to cherish the craft and uniqueness around each and every photographs. Earlier, taking aa photograph was considered as a bigger issue as it was expensive. Photography was not a matter of Entertainment those days, it was made to hold the moment forever at look at it again and again in the long run. Not many people had so much access to it as the availability of cameras or smart phones were of a luxury those times. Most of the common people were not in a position to afford them. The concept of Photography was of Black and White format, and no shades of colors were being used. The first picture was taken by French inventor Joseph Nicephore Nicepe in 1826, 1827, taking a click of the view outside Window in Burgundy. Later on, The Concept of Photography evolved and after generations we are clicking pictures on ever possible minutes, frequently too. After colored photos came into being, we saw the ‘portraits’ and ‘landscapes’ formats of Photography. “Portrait” is taking human photograph, and “Landscape denotes scenery. It is a must for all of us to capture the beautiful mountain or sea when we go out for a journey, just to reminiscence regarding it, later on. Photographs are till only still memories of a person. We often scroll down the gallery of our smartphones to look at the picture to recollect the moments we have shared with our family, friends o the close ones. Pictures are reflections of us other than the mirrors. The images remind us of all the good nostalgia and gives us positive vibes. People take up Photography as a hobby as well, like they want to go on with this activity during free times which gives them the feelings of immense pride and satisfaction. We have renowned photographers across the world who are expert in clicking pictures of models and eminent celebrities. Also, some take up photography professionally, as a source of income. We actually love to click selfies, as a part of the latest trends for the popularity of social media, as we just want to upload them on these platforms, just to show a glimpse of our lifestyle and share them with our friends. Many bloggers who take pictures of their crafts to showcase their talent on social media platforms, making their job a lot more easier. “Practice makes a man perfect”, the more a person clicks nice pictures, the more he develops himself. We can tell a lot more about any person, by looking at the body language he represents in the pictures. There are several courses out there for a person too know this skill or learn more about Photography, if he wants to take that up later on as his profession. Newspapers have Photography as a very important part of their work, to let the readers know about an incident, showing the pictures helps anyone to understand the level of occurrence, of an incident. Pictures reveals a lot more than what we say or do. Pictures are a proof of everything real, as the Detectives or Police officers tend to keep pictures or use pictures for interrogation. Photography needs editing as well, which is also a different skill, and serves as a profession or hobby as well for many. Editing is basically much related o photography, as editing is done to make the photo look prominent removing any errors. Nowadays, many pictures can even be edited and made use of wrongfully, making it a criminal offence.

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting yourself cyber-attacks, that are targeted to access, change, steal away your inestimable information. The information could be used to extort money, interrupt normal business, or intrude elections. It is challenging because now technology can reach out to the common people far easier than ever before, the amount of data transferring over the internet is unprecedented. Even governments, military, corporates organizations are collecting your precious data for your good as they say. A significant amount of this data is sensitive and if bad guys have access to it, this could be used in many malevolent ways. People are relying more and more upon the internet, for a business, a better lifestyle, but nothing is free. The lucidity comes with a cost. With the data getting bulkier getting every moment, leaks are always possible and you could not protect yourself against attacks due to leaks. The data transferred over the internet is encrypted with keys about which only the sender and receiver know about it. The fight is to secure the key either by increasing the length of key or introducing as much randomization as possible. Both these ways have their limitations. Longer key makes the transfer speed slow and also the CPU has to do more work making the system slow. While randomization because the ways to randomize are limited. Some ciphers used to encrypt are-

  • Substitution Cipher
  • Caesar cipher
  • Monoalphabetic cipher
  • Polyalphabetic cipher
  • Vigener cipher

But the limitations of many ciphers is that key size is small which makes them susceptible to brute force attack. Brute force attacks are attempts to create every possible key by trying each and every permutation. This is a last resort for the hackers since it is tedious and time taking.Some cybersecurity threats are- 

  • Phishing- The practice of sending fraudulent emails that seem authentic but are designed to steal away the login data or credit card information. The data entered is transferred to the fraud address rather than the authentic address.
  • Side-channel attacks- Side-channel attacks are determined to extract information that devices are leaking out. Everything around us is now digital, which relies on electricity, and we all know that magnetism is complementary to electricity. We send data packets over the internet that interferes with the magnetic fields of those appliances which in turn affects the electrical appliance, we are not sensitive to the changes that are caused due to this but other electronic appliances are. Types of equipment are engineered to read the variation caused which could be used to read inside the data packet or use it to read the keys. Also, the vibrations in the mechanical parts of the devices cause an acoustic noise called ‘coiled whine’ which is in sync with the computation going on. Since cryptoanalysts design secure pathways by making some assumptions, but hackers violate those assumptions to ease off their tasks of ramming into the gates of cryptography.
  • Malware- Softwares like viruses, trojans, or spyware designed to gain unauthorized access and cause damage to the system. 
  • Ransomware- Most notorious as it blocks access to the file or the system until the Ransom is paid. The main problem is, paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee access to the files or the system.
  • Social engineering- This attack relies on human interaction. The users are tricked to leak their personal and sensitive data themselves most common being romance scams. Where attackers disguised as users of chat rooms, dating sites trick the victim to leak their data.

The systems used are not secure since they are antiquated. With the advancements in technology, the attackers have enhanced themselves but not the systems used by institutions due to financial obstructions. In 2014, a blast furnace of the German steel plant was shut down remotely by hackers that led to massive damage. Authorities suggested hackers used phishing as well as social engineering to infiltrate the plant. Wannacry the most notorious of the ransom wares recently hit the world hard leaving many banks, health infrastructures aghast. A report published by Group-IB in February 2020 suggested that credit card details of 460,000 users were put on sale on the dark web. many of those details have been collected through bank portals. You can’t defend yourself from being attacked, all you can do is be vigil. Don’t open up spam emails, use credit cards and debit cards judiciously, and never try to leak your data. These steps won’t ensure you being protected from cyberthreats but sure could make you a less appetizing prey.