World Economic Forum report: over a century ago, at the time of the Spanish Flu when people were isolating themselves, many (mostly Americans) turned to telephone to get in touch with friends and family.
TheSpanish Flu underscored how essential the technology of telecom wasto modern society.
Possibly we are at a similar inflection point in time today.
How “game changer” ideas such as smartphonerevolution, artificial intelligence (AI), augmentedreality (AR), robotics, blockchaintechnologies and Internetof Things would usher changes at a much faster pace than ever before.
Role of technology has become predominant and its impact will be felt much more comprehensively in the field of education.
Transformational change in online educationexperience
Offer more flexibility and learning support than the traditional formats
Teachers can become morecollaborative and extendlearning beyond classrooms.
Educators could create learning communities comprising students, fellow educators and experts in various disciplines around the world.
National Mission on Education
Swayam, Swayam-Prabha, National Digital Library, e-Yantra, Virtual Lab
These initiatives are helping students as well as teachers in upskilling as well as providing them quality resources.
Encouraging creativity and innovation, particularly among young students.
NEP 2020 focusses a great deal on technology use and integration.
NEP recognises that India is a globalleader in information and communication tech and other cutting edge domains, such as space.
The Digital India campaign is helping to transform the entire nation into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) will provide a platformforfree exchange of ideas and use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration and so on both for school and higher education.
National Research Foundation (NRF), to initiate and expand research efforts in technology.
NRF will play an important role in advancing core AI research, developing and deploying application-based research and advancing international research efforts to address global challenges.
Covid-19 and the need of socialdistancing will force us to conduct exams remotely.
Replacing exams by project or take-home challenges can provide some viable and cost effective alternatives.
A big limitation is lack, or absence of, human touch.
In a multilingualcountry like ours, languagebarriers create complexities.
Cutting edge research in text translation and machine learning aims to create deep-learning systems that can translate English lectures into a student’s native language.
Capacity building of teachers will be crucial to the success of use of technology in education.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a clarion call for Atmanirbhar Bharat.
It goes much beyond being a self-reliant nation; it envisages India’s leading role in the global arena as a leader in technology and global supply chain of goods and services.
At the same time, it is also a social change paradigm where every individual is encouraged to strive for excellence in what she does.
In this context, the role of education and higher educational institutions is extremely important.
They pave the way for achieving excellence and realisingnational potential.
From locker rooms to classrooms | TH
Instances of non-consensual sharing of images online to threaten and shame girls and women have raised serious questions about the mindsets of not only boys but of all youngsters, and their use of social media.
Public opinion has pointed the finger at the growing and sometimes nefarious influence of technology.
A quick fix of deactivating social media handles or deleting so-called provocative photos is often the most common response to such situations.
However, this does not address the real problem.
The National Commission for Women has reported a surge in domestic violence and cybercrimes, which has made girls and women more vulnerable as they struggle to fight another pandemic of violence and abuse inside their homes and online.
Against this background, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNWomen, UNFPA and the South Asia Foundation joined hands recently to support Nandita Das in the production and launch of the short film Listen to Her.
Young minds are malleable and therefore a concerted effort must be made to shape positive mindsets at this critical age.
As the boundary between the real and the virtual world becomes increasingly blurred, the perceived risks increase.
UNESCO’s information booklet, ‘Safe online learning in times of COVID-19’, can also be a useful reference.
The booklet, developed in partnership with the National Council of Educational Research and Training, supports the creation of safe digital spaces and addresses nuances of privacy, especially in the current context.
‘Action for Equality’ programme: the core of this initiative is a community-basedbehaviouralchange programme designed to provide young boys with the skills and knowledge they need to challenge existing gender norms and take action to end violence and discrimination against women and girls.
Many more schools should adopt School-RelatedGender-basedViolenceprogrammes and curricula, so that conversations can move out of the locker room and emerge as healthy discussions in the classroom.
Ultimately, societies across the world must sensitise children and young women andmen towards understanding the repercussion of their choices and guide them towards a more sound actualisation of their own individualities.
From RiotGrrrl to #MeToo and other actions, it is fairly evident that the global movements towards gender equality and the eradication of violence against women are here to stay and hopefully to grow.
One of the most important lessons to be drawn from these movements is that change can be effected through peaceful means when people come together to confront the dominant social norms.
Just as the challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis demandinterconnectedness, the challenge of gender inequality too is a battle that cannot be fought in silos.
The pandemic is hopefully a gateway between the currentworld and the next and in our quest to get back to normal, let us reconsider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.
Green and red | IndExp
In March, the Union Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change invited public comments on a draft notification that seeks to overhaul the country’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) procedure.
The ministry set June 30 as the deadline for the feedback. The Delhi High Court extended this window to August 11 in response to a petition by environmentalactivists — the court remarked that the “process of consultation is not an obstacle… it has some sanctity”.
In its 150-daysojourn in the public sphere that ended on Tuesday, the draft has attracted, according to the ministry, “four to five lakh responses”.
These include criticisms of environmentalists, academics and civil society groups, concerns raised by people from ecologically fragile areas such as the country’s Northeast and objections voiced by the former Union environment minister, Jairam Ramesh.
In parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, people braved the COVID pandemic to protest against the proposed changes — the Kerala government reportedly submitted its comments on Tuesday.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has termed these criticisms as “premature”.
The ministry must pay heed to them, take them on board.
Framed in 1994 to address the safety concerns raised in the decade after the Bhopal gas tragedy, the EIAis a part of the Environmental Protection Act, 1986.
It was last revisedin2006.
Activities that “access, utilise and affectnaturalresources” fall under its purview.
The regulatory regime was also framed as a social safeguard — it recognised that land sought by project developers could have economic and culturalsignificanceforcommunities.
At several places, however, authorities contrived to dilute the EIA’spublicconsultationprocess.
In 2000, in Centre for Social Justice v the Union of India, the Gujarat High Court observed, “Officials are holding public hearings at district headquarters. The persons who are likely to be… adversely affected in environmental matters, are poor persons who would not travel a long distance between the proposed project site and the district headquarters.”
The court also noted that “the minutes of the public hearing are either not recorded or not given to the concerned persons”.
The Supreme Court also flagged the undermining of public hearing procedures in its Vedantaverdictof 2013.
The proposed amendments to the EIA have invited criticism for sanctioning — and codifying — such dilutions to the regulatory mechanism.
The period of public hearing has been reduced from 30 days to 20 days.
Thedraft legitimises violations by developers who begin projects without obtaining due clearances, in apparent disregard of the SC’s reservations against post facto certificates — the latest as late as April, this year.
Exemptions to projects that ostensibly have environmental benefits — renewable energy parks, for example — have also drawn criticism.
Critics have pointed out that such projects involve diversion of agricultural lands and have a bearing on people’s livelihoods.
The environment ministry must make sure that the final EIA draft does justice to the complex relations between environment, development and local communities that the public consultation process has brought to light.
The importance of flood forecasting | HT
On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with chief ministers and ministers of Kerala, Karnataka, Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra to review the flood situation in these states.
During the meeting, PM emphasised the need for better coordination between central and state agencies to have a permanent system for forecasting floods and the extensive use of innovative technologies to improve the forecast and warning system.
Mr Modi’s recommendations are significant because every year floods upend lives and livelihoods and destroy critical infrastructure and biodiversity.
They also put enormous stress on finances.
While the government’s Central Water Commission (CWC) has modernised its flood management system over the years, there are still massive gaps that need to be filled to make it a much more responsive system.
Two types of measures are taken for flood protection: Structural (embankments, dams, reservoirs, and natural detention basins), and non-structural (flood forecasting and warning, floodplain zoning).
There are several problems with both.
On the structural side, the management of reservoirs and dams, maintenance of embankments and data collection on a river’s silt-bearing capacity have to be improved.
On the non-structural side, data on river flow and discharge must be enhanced; the installation and maintenance of technical equipment such as gauges have to be expedited.
Also critical is how the information on floods is given to the public; it has to be timely, useful (location) and in a non-technical language
Finally, an independent evaluation of the flood forecasting system must be put in place to identify the gaps in the system, and ensure that CWC performs its role better than it is doing now.
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