Should there be a blanket ban on smartphones in schools?
Context: Use of smartphones in schools
Relevance: GS 2 Education
- The proliferation of mobile phones in India, boasting a staggering user base of over 1.2 billion, with approximately 600 million utilizing smartphones, is projected to surge beyond a billion by 2026, per a study by Deloitte.
- This trajectory underscores the pivotal role these devices are set to play in shaping the future. Yet, the classroom emerges as a battlefield for divergent opinions.
- UNESCO’s proposal for a universal ban on smartphones in schools has ignited discussions concerning the potential pros and cons.
Perspectives on Smartphone Use in Schools
- UNESCO’s emphasis on cautious integration of digital tools in education is noteworthy.
- Proximity to mobile gadgets can pose a significant distraction, making a ban more sensible.
- The allure of smartphones leads to interruptions from notifications, games, and social media.
- A harmonious learning environment necessitates curbing excessive mobile use.
- Upholding student well-being and adhering to core institutional values are central to decisions.
- The pandemic altered the landscape, relaxing previous prohibitions.
- Developed nations like Finland and Australia already embraced smartphones in education.
- A comprehensive ban is infeasible due to broad access and expanding educational technology.
- Age-centric regulations exist in countries with in-depth research into the impacts.
- Curricula globally incorporate digital resources, underscoring technology’s significance.
Global Standpoint on Smartphone Integration
- UNESCO’s findings indicate that a quarter of nations have implemented bans or restrictions.
- Research exposes both the advantages and drawbacks of mobile device usage.
- Countries adopt diverse age-based regulations on bringing phones into classrooms.
Role of Authorities and Institutions
- Regulatory intervention is indispensable to navigate this nuanced landscape.
- Smartphone use under parental supervision at home is acceptable, but potential hazards persist.
- Psychological and educational ramifications warrant a case for restriction.
- Fostering face-to-face interaction and preserving an effective learning milieu are priorities.
Guidance and Policies
- Complete bans inadequately address behavioral dynamics.
- A tech-native generation necessitates tailored solutions.
- Age-appropriate rules grounded in thorough research are imperative.
- Schools are pivotal in cultivating responsible digital habits.
Student Perspectives and Economic Dimensions
- Varied student viewpoints emerge, encompassing endorsement of smartphone-free classrooms and advocating for digital literacy.
- Smartphone usage triggers mental health and behavior-related concerns.
- Socioeconomic disparities may widen due to unequal device access.
- Weighing the benefits against potential drawbacks is essential.
Addressing Digital Inequity
- Bridging the digital gap encompasses more than distributing smartphones; it entails laptops, tablets, and internet accessibility.
- Teacher training and fostering adult awareness are key prerequisites.
- The COVID-era generation exhibits a unique learning style shaped by early digital exposure.
India’s Myanmar quandary, its paradoxical policy
Context: The acting President of Myanmar’s decision to extend the ’emergency’ for another six months, coupled with the release of political prisoners, has drawn global attention.
Relevance: GS Paper – 2 India and its Neighbourhood Effect of Policies & Politics of Countries on India’s Interests
Emergency Extension and Electoral Delays
- Acting President Myint Swe extended the ’emergency’ for another six months, violating the 2008 Constitution citing the challenge of restoring ‘normalcy.’
- The extension delays the proposed elections by the military regime.
- The military regime’s continuous campaign involves frequent airstrikes, exerting control over only 30%40% of the territory.
Global and Indian Policies
- Symbolic gestures by the junta may temporarily ease protests and offer a face-saving image to international actors.
- India’s policy toward Myanmar faces contradictions due to its democratic commitment and security concerns.
- India’s infrastructure projects near the Myanmar border aim to counter China’s influence.
- Reports suggest an increase in India’s arms supply to the military post-coup, undermining democratic restoration efforts.
- A multifaceted approach is needed to engage pro-democracy actors and handle incoming refugees compassionately.
- The recent events in Myanmar, including the emergency extension and political releases, have profound implications. While they may seem significant, they do not necessarily mark a shift towards democratic stability. The situation calls for a nuanced and multifaceted approach, both domestically and internationally, to address the ongoing tragedy and ensure a path towards genuine democratic progress.
Is China’s deflation a sign of economic slowdown?
Context: Recent data from China has highlighted an uncommon trend – consumer prices in the nation have declined for the first time in over two years, giving rise to concerns about deflation.
- Deflation denotes a general reduction in the prices of goods and services within an economy.
- Historically, inflation and deflation referred to a rise or fall in the money supply, not prices.
- Today, deflation is linked to decreased demand for goods and services, potentially causing economic slowdown.
- Falling prices may encourage buyers to postpone purchases, dampening demand and growth.
- A certain degree of inflation is considered necessary for optimal resource utilization.
Implications and Debates
- Some economists assert that deflation can lead to business losses, lower growth, and disrupt credit contracts.
- They recommend governments and central banks take steps to boost demand to counteract deflation.
- Others argue that deflation may not always be problematic; it has been experienced during rapid economic growth.
- Deflation can result from an excess supply of goods outpacing money supply growth.
- High price inflation can coexist with low or negative economic growth, demonstrating complexity.
China’s Deflation Scenario
- China’s consumer price index declined 0.3% YoY in July, while producer prices dropped for the 10th consecutive month.
- The People’s Bank of China maintains low interest rates to stimulate demand, unlike other central banks.
- Chinese deflation could be due to fundamental factors, possibly related to turmoil in the property sector.
- The Chinese economy experienced challenges pre-pandemic, particularly in the property sector.
- Turmoil in the property sector has implications for China’s GDP.
Debate on Consumer Behavior and Prices
- Some economists challenge the notion that deflation automatically causes consumers to postpone purchases.
- They argue that consumer demand influences prices, not the other way around.
- The direction of causation runs from consumer demand to prices, not vice versa.
- Adjustments in businesses’ input costs can align with what customers are willing to pay.
Deflation presents a multi-faceted challenge with varying implications and interpretations. China’s experience with deflation highlights complex interactions between economic factors. While deflation may not always signify economic turmoil, its impact on demand, growth, and resource allocation requires careful analysis and policy consideration.
North-east SEZs yet to start operations
Context: A recent report from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce has highlighted the lack of operational Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in India’s Northeast region.
Relevance: GS Paper – 3 Growth & Development Government Policies & Interventions
Despite the approval of five SEZs between 2007 and 2021, none have become operational. The committee has recommended a new industrial development scheme for the region, given that the previous scheme expired in March 2022.
Lack of Operational SEZs:
- None of the five approved SEZs in India’s Northeast have become operational yet.
- The Parliament’s Standing Committee on Commerce has raised concerns about this delay.
Expired Industrial Development Scheme:
- The industrial development scheme introduced in 2017 for the region has expired in March 2022.
- The committee suggests that the government needs to formulate a new scheme for industrial development in the Northeast.
Disparity with Rest of India:
- The Northeastern States have not experienced the benefits of SEZs, unlike the rest of India.
- Over 270 operational SEZs in the rest of India have generated exports worth ₹79.62 lakh crore since 2005.
Call for Action:
- The committee emphasizes the need to expedite the development of SEZs in the Northeast.
- Urgent measures are required to kick-start the progress of these zones.
Pending SEZs in the Northeast:
- Two IT SEZs were approved for Manipur (2013) and Sikkim (June 2021).
- Nagaland had two SEZs approved between 2007 and 2009, but they haven’t taken off yet.
- An agro-products zone was approved for Tripura in 2019, but it also remains inactive.
Improving the habitat that sustains tigers is key to increasing their numbers
Context: The Wildlife Institute of India and the National Tiger Conservation Authority regularly conduct ‘tiger census’ reports to estimate tiger populations in India. Madhya Pradesh (M.P.), with a significant rise in its tiger numbers, employs a unique approach to maintain a balance between predator and prey populations. However, recent changes in forest management practices and conservation philosophy pose challenges.
Relevance: GS 3 Conservation
Tiger Census Update:
- The Wildlife Institute of India and the National Tiger Conservation Authority recently updated their estimates for tiger populations in India.
- Madhya Pradesh reported 785 tigers in its territory, a 50% increase since the last census.
- This growth rate was surpassed only by Bihar, which has far fewer tigers compared to M.P.
Approach of Active Relocation:
- Madhya Pradesh has successfully practiced active relocation of both tigers and their prey species to balance the predator and prey populations.
- Species like barasingha (swamp deer) and gaur have been reintroduced to new habitats, and prey species like chital (spotted deer) have been supplemented in various tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries.
- This approach involves tracking, darting, capturing, and temporarily enclosing animals before releasing them into their new habitats.
Challenges and Concerns:
- Recent amendments to the Forest Conservation Act allow more forest land diversion for industrial purposes.
- This can lead to habitat fragmentation and increased dependence on prey relocation to maintain carnivore numbers.
- This approach contradicts India’s conservation ethos of creating interconnected forest landscapes where species coexist with humans.
Shift in Conservation Focus:
- The original intent of conservation, as seen in Project Tiger, was to restore tiger populations while promoting coexistence with humans.
- The government’s struggle to maintain connected forest landscapes and contain human activities within reserves challenges this approach.
- There’s a need to shift focus from merely tracking carnivore numbers to ensuring consistent improvement in the habitats necessary to sustain these animals.
- States should implement active prey management policies, drawing on scientific expertise and involving local communities.
- This approach can help maintain a balance between predators and prey.
- It’s essential to evaluate whether habitats are consistently improving for long-term sustenance of these animals.
Conclusion: Madhya Pradesh’s success in tiger conservation through active relocation of predators and prey reflects its commitment to finding a balance in nature. However, changing forest management practices and the need for improved habitats prompt a shift in conservation strategies. By actively involving scientific expertise and local communities, and focusing on habitat enhancement, India can ensure the coexistence of humans and wildlife while preserving its unique conservation ethos.
Indian GPS NavIC to be linked to Aadhaar enrolment devices
Context: The Department of Space (DoS) in India has announced the integration of the Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) system, India’s equivalent of the GPS, into Aadhaar enrolment devices. This integration aims to enhance the functionality and accuracy of these devices across the country.
Integration of NavIC with Aadhaar Devices:
- The NavIC, a seven-satellite navigation system, will soon be integrated into Aadhaar enrolment devices in India.
- The Department of Space (DoS) has provided technical expertise and supported successful field trials for the integration process.
- The DoS has been involved in finalizing the procurement specifications for these devices.
Purpose of Integration:
- The integration of NavIC with Aadhaar enrolment devices aims to improve the accuracy and reliability of location-based data collection and verification.
- Currently, Aadhaar enrolment kits use GPS for location information.