The Hindu Newspaper Analysis – 22 February 2021

Parliament and Bicameralism

  • This article speaks about the usage of the voice vote as a subterfuge of the current ruling dispensation; the word subterfuge means an alternative that is not always the right choice to make.
  • The author provides the example of the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Prevention of Cattle Bill that was passed this year both in the legislative assembly and the council even though the current ruling dispensation in Karnataka, i.e., the BJP had no majority in the council and opposition widely opposed the same.
  • It points to how the Govt used the voice vote as a tool to pass the bill through the council.
  • The author further provides an example in the center where the same voice vote method was used to pass the farm laws in the Parliament and the reason given was that the opposition is creating a ruckus in the Parliament.
  • The major debate today is about the provisions in the law where it must have been about the method adopted to pass the bill which the author calls as unconstitutional.
  • Earlier to this, the money bill was used as a subterfuge and bills like Aadhar, electoral bonds, foreign funding, tribunals, and others were passed and even the Supreme Court gave its assent as the Aadhar bill has money related aspects in it.
  • The author then speaks about the role of Rajya Sabha and Bicameralism; we follow the bicameral model of polity and we have two houses that have their own significance but if the powers of the RS are curbed down then its constitutional validity comes into the picture.
  • Since RS has a wider representation of people compared to the lower house, it becomes a key aspect of democracy and again but if the powers of the RS are curbed down then its constitutional validity comes into the picture.
  • The Rajya Sabha is different both from its nature of existence and selection, it acts as effective scrutiny for bills and legislations or to stop the passage of wasteful legislation as well.
  • If this is the case then even the judicial review is not even being useful today.
  • The pandemic has exposed a wide scene with the sessions being put on hold and even the question hour has gotten rid of and this affects the debate and discussion in the Parliament.

Education Today

  • In this article, the author speaks about the problems the Education sector faced due to the pandemic and the after-effects due to the same.
  • He particularly emphasizes how the girl children were particularly affected due to the same. He further quotes that 300 million children across all age groups remained out of school due to the pandemic and during the lockdown.
  • Post, this the education sector faces problems with regards to the pedagogical processes, classroom assessment framework, students support, teacher-student engagement, and so on.
  • We need to note that during and post the pandemic we saw the growth of digital education or online learning and this hasn’t been very beneficial for students as we could see that not all students had equal access to education due to issues like lack of access to the internet, electronic equipment or even as basic as electricity.
  • The children have lost focus on education and aspects related to it as online education hasn’t been beneficial for them; girls have been moved towards housework and farm work and the boys towards other chores.
  • The Govts initiatives like the Diksha portal, e-Patshala, SWAYAM, or even SWAYAM Prabha have been very good but they have not provided equivalent benefits to all as we have seen not just digital divide but also spatial, gender and others.
  • Several reports have also provided the same, like that of the UNICEF which speaks about the divide in the digital setup. He also quotes the report by the center for budget studies which provided that over 3000 households across states like Bihar, UP, Assam and others found that households faced both food and cash shortage and only 50% were ready to return to school.
  • There were several activities like Mid Meal Scheme, scholarships, health programs that were but on hold and these programs were those that attracted students to come and learn in schools.
  • The author also quotes about the situation in the state of Rajasthan which is second-worst performing state in terms of literacy and female education and 20% of girls in the age group of 15-16 were out of school.
  • A study by the Institute of development studies provided that most girls were keen on reporting back to school but couldn’t due to their domestic factors. The online education sphere did not work here as well.
  • The author speaks about how the schools run by NGOs did not specifically take up online education and went to homes specifically to teach the students.
  • The pandemic exposed the problems in the education system and spoke about the loopholes in the same where it is not done in a context-specific, gender-responsive, and inclusive manner.
  • As the schools reopen, the stopped programs have to be restarted and we need to develop innovative solutions like remedial tuitions, scholarships, cash transfers among others. Also, we need to make sure that the National Education Policy and its benefits reach all, also we need to increase our allocation to education to 6% of the GDP.
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