1. IAS officers and central posting
The centre has proposed amendments to IAS Cadre rules (1954) to exercise greater control in central deputation of IAS officers.
- “A cadre officer may, with the concurrence of the State Governments concerned and the Central Government, be deputed for service under the Central Government or another State Government or under a company, association or body of individuals, whether incorporated or not, which is wholly or substantially owned or controlled by the Central Government or by another State Government. Provided that in case of any disagreement, the matter shall be decided by the Central Government and the State Government or State Governments concerned shall give effect to the decision of the Central Government.”
- The Centre asks every year for an “offer list” of officers of the All India Services (IAS, IPS and Indian Forest Service) willing to go on central deputation, from which it selects officers.
- While the Centre mandates the state governments to provide a list of officers, the officer too must be willing.
- Reason: various state/joint cadres are not sponsoring adequate number of officers for central deputation, as part of the Central Deputation Reserve. As a result of this, the number of officers available for central deputation is not sufficient to meet the requirement at Centre.
- The letter proposed to insert an additional condition in Rule 6(1): The actual number of officers to be deputed to the Central Government shall be decided by the Central Government in consultation with State Government concerned.
- To the existing condition that “in case of any disagreement… the State Government or State Governments concerned shall give effect to the decision of the Central Government”, the proposed amendment adds the words “within a specified time”.
- In specific situations, where services of cadre officers are required by the Central Government in public interest, the Central Government may seek the services of such officers for posting under the Central Government.
- It makes it mandatory for state governments to provide a fixed number of IAS officers every year for central deputation even if it is against the wishes of the officers themselves.
- Does not solve structural issues pertaining to the service: poor working conditions at junior level, lack of security of tenure at all levels etc are the reasons for shortage of IAS officers in the country.
- The term ‘specific situation’ for which the centre may seek the services of cadre officers had led to apprehensions that it can be used for political considerations: centre can unilaterally place services of key officers of a state ruled by a rival party under themselves.
- It undermines the idea of cooperative federalism by giving centre a greater role.
- It can lead to instability in state as officers will be fraught with uncertainty of sudden deputation.
- It can also have grave implications for independence and security of officers as states can begin to doubt loyalty of officers.
The amendments have to be analysed against the backdrop of cooperative federalism. In a federal setup, it is inevitable that differences and disputes between centre and states would arise. But all such issues need to be resolved while keeping the idea of larger national interest in mind.
2. A new lesson plan (Education Sector Reforms)
- Education is a part of concurrent list.
- Related articles: art 21A right to education till 14 years of age (FR)
- Art 45: focus on early childhood education till 6 years of age (DPSP)
- Art 51a: duty of parents to send ward to school (FD)
The National Education Policy 2020 is an attempt to bring a shift from rote learning to critical thinking and reform the education sector in India.
- Shift to 5+3+3+4 from earlier 10+2
- Departure from silo mentality- flexibility to choose subjects across all streams rather than strict division of science, arts and commerce.
- Confluence of education and skill- vocational course with internship will nudge lower income households to send children to school.
- Making education inclusive- trying to extend RTE till 18 years of age
- Allowing foreign universities to operate in India- incorporating international perspective and innovation
- End to Hindi vs English debate: 3 language formula till class 5
- Knowledge job mismatch: silent on education related to technology like AI, cyberspace etc
- To improve education sector, 6% GDP has to be invested. NEP makes no attempt to increase resources.
- Amidst Covid, digital divide has increased. Solution to this issue has not been sought yet. According to ASER: only a quarter of children in India have access to online learning.
- Teacher student ratio is low: according to TISS, India is facing a shortfall of over 1mn teachers.
- Early childhood education is comparatively low due to lack of resources and skills among parents.
Covid related issues:
- Increasing digital divide
- Increasing dropout rate: ASER- % Of children not enrolled in school doubled during pandemic
- Prioritising older child education due to lack of resources. Thus early childhood education is neglected
- More importance to male child education – male female divide.
- School closures has further aggravated the situation. According to UNESCO, worldwide 1.6 billion learners were out of school.
- Early childhood education: community engagement to bring shift in mindset
- E Pathshala model : use materials available at home for education activities
- Focus on blended learning- online +offline
- Creation of bio bubbles in school: each class is divided into groups, interactions allowed only within group with staggered class intervals.
- Instead of using grade level curriculum, it is important to ‘teach at the right level’ to overcome loss of learning due to school closures.Using technology in an accessible way: eg: Madhya Pradesh using watsapp groups for teaching under ‘Hamara Ghar Hamara Vidyalaya’ (taking education to home).
- Providing psycho-social support to children : Manodarpan initiative
- Increasing investment from current 2.6% of GDP.
- Need to focus on a multi- disciplinary system across all levels of education with special focus on covid related impact.