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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

10 Mar, 2020

23 Min Read

SC/ST Education-Social Inclusion

GS-I : Indian Society Social Inclusion

‘Fall in percentage of school education funds for SC, STs’

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-I- Social Issue

What’s in News?

After several years of rising trends, the Centre has reduced the percentage allocation of funds for education of schoolchildren from SC and ST communities as well as for the north-eastern region in the coming year.

  • In its report on the demand for grants submitted to the Rajya Sabha, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development expressed its concern at these declines and urged higher allocations.
  • A parliamentary panel expressed concern that any shortage of funds for these marginalised communities could be critical, especially given that more than one in five SC and ST students drop out of school at the secondary level.
  • For at least three years, the amounts allocated to improve education for Dalits, Adivasis and those from the north-east have been on the rise in comparison to total allocations for the department. However, the percentage allotted to these communities dipped in 2020-21, although actual amounts still increased slightly.

Concerns:

  • A major concern is about the high rates of dropout among SC and ST communities.
    • The annual average dropout rate of SC students at the secondary school level is at 21.8%, according to the latest survey data from the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) 2017-18.
    • For ST students, it was 22.3%.

Scheme for SC/ST in education.

NGOs Scheme

Scheme of Grant in Aid to Voluntary Organisations working for Scheduled Castes

Scholarships

Pre-Matric Scholarship to the SC Students studying in classes IX & X

Pre-Matric Scholarships to the Children of those Engaged in occupations involving cleaning and prone to health hazards

Post-Matric Scholarship for SC students

Upggadation of Merit Of SC Students

Central Sector Scholarship of Top Class Education for SC Students

National Overseas scholarship

National Fellowship for Scheduled Caste Students

Hostels

BABU JAGJIVAN RAM CHHATRAWAS YOJANA

Free Coaching

Free Coaching Scheme for SC and OBC Students

Schemes for Economic Development

Credit Enhancement Guarantee Scheme for the Scheduled Castes (SCs)

National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC)

National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC)

Special Central Assistance to Scheduled Caste Sub Plan (SCA to SCSP)

Scheme of Assistance to Scheduled Castes Development Corporations (SCDCs)

Self Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS)

Venture Capital Fund For Scheduled Castes

Schemes for Social Empowerment

Centrally Sponsored Scheme for implementation of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana (PMAGY)

SCHOLARSHIP SCHEMES FOR SC/ST STUDENTS

The Finance Minister in his budget speech on the Union Budget 2005-06 made the following announcements –

“The key to empowering the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes is to provide top class education opportunities to meritorious students. The three on-going scholarship schemes for SC/ST students under the Central Plan – pre-Matric, post-Matric and merit-based – will continue.

To provide an added incentive, I propose a new window: a short list of institutes of excellence will be notified, and any SC/ST student who secures admission in one of those institutes will be awarded a larger scholarship that will meet the requirements for tuition fees, living expenses, books and a computer.”

The Scheme was approved in 2007 and was subsequently revised in January, 2012 and June 2016.

2. Objectives and Coverage

2.1 The Scheme aims at recognizing and promoting quality education amongst students belonging to SCs, by providing full financial support. The scheme will cover SC students for pursuing studies beyond 12th class.

2.2 The scheme will operate in all institutions notified by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

2.3 The SC students, who secure admission in the notified institutions, will be awarded scholarship to meet the requirements for (i) full tuition fee and non-refundable charges (there will be a ceiling of Rs. 2.00 lakhs per annum per student for private sector institutions and Rs.3.72 lakhs per annum per student for the private sector flying clubs for Commercial Pilot Training and Type Rating Courses), (ii) living expenses to the beneficiary @ Rs. 2220/- per month per student. However, the advance payment of living expenses, to be paid directly by the Central Government, through Direct Benefits Transfer mode would be restricted to 1 quarter only. (iii) books and stationery @ Rs. 3000/- per annum per student and (iv) a latest computer with accessories like UPS, Printer, Multi-media limited to Rs. 45000/- per student as one time assistance during the course. The Institute will procure computers and supply to the awardees. Alternatively, the Institute may also consider re-imbursement of expenses made by a student on Purchase of the computer. Limited Rs. 45,000/- provided, the computer and accessories are procured from a reputed manufacturer/supplier.

2.4 The scholarship, once awarded, will continue till the completion of the course, subject to satisfactory performance.

3. Eligibility

3.1 Those SC students who have secured admission in the notified institutions according to the norms prescribed by the respective institutions will be eligible for the scholarship under the scheme to the extent of the number of scholarships allocated to the institutes concerned. In case the number of students admitted exceeds the number of awards, then the scholarship will be restricted to the top ones in the inter-se merit list. The remaining students from SC category admitted in the institute in different courses shall be eligible for the Post-Matric Scholarship (PMS) administered by this Ministry as a centrally sponsored scheme, provided such students are otherwise eligible for the said scheme. In case, the institute finds that the number of eligible candidates in the 1st year are less than the number of scholarships allotted to it, the balance scholarships may be offered to students studying in 2nd, 3rd and 4th year, etc. one the basis of inter-se merit of previous year’s result giving priority to those with higher number of Years left to complete their respective course i.e. 1st Year students is to get priority over the 2nd year students and so on.

3.2 Thirty percent (30%) of slots allotted to the Institute shall be reserved for eligible SC girl students as per their inter-se merit. In absence of sufficient number of girl students, the slots may be transferred to eligible boy students as per their merit.

3.3 However, the 30% slots as mentioned above will not include those girl students who are selected on the basis of their performance in the overall merit list of SC students of the Institute.

3.4 The ceiling of total annual family income from all sources under the Scheme is Rs. 6.00 lakh and the general selection criteria among the eligible candidates of any institution must be the merit. However, if for the last available slot in an institution, there is more than one student with equal marks; preference may be given to the student with the lowest parental income.

3.5 The benefit of the Scheme will not be provided to more than 2 siblings in a family. The students will submit an affidavit to this effect in the Institute to certify that he/she is not the 3rd sibling of the family who is availing the benefit under the Scheme.

3.6 The ceiling of total annual family income from all sources under the Scheme is Rs. 6.00 lakh and the general selection criteria among the eligible candidates of any institution must be the merit. However, if for the last available slot in an institution, there is more than one student with equal marks; preference may be given to the student with the lowest parental income.

3.7 The scholarship will become payable immediately after a student has secured admission and has started attending the classes.

3.8 The scholarship will be terminated if the student fails to pass the final examination of each year or any terminal examination or semester examination prescribed. He will, however, remain eligible for the Post-Matric Scholarship.

Way forward:

  • “The Committee urges the Department to undertake a study of the social-cultural-financial reasons for the dropout of SC, ST and girls at all levels and with particular emphasis on dropout at secondary level and evolve strategies to remove the cause for the high dropout rates,” said the report.

The Department may also look into the feasibility of bringing back the students who drop out at secondary level and simultaneously providing them vocational training so that these students can look for job opportunities at the earliest possible and also continue their studies.

Source: TH/MoSJ

COMPREHENSIVE CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM

GS-II :

COMPREHENSIVE CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- IR

The date 26/11 has gone down in the history as a day that saw the most heinous attack carried on the Indian soil. The attack claimed 164 lives; leftover 300 injured and sent shock waves around the world. Terrorism has reared its ugly head every now and then and has devastated the world like nothing else. It is an issue which has affected millions of lives from Asia to the Americas but till date, there is no consensus on an international convention on terrorism. Several efforts have been made to address the problem but negotiations have not borne out results to address the issue.

What is it?

The Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism is a proposed treaty which intends to criminalize all forms of international terrorism and deny terrorists, their financiers and supporters access to funds, arms, and safe havens. It is a draft proposed by India in 1996 that is yet to be adopted by the UNGA.

What does it call for?

Universal definition of terrorism: no good terrorist or bad terrorist.

Ban on all groups regardless of country of operation, cut off access to funds and safe havens.

Prosecution of all groups including cross border groups.

Amending domestic laws to make cross-border terror an extraditable offence.

It also addresses, among other things, the issue of Pakistan’s alleged support for cross-border terrorism in south Asia.

Concerns expressed by various countries:

US + allies: concerns over definition of terrorism, including acts by US soldiers in international interventions without UN mandate.

Latin American countries: concerns over international humanitarian laws being ignored.

There are also concerns that convention will be used to target Pakistan and restrict rights of self-determination groups in Palestine, Kashmir etc.

Why the Lack of Consensus?

  • The Sixth Committee, the primary forum for the consideration of legal questions in the General Assembly had created an ad hoc group which is still debating the draft for Comprehensive Convention for Countering International Terrorism. There are several issues but the most important of them is “defining the terms related to terrorism”. Multiple groups have contentious claims over what should and what should not be regarded as terrorism.
  • For instance, Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) has denied inclusion of liberation movement activities as terrorism, keeping in mind the Israel- Palestine conflict.
  • On the other hand, the US and the allied countries who are involved in many counter-terrorism activities in various countries wanted the draft to exclude acts committed by military forces of states during peacetime. The Latin American countries want exactly the opposite.
  • Hence, for the committee prescribing an overarching definition that satisfies all the parties is a bone of contention.

    Origin and Status of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT)

    New Delhi has pushed for an intergovernmental convention to enhance prosecution and extradition of terrorists since 1996. In 2018, even after two decades, there is still a lack of consensus. Although consensus eludes towards the adoption of the terrorism convention, discussions have yielded three separate protocols that aim to tackle terrorism:
    • International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, adopted on 15 December 1997;
    • International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, adopted on 9 December 1999;
    • International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, adopted on 13 April 2005.

    Geopolitics and the Act of terror

  • Geopolitics is one of the most important determinants that has played the invisible hand in protecting the agents of terror. Masood Azhar is a case in point.
  • Time and again China has been reluctant in declaring Azhar a terrorist. China, being a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council, has repeatedly blocked India's move to do so. The US, Britain and France all back India to designate Masood Azhar a terrorist under the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council.
  • China, in its statement, said that since Pakistan didn't agree with India on this issue, there is no "consensus" between the two directly affected parties. Beijing made it clear that China will support the issue only if Pakistan agrees with India.
  • Pakistan government has been proven toothless when it comes to curbing nefarious activities emanating from her soil. There are scores of terrorist camps along the border, aided and funded either by the army (clandestinely) or terrorist groups like Jaish e Mohammad.
  • The motive of the Pakistani administration has always been to support the fringe elements tacitly, in order to fulfill its policy to “bleed India with thousand cuts”.
  • Adoption of the convention would not only force Pakistan to withdraw any tacit state support to the terrorist groups but would also enable India to extradite culprits who are responsible for designing terrorist acts from foreign soil.

Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT)

  • The CCIT will provide legal framework which will make it binding on all signatories to deny funds and safe havens to terrorist groups. The original draft that was tabled in 1996 and discussed until April 2013 included the following major objectives:
    • To have a universal definition of terrorism that all 193-members of the UNGA will adopt into their own criminal law.
    • To ban all terror groups and shut down terror camps.
    • Deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support, or commit terrorist acts.
  • To prosecute all terrorists under a special law.
  • Exchange information in accordance with international and domestic law and cooperate on administrative and judicial matters to prevent the commission of terrorist acts.
  • To make cross-border terrorism an extraditable offence worldwide.

The global impact of terrorism:

  1. There was no change in the five countries most impacted by terrorism, which include Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria and Pakistan. All of these countries have been ranked in the worst five every year since 2013.
  2. Conflict continued to be the primary driver of terrorist activity for the countries most impacted by terrorism in 2017.
  3. In 2017, terrorist attacks in conflict countries averaged 2.4 deaths, compared to 0.84 deaths in non-conflict countries. Terrorist attacks are more lethal on average in countries with a greater intensity of conflict. In 2017, countries in a state of war averaged 2.97 deaths per attack, compared to 1.36 in countries involved in a minor armed conflict.
  4. There are numerous possible reasons for this difference. Countries in conflict have a greater availabilityof more military-grade small arms and bomb-making capabilities.
  5. Countries that are not in conflict tend to be more economically-developed and spend more on intelligence gathering, policing and counterterrorism.

Measures to Tackle Terrorism

  • India should play a proactive role to neutralize any threat of terrorism.
  • Addressing UN High-Level conference on Heads of Counter Terrorism, Indian Special Secretary, Internal Security) extended a five-point formula –
    • Exchange of timely and actionable intelligence.
    • Prevention of misuse of modern communication through collaboration with the private sector.
    • Building capacities for improved border controls.
    • Sharing of info related to the movement of passengers.
    • Designation of Counter-Terror focal points to fight global terror.
  • In addition, there should be a concerted effort from the countries affected by the scourge of terrorism to pressurize countries who engage in state-sponsored terrorism.
  • It is believed that the Indian intelligence agencies did have actionable intelligence from its Israeli and the US counterpart regarding 26/11. So, intelligence gathering and sharing are not enough, timely & appropriate action is required on the intelligence received. Consequently, the Indian intelligence agencies have to be empowered both monetarily and through modern infrastructure to be able to respond in time.

Source: UN/TH

Quantum Supremacy

GS-III :

Quantum Supremacy

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- S&T

Recently, Google’s quantum computer, named Sycamore, claimed “quantum supremacy”, as it reportedly did the task in 200 seconds that would have apparently taken a supercomputer 10,000 years to complete.

What is “quantum supremacy”?

  • The phrase “quantum supremacy” was coined in 2012 by John Preskill.
  • Quantum supremacy refers to a quantum computer solving a problem that cannot be expected of a classical computer in a normal lifetime.

Quantum Computing vs Traditional Computing

  • Traditional computers work on the basis of the laws of classical physics, specifically by utilizing the flow of electricity. A quantum computer, on the other hand, seeks to exploit the laws that govern the behavior of atoms and subatomic particles.
  • Conventional computers process information in ‘bits’ or 1s and 0s, following classical physics under which our computers can process a ‘1’ or a ‘0’ at a time.
  • Quantum computers compute in ‘qubits’ (or quantum bits). They exploit the properties of quantum mechanics, the science that governs how matter behaves on the atomic scale.
    • In this scheme of things, processors can be a 1 and a 0 simultaneously, a state called quantum superposition.
  • Because of quantum superposition, a quantum computer — if it works to plan — can mimic several classical computers working in parallel.
  • World's most powerful supercomputers today can juggle 148,000 trillion operations in a second and requires about 9000 IBM CPUs connected in a particular combination to achieve this feat.
  • At that tiny scale, many laws of classical physics cease to apply, and the unique laws of quantum physics come into play.
  • Unlike classical physics, in which an object can exist in one place at one time, quantum physics looks at the probabilities of an object being at different points. Existence in multiple states is called superposition, and the relationships among these states is called entanglement.
  • The higher the number of qubits, the higher the amount of information stored in them. Compared to the information stored in the same number of bits, the information in qubits rises exponentially. That is what makes a quantum computer so powerful.
  • Building reliable quantum hardware is challenging because of the difficulty of controlling quantum systems accurately.

What is quantum computing?

Let’s start with the basics.

An ordinary computer chip uses bits. These are like tiny switches, that can either be in the off position – represented by a zero – or in the on position – represented by a one. Every app you use, website you visit and photograph you take is ultimately made up of millions of these bits in some combination of ones and zeroes.

This works great for most things, but it doesn’t reflect the way the universe actually works. In nature, things aren’t just on or off. They’re uncertain. And even our best supercomputers aren’t very good at dealing with uncertainty. That’s a problem.

That's because, over the last century, physicists have discovered when you go down to a really small scale, weird things start to happen. They’ve developed a whole new field of science to try and explain them. It’s called quantum mechanics.

Quantum mechanics is the foundation of physics, which underlies chemistry, which is the foundation of biology. So for scientists to accurately simulate any of those things, they need a better way of making calculations that can handle uncertainty. Enter, quantum computers.

How do quantum computers work?

Instead of bits, quantum computers use qubits. Rather than just being on or off, qubits can also be in what’s called ‘superposition’ – where they’re both on and off at the same time, or somewhere on a spectrum between the two.

Take a coin. If you flip it, it can either be heads or tails. But if you spin it – it’s got a chance of landing on heads, and a chance of landing on tails. Until you measure it, by stopping the coin, it can be either. Superposition is like a spinning coin, and it’s one of the things that makes quantum computers so powerful. A qubit allows for uncertainty.

If you ask a normal computer to figure its way out of a maze, it will try every single branch in turn, ruling them all out individually until it finds the right one. A quantum computer can go down every path of the maze at once. It can hold uncertainty in its head.

It’s a bit like keeping a finger in the pages of a choose your own adventure book. If your character dies, you can immediately choose a different path, instead of having to return to the start of the book.

The other thing that qubits can do is called entanglement. Normally, if you flip two coins, the result of one coin toss has no bearing on the result of the other one. They’re independent. In entanglement, two particles are linked together, even if they’re physically separate. If one comes up heads, the other one will also be heads.

It sounds like magic, and physicists still don’t fully understand how or why it works. But in the realm of quantum computing, it means that you can move information around, even if it contains uncertainty. You can take that spinning coin and use it to perform complex calculations. And if you can string together multiple qubits, you can tackle problems that would take our best computers millions of years to solve.

What can quantum computers do?

Quantum computers aren’t just about doing things faster or more efficiently. They’ll let us do things that we couldn’t even have dreamed of without them. Things that even the best supercomputer just isn’t capable of.

They have the potential to rapidly accelerate the development of artificial intelligence. Google is already using them to improve the software of self-driving cars. They’ll also be vital for modelling chemical reactions.

Right now, supercomputers can only analyse the most basic molecules. But quantum computers operate using the same quantum properties as the molecules they’re trying to simulate. They should have no problem handling even the most complicated reactions.

That could mean more efficient products – from new materials for batteries in electric cars, through to better and cheaper drugs, or vastly improved solar panels. Scientists hope that quantum simulations could even help find a cure for Alzheimer’s.

Quantum computers will find a use anywhere where there’s a large, uncertain complicated system that needs to be simulated. That could be anything from predicting the financial markets, to improving weather forecasts, to modelling the behaviour of individual electrons: using quantum computing to understand quantum physics.

Cryptography will be another key application. Right now, a lot of encryption systems rely on the difficulty of breaking down large numbers into prime numbers. This is called factoring, and for classical computers, it’s slow, expensive and impractical. But quantum computers can do it easily. And that could put our data at risk.

There are rumours that intelligence agencies across the world are already stockpiling vast amounts of encrypted data in the hope that they’ll soon have access to a quantum computer that can crack it.

The only way to fight back is with quantum encryption. This relies on the uncertainty principle – the idea that you can’t measure something without influencing the result. Quantum encryption keys could not be copied or hacked. They would be completely unbreakable.

How will it help us?

  • The speed and capability of classical supercomputers are limited by energy requirements. Along with these they also need more physical space.
  • It can have a major impact through quantum chemistry, which could be important in agriculture and human health.
  • It could help with the development of new pharmaceuticals, new energy sources, new ways to collect solar power, and new materials.
  • Looking for really useful information by processing huge amounts of data quickly is a real-world problem and one that can be tackled faster by quantum computers.
    • For example, if we have a database of a million social media profiles and had to look for a particular individual, a classical computer would have to scan each one of those profiles which would amount to a million steps.
  • In 1996, Lov K. Grover from Bell Labs discovered that a quantum computer would be able to do the same task with one thousand steps instead of a million. That translates into reduced processors and reduced energy.
  • A quantum computer can attack complex problems that are beyond the scope of a classical computer. The basic advantage is speed as it is able to simulate several classical computers working in parallel.
  • Quantum computers would also be useful for tasks which handle huge amounts of data. Data mining and artificial intelligence would be major beneficiaries, along with sciences which deal in volumes of data, from astronomy to linguistics.

Government's Initiative

  • In 2018, the Department of Science & Technology unveiled a programme called Quantum-Enabled Science & Technology (QuEST) and committed to investing ?80 crore over the next three years to accelerate research.
  • The ostensible plan is to have a quantum computer built in India within the next decade.

Challenges Associated with Quantum Computing

  • The dark side of quantum computing is the disruptive effect that it can have on cryptographic encryption, which secures communications and computers.
  • It might pose a challenge for the government also because if this technology goes into wrong hands, all the government’s official and confidential data will be at a risk of being hacked and misused.

Way Forward

  • Long after the birth of social media and artificial intelligence, there are now demands to regulate them. It would be prudent to develop a regulatory framework for quantum computing before it becomes widely available.
  • It will be better to regulate it or define the limits of its legitimate use, nationally and internationally before the problem gets out of hand like nuclear technology.

Source: TH

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