Ministry of Earth Sciences may go in for decadal forecast system

GS Paper I & III

Topic: Disaster and disaster management, Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.

Prelims: Decadal forecast system

Mains: Need of the decadal forecast system

What’s the News?

The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) is planning a ‘decadal forecast’ system along the lines of the United Kingdom’s Met Office to ensure better predictability in the climate time scale.

Decadal forecast system:

  • Climate forecasts that extend existing seasonal forecasts to the multi-year and decadal timescales.

Need of the decadal forecast system:

  • Many primary producers and government entities are increasingly including climate information in their 1 to 10-years business planning tools and assessments because of Climate variability coupled with increasingly intense extreme events like drought, floods and bush fires driven by anthropogenic forcing.
  • The ability to predict significant variations in the future climate would be invaluable for industry to better consider climate in their mid to longer term business revenue and risk assessment planning tools.
  • There were a number of gaps in the understanding of regional climate variability and its connections to global phenomena like Indian Ocean Dipole.
  • Indian forecasters faced a challenge in maintaining the quality of climate observations, and there is a need on the part of researchers to develop applications for specific sectors based on the available climate forecast.

Conclusion:

The system, based on a coupled climate model, would first be taking shape in the form of a research programme and would be operational only after its merits had been evaluated.


How wide is the gender gap in science?

Paper: II

For Mains: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Context of News:

  • February 11 was the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, established by the United Nations to promote equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. This day once again reminds us of rising Gender injustice even in science field.
  • While some of the greatest scientists and mathematicians have been women, they remain under-represented in comparison to their male counterparts in higher studies involving science, as well as among the top scientific achievers.

Women in science courses:

  • Female students represent only 35 per cent of students enrolled in STEM-related fields. Female students’ enrolment is particularly low in ICT (three per cent), natural science, mathematics and statistics (five per cent) and engineering, manufacturing and construction (eight per cent).
  • In India, a 2016-17 NITI Aayog report compared female enrolment in various disciplines over five years, until 2015-16.
  • In 2015-16, 9.3% of female students in undergraduate courses were enrolled in engineering, compared to 15.6% across genders. Conversely, 4.3% of female students were enrolled in medical science, compared to 3.3% across genders.

Government of India initiatives for promoting women in science:

  • Women Scientist Scheme:
  • Women Scientist Scheme (WOS) aims to provide opportunities to women scientists and technologists who desire to return to mainstream science after a break in career due to social responsibilities. Under this scheme, women with S&T qualifications are encouraged to pursue research in frontier areas of science and engineering, on problems of societal relevance, and to take up S&T-based internship followed by self-employment.
  • Indo-US fellowship for women in STEMM:
  • Another new component, INDO-US Fellowship for Women in STEMM (WISTEMM) initiated in 2017–18 aims to provide opportunities to Indian women scientists, engineers and technologists to undertake international collaborative research in premier institutions in USA to enhance their research capacities and capabilities. Funding support extended includes stipend, airfare, health insurance, and contingency and conference allowances.
  • Vigyan Jyoti:
  • To enhance participation of women in S&T domain, DST plans to introduce interventions right from Class VIII onwards and then focused hand-holding after class X including coaching, mentorship, interaction with role models, and so on in order to stimulate equity and equality in participation of girls in higher education in S&T.

Reasons for Gender Gap in Science:

  • Education is a family decision:
  • Educational decisions in our country are generally family decisions and not individual choices, as education involves investment of collective family resources with collective impacts. Decisions are primarily based on projected impact on the collective family welfare. For parents, daughter’s education involves family resources, status, marriage considerations and these become too important to leave choices in the hands of individual students. Family and social consequences become more significant in case of a girl child rather than her interest and will.
  • Economic factors:
  • These play a major role in academic decisions and are major constraints for women in pursuing science. Even for families with greater resources, economic considerations affect the pursuit of science degree as a science or engineering degree is generally a more expensive option than an arts or a commerce degree.
  • Gender stereotypes and gender roles:
  • Gendered family responsibilities and emphasis on homely traits for daughters makes the situation less favourable to study science. Widespread Indian cultural model of a family is patriarchal in which gender roles are differentiated and all household responsibilities lie with female members of a family. Individual women’s goals and interests get merged for collective family welfare and smooth functioning of household activities.
  • Lack of role models:
  • It is much easier for girls to pursue science and imagine a career there when they see more successful women examples. Lack of role models continues to hinder career choices of girls away from STEM subjects.

Way Forward:

  • Treat gender equality as an innovation challenge:
  • When you introduce a new initiative to increase productivity in the workplace, you typically come armed with tools to measure its success, and openness to its potential failure. Gender equality is the same. We need to consistently measure how inclusive the scientific community is, to hold it accountable – but more importantly, so that we can change tactics when old ways stop working.
  • Make people responsible for change:
  • It isn’t enough to impose diversity training or anti-bias programmes on individuals, who are likely to resist something that they’re being strong-armed into complying. Those dynamic changes when someone is made personally responsible for the success of someone else. for example, of sponsorship programmes, in which sponsors feel invested in the careers of their protégés.
  • Make organizations accountable:
  • What gets measured gets done” is a maxim that should be applied to diversity as well. And measurements of progress should be taken at the level of the individual, of course, but also at the level of the organisation. Therefore, we need to create a larger institution to monitor and keep track of our entire system’s progress towards diversity.
  • Despite many hindrances, women in India have made great strides over the years. It takes more than a policy to bring and retain more and more women in science. A strong commitment to gender mainstreaming is required. To achieve this we need to do the following.