Daily Editorial Analysis for 23rd April 2020

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The way forward

GS Paper III

Topic: Indian economy

Mains: Strategy required dealing with lockdown

What’s the News?

Disruption in the economy has been severe due to the lockdown and it is going to be more severe and the policy response to deal with this public health crisis requires coordinated action at both Central and state levels.


  • According to some estimates, the 33-day lockdown in this financial year, April 1 to May 3, which essentially translates to a loss of 23 full working days, will lead to an economic contraction this financial year.
  • Although the government has relaxed the lockdown restrictions on some activities post April 20. But there are disruptions in supply chains, labour and logistical issues and the fall in end-consumer demand.
  • Even after the lockdown is fully lifted, economic activities are unlikely to return to normal in the near term.

Future determinants:

  • The impact of job and income losses, especially those in the informal sector, consumer behaviour —discretionary spending may take a hit — risk aversion by firms and banks, and continuation of social distancing norms, among others, will determine how economic activity shapes up after the lockdown.
  • Much will also depend on the depth and breadth of the policy response.

Steps taken:

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has undertaken a series of measures aimed at easing the economic and financial fallout.
  • However, the central government’s response, so far, has been limited India has one of the strictest lockdowns in the world with one of the thinnest covers of social protection.
  • The first government package aimed at ensuring a steady supply of food grains and easing of cash woes of vulnerable sections.

But with investment activity and exports expected to remain depressed, and the economy likely to be largely reliant on government spending and restricted household consumption, more fiscal support is needed.


  • The combination of a sharp slowdown in growth and government tax revenues will itself push up the fiscal deficit beyond what has been pegged to maintain current levels of spending.
  • Add to this the requirement to support the economy and the deficit will widen further. The severity of the slowdown necessitates more government support.
  • In fact, government spending may well have to be front-loaded. Sectors which have been hit the hardest such as MSMEs, airlines, hotels, exports will have to be provided relief.
  • Failure to do so will result in job losses, and a rise in bankruptcies, throttling the financial system, making even a gradual recovery more difficult.


  • The Centre may want to keep the power dry for the “unknowns” that may yet arise, and may favour opting for several rounds of measures, calibrating its response as the situation unfolds.
  • But it is also necessary for it to spell out a broad strategy on how it intends to support the economy.

Post-pandemic, a shift in mindset will be needed — to teach and learn

GS Paper II, III

Topic: Government policies, inclusive growth

Mains: Democratizing education

What’s the News?

Since the middle of March, millions of students have been out of school, because of the COVID-19 lockdown. This has also affected more than one lakh students, who could not complete their Class 12 board examinations.


  • Today, even after a month of announcements and extensions, it is difficult to predict when schools will restart. Schooling is supposed to look after the emotional, social and behavioural health of children, which is diametrically opposite to social distancing.
  • Presently, teachers are trying to engage with online teaching and learning. The technology may vary across schools and states but as educators, we have to look at the implications of these new learning processes for our learners.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC):

  • It is a free Web-based distance learning program that is designed for the participation of large numbers of geographically dispersed students.
  • They are changing the world of education by providing free online courses for higher education, executive education, and employee development.
  • These courses are provided by well-qualified lecturers from some of the most renowned institutes in the world.
  • These courses provide virtual education to people from any corner of the world where there is accessibility to the internet.
  • Massive open online courses are expected to complement the future of higher education in the world.

Strengths of Online learning:

The online environment offers unprecedented opportunities for people who would otherwise have limited access to education, as well as a new paradigm for educators in which dynamic courses of the highest quality can be developed.

  • Lack of discrimination and presence of anonymity: In the online environment, learners have a certain measure of anonymity. Discriminating factors such as age, dress, physical appearance, disabilities, race and gender are largely absent.
  • It makes innovative and creative approaches to instruction even more important. In the online environment, the facilitator and student collaborate to create a dynamic learning experience.
  • Resources and ideas are shared, and continuous synergy will be generated through the learning process. Each individual can contribute to the course discussions and comments on the work of others.
  • The synergy that exists in the student-centered Virtual Classroom is one of the most unique and vital traits that the online learning format possesses.
  • Quality dialogue: This structure allows students time to articulate responses with much more depth and forethought than in a traditional face-to-face discussion situation where the participant must analyze the comment of another on the spot and formulate a response or otherwise lose the chance to contribute to the discussion.

Threats/ Concerns:

  • Lack of access in rural areas: Lack of access whether it be for economical or logistics reasons will exclude otherwise eligible students from the course. This is a significant issue in rural and lower socioeconomic neighborhoods.
  • Affordability: Furthermore, speaking from an administrative point of view, if students cannot afford the technology the institution employs, they are lost as customers. As far as Internet accessibility is concerned, it is not universal.
  • Digital literacy: Both students and facilitators must possess a minimum level of computer knowledge in order to function successfully in an online environment.
  • Reliability of technology: User friendly and reliable technology is critical to a successful online program. However, even the most sophisticated technology is not 100% reliable. In some situations these, the technology is neither seamless nor reliable and it can detract from the learning experience.

Way Forward

  • MOOCs need to take different forms to keep engagement high, monetise for sustaining and staying relevant. Partnered with universities, created tiered approach, enterprise solutions for reskilling and upskilling to reinvent themselves.
  • Institutions of higher education have found that online programs are essential in providing access to education for the populations they wish to serve.
  • In order for an online program to be successful, the curriculum, the facilitator, the technology and the students must be carefully considered and balanced in order to take full advantage of the strengths of this format and at the same time, avoid pitfalls that could result from its weaknesses.

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