Daily Editorials Analysis for 23rd January 2020

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India drop 10 ranks in Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index

Paper: II

For Prelims: Economist Intelligence Unit.

For Mains: Development Processes and the Development Industry — the Role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

Context of News:

  • The Economist has released its annual index measuring democracy around the world.
  • According to the magazine’s latest edition of the Democracy Index spells gloom for India. The world’s biggest democracy slipped 10 places in the 2019 global ranking to 51st place.

Economist Intelligence Unit:

  • The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) is a British business within the Economist Group providing forecasting and advisory services through research and analysis, such as monthly country reports, five-year country economic forecasts, country risk service reports, and industry reports.
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) is an organization that provides forecasting and advisory services to assist entrepreneurs, financiers, and government officials.

About the Report:

  • The annual survey, published by the magazine’s Economist Intelligence Unit, rates the state of democracy across 167 countries based on five measures:
  1. Electoral process and pluralism
  2. Functioning of government
  3. Political participation
  4. Democratic political culture
  5. Civil liberties
  • India’s overall score fell from 7.23 to 6.9, on a scale of 0-10, within a year (2018-2019) the country’s lowest since 2006. The average global score also recorded its worst value ever, down from 5.48 in 2018 to 5.44, driven by a sharp regression in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, a lesser one in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
  • The survey published attributes the primary cause of the democratic regression to an erosion of civil liberties in the country.
  • The report talks about the repeal of both Article 370 and Article 35A and how ahead of the move, “the government deployed a large number of troops in J&K, imposed various other security measures and placed local leaders under house arrest, including those with pro-India credential.
  • The Index also categorizes India under “flawed democracies”, countries that hold free and fair elections and where basic civil liberties are respected, but have significant weaknesses in aspects of democracy, such as problems in governance, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation. According to the report, there are only 22 “full democracies” as compared to 54 “authoritarian regimes” and as many “flawed democracies,” that include the U.S.
  • Among other emerging economies, Brazil was ranked 52nd with a score of 6.86, Russia stood at 134th with a score of 3.11.
  • Meanwhile, Pakistan was ranked 108th on the overall list with a score of 4.25, while Sri Lanka was at 69th place with a score of 6.27, Bangladesh (at 80th with 5.88 score).
  • The overall list was topped by Norway, followed by Iceland and Sweden. Other countries in the top 10 include New Zealand at the fourth place, Finland (5th), Ireland (6th), Denmark (7th), Canada (8th), Australia (9th) and Switzerland (10th).
  • North Korea was at the bottom of the global ranking at 167th place.

Way Forward:

  • Surviving the present means rebuilding the legitimate authority of the institutions of liberal democracy; while resisting those powers that aspire to make nondemocratic institutions central. Today, there are two opposite trends in the world:
  1. The first is social fragmentation and its concomitant, the decline of the authority of mediating institutions, primarily in established democracies.
  2. The second is the rise of new centralized hierarchies in authoritarian states.
  • The lack of political participation has been especially thorny for developing countries in recent years .It is also found that disjuncture between the high levels of public support for democracy across the globe and deep popular disappointment with the functioning of those democratic systems. That, in turn, has led to the rise of populism and the ousting of a number of mainstream parties across developing countries.
  • The India’s declining status in this index is primarily due to a significant fall in people’s trust in the functioning of public institutions and use of extra force to curb the right of people to raise voice against the government.

Playing with learning

GS Paper II

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Mains: Reasons behind poor performance of Anganwadis schools

What’s the News?

The Annual Status of Education Report 2019 data on early childhood education in rural areas makes the case that the pre-school system fails to give children a strong foundation, especially in government-run facilities.

Background of Anganwadis:

  • The core structure of the anganwadis was developed more than 40 years ago as part of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).
  • Pre-school education is part of their mandate however these centres do no more than implement the government’s child nutrition schemes.
  • A number of health crises have bared the inadequacies of the system.

The Annual Status of Education Report:

  • Since 2005, the NGO Pratham’s Annual Status of Education Reports (ASER) has shone a light on a critical failure of India’s education system: A large number of school-going children across the country are short on basic learning skills.
  • These reports have led to debates on seminal policy interventions such as the Right to Education Act and have been catalysts for meaningful conversations on the pedagogical deficiencies of the formal school system.
  • The emphasis, as ASER 2019 emphasises, should be on “developing problem-solving faculties and building memory of children, and not content knowledge”.

Comparison of Private and government (anganwadi) schools:

  • Private pre-schools are starting children on the school-based curriculum in pre-school itself.
  • In other words, the private sector keeps children longer in pre-school and exposes them to school-like curricula even before they have entered school. Therefore, children from private pre-schools perform better in school.
  • Children in anganwadis do worse than private pre-school children on cognitive as well as early language tasks such as picture description.
  • Gender discrimination begins early in life, with a 4- to 5-year-old girl more likely to be in a government school than a boy that age. These gaps, says the report, widen as the children get older.

Reasons behind poor performance of Anganwadis:

  • Anganwadi worker is poorly-paid, demoralised and lacks the autonomy to be an effective nurturer.
  • Lack of affordable and accessible options for pre-schooling: Too many children go to Std I with limited exposure to early childhood education.
  • Poor with disadvantage: Children from poor families have a double disadvantage — lack of healthcare and nutrition and the absence of a supportive learning environment.
  • Early Education on low priority: Early childhood education has the potential to be the “greatest and most powerful equalizer however the School readiness or early childhood development and education activities have not had high priority in the ICDS system.
  • Inappropriate activities by age and phase: Private preschools that are mushrooming in urban and rural communities have increased access to preschool but they bring in school-like features into the pre-school classroom, rather than developmentally appropriate activities by age and phase.
  • Absence of policies with strong commitment as two-thirds of those in the second standard cannot read a text at age seven that they were meant to read a year earlier.

Way forward:

  • There is a need to expand and upgrade anganwadis to implement school readiness.
  • Making a clear case for strengthening these early childhood education centres so that they implement appropriate “school-readiness” activities.
  • Streamlining the curriculum at the pre-school stage so that all pre-schools focus on activities that build cognitive and early literacy and numeracy skills. These will aid further learning.
  • Building human resource capabilities by training teachers in credentialed colleges and assurance of tenure of service.
  • Political will and commitment to show commitment to education.

Mains question:

‘’The Annual Status of Education Report 2019 data on early childhood education in rural areas makes the case that the pre-school system fails to give children a strong foundation, especially in government-run facilities.’’ In the light of this statement analyse the reasons behind poor performance of Anganwadis.

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