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National Education Policy 2020: Related Developments

 

The Government of India had announced a new National Education Policy (NEP) in July 2020. The Policy aims to bring about a paradigm shift in the education canvas of the nation.  The NEP 2020 lays a great emphasis on teaching in the mother tongue in the early stages of schooling. It is believed that the children in the age group up to six-seven years have the highest capacity of assimilation of knowledge which can be very effectively achieved through teaching in the mother tongue. At higher levels of learning, the existing ‘silos’ of so many subjects are proposed to be dismantled. ‘Research’ is going to find an empathic place in the curriculum of all college-going students in the future. 

 

CBSE to have a new mode of assessment.

Delhi University recently announced its intention to reintroduce the four-year under-graduate courses from the upcoming academic session 2021-22 as a part of the NEP 2020. The four-year programme is set to return to the DU this year with multiple exit options. Students are likely to get options to do an Honours plus research degree after completing the four-year course. It also proposes to allow students to restart their studies exactly from where they had left, in place they decide to exit. Mr Pankaj Garg, an Associate Professor at Rajdhani College, said that as per the NEP 2020 recommendations, a student collects 50-70 per cent credits by pursuing online courses from any institution other than their own college. This will completely undermine the academic quality of the university. It will eventually encourage the trend of attending online courses and decrease the workload of teachers.

 

Implementation of NEP 2020 in Haryana

Haryana Chief Minister has indicated that State Government would implement in toto by 2025. The Chief Minister was of the opinion for the all-round development of the children, to which his Government is committed, the utmost priority of the State Government will be improving the standard of the education which would be very well achieved by NEP 2020. 

 

All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)

AICTE has taken a decision that with reference to New Education Policy 2020, a student can be eligible for an undergraduate engineering programme bypassing their class 12th board exam with any three subjects from computer science, biotechnology, agriculture, engineering graphics, business studies, entrepreneurship, physics chemistry, IT, mathematics, or biology. With these changes, students from across educational backgrounds can apply for engineering programmes. NEP 2020 aims to allow the students to choose a wide variety of subjects even if they are doing niche courses. It is because of this reason that even traditional engineering institutes like IITs have been asked to expand their non-engineering courses.

 

Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT)

Under the ambit of NEP 2020, the Board of Governors (BoG), the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) Council, has decided to constitute four working groups to work on several issues related to the implementation of NEP 2020. These working groups will work on the areas including graded autonomy empowered and accountable BoG and Director, grooming distinguished academics for directorships of IITs, reform and restructuring of the academic senate, and innovative funding mechanism.

City colleges of Delhi are adamant that the autonomy of Delhi University should not be compromised under the new National Education Policy. Such views emerged from the constituent colleges of the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI), the body that is slated to replace the University Grants Commission. The teachers suggested that BOG should also “have elected representatives from teaching and non-teaching staff along with other individuals from different walks of life”. The teachers also felt there should be “a forum above BOG where grievances of the staff and students may be addressed”.

 

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on Wednesday released a new assessment framework for science, mathematics, and English as part of their new competency-based education project. The framework is aimed at improving the existing school education system in the country for classes VI-X and the overall learning outcomes of students. In the first phase, selected Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas, UT Chandigarh, and private schools across the country will participate in the programme, which will be rolled out to all 25,000 CBSE schools in India by 2024. The new assessment framework has been launched in association with British Council. “The CBSE has collaborated with British Council and three UK agencies— Cambridge, NARIC and Alphaplus—which are helping us in attaining our objectives. The new framework aims to replace the existing rote learning model,” said a CBSE official.

 

The Euro School

The Euro School has taken the lead to implement the NEP in letter and spirit. The content framework of the Euro School, a new curriculum, is based on the 7E instruction design principle- engage, explain, elaborate, explore, evaluate, extend, and experience.

Get started for your professional career – Write a Research Paper

Get started for your professional career- Write a Research Paper

“Having one with your name on it, is a really good thing!”

No matter what field of study you are interested in, you will most likely be asked to write a research paper during your academic journey.

Research results can be presented in a variety of ways, but one of the most standard and effective presentation forms, is the research paper. It is a formal way of presenting your own interpretation or argument or evaluation on a topic of your interest with information gathered from a variety of sources. It is a process that helps you learn and understand on a deeper level.

 

Having to write a research paper may feel intimidating at first. After all, researching and writing a paper requires a lot of time, effort, and organization. However, writing a research paper can also be a great opportunity as it is an ideal way to organize thoughts, craft narratives or make arguments based on study to share your newfound knowledge with your peers.

 

Knowing how to write a good research paper is a valuable skill that will serve you well throughout your career. Whether you are a student who is studying the best way to perform a procedure, or learning about challenges and opportunities in your field, you will use research techniques to guide your exploration. You may even need to create a written report of your findings and because effective communication is essential to any company/organisation, employers seek to hire people who can write clearly and professionally.

Know the key benefits of writing a research paper:

  1. Develops analytical thinking- While making any opinion on a particular topic we need to research thoroughly and think deeply about the topic. We are unable to make a right opinion on that topic without this. By developing the ability of critical thinking, we will be able to express the viewpoints in more creative and meaningful ways.
  2. Strengthens the communication skills- If the student writes and innovative paper without thorough research which is lacking in logical connections then it will result in complicated content. In that way it will improve your communication skills.
  3. Improves research skills- We consume a lot of data as we start researching. We start with how, what, why. Then from the set of collected data we select the relevant portion for the topic, evaluate the content and then write about it. A well-researched research paper eventually improves the tendency to collect the relevant part from voluminous data.
  4. Develops complex reading skills The research paper requires close reading of complex text from multiple sources, which students must comprehend, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate. These sophisticated tasks help to build interpreting skills.
  5. Creates research mind set Research is finding answers to questions as such it deals with deeper and broader issues that act as understating complex issues that help to develop the same mindset.
  6. Promotes curiosity-  Curiosity drives the search to understand increasingly complex questions, to constantly question information, and to explore more sources and experts. Writing a research paper provides a structured, yet independent opportunity for students to pursue curiosity driven in depth study.
  7. Accelerates the urge to study The best place to gather literature is the Library,  amazingly the librarian will be a researcher’s best buddy to gather information specially while doing literature review.
  8. The Power of Attribution Undocumented information that students encounter online—narrows their thoughts, opinions and experiences as such research material with citations of  references and bibliography develops a questioning mindset: who said that, where did that come from, and where can I find more?
  9. Promotes ethical writingResearch writing helps to develop the practice of ethical research writing. It provides an opportunity to understand what plagiarism is, why everyone makes a big deal over it, and how to avoid it.

Thus, writing research paper  assists in Fostering critical thinking and analytical skills through hands-on learnings, Expanding knowledge and understanding of a chosen field outside of the classroom, Developing one-on-one connections with distinguished faculty in their field , Building community with peers, faculty and organizations on- and off-campus. Since this is the intellectual milieu one will be well prepared and groomed for professional and career challenges.

Research Internship Programme

7500 for four months

  • Research Methodologies
  • Survey Design and Implementation
  • Data Compilation and Analysis
  • Policy Research
  • Field Visits / Educational Excursions
  • Report Writing and Publications

Importance of Undertaking an Undergraduate Research Study

Importance of Undertaking an Undergraduate Research Study

While pursuing our undergraduate studies, most of us are so bustled in the new structure of academics, that we do not even know how research is an option for us or that it even existed, let alone how to get involved in it. Most of us think it is something way out of our reach or it is exclusively for people pursuing their higher studies, for instance, their PhDs, etc. Maybe, that is the reason why many of us do not get involved in research.

 

We have also noticed that institutions of higher education have a way of attracting the most curious minds. Undertaking a research study helps boost our intellectual capabilities of finding answers and answering questions.

 

It is pertinent to know about the numerous benefits of getting involved in research, for undergraduate students. Incorporating a research component in a sound academic foundation enables students to develop independent critical thinking skills along with oral and written communication skills.

 

The research process impacts valuable learning objectives that have a lasting influence on undergraduates preparing for professional service. Perhaps, this is why there has been an initiative to include research as an integral part of the National Education Policy, 2020, realising its immense academic and professional benefits. Thus, it becomes imperative to undertake a research study as early as while pursuing your graduation.

Key benefits of doing a Research Study:

  • It assists in professional grooming – Research experience allows you to choose an area of interest, understand published works, learn to balance collaborative and individual work and jump start the development of your career-oriented skills. As undergraduates, through exposure to research, many students discover their passion for research and continue to pursue it via graduate studies or faculty positions.

  • It provides one to one mentorship – Undergraduate research can provide students with a continuing source of one-on-one mentorship, that is otherwise unheard of in most undergraduate curricula.

  • It helps to develop human analytical thinking – In order to produce any type of academic work one has to analyse the materials and be well organised.

  • It stimulates human intellectual development -The human brain generates new knowledge only in the process of analytical thinking. So, each time a student resolves a research problem, they develops their brain and sense of logic.

  • It teaches one the art of academic writing – It is impossible to produce a piece of academic work if you do not strictly follow the academic style rules. You are simply obliged to do it. One may have any career but having acute writing skill helps one throughout their career and professional life.

  • It trains you to be curative When you perform research, you are essentially trying to solve a mystery—you want to know how something works or why something happened. You will prepare yourself to answer any question no matter how challenging.

  • It trains you in undertaking team work – Research is often performed in teams, and one must learn to balance a collaborative effort with what one is capable of accomplishing independently. Interdisciplinary work is difficult to teach in the classroom, thus, learning in a team is a bonus.

  • It helps in exploring and exposing one to different career fields – Research undoubtedly helps  one to explore career fields. Experience in a research setting is invaluable. Exposure to research guides some students toward research after graduation.

Thus, we realise that there are tremendous benefits and opportunities in pursuing a research study. It is important to know that there are many good professional organisations that play a pivotal role in opening your doors to a research experience. They help in explaining the process and the available employment opportunities and also de-mystify the procedure and ignite a passion for research. Last but not the least, they also promote taking up an undergraduate research study by guiding those who might not know how to get involved. Therefore, it is important that one chooses a good organisation and the right guidance for undertaking a research study.

At IDEA we have both! Join us and begin your research journey!

Research Internship Programme

7500 for four months

  • Research Methodologies
  • Survey Design and Implementation
  • Data Compilation and Analysis
  • Policy Research
  • Field Visits / Educational Excursions
  • Report Writing and Publications

Delhi University Under Graduate Programme Updates:

Delhi University Under Graduate Programme Updates:

The Four-Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP) is set to return at Delhi University with the NEP Implementation Committee (NIC) suggesting an overhaul to align the course with the National Education Policy 2020. Students can now opt for a four-year undergraduate course with the final year earmarked for multi-disciplinary research and dissertation. For more details, visit:

 

https://m.timesofindia.com/city/delhi/how-return-of-4-year-ug-programme-at-du-will-change-course-of-your-studies/amp_articleshow/81141569.cms

Moving Away from Agriculture : Boon or Bane?

Moving away from Agriculture : Boon or Bane?

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“If agriculture goes wrong, nothing else will have a chance to go right in the country.”

– M. S. Swaminathan.

 

India was and is a land of agriculture. Agriculture is the most important sector of the Indian economy and is considered its backbone. Nearly half the population of India is dependent on agriculture for its livelihood as this Sector provides employment to nearly half a billion people, either directly or indirectly.

 

India’s production of food grains has increased every year, with India being among the top producers of several crops such as wheat, rice, pulses, sugarcane and cotton. It is the highest producer of milk and second highest producer of fruits and vegetables. The total yield of food grains has increased each year.  

 

Despite the increase in production of food grains every year, there has been a decline in the share of agriculture to the GDP of the nation (post independence); from 50 per cent to about 16 per cent in 2019. The reason behind this is the increased contribution of the manufacturing and service sectors to the growth of the economy. The role of agriculture in the growth of the Indian economy and the overall development of the nation hardly needs any elaboration. However, this role needs to be re-oriented in the light of the changing environment and requirements, to meet new challenges, and, to also harness new opportunities.

 

Economy Structure (1995-2016):

Note: For time comparison purposes, available data on agriculture value added includes the primary sector, forestry, hunting, and fishing.

Source: Ministry of Labour and Employment (2016); Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare (MAFW) (2017a); OGD Platform India (2018); World Bank WDI (2018).

 

From the above Chart, we can infer that the contribution of the agricultural sector to the nation’s GDP has continued to decline over the last two decades, while that of other sectors -particularly services – has been increasing. This pushed down agriculture’s share in the GDP from 26.3 per cent in 1995 to about 16 per cent in 2019. As per agricultural scientists and experts, there are several reasons and factors that contribute to this decline, some of the major factors being:

 

  • Increase in small land holdings
  • Land records and informal leasing
  • Short term and long term credit
  • Availability of water and micro irrigation techniques
  • Quality of soil
  • Access to quality inputs including seeds, subsidy in fertilisers and pesticides
  • Post harvest activities including storage , marketing and supply chain and pricing
  • Climatic conditions

     

Last but not the least, the shift in the workforce of the twentieth century to skilled and semi-skilled jobs in other sectors is also a major factor in the above mentioned decline.

 

Despite the declining contribution of agriculture to India’s GDP, the Sector continues to maintain a pivotal role in the economy, as it remains the first source of employment, and thus, a key driver of growth and poverty reduction accounting for about 47 per cent of the total national workforce.

 

For this reason, it is highly imperative that research leaders and the Government focuses on ways and means to support Indian farmers. Rather than being complacent, it is time a  comparative study is undertaken to analyse the contribution of agriculture vis-a-vis other sectors like space, IT, telecom, services, automobiles, medical science, transport etc.     

 

There is a need for a shift in our approach towards agriculture from “pushing for incremental change” to “transformational change.” Further, agriculture is at the nexus of the three greatest challenges of the 21st century – sustaining food and nutrition security, adaptation and mitigation of climate change, and sustainable use of critical resources such as water, energy and land.

 

A complete overhaul of the agricultural sector is crucial for achieving our vision for the 21st century. There is a large gap between the income of agricultural workers and non agricultural workers. Issues like poverty and undernutrition in the country are concentrated among agricultural labour, small and marginal farmers. There is a lot of concern relating to rural distress. If current trends in agriculture are not changed, there shall be little improvement in reducing the income gap between agricultural and non-agricultural income and in alleviating rural distress.

 

Besides inclusive growth, agricultural growth matters in reducing poverty by increasing income, thus, impacting health, nutrition and quality of life and also impacting factors of  sustainability and climate change.

 

In conclusion of the above detailed analysis, the Author submits that although our facts and figures from the past two decades reveal that there is a growing decline in the contribution of agriculture to India’s GDP, yet, it cannot be affirmatively said if its for the good or the bad. The fact that our country is moving from “Bharat” to “India” with its manufacturing and service sector growing in these two decades, reflects that we are marching towards a new India – an India of the 21st century with a credible global image. However, since our economical base is agriculture, which includes a vast population of our country, we need a new vision for the agricultural sector.

Screaming Mind, Stapled Mouth : Mental Health and its Stigmatisation

Screaming Mind, Stapled Mouth : Mental Health and its Stigmatisation

To download:

Interviewer:

Ms. Namrata Chandorkar

Research Associate,

IDEA

In order to clear the hush around mental illness and related issues, IDEA interviewed Mr. Shiv Kumar, a renowned psychologist, who speaks of the stigma around mental health issues. In talks with Mr. Kumar, he explains how a harmful narrative is created in society, propagated and how its repercussions deny many mentally ill individuals the treatment they deserve.

Profile of the Interviewee:

Mr. Shiv Kumar academically holds several professional qualifications and is
currently working as a Counsellor with the National Career Service (Ministry
of Labour & Employment) Govt. of India New Delhi. He also holds expertise as
a Psychological Counsellor, a Clinical Psychotherapist and is qualified to conduct Psychometric assessments, and formulate strategies as to how to restructure the pattern of irrational thinking of emotionally distressed, unpleasant and dysfunctional persons. He has a rich experience of more than 30 years in related sectors. Mr. Kumar works as a Professional Counsellor for IDEA. IDEA offers a wide range of services, one of them being, academic counselling. Mr. Kumar plays a vital role in our scientific process of
counselling students. In addition, he guides IDEA’s Core Team’s perspective in other research interventions. According to Mr. Kumar, psychology is an essential aspect of life, for individuals of all streams and stature. To help the society with his expertise, he engages with educational institutions to guide the students of today in aspects of team building, motivation, and research.

Theme of the Interview:


Today, mental health issues are no longer a one in a hundred case. Due to the drastic changes in lifestyle, higher level of peer pressure, hectic lifestyle, people today experience lower levels of good mental health. And the problem is not limited to only working people or adults in general. Today, children, as young as adolescents struggle with mental and emotional health. To add to the problem, there is an immense cloud of taboo around the topic of mental health. People tend not to disclose having ill-mental health, and often suffer in silence, presumably due to the fear of judgment. The issue goes unaddressed for years and may lead to unfortunate cases of self-harm or even suicide. Mr. Shiv Kumar, as a recognised psychologist, is here with us today to talk about this issue.

Questions: 

What constitutes mental health? 

Mental health is an internal equilibrium or dynamic state which includes the emotional, psychological and social well-being wherein every individual identifies his or her own potential and limitations, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively & fruitfully, and is able to make contribution to her or his community. Basically, the emotional and psychological health of oneself is our mental health. Just like our physical health, which relates to our body, mental health refers to our mind. How do people recognise their ill-mental health? Mental health, like physical health, does not show any outward signs. So when we break our leg, we know our physical health is not doing good because we can see the signs of illness. But diagnosing or recognising ill mental health is often trickier than we might think. But generally, there are signs that we can recognise to ascertain the state of our mental health. Observing and examining changes in our behaviour, pattern of thinking and attitude towards others are some signs and symptoms we might be at risk of ill mental health.

Such signs may be:

  • Being withdrawn or lost in thought,
  • Losing their sense of humour,
  • Being erratic, unusually agitated, tearful, or, conversely, emotionless,
  • Changes in appetite, weight or sleep hygiene patterns,
  • Increased alcohol consumption.


Which are the major mental health issues students struggle with today and
why?

Mental health issues are caused by a number of factors that affect human
development at the prenatal, natal, and postnatal stages of life. The effects can be temporary or long lasting. In general, the causes are considered to be a
variety of Genetic predisposition, Environmental factors, Childhood abuse &
trauma or biopsychosocial factors, like academic grades, or social media. Even social conditions contribute to poor mental health, such as experiencing societal stigma & discrimination, social isolation, socio-economic conditions poverty & debt, bereavement.


As we all know, adolescent children also face many stress-inducing situations in life. Society has evolved and life is not as simple as it was for the older generations. There is immense pressure of expectations from families, teachers, peers and society in general. Nowadays, right from a young age, children are expected to make mature decisions pertaining to education, career, life. Teenage dating is also a normalised enough concept in society. The issue of alcohol and drug abuse is also known in the student community. All these issues, although not openly addressed by the Indian society, are prevalent and culminate into inducing stress and depression in children of tender age. 

 

The age of the internet also has a causative effect on the poor mental health of school and college students. The endeavour to present the perfect life on

social media leads students to experience anxiety and mental stress. The
emphasis on a “perfectness,” of life, of body and skin, has become a major
reason for children experiencing anxiety and stress.

This was about the social instigations, In medical terms, the major mental
health issues that students of today suffer from are depression , anxiety &
mood disturbances, addiction & substance abuse, suicidal behavior, eating
disorders like bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating, stress, trauma, ADHD &
autism.

 

What is the treatment for poor mental health?

 

Mental health treatment depends on the type of mental illness an individual
person is experiencing. Treatment is also based on severity and chronic
conditions. There are some strategies of treatments, mostly in many cases
successful combinations are of Therapeutic Psychiatric medications include
are (Antidepressants, Antipsychotic, Anti-Anxiety, Mood stabilisers) along with Psychotherapies interventions Such as (Behavioural therapy, cognitive
therapy, Interpersonal therapy, Psychoanalysis, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy and Supportive psychotherapy.


One can access such treatment from a therapist, who is a qualified psychologist. There are many such doctors who operate from government and private hospitals or run independent clinics. Such information is available on the internet.

 

Is treatment for poor mental health accessible in India?

 

There has been an attempt to fix the cyclic link between mental health and
poverty in India.


The government, doctors and businesses have taken action which aims to increase treatment and guarantees more rights to persons with mental illnesses. In 2016, the Indian parliament passed the Mental Health Care Act, 2017. This legislation provides for State Health Care Facilities, claiming that anyone with mental illness in India has the right to good quality, affordable health care. Individuals with mental health now have a guarantee of informed consent, the power to make decisions, the right to live in a community and the right to confidentiality. Anyone who violates or infringes on the right of those with mental illnesses is punishable by law. Hence, support of primary health care facilities, district level mental health care teams, more affordable care and expanded services of doctors in rural areas drawing significant links between mental health and poverty.


But despite such actions by the government, awareness pertaining to mental
illness is low in the rural sections of India. Uneducated individuals are not capable of recognising the state of their own mental health because they do not understand the concept of mental health itself. They are not aware of the fact that mental health is a scientifically accepted issue. There is a notion that merely being sad or low is okay and fixable by oneself. But such is not always the case, and patients have to rely on doctors and medicine.


The Constitution of India envisages the establishment of a new social order and it directs the States to record improvement in public health as one of the primary duties and aims at securing HEALTH FOR ALL. As we all might know, “health” is a subject in the State List but “mental health” is in the Concurrent List in the Indian constitution. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is the apex executive organisation dealing with health and family welfare issues in the country. There have been many Government schemes for the promotion of mental health. In 1982, the Government of India launched the National Mental health programme (NMHP) for the treatment of mentally ill individuals. Later on, District mental health was added in the year 1996.


There are many Helpline services, suicide prevention helplines like Sneha (Chennai), Aasra (Navi Mumbai), Samaritan Sahara (Kolkata) and Aasha in Chandigarh.


Does the Indian society accept discussion on mental health?


Indian society in general has stereotyped views about mental health and how it affects people in the community. Many people believe that people with
mental ill health are violent and dangerous, but the truth is patients are more
at risk of being attacked or harming themselves than harming others.


Ignorance and social stigma tends to make people think that poor mental health occurs due to black magic. Often people seek treatment from local healers as well as local temple priests.


Mental illnesses are considered equivalent to craziness. Which is why families do not wish to disclose that someone is mentally ill. Indian households also do not engage in talks on sex education, peer pressure, ragging, bullying, social media presence of children, which is why all students handle the stress of such issues alone. It is primarily because of this communication gap, that parents do not understand their children’s mental health. It is a dual error effect. Indian society, in the garb of culture and traditions have maintained a communication gap with their children all while harmfully dictating their children’s lives without addressing the essential issues, and this has resulted in an increase in poor mental health of children/students.


Indian society has a different take on mental health. The stigma around mental health illness is fuelled by many misconceptions about mental health popularly held to be true. Hence removing these myths is the first step towards reducing the stigma and discrimination and facilitating better access to mental health care.


There are many wrongful considerations like,


  1. Does seeing a psychologist mean that I am crazy?
  2. Mental illnesses are not real illnesses.
  3. Children don’t experience mental health problems.
  4. Mental illnesses are caused by personal weakness.
  5. People with Mental health problems are violent and unpredictable.
  6. Mental illnesses are lifelong / never recover from it.
  7. Mental illnesses can be treated by prayers, witchcraft , magical rituals and
    positive thoughts.
  8. There is nothing that can be done to someone with mental health
    problems.


Therefore, the ill-effects of this stigma in the Indian society due to ignorance
of mental health leads to aggravation of mental illness symptoms like stress and anxiety. There are many negative influences due to lack of coordination and understanding amongst the parents and children regarding mental health.


Do your patients accept their own mental illnesses openly?


As I have mentioned before, the stigma in society disallows patients to accept
their mental illnesses openly. Such individuals are prone to ridicule, social judgment and this often escalates the stress in patients. Thus, people choose to keep the hush around the matter of mental health intact. Many times, this stigma prevents patients from getting the support and help they need. Because to get treatment, one has to acknowledge the mental disorder. And the same is difficult in this society.


What is your advice to your student audience today?


Mental illness is a common problem, in fact 1 in 5 people will experience some sort of mental illness in their lifetime.


So, do not be afraid to reach out for help. Your family doctor is a good place to start. Doctors are obligated to maintain professional privilege, which means that they cannot disclose any of your details to anyone. Feel free to trust your doctor. Also, talk about the cause. Amongst your friends and peers. Initiate healthy discussion that aims at destigmatising the issue. Communicate with your elders also. Parents and teachers. Educate them also. Generational gaps often result in such stigmas. It is up to the youth of today to lead the charge and create change.


If someone’s family or society is not supportive of treatment, what can that person do?


There are many free clinics that offer mental health therapy. You may approach any such institution. Many NGOs and organisations also operate in this field, and can get you the help you need. The key lies in acknowledging the problem. You will face stigma but it is important not to bow down to it. Remember, for every person who stigmatises mental health issues, there is an advocate who talks about it openly. So, you are not alone.


And the same works the other way around as well. If you know someone who is going through a hard time, it is important to respond sensitively and to aid them in getting a medical diagnosis. There are a number of ways to encourage and help a friend, relative or colleague to talk openly about mental illness. It is important to provide an open and non-judgemental space with no distractions, build up a rapport and a relationship of trust to speak out courageously. Make sure you do not concoct assumptions or jump on your own diagnosis or solutions. Ask open-ended questions, talk about well-being with unconditional support, listen carefully and understand and paraphrase their concern, provide professional support and set boundaries and limits.


How can the education system of India aid in creating awareness about mental health?


Schools and colleges are microcosms of the world around us. Which is why it
is imperative to sensitise students right from a tender age. Normalising discussion and discourse about mental health at the school level will create a generation of people who will not stigmatise such an important issue. There must be a good quantity of discussion between educators and students on the issue. Students must be exposed to case studies, relevant laws and policies. Relevant seminars and talk shows can be organised for students to better understand this issue.


From including mental health narratives in the academic curriculum and removing discrimination and allowing early detection to empowering stakeholders for early detection and simple interventions, the educational system yields myriad opportunities for enhancing mental health awareness. An effective paradigm of mental health awareness includes combating stigma, enhancing prevention, ensuring early recognition and also stimulating simple and practical interventions within the community. Regularly organising free mental health screening, sharing information locally, spreading messages of hope to those in need, taking time for your own mental health, is the key to being a mental health champion.


But mere discussion is not enough. In practice, schools and colleges must tend to the mental health needs of their students. There must be a system of addressing the mental health of the students. Engaging a counsellor in every school and sensitising children about visiting the counsellor in times of need is also a step worth taking. A procedure for therapy must be established in every school where the privacy of the student is intact. Relationships of trust must be built between teachers and students. Often teachers complain to the parents of the child when the child confides in the teacher. Such only erodes
the students’ confidence. Instead the school should sensitise and guide the parents as well when a child is showing symptoms of mental illness. At college level, every institute must create a centre for mental health that advocates the positive discussion of mental illness.

A Student’s Manual to Being a Campus Ambassador

A Student's Manual to Being a Campus Ambassador

To download:

Ms. Atifa Naaz, Research Associate, IDEA, is in charge of coordinating IDEA’s Campus Ambassador Programme. She has penned down her thoughts in this blog where she elaborates on how a Campus Ambassador Programme helps individuals gain valuable skills (in addition to boosting your CV!)

Let us find out what Ms. Atifa has to say:


What is a Campus Ambassador Program?

A Campus Ambassador Program is a process of hiring representatives for any organisation or company from college campuses aiming at a certain campaign or promotion. The objective behind Campus Ambassador Programmes is to establish the presence of a brand among the student community by creating awareness about the vision, mission, services and products of the organisation or the Organising campaign. Thus, campus ambassadors are the messengers of an organisation in their respective colleges, they work upon strengthening the cognisance of an organisation among the student community. Giving consideration to the necessity for active participation in extracurricular activities, it has become indispensable for students to switch gears between different activities happening on their college campuses. It is, thus, crucial for students to create relationships with companies or organisations on deck for career opportunities. And what better way to learn the ropes than being a Campus Ambassador.

 

How does being a Campus Ambassador benefit a student?

A Campus Ambassador Programme’s mechanism is beneficial for both the Student and the Organisation. Working as a committed Campus Ambassador can open up a lot of opportunities for students to acquire a new set of skills as well as improve upon the skills they already possess. Above all, being a Campus Ambassador gives you a face and a voice different from the crowd and gets you direct reach into the internal connections of a company, which ultimately develops your professional network.

 

While working as a Campus Ambassador, students get various opportunities to develop manifold skills, including social media marketing, communication skills, team building skills, leadership skills, presentation skills, content marketing, organising workshops. The most interesting part is students can earn goodies, cash incentives, gift vouchers, and other amazing offers from the organisation, in addition to an official certificate.

 

What are the responsibilities of a Campus Ambassador?

After being appointed as a campus ambassador, the candidate has to actively work for the organisation as per their requirements and has to regularly present, before the organisation, a report of their progress. The activities which could be undertaken as a Campus Ambassador includes:

1. Creating awareness about the products, services and other related information pertaining to a organisation through:

a. Social media marketing,

b. Word of mouth publicity,

c. Distributing pamphlets, posters, flyers, and other printed material.

2. Organising events like workshops/seminars to create a campaign for any specific purpose of the organisation or to search for candidates for any required assignment of the organisation.

3. Providing feedback to the organisation and sharing innovative ideas from the college community with the organisation for better implementation of plans.

 

How is being a Campus Ambassador different from an internship?

Internships are temporary employment agreements between a student and an organisation that requires different work conditions i.e. full-time, part-time or remotely working. In most cases, interns are provided with an elementary training to get their hands on the task assigned to them and build familiarity with the organisation’s work environment and other necessary elements of the organisation. Internships could be paid or unpaid depending upon the norms and discretion of the organisation. On the contrary, campus ambassador assignments are completely restricted to remote operations which allows students to make time for other commitments on their plate. Being a campus ambassador gives you the recognition in any concerned organisation and aids you in building an influential image of yourself on your college campus. 

 

Why is IDEA’s Campus Ambassador Programme useful?

Ms. Atifa says, “As Campus Ambassadors for IDEA, students get to learn social media marketing and gain valuable sales experience. Since this job requires communication skills, campus ambassadors get to understand how to present themselves and boost their relationship building skills. Achieving such assets outweigh the mere award of a certificate. 

 

Being a part of IDEA’s Campus Ambassador Programme is an investment in oneself. By performing well in our Programme, our Ambassadors are eligible to be involved in the services we offer, like academic counselling. This way, Campus Ambassadors gain a double benefit.”

Case Analysis: Satish v. State of Maharashtra

Case Analysis: Satish v. State of Maharashtra

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Intent of Legislation > Strict Interpretation of Statute

 

Just a week ago, in yet another heartbreaking incident of child molestation, the judgment of the Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) has stirred a discussion over the interpretation of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (hereinafter referred to as the “POCSO Act”).

 

The factual matrix of the incident pertains to sexual assault as defined by the POCSO Act in Section 7. The undisputed facts of the concerned case are, the Accused, aged 39, isolated the Prosecutrix, aged 12, in a room, and pressed her breast while attempting to remove her salwar. When she yelled, he locked her in the room and walked away. Shortly after, her mother arrived who found her crying in the locked room. The Prosecutrix narrated the whole incident to her mother, upon which the mother filed an FIR against the Accused. 

 

The Accused was charged with offences punishable under Section 309, 354, 361, and 342 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter referred to as the “IPC”) and Section 8 of the POCSO Act.

 

The case was heard by the Special Court, as established by Section 28 of the POCSO Act. The Court, in the particular case, held the Accused guilty of, amongst other offences, sexual assault as defined under Section 7 of the POCSO Act. The Accused appealed his case before the Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench). The Single Judge overturned the judgment of the Special Court, and acquitted the Accused under the POCSO Act. This is where the question of interpretation of statute arises. Justice Ganediwala, who constituted the coram of this case, gave the following reasoning for her judgment:

 

1. The single question of consideration was whether “pressing of the breast” and “attempt to remove salwar” falls within the definition of “sexual assault” under POCSO Act. To constitute an offence under Section 7 of the POCSO Act, the following have to be established:

 

a. Touching of the vagina, penis, anus, or breast of the child

b. Presence of sexual intent

 

In this particular case, both these ingredients are satisfied by the factual scenario. Despite this, the Court held that since there was no evidence suggesting that the Accused tried to remove the top garment of the child, hence the offence of “sexual assault” is not established. The Court further held that since this offence is punishable with a higher quantum of imprisonment, “stricter proof of serious allegations” is required. 

 

2. The Court compared the essence of the offences punishable under Section 354 of the IPC with Section 8 of the POCSO Act, and determined that the Accused is guilty under only section 348 of the IPC (reproduced hereunder). 

 

“Section 7 (POCSO Act). Whoever, with sexual intent touches the vagina, penis, anus or breast of the child or makes the child touch the vagina, penis, anus or breast of such person or any other person, or does any other act with sexual intent which involves physical contact without penetration is said to commit sexual assault.”

 

“Section 354 (IPC). Assault or criminal force on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty. – Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, with the intention to outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

 

The Court held that it is a basic principle of criminal jurisprudence that the punishment for an offence shall be proportionate to the seriousness of the crime. Section 354 of the IPC, which makes assaulting a woman an offence, is punishable with a sentence of minimum 1 year, and Section 8 of the POCSO Act prescribes a minimum sentence of 3 years. The Court interpreted this comparison to mean that sexual assault on a child, should be of such a degree, that it is graver than using criminal force on a woman. By this rationale, the (mere) pressing of a 12 year old’s breast without skin-to-skin contact, does not pass the bar of gravity set by Section 7 of the POCSO Act.

 

Critical Analysis of the Interpretation

 

While on any other day, this comparative analysis would have garnered much applause, it fails to qualify for any credit in the given case. While it is true that interpretation of statute requires us to approximate the intent of the legislature from the designated punishment to any offence, the same is only logical when the offences are of a similar genre. The POCSO Act was enacted to protect children from sexual assault and sexual harrasment. Its preamble testifies to the same. Its conception was necessitated after it was realised that the usual mechanism of the IPC and the Criminal Procedure Code lacked the intensity of action required to prevent the horrific crime of child abuse. Under the POCSO Act, operation of procedural law also differs. As per Section 29 of the Act, the burden of proof shifts to the accused, as opposed to the general rule of burden of proof, which lies on the defence to prove the accused’s culpability. An enactment of such kind suggests that the law is endeavouring to protect children from sexual offences.

 

Keeping all these factors in mind, Section 7 of the POCSO Act must be interpreted in consonance with the intent of the legislature. To compare a provision of the IPC with that of the POCSO is not only an unfair comparison, but it is an interpretation that shall undermine the very existence of any special legislation. Children, as victims, suffer psychological and physical trauma of a much different level than as adults. They have special needs and one cannot oversee the fact that the law sets, for minors (individuals below the age of 18), different rights and liabilities. Thus, giving Section 7 such a restricted interpretation defeats the purpose of the Act.

 

Every judgement has an effect that goes way beyond its actual case. As a judicial precedent, this judgment translates into stating that as long as the clothes of a child are on, to violate that child’s dignity is not sexual assault. The ramifications of such an interpretation are devastating and prone to instigate crime rather than halt it. 

 

Thankfully, the Supreme Court, on the 27th of January, 2021, has stayed the said order of the Bombay High Court. The issue is now under the consideration of the Apex Court.

MeraBills: A Step towards Financial Inclusion

MeraBills: A Step towards Financial Inclusion

Recently, Innovations in Development and Empowerment Alternatives (IDEA) undertook consultancy on a financial literacy initiative named “MeraBills.” In conversation with Ms. Narayani Gupta, Programme Officer, IDEA, let us understand what this initiative was all about.

 

What is “MeraBills?” What is its inspiration? Its vision?

 

Imagine a situation where a small grocery shop owner is experiencing difficulties in maintaining his financial records in terms of salaries, costs, small debts or his income. Such small businesses see a hoard of small transactions on a daily basis and keeping a reliable track of the same may turn out to be a nightmare.

 

“MeraBills” is a free android application that helps business owners run their enterprises more efficiently in terms of finance. The App consists of a suite of carefully curated, basic (but crucial) functionalities in aspects of accounting, reporting, insights, and more.

 

The vision of the initiative is, “MeraBills hopes to democratize business efficiency software and make its benefits available to everyone.”

 

It aims at enabling micro and small entrepreneurs to efficiently run their businesses, to access digital opportunities and be at par with the age of the internet, which is our future.

 

Who started MeraBills?

 

MeraBills has been developed by a Hyderabad based company named Peabody Soft LLP MeraBills development commenced in April 2019, (when Peabody was incorporated) and the Minimum Viable Product was released on the Google Play Store in June 2020.

 

What are the unique features of MeraBills?

 

MeraBills is a simple, easy-to-use app that helps small-business owners run their businesses more efficiently. Growing your business in today’s competitive environment requires timely information – what your biggest expenses are, are your sales increasing month-on-month, are you running low on money, etc. Seeing who owes you money (udhaar khata) is important, but it is not enough – MeraBills gives you all the information you need to maximize profits and avoid costly mistakes.

 

In addition, a user can invite customers, employees, owners, investors, accountants, etc. to be part of their business. Payments can be made and received online. Invoices may be sent by SMS and WhatsApp.

 

Financial reports can be filtered, viewed, shared and printed. There is automatic backup to the cloud. 

 

Who does MeraBills cater to?

 

For micro and small entrepreneurs, there are many difficult questions that cannot easily be answered by account books. These are called business metrics and most medium to large companies have something called ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning to help them make decisions like these. The other major problem that micro entrepreneurs face is while raising money to grow and expand their businesses. Even if they are doing well, it is extremely difficult to raise a loan from the formal financial system. 

 

Both these issues of managing your business and keeping accounts accurately can be resolved with the use of technology. Not the kind of accounting software that is complicated, or expensive to use, like Tally, or QuickBooks, which many entrepreneurs try but ultimately hand over the task to an accountant. What is rather needed is an easy to use, cutting edge technology product that allows small business owners to keep track of their businesses, and create a digital footprint of their profits and losses, cash flow, information pertaining to debtors or creditors, and the like. MeraBills does all this and more for its users. 

 

How did IDEA engage with the Project? What services did IDEA provide?

 

IDEA was recommended to Peabody Soft LLP by very eminent professionals.

 

To answer how IDEA has engaged with the Project till date, we are extending our support in terms of Business Development, interaction with various concerned government departments, agencies, companies, and drafting of Project Proposals.

 

How many people use MeraBills as of today?

 

Over 2000 micro entrepreneurs are using the MeraBills app as of today. These entrepreneurs are extremely satisfied with all that the App has to offer. With the much needed ease and convenience, in just one click, the user can get the information pertaining to pending payments of customers, vendors, etc. This app has loads of in app features that make it unique to other apps in the same market. If micro entrepreneurs want to receive a loan from the banks, a profit and loss sheet can be easily generated through the App.

 

Where can we find the MeraBills app? How does one get to understand its usage?

 

The MeraBills app is available on Google Play Store. It’s usage is free of cost.

 

To know more about the app, visit https://merabills.com/

 

To understand what the app is about, watch MeraBills introductory video linked on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLbBTAoR9hY

 

To understand the working of the app, visit:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1D991wp8EwFWioYxHYS-fg/videos

 

The link above has all the videos MeraBills has created to enable a user to understand the functionalities of the App. Training videos are available in English, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Telugu and Assamese (more languages will be added soon).

What does IDEA have to say about this Initiative?

"In our firm belief, this App forwards financial literacy amongst the backbone of this economy, that is the MSME sector. It is a highly innovative project that addresses the very basic need of any micro or small entrepreneur in maintaining books of accounts and related financial data. It is an extremely cost effective tool which can go a long way in achieving financial inclusion and gender empowerment."

India’s Covid Vaccination Response

India's Covid Vaccination Response

“When an apple a day could not keep the doctor away”

 

Four days ago, dispersion of the much awaited vaccination for the novel coronavirus commenced. There are two vaccines available in the market by two separate companies, namely the “Covaxin” manufactured by Bharat Biotech International Ltd., and the “Covishield,” licensed from the Oxford University and AstraZeneca, and locally manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.


The inoculation drive started in phases, first being available to three crore front-line workers. These include health sector workers, safai karamcharis and the Army, to name a few. This first phase of vaccines is being delivered free of cost. As of today, almost 6 lakh people have been delivered with the vaccine. The phase is currently ongoing.


This mass vaccination drive is a commendable feat for a country that took a huge hit in 2020, when the virus initially hit us. The Indian Government, in coordination with International Organisations like the United Nations, has committed to making these vaccines available to the non-essential workers and community members as and when production catches up.


The Indian Ministry for External Affairs has also stated that India shall export batches of the covid vaccine to six countries under grant assistance. These countries are Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles.


It is important to note here that while various news sources have reported a few deaths caused by the covid vaccine, the same has not been attributed to the vaccine ultimately. But such incidents do tend to initiate something known as “vaccine hesitancy.” Many nurses and healthcare workers in the past few days have denied themselves compulsory vaccination. Health Secretary of India, Mr. Rajesh Bhushan, in this regard, stated that vaccine hesitancy is normal in novel diseases like covid-19, where little to no information was available. But vaccination is essential and the general public must be educated about it.


While this is definitely a happy moment, it is important to note that the covid vaccine comes with certain caveats. Immuno compromised individuals, pregnant ladies, individuals with bleeding disorders, allergies, or any other serious health-related issue as determined by the healthcare officer supervising the vaccination, should be careful before opting for the vaccine. One must also keep in mind that vaccination is not fool-proof and universal, hence, wearing of masks must be continued under all circumstances.


India, in the next few months, will see the roll out of newer vaccines, and boosted production of doses. It is finally time to say goodbye to the virus that stopped this world!