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22 October 2020 Culture and Education

The world is at risk of suffering “a generational catastrophe” as COVID-19 wreaks havoc on the education of students globally, the UN chief said on Thursday.

In a video message to the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Global Education Meeting (GEM), Secretary-General António Guterres reminded delegates that the pandemic had had a “disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable and marginalized children and youth”.

“The progress we have made, especially for girls and young women, is under threat”, he said. “We now need to support the learning recovery in low and middle income countries – and to factor education into every stimulus package”.

Tackling the situation

To successfully avert the crisis, Mr. Guterres upheld the importance of recognizing education as “a common global good”, with teachers, safe schools, digital technologies and those at greatest risk, in need of far greater investment.  “Financing and political will are critical”, he stressed.

‘Vital linkages’ of education

Deputy UN chief Amina Mohammed observed that the COVID-19 pandemic had clearly highlighted “the vital linkages between education, nutrition, gender equality, health and social protection”.

She noted education systems had managed to undergo “rapid transformation” and pointed to the work of Governments in minimizing the educational impact on students, the flexibility and creativity of teachers and how caregivers have taken on “frontline roles” to support children’s education.

“Learners persevered and adapted to new realities”, continued Ms. Mohammed, as UN agencies have worked together with external partners, including through the Global Education Coalition, to deploy support and guidance to Governments.

However, these efforts have not been enough.

Since the pandemic hit, at least one-third of the world’s students have been deprived of any form of learning; close to half a billion pupils are still affected by school closures; and the most marginalized, including at least 11 million girls, are at high risk of never returning to school, according to the deputy UN chief.

Putting words into actions

Leading up to the meeting, UNESCO undertook a series of consultations for a draft GEM Declaration, which was informed, among other things, by the UN Secretary-General’s Policy Brief and the fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of education.

Central to transforming words into action, Ms. Mohammed highlighted the priority areas of financing, inclusion, teachers, safe school reopening, connectivity and coordination.

“Over the coming year, political leaders in national and local governments, donor agencies and financial institutions must ensure that the resolve to support education is backed up with resources”, she asserted.

“Even before COVID-19, some 250 million children were out of school -- Deputy UN chief”

She also called for innovation, attesting that going back to “normality” was neither possible nor desirable as it would mean ignoring the “profound changes” in technology and labour markets across the world.

“And it would mean accepting the unacceptable fact that even before COVID-19, some 250 million children were out of school and more than half of primary school age children worldwide lacked basic reading skills”, she stated.

Finally, the UN official underscored that “effective multilateral collaboration” and “greater solidarity with the most vulnerable countries” were needed to coordinate education among actors.

“Implementation of this Declaration, therefore, requires a reimagining of education; a dramatic push to train millions of teachers…scaling up of partnerships to connect every school, teacher and learner to the internet; and…equipping young people with the skills they need to thrive in a complex and rapidly changing world”, spelled out the Deputy Secretary-General.

Fourth Global Goal

Turning to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, Ms. Mohammed called education the “docking station” for the SDGs, from achieving gender equality to learning about human rights and acquiring new skills for a digital green economy, to developing tools for boosting tolerance and peace efforts.

“Delivering SDG 4 is a great responsibility on us all — led by the education community”, she concluded.

Other voices

UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay paid tribute to Samuel Paty, the teacher who was decapitated close to his school near Paris, last week, after showing cartoons of the prophet Muhammad to his pupils, “and to all the teachers in the world who take risks to educate our children".

Meanwhile, Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, a co-sponsor of the event, said that “as countries start to reopen in the era of COVID-19, education must come first”.

And Baroness Sugg, the United Kingdom’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Development, another co-sponsor, said “we know just how critically important it is to place education at the heart of our global COVID response".

From Ghana, the third co-sponsor, Education Minister Matthew Opoku Prempeh flagged on behalf of President Nana Akufo-Addo that the digital divide in developing have left many children “deprived” of online teaching and learning tools.

In her remarks, UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie emphasized that the biggest problem in this education crisis is not a lack of awareness or ideas, but instead a lack of will, saying “we know what should be done and we know the consequences if we do not act”. Source :

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Written by Tuesday, 19 September 2017 10:38





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Today, 119 crore Indians have Aadhaar in a population of nearly 130 crore. It stands tall as an Indian innovation, globally acknowledged as the world’s largest digital identity programme.

Aadhaar is a game-changer. It has become an important technological instrument to empower the poor and entitle them to get their benefits without any interruption or middlemen. In this pursuit, Aadhaar is concretising the most important objective of Digital India: leading to digital inclusion and empowering common Indians. It is a marvel of innovation that uses safe and secured technology seeking to subserve the other objective of digital India namely transformation based upon technology which is affordable, inclusive and developmental. Today, 119 crore Indians have Aadhaar in a population of nearly 130 crore. The coverage of adult population is nearly 99%. Today, Aadhaar stands tall as an Indian innovation, globally acknowledged as the world’s largest digital identity programme.

One needs to understand the power of a smile on the face of a poor MGNREGA worker who had to run from pillar to post to get his entitlements. Now with Aadhaar linkage, MGNREGA wages are directly reaching into the bank accounts of poor people without the extraneous influence of any middleman. It has been widely reported in the media that with Aadhaar linkage nearly 80,000 fake teachers were found in a very small survey of the Ministry of Human Resource Development. Aadhaar is saving public money, which in effect is tax payers’ money. The net savings of nearly Rs. 57,000 Crore generated by disconnecting the subsidy in case of fake gas connection or fictitious ration cards or fake teachers will be utilised for more provisions for poor. Is it not a cause to celebrate when transparency is shinning upon the shoulders of Aadhaar?

One basic difference in the Aadhaar of UPA and Aadhaar of NDA needs to be appreciated. UPA-era Aadhaar was without any legislative approval: without any backing by a Parliamentary law. The first thing the Narendra Modi government did apart from making Aadhaar robust, safe and secure was to give it the security of a proper legal cover backed by a Parliamentary legislation. It has ample provisions for safe upkeep, creating a robust accountability mechanism and most importantly, powerful privacy provisions. Unauthorised use of biometrics data by anyone beyond permissible limits can invite severe punitive damages as also criminal prosecution. The core biometrics — the fingerprints and the iris — are duly protected by strong encryption.

More than six crore authentications are being done every day, nearly free of cost. A marvel of technology confirms digital identity by comparing the query of a number by fast matching with the iris and the fingerprint. UIDAI does not maintain a database of services or utilities of individuals linked with Aadhaar or individual details such as caste, religion, educational qualifications, medical records etc. Therefore profiling of individuals based on Aadhaar is nothing but an unfounded claim.

Aadhaar is a digital identity to supplement physical identity. Even the core biometrics under the present law can be revealed only in case of a compelling ground of national security when a designated joint secretary to the government of India makes a request based upon appropriate ground and the same is vetted and confirmed by a committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary and comprising the Law Secretary and IT Secretary and that too for a very limited period.

As many as 76 crore bank accounts have been verified using Aadhaar eKYC and this only gives a digital identity to your account so that in case of abuse for money laundering or terror funding, the ownership of the account cannot be denied. Ordinary citizens have nothing to worry but those who are involved in money laundering, patronising or promoting terror funding or other related heinous offences may have a lot to worry.

Some form of digital identity has become a common practice in today’s world. From motor vehicle licence to a voter id card containing all the details being routinely available on websites of respective authorities these days. A digital identity regulates entry in the Supreme Court or High Courts or government and corporate offices or media headquarters. To visit certain countries, one is supposed to confirm identity through fingerprints either for obtaining the visa or for any other purpose. Under the relevant Registration Act and Rules there are provisions that while executing land transfer documents you need to confirm your signature with your thumb impression — a practice being followed for more than 100 years. Even smartphones operate with fingerprints or face-recognition systems. One is curious to note that in all this, one does not have any objection but when it comes to Aadhaar serious objections relating to identity verifications are raised.

The government is of the view that in accordance with the Aadhaar Act, no poor person shall be denied his or her entitlement. Whether it is food or other entitlements it must be provided using other identity documents and effort shall be made to bring them on Aadhaar.

On the issue of privacy we need to have greater clarity. In the wake of the Supreme Court judgment now the ground rule of privacy is well laid out. It is equally important to note that under the garb of privacy innovation cannot be killed. India is becoming a global hub of startups. Data is important for innovation and India has the potential to emerge as a big global centre of data analysis: the new exciting frontier of technological innovation, economy and employment. Artificial intelligence and IoT have great potential for innovation by using data. Most important, the plea of privacy cannot become the shield of the corrupt and terrorists. The government has already set up a panel under the leadership of an eminent retired judge of the Supreme Court Justice Srikrishna, to recommend for a robust data protection law and we expect the report soon.

However, it needs to be reiterated that the Aadhaar ecosystem, as far as safety and security of the core biometrics is concerned, is very safe and reliable and is subject to regular audits by experts. The UIDAI has recently added another feather in its cap by making provision for virtual ID for those who desire virtual ID coverage over Aadhaar numbers.

The success of Aadhaar is finding its resonance world over. The World Development Report 2016 released by the World Bank stated, “A digital identification system such as India’s Aadhaar, by overcoming complex information problems, helps willing governments promote the inclusion of disadvantaged groups.”

The poor man is happy and feels empowered. Aadhaar has given a big aadhaar (base) to India’s digital accomplishments. It is time to recognise its worth.

Ravi Shankar Prasad is Union Minister for law and justice, electronics and information technologyThe views expressed are personal. This is the first in a series of by-invitation opinion pieces on Aadhaar

Source : ht





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This story is no less interesting than a script of an action-packed thriller. But the only relief is that the story ended on a happy note after a struggle of 22 years. Born and brought up in India and working for human rights in India only, 68-year-old Luingam Luithui is extremely happy about the fact that finally he and his wife Peingamla have once again become citizens of this country. Now this couple will be able to celebrate Christmas this year in their home town of Ukhaharul in Manipur. They will finally give up their citizenship of Canada which they had to take under compulsion in a state of despair.

His long and tough legal battle has made one thing very clear that no government can deprive a citizen of his citizenship. No matter whether that person is a member of some organisation or follower of some ideology, if he is a native of the country, then his right to citizenship cannot be taken away.

Luingam Luithui told National Herald that the pain of living away from his people and land for so long haunts him deeply but he is very happy that finally, justice has won. He said, “My faith in the Indian judiciary was re-established. Despite belonging to the state of Manipur and despite being a supporter of the Naga Movement, I won this case with the help and support of my lawyer Shomana Khanna and my young relatives. Now I will peacefully live in India. Living abroad for so many years was uncomfortable for me. I was not at ease and was always under stress lest I did something wrong. Your own country and your own people are after all your own…though I will again have to build my life from scratch…” his voice choked with emotions while saying this.

The suspense in his story still remains. On August 23rd, 2017, the Delhi High Court rebuked the Centre that no citizen can be deprived of his citizenship just like that and the citizenship of this couple was never annulled. The government could not tell the court on what basis and on which decision the government annulled the citizenship of this couple who fought for it for 22 years. It could not present any file in the court related to the confiscation of the passport of Luingam Luithui couple. That means the question why this Indian couple remained deprived of Indian passport for 22 long years still remains unanswered.

Luingam Luithui, who challenged the AFSPA in the 1990’s was always a target of the state and Central government and he was seen as someone connected with militant Naga outfits.

When this couple went to Bangkok to attend a seminar, Luithui’s wife Peingamla lost her passport. So they applied for a duplicate of the same. But they were not given the passport. The government started harassing Luingam Luithui since 1995. He was in Ottawa, Canada, when he was told by the Indian High Commission that their passport was cancelled in 1995 only and he was forced to get out from there.

He started this fight for justice after that. His nephew in India, Chingya Luithui, took it upon himself to help him out. The Central government provided only this much information that because Luingam Luithui was associated with the militant Naga organisations, hence his citizenship has been annulled. When they could get nothing more from the government, they went to the senior lawyer Shomana Khanna in 2008-09. Shomana told National Herald, “In my 23-year-long career in law, I had not seen a case like this. There was no document available. Only this could be seen clearly that the couple was a victim of sheer injustice. For three years information was drawn out only through RTI. For a year, we prepared the petition and from 2013 to 2017, we fought the case.

To what extent the government can lie and how openly it can violate the citizens’ rights - this case presents a live example of it.

Luingam Luithui’s family showed amazing courage. He has no kids of his own but his brothers’ sons fought tooth and nail to bring him back.”

Luingam Luithui’s nephew Chingya Luithui who is also the petitioner in this case toldNational Herald, “We have received a major relief by this decision of the court. We belong to the Luithui clan, where elders are given a lot of respect. And anyway, a Naga can never tolerate injustice. We have grown up fighting this case only. But now the Centre knows that it cannot do whatever it wants to the people of the northeast.”




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AIHRA members donation to orphan children

Written by Friday, 18 August 2017 07:08

AIHRA members Suryamani Mrs Padma Reddy Takur Sonya Lalapat donating orphan childrens with one stiching machine, 30 carryboxes and some dresses




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UP madrasa records Independence Day celebration on tape

Written by Wednesday, 16 August 2017 06:38

Teachers at the 115-year-old Jamia Islamia madrasa in the town of Mau Aima, Uttar Pradesh on the 71st Independence Day of India on Tuesday recorded the whole celebration on tape. Around 350 students took part in the celebrations. Classrooms were decorated with balloons on either side of the doors and paper flags were stuck on table tops, while microphones were put up in place. The old Jamia Islamia Madrasa is among those, who under strict supervision, had celebrated the Independence Day despite a fatwa that was issued by a prominent Bareilly cleric. The cleric had asked the madrasas in the state not to sing ‘Sare Jahan Se Accha’, ‘Jana Gana Mana’ or ‘Vande Mataram’ on the Independence Day and even recorded it on tape.

According to Indian Express, the teachers at the madrasa they have not been asked to formally submit photos and videos to the government but they are keeping the clips as a measure of precaution because of the August 3 notice. Teachers who took part in the celebration said, “We have been celebrating Independence Day and Republic Day for years. This is a school. What else will we hold programmes on if not for this?” Prakash Tiwari, the Allahabad district minority officer who has been the in charge for nearly 15 years said that all 300 registered madrasas in the district have been celebrating Independence Day ever since.

Tiwari said, “The madrasas always hold celebrations on August 15 and January 26. And no punitive action will be taken against those not celebrating it. The notice to videograph the event was for the purpose of maintaining archives so that children can revisit them and enjoy them through the year. But we have been getting photos and videos on WhatsApp from madrasas across the district, though we have not formally asked for them.”




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