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There was a time when exams meant students huddled into classrooms with pen-and-paper tests while stern invigilators/proctors paced the exam halls. Today thousands of students in India are taking their exams on their laptops, sitting at home. While sophisticated AI tools do the proctoring. Just one example of how much education technology (Edtech) has evolved.  

At the Eruditus group, I lead two business units — the Emeritus Global Business and Eruditus India Schools Business. Our mission is to to bring high quality education to people across the world. We create world-class online courses in partnership with some of the most reputed universities in the world – Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, IIT, IIM – and enable students from across the world to access these courses. What is exciting about the Eruditus group is how global we are : we have students from across the world and offices in all the major regions of the world.  

Pandemic impact

The ongoing COVID–19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards online education and it brings with it a new set of opportunities as well as challenges. Many of the Indian institutions that we are working with have found that students seem to like the online experience and find it convenient. A much larger segment of people is experiencing online education for the first time and the opportunity is in expanding that. The second thing is that in emerging markets it is not easy to replicate the US model of having multiple universities with massive campuses—lack of space, infrastructure, and transport are some of the limitations. So going the online route is the biggest opportunity in these markets. One of the challenges is that employers still see online education as not as good as classroom education. We are working to change that perception. And there is a lot of opportunity to bring in innovations like AR/VR and telepresence to enrich the learning experience.

Team spirit

As a leader, I have realised that business success is so dependent on having a high quality team. So a substantial amount of my time and thinking goes into hiring and grooming talent. One of the key things I look at when hiring someone is whether the person has achievement orientation and whether it can be measured by their accomplishments. The second thing is imagination, especially in roles like marketing. Do they have ideas and imagination beyond the regular work that they do? The third element is, of course, competence. This is an easier box to tick especially in the Indian context because our basic selection process makes sure we get people who are at a certain level of experience, but the other two are the critical things when I look at hiring talent. 

 Way forward

Over the next 10 years, our goal is to expand reach to high-quality education to every segment and every geography. This needs some innovative solutions; for example, we have seen that in emerging countries including India, most students find it challenging to fund their programs. We are solving that by partnering with loan providers and helping them automate their processes so that students can access loans easily. Another innovation is in the program content itself where we are bringing students into the world of digital transformation, business analytics, design thinking, fintech, etc. We have also brought in global industry practitioners as part of the programs, which really offers a different perspective and helps our students open up to other possibilities. Our vision for 2030 is to scale up across every geography and truly democratize the access to quality education. 

This article first appeared on LinkedIn Pulse

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Experts: The Future Of Online Trust Is Up In The Air

Trust in sources of authority is weakening across the online world: It’s the natural result of a bot-ridden, highly politicized, fast-paced, and siloed world. All the recent hacks and leaked information have sped up the process. But is all that lack of online trust going to get better or worse?

A new report from Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center is out, and it has some answers. They ran a survey past 1,233 technology experts in order to figure out the best guesses as to the next ten years of online trust, and the predictions were mixed.

The short answer is that about 48 percent think trust will be strengthened, 28 percent think it will remain the same, and 24 percent think trust will be diminished over the next decade. But here’s how they arrived at those conclusions.

The Case for More Trust

Some experts argue that the shift towards a lack of trust is the result of systems that can be repaired. Once the cracks are patched up, users will regain their trust in online sources.

“Their reasoning generally flows in two streams,” Pew explains. “1) Some expect to see improved technology emerge that will allow people to have confidence in the organizations and individuals with whom they interact online. They argue that improvements in identifying and authenticating users will build trust. They also maintain that the corporations depending on online activity have all the incentive they need to solve problems tied to trust. 2) Some say trust will grow stronger as users employ online activities more fully into their lives. They think this will be led by younger users who are fully immersed in online life.”

About half of the Pew study’s respondents believed this would result in a boost in online trust over the next decade.

The Case for a “New Normal”

Some, however, think that this lack of trust in online security will hold steady — not getting worse, but not getting better, either.

“The trust train has left the station, continues to gain speed, and shows very little chance of slowing down,” One corporate marketing officer explained to Pew. “Breaches may continue and even proliferate, but the technologies will be so embedded in our lives that they will be considered a mere inconvenient side effect of progress.”

One anonymous research professor summed up the viewpoint succinctly: “Trust is dead now. Thus, it will stay the same: Dead.”

The Case for Less Trust

Going even more cynical — yes, that’s possible — some argued that we are just beginning the long, dark slide into untrustworthiness. The worst part? “A number of the most highly respected experts” and a quarter of the total respondents hold this view.

“They listed various reasons, but those cited most often were: 1) Corporate business models are tuned to profit-making and government motivations tend toward national security, leaving little attention paid to individuals’ rights to personal privacy and personal security protections. 2) The internet was not created with trust-building in mind, and criminal exploits and other manipulative gaming of networks by political and social actors are expected to rise, possibly exponentially, in the future.”

At least we know who to blame for the internet’s possible future online trust hellscape: Corporate models and opportunistic exploitation.

Types Of Funds In India

Accounts play a key role in a country’s economic management. The Consolidated Fund of India (Article 266), the Contingency Fund of India (Article 267), and the Public Accounts of India (Article 266(2)) are the three different forms of central government finances that are mentioned in the Indian Constitution.

What is Government Fund?

Government financing is a formal donation made by a federal, state, or local government body in honor of a noble effort.

In essence, it serves as a transfer payment. Grants do not include technical help or other types of financial aid like loans, loan guarantees, discounted interest rates, direct appropriations, or revenue sharing.

In some cases, such as when a discovery results in a patent that brings in money, there may also be revenue-sharing agreements with the government.

Government funding refers to any circumstance in which a business or initiative receives all or some of its financial support from a government.

The government does more than just give these organizations money, though.

A company that has been awarded a government contract for work usually subcontracts out a portion of the work to other businesses.

For the purposes of the specific subcontract, these businesses are regarded as beneficiaries of government funding and, as such, are governed by all laws and regulations that may be in force.

Governments can also raise money through loans, which can be used to directly or indirectly subsidize borrowing from other sources.

Normal loan terms call for interest on top of full payback. For higher education, government loans, particularly those from the federal government, are frequently utilized.

Frequently, until the beneficiary completes their education, interest charges and repayment requirements are put off. Small business finance is another traditional category of government credit and is normally managed by the Small Business Administration.

The Indian government’s finances are separated into three categories, which are listed below −

Consolidated Fund

The most crucial account in the government is the Consolidated Fund of India. Except for extraordinary items, the government’s receipts and expenditures are included in the consolidated fund.

As stated in Article 266 (1) of the Indian Constitution, this fund was established. The Consolidated Fund of India is the repository for all of the government’s direct and indirect tax collections, as well as borrowing costs and repayments of government loans.

Except for unusual expenses, which are covered by the contingency fund or the public account, all government spending comes from this fund. A crucial restriction is that the parliament must approve all withdrawals from this fund.

It is divided into the following five sections −

Charges for expenses made against consolidated funds

Income account (receipts)

Revenue account (disbursements)

Capital statement (receipts)

Capital statement (disbursements)

Charged Expenditures on Consolidated Fund

Non-votable means that no vote is required to approve expenditures charged to the Consolidated Fund of India. These costs should be covered by the range of pay and allowances for −

The Chief Executive

A speaker

The Lok Sabha’s deputy speaker

Judges of the Supreme Court’s salaries and benefits

Judges of the Supreme Court and tribunals’ pensions

Contingency Fund

The Indian Constitution’s Article 267(1) makes provision for this fund.

It has a 500 crore rupee corpus. It has the characteristics of an impress (money maintained for a specific purpose).

On behalf of the Indian President, the Secretary of the Finance Ministry is in charge of this fund.

Unexpected or unforeseen expenses are covered by this fund.Article 267 permits each state to establish its own contingency fund.

Public Account of India

Article 266(2) of the Constitution establishes the following: The Public Account of India should be the source of all additional public funds received by or on behalf of the Indian government (except for those that are attributed to the Consolidated Fund of India). The following ingredients go towards making this −

Bank savings accounts are available for several ministries and departments.

The national defense fund is comparable to a modest national savings pool.

National Savings and Investments Corp. (money obtained from disinvestment)

The National Catastrophe and Contingency Fund is known as NCCF (for disaster management).

Insurance for communications, provident funds, and other things.

Conclusion

The Indian Parliament must approve both the expenditure and the withdrawal of the corresponding amount from the Consolidated Fund in order to maintain the Contingency Fund’s corpus. Similar to this, every government creates a contingency fund in accordance with Article 267(2) of the Constitution. Article 266 of the Indian Constitution establishes the Public Accounts (2).

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Who controls government money in India?

Ans. The highest governing body is the Ministry of Finance.

Q2. Who is the owner of the India Contingency Fund?

Ans. The Fund is held on behalf of the Indian President by the Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Finance, Department of Economic Affairs.

Q3. Who gets salary from Consolidated Fund of India?

Ans. The President’s salary and benefits, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Judges of the Supreme Court and High Court get salaries and allowances, while CAG and Lok Pal justices receive salaries and allowances as well.

Q4. Who prepares the budget in India?

Ans. The budget is created by the Ministry of Finance.

The Olympic Village Of The Future

Illustration of the Tokyo 2023 Olympic village Illustration by Michael Brandon Myers

Hosting the Olympics can put serious strain on a country’s infrastructure and finances. In preparation for the 2024 games, Rio de Janeiro has dealt with issues ranging from sewage-filled lakes to an uncompleted subway line. In Sochi in 2014, hotels went unfinished after the Winter Olympics began—the whole affair cost Russia a record $51 billion. But Japan, home of the 2023 games, wants to make the event good for their country and society. The nation has done it before. To host the 1964 Olympics, Japan launched the Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train, which revolutionized national transportation. Drawing on the Japanese sustainability concept of mottainai (“don’t waste”), Tokyo will use robot cars, holographic displays, and driverless taxis to enhance society, which should make the 2023 games a global winner.

Hydrogen-Powered Village

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which is creating the Olympic and Paralympic Village, has earmarked $367 million to develop hydrogen fuel cell cars and refueling stations around the sports complexes. “After the completion of the games, the village will be an environmentally friendly residential district powered by a next-generation hydrogen system,” says Hikariko Ono, a spokesperson for the games.

8K Broadcasting

For spectators who won’t be in the stands, the Olympic Broadcasting Service will be shooting the entire Tokyo Games in 8K UHD—16 times the resolution of standard high-def. Some viewers don’t have to wait: As a trial run, OBS will film 130 hours of Rio’s festivities in what it calls Super Hi-Vision 8K. Japan’s national broadcast station, NHK, has signed on to broadcast it. Tune in to see Bob Costas’ pores in all their 7,680-by-4,320-pixel glory.

Biofueled Flights

Companies like Airbus and United have tested biofueled flights, powered by things like used cooking oil and algae. But now, Boeing, All Nippon Airlines, and others are investigating a range of options, including inedible plants like a flowering house plant and an oil seed plant, and algae-based sources. The biofuels require large amounts of plant mass, so various Japanese companies have constructed large-scale farms and algae cultivation pools to produce enough of the green stuff to power all of the games’ potential air traffic.

Driverless Taxis

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proclaimed that robo-taxis would be present at the games. Tokyo-based Robot Taxi soon stepped in to take orders. Initial field tests for the cabs—which use a “Robovision” stereo camera to navigate and can be hailed by cellphone—began this past March in Kanagawa Prefecture. But the technology still needs some tweaks, like teaching the software to read maps.

Holographic Information

Most holograms (think Tupac at Coachella) are just digital images projected on thin screens and visible only from certain angles. But Mitsubishi Electric has developed true holographic technology, projecting a 3D image you can actually walk around. The tech uses a beam splitter and a retro-reflective sheet to make images appear to float. It won’t better society, but these holograms might just be the coolest event in Tokyo 2023.

This article was originally published in the July/August 2024 issue of Popular Science.

An Overview Of Prison Reforms In India

The prisons in India have existed since the time India was ruled by the rulers. These prisons or dungeons were made in such dark places of the fort that the prisoners couldn’t even see the daylight. They were chained and never had any rights.

This prison system changed gradually with time and with the change in the valuation of the rights of all human beings, including prisoners.

What is a Prison?

Prisonisation symbolises a system of punishment and also a sort of institutional placement of under trials and suspects during the period of trial. Since a society without crime and criminals cannot exist, the institution of prison is indispensable in any country.

The isolated lives of the criminals and the incapacity of the inmates to commit any crime fulfil the preventive purpose of detention. It not only helps to control crime in society but also helps the inmate rehabilitate and repent for their deeds.

The inmates cannot be given the same punishments. As for different offences, different punishments are provided; giving the same punishment would not meet the ends of justice. The introduction of modern ‘classification methods’ in prisons is essentially directed to meet this end.

Prisons in British India

An Inspector- General of Prisons was appointed for the first time in 1855 to keep discipline among the prison authorities. This curbed the abuse of power by the jailors and petty officials.

The Prison Act, 1894, was enacted to bring about uniformity in the working of prisons in India. The major change was the abolition of a barbaric punishment called whipping. And even the condition of women was taken into consideration. But the prison policy remained deterrent in nature.

Later, from 1907 onwards, many efforts were made in regard to juvenile and young offenders, political prisoners, summary trials, etc. Many committees, like the Indian Jail Reform Committee, the Pakwasa Committee, etc., were formed to recommend the altercations that could be made in the Indian prison system.

Indian Prisons after Independence

India after independence was governed by the India Prison Act, 1894. The prisons were included in the Seventh Schedule along ‘police and law and order’ in the State List.

In 1951, the Government of India invited an expert from the United Nations, Dr. W.C. Reckless, to give recommendations on jail reforms. Thereafter, in 1957, a committee was appointed to prepare an All India Jail Manual on the suggestions of Dr. Walter Reckless.

As suggested by the Pakwasa Committee, a modern jail was established in Lucknow in 1949. An All India Jail Reforms Committee was appointed in 1980 with Justice A.N. Mulla as its Chairman. The committee suggested setting up a National Prison Commission to bring about modernisation in prisons.

Prison Reforms

The condition of prisons has undoubtedly changed with the gradual modernisation of prisons. But still, there is a lot that needs to be done in order to reform the prisons for a much more humane treatment of the offenders.

In Mohammad Giassudin v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 1977, it was held that the prisoners should be treated as patients and the prisons as hospitals. The prisons should be correctional houses, not cruel iron arching the soul.

In R.D. Upadhyaya v. State of Andhra Pradesh and others, 2006, the Supreme Court expressed its concern for the children living in jail with their prisoner mothers. It further gave a detailed guideline in regard to adequate food, shelter, medical care, clothing, education, and recreational facilities for such children. It further said that a child born to a prisoner mother in prison should not be given jail as the place of birth.

Furthermore, after the age of 6 years, the child should not be kept with his mother in jail. Separate women’s jails have been instituted following the directives of the Apex Court. As well, there are separate jails for juveniles too. There are various rehabilitation centres, protection homes, etc., so that a child in conflict with the law is protected from the evils of society.

In Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration, 1978, it was held that the prisoners should be scientifically classified based on the nature of the crime committed, age, sex, character, and propensities of the offender, including his educational level and likely response to prison treatment.

The inmates are provided with basic education, especially in the juvenile prisons. There are vocational trainings as well, which are provided to the inmates. They are even paid for the work they do.

The inmates whose behaviour is considered good and who are supposed to have been rehabilitated into a person fit for the society have their punishment reduced on the basis of their good behaviour and are released on Republic Day or Independence Day.

Conclusion

There have been many major reforms in the prison system of India. But the existing Prison Act, 1894 is more than a century old and needs to be revised. The prison system is effective only if society understands that it needs to accept the released convicts as normal human beings. The convicts should be given a second chance to live a normal life rather than being treated as untouchables.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is the nature of punishment in India?

Ans. The punishments in India are more likely to be reformative in nature.

Q2. Which Act governs the prisons in India?

Ans. The Act that governs the prison system in India is “the Prisons Act, 1894.”

The State Bank Of India Act: An Overview

With increasing financial transactions and requirements of easy banking system, and also to regulate the commercial banking system, parliament has legislated the State Bank of India Act. As result of this, the State Bank of India established On July 1, 1955.

What does the State Bank of India Act Define?

The State Bank of India is the biggest and oldest commercial bank in the country, which came into existence after the nationalisation of the Imperial Bank of India in 1955. The Imperial Bank of India was the central bank of British India and the government took control of it in 1955 and renamed it the State Bank of India by passing the State Bank of India Act, 1955.

The Act received the President’s assent on May 8th, 1955, and it came into force on July 1st, 1955. The Act is divided into 57 sections, which are contained in 8 chapters and 2 schedules. It originally had four schedules, but two were repealed in 1960.

Establishment of the State Bank of India

Section 3 of the Act provides for the establishment of a State Bank of India to carry on the business of banking and other businesses and for the purpose of taking over the Imperial Bank of India.

Share Capital

Share capital is the capital raised by issuing shares at a given face value. Authorised Capital is the maximum amount of capital that a company has the power to issue during its lifetime, and the portion of authorised capital actually issued to the public is called issued capital.

The State Bank of India has an authorised capital of five thousand rupees and the Central Board has the power to reduce the face value of the shares and also to increase or decrease the authorised capital.

Transfer of Undertaking by the Imperial Bank

Earlier, the Imperial Bank performed all normal banking functions. When it got nationalized, the provisions for regulating the transfer of its assets, liabilities, employment, etc. were required. Sections 6 to 9 of the Act govern such transfers.

These sections contain provisions regarding the transfer of assets, liabilities, and encumbrances to the Reserve Bank. All rights, powers, authorities, privileges, property, investments, contracts, deeds, agreements, existing provident and other funds, etc. of the Imperial Bank are transferred to SBI. The sections also provide provisions for the transfer of service of existing officers and employees of Imperial Bank to the SBI.

Shares

The Central Government owns at least 51% of the SBI’s issued capital. Section 11 imposes restrictions on the voting rights of shareholders other than the Central Government.

Central Board

Section 17 of the Act entrusts the general superintendence and direction of the affairs and business of the SBI to the Central Board. The Board exercises all powers and does all acts that may be exercised or done by the SBI. The Board shall perform its functions on principles having regard to the public interest.

The Board shall consist of the following −

Both a Chairman and a Vice Chairman.

Two Managing Directors are appointed by the Central Board.

Six directors are elected by private shareholders.

Eight directors are nominated by the Central Government in consultation with the RBI.

One director nominated by the central government

One director is nominated by RBI.

The term of office of the Chairperson and each Managing Director is not more than five years, and each member is eligible for reappointment. The term of office of a director is three years.

Local Board

Section 21 of the Act provides for the constitution of a local board at each place where the State Bank has its local head office. The Local Board exercises powers and performs duties and functions delegated to it by the Central Board. This local board will be made up of the following individuals −

Chairman.

Directors are nominated or elected by the Central Board.

Six members are nominated by the Central Government.

The Chief General Manager of the local head office.

Powers of the Central Board

The Central Board exercises the following powers as per the Act −

The Central Board has the power to constitute an executive committee and other committees it deems fit in order to exercise its functions.

It has the power to make regulations that are not inconsistent with the Act.

Decision-making by the Boards

As per Section 31, the meetings of the Central Board may be held in person, through videoconferencing, or any other electronic means. All questions decided at the meeting shall be decided by the majority vote of the directors present at the meeting. A director, directly or indirectly, interested in any contract, loan, arrangement, or proposal which is discussed at the meeting, shall not attend such meeting unless his presence is required for the purpose of eliciting information.

Similar provisions are contained in the Act regarding a Local Board under Section 31A.

Business of the State Bank

It includes −

The State Bank shall act as an agent of the Reserve Bank of India for paying, receiving, collecting, and remitting money on behalf of the government. It undertakes and transacts other businesses which the RBI entrusts to it from time to time.

The SBI has to function as a banker to the government. It collects money and makes payments on behalf of the government. It manages public debt, collects charges, and grants loans.

SBI is considered a banker’s bank as it receives deposits and provides financial assistance to commercial banks that have their accounts in SBI.

It acts as a clearing house where RBI has no branch.

It may transact other banking business as is provided in the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.

Prohibited Functions

Section 34 prohibits SBI from transacting the following business −

Other than its own offices, SBI shall not own or acquire any immovable property.

SBI cannot grant loans against stocks and shares for a period above six months.

Conclusion

The State Bank of India Act passed solely with the purpose to constitute a State Bank for India, to transfer to it the undertaking of the Imperial Bank of India, and to provide for other matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Furthermore, the opening of multiple branches of SBI in urban region and also in rural region made the financial transaction even for a private individual very easy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What was the State Bank of India called before it was created through the act?

Ans: Before the establishment of State Bank of India, the Imperial Bank was quite popular; however, after the enactment of SBI Act, the State Bank of India set up and Imperial Bank of India merged into it. The nationalization of the Imperial Bank ended the protracted debate on its role in independent India.

Q2. What are the main functions of State Bank of India?

Ans: Being a national bank, State Bank of India is a multinational bank, and it operates in dozens of foreign countries. So, the major functions of SBI are:

It provides the option of opening savings and current accounts, as well as a personal locker for each individual.

It enables the drawing, acceptance, buying, and selling of bills of exchange.

It also issues and circulates the letters of credit.

Recently, it started its own app (SBI Yono) to provide easy mobile banking.

It also invests in funds or any special kind of security, etc.

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