27th October 2020 Editorial analysis
(The Hindu + The Indian express)
> Incentives to advance India-US partnership are stronger than ever before (Written by C. Raja Mohan)
Mains (GS-II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.)
[This article talks about India-US relations & it also compare UPA & NDA government policies but we will see what we can use in answers]
- Coming amidst China’s continuing aggression on the Ladakh frontier, the 2+2 dialogue between the defence and foreign ministers of India and the United States in Delhi this week marks an important moment in bilateral relations.
- This is not the first time we are seeing an acceleration of the engagement between Delhi and Washington. There was a similar moment in the UPA era; but Delhi’s self-doubt and political timidity let the opportunity slip. Recall, for a moment, the few weeks in the spring and summer of 2005
- There is one similarity and many differences when we compare the current moment in India-US relations with that during the UPA years. When Manmohan Singh got the green light from the Congress leadership to wrap up the nuclear deal, there was a rush at the end of 2008 to complete a whole range of formalities in the waning moments of the George W Bush presidency.
Why there is acceleration in India-US relation in recent times?
- The huge military crisis on the northern borders with China that is well into the sixth month.
- government has refused to cede a veto to China over its policy on security cooperation with the US — whether bilateral or in multilateral formats such as the Quad.
- The coronavirus has sharpened the US debate on the dangers of excessive economic interdependence on China. Meanwhile, Delhi has begun to reduce its commercial ties to Beijing in response to the PLA’s Ladakh aggression.
- This has created the conditions for a new conversation between India and the US on rearranging global supply chains away from China in the so-called Quad Plus conversations that have variously drawn in Brazil, Israel, New Zealand, South Korea and Vietnam.
- Although Delhi and Washington continue to have many differences over bilateral trade, they both see the need for rethinking the current global economic institutions that China has bent to its own advantage.
- the focus on critical technologies like artificial intelligence that promise to transform most aspects of modern life — including security, political economy and social order.
What is the concern in the relationship?
- The real question is not about the calendar but the extent of bipartisan political support that India enjoys.
- To be sure, there are many issues of contention amidst the current sharp polarisation between the Republicans and Democrats.
- But the US strategic partnership with India is not one of them. If Joe Biden wins the election, there will certainly be some new issues and new possibilities.
- Both Delhi and Washington have benefited much from the recent political investments in the relationship. As the regional and global order faces multiple transitions, the incentives for Delhi and Washington to sustain and advance India-US partnership are stronger than ever before and will continue into the next administration.
> NEP 2020 has the answer to the question of impossibly high cut-offs (Written by Rishikesh BS)
Mains (GS-II: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.)
[This article talks about how board exam are inefficient & how NEP 2020 provides some beneficial reforms]
- When Delhi University announced the first list of admission into undergraduate programmes in its 90 colleges earlier this month, the cut-offs reached 100 per cent mark in some courses offered by a few colleges.
- In some HEIs, for courses such as computer science or English literature, the cut-off is in the high 90s, even for aspirants from socio-economically disadvantaged groups.
What is the concern?
- What we have been seeing in Delhi for more than a decade is also seen in a few other states, where the GER is close to 50 per cent.
- Today, it is a handful of states, and tomorrow it will be the entire country. According to India’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for 2030 and the National Education Policy 2020 target, we are aiming to ensure 100 per cent enrolment across our school stages, from pre-primary to the secondary stage.
- As we move towards this target, there will be a further rise in applications for higher education programmes for which the NEP 2020 has set a target of 50 per cent by 2035 — which would mean an additional 35 million seats to be created in HEIs across the country.
- Unless something transformative is done, we are headed towards a rise in the number of unemployed graduates (due to poor quality education) and a generation of disenchanted youth (due to the systemic failure in equipping them with required skill sets).
How National education policy 2020 is helpful in this regard?
- NEP 2020 recommends moving into a higher education ecosystem that consists of large multi-disciplinary HEIs, offering undergraduate and graduate programmes, one in every, or nearly every district, in the country.
- Each such institute will aim to have 3,000 or more students. Currently, only 4 per cent colleges have an enrolment over 3,000.
- By modelling this across the higher education ecosystem, not only will access improve, but it will also make HEIs viable, with all resources in place as is seen in most parts of the developed world.
- With only half the number of HEIs that currently exist, we will be able to provide access to 70 million students expected in higher education once the country reaches a GER of 50 per cent.
- This will also allow for closing down of thousands of poor quality HEIs, which snare unsuspecting students, leading to a large number of non-entrepreneurial, unskilled and unemployable graduates.
- For the problem of unreasonable cut-offs to be rooted out, the assessment reforms that NEP envisages, for both school-leaving and higher education entrance, is critical.
- NEP 2020 envisages assessment reform at the school level, which would make the board exams redundant, and also a common entrance for the liberal arts-based higher education system, which only assesses an applicant’s preparedness to pursue a university education.
What is the necessity & why?
- Using school-leaving marks to create cut-offs is a lazy option employed by the HEIs to reduce the number of applicants, before launching their admission process.
- School percentages are not good markers of an individual’s readiness to do higher education —and given the serious drawbacks of standardised assessments in our board exams, it is best to get rid of them at the earliest.
- Instead, school-leaving certificates will have to be based on an array of assessments, including a student’s performance across the secondary level — Classes IX to XII.
- They will factor in class assignments and tests, leading to the development of students’ portfolios.
- We need to usher in these reforms at the earliest. If not, the country is at the risk of generating graduates in tens of millions, who will neither have the capacity to generate employment for themselves nor the capability to be employed anywhere.
> Contesting neighbours, revised geopolitical playbooks – The engagement by India and China in the West Asia region is a good example of their metamorphosing approaches (Written by Kabir Taneja)
Mains (GS-II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.)
[This article talks about how Indian & Chinese foreign policy is focusing on West Asia]
- The year 2020 has been a watershed moment for relations between India and China following the most serious clashes between the two countries in the Galwan region of Ladakh since the 1962 war; relations between New Delhi and Beijing are at new lows.
- These events have had a cascading effect on the very thought process of foreign policy,
not just for New Delhi with regard to its neighbourhood but also Beijing’s understanding of its own threat perceptions as well.
What dictates alignment now?
- According to a former Foreign Secretary of India, Vijay Gokhale, the ideation of ‘strategic autonomy’ is much different from the Nehruvian era thinking of ‘nonalignment’.
- Mr. Gokhale said: “The alignment is issue based, and not ideological.”
- For Beijing and New Delhi, one region where both contesting neighbours have employed similar versions of ‘nonalignment’ thinking is in West Asia, and the ethos of equitable engagement with the three poles of power in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Israel, without stepping into the entanglements of the region’s multi layered conflicts and political fissures.
- the year 2020 and the tectonic geopolitical shifts it has brought in its wake, from deteriorating U.S. China ties, to the COVID19 pandemic that started in China, followed by the Ladakh crisis, is forcing a drastic change in the geopolitical playbooks of the two Asian giants, and, by association, global security architectures as well.
India in the West Asia:
- Predating 2020, India’s outreach to West Asia sharpened since 2014 with the coming of the Narendra Modi government. As the powerful and oil rich Gulf states looked for investment alternatives away from the West to deepen their own strategic depth.
- India doubled down on its relations with the likes of Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, giving open economic and political preference to the larger Gulf region.
- While engagements with Israel moved steadily forward, Iran lagged behind, bogged down by U.S. sanctions, which in turn significantly slowed the pace of India-Iran engagements.
- From India’s perspective, as it maintains its trapezewire balancing act of diplomacy in West Asia, the overt outreach to the Gulf and the ensuing announcements of multi billion dollar investments on Indian shores by entities from Saudi Arabia and the UAE is only New Delhi recognising the economic realities of the region.
China in the West Asia:
- China realises two major shifts that have taken place in West Asia. First, Beijing has tried to capitalise around the thinking in the Gulf that the American security safety net is not absolute, and they need to invest more in others.
- E.g. – the United Arab Emirates (UAE) obtained Chinese Wing Loong drones in 2016 — a copy of U.S.’s infamous armed MQ9 ‘Reaper’ drone that Washington refused to sell.
- Second, the Gulf economies such as Saudi Arabia, even though attempting a
hard shift away from their addiction to the petro dollar, will still need growing markets to sell oil to in the coming decade as they reform their economic systems.
- However, Beijing’s recent plays in the region have not been subtle. A report in September shone light on a $400 billion, 25year understanding between Iran and China, with Beijing taking advantage of U.S. President Donald Trump’s abandonment of the Iran nuclear deal.
- China is no longer happy with a passive role in West Asia, and through concepts such as “negative peace” and “peace through development”, in concert with tools such as the Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing is now ready to offer an alternative model for “investment and influence”.
- It remains to be seen, however, how China balances itself between the poles of power while backing one so aggressively.
- The theory of interests superseding ideology in foreign policy is fast unravelling practically, both from the perspectives of India and China.
- Geographies such as West Asia have also started to showcase bolder examples of New Delhi and Beijing’s metamorphosing approaches towards the international arena.
> Women at the heart of recovery – India has an opportunity to build climate resilience and address gender equality issues
Mains (GS-I: Role of women and women’s organization | GS-III: Climate change, Disaster management)
[This article talks about how women empowerment can help in building climate resilience]
- India’s fight against COVID19 is at a critical juncture. The recovery is offering India
two golden opportunities: one, to build climate resilience for the most vulnerable by ensuring that stimulus measures are green; and two, to meaningfully address longstanding gender equality issues.
The pandemic has exacted a heavy toll:
- The poor, Adivasis, migrants, informal workers, sexual minorities, people with disabilities and women all face a greater brunt than most.
- Beyond this, the causes and effects of climate change — stressed agriculture, food insecurity, unplanned urban growth, thinning forest covers, rising temperatures and shrinking water resources — have also hit vulnerable groups disproportionately.
- Women in particular have their work cut out for them. Greater demands of unpaid care work during the pandemic and rising rates of reported violence are a stark reminder of the work that remains to be done.
Why & how women empowerment needs to be done? & how it will affect our climate resilience?
- The International Monetary Fund estimates that equal participation of women in the workforce will increase India’s GDP by 27%.
- Aligning these recovery packages with India’s commitments on climate change by investing in green jobs will improve lives and make our planet healthier.
- Women, particularly those from indigenous and marginalised communities, play a significant yet unsung role in various sectors.
- Comprising more than 50% of the agricultural labour force, and nearly 14% of all entrepreneurs, women’s relationship with the environment and the informal economy can be a useful lever of action to transform the lives and livelihoods of their families and communities.
Some Examples which validates this idea:
- Disha, a UNDP initiative supported by the IKEA Foundation, has reached one million women and girls with skills and livelihood opportunities.
- This initiative has shown the benefits of investing in local jobs for women and vulnerable communities.
- These investments energise local economies, reduce carbon emissions, enhance climate resilience and disrupt social norms and behaviours that restrict women’s participation in the workforce.
- Another example comes from an initiative by the Self Employed Women’s Association and the Electronics Sector Skills Council of India, and supported by the UN Environment Programme.
- By training young rural women to develop a cadre of 15,000 solar technicians for the maintenance of solar pumps in remote locations, the initiative will not only introduce clean energy options but also reduce production costs.
- Creating the right financial incentives, fostering sustainable public private partnerships and enabling women entrepreneurs to access markets, training and mentoring will be critical in scaling up these approaches.