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9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Brief – 16th December 2016


  • Front Page / NATIONAL

  1. Liquor vends on National, State highways banned
  2. Panel flags ‘slow’ execution of schemes
  • INTERNATIONAL

  1. India signals peace on Indus water issue
  • Editorial/OPINION

  1. A law for equality
  2. Death in Aleppo
  3. Vulnerable in cyberspace
  4. Rules of an exchange economy
  • ECONOMY

  1. Rupee slips after Fed’s decision
  2. Include real estate sales and electricity charges in GST: CEA
  3. Deferred consumption will spur growth
  • Indian Express

  1. The long-term solution
  • Live Mint

  1. Launching New Delhi-Jakarta bilateral ties anew
  2. Our failed education policy needs urgent reform

Click here to Download 9 PM Daily Brief PDF (16th Dec. 2016)

 


Front Page / NATIONAL


[1] Liquor vends on National, State highways banned


 The Hindu

Context

The Supreme Court, on 15th December 2016, banned States and Union Territories from granting licences for the sale of liquor along National and State highways across the country.

A bunch of petitions

  • Supreme Court was hearing a clutch of petitions on the issue. NGO Arrive Safe Society had pressed for a complete ban. It had referred to a 2015 report of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and said almost five lakh accidents occurred last year in India, killing 146000 people.
  • As per one of the petition “An analysis of road accident data 2015 reveals that around 1,374 accidents and 400 deaths take place every day on Indian roads, resulting in 57 accidents and loss of 17 lives on an average every hour.
    • The petition further stated that “India being a signatory to the Brasilia Declaration, it is imperative that policy guidelines are framed to control road accidents. Also, the excise policies of Indian states and Union Territories should be amended to conform to the spirit of Article 47 r/w Article 21 of the Constitution of India”

Article 47

This article states that it shall be the duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health The State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties and, in particular, the State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health

 Article 21

Protection of life and personal liberty: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law

So the expression that “Article 47 should be r/w Article 21 means that ambit of Article 47 should be considered wrt Article 21. State shall raise the level of nutrition and health so as to protect Right to life under Article 21

Brasilia declaration

Hosted by the Government of Brazil in Brasilia, Brazil, and co-sponsored by WHO, the 2nd Global High-Level Conference on Road Safety was held on 18-19 November 2015

At the end of this conference Brasilia declaration was adoptedon Road Safety” through which they agreed ways to halve road traffic deaths by the end of this decade – a key milestone within the new Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 3.6.

  • Sustainable modes of transport: The declaration stands for rethinking transport policies in order to favour more sustainable modes of transport such as walking, cycling and using public transport
  • Road safety strategies: The declaration highlights various strategies to ensure the safety of all road users, particularly by improving laws and enforcement; making roads safer through infrastructural modifications; ensuring that vehicles are equipped with life-saving technologies; and enhancing emergency trauma care systems

Directives issued

  • The licences of liquor shops across the highways will not be renewed after March 31, 2017
  • The prohibition on sale of liquor alongside highways would extend to stretches of such highways that fall within limits of municipal corporations, city towns and local authorities
  • No signages: The court prohibited signages and advertising of availability of liquor on highways and ordered the existing ones to be removed forthwith from both national and State highways
  • No shop for sale of liquor should be visible from the National and State highways. Neither should they be directly accessible from the highways nor should they be situated within a distance of 500 m from the outer edge of the highways or service lanes
  •  Strict enforcement: The court ordered all the States and Union Territories to “strictly enforce the directions.” It gave the Chief Secretaries and the State police chiefs a month’s time to chalk out a plan for enforcement of the judgment

Radhakrishnan committee

It should be noted that the Road Safety Committee, headed by its former judge K S Radhakrishnan, had also recommended banning of all liquor vends along highways.


[2] Panel flags ‘slow’ execution of schemes


 The Hindu

Context

Flak received from Parliamentary Standing Committee for ‘slow’ implementation of schemes envisaged under the Nirbhaya Fund

What has happened?

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development has pulled up Women and Child Development Ministry for a slow implementation of schemes under Nirbhaya Fund.

Nirbhaya fund

The Nirbhaya Fund was set up after announcement in the 2013 Union Budget in the aftermath of the Nirbhaya gang-rape case and currently has a total corpus of Rs.2,000 crore.

Read More: Nirbhaya Fund


INTERNATIONAL


[1] India signals peace on Indus water issue


 The Hindu

Context

Conciliatory statement comes after World Bank paused arbitration process. India said there was “no reason” the two countries could not sort out their differences.

Backdrop

In the wake of Uri attack as there were speculations that India might reconsider its stand on Indus Water Treaty, Pakistan had approached World Bank with certain objections to Kishenganga and Ratle hydropower projects in J&K.

  • India objected to the World Bank’s earlier decision as it said the acceptance of Pakistan’s appeal for an arbitration process under article IX was “illegal”, accusing the World Bank of “favoring Pakistan

What has happened now?

World Bank has acceded to India’s wishes and has halted the two processes for mediation and arbitrationat least till the end of January 2017 that it had put into place over Pakistan’s objections to ‘design features’ in the Kishanganga and Ratle hydroelectric power projects in Jammu and Kashmir

What now?

The World Bank plans to send an expert, Ian Solomon to New Delhi and Islamabad in the next few weeks to discuss the issues for both governments and help restart talks between them.

No abrogation of IWT

Indian government has cleared that it has no intention of abrogating IWT but every drop of water which is legitimately granted to India under the treaty would be utilized

Water use panel

The Centre is putting in place a special panel to look at ways to utilize India’s share of the five rivers in the Indus system better.

 Read More: Indus Water Treaty, 9pm Brief 23rd Sept dealing with IWT


Editorial/OPINION


[1] A law for equality


 The Hindu

Context

Article talks about the recently passed Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, its beneficial provisions and what more could have been done.

Following provisions deserve a special mention as per author,

  • Expanding the disabilities list to include more number of disabilities under the bill taking the total to 19
  • Power to notify additional disabilities keeping in mind conditions that may arise with an ageing population
  • Relaxation of the upper age limit to access primary and higher education is clear evidence of foresight, given the disproportionately low and delayed enrolment of disabled children in formal schooling
  • Penal provisions should ensure effective enforcement: It provides for imprisonment ranging from six months to two years, along with a fine ranging from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 5 lakh, for discriminating against differently abled persons.
  • Increase in the proportion of reserved positions in public employment and incentives for the private sector to hire disabled candidates

What more could have been done?

Establishment of Statutory Disabilities Commission

Experience shows that new technology enables people with disability to undertake tasks that may once have been outside their reach. In this regard, the decision to drop the proposal for the establishment of statutory disabilities commissions at the national and State levels is a lost opportunity.

  • To vest in an advisory body i.e. Central Advisory Board with the responsibility to monitor enforcement and violations of the law, as well as financial supervision, is not the most effective approach to promote equal opportunities and combat discrimination.

Conclusion

Author concludes by stating that the number of the disabled in India is anywhere between 5 and 10 per cent of the population. Their integration into the mainstream is a developmental and economic imperative.


[2] Death in Aleppo


 The Hindu

Context

For too long, we have been a passive society, deaf to Rwanda, Somalia, Syria. Our foreign policy is a piece of empty piety. Maybe Aleppo can be a first step to a more humane India.

Author through this article implores Indian foreign policymakers and Indians in general to be more aware, sensitive and compassionate towards ongoing tragedy in Aleppo, Syria.

Article is an interesting read.

Give it a go through once.

Read More: The Battle for Aleppo: A timeline


[3] Vulnerable in cyberspace


 The Hindu

Context

The ‘Legion’ hacks expose the dire state of cybersecurity in India. Frequent data breaches will steadily erode the confidence of Internet users and deter them from using digital gateways.

 We are Legion

In the first few paragraphs, author has talked about the recent cyberattacks and hacking of twitter handles of Rahul Gandhi, Barkha Dutt and Vijay Mallya. A group named Legion has claimed responsibility for these attacks.

  • In a letter to Washington Post and Factor Daily, this group has claimed access to “over 40,000 servers” in India, “encryption keys and certificates” used by some Indian banks, and confidential medical data housed in “servers of private hospital chains”.

Why we should worry?

Author points out that if the email and Twitter hacks have indeed been conducted by a group that trades in “zero-days” then these intrusions should be taken very seriously.

  • Zero days – They are software glitches that exist at the time of creation of an application, but are discovered by technical experts and sold to parent companies, rivals, governments or criminals
  • Stuxnet, the cyber weapon developed jointly by the United States and Israel to slow down Iranian nuclear centrifuges, used a zero-day exploit that falsified digital certificates, allowing it to run in Windows operating systems
  • If Legion has gained access to, a ‘Secure Socket Layer’ (SSL) certificate that an Indian bank’s website uses to validate its authenticity to a user’s computer or mobile phone, the group could easily retrieve confidential login information and cause unmitigated financial loss

 Erosion of trust

Author states that in the light of such cyberattacks where sensitive information is stolen and people are left waiting for it to be divulged results in corrosion of trust in digital transactions. This gains significance as government is pushing for a cashless economy, the basis of which are the digital payment systems.

State of cybersecurity in India

Author states that the legion attacks showcase the dire state of cybersecurity in India

  • Identification of measures: The Centre is yet to identify and implement measures to protect “critical information infrastructure” indispensable to the country’s governance
  • NIC compromised:The National Informatics Centre (NIC), which hosts the government’s mail servers, has been compromised several times in the past: until a few months ago, its users did not rely on two-factor authentication (or 2FA, in which the user provides two means of identification) to access sensitive government communications
  • NCSC not implemented: The welcome measure to appoint a National Cyber Security Coordinator in 2014 has not been supplemented by creating liaison officers in the States
  • Understaffed CERT-In: The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) is woefully understaffed

 Role of Private sector

Author states that private sector is equally responsible for failing to report and respond to breaches in digital networks

  • Data made available by Interpol for 2015 suggest 1,11,083 security incidents were handled by CERT-In but less than 10 per cent of those were registered with law enforcement agencies
  • Electronic fraud is notoriously underreported in India, whether it is directed at the payment interface or the e-commerce website
    • There are neither voluntary, sector-specific standards for reporting data breaches nor industry backchannels for sharing confidential security information
    • Most Indian applications available on Android and iOS stores allow for automatic updates or patches, increasing the likelihood that an exploit or malware can be introduced without the user’s knowledge

Attitudinal problem

Author points out that perhaps the biggest problem attitudinal in nature.

  • The continued perception among Indian elites that cybersecurity is “optional” is evident in that ‘Legion’ has successfully targeted highly visible politicians, journalists and industrialists
  • Partisan commentary has chosen either to speculate on the identity of perpetrators or celebrate the embarrassment of their political opponents
  • NIC email servers are often blamed for their poor security, but most Indian companies that rely on Gmail for official communication also do not make 2FA mandatory for its employees

Human involvement

Author states that even Stuxnet needed a human element via USB devices to be introduced in Iranian nuclear centrifuges. All the high profile cyberattacks contain a human element which creates an inherent difficulty in protecting the digital networks.

Way ahead

Author states that instead of blatantly going for a cashless economy, the citizenry must first be made aware of the associated risks and how they can protect themselves by following safe practices

Conclusion

Author concludes by stating that frequent data breaches will steadily erode the confidence of Internet users and deter them from using digital gateways. For a government which has staked its future heavily on the success of the Digital India programme, this is an outcome it can ill afford.

Read More: All about Legion


[4] Rules of an exchange economy


 The Hindu

Context

How do we work out the obligations of banks in the post-demonetisation scenario?

 Honoring the claims of creditor

Author states that the basic norms of an exchange economy make it obligatory in any such exchange that the debtor has to honor the claims of the creditor.

  • As with all exchanges, the above also holds true for financial transactions between banks and the non-bank public.

Currency inadequacy: A breach

Author states that in the wake of recent demonetization move, in most cases, banks were not able to fulfill even the promise to provide Rs.24000

  • This amounts to a failure on part of banks to manage their liability vis-à-vis the public. The situation is one of a breach of contract with banks failing to provide services to their customers

What constitutes a breach?

Author cites few examples from the past wherein a similar breach of contract happened.

  1. In P.N. Prasad v. Union Bank of India, the verdict was this: “The bank is liable for deficiency in service for inordinate delays in providing banking services and the customer of the bank is entitled to claim compensation for the loss and the injury suffered by him due to the inordinate delay in the payment of the amount of deposit certificate on its premature encashment.”
  2. In a second such dispute, DilipMadhukarKambli v. Nilesh Vasant Borkar and Ors, it was recommended that “the banker is supposed to safeguard the interest of the depositors when his amount is entrusted to the custody of the Bank and the Bank is liable to return the amount with interest… This amounts to deficiency in service by the bank”.
  3. In a third instance, N. Sahadevan v. Manager, Syndicate Bank, the verdict stated: “They (Banks) must be ever vigilant and solicitous about the interests of their customers departure from such standard can cause inconvenience not only to stray individuals but widespread economic disaster. The Banks should therefore be enjoined to maintain their services efficient and above reproach. In view of the above it was held that where the bank caused unexplained delay in the mail transfer of money it amounts to deficiency in service for which bank is bound to compensate.”

Author states that all the above cases amount to breach of contract on the part of banks. By extension, we must ask if the current post-demonetisation experience ought not to be viewed as a breach of contract.


ECONOMY


[1] Rupee slips after Fed’s decision:


 The Hindu

Context

The rupee weakened against the U.S. dollar after the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate, in a widely anticipated move, by 25 basis points.

What has happened?

US Fed reserve has hiked its interest rate by 25 basis points

What it actually means?

US Fed rate hike refers to the raising (hike) of interest rates that the US Fed is willing to provide to the banks of US for lending and borrowing activities. This in turn increases the interest rates of everything else in the US – of government bonds, of bank savings deposits by customers, of consumer loans etc. Similar to how when RBI raises or cuts interest rates in India, it affects the interest rates of our loans and deposits (FDs).

Let us look at this in a little more detail.

The Currency carry trade

Interest rates in US are generally low i.e. around 1 percent or 1.5 per cent while in India they are much higher. So, in such a situation any financial institution does what you and I would do. They borrow funds from US at cheap interest rates and then invest it in emerging economies including India in local currency to earn higher interest. This is termed as Currency carry trade

  • Keep in mind that when you invest your funds in emerging economies you also become a party to local inflation shocks and other factors like government policies which might impact the currency value. So, if inflation rises in India or rupee weakens then you also lose money.
  • In the light of above information, now consider that US Fed Reserve increases its interest rates. Example: US Fed reserve now starts offering an interest rate of 5 per cent while RBI cuts its interest rate to 4 per cent. In this case, all those investors who earlier wanted to invest in India due to high interest rates will now take a flight to US. They start selling their Indian investments, convert the rupee they get into Dollar and take it back to US to invest it there. This results in increased demand for US dollar and a reduced demand for Indian rupee thereby leading to a weaker rupee
  • Thus, whenever US Fed hikes interest rates it makes other emerging economies a less and less attractive investment destination.

Impact on Rupee

The Indian currency slid 40p to close at 67.83 per dollar.


[2] Include real estate sales and electricity charges in GST: CEA


 The Hindu

Context

The sale of land and real estate should be included in the Goods and Services Tax structure, adding that rates should be lower rather than higher as this would help the fight against black money.

Give the article a go through once.


[2] Deferred consumption will spur growth:


 The Hindu

Context

Demonetisation of high-value currency notes will be considered a watershed event in the same manner as the liberalisation of the economy in 1991.

Article presents an interview with Minister of State for Civil Aviation.

Give it a go through once.


Indian Express


 [1] The long-term solution


 Indian Express

Context

Knee-jerk reactions can’t give us cleaner air. A slower, evidence-based approach will

In the first few paragraphs, author has presented us with few measures taken by Supreme Court to reduce pollution in Delhi

  • In 1996, the Supreme Court ordered the closure of hazardous industries in Delhi to reduce pollution instead of forcing them to clean up their act. This led to the unemployment of over a million people directly or indirectly
  • In 2002, the Supreme Court ordered that all buses, taxis and three-wheelers in Delhi should convert their engines to CNG to ensure a clean atmosphere

Author points out that forcing disruptive policies on citizens that affect livelihoods but don’t ensure progressive improvements is bad for governance and makes people more cynical.

Not just a Delhi problem

Author states that the first fact we should recognise is that pollution is not just limited to Delhi. Various cities in India rank close to Delhi, if not worse, as far as levels of pollution are concerned

  • “Drastic” actions centered in Delhi are not going to solve the problem for citizens of India. For example, non-destined trucks are not supposed to enter Delhi. If citizens of Agra, Jaipur, Rohtak, Panipat and Meerut (also very polluted cities) made similar demands, it would become difficult for goods and food to reach Delhi

Hence, there is a need to approach the problem in a more comprehensive manner and set in motion procedures and methods that ensure sensible policymaking over the next five to 10 years for all the cities in the country.

Measures as suggested by the author

  1. Setting up of multidisciplinary centers: Four or five multidisciplinary centers for data gathering, research and policymaking should be set up in academic institutions in the NCR with assured funding for the next five years

Aim:Their job would be

  • To get reliable information about the sources of pollutants and their amounts in the air on a continuing basis, the interaction of various pollutants in the atmosphere
  • An evaluation of technologies needed that will work to reduce pollution from different sources
  • Regulations and taxation/fiscal policies to achieve our aims, and governance systems that can make all this possible

Importance of reliable data

Author states that as per the CPCB and CEEW, the odd-even experiment, which tried to keep 50 per cent of cars off the road, did not make a perceptible difference in atmospheric pollution.

Reason: The lack of availability of accurate data. According to surveys done by CSIR and IIT Delhi, the actual number of personal vehicles on the road are less than 60 per cent of those on the books and cars more than 15 years and between 11-15 years old comprise only 1 per cent and 6 per cent of the total respectively

  1. More attention to tail pipe emissions: Author states that undue attention is being given to tail pipe emissions instead of going forward in a focussed manner.
  • It is known is that diesel engines produce more PM2.5 and less CO2 than petrol or CNG engines. On the other hand, both diesel and CNG engines produce more NOx than petrol engines. It is possible that higher densities of smog are also the result of greater amounts of NOx in the air
  • NOx emitted by CNG engines: But no one has measured the amount of NOx that CNG engines are emitting while in operation. All this has to be carefully measured and then policies made to set emission norms for new vehicles and testing norms for existing vehicles. Arbitrary bans on vehicles that have passed mandated fitness tests and quarterly pollution tests are not only unfair, but give us a bad reputation internationally.
  • Setting emission standards: The only way to control emissions is to set emission standards that debar unwanted vehicles automatically irrespective of the fuel used. The Government of India has mandated Euro 6 norms for vehicle emissions starting in 2020. That will do more for reducing tailpipe emissions than anything else.
  1. Annual pollution tax: Author states that a city will take about a decade to change its behavior patterns so expecting that people will suddenly start walking or cycling or using public transport, is a folly. Instead we can start with an annual pollution tax of Rs 10 per cc of engine size for all vehicles, a parking fee of Rs 100 per day in all offices and banning free parking on government property.
  2. Reducing car pollution:To reduce emissions from car use, we will have to rethink the construction of elevated roads in the city as they double the pollution at that location.
  • Signal-free roads: We will also have to redesign signal-free roads and blocked right turns which force people to drive an extra 30-40 per cent to their destinations
  • Malls vs neighborhood shops: In the long term, we will have to think of the role of shopping malls versus neighbourhood shops as the former encourage car use, resulting in more pollution and accidents
  1. Inducing social activity: Author states that despite good footpaths and bicycle lanes, a precondition to encourage people to walk and bicycle, in Lutyens and Chandigarh, one hardly sees them crowded with pedestrians.

Reason

  • Sterile environment: Author attributes it to a sterile environment and points out that all that pedestrians can see are high boundary walls and barbed wire fences. The architecture of buildings is not visible; there are no shops, restaurants, kiosks, offices or human activity to make their walk pleasant and interesting. There are no places to sit or loiter with friends or socialise with acquaintances. Unless we allow a great deal of social activity along our urban streets, walking will not be a preferred option
  • All the city neighbourhoods in the world, where you see a large number of people walking by choice, have these characteristics with business activity on the ground floor and the presence of kiosks and street vendors along the foot paths.

Conclusion

Author states that all these changes will take time but are the only ways forward that ensure a cleaner future for all times to come

Read More: Euro 6 emission norms


Live Mint


[1] Launching New Delhi-Jakarta bilateral ties anew


 Live Mint

Context

Joko Widodo’s visit has marked another step in India’s ‘Act East’policy of encouraging greater engagement with South-East Asia.

Give it a go through once.


[2] Our failed education policy needs urgent reform


 Live Mint

Context

Author states that the single most important reform which the present government must take in the remaining half of its tenure is the need to reform our failed education policy. In this article he has explained why that is so.

Challenges facing Indian Economy

Author points out two long term and comprehensive challenges facing Indian economy

  1. Rapidly deteriorating environment, including the scarcity of fresh water
  2. Unemployment or, more accurately, underemployment

Failure of education policy

Author states that the limiting factor in the growth of high-productivity employment is the failure of India’s education policy

  • Lack of skill training: Only a small proportion of the workforce has the educational foundation required for skilled high-productivity jobs. Barely 5% of the workforce in India has had any skill training. Only 2% have any formal skill certificate compared to over 70% in advanced European countries like the UK or Germany, and as much as 80% to 90% in East Asian countries like Japan and South Korea

Addressing the skill deficit

Author points out that present government has launched a National Policy on Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015 to address India’s enormous skill deficit. Several programmes have been launched under this policy.

  • Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY): It aims to train roughly 400 million workers in the 15-45 age group over seven years

A low success ratio

Author states that as per a report submitted by the government to a parliamentary standing committee,

  • Out of the 1.76 million candidates trained under the PMKVY till 25 April, only 580,000 could be certified as having successfully completed the training. Less than 82,000 were actually placed in jobs.

Why is success rate so low?

No skill development programme, however well designed, can succeed without an underlying foundation of basic education.

Poor performance vis-à-vis Asian neighbors

Author states that India’s poor performance stands out when compared to that of some of our Asian neighbours and other emerging market economies.

  • Universal primary education: India is finally approaching the goal of universal primary education, more than a hundred years after it was originally mooted in the famous “Gokhale’s Bill” of 1911. China had achieved this goal by the 1970s. South Korea achieved it even earlier, by the 1960s, and had more or less achieved universal secondary education by the 1970s.

Worrying stats: Neglecting primary education

As of 2012, over 26% of India’s population was still illiterate compared to 5% in South Africa, 4% in China and only 2% in Turkey. About 50% of India’s population had only primary education or less, compared to 38% in China, 24% in South Africa, and only 20% in Turkey.

Tertiary education status

Country Population Percentage
India 13%
South Africa 14%
China 10%
Turkey 15%

 

What is tertiary education?

More commonly referred to as postsecondary education, refers to academic pursuit undertaken after high school like degree, diplomas etc.

Elitist bias

Above information clearly shows a top heavy education profile in India with an elitist bias of Indian education policy resulting in negligence of basic education wherein half the population is still crowded at the bottom, either illiterate or with only primary education

Poor performance in various reports and international markers

 2015 Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)

Author states that even these statistics do not fully reflect the depth of India’s education policy failure. For that, we have to look at the shocking learning outcomes reported in the 2015 Annual Status of Education Report.

  • 52% of class V students could not read a simple text meant for class II students
  • Similarly, about 50% of class V students could not do a simple subtraction meant for class II students

Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study test

In 2008, 6,000 students from Odisha and Rajasthan participated in the well-known global Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study test for mathematics and science. They were ranked 43rd and 47th out of 49.

  • Their average performance was three standard deviations below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average

Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test

In 2009, students from Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, educationally two of India’s best-performing states, took the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test conducted by the OECD. The two states were at the bottom, ranked 72nd and 73rd out of 74.

  • The average standard of the Indian students was comparable to that of the bottom fifth percentile of OECD students

After presenting us with a dismal picture of India’s education policy, author asks,

Why has India’s school education policy been so ineffective?

Here are his reasons,

  • Focus on inputs: Education policy in India is focused on inputs rather than learning outcomes, which is what matters
  • Elitist bias: Education policy has a strong elitist bias in favour of higher education as opposed to primary or secondary education. Among Asian countries, the ratio of per student public expenditure in tertiary relative to primary education is less than four in Malaysia, two in Indonesia and one in Thailand and Korea. In India, it is over nine
  • Distorted incentive structure for teachers: The incentive structure for government school teachers is highly distorted, virtually guaranteeing poor performance
    • Salaries are three times that of China: Teacher salaries in government schools are relatively high in India at three times per capita income compared to China, where it is about the same as per capita income
    • Lifetime employment guarantee: Teachers are guaranteed lifetime employment as public servants regardless of performance
    • No accountability:They have no accountability to students and their parents. Their only limited accountability is to the education department bureaucracy. Teachers are rarely reprimanded for non-performance, let alone fired
    • High absenteeism is routine, around 25% according to some surveys. Even when present in schools, teachers often engage in activities other than teaching.
    • Learning outcomes in private vs public schools: Learning outcomes are also generally better in private schools where average teacher salaries and costs per student are less. The student share of private schools is already over a third and rising fast even though private schools have fees while government schools are free

Impact of failure of India’s education policy

Author states that failure of India’s education policy has far-reaching consequences

  • Unemployable workforce: Given the fragile foundation of basic education, the large majority of our workforce cannot be trained for highskill, high-productivity jobs
  • Jobs in organized sector: The 2016 “India Employment Report (IER)” estimates that India needs to employ an additional 16 million persons every year in properly paid productive jobs. But the IER also points out that only five million of the incremental jobs could be for high-skilled work. Given the low education profile of the presently underemployed workers, they would mostly have to be employed in low- or medium-skill jobs, but would be better paid in the organized sector than in the unorganized sector.
    • Unfortunately, neither is the demand for such workers growing fast enough, nor is the supply of such suitably skilled workers who can move from the unorganized to the organized sector

Conclusion

Author concludes by stating that due to impending elections and other political factors, education reforms seems to have taken a backstage at the moment, which is why building a discourse around for long-term goals like education reform should remain high on the agenda of an informed public.


 

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