Mains Marathon

Answered: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – December 20

1.Education policy in India is focused on inputs rather than learning outcomes, which is what matters. Why has India’s school education policy been so ineffective? Critically examine. (GS 1)

भारत में शिक्षा नीति सीखने पर नहीं, परिणामों पर केंद्रित है।  भारत की शिक्षा नीति क्यों अप्रभावी है? गंभीर रूप से जांच करें।

Suggested Answer:

Education of our children has been one of the priority areas ever since the foundation of this nation was laid. It started with agitations to promote oriental education in mother tongue and has continued through directing state to provide for education (Directive Principles of State policy) during constitution making and RTE Act in recent times. Yet, as of 2012, over 26% of India’s population was still illiterate and about 50% of India’s population had only primary education or less. Many factors are responsible for this failure of our policy-

  • Lack of infrastructure-
    Poor infrastructure of educational institutions affects quality of learning. This is especially true for government schools and schools running in rural areas. Also, schools either do not have or do not use technological aids for teaching.
  • Poor performance of teachers-
    The performance of teachers has been below par, especially in government schools. Distorted incentive structure including security of tenure, good pay, no action for poor results of class or in cases of absenteeism etc result in absence of motivation. Private schools’ teachers perform better but these schools are usually for children from well off families.
    Parallel education systems providing coaching for all exams have further enhanced the inequity between the rich and poor.
  • Lack of focus on primary and secondary education-
    Low investment in primary and secondary education has created a rot in the system. In the 2015 Annual Status of Education Report (Aser), about 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. And these outcomes have shown no improvement over successive Aser surveys.
  • Lacunae in RTE Act-
    No Detention Policy (NDP) introduced under Right To Education Act (RTE) 2010, was formulated to combat high dropout rates. But it has actually decreased the quality of education & assessment as the students reach the next level of school grossly underprepared.
  • Lopsided policies-
    • o Education policies are not child centric. They do not focus on individual abilities of the child but rather prescribe a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
    • o Our national policies carry a bias towards higher education, neglecting the primary and secondary education.
    • o The focus is more on inputs like creating schools, recruiting and training teachers rather than learning outcomes or curriculum.
    • o The allocation to the education sector is a meager 3% of GDP as compared to the required 5-6%
  • Gender bias-
    We see a decline in enrollment ratio when it comes to girls with more girls than boys dropping out in higher classes.

Despite so many negatives, Indian education policy has also resulted in positives like-

  • Increase in gross enrollment ratio in primary, secondary and higher education in both boys and girls.
  • Increase in literacy ratio of the country.
  • Establishment of schools even in remote corners of the country.
  • Programs like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan have helped raise awareness about importance of education and have helped fight gender bias in the field.

Way forward-

  • Increase budgetary allocation to education sector
  • Plus the loopholes in the existing policies and formulate a long term, coherent and child centric education policy
  • “Carrot and Stick” approach – Provide incentives to teachers for improving performance and take appropriate disciplinary action for dereliction of duty.
  • Leverage technology for imparting education.
  • Revise curriculum and pedagogies of teaching- not just for teaching children but also for training teachers.
  • Develop a holistic monitoring and assessment program to judge children and teachers’ performance.
  • Fight cultural biases against girl child.
  • Attract talent towards the field of teaching by providing good incentives.

Investing in human capital is more important that investing in financial capital. It is our duty to properly educate and mould our children for they are the future of this nation.

2.In the context of the recent visit of Indonesian president Joko Widodo to India, discuss how far it would mark a new step in India’s “Act East” policy. (GS 2)

इंडोनेशिया के राष्ट्रपति जोको विडोड़ो का भारत में हाल ही की यात्रा के संदर्भ में चर्चा करें की, कितनी दूर यह भारत की ‘एक्ट ईस्ट’ नीति में एक नया कदम साबित होगा।

Suggested Answer:

India’s Act east policy, formulated in 2014, focuses on its extended neighbourhood in the Asia-Pacific region. The policy’s main objective is to promote economic cooperation, cultural ties and develop strategic relation with countries in this region through continuous engagement at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. Recent visit of Indonesian President is another step towards achieving the objectives of the Policy in following ways:

  • Economic aspect-
    Indonesia is the second largest trading partner in ASEAN as well as major source of palm oil and coal for India. Widodo’s visit would help give a major boost to the trade and investment ties by focusing on the areas of oil and gas, renewable energy, information technology and pharmaceuticals. It is expected that bilateral trade between the two may grow to $60 billion over the next decade. India can also get significant benefits through ASEAN Free trade agreement and RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership).
  • Strategic/Security aspect-
    The visit will give a boost to the strategic ties between the nations. India and Indonesia have already signed a strategic partnership agreement in 2005 that started an annual strategic dialogue. The two have also signed an extradition treaty and a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. The two countries can help play a stabilizing role in Asia-Pacific region, especially at a time when China is involved in border and maritime disputes with its neighbour and is looking for expanding its influence in Indian Ocean. And with the US becoming non committal towards its role in this region, it will be helpful to build stronger ties so as to reduce their dependence on powers outside Asia.
    The two nations can also play an important role in combating terrorism, especially when international groups like ISIS are seeking to expand their influence. The two countries stand together in fight against terrorism and Indonesia has publicly supported India’s stand to Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar be designated a global terrorist
  • Cultural aspect-
    Both countries share common heritage of Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. Both Countries stand for multi-culturalism, pluralism, tolerance and empowered democracy. Indonesia and India can also provide complementary models for the coexistence of religious minorities with majoritarian communities in Asia based on their own traditions of coexistence.
    There is also a lot of scope for boosting tourism and people-to-people ties in both the countries as we share a common heritage.
  • Other aspects-
    Security of Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific communication lines, UNSC reform and piracy are some of the major issues where Indonesia can play major role and help in furthering India’s Act east policy.

Despite being neighbours with shared cultural and historical links, the two nations had been distant in many ways. But Widodo’s visit has provided an opportunity to not just reconnect but also to boost ties between the two nations. This visit has not only marked another step in India’s “Act East” policy of encouraging greater engagement with, and integration between, India and South-East Asia but has also signaled that the two large democracies in Asia are growing closer.

3.“Excess of liberty, whether it lies in state or individuals, seems only to pass into excess of slavery”. Critically examine this statement.  (GS 4)

“अतिरिक्त स्वतंत्रता, चाहे वह राज्य या व्यक्तियों में निहित है, अतिरिक्त गुलामी में पारित होने लगती है”। गंभीर रूप से जांच करें।

Suggested Answer:

Liberty is freedom of choice and slavery is the absence of it due to control on individuals. The slogan of liberty started from French revolution and has become hallmark of modern democracy. Liberty helps citizens express themselves. It helps the citizens/slaves fight against oppression. Its importance is underscored by the fact that many democracies, including India, provide it as a basic (fundamental) right to its citizens. India has even mentioned it as the purpose of its constitution (in Preamble).
But excess of liberty seems to result in excess of slavery. There’s a very famous couplet (Doha) that translates as-
“Excess talking is bad, as is excess silence. Excess rain is bad, as is excess sunshine”. In any social setup rights of one depends on duty of others. Hence excess of liberty would come at the cost of rights of others and duty of one self. This may create problems of control and dependency and create slavery like situation. For example-

  • Green revolution encouraged tube irrigation resulting in excessive ground water recharge. This deteriorated soil health and made farmers dependent on fertilizers. Excessive agricultural rights and abdication of environmental duties lead to modern form of slavery and dependence.
  • If individuals are given complete liberty to inject anything into their bodies without any repercussions, it would make a large section of people dependent on addictive substances.
  • If the state takes complete liberty of formulating policies and laws without considering the ground realities and the will of people, it will result in extreme hardships in the form of violation of rights, displacement, suicides etc. This in turn would make the affected people dependent on government/other citizens for their survival.

Liberty is important for establishing a free and progressive society. But Liberty has to be balanced with tolerance and awareness of duties (like our Fundamental Rights are balanced by Fundamental Duties). If there are no restrictions on the liberties and rights of citizens, there will be chaos and unlawfulness. According to Deen Dayal Upadhaya, if every person and state performs their duties with diligence, there will be no conflict over rights and hence no one will be enslaved by other person. Hence, there should be reasonable restrictions on the liberty. Anything in excess, whether it is sugar or salt in food or it is leisure or work, is always counterproductive.


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