Mains Marathon

Answered: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – January 23

Mains Marathon

Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – January 23

Read the following questions and answer them by clicking on the links in not more than 200 words

Time: 30 Minutes

Kindly review each others answers.

For people going to office: You can write answers and submit in morning itself with a fresh mind, instead of waiting till night. Also, review each others answers. Peer review helps ?

1.“There is a crisis in higher education in India which runs deep. The quality of most higher education institutions in India is abysmal.” Critically examine this statement. (GS 2)

“भारत में उच्च शिक्षा का क्षेत्र संकट मे है। भारत में उच्च शिक्षा संस्थानों की गुणवत्ता बेहद कमज़ोर है।” गंभीर रूप से इस बयान की जांच करें।

Indian Express | Link

2.What is Jallikattu? Why did the Supreme Court ban Jallikattu? (GS 2)

जल्लीकट्टू क्या है? सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने क्यों जल्लीकट्टू पर प्रतिबंध लगाई थी?

The Hindu

3.Analyze the concept of secularism in the Indian context. (GS 4)

भारतीय संदर्भ में धर्मनिरपेक्षता की अवधारणा का विश्लेषण करें।


Daily Editorials for UPSC IAS Exam Preparation

Daily Editorial – Ranking Systems and Performance of Higher Education Institutes in India


  • Ranking systems and performance of higher education Institutes in India
  1. Status of higher education in India
  2. Global Ranking systems
  3. Performance of higher education institutes in India
  4. Criticisms of global ranking systems
  5. Some reasons of low performance
  6. Why ranking has become important
  7. Some Government initiatives
  8. Criticisms of NIRF
  9. Solutions

Click here to Download Daily Editorial PDF (6th Dec. 2016)

Status of higher education in India

  • Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education (HE) in India is under 25 per cent.
  • India has a massive HE system that turns out close to 8-10 million graduates.
  • There are over 50,000 institutions coming under some 800 universities.
  • These institutions are employing over 1.5 million teachers.

Global Ranking systems

There are now three ranking systems. The oldest one is Academic Ranking of World Universities, popularly known as Shanghai rankings because it was started by Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2003. It is updated biannually.

The Times Higher Education (THE) World Education Ranking started in 2004 in collaboration with Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). In 2010 QS went its own way with its own ranking methodology whose citation data base is provided by Thomson Reuters.

Performance of higher education institutes in India

  • Even our Centrally funded elite institutions like the IITs were not doing well in any of the accepted global ranking schemes such QS World University Rankings, Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Shanghai (ARWU) Ranking, etc
  • India’s highest ranked institution IISc Bangalore dropped out of the top 150 to be ranked at 152nd this year, down from 147 last year.
  • In the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016-17, not a single Indian educational institution figured in the coveted top 200 list.
  • India has 19 institutes in the top 800, two more than last year, and 12 others between 801 and 980.
  • While Indian educational institutes could only occupy 16 places among top 200 universities in Times Higher Education BRICS and Emerging Economies rankings for 2016.
  • China, on the other hand, has five institutes among top 10 followed by two from South Africa, and one each from Taiwan, Brazil and Russia.
  • At 16th place, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore is the only Indian institute to feature in the top 20.

Criticisms of global ranking systems

  • The three ranking systems provide different results because criteria used as well as their relative weights differ.
  • Many of the criteria are subjective and dependent on views of stakeholders sampled.
  • With different stakeholders, the results could be very different.
  • To be ranked, universities have to continually fill up numerous surveys from the three ranking organisations.
  • Reliability of self-reporting becomes doubtful, as there are considerable economic and reputational consequences in front of institutes.
  • Ranking system does not consider how good or relevant teaching quality is.

Some reasons of low performance

  • India spends less than 0.88% of its GDP on science research, compared with 2.76% for the United States and 4.04% for South Korea.
  • Zero emphasis on improving teaching and research
  • Indian institutes lacking international standard facilities with respect to research aspect
  • Teacher-student ratio in India seems poor
  • There is “lack of quality” in the India education system.
  • Indian universities are struggling to provide both the quantity of quality faculty members necessary to meet rapidly-increasing student demand.
  • Overall, in IITs nearly 30% of faculty positions cannot be filled because of lack of quality staff.
  • Lesser numbers of PhD qualified researchers from abroad serving in Indian institutes
  • Lesser number of publications is another concern.

Why ranking has become important

  • University rankings have become an important tool to attract high-quality staff, good students and serious funding.
  • For administrators, politicians, government officials, funding agencies and media, rankings are important.
  • Providing regular global rankings data have become a fiercely competitive, lucrative and booming market.

Some Government initiatives


Project Vishwajeet is the mission of HRD Ministry to fast forward 7 IITs into top global academic rankings.

It involves Setting up of laboratories with international facility

National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)

  • Recently, MHRD announced a National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) to assign ranks to institutions of higher education and research (HE&R) in the country.
  • There are separate rankings for different types of institutions depending on their areas of operation.
  • The Framework uses several parameters for ranking purposes like resources, research, and stakeholder perception.
  • The ranking system is expected to promote excellence in education in a competitive environment.
  • Of the top 25 “Engineering Institutions” and “Universities” each, about three-fourths are centrally funded institutions, and the rest divided equally between private and State institutions.

Criticisms of NIRF

  • NIRF exercise was carried out largely by members from the Central government institutions, while there was not much for the 90 per cent of the institutions that belong to the State system.
  • There are huge resource/funding gap between the central and state universities.
  • Here State-level institutions are only going to be going down further in comparison with the Central and private universities.
  • This would simply demoralize them as against motivating and encouraging them to do better.
  • Thus common ranking across Central and private institutions on the one hand and State-level institutions on the other does not make much sense in our country.


  • Performance index values for an institution should be normalized with respect to the investments and resources that have gone into that institution.
  • Alternatively, the present NIRF scheme could be retained for Central and private autonomous institutions, and another suitable scheme should be evolved for the State-level institutions.
  • Any State-level institution should also be free to join the elite ranking scheme additionally if it so chooses.

Reforms required in higher education ; Choice based Credit System

Higher Education  paves the path for growth and is a generator of ultimate knowledge and innovation. India’s Higher education sector should come in pace with global standards benchmarks

Rising costs of higher education and the changing profile of education seekers, aided by technological innovation are leading to the creation of alternative models of knowledge dispensation. Central universities have the responsibility to lead the transformative processes of India’s higher education system.

Reforms that need to be brought in are : –

(1) Steps to create an eco-system for research and innovation : – The recently launched Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya National Mission on Teachers and Teaching will set performance standards and create world-class facilities for innovative teaching. There should be an increased stress on publication and research papers which will help in improving quality by leaps and bounds.

(2) Capacity development of faculty, alumni participation and use of technology.

(3) Deepen engagement of Central Universities with community and address the growing disparity between cities and villages. Increase capacity and intake in the higher educational institutions. In many fields we are stagnating like pure sciences. Increasing attention needs to be paid to that now.

(4) Creating international and national networks for quality education : – Under Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN), the HRD Ministry has asked Central Universities for a list of eminent scholars and researchers for inviting them as guest speakers or scholars. An e-platform needs to be developed to facilitate scholars from within and outside the country to log in their details. It shall, in due course, lead to creation of a robust database of global experts for the Indian higher education system. There will be constraint for resources. But a balance needs to achieved between international and domestic resources. Young academicians within the nation should be encouraged.

(5) A blended Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) strategy and SWAYAM (Study Web of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds) could pave the way for speed, scale and efficiency for teaching in the higher education system.

(6) Central Universities must establish Innovation clubs , Inspired Teachers’ Network, and Industry-interface cells within the stipulated time.

(7) In addition to international rankings, the universities should attempt ratings on a National Ranking Framework which needs to be expeditiously developed

(7) Adoption of Choice Based Credit System.

CBCS provides choice for students to select from the prescribed courses.  The credit based semester system provides flexibility in designing curriculum and assigning credits based on the course content and hours of teaching. The choice based credit system provides a ‘cafeteria’ type approach in which the students can take courses of their choice, learn at their own pace, undergo additional courses and acquire more than the required credits, and adopt an interdisciplinary approach to learning. Mobility should be provided to students. If they want to transfer from Institute A to B, his credits should also be transferred.

Choice Based Credit System must be implemented from the academic year 2015-16 in all Central Universities. Each Central university will set up a Community Development Cell which will identify at least 5 villages in its vicinity for adoption as model villages by the university.

Prerequisites for CBCS : – Besides introduction of semester system, restructuring of syllabi in the form of modules, standardisation of examinations and switching over from numerical marking system from grading system are among the prerequisites for the introduction of the choice-based credit system.

Problems : – normal tendency is to move from not so well known institution to better ones. Peripheral universities might be sidelined and it will also create institutional pressure and infrastructural bottlenecks to the target institute/university.

Hurried implementation of drastic restructuring without rigorous academic scrutiny will fail the responsibility that the university has towards students.

(8) Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) should be implemented properly. It addressed the overall quality of existing State higher educational institutions. Improve it by ensuring their conformity to prescribed norms and standards and adoption of accreditation as a mandatory quality assurance framework. Certain academic, administrative and governance reforms are a precondition for receiving funding under RUSA. Under RUSA, participating States are permitted to mobilize 50% of the State contribution of funding through Public-Private Partnerships, Corporate Social Responsibility funds, philanthropic contributions etc.

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