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Mains Marathon

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

Categories
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।


 

Categories
9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – 20 January



  • Front Page / NATIONAL[The Hindu]
  1. Milestone in cryogenic engine test paves way for GSLV-MkIII
  2. Proximity rule unconstitutional, unfair to minorities: HC
  3. As jallikattu protests snowball, TN to shut down
  4. ‘Church courts’ cannot veto divorce law, says Supreme Court
  • Editorial/OPINION [The Hindu]
  1. The limits to popular sentiment
  2. Rebooting disinvestment
  3. Safe childhoods for a safe India
  4. Reopening old wounds
  • ECONOMY [The Hindu]
  1. Airlines yet to collect regional connectivity scheme cess
  • Indian Express
  1. Resolution That Isn’t
  2. A new class act
  3. Jallikattu questions
  • Live Mint
  1. Startup India’s flaws are beginning to tell
  2. Growth deficit and the fiscal deficit

Click here to Download 9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief PDF (20th Jan. 20174)

Front Page / NATIONAL[The Hindu]


Milestone in cryogenic engine test paves way for GSLV-MkIII


The Hindu

 

Context

A milestone crossed in the making of a new cryogenic rocket engine set the stage for the first flight of the country’s most powerful satellite launcher to date, the GSLV-Mark III

 

What has happened?

The indigenously developed cryogenic engine CE20 has passed the High altitude flight acceptance testlasting about 25 seconds at Mahendragiri in mid-December

  • GSLV-Mk III’s first two stages namely the solid-fuelled S200 and the liquid-fuelled L110 stages that have qualified all tests are in Sriharikota

 

Future course

ISRO will launch satellite GSAT19, with launch vehicle GSLV-Mk III powered by indigenously developed cryogenic engine CE20

 

Significance of Mk III

MkIII, when it completes trials and commences functioning in the coming years, will double ISRO’s lifting power for communications satellites to 4,000 kilos

 

Next test: 3rd stage

In a few days from now, the rocket’s complete cryogenic third stage, replete with fuel tanks and systems built around the engine, will undergo its qualifying test

 

Note: The cryogenic upper stage is named as CE25 and it will be powered by cryogenic engine which is named as CE20. Don’t get confused here.


Proximity rule unconstitutional, unfair to minorities: HC


The Hindu

 

Context

Court says it is inclined to grant a stay on government’s notification in favour of minority schools

 

What has happened?

The Delhi High Court has termed “unconstitutional” the AAP government’s guidelines to minority unaided schools to grant admission to minority community students only from the neighbourhood or from within a radius of 1 km

What has SC said?

SC Bench hearing the matter asked,

  • How can you tell the minority schools to admit minority students from within one km? How can you interfere in their operations. It is against the settled principle of law as per Article 13 of the Constitution?
  • How can you say you are not interfering? Can you tell St. Stephen’s college to admit minority students from the neighbourhood? Can you say that the settled law is applicable only to professional colleges and not kindergarten?
  • This is against the basic structure of the Constitution. The law and the Supreme Court judgments that gave authority to minority institutions was to ensure that the minorities do not feel alienated

 

Backdrop

The court was hearing petitions filed by Mount Carmel School and Somerville School against the government notification that the private schools on government land will have to compulsorily admit students from within one km radius

 


As jallikattu protests snowball, TN to shut down


The Hindu

 

Context

Chennai getting ready for dawn-to-dusk bandh on Friday; holiday declared by schools in Chennai, south Tamil Nadu; agitators vent their ire on Modi, Panneerselvam; politicians kept out of uprising driven by social media.

 

Issue covered later on in the editorial section

 


‘Church courts’ cannot veto divorce law, says Supreme Court


The Hindu

 

Context

Disposes of plea seeking recognition of Canon law as the personal law of Indian Catholics

 

What is canon law?

Canon law is the body of laws and regulations made by Church leadership, for the government of a Christian organization or church and its members

 

What has happened?

SC, referring to its 1996 judgement, has ruled that Canon law and decrees of divorce given by ecclesiastical tribunals or ‘Church Courts’ cannot veto the statutory law of divorce

 

Backdrop

SC bench was hearing a 2013 petitionseeking a judicial declaration that divorce decrees passed by ecclesiastical tribunals are valid and binding

 

1996 verdict

The Supreme Court referred to its 1996 judgment in the case of Molly Joseph versus George Sebastian upholding the binding nature of the Indian Divorce Act of 1869, which governs divorce among Christians.

  • In Molly’s case, the court said the implication of the Canon law is confined to either theological or ecclesiastical, but has no legal impact on the divorce or annulment of marriage between two persons professing the Christian religion

 

Triple Talaq argument

  • Petitioner’s argument
    • In his petition, the petitioner had argued that when courts can recognise dissolution by triple talaq under the Mohammedan personal law, they should also recognise the Canon law as the personal law of Indian Catholics
    • The petition had challenged why courts prosecute Roman Catholics under Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code for the alleged offence of bigamy without considering the Canon law. Further, it added that even “ministers of the church who blessed the nuptials of the second marriage run the risk of being prosecuted for abetment.”
    • Petition said “The Canon law enjoins that Catholics are required to marry in a Catholic church and equally enjoins that they seek nullity in the canonical court (ecclesiastical court/ tribunal) also under the Code of Canon Law. Otherwise, the marriage and the dissolution will not be recognised by the Catholic Church”
    • Pending nullity applications: About 1,000 applications in Mumbai and about 100 in Mangaluruincluding Kolkata and Chennai, for a declaration of nullity were pending before ecclesiastical tribunals in the country, the petitioner pointed out.


Editorial/OPINION [The Hindu]



The Hindu

 

Context

Tamil Nadu is caught in a near-spontaneous mass upsurge in support of jallikattu, the bull-taming spectacle held during the time of the harvest festival of Pongal

 

What is Jallikattu?

It is a bull-taming sport held during the time of harvest festival of Pongal

 

A complete timeline

Jallikattu has been at the receiving end of court orders for over a decade now. Here is a timeline of all the legal troubles that have befallen Jallikattu over the years:

 

29 March 2006

  • The first ban against Jallikattu came in 2006 in the form of a judgement of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court
  • Advocate L ShajiChellan had filed a writ petition with the court seeking permission to conduct a rekla (bullock cart) race in Thaniankootam in Ramanathapuram district. After hearing the case, Justice R Banumathi (presently a Supreme Court judge) expanded the scope of the judgement and banned rekla, oxen races and Jallikattu, citing the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCAA)

 

21 July 2009

The Government of Tamil Nadu passed the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act (TNRJA). The Act set some conditions for holding Jallikattu, mainly allowing it with the written permission of the District Collector, between January and May of any year and with the condition that it must have taken place for at least five years.

 

27 November 2010

  • SC permits Jallikattu: The Supreme Court permitted Jallikattu under the provisions of the state law alluded to earlier, for a period of five months starting 15 January of any year
  • Register the animals: The court further stated that all participating animals were to be registered with the Animal Welfare Board, who would also send representatives to monitor the events.

 

11 July 2011

MoEF bans Jallikattu: The Ministry of Environment and Forests banned the use of bulls as performing animals. The scope of this ban extended to Jallikattu and other animal races across the country.

 

7 May 2014

  • SC bans Jallikattu: The Supreme Court struck down the TNRJA, banning the sport altogether. It further asked the Government of India to amend the PCAA to bring bulls within its jurisdiction
  • SC cites cruelty as a reason: The court justified the ruling by saying cruelty was ‘inherent’ in these sports, the bulls were not ‘anatomically suited’ for such events, and their participation would cause pain and suffering

 

7 January 2016

  • MoEFCC allows Jallikattu: The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change amended its 2011 notification, allowing Jallikattu and bullock cart races across Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat with specific conditions
  • DC’s permission required: The Collector’s permission was required and proper racing tracks provided, and bulls had to be tamed in Jallikattu within a radial distance of 15m

 

26 July 2016

SC bans Jallikattu once again: The Supreme Court, playing spoilsport again, overturned the government decision and once again banned Jallikattu and other related animal races.

 

Source: Above timeline has been sourced from here

 

What has happened now?

Mass protests have erupted in Chennai in support of Jallikattu demanding that centre and Tamil Nadu government take legal steps to hold Jallikattu

 

Twisting the original

Author states that Jallikattu in its present form is of relatively recent origin, intended to make bulls run wild for the sake of spectacle. Instead of the traditional form of one man against one animal, latter-day Jallikattu is a mass-participant ritual of hundreds of men chasing a bull and trying to hold on to its hump or stop it by pulling at or twisting its tail

 

Author’s contention

Author points out that SC banned Jallikattu after attempts at its regulation and orderly conduct failed

 

Risking judicial reproach

Efforts that are now on to nullify the effect of the Supreme Court judgment through the ordinance route thus carry a serious risk of judicial reproach

  • Executive notification: Last year, the Centre did try to get around the court order by issuing an executive notification that granted exemption from restrictions on the use of bulls as performing animals in traditional sports

 

Author suggests

  • Persuade SC:The proper course for the Centre and the State government is to persuade the Supreme Court that a jallikattu that does not involve, or at least almost eliminates, cruelty to animals and that guarantees the safety of spectators and participants alike is indeed possible
  • It is all right if popular sentiment can influence legislation, but it cannot undermine the rule of law

 


Rebooting disinvestment


The Hindu

 

Context

That it took 11 months for a Budget announcement to secure ‘in-principle’ Cabinet approval is symptomatic of the lethargy in the disinvestment program

 

What is disinvestment or divestment or divestiture?

Disinvestment is a process whereby the Government withdraws a portion or the total of its equity in Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs)

 

Backdrop

25 per cent divestment: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved, in principle, the listing of five public sector general insurance companies on the stock markets, with a plan to divest 25% of the Centre’s stake in each of them over time. Companies listed for disinvestment are,

  • The New India Assurance Company
  • United India Insurance Company
  • Oriental Insurance Company
  • National Insurance Company
  • General Insurance Corporation of India

 

Target for disinvestment

The government has set itself a target of ₹56,500 crore to be earned through disinvestments in this financial year, out of which it has so far earned ₹21,432.38 crore, according to data from the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management

 

Why this decision to divest?

Author provides us with a possible explanation as to why government might have took this decision,

  • Dip in profits despite rise in revenue: In 2016, the gross premium income of four of these companies — New India Assurance, United India Insurance, Oriental Insurance and National Insurance — increased by over 12%. But their profits after tax fell by more than half from a year earlier, from ₹3,094 crore in 2014-15 to just ₹1,499 crore in 2015-16
  • High underwriting losses, which increased 55% in the year, were largely responsible for profits falling at these firms even as revenues rose

 

What is meant by underwriting losses?

Underwriting income is the difference between premiums collected on insurance policies by the insurer, and expenses incurred and claims paid out

  • Huge claims and disproportionate expenses may result in an underwriting loss, rather than income, for the insurer

 

  • Greater accountability: Public shareholding despite such poor performance questions government’s intent on ensuring transparency and accountability
  • Room for more capital: Present decision will allow the firms, including General Insurance Corporation of India, to raise more capital from the markets instead of relying on taxpayer money alone
    • For instance, India’s ₹1,500-crore nuclear liability insurance pool created by GIC with other insurers perhaps needs more muscle to create confidence among wary nuclear suppliers

 


Safe childhoods for a safe India


The Hindu

 

Context

Though belated, the decision to ratify two key ILO conventions on child labour makes clear India’s intent of zero tolerance for the exploitation of children

 

What has happened?

  • Ratification of ILO conventions by India: The Government of India finally decided last week to ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour and Convention 138 on Minimum Age of Employment

 

Child labor: A malaise

About 4.3 million children wake up to a day of labour and not school. Another 9.8 million are officially out-of-school

 

Impact of child labor

  • Illiteracy & poverty: Child labour perpetuates illiteracy and poverty
  • Organised crime: It is the root cause of organised crimes such as human trafficking, terror and drug mafia

 

Clearing the hurdles

The main bottleneck in the way of India ratifying Conventions 182 and 138 was,

  • Addressing forced or compulsory recruitment of children
  • Raising the age limit to 18 years: Appropriately raising the age of employment in hazardous occupations from 14 to 18 years. Consequent to the passing of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2016 by the Indian Parliament prohibiting the employment of children up to 14 years of age, and children up to 18 years of age in hazardous occupations, it was imperative that India ratified Conventions 182 and 138

 

Convention 182

ILO convention 182 on prohibition of worst form of child labour deals with organized crimes such as human trafficking, drug mafia, debt-bondage, child prostitution which are rampant in South Asian countries especially in India as per UNICEF Report. The ratification will bring focus and specific provision to curb these issues to reduce child abuse and criminal activities
Convention 138

ILO convention 138 on minimum age of employment fixesthe age to 18 years so no child below 18 year age can be employed in any form of employment

 

Government’s agenda under the conventions

Under the provisions of the ILO Conventions 182 and 138,

  • India will not adhere to a fixed deadline by which the worst forms of child labour must be eliminated. It will ultimately depend on the level of moral courage, public concern, social empathy, political will and the implementation of resources invested in the development and protection of children
  • Taking immediate steps: The government will take immediate and effective measures to prohibit and eliminate the worst forms of child labour: child slavery (including the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage, and forced recruitment for armed conflict), child prostitution and their use in pornography, use of children for illicit activities such as drug trafficking, and exposure to any hazardous work which is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children

 

Significance of the ratification

  • Signals intent: The ratification clearly signals India’s intent that it will no longer tolerate the exploitation of children
  • Immediate steps: Government and policy makers have a clear cut agenda under the international conventions which will fasten the decision making process regarding child welfare
  • Protecting the children: As per ILO convention the age limit to work in hazardous circumstances had to be raised to 18 years by an amendment in the law. A large proportion of children have thus been saved from being employed in risk prone areas which might otherwise lead to injury and loss of life

 

Conclusion

Author, a Nobel Peace laureate, concludes aptly by stating that investment in children is an investment in the future. Safe childhoods for a safe India.

 

 


Reopening old wounds


The Hindu

 

Context

Northeast Asia is a geostrategic hotspot. An ascendant China is asserting its claims to disputed islands and waters. An unpredictable North Korea is wont to threaten with missiles. And under a new president, the United States is an untested ally. But for Japan and South Korea, the two countries most affected by these developments, bilateral relations are currently being held hostage by a bronze statue of a barefoot teenage girl.

 

Give it a go-through once


ECONOMY [The Hindu]


Airlines yet to collect regional connectivity scheme cess


The Hindu

 

Context

Centre will explore other means to fund the scheme if domestic airlines do not come on board.

 

What has happened?

Airlines refuse: Most of the domestic airlines have refused to charge a levy on air tickets that will finance the regional connectivity fund even as the Centre wants to start services under the regional connectivity scheme by March 2017

 

Centre’s stand

Centre will explore other means to fund the scheme if domestic airlines do not come on board

 

Funding mechanism under the Regional Connectivity Scheme

Under the scheme, the Centre will subsidise the losses incurred by the airlines flying out of dormant airports. The airlines will be allowed to charge passengers ₹2,500 for an hour’s flight. About 80% of the subsidy will be collected from the airlines that will charge a levy of up to ₹8,500 on each departing flight. The balance 20% will come from the respective state governments

 

Legal tangle

The Federation of Indian Airlines, which represents IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and GoAir, has dragged the Centre to the courts challenging the levy of up to ₹8,500 on domestic flights from December 1

  • The Delhi High Court will now hear the airlines’ plea on February 1.

 

Present situation

  • Apart from the four airlines, new entrant Vistara has also not started charging the levy on its ticket fares.Only AirAsia and Air India levy a regional connectivity scheme surcharge now
  • As far as states are concerned, 15 of them have agreed to provide all the required infrastructure concessions along with the balance 20% subsidy for flight operations under the scheme.


Indian Express


Resolution That Isn’t


Indian Express

 

Context

On Israeli settlements, the United Nations Security Council ignores core issues

 

Give it a go-through once

 


A new class act


Indian Express

 

Context

Higher education in India is failing. Overhauling the system can salvage it

 

Article’s contention

India’s higher education is in a dilapidated state and is afflicted by a deep malaise

 

The National Knowledge Commission—Report to the Nation (2006-9)

There is a quiet crisis in higher education in India which runs deep

 

3 criteria

Three widely acknowledged criteria for judging an education system:

  1. Access
  2. Equity
  3. Quality

 

Problem of access

Drop-out rate is high: On account of financial hardship, inferior schools, lack of remedial education and social compulsions for early marriage for girls, the majority of young people from poor families drop out of school at or before completing secondary education.

 

Problem of inequity

Even for those who complete secondary education and are willing to enter, entry into premier higher education institutions is riddled with various kinds of inequity (only marginally mitigated for some people by lower-caste reservations)

  • For example, the currently almost indispensable intensive entry examination preparation in coaching classes (or private tuition) with high fees is often out of reach for poor students

 

Problem of quality

  • Quantity at quality’s expense: In terms of quantity the expansion of higher education has been impressive. At the time of Independence, we had about 20 universities and fewer than 500 colleges in the whole country. In 2014-15 there were 760 universities and more than 38,000 colleges, catering to about 34 million students. But the expansion in quantity has often been at the expense of quality
  • Vacant faculty positions: As much as 30 to 50% of faculty positions are vacant in many institutions. Many faculty posts are filled by under-qualified “temporary” recruits
  • Lack of infrastructure:  There are huge deficiencies in the matters of library books, laboratory facilities, computer and broadband internet, classrooms and buildings, etc
  • Exorbitant fees: Due to lack of government institutions nearby, students have to take admission in private institutions after paying huge amount of fees which is almost double of what is charged at any government institution
  • Politicisation:  In parts of western and southern India with a large expansion of for-profit private colleges with high ‘capitation fees’ and politically managed loans from public banks, politicians have entered into the business of higher education in a big way, turning colleges into lucrative degree-giving factories
  • Severe learning deficit:There are severe learning deficits in our institutions of higher education. Just to give one example : in a recent survey of M.A. 2nd year students in Economics in a reputed state university in Maharashtra, reported in the Economic and Political Weekly, students were asked 6 simple questions from the basic class VI school textbook in Mathematics; only 11 out of 200 students could answer all of them correctly

 

Employability of our graduates

  • Only 17.5% graduates employable: The (erstwhile) Planning Commission had estimated that only 17.5% of our graduates are employable. Many of the graduates lack even basic language and cognitive skills
  • Only 20% Engineers employable in IT : In the Information Technology sector the main chamber of commerce, NASSCOM, estimates that even for engineering graduates, only 20% of graduates of engineering colleges in India are employable in IT companies
  • Inferior quality of post-graduate research: In terms of quality of post-graduate research, while some of it is no doubt significant, over all our research quality is much below the world average. It has been widely noted that India does not have a single university in the top 200 in the world rankings (China has about 10 universities in that list)

 

Author suggests

Author suggests that all school-leaving students should have universal access at near-zero tuition fees with option to join two alternative streams:

  1. Vocational institute: One towards local vocational institutes to learn different skills (like plumbing, welding, carpentry, auto mechanics, driving, nursing, policing, firefighting, and so on)
  • Facility for evening classes: These institutes should be spread out all over a state, with facilities also for evening classes
  • Diploma after 2 years: After 2 years students with enough class credits and after passing a test will earn a diploma
  • Funding mechanism: Funding of these institutes should be shared between the state and the business community (with a special cess on medium to large business)—the latter will benefit for having the chance (and incentive) to monitor and directly employ (or get as apprentice) some of the graduating students, with recruitment offices in the institute itself. (This draws somewhat on the current German model)
  1. 3 year local college: The other alternative stream will go to a 3-year local college where general science and humanities subjects will be taught
  • Training the faculty: The main purpose will be to train school teachers, clerks, accountants, actuaries, lab and library assistants, basic programmers, and so on
  • Degree after 3 years: After 3 years students with enough class credits and after passing a test will earn a degree
  • Funding mechanism: The funding will be borne entirely by the state. (This is somewhat like the California Community College model)

 

Top 10% move forward

The top 10% of streams (a) and (b), if they pass appropriate entry tests, will be allowed to enter two alternative streams at a higher level (d) or (e):

  1. Professional schools (in subjects like Law, Business, Engineering and Medical)
  • High fee but with the ease of student loan availability: Here the tuition fees will be high, but with availability of a large number of student loans repayable in the first five years of the student’s getting a job
  • Funding mechanism: Some of these schools can be private, others state-funded
  1. Public universities, of which there should not be more than 50 in the whole country. The subjects taught will be specialized branches of science and humanities
  • High fee but with the ease of student loan availability: Again the fees will be high, but with availability of a large number of student loans, repayable in the first five years of the student’s getting a job
  • The financial and faculty resources that are currently spread thin in more than 700 universities should be conserved and more effectively used in not more than 50 universities (roughly 2 for each major state)

 

Top 1% move forward

The top 1% of streams (d) and (e), if they pass appropriate entry tests, will be allowed to enter a

  • World-class Research University, of which there should be not more than two in the whole country
    • No fee with a universal scholarship: Tuition will be free and everybody will have a scholarship
    • Funding mechanism: The funding will be entirely by the state. For the sake of stimulating in India the current world-wide trend in collaborative research across disciplines, departments should be reorganized with a focus on multi-disciplinary research

 

Suggestions on the functioning, administration, faculty recruitment and promotionetc of structure proposed above

  1. Preventing politicisation: No involvement by politicians, administrators or regulators (like UGC) in personnel selection, particularly in any of those three streams, neither in the selection of officials like a college principal or VC, nor in the appointment or promotion of faculty, nor in the conduct of the examination system
  • Parochial mindset: This is, of course, most difficult to achieve in India, and quite contrary to the persistent Government initiatives (including the new Education Bill with the Lok Sabha). Every education minister, either at the state or central level, believes that as the government provides the money, he or she (and the associated bureaucrats) have the right to interfere in the running of the college or the university
  • Independent audit but no say of legislature:Every three years or so a public college or university should, after an independent audit, be accountable to the legislature on explaining how the total budget assigned has been spent, but the latter should have no say on personnel selection or internal governance matters. The best public universities in the world are mainly free of outside involvement
  1. Faculty selection and promotion should be entirely the responsibility of the faculty in consultation with outside (both outside the department and outside the university) faculty members in peer review
  • In (a) and (b) institutions the main criterion for judging faculty will be teaching quality (partly depending on serious and anonymous student evaluations for each course)
  • In (d), (e), and (f) institutions, along with teaching, quality of research will be evaluated by peers inside and outside departments and impact of publications, including in recognized international outlets
    • Selection via open seminar instead of closed-door interviews: In new appointments, instead of interviews by closed-door selection committees the candidates on a short list should be invited to present a research paper in an open seminar, where the candidates should be answerable to questions and criticisms by anyone present
    • Merit review after 3 years:After appointment, every three years each faculty member, junior or senior, should have a merit review by a departmental and university committee (with some outside referees)
    • No seniority based promotions:No seniority-based promotion is to be allowed
  1. Salary structure: With a positive merit review salaries should be adjusted upwards
  • Flexibility: The salary structure should be sufficiently flexible, within some well-defined general parameters, so that exceptional merit judged by peer review can be rewarded
  • Discard current system:The current system of academic salary structure linked to civil service rules and scales, periodically revised by the Pay Commission, should be discarded
  1. Utilizing distance learning: The new technology of distance learning should be fully utilized in upgrading the teaching and knowledge standards.
  • MOOCs: Particularly in streams (b), (d) and (e) we should take advantage of the basic courses currently being offered in the international Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) system, expanding on a big scale the current Indianized version being tried out in some of the IIT’s and IIM’s
  • These courses should be aligned with associated topic-wise tutorials by the current faculty
  • Addressing of faculty shortage: Apart from quality upgrading, this can also partly relieve our acute shortage of qualified faculty
  • Limitations:Of course the constraints of inadequate facility of students in English medium of international teaching and dearth of internet access will continue to limit this for quite some time
  1. Collaborating with Industry & society: Our engineering institutions present to us a potential source of collaboration in industrial innovations but there is no established forum or mechanism for any connection or interaction of this sort
  • Collaboration in Social sciences:Similarly in social sciences there is ample scope for our Economics and Sociology students to carry out their honours and post-graduate research projects using field survey data from the local bazaars and neighbourhoods (including slums where our maid servants and cobblers live)

 

Downside of no interference or full autonomy to institutions

With full autonomy some colleges and universities can degenerate into cosy, nepotistic clubs of rampant mediocrity

  • Culture of mediocrity: Author here is referring to a culture of mediocrity where mediocre people get other mediocre people around them and thrive in a cocoon of comfortable cronyism

How this problem has been averted in US?

In the US this problem has been mostly averted by

  • A culture of constant competition among the better universities—they raid one another for the best faculty, and try to generate a critical mass of good faculty and students
  • Students also gravitate to where the best faculty are
  • When professors move from one university to another they move with the whole paraphernalia of funded research projects, labs and affiliated students
  • So it’ll be costly for a university to lose its good faculty members, if it fails to provide a stimulating environment
  • It is, of course, not easy to reproduce this culture of competition and mobility everywhere, but one can try, with some external monitoring mechanisms in place.

 

Author suggests few more changes

Getting organized: Nothing will happen unless the potential beneficiaries of change get organized

 

Improving access along with equity and quality (reservation without compromising quality)

  • Nurturing an enabling environment: Author states that we have to understand that equity is not ensured simply by ensuring free and universal access, as we have proposed for our streams (a) and (b). we have to nurture an enabling and empowering atmosphere and institutional culture for these new entrants in an alien environment of long domination by upper classes and castes.

 

 


Jallikattu questions


Indian Express

 

Context

Ordinance may not be a good idea while the case is in court. Protests point to the limitations of reform by diktat

 

Jallikattu has been covered in the Hindu editorial itself


Live Mint


Startup India’s flaws are beginning to tell


Live Mint

 

Context

Instead of providing an enabling business environment, the government is applying a version of the infant industry logic

 

Article will be covered in Monday’s brief

 

 


Growth deficit and the fiscal deficit


Live Mint

 

Context

The budget is likely to overestimate the expected revenue and the absolute level of the permissible fiscal deficit

 

Give it a go-through


 

 

 


 

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Must Read News Articles – December 2


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The Hindu


Front Page / NATIONAL

Delhi High Court reverses ban on combination drugs: Quashing the ban on 344 Fixed Dose Combination (FDC) drugs, Delhi High Court has said that the Centre had acted in a haphazard manner and did not take the advice of the statutory bodies under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act before issuing the notification.

‘Don’t shut the door on jallikattu’: Urging the Supreme Court not to shut the door on jallikattu, the Centre has said that the tradition is inextricably linked to the rural life of Tamil Nadu.

Anthem redux: How it came back in play: The Supreme Court ruled that all cinemas in the country must play the national anthem prior to the screening of a film, with all doors closed.

Health Ministry to file appeal, points to parallel plea in SC: The Ministry wants all 454 petitions concerning fixed dose combinations (FDCs) to be heard at one place.

Imposed only reasonable restrictions, govt. tells SC: Affidavit in SC denies any lack of preparedness in implementing the demonetisation policy.


INTERNATIONAL


We’re willing to wait for talks: Pak. envoy Basit: Pakistan is sending Mr. Aziz to Amritsar to attend the Heart of Asia conference on Afghanistan on December 4. It will be his first foreign ministerial visit to India in several years.

U.S. for closer defense ties with India: The National Defense Authorization Act 2017 is scheduled to be passed by the U.S Congress next week. U.S has already recognized India as a “major defense partner”


Editorial/OPINION


Patriotism by diktat: it is hard to understand the rationale for the Supreme Court’s order that every cinema hall should play the national anthem before the exhibition of a film.

HIV: The self-test option: With the World Health Organisation (WHO) releasing guidelines on HIV self-testing, a major obstacle in improving access to diagnosis has been cleared.

Contours of a challenge: The manner of enforcement of demonetisation has visited many consequences upon the people. If it chooses to review them, the judiciary would be overreaching its authority.

The message from Amritsar: The Heart of Asia conference is likely to confirm a new phase in India-Afghanistan ties.


ECONOMY


Taxman says 85%, experts opine 83.25%: The tax law amendments to implement the latest voluntary Income Disclosure Scheme has left tax practitioners puzzled about the effective rate of tax and penalty that will be imposed on those who fail to avail of what is being considered the last chance at amnesty for holders of black money.


Science and Technology


India’s first private moon mission next year: The mission’s aim is to land this spacecraft on the moon, have it travel at least 500 metres and beam high-definition video, images and data back to the earth. Were it to be successful, it would likely pip ISRO’s proposed moon-lander mission – Chandrayaan 2.


Indian Express


The Amritsar opportunity: Sartaj Aziz’s participation in the Heart of Asia Conference on Afghanistan is a chance for India and Pakistan to defuse tensions, so that they can get back to talking with each other.


Live Mint


Understanding Pakistan’s new terror strategy: Rawalpindi’s intent is very clear: attack the “occupying forces” of India in Jammu and Kashmir.

Demonetisation without replacement: This is exactly the kind of policy which negates structural reform in the Indian economy and discourages investment.