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20th August – Editorials/Opinions Analyses

Contents

  1. The marriage age misconception
  2. Technology as an enabler
  3. India and Bangladesh: Teesta river, China’s Role

THE MARRIAGE AGE MISCONCEPTION

Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Introduction

On Independence day the Prime minister declared that the government is considering raising the legal age of marriage for girls (currently 18 years) and based on this a task force was formed and it is widely understood (but not officially stated) that the task force is meant to produce a rationale for raising the minimum age of marriage for women to 21, thus bringing it on a par with that for men.

Population control

  • A recent article that analyses data on stunting in children and thinness in mothers (as measures of under-nourishment) in the latest round of the National Family Health Survey 4 (2015-16) goes on to show that instead of early pregnancy causing malnourishment, they may both be the consequences of poverty.
  • The authors concentrate on delaying the age of pregnancy to break the “intergenerational cycle of undernutrition”.

Facts to consider

  • However, age only begins to have some real significance when pregnancies are delayed to ages of 25 and above, which is true of only a minuscule proportion of women in India.
  • India is home to the largest number of underage marriages in the world.
  • India’s fertility rates have been declining to well below replacement levels in many States, including those with higher levels of child marriage.
  • The States with HIGH mean ages at marriage of 25 years are erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur and Goa.
  • Even Kerala (22 years) and Delhi (23 years) have significantly LOWER mean ages at marriage.

Concern

The change will leave the vast majority of Indian women who marry before they are 21 without the legal protections that the institution of marriage otherwise provides, and make their families criminalisable.

Way forwards

One of the ways to break the undernutrition problem is to address the poverty of the mother, which could be done in myriad ways, beginning with the most direct method of nutritional programmes for girls and women through a range of institutional mechanisms from Anganwadis to schools.

Click Here to read more about the move to make the legal age of marriage same for men and women

-Source: The Hindu


TECHNOLOGY AS AN ENABLER

Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Introduction

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 proposes a revamping of existing systems of higher education.

Integration of technology for enhancing teaching-learning is an important policy objective.

Current Situation

  • Currently, a large share of students are from lower social strata such as Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes and from poor households and families where no one has undergone any post-secondary education.
  • A significant proportion of those students are from government schools, under-developed regions, remote villages and urban margins.
  • They are more likely to have had the regional language as a medium of instruction in schools.
  • A national-level study on ‘student diversity and social inclusion’ carried out at the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration in 2016 showed that students from marginalised social groups face severe challenges due to social exclusion and academic non-integration.
  • The institutional mechanisms to bridge the gaps are also inadequate.
  • As a result, inclusion made in terms of access is not getting translated into quality educational experience and equitable academic outcome.

Remote learning

  • Indefinite closure of institutions has compelled higher education administrators to explore possibilities for remote learning.
  • A national-level study carried out at the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA) revealed that there is a long way to go in moving towards inclusive learning mediated by technology.
  • It also found that urban-rural disparity in conduct of online classes is alarmingly high.
  • The NEP emphasises vital linkage between education and technology in the context of the country’s transformative journey towards a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
  • An autonomous body called National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) will be entrusted with the task of advising institutions on use of technology, capacity building, providing directions for research and innovation and creating avenues for exchange of ideas.

Learning at your own pace

  • In technology-mediated learning, the pace of the learning is not determined by the teacher in most cases. Students can decide how much is to be learned at a given point of time.
  • This peculiar feature of self-paced and student-centered learning can provide greater support to marginalised learners and help teachers to assume a new role of facilitator.

-Source: The Hindu


INDIA AND BANGLADESH: TEESTA RIVER, CHINA’S ROLE

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Introduction

  • Bangladesh is discussing an almost $1 billion loan from China for a comprehensive management and restoration project on the Teesta river.
  • The project is aimed at managing the river basin efficiently, controlling floods, and tackling the water crisis in summers.
  • India and Bangladesh have been engaged in a long-standing dispute over water-sharing in the Teesta.
  • More importantly, Bangladesh’s discussions with China come at a time when India is particularly wary about China following the standoff in Ladakh.

How has India’s relationship with Bangladesh played out over the years?

  • New Delhi has had a robust relationship with Dhaka, carefully cultivated since 2008.
  • India has benefited from its security ties with Bangladesh, whose crackdown against anti-India outfits has helped the Indian government maintain peace in the eastern and Northeast states.
  • Bangladesh has benefited from its economic and development partnership. Bangladesh is India’s biggest trade partner in South Asia. Bilateral trade has grown steadily over the last decade (India’s exports to Bangladesh in 2018-19 stood at below $10 billion, and imports from Bangladesh at just over $1 billion).
  • India also grants 15 to 20 lakh visas every year to Bangladesh nationals for medical treatment, tourism, work, and just entertainment.
  • For India, Bangladesh has been a key partner in the neighbourhood first policy — and possibly the success story in bilateral ties among its neighbours.
  • The proposed countrywide National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed in 2019 has led to the Bangladeshi Prime Minister expressing reservations, being the latest irritant in the relationship between the two countries.

How have relations between Bangladesh and China been developing?

  • China is the biggest trading partner of Bangladesh and is the foremost source of imports (The trade is heavily in favour of China).
  • Recently, China declared zero duty on 97% of imports from Bangladesh. The concession flowed from China’s duty-free, quota-free programme for the Least Developed Countries.
  • China has promised around $30 billion worth of financial assistance to Bangladesh.
  • Additionally, Bangladesh’s strong defence ties with China make the situation complicated.
  • China is the biggest arms supplier to Bangladesh.

India’s role

  • In the wake of the Ladakh standoff, India has become more sensitive to Chinese defence inroads into Bangladesh.
  • India too has provided developmental assistance worth $10 billion, making Bangladesh the largest recipient of India’s total of $30 billion aid globally.
  • Over the last five months, India and Bangladesh have cooperated on pandemic-related moves
  • The two countries have also cooperated in railways, with India giving 10 locomotives to Bangladesh.
  • The first trial run for trans-shipment of Indian cargo through Bangladesh to Northeast states under a pact on the use of Chittagong and Mongla ports have also taken place.

Recent discussions between India and Bangladesh

  • Bangladesh expressed “deep concern” at the rise in killings at the Indo-Bangladesh border by “BSF or Indian nationals” during 2020.
  • The two sides agreed that Implementation of projects should be done in a timely manner, and that greater attention is required to development projects in Bangladesh under the Indian Lines of Credit.
  • Bangladesh sought return of the Tablighi Jamaat members impacted by the lockdown in India, and also early release of the 25 Bangladeshi fishermen in custody in Assam. India assured Bangladesh that its nationals would be able to return soon.
  • Bangladesh requested for urgent reopening of visa issuance from the Indian High Commission in Dhaka, particularly since many Bangladeshi patients need to visit India.
  • India was also requested to reopen travel through Benapole-Petrapole land port which has been halted by the West Bengal government in the wake of the pandemic.
  • Bangladesh told Shringla that it is ready to collaborate in the development of a Covid-19 vaccine, including its trial, and looks forward to early, affordable availability of the vaccine when ready.

Click Here to read more about the India’s Vaccine offer to Bangladesh and Teesta project

-Source: Indian Express

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