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6th June – Editorials/Opinions Analyses


  1. Canberra connect: India Australia Summit
  2. Opportunity to redefine the Indian school system
  3. Gender gap in job losses caused by the lockdown


Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

The virtual summit between Indian Prime Minister Modi and the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, in June 2020 has taken some big steps to elevate the strategic partnership between the two countries.


  • Over the last decade there has been a steady improvement in the quality and intensity of the political, commercial, cultural, educational and technological engagement between India and Australia.
  • The improvement in relations is reinforced by the Indian diaspora (now 7,00,000 strong in a nation of just 25 million.)

Highlights of the concerns discussed in the meeting

  • Defence and security cooperation have been at the core of the outcomes from the deliberations between the two leaders: reasons being assertiveness of a rising China and the uncertain trajectory of America.
  • Both India and Australia have been stepping up their strategic collaboration with other key nations in the region, including Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia.
  • A major highlight of the summit meeting was the declaration on the shared vision for securing the troubled waters of the Indo-Pacific: leading to a mutual logistics support agreement that offers the armed forces of the two nations reciprocal access to each other’s military facilities and facilitates seamless cooperation across the high seas.
  • There was another agreement for cooperation in cyber and cyber-enabled critical technology domains.

Lack in trade agreements

  • While the focus on security is both necessary and urgent, there is no escaping the big gap between the two leaders on regional trade agreements.
  • It is important to note that while India rejected the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) Australia is big supporter of RCEP.
  • However, India and Australia did agree to renew stalled negotiations on bilateral trade.
  • India has declared its interest in negotiating bilateral trade with a number of like-minded countries like the US and Europe.

Analysis: India – Australia Relations, Issues in the past

  1. The historical ties between India and Australia initiated following the European settlement in Australia from 1788.
  2. Australia and India for the first time established diplomatic relations in the pre-Independence period, when the Consulate General of India was first opened as a Trade Office in Sydney in 1941.
  3. Following India’s independence, the Australian leaders advocated the British counterparts to retain the strategically important Andaman and the Nicobar Islands within the British Empire.
  4. During the Cold War, Australia had decided to be a close ally of the US, while India initially opted for Non-Alignment.
  5. Then there was the Pakistan factor. Australia’s attempts to act as the mediator between India and Pakistan in the 1940s and 1950s were not taken well by New Delhi.
  6. Over time, during the Cold War era, Australia opted for close ties with Pakistan – a close ally of the US – instead of India.
  7. Following the above – India-Australia relations touched a historic low when the Australian Government condemned India’s 1998 nuclear tests.
  8. Another issue that plagued the bilateral ties was the lack of people-to-people ties due to the “White Australia” policy that banned immigration from Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Improvements began when:

  • In 2008, the Nuclear Suppliers Group had granted a waiver to India, leading to Australia lifting its uranium ban against the NPT non-signatories
  • In 2014 Australia signed a uranium supply deal with India, the first of its kind with a country that is a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in recognition of India’s “impeccable” non-proliferation record it became evident what type of relation Australia wanted with India.
  • The end of the Cold War and India’s decision to launch major economic reforms in 1991 ensured the development of closer ties between the two nations.
  • India is among the largest contributors to Australia’s population growth. There is a massive influx of Indian students and tourists to Australia.

-Source: Indian Express


Focus: GS-II Social Justice


While the pandemic has created an unprecedented challenge for humanity, it also offers a unique opportunity to re-imagine our schools and transform schools from being a mere implementer of directions from the directorate or district headquarters to having a central role in our society.

Way forwards: Route to transformation of schools

  • In being mindful of ensuring access with equity for all children, students of secondary grades should not be prioritised over primary-grade children.
  • Focus should be building foundational learning skills instead of just completing the remaining syllabus.
  • For secondary and senior secondary grades National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) can be asked to modify the syllabus to gain more depth in learning and understanding rather than spreading the curriculum far and wide.
  • CBSE can move away from the one-time high-stakes exam of class 10 and 12 towards a model of continuous evaluation and anytime exam.

Teachers transformation

Focus can be on International level training with exposure to innovative practices and also on research so that new techniques of teaching-learning can be understood and implemented at the school level.

Overview of Education System in India

  • The school system in India has four levels: lower primary (age 6 to 10), upper primary (11 and 12), high (13 to 15) and higher secondary (17 and 18). The lower primary school is divided into five “standards”, upper primary school into two, high school into three and higher secondary into two.
  • There are mainly three streams in school education in India: Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and the State Boards of each of the states.
  • Students throughout the country have to learn three languages (namely, English, Hindi and their mother tongue) except in regions where Hindi is the mother tongue.

Provisions in the Indian Constitution related to Education

  • Article 21A was introduced by the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2002, making elementary education a fundamental right rather than a directive principle.
  • Article 45 was amended to provide for early childhood care and education to children below the age of six years.
  • To implement Article 21A, the government legislated the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education RTE Act.

-Source: Hindustan Times


Focus: GS-II Social Justice


Employment in April 2020 was 70 per cent of the average in the preceding year, reason for which can be attributed to the COVID-19 Lockdown.

Research estimates that in the Covid-19 pandemic, women are likely to be more vulnerable to losing their jobs compared to men. (more than 30 million women face potential job cuts, compared to less than 15 million men).

Case for India

  • Between 2004-5 and 2017-18, while the male-female gaps in educational attainment have narrowed considerably. However, gaps in labour force participation have widened.
  • Female labour force participation rate has declined precipitously over the last 15 years till 2020.

There are gender and caste disparities in the early lockdown-induced job losses:

  1. Women have suffered relatively more than men (rural women more than urban women)
  2. Dalits (Scheduled Castes) suffered relatively more than upper castes, specifically rural Dalits.

Estimation reveals that men are more likely to be employed overall and the drop in male employment is greater than female by more than 15%.

Male heads of household were greater than 10% more likely to be employed in post-lockdown phase as Women.

The caste differences are smaller than the gender differences.

Attached Stigma

  • While women and Dalits have suffered disproportionately more job losses, risky, hazardous and stigmatized jobs are exclusively their preserve.
  • All frontline health workers (ASHA, or Accredited Social Health Activists) are women; manual scavengers are exclusively Dalit.
  • Thus, for several women and Dalits, the choice seems to be between unemployment and jobs that put them at risk of disease and infection and make them targets of vicious stigma.

-Source: Indian Express

February 2024