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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 05 December 2023

  1. A Dark Shadow on New Delhi’s Credibility/ On the U.S. indictment
  2. Are Foreign Universities Best Bet for Better Education?


The recent release of a U.S. indictment against an Indian individual accused of targeting Khalistani separatists in North America, allegedly at the request of a government official, remains an unproven allegation awaiting trial. Nevertheless, it has already cast a somber shadow over New Delhi’s credibility concerning both covert capabilities and public communication, demanding a thoughtful response.



  • Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  • Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

Mains Question:

The lasting impact of the episode of the American indictment against an Indian national will lie in the image India wishes to project to the world. Comment. (15 marks, 250 words).

Additional Operations Attracting Attention

  • The indictment is also preceded by a series of intelligence activities that have faced legal challenges in friendly nations in recent times.
  • These include the controversial return of United Arab Emirates princess Latifah by the Indian Coast Guard in 2018, the “attempted kidnap” of fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi from Antigua to Dominica in 2021 by British nationals, and the conviction of eight former Indian naval officers in Qatar for espionage.

Distrust Remains a Prominent Issue

  • The U.S. places a greater emphasis on countering the alleged plot against these individuals rather than addressing their activities.
  • From India’s perspective, given its profound concerns about Mr. Pannun’s radical rhetoric, including threats against Air India flights and diplomats, the U.S.’s actions are viewed as a breach of trust.
  • The fact that the U.S. did not share all its information with India raises doubts about claims of peak security cooperation between the two countries this year.
  • Despite multiple high-level meetings between U.S. and Indian officials, it seems the U.S. has cautioned India without revealing the complete extent of the gathered information.
  • These actions evoke memories of the nature of intelligence sharing in 2008 when the U.S. alerted India to the impending 26/11 terror threat (November 2008 Mumbai attacks) without disclosing that the source was Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Coleman Headley.
  • Subsequently, after Headley’s arrest, a plea bargain prevented his prosecution in India, and the government had to rely on his video-recorded testimony for the trial.
  • While India has summoned envoys and raised concerns publicly with leaders in the latter cases, it has been more discreet in addressing its concerns with the U.S.
  • Conversely, a well-documented double standard exists in the West regarding extrajudicial covert operations and assassinations. Agencies like the CIA, MI6, and Mossad have often eliminated perceived threats on foreign soil, while simultaneously condemning other nations for similar actions.
  • Despite the significant strengthening of the India-U.S. relationship, touted as the “most consequential partnership of the century,” these double standards persist.

Impact on the Regional Vicinity

  • Looking beyond, India must confront the repercussions of the case on its neighboring countries.
  • South Block and Indian embassies in the region will need to go the extra mile to reassure neighboring countries, particularly in Kathmandu, Dhaka, Male, and Colombo, where discussions about India’s purported involvement in domestic politics are often exaggerated.

Way Forward:

  • This incident underscores that while bilateral and strategic ties are advancing in various domains, trust between the two countries has not progressed at a similar pace.
  • While much attention is directed toward the short-term question of whether Mr. Biden will confirm his attendance at the Republic Day parade and the Quad summit in January, both sides must consider the impact on the long-term trajectory of their relationship.
  • Furthermore, South Block must assess the repercussions of its actions among Western allies, including the “Five Eyes” intelligence partnership (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S.).
  • India faces a choice between projecting itself as a “hard power” willing to take international risks and strain relationships in pursuing perceived threats worldwide through any means it deems appropriate.
  • Alternatively, it could present itself as an adherent to international law, constructing its case through diplomatic channels and garnering global support to achieve its objectives, even if it risks being perceived as a “soft power.”


The Ministry of External Affairs has unequivocally stated that covert, extrajudicial assassinations are not part of this government’s policy, and an investigation will be conducted into the allegations. A thorough examination will reveal whether India’s actions align with its stated values and interests.


A noticeable trend in recent times has been the increasing migration of Indian students to foreign countries for higher education and job opportunities, particularly in states like Kerala and Punjab. Several factors contribute to this exodus, prompting questions about the quality of education in India, the state of infrastructure in educational institutions, and the colonial mindset that perceives foreign countries as superior.


GS2- Education

Mains Question:

Foreign university campuses in India may be good for many reasons but improvement of higher education is not one of them. Discuss. (10 marks, 150 words).

Recent Developments:

  • This trend is becoming so significant that students are leaving the country even after completing their schooling, raising concerns about a potential generation of elderly couples residing in affluent homes.
  • The recent notification from the UGC regarding regulations for the establishment of foreign universities in India might make obtaining a degree from a reputable foreign institution easier for the privileged class.

Factors contributing to this exodus:

Administrative Procedures:

  • A major issue in higher education within India is the cumbersome administrative procedures in public sector universities and colleges. Dealing with administrative personnel in these institutions often proves more challenging than mastering complex subjects.
  • Doctoral students, in particular, spend a significant portion of their productive time navigating bureaucratic hurdles.
  • Obtaining no-objection certificates from various sections, even those unrelated to their courses, is a common practice.
  • Even after earning a PhD, students may need to restart the entire paperwork process if they seek a NET exemption certificate.
  • The need for these convoluted administrative procedures is questionable. It raises concerns about whether they exist to protect the jobs of redundant staff members.
  • While a few modern public sector universities have streamlined these processes, many still adhere to traditional bureaucratic practices. As a result, students opt to pursue their degrees in foreign countries to avoid unnecessary hassles and complete their education within specified timelines.

Attractive Salaries:

  • Another significant factor contributing to the mass exodus is the attractive salaries offered in foreign countries.
  • Students nowadays expect remuneration even for minor assistance, a departure from the past when students provided services such as maintaining departmental libraries and gardens.
  • Additionally, the higher tuition fees in foreign universities make admission accessible primarily to individuals from affluent backgrounds.

Weightage of Degrees:

Furthermore, degrees obtained from foreign universities with campuses in India may not carry the same weight as those earned from their main campuses in respective countries.

Cultural Environment:

The cultural environment of a university is closely tied to societal culture, and while foreign universities may attempt to embrace an alien culture, the local societal culture is likely to influence their campuses.

Way Forward:

  • While the establishment of foreign university campuses in India is a positive step, it may not yield long-term benefits. Instead, efforts should focus on improving the quality of education and research in public sector universities, attracting international students to India.
  • Having a diverse student population on our campuses would enhance academic quality and contribute to the public exchequer.


Drawing inspiration from historical institutions like Takshashila and Nalanda, India should aspire to a future where students from foreign countries visit our public sector universities, and Indian universities establish campuses globally. This approach can serve as a catalyst for spreading Indian values and philosophy worldwide.

February 2024