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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 22 June 2024

  1. Testing Times for the National Testing Agency (NTA)
  2. India Faces a Severe Groundwater Crisis


The cancellation of the UGC-NET examination on Wednesday, a day after its purported “successful conduct” by the National Testing Agency (NTA), adds to the mounting issues tarnishing the agency’s already fragile reputation. This incident follows this year’s irregularities in the NEET-UG (medical) exams and complaints regarding the JEE (engineering) exams, putting the NTA under significant scrutiny.


GS2- Education

Mains Question:

The National Testing Agency needs an overhaul to regain credibility. Discuss in the context of recent allegations of multiple irregularities in national level exams. (10 Marks, 150 Words).

National Testing Agency:

  • The National Testing Agency (NTA) is a Society registered under the Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860.
  • It operates as an autonomous and self-sustaining organization tasked with conducting entrance examinations for admissions and fellowships in higher educational institutions.


Conduct efficient, transparent, and internationally standardized tests to evaluate candidates’ competency for admission and recruitment.


  • Identify partner institutions with sufficient infrastructure from existing schools and higher education institutions to facilitate online examinations without disrupting their academic schedules.
  • Develop a question bank for all subjects using modern techniques.
  • Establish a strong research and development culture and cultivate a pool of experts in various testing aspects.
  • Provide training and advisory services to institutions in India.
  • Collaborate with international organizations like Educational Testing Services (ETS).
  • Conduct examinations entrusted by the Ministries/Departments of the Government of India/State Governments.
  • Implement reforms and provide training for school boards and other bodies to ensure their testing standards align with entrance examinations.


  • NTA is chaired by a distinguished educationist appointed by the Ministry of Education.
  • The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is the Director-General, appointed by the Government.
  • The Board of Governors includes members from user institutions.

Actions by the Education Ministry:

  • The Education Ministry’s swift actions in this case contrast sharply with its sluggish response to the NEET fiasco, suggesting it may have learned some lessons.
  • The Ministry took proactive measures based on inputs from the Home Ministry’s cybercrime team, without waiting for formal complaints from candidates, unlike the NEET situation, which saw prolonged delays despite numerous allegations and police reports of paper leaks.
  • The Ministry promptly canceled the UGC-NET and promised a new examination, also requesting a CBI investigation, a demand NEET candidates have persistently made without success.
  • However, this offers little comfort to the over nine lakh UGC-NET candidates who dedicated months to studying, traveled long distances to exam centers, and incurred expenses, including taking out loans, for this opportunity.

Questions Unanswered:

  • These young individuals deserve answers, yet many questions remain unresolved.
  • Firstly, there has been no explanation from the government’s education authorities about why the NET, previously an offline exam conducted by the CBSE until 2018, was switched to an online format by the NTA, only to revert to an offline, pen-and-paper exam this year, which is more susceptible to paper leaks.
  • As the investigation proceeds, maintaining full transparency is essential for the NTA to regain credibility among candidates.
  • Secondly, accountability and punishment for those responsible are crucial.
  • The government should consider overhauling the NTA’s systems and personnel to prevent the recurrence of technical glitches, cheating scandals, paper leaks, and proxy candidates that have marred exams this year.


Given the impact on lakhs of India’s educated youth and youngest voters, it’s no surprise that the agency’s problems have become a political issue. Some Opposition leaders have called for dismantling the NTA and transferring exam responsibilities to the States. This could reduce the Union government’s centralizing approach, making it easier to manage large-scale exams in a vast nation. However, some nationwide exams will always be necessary, and cooperation between the States and the Centre is essential to restore integrity to the troubled examination system.


According to the India Water Portal, India is responsible for 25 percent of global groundwater extraction, surpassing both the USA and China. Nearly 70 percent of the water used in Indian agriculture comes from groundwater. Despite the heavy reliance on this resource, India lacks a contingency plan to address groundwater depletion and over-exploitation. The situation is becoming increasingly dire.



  • Agricultural Resources
  • Water Resources
  • Conservation of Resources

Mains Question:

India needs a combination of strategy and investment to safeguard and revitalise the groundwater clock ticking towards day zero. Analyse. (15 Marks, 250 Words).

Current Situation:

  • On June 19th, 2024, the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) announced that Delhi has already extracted 99 percent of its available groundwater.
  • The latest CGWB report showed a decline in both annual recharge and the amount of groundwater available for extraction in Delhi.
  • In 2023, the city’s net annual groundwater recharge was 0.38 billion cubic meters (bcm), with only 0.34 bcm available for extraction.
  • Alarmingly, almost all accessible groundwater has already been extracted, amounting to 99.1 percent.
  • This is particularly concerning given the increased rate of extraction despite decreased groundwater recharge.
  • These challenging conditions come as Delhi endures its worst heatwave in 120 years, which has claimed 192 lives so far. Unfortunately, water distress is becoming a widespread issue across Indian cities.
  • Earlier this year, Bangalore faced a daily water deficit of over 500 million liters, with more than 7,000 borewells running dry. The combination of severe heat and water scarcity not only threatens human lives but also risks halting urban economies.

Actions Taken:

  • If urgent remedial measures are not taken, this trend of groundwater depletion may become the norm for most Indian cities.
  • However, most actions taken so far have been reactive and impulsive, lacking long-term strategy and investment.
  • Successive state and central governments have addressed groundwater issues passively rather than proactively, causing the problem to grow more complex and difficult to solve each year.

Way Forward:

Census of Natural Water Bodies:

  • As an initial step, the central government should conduct a nationwide satellite-assisted census of natural water bodies, including their measurable extents. This effort will quantify the number of water bodies and identify any encroachments.
  • Additionally, measures must be taken to rejuvenate and revive these water bodies, such as removing vegetation and installing artificial groundwater recharge points like percolation wells.

Monitor and Regulate Groundwater Extraction:

  • The central government, in collaboration with state authorities, can also implement metered borewells to monitor and regulate groundwater extraction.
  • This approach has been successfully used in West Bengal, resulting in improved groundwater levels, and can be replicated across India, especially in states like Karnataka experiencing over-exploitation.

Rainwater harvesting (RWH):

  • Rainwater harvesting (RWH) is another crucial measure that requires sincere implementation. Although widely discussed, RWH has seen minimal application in India.
  • For instance, in Bangalore, only 1.8 lakh out of 19 lakh eligible properties have installed rainwater harvesting systems, according to the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB).
  • Experts estimate that the city captures only 10 percent of its rainwater, with the remaining 90 percent going to waste. This highlights the gap between the concept and its implementation.
  • The government must recognize the potential of RWH and ensure its adoption in both residential and commercial properties across India, enforcing this by law if necessary.
  • However, conventional remedial measures may not suffice to address the escalating groundwater scarcity problem.

Innovative Technologies:

  • Given the increasing scale of the issue, the government must invest in innovative technologies to support efforts to revive and enhance India’s groundwater table.
  • Implementing efficient farming technologies that use less water can make a significant impact.
  • Investing in precision agriculture technology for groundwater usage in irrigation is an ideal solution for optimizing water use.
  • This approach conserves water compared to traditional flooding methods, increasing output while reducing resource consumption and water wastage.
  • As water scarcity spreads across different regions of India and water usage rises rapidly, the structural imbalance between water supply and demand continues to grow.
  • Therefore, it is crucial for governments, in collaboration with corporations under corporate social responsibility (CSR) schemes, to increase capital expenditure on smart technologies.


The methods proposed above can provide solutions to water scarcity and quality issues while improving the sustainability of water resources. India needs a combination of strategic planning and investment to protect and revitalize its groundwater resources.

July 2024