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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 27 April 2023


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 27 April 2023


Contents

  1. Judgement of Kesavananda Bharati Celebrates 50 Years
  2. India needs reforms to have a top-notch higher education system

Judgement of Kesavananda Bharati Celebrates 50 Years


Context:

This Supreme Court decision, which opened the door for a number of other significant rulings on constitutional issues and helped to shape the nation’s current constitutional landscape, will be 50 years old on April 24, 2023.

Relevance:

GS Paper-2: Constitution of India – historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Mains Question

The Supreme Court advanced the idea of the “basic structure” of the Constitution in the Keshavananda Bharati case (1973). What do you mean by the doctrine of “basic structure”? (150 Words).


What was the decision made?

  • A full court of 13 judges, the largest bench in history, heard the case, and a 7:6 majority decision was reached.Swami Kesavananda Bharati, the senior plaintiff and head of the Edneer Mutt in Kerala’s Kasaragod district, brought the lawsuit in an effort to stop the state’s attempts to impose limitations on the management of the Mutt’s property through the passage of two land reform acts.The Kesavananda Bharati decision held that certain provisions of the Indian Constitution may be amended by Parliament in order to meet its socioeconomic obligations, but more significantly, it held that the Constitution’s fundamental design cannot be changed by Parliament under any circumstances.
  • According to the basic structure doctrine, certain fundamental aspects of the Constitution, such as:
    • Supremacy of the Constitution
    • The Federal Character of the Constitution
    • The Separation of Powers between the Legislature, the Executive Branch, and the Judicial Branch
    • The Protection of Fundamental Rights, cannot be changed by Parliament.
    • Secularism
    • Achieving a balance between fundamental rights and guiding principles

Was “Basic Structure” known before the KESHAVANANDA BHARATI Case?

  • Mudholkar J. (in 1964) discussed the fundamental elements of the Constitution and suggested that it should be given permanent status during the hearing of the Sajjan Singh Case in 1965.
  • Shortly after, in February 1965, German professor Henry Conrad gave a speech on “Implied Limitations of the Amending Power” to the Banaras Hindu University Law Faculty while on a visit to India.
  • One of India’s top constitutional lawyers, M. K. Nambyar, had advanced the argument of implied limitations at the Bar. In Golak Nath’s Case 1967, he brought it before the Supreme Court, but the doctrine of any implied restraints on Parliament’s ability to amend the Constitution was rejected.
  • Although the majority acknowledged that “there is considerable force in this argument,” they felt it was unnecessary to make a decision. “This question may come up for consideration only if Parliament seeks to undermine the constitutional framework embodied in provisions other than those found in Part III of the constitution,” the Constitution states.

The KESHAVANANDA BHARATI Case: What Was It?

  • Kesavananda Bharati was an Advaita Vedanta seer from the Smarta tradition.
  • In order to challenge the 1969 Land Reforms implemented by the then-C. Achuta Menon government that had an impact on his Mutt, Kesvananda Bharati was forced to file a lawsuit against the Kerala Government in February 1970.
  • Edneer Mutt experienced severe financial difficulties after the government took away a sizable portion of its property as a result of the land reforms.
  • Bharati petitioned the Supreme Court with a writ challenging the land reforms.
  • Kesvananda Bharati and his legal representative Nani Palkhivala contended that the new laws infringed upon his fundamental rights, specifically his freedom of religion (Article 26), right to property (Article 25), and right to freedom of belief (Article 25).

The Keshavananda Bharati case opened the door for a number of other crucial constitutional rulings:

  • In the 1975 case of Indira Nehru Gandhi v. Raj Narain, the Supreme Court determined that the right to vote was a fundamental right and that the election of a Prime Minister could be contested in court.
  • Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India (1978): In this case, the Supreme Court widened the protections provided by Article 21 of the Constitution for the right to life and the freedom of the individual, and it ruled that the legal process had to be reasonable, just, and fair.
  • Minerva Mills Ltd. v. Union of India (1980): In this case, the Supreme Court upheld the basic structure principle and overturned portions of the Constitution’s 42nd Amendment, which gave Parliament the authority to change any provision of the Constitution without judicial review.
  • S. R. Bommai v. Union of India (1994): In this case, the Supreme Court imposed limitations on the application of Article 356 of the Constitution, which deals with the imposition of President’s Rule, and established guidelines for the President’s use of his authority to dismiss state governments.
  • Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan (1997): In this case, the Supreme Court established rules to prevent sexual harassment at work as a violation of a woman’s fundamental right to equality.
  • In the Aadhaar case (Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) v. Union of India, 2018), the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Aadhaar Act but overturned several provisions that went against the fundamental principles of the Constitution, such as the requirement to link Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile numbers. In the Sabarimala temple case (Indian Young Lawyers Association v. State of Kerala, 2018), the Supreme Court

Conclusion:

The Keshavananda Bharti case ruling is evidence of the strength and adaptability of the Indian Constitution and its capacity to do so while upholding its fundamental principles.It is a significant turning point in the nation’s legal history, and future generations will continue to be affected by it.


India Needs Reforms To Have A Top-Notch Higher Education System


Context

  • Only 15 higher education institutions from India are listed among the top 1,000 worldwide, despite having the largest number of universities (900+).
    • This is troubling news for India’s higher education system.
  • Governance that is close to international standards is necessary for Indian universities to have even a remote chance of competing on the world stage.
    • Leadership is crucial to achieving world class universities in India.

Relevance:

GS Paper-2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources.

Mains Question

“Governance that approaches international standards is necessary for Indian universities to have a realistic chance of competing on the global stage.” Observation (150 Words).


Important Facts:

  • After China and the United States in terms of student enrollment, India has the third-largest higher education system worldwide.
  • India’s universities are haemorrhaging, and the political class in charge of running them appears to ignore the long-term damage caused by the exit of the best from this country. This is because the universities of the West have succeeded in large part because they have remained largely independent of the state even when they receive public funding.

The following are some problems with higher education in India:

  • Ineffective leadership: o In general, governments don’t try to appoint people to the universities who have a track record of academic leadership.
  • In reality, they seem to have made their decision based solely on the expectation of political allegiance.
    • Among the recent leadership appointments in India’s public educational institutions, it would be challenging to find too many academics with a track record of excellence.
    • The second point is that even the best leaders can achieve nothing if they are governed by rigid externally set rules.
  • These guidelines are most frequently seen in the form of the pervasive UGC guidelines in India’s higher education ecosystem.
    • Academic leadership entails integrative abilities of breaking departmental silos, aligning different disciplines, and managing multiple stakeholders.
    • Most faculty and researchers have individualistic traits whereas academic leadership calls for collaborative and transformative skills.
    • Academic excellence demands integrative skills across teaching, research and academic administration.
  • But the founders of universities, their chancellors, and the HR executives who support them lack this capacity.
    • Absence of student evaluation: o The absence of student evaluation is the reason why in many of India’s institutions students complain that teachers get away with shoddy work or, worse still, with just not turning up in class.
  • Students should assess the content and delivery of courses as a result.
    • Research evaluation: o Research evaluation is a more difficult task and existing methods remain contested even globally, but one thing is clear — the current practice in India’s universities based on the UGC’s Academic Performance Indicators(API) is flawed beyond repair.
    • Scoring of publications according to where a paper has been published is known to be misleading when it comes to judging the impact of research on the production of knowledge.  The practice of numerical scoring of research output must be jettisoned for a more holistic approach.
    • Unsatisfactory Faculty and Student Talent Sourcing: o Selection interviews are frequently superficial, lasting no more than 30 minutes for senior positions and only focusing on the candidate’s prior experience without any probing questions to gauge their potential for academic leadership.
    • Poor Governance: One way to understand the difference between regulation and governance is to consider that, while the former is preventative and uses control to achieve its goals, the latter seeks to improve the current situation.
    • Given their colonial provenance, many of India’s public institutions are heavily loaded towards control by a rule-bound bureaucracy without the incentive to bring about a change for the better.
    • Most HEIs suffer from poor governance because they ignore factors like participation, responsiveness, transparency, consensus, and inclusivity.
    • Overcentralization, bureaucratic structures, and a dearth of professionalism, accountability, and transparency present difficulties for Indian education management.
    • Political Aspect: Political influence is problematic and a problem in higher education. Governing bodies do not want any political influence or interference in their affairs.
    • The dominant political figures now have a significant voice in university governing bodies.
    • Investment in Building rather than People: Sadly, the majority of privately run HEIs place more of their money into infrastructure, equipment, and software than they do into their students.
  • They don’t realise that inspiring teachers are what help students learn, not physical structures.

Higher Education NEP 2020 Provisions

  • NEP-2020 has significantly altered governance and institutional reforms with the goal of establishing multidisciplinary colleges, universities, and clusters of higher education institutions by tying in with the impending industrial revolution for the creation of skilled jobs and expanding employment opportunities.
    • National Research Foundation (NRF): o Founded with the goal of supporting excellent research and actively fostering it in colleges and universities.
    • National Testing Agency (NTA): o The admission system for all the universities and the undergraduate HEIs will be preferably through National Testing Agency (NTA) in order to reduce the burden of several overlapping examinations conducted by HEIs separately.
    • National Educational Technology Forum: o Establishing a national educational technology forum for the proper use of technology in the domains of teaching, learning, assessment, administration and management systems and also focuses on maintaining virtual labs at various institutional and university levels.

Need of Hour:

  • Adaptation of Global Best practices: o Global best practices in the evaluation of academic performance are known, and India should take on board the best aspects.
  •  In fact, it should, if Indian academics are to face a level playing field internationally.
    • Rationalising of Governing Rules and Funding: o Research output in Indian universities is largely dependent on the rules governing research, not funding, though funding can have an impact in some areas of science and technology.
    • Improvement in admission process: o A second area where current practices stand in the way of improvement is admission to courses of study and hiring of faculty.  Both student admission and faculty hiring prescribe, among other things, the minimum grade attained and the subject studied for the previous degree.
    • The UGC should defer to academic bodies in this matter, only requiring that faculty selection be subject to external oversight.
    • Give Technology a Priority in Education: India needs to adopt computer and high-speed internet technology.
    • The wealth of human capital should be distributed widely by our educational delivery systems.
    • ICT will need to be integrated into the brick-and-mortar school, college, and university models and connected to them.
    • Governments ought to spend more money on the technological infrastructure that will make knowledge more accessible.
    • Conductive HR Policies: HR practises ought to be favourable to luring talent and establishing a leadership pipeline.
    • One of the important pillars in Deming’s Total Quality Management (TQM) philosophy is “Constant training and retraining of teachers” to avoid burnout syndrome by adding ‘on the job skills.
    • Encourage Innovation and Creativity: o The system should reward those who deserve the highest academic honour.
  • It is inappropriate to reward those who cram.
    • Originality, creativity, problem-solving, and innovation need to be recognised in our testing and marking procedures.
  • Ranks ought to be distributed fairly.
    • Educate the trainers Ongoing: o A teacher is an entrepreneur and an artist. A teacher’s performance should not be limited to the classroom.
    • It must be made publicly accessible via the internet.
    • Instead of salaried employees carrying the torch of leadership, there must be leaders in teaching positions.
  • So regular training is essential.
    • Modify Your Teaching Aptitude: Teaching positions are widely regarded as risk-free, well-paying, and safe careers. The majority of teachers are unwilling to change.
    • As they gain experience, they become pessimistic and fail to consider the nature and needs of the students.
    • It’s important to understand the current generation. In this direction, rules should be made.
    • Foreign Collaboration: o Government must promote collaboration between Indian higher education institutes and top international institutes.
    • To foster collaboration and improve research quality, the government must also establish connections between national research laboratories and research centres at top universities.

Conclusion:

For a university to achieve excellence in the creation of knowledge, total freedom of expression cannot be replaced by infrastructure or less restrictive rules.Reexamining financial resources, access and equity, quality standards, relevance, and infrastructure are urgently needed in order to meet and exceed future requirements.


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