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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 28 April 2023


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 28 April 2023


Contents

  1. Higher education reforms needed in India
  2. I North of the Andaman Islands, What’s Brewing?

Higher Education Reforms Needed in India


Context:

  • Only 15 higher education institutions from India are listed among the top 1,000, despite the country having the largest number of universities—more than 900—in the world.
  • This is a worrying development for India’s higher education system.
  • Appropriate governance is necessary for Indian universities to stand a chance of competing on the international stage.
    • Leadership is essential for India to develop world-class universities.

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).


Highlights

The third-largest higher education system in the world in terms of students after China and the United States is India.

India’s universities are haemorrhaging, and the political class in charge of running them seems 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.

Issues and Concerns in Higher Education in India

  • Ineffective Leadership: In general, governments don’t seek to appoint individuals with a track record of academic leadership to the universities.
  • Actually, it appears that their decision-making is clearly influenced above all else by the expectation of political allegiance.
    • It would be challenging to find too many academics with a track record of excellence among the recent leadership appointments in India’s public educational institutions.
    • The second point is that even the most effective leaders will fail if they are constrained by strict guidelines that are imposed from without.
  • These regulations primarily take the form of the pervasive UGC guidelines in India’s higher education ecosystem.
    • Academic leadership requires integrative skills for shattering departmental silos, bringing disparate disciplines together, and controlling a variety of stakeholders.
    • The majority of academics and researchers have individualistic tendencies, but academic leadership necessitates teamwork and transformative abilities.
    • Integrative abilities in teaching, research, and academic administration are necessary for academic excellence.
  • However, university chancellors and founders, as well as HR executives who support them, lack this capability.
  • Absence of student evaluation: Students in many Indian institutions complain that teachers get away with doing subpar work or, worse yet, simply missing class because there is no student evaluation.
  • Students should therefore assess the content and delivery of courses.
  • Research evaluation: Although evaluating research is a challenging task and there is ongoing debate about methods worldwide, one thing is certain: the academic performance indicators (API) used in India’s universities today are fundamentally flawed.
  • The practise of numerically scoring research output must be abandoned in favour of a more comprehensive approach because it is known to be misleading when it comes to assessing the impact of research on the creation of knowledge.
  • Unsatisfactory Faculty and Student Talent Sourcing: o Interviews for selection are frequently superficial, lasting only 30 minutes for senior positions, and only focusing on the candidate’s prior experience. No probing questions are asked to gauge the candidate’s potential for academic leadership.
  • Poor Governance: One way to distinguish between regulation and governance is that the latter seeks to improve the current situation, whereas the former is preventative and uses control to achieve its goals.
  • Many of India’s public institutions are heavily weighted towards control by a rule-bound bureaucracy without the incentive to bring about a change for the better because of their colonial origins.
    • Because most HEIs disregard qualities like participation, responsiveness, transparency, consensus, and inclusivity, governance suffers in these institutions.
    • Overcentralization, bureaucratic structures, and a lack of accountability, transparency, and professionalism present problems for Indian education management.
  • Political Influence: Political influence can be detrimental and is a problem in higher education. Governing bodies do not want political sway or meddling in their internal affairs.
    • The dominant political figures now hold important positions in the universities’ governing bodies.
  • Investment in Buildings Rather Than People: Unfortunately, most privately run HEIs’ promoters prefer to spend their money on hardware, software, and buildings than on people.
  • They are unaware that inspiring teachers, not physical structures, are what help students learn.

Provisions of NEP 2020 for higher education

  • By connecting with the impending industrial revolution for the creation of skilled jobs and expanding employment opportunities, NEP-2020 has brought about significant changes in governance and institutional reforms aiming at the establishment of multidisciplinary colleges, universities, and clusters of higher education institutions.
  • National Research Foundation (NRF): NRF was founded to support excellent research and actively foster research in colleges and universities.
  • National Testing Agency (NTA): o In order to lessen the burden of numerous duplicative exams administered by HEIs separately, the admission system for all universities and undergraduate HEIs will preferably be through the National Testing Agency (NTA).
  • National Educational Technology Forum: o Creating a national educational technology forum that focuses on maintaining virtual labs at various institutional and university levels, as well as on the proper use of technology in the areas of teaching, learning, assessment, administration, and management systems.

Need of the Hour:

  • Adaptation of Global Best Practises: o India should adopt the best features of Global Best Practises in the Evaluation of Academic Performance.
  • In fact, it should if Indian academics are to compete on an equal footing abroad.
  • Rationalising of Governing Rules and Funding: o The rules governing research, not funding, are crucial to the output of research in Indian universities, though funding may matter in some areas of science and technology.
  • Improving the admissions process: o The hiring of faculty and admission to courses of study both specify, among other things, the minimum grade attained and the subject studied for the prior degree, which is a second area where current practises prevent improvement.
    • The UGC should defer to academic bodies in this matter and only insist on external oversight of faculty hiring.
  • Give Technology in Education Priority: India needs to adopt computer and fast internet technology.
    • The wealth of human capital should be made available to everyone through our educational delivery systems.
    • ICT will need to be incorporated into and connected to traditional school, college, and university models.
    • Governments should make more investments in the technological infrastructure that will improve access to knowledge.
  • HR practises that are conducive to luring talent and building a leadership pipeline are known as conductive HR policies.
    • Deming’s Total Quality Management (TQM) philosophy includes “Constant training and retraining of teachers” as one of its key tenets in order to prevent burnout by enhancing “on the job skills.”
  • Promote Innovation and Creativity: The system ought to honour students who merit the highest academic distinction.
  • The people who cram shouldn’t be rewarded.
    • We need to design our testing and marking procedures to reward original ideas, creativity, problem-solving, and innovation.
  • Ranks ought to be given out appropriately.
  • Develop the Trainers Continually: o A teacher is a business owner and an artist. A teacher’s effectiveness ought to extend beyond the classroom.
    • It must be made public on the internet for all to see.
    • Leaders must hold positions of authority in the classroom, not paid employees.
  • Consequently, regular training is essential.
  • Alter your aptitude for teaching: Teaching positions are generally regarded as secure, well-paying, and risk-free careers. Most educators are unwilling to change.
    • As they gain experience, they become cynical and fail to take the nature and needs of the students into consideration.
    • It’s essential to comprehend the current generation. There should be rules made in this regard.
  • Foreign Collaboration: The government must encourage cooperation between prestigious international institutions and Indian higher education institutions.
    • For better-quality and collaborative research, the government must also establish connections between national research laboratories and research centres of top institutions.

Conclusion:

For the university, total freedom of expression aimed at achieving excellence in knowledge production cannot be replaced by infrastructure or less restrictive rules.It is urgent to take another look at the financial resources, access and equity, quality standards, relevance, and infrastructure in order to meet and exceed future requirements.


North of the Andaman Islands, What’s Brewing?


Context

Given the growing military activity in the Coco Islands and their proximity to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India decided to expand its capabilities.

Relevance:

GS Paper-3: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests, India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Mains Question

In order to protect its security and strategic interests, how can India effectively counter China’s growing maritime ambitions in Myanmar and the alleged developments in the Coco Islands? (150 words).


Key Points:

  • By making significant investments in ports and infrastructure throughout the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), China has recently increased its maritime reach.
    • Myanmar is a key target for China’s maritime ambitions due to its strategic location and unstable political situation. This has been a source of worry for India, especially in light of recent reports of Chinese activity in the Coco Islands, which are close to India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI).

Why does China value Myanmar?

  • In order to secure its maritime supply lines for energy imports and lessen its dependence on the constrained Strait of Malacca, China has long sought to diversify its access to maritime routes.
  • Due to Myanmar’s strategic location on the Bay of Bengal, China can advance its maritime objectives there. Additionally, China is Myanmar’s top supplier of defence products, a significant trading partner, and the second-largest foreign investor in the nation.
  • A significant part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), a collection of infrastructure projects along the Chinese-Myanmar border.
  • These projects are situated in unstable regions, emphasising the need for stability. China now has a sizable stake in Myanmar, giving it the opportunity to use its influence and financial investments for its own gain.

Alleged Chinese presence in the Coco Islands

  • According to recent reports, China is allegedly building signals intelligence (SIGINT) stations in the Coco Islands, which are north of the ANI in the eastern Bay of Bengal.
  • The islands provide Beijing with a vantage point for monitoring, surveilling, and gathering intelligence on maritime movements, particularly India’s naval activities in the IOR, and have the potential to be used as a launchpad for naval deployments, which is why this new information has drawn attention and sparked renewed concern.

Identifying truth from fiction

  • However, given China’s extensive construction activities in the South China Sea and its flurry of activity in and across the IOR, it is reasonable to assume that China has substantive intelligence capabilities.
  • Myanmar has consistently denied any Chinese military involvement and even invited Indian defence officials to visit Great Coco, confirming the presence of an airstrip but no visible Chinese military presence.
  • Given its unstable internal situation and the lack of any compelling reasons for it to be using the Coco Islands strategically, Myanmar may be acting on its own initiative, but India must continue to advance with building up its own capabilities within the ANI.

Do you know?

  • During the Prime Minister’s visit to the island in 2018, Ross Islands was renamed as Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Dweep in recognition of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s historical significance and to honour his memory.
    • Shaheed Dweep and Swaraj Dweep were also given to Neil Island and Havelock Island, respectively.The Prime Minister has always placed the highest priority on paying respect to the nation’s real-life heroes. In keeping with this spirit, it has now been determined to give the 21 largest unnamed islands in the island group their names after the 21 recipients of the Param Vir Chakra.
  • This will be a permanent tribute to our heroes, some of whom paid the ultimate price to safeguard the integrity and sovereignty of the country, as the largest unnamed island will be named after the first Param Vir Chakra awardee, the second largest unnamed island will be named after the second Param Vir Chakra awardee, and so on.

Security Implications for India

  • India has increased its own capabilities as a result of the expanding military activities in the Coco Islands and those islands’ proximity to the ANI.
  • In anticipation of air defence and air surveillance following the infrastructural developments taking place in the Coco Islands, India has pushed for upgrading the deterrence capabilities of the tri-service AN Command.
  • India’s concerns over China’s activities in Myanmar and the IOR are not new. India has been closely monitoring China’s BRI and its potential effects on regional security.
    • To counter China’s expanding influence, India has also been forging its own strategic alliances with nations in the region, including Japan, Australia, and the US.

Conclusion:

India must continue to advance with expanding its own capabilities in the ANI and forming strategic alliances with like-minded nations to counter China’s growing influence. China’s expanding maritime ambitions in Myanmar and the alleged developments in the Coco Islands have significant implications for India’s security.


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