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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 28 June 2022


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 28 June 2022


Contents

  1. Modi’s two summits: UAE trumps G7
  2. From Higher to Hire Education

Modi’s Two Summits: UAE Trumps G7


Context

Prime Minister is attending two summits this week – he is a ‘special invitee’ at the 48th G7 Summit at Schloss Elmou in Germany. After that, he has a bilateral summit in Abu Dhabi with the UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

Relevance

GS II: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Dimensions of the Article

  • More on News
  • India UAE Synergy
  • Changes since Pandemic
  • A Complex Area
  • Way Forward

More on News

  • Both summits are important to India, but unlike the interlocutors in the G7, our PM is unlikely to be hectored in Abu Dhabi about where not to buy oil from or how much Indian wheat and sugar must be sold. The agenda is likely to be more constructive and benign.
  • If the U.S. is exempted, no G7 country comes close to the UAE as India’s trading partner, exports market, Indian diaspora base and their inward remittances.
  • According to our official FDI data, the UAE invested more in India in 2021 than Germany and France combined.
  • Unlike the UAE, none of the G7 countries has yet signed a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with India.

India UAE Synergy

The current India-UAE synergy and amity are largely due to Prime Minister Modi’s tending.This would be his 4th visit to Abu Dhabi and 6th summit with Sheikh Mohammed over the past seven years. These have re-energised this historic, but long-dormant relationship.

  • The visits have plenty to show — from Emirati investments in Jammu and Kashmir to a CEPA.
  • After a COVID-19-induced three-year hiatus, a Modi-Sheikh Mohammed summit was desirable to infuse a fresh momentum.
  • As Sheikh Mohammed has been the de facto President since Sheikh Khalifa suffered a stroke in 2014, the change at the helms means little in the practical term.
  • But, this being the only 2nd transition at the top since the formation of UAE in 1971, is significant. It largely symbolises political stability and continuity in a turbulence-prone region.

Thus, the Abu Dhabi summit would be a useful opportunity to recalibrate the bilateral ties and open new vistas following the operationalisation of the bilateral CEPA from May 1.

Changes since the pandemic

Significant changes in the bilateral, regional and global context have taken place since the two leaders last met in August 2019. Both countries have successfully contained the COVID-19 pandemic and can pool their experiences.

  • Their bilateral trade grew by 68% in 2021-22 to $72.9 billion setting a new record. Thanks to the CEPA, the robust economic revival, higher oil prices and larger Indian imports, trade is likely to grow even higher in 2022-23.
  • While both exports and imports grew, the trade deficit reached $16.8 billion, also a new record. But the CEPA corrective mechanism would, hopefully, prevent the deficit wideningdisproportionately.
  • As the UAE collects petrodollars, India, the world’s fastest-growing major economy, could be a lucrative market for investments in areas of petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, renewables, infrastructure, manufacturing, logistics, start-ups, etc.
  • A lot has already been done to streamline the manpower sector, including skilling the young Indian labour force to suit the Emirati requirements, but more could be done.
  • The two sides can collaborate for the eventual reconstruction of the war-ravaged regional countries such as Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan.
  • In the bilateral political domain, the two sides have cooperated efficiently on security and anti-terrorism, but they need to do more to fight money laundering and the flow of illicit narcotics.

A complex area

The South West Asian region is a complex and evolving area.

  • The UAE has disrupted the longstanding Arab Israeli stalemate by normalising relations with Israel in 2020.
  • The two sides have recently signed a bilateral CEPA. Abu Dhabi, too, after pursuing a muscular regional, religious foreign policy, seems to have decided to stage a phased withdrawal and improve ties with Syria, Qatar and Turkey.
  • The ties with Saudi Arabia remain somewhat edgy, due to policy divergences and economic competition. Similarly, Abu Dhabi has developed some ruction with the Biden presidency in the U.S. and is diversifying its strategic options with Russia and China.
  • It has conspicuously ignored the plea by the U.S. and other Western countries to raise its oil production. India, the UAE’s second-largest trading partner, and largest source of tourists and manpower, can be a useful ally.

Way Forward

Against this ongoing regional and global flux, the India-UAE summit is both topical and opportune and can have an impact beyond the bilateral context. The India-UAE engagement will further cement the already deep, historic and strategic cooperation and will create new employment opportunities, raise living standards, and improve the general welfare of the peoples of the two countries.

Source – The Hindu


From Higher to Hire Education


Context

Higher education policy planners and regulators are busy giving shape to the digital university, which was announced in the 2022-23 Union Budget. Though still on the drawing board, the digital university is expected to offer any number, kind, and type of course without limits on intake, in a hybrid or ‘physical plus digital’ mode. It proclaims to provide equitable access to quality higher education and employability-enhancing skill development programmes to all.

Relevance

GS II: Education, Human Resources.

GS III : Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.

Dimensions of the Article

  • Recent Developments
  • Challenges associated with the New Developments
  • No Substiture for Teacher
  • Way Forward

Recent developments

Higher education in India is getting metamorphosed into ‘hire education’. In the process, higher education is now getting delivered by for-profit entities, in contravention of the long-held belief that education at all levels must be provided on a not-for-profit basis.

  • Initiatives like, the UGC has relaxing norms for setting up open universities, reduction in land size requirement, are likely to open the floodgates for private open universities.
  • Simultaneously, more universities are being enabled to offer courses in the distance, open and online mode, in collaboration with EdTech startups and unicorns.
  • Certain MOOC courses are made mandatory for students who can also accumulate credits & deposit them in Academic Bank of Credit to be exchanged for a degree at a later stage. Thus introducing informal modes of education.
  •  Information Communication and Entertainment technologies, augmented and VR, AI, ML are being touted as technologies with immense possibilities for transforming the delivery of education.

Challenges associated with the New Developments

Informal modes of education are supposedly bidding obituary to brick- &- mortar universities. Such learning could entirely terminate face-to-face formal education.

  • Tech-based digital learning encompassed by EdTech startups are projected as the future of higher education, especially after the conviction projected by 2 years of COVID-19 compelled e-learning. With this higher education, will transform into a virtual space.
  • Evidence of massive learning losses due to the digital divide, but primarily due to the inherent limitations of technology, are being regarded as mere teething troubles.

How successful and effective would such programmes be? No one knows. Going by the evidence, employers across the world are generally negatively disposed towards this. Most recruiters prefer to hire those who have graduated in face-to-face mode.

  • No wonder even the strongest proponents of online and virtual education feel that such programmes be subjected to stricter oversight, tighter regulations, and rigorous processes to ensure high standards and robust quality control.
  • Given the fact that the quality of higher education is inversely proportional to the intensity of regulation, designing and developing an efficient and effective regulatory mechanism often proves more challenging than imagined.
  • The open and distance mode of learning, including the latest model based on digital and virtual delivery, often finds favour with the government due to cost considerations.
  • It is, however, wrong to assume that these are economical and cost-effective. To be effective, they not only require massive capital investment in infrastructure, but also demand a significantly higher recurring expenses on content development and their continuous updating and upgradation.

No substitute for teachers

Technology can be effectively leveraged as a quality-enhancement tool. It would, however, be a blunder to regard technology-mediated teaching-learning as an alternative to face-to-face education. Technology can supplement and not substitute to this.

Way Forward

No world-class universities are planning to cut down their faculty cost or their number any time soon. On the contrary, they envision hiring more of them to attain greater excellence. India cannot be an exception to this. While higher education must indeed embrace and keep pace with the advancements in technology, it is a lot more than borrowing content and delivering them online or outsourcing content. This would render India a consumer of knowledge. We must, instead, be focused on exploiting our full potential to emerge as a producer of knowledge and providers of the global workforce.

Source – The Hindu


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