News & Editorial Analysis 20 January 2023
The Hindu News Analysis
1 – Gaza Strip:
GS II International Relations
What is Hamas:
Hamas is a Palestinian Islamist political and militant movement that has waged war on Israel since its foundation in 1987, primarily through suicide bombers and rocket assaults.
It aims to depose Israel and replace it with a Palestinian state. It also rules Gaza on its own, without the help of the Palestinian Authority.
An agreement is required:
Since 2007, Gaza has been under a strengthened Israeli siege, with most basic goods still subject to severe restrictions.
What happened to the Gaza Strip:
The Gaza Strip is a man-made entity that arose in 1948 when about three-quarters of Palestine’s Arab inhabitants was moved, and in some cases expelled, as part of Israel’s establishment. And the majority of the refugees were dispersed around the area, in countries such as Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.
Some migrated to Jordan, which took control of the West Bank after 1948. And a big number of them travelled to Gaza, which is a tiny coastal area between Egypt and what is now Israel. Approximately 70 percent of Gaza’s population is now made up of refugees.
Who is in charge of it:
In 2007, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip by force. The Israelis then enforced a complete closure on Gaza’s borders shortly after. They designated Gaza as a hostile entity. Gaza, of course, is not a country.
Because of its history of assaults on civilians and other crimes, Hamas is considered a terrorist organisation by Israel and many of the international community, including the United States.
Situation right now:
Israel continues to occupy the West Bank, and the UN still considers Gaza to be part of occupied territory despite Israel’s withdrawal.
The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, while Israel claims the entire city of Jerusalem as its capital.
Only a few countries, including the United States, recognise Israel’s claim to the entire city.
What’s going on right now:
Tensions between Israel and Palestinians in East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank are frequently high.
Gaza is headed by Hamas, a Palestinian militant group that has attacked Israel numerous times. Israel and Egypt maintain strict control over Gaza’s borders in order to prevent weaponry from reaching Hamas.
Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank believe Israeli measures and restrictions are causing them pain. Israel claims it is just acting in self-defense against Palestinian violence.
Since the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan in mid-April 2021, things have gotten worse, with nightly skirmishes between police and Palestinians.
The potential of eviction for certain Palestinian families in East Jerusalem has sparked further outrage.
2 – Udan Scheme:
GS II Government Policies and Interventions
About the UdeDesh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) Scheme:
The project, which was launched in 2016, aims to improve connectivity to remote and regional sections of the country while also making air travel more cheap.
It is a crucial component of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s National Civil Aviation Policy, which was introduced in June 2017.
The regional connectivity scheme (RCS) aims to increase air connectivity to tier-2 and tier-3 cities by revitalising abandoned and underused airports.
Nearly half of the seats on Udan flights are subsidised under the scheme, and participating carriers are given a specific amount of viability gap money (VGF), which is split between the Centre and the affected states.
The initiative will be supported equally by the federal and state governments.
The programme will last for ten years and can be extended if necessary.
The scheme’s main features are as follows:
Airlines are given routes through a bidding process and must offer airfares of 2,500 per hour of travel.
A minimum of 50% of an aircraft’s total seats must be available at a lower cost.
The government provides a three-year subsidy to airlines in order to enable them to offer low-cost flights.
In the first three years, the government had set aside $4,500 crore for the restoration of 50 airports.
UDAN 4.0 is a new version of UDAN.
In December 2019, the 4th round of UDAN was launched, with a focus on North-Eastern Regions, Hilly States, and Islands.
The Scheme prioritises the allocation of VGF (Viability Gap Funding) to airports that have already been developed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI).
The functioning of helicopters and seaplanes has also been included in UDAN 4.
What obstacles did you face:
The concept has been hampered by the financial health of many smaller, regional carriers.
Many players just have one or two planes, and they are frequently neglected. For these lesser players, new planes are prohibitively expensive.
3 – BRICS Countries:
GS II International Relations
What are the BRICS countries:
The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) group is made up of the five biggest emerging countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
It is home to 42 percent of the world’s population, 23 percent of GDP, 30 percent of the land, and 18 percent of global trade.
In 2001, Goldman Sachs economist ‘Jim O’Neill’ invented the acronym BRIC to denote the developing powers that will be, with the United States, the world’s five greatest economies in the twenty-first century.
BRIC countries began their communication in 2006, and it has continued since 2009 at yearly meetings of chiefs of state and government.
With the addition of South Africa to the group in 2011, the BRICS reached its final makeup, which included a country from Africa.
4 – Pendency Of Cases In Supreme Count:
GS II Indian Judiciary
The issue at hand:
The retirements come at a time when the court is attempting to regain its footing following particularly harsh epidemic waves. A large number of cases are pending.
India’s legal system has the world’s greatest backlog of pending cases, with up to 30 million cases pending.
The fact that this number continues to rise demonstrates the legal system’s incompetence.
In addition, majority of the inmates in India’s prisons are detainees awaiting trial as a result of the backlog.
In the Supreme Court, there is a pending case:
According to the Supreme Court’s data, there are 70,362 cases outstanding as of April 1, 2022.
Because they have not completed the essential preliminaries, almost 19% of them are not ready to be brought before a judge for a judicial hearing.
There are 52,110 admission cases and 18,522 regular hearing cases.
There are a total of 422 Constitution Bench cases (including main and related topics).
After two years of virtual hearings, the Supreme Court has only lately begun full physical hearings.
The government has taken a number of initiatives to reduce detention:
Adoption of the “National Litigation Policy 2010” in order to transform the government into a more effective and responsible litigator.
Following the National Litigation Policy of 2010, all states developed their own state litigation policies.
LIMBS (Legal Information Management and Briefing System) was established in 2015 with the goal of keeping track of cases in which the government is a party.
The Supreme Court had instructed the government that criminals sentenced to 6 months or a year in prison should be assigned social service work rather than being transferred to overcrowded prisons.
The necessity of the hour:
Revisions to the national litigation policy are needed.
To encourage mediation, alternative dispute resolution mechanisms should be promoted.
Government and judiciary action that is coordinated.
To relieve the strain on higher courts, judicial capability in subordinate courts should be improved.
Increase the amount of money spent on the judiciary.
Improve the judicial system’s case handling and automation.
Make benches for each subject.
Internal dispute resolution techniques that are effective.
Judges should draught rulings that are shorter and more focused.
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The Hindu Editorial Analysis
The Futility Of Under Balancing China:
One of the most troubling questions the Indian strategic community has had to cope with since 2020 is the reasons for New Delhi’s imbalanced behaviour toward China. Is India’s domestic political climate the only factor that could account for this behaviour?
How can we explain India’s uneven behaviour in light of China’s threat more specifically? Is it a case of “buck passing,” hoping that someone else would take care of it, appeasing the threat’s real source (China), completely avoiding the matter, or a mix of all three? Will China’s hostility decrease if sanctions are eased?
India’s response to the threat:
The government and larger Indian strategic community are beginning to recognise China as a threat to India’s national security. As a result of the attention obviously shifting from the Line of Control (LoC) to the Line of Actual Control, a sizable amount of troops has been redeployed (LAC).
Additionally, there has been a concerted effort to prevent China and India from working together on technology.
However, it doesn’t appear that the threat posed by China or potential solutions from India have been fully examined. What is missing is a strong political commitment to containing the Chinese threat. The New Delhi government’s stance on China is similar to closing one’s eyes and acting as if it is nighttime outside.
Naturally, the fundamental tenet of Indian strategy is the belief that balancing China is dangerous. First off, it is not desired for India to aggressively man the whole LAC with China.
Second, New Delhi wants to avoid inflaming the situation by retaliating against China because doing so would result in the emergence of new flashpoints along the LAC.
Thirdly, India’s uneven behaviour is a result of the unpredictability of a military battle with a stronger power.
However, there are also significant risks connected to the underbalanced China policy that is currently in place. One is that, given the lack of forceful Indian responses, a much more powerful China is likely to accelerate its territorial ambitions. Another facet of underbalancing China is the absence of political clarity regarding the China threat and the articulation of redlines to confront that threat. This then begs the question of what, if anything, India’s allies and partners will do to support India in the case of a conflict with China.
A sizable school of thinking in New Delhi seems to hold that we should put off building up our ability to resist the China threat. Such a “threat delay” tactic, meanwhile, is based on unjustified optimism because China will continue to surpass India in strength. And by the time India catches up, it would be too late to reclaim the lost territory.
If there is no clear political articulation, the argument that China might exploit New Delhi’s strategic ambiguity and continue exploring its borders may be plausible. But are unequivocal political declarations about the danger that China poses and the enactment of limits by New Delhi helpful? Sure, theoretically, but there are dangers involved.
India’s future options include the following:
In other words, there are other “understandable” reasons for the current underbalancing of China strategy, even while domestic political concerns may be prompting the administration to understate the threat posed by China.
What options does New Delhi have to combat the threat posed by China?
New Delhi may employ a “tit for tat” strategy and consider occupying unmanned areas on the Chinese side. This is possible, but India needs to be prepared for moves from China that are comparable.
2.The Path of Economic Resistance
New Delhi may raise the costs for China economically by restricting high-tech imports from China in some industries.
The time may be opportune for New Delhi to consider nuclear upgrading and possibly to develop low yield weapons.
4.Working together with the West
China’s aggression does give New Delhi a good reason to strengthen its ties with the West and the United States, despite the veracity of the argument that it is a result of India’s growing strategic collaboration with the United States. We must be more open and truthful about it.
It needs to be made apparent how India’s key strategic partnerships and defence contracts will help it should the situation with China get worse. Saying that Beijing will be friendly to New Delhi if New Delhi is patient with Washington is a hazardous assumption disguised as a lax defence. China’s underbalance hasn’t helped, so it’s necessary to devise strategies to counteract the threat that she poses.
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The Indian Express Editorial Analysis
Foreign Universities Campuses In India:
A number of draught regulations have been released by the University Grants Commission to make it simpler for foreign universities to open campuses in India.
According to expectations, it “may presage long overdue improvements in the country’s higher educational atmosphere.”
It is crucial to understand that the general framework for higher education policy was built with equity and diversity in mind.
The 2020 National Education Plan is the context (NEP):
The National Education Strategy 2020 was developed by the government 35 years after the last policy, which was established in 1986. (NEP).
According to NEP 2020, the educational system will undergo a significant transformation. The emphasis is on “making high-quality higher education opportunities available to all students,” combining the goals of quality and equity.
However, while the standards for quality development are rather clearly stated, the measures for equity are left to the discretion of state governments and educational institutions with a detailed suggestion.
The laws for ensuring fair access have not been produced with the same zeal by the UGC, despite the fact that it has released follow-up regulations for quality improvement at an incredibly rapid speed, with the international university regulations being the most recent.
Possible barriers to allowing foreign colleges to establish campuses in India:
The introduction of quality standards alone is likely to significantly limit the access of underprivileged groups to higher education if the government doesn’t take equivalent action to protect them. This is because these policies have elements that can make access disparities worse.
The main steps recommended for improving quality include establishing unitary universities in place of affiliated universities, dual-length Bachelor’s/Master’s/BEd degrees, the National Entrance Test for admission, encouraging private education, and introducing foreign university campuses.
The following possible NEP problems could endanger affordable and equitable higher education:
The first policy recommendation for quality improvement is the switch from the affiliating university system to the unitary university system with large multidisciplinary campuses.
Unitary institutions are seen as being superior than affiliating universities because all courses, even those at the undergraduate level, are taught by the same pool of faculty members.
However, students from lower sections of society can easily and affordably access the affiliated state university system because of its close proximity to institutions in small/medium towns and even large villages.
Therefore, The NEP should have sought a medium position to provide both quality and equal access. The answer is to create cluster unitary universities by separating colleges while keeping the current decentralised geographic location in order to guarantee quality and equity.
The second measure concerns degrees with multiple lengths, such as the B.Ed. (two and four years) and master’s (one and two years).
The novelty is several ports of admission and exit. Students who leave school early are given the option to continue their degrees later and have their earlier credits stored in a credit bank, along with a certificate or diploma.
Even though this seems like a great idea, it would tempt less privileged students to go for a three-year Bachelor’s degree rather than a four-year one because it would be more affordable.
Because those with longer degrees would receive preference on the job market, this could lead to a hierarchy.
The last step is to administer admissions tests around the country. Students from stronger sections are frequently favoured in these exams.
For instance, the Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) for students in the lowest economic group in 2017–18 was 13%, whereas it was 16% for STs, 21% for SCs, and 16% for Muslims. The Rajan Committee Report from Tamil Nadu makes it abundantly evident that after the introduction of the entrance test, some students with higher higher secondary test scores could not find a position on the admissions lists, but those with lesser marks who could afford private tutoring did. The GER was really 7% and 11%, respectively, among the STs and SCs with the lowest incomes.
Allowing foreign universities to open campuses in India will have a similar impact on access. The best course of action is to establish institution-to-institution alliances that would improve the capability of the neighbourhood partner schools and boost access for students from underrepresented groups.
Instead of establishing foreign university campuses, the best of our institutes, like the IITS and IIMs, were founded in the 1970s through partnership with the best institutions from the US, Russia, and Germany.
It is clear that efforts to improve quality alone will further limit entry of students from underprivileged sectors to higher education unless related regulations are also passed to enable fair access. Quality and equitable measures both need to be taken into account.
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