1.All the roads that lead to Kabul (The Hindu)

2.Cabinet approves SANKALP & STRIVE Schemes to boost Skill India Mission (PIB)

1.All the roads that lead to Kabul (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue to enhance India’s security profile in Afghanistan. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • Continuing with close bilateral consultation, Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani visited India. India and Afghanistan discussed regional counter-terror efforts and enhancing New Delhi’s defence assistance to Kabul during a day-long working visit.

Assessment

  • Both sides expressed an appreciation for the U.S.’s new South Asia policy, even as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson continued his travels in the region, landing in New Delhi. Ghani visit was underlining that the time had come for Islamabad to make a choice between abandoning state sponsorship of terrorism and facing the consequences.
  • It was as perfect a piece of diplomatic choreography as it could get, aimed at sending a message to Pakistan that regional equations are shifting in a direction which will only isolate Islamabad if immediate corrective measures are not taken.
  • The US administration’s South Asia policy has underscored India’s centrality in the ‘Af-Pak’ theatre. As Washington plans to increase its military footprint in Afghanistan, it is tightening the screws on Pakistan for supporting terrorism as an instrument of state policy. Both Washington and Kabul now view New Delhi as a player with considerable leverage over the evolving regional dynamic.
  • A central feature of the US administration’s new Afghanistan policy is an outreach to India. Kabul has wholeheartedly embraced this strategy, with Mr. Ghani terming it a “game-changer” for the region as it “recommends multi-dimensional condition-based approach for the region.”
  • In a remarkable move, Mr. Ghani went on to suggest that Afghanistan would restrict Pakistan’s access to Central Asia if it is not given access to India through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. He referred to the Indo-Afghan air corridor as an effective response to Pakistan’s attempt to deny India and Afghanistan any direct access.
  • Ghani also rejected “Pakistan-managed” efforts to broker peace in his country, and in line with this India too has emphasised that it believes peace efforts in Afghanistan should be “Afghan-led” and “Afghan-controlled”.
  • India continues to maintain that renunciation of violence and terror, and closure of state-sponsored safe havens and sanctuaries remain essential for any meaningful progress and lasting peace. In recent years, India has not shied away from taking a high-profile role in Afghanistan. It remains one of the biggest donors of aid to Afghanistan, having committed $3.1 billion since 2001.
  • Recently, India had announced that it will be working on 116 new development projects in more than 30 areas. India’s agenda is to build the capacity of the Afghan state as well as of Afghan security forces, enabling them to fight their own battles more effectively. This is in line with the requirements of the Afghan government as well as the international community.
  • The recent bout of diplomatic activity in the region is a clear signal that India can no longer be treated as a marginal player in Afghanistan.

Way ahead

  • US’s South Asia policy is a remarkable turnaround for Washington which had wanted to keep India out of its ‘Af-Pak’ policy for long for fear of offending Rawalpindi. India was viewed as part of the problem and now the US administration is arguing that India will be viewed as part of a solution to the Afghan imbroglio.

Question– India must expand its development role further and enhance its security profile in Afghanistan. Critically analyse.

2.Cabinet approves SANKALP & STRIVE Schemes to boost Skill India Mission (PIB)

Synoptic line- It throws light on the need, aim and nature of both the schemes. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved two new World Bank supported schemes of Rs. 6,655 crore – Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) and Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE).
  • SANKALP is Rs 4,455 crore Centrally sponsored scheme including Rs. 3,300 crore loan support from World Bank, whereas STRIVE is a Rs. 2,200 crore – central sector scheme, with half of the scheme outlay as World bank loan assistance. SANKALP and STRIVE are outcome focused schemes marking a shift in government’s implementation strategy in vocational education and training from inputs to results.

Need of the Schemes

  • There has been a long felt need for a national architecture for promoting convergence, ensuring effective governance and regulation of skill training and catalyzing industry efforts in vocational training space.
  • The two schemes shall address this need by setting up national bodies for accreditation & certification, which shall regulate accreditation and certification in both long and short term Vocational Education and Training (VET).
  • The architecture shall help, for the first time in the history of vocational education in India, to converge the efforts of various central, state and private sector institutions, thereby avoiding duplication of activities and bringing about uniformity in vocational training. Thus, creating better impact.

Aim of Schemes

  • Both the schemes are aimed at institutional reforms and improving quality & market relevance of skill development training programs in long and short-term VET. STRIVE scheme shall incentivize ITIs to improve overall performance, including apprenticeship by involving SMEs, business association and industry clusters.
  • The schemes aim to develop a robust mechanism for delivering quality, skill development training by strengthening institutions such as State Skill Development Missions (SSDMs), National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), Sector Skill Councils (SSCs), ITIs and National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) etc.
  • The schemes shall support universalization of the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) including National Quality Assurance Framework (NQAF) across the skill development schemes of central and state governments. Thus, ensuring standardization in skill delivery, content and training output.

Nature of the schemes

  • The schemes shall provide the required impetus to the National Skill Development Mission, 2015 and its various submissions. The schemes align with flagship Government of India programs such as Make in India and Swachhta Abhiyan and aim at developing a globally competitive workforce for domestic and overseas requirements.

Way ahead

  • The schemes will develop a Skilling ecosystem that will support the country’s rise in the Ease of Doing Business index by steady supply of skilled workforce in the industry.
  • The schemes will also work towards increasing the aspirational value of skill development programs by increasing the marketability of skills, through better industry connect and quality assurance.

Question: Discuss the challenges before newly launched SANKALP & STRIVE Schemes to boost Skill India Mission.