Mitras Analysis of News : 30-05-2017

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1.Israel-India Relations: a key to security and prosperity (Live Mint)

2.Marks and standards: the need for a better evaluation system (The Hindu)

3.How does Indian investment in Africa compare with China’s? (Live Mint)

 

1.Israel-India Relations: a key to security and prosperity (Live Mint)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the emerging relations between India and Israel. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • India and Israel established full diplomatic relations in 1992 and since then the bilateral relationship between the two countries has blossomed at the economic, military, agricultural and political levels.
  • Both countries see themselves as isolated democracies threatened by neighbors that train, finance and encourage terrorism, therefore both countries also view their cooperative relationship as a strategic imperative.

2017: Important anniversary year for Israel

  • The year 2017 marks important anniversaries for Israel:
  1. The Balfour Declaration of 1917, the first official British declaration recognizing the need for a Jewish state;
  1. 1947 when the United Nations passed a resolution in support of a Jewish state, a year before its creation.
  1. 1967, which saw the Six-Day War resulting in an overwhelming Israeli victory over Arab aggressors, establishing Israel’s control over all of Jerusalem, West Bank, Gaza, Golan, and Sinai.
  • This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between India and Israel. To commemorate this important anniversary, and by remarkable coincidence coinciding with all these other important anniversaries, Prime Minister is set to visit Israel, in what will be another first: the first time ever that an Indian prime minister will visit Israel.

A brief history of India- Israel relations

  • Relations between Jerusalem and New Delhi were not always warm. Although both countries gained their independence from the United Kingdom within months of each other, they found themselves headed in pointedly different directions for nearly four decades .
  • India as a leader in the Non-Aligned Movement that maintained close relations to the Arab world and the Soviet Union; Israel which linked its future to close ties with the United States and Western Europe.
  • India’s large Muslim population was another major obstacle to building a relationship with Israel, as India feared that close relations with the Jewish State might somehow radicalize its Muslim citizens – numbering more than 100 million – and hurt its relations with the Arab world.
  • Although India publicly kept a distance from Israel until the late 1980’s, there was in fact a great deal of bilateral activities between the two countries in the preceding years. Israeli supplied weapons aided India in winning the Kargil War against Pakistan in 1999. Israel also provided humanitarian relief to India.
  • Since firmly establishing diplomatic ties, both countries have benefited immensely. India has become one of Israel’s largest trading partners, many of the world’s leading high-tech companies in Israel and India are forging joint ventures that are successfully competing in the tough international marketplace.
  • Trade and cooperation between the countries now centres primarily on security-related deals and aid in areas such as agriculture and water desalination.

Chapters to learn from Israel

  • India has much to learn from Israeli’s application of hard power, living as they do in a part of the world where most of their neighbours don’t even acknowledge their right to exist and many are trying actively to wipe them off the map. India too faces existential threats but for too long, our political elite were both unwilling to acknowledge this fact and to draw the correct lessons from the Israeli experience.
  • India could well take a cue from how Israel maintains stringent external and internal security, allowing Israeli settlements right up to the border of conflict zones. In India, by contrast, we seem to be in perennial reaction mode, trying to contain situations as they’re unfolding rather than pre-empting trouble before it happens.

Way ahead

  • The key to the growing India-Israel ties, however, is in the realm of security and defense. In the early 2000s, the Indian army declared its intention to implement a modernization program to which resources of tens of billions of dollars would be allocated. Since then, defense deals with Israel have grown exponentially – today, India is the number one export target of Israel’s defense industries.

Question: What are the prospects for India to cultivate its relations with Africa? What are its implications with regard to West Asia?

2.Marks and standards: the need for a better evaluation system (The Hindu)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on issue whether we need for a better evaluation system for our school examination. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • Due to concerns that spiking of marks by some boards was denying students across India a level playing field in admission to higher education courses, the Central and State school boards had decided to discontinue the practice of raising board examination marks through moderation.
  • But recently Delhi High Court directed the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to continue use of moderation policy of giving grace marks to students for difficult questions while finalising class 12 marks. This directive poses the immediate question of how various State boards of education that have not adopted the practice will respond.
  • Some boards have already published the results without moderation, while others will resort to the practice, making it necessary for college authorities to make offsets while fixing admission criteria.
  • Decision has been taken on the pretext that, most professional colleges consider Class XII scores for merit-based admission. Usually, CBSE candidates stand a disadvantage while seeking admissions to colleges in states like Tamil Nadu as the scores of students from the state board are higher. There is no normalization of marks as it is opined that CBSE is a tougher board than the state board.

Removal of moderation policy

  • Major decision for curbing the more than a decade long practice of moderation had started from 2016. CBSE had requested Ministry of Human Resource Development to develop a consensus on completely removing the marks moderation policy which always led to inflation of marks in board exam results.
  • The call bringing an end to moderation became essential when board exam marks increased unnaturally. Students, who were affected by this, were those who had a tough examiner. It also hampered those who had a difficult set of question paper.

Raised concern

  • Across the board use of tools ‘Moderation’ raises questions on the actual scores. It is extraordinary that tests for non-quantitative subjects such as English and Political Science yield perfect scores of 100% in the CBSE examination and elsewhere, giving the impression that the questions require to be answered only within a limited framework laid out in a textbook, leaving little scope for creative responses that reflect the quality of teaching in the classroom.
  • Single external examination has heavily influenced the learning process, tailoring it almost entirely to score marks. Built on a foundation of weak primary education, it does little to improve outcomes for the majority of students at the secondary school level.
  • According to the Annual Status of Education Report 2016, among rural students in Class 8, only 43.3% could correctly solve a simple three digit by one digit division problem, this makes clear is that encouraging performance on enrolment of students even in some of the backward States is not the same as achieving high outcomes in actual learning.
  • Subsequently, cut off scores for undergraduate course admission became abnormally high. One of the most concrete example in support of this is when during last few years, DU admission process saw 100% cut-offs in many subjects.
  • There is issue of access to private tuitions for a better examination score, which affects less-privileged students. It is against the depressing backdrop of such distortions that India’s school system must prepare an evaluation mechanism for students.

Way ahead

  • Empirical analysis reveals a strong positive relationship between education and economic growth.  India has the full potential to use its demographic dividend to its advantage if the children can be imparted education that prepares them to face the real world with confidence.
  • So far, the government’s focus was on spreading education across the country but the time has now come to shift the focus on quality education. Now, the government should emphasize more on learning rather than schooling. There is need of reform which recognizes the role of the teacher in ensuring genuine learning and encouraging creativity.
  • Some of the key focus areas include working on issues related to Teachers, Classroom processes, Assessments and Evaluations of student’s learning, School Infrastructure, School Effectiveness and Community participation.

Question: What are the reforms in the evaluation system that are needed urgently to make a global standing for Indian education system. Discuss.

3.How does Indian investment in Africa compare with China’s? (Live Mint)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on India’s investment strategy in Africa and how it is different with regard to China.(GS paper II)

Overview

  • Over the last decade there has been a gradual but marked shift in the main donors of FDI funding for Africa from the traditional western developed countries to the BRICs nations. India and China in particular have become significant players in the continent.
  • How far this altered trade and investment relations is assisting the creation of opportunities or posing new challenges for the African economy has attracted considerable scholarly and government attention.

Indian investment in Africa

  • In Mozambique, India is building a solar panel plant that will help the southern African country harness renewable energy. Cameroon, in Central Africa, has sought India’s help in fighting the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram. In Ethiopia, Indian technical and financial aid has helped transform the country into a major sugar producer, creating tens of thousands of jobs.
  • In exchange, India hopes for a share of Africa’s vast natural resources to power its own growth, as well as the support of African states to boost its profile as a global power. It also wants to ensure it is not completely overshadowed on the continent by its neighbour and rival, China.

India and China’s investment in Africa

  • Over the past decade, China has plowed billions of dollars into Africa, building roads, bridges and power installations in return for access to markets and resources.
  • It’s not just China. Others are there as well in the scramble for resources. Japan, the United States, and several emerging markets, such as Malaysia, Brazil, Turkey, are all looking at Africa in their quest for resources.
  • India’s major imports from Africa are resources and minerals, including crude oil, coal, gemstones and gold. African countries are a big market for Indian-made pharmaceuticals, motor vehicles and processed petroleum products, with trade growing at a fast clip.
  • India’s sustained effort is making an impact on Africa. India’s share of announced greenfield projects grew from 3.3% in 2003-08 to 6.1% in 2009-15. In the same period, the investment from China decreased from 4.9% to 3.3%
  • According to the latest World Investment Report published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), China’s total FDI in Africa is much more than India’s. Both India and China were minuscule players in terms of FDI in Africa, and India was ahead of China till 2009. However, China has surged much ahead of India between 2009 and 2014
  • Although India is not the biggest investor in Africa, it is not an insignificant player by any means. Statistics cited in the African Economic Outlook 2017 show that India is ranked second (after China) in terms of trade share with Africa. Here too, there is a wide gap in actual value of trade, with China’s total trade with Africa being more than 2.6 times its trade with India in 2015. Interestingly, both India and China were almost at par in terms of total value of trade with Africa in 2000.

table

Way ahead

  • Publicly, India insists its engagement with Africa has nothing to do with China. But New Delhi is clearly concerned about Beijing’s increasing clout in the continent.
  • Indian concern about China’s growing maritime footprint in the Indian Ocean a key waterway for access to energy supplies from the Gulf and Africa has increased with recent reports that Beijing is planning to set up its first overseas military base on the tiny African nation of Djibouti, strategically located at the mouth of the Gulf of Aden.
  • With increasing economic engagement, the fate of India-Africa ties would depend on not just quantitative factors such as trade and investment, but also a strategy that convinces the African people that economically engaging with India would be mutually beneficial.

Question What are the implications of increasing Chinese affinity with Africa. How should India respond?

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