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Indian Express Editorial Analysis

13-February-2024

1. A science for us

Topic: GS2  – Governance – Government policies – Interventions for development in various sectors
This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of recent developments in Indian science and technology, including the launch of SWATI and the broader discourse on gender equity.
Context:
  • The launch of Science for Women-A Technology & Innovation (SWATI), a portal aiming to create a comprehensive database of women in science in India, represents the latest effort by Indian science academies to address the gender gap in STEM fields.
  • This initiative builds upon previous endeavors and underscores the ongoing commitment to promoting gender equity in scientific disciplines.
More about the news: Historical Initiatives and Reports:
  • The foundation for addressing gender disparities in Indian science was laid two decades ago with the publication of a landmark report by the Indian National Science Academy (INSA).
  • This report, supported by the government, highlighted discrimination in the workplace and proposed solutions, marking a significant departure from mainstream discourse.
  • Subsequent initiatives, such as the Indian Academy of Sciences’ Lilavati’s Daughters and national conferences, furthered the dialogue on gender inequality in STEM.
Policy Proposals and Implementation Challenges:
  • While policy proposals, including flexible working hours and research grants for women scientists, were announced with much fanfare, their implementation faced significant challenges.
  • Promises made by policymakers often remained unfulfilled, reflecting a disconnect between policy intent and execution.
  • The failure to establish effective implementation mechanisms hindered progress in addressing the root causes of gender disparities in academia.
Gendered Perceptions and Policy Implications:
  • A deeper understanding of gendered perceptions revealed through sociological studies sheds light on the origins of existing policies and initiatives.
  • The emphasis on “fixing” women through mentorship programs and awareness campaigns overlooks systemic barriers and places undue responsibility on female scientists.
  • Addressing gender equity requires acknowledging discrimination and holding the overrepresented demographic accountable for perpetuating inequalities.
Emerging Policy Directions and Inclusive Practices:
  • Newer initiatives, such as the Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI) charter and the draft Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy (STIP) 2020, adopt more progressive language and inclusive frameworks.
  • These policies, informed by diverse perspectives, recognize the intersectional nature of gender disparities and strive to address the unique challenges faced by marginalized groups within the scientific community.
The Role of Inter-Academy Panels and Future Prospects:
  • The launch of SWATI by a panel representing multiple scientific academies signals a renewed commitment to addressing gender disparities in Indian science.
  • However, past experiences caution against complacency, highlighting the need for sustained efforts and transparent, inclusive practices.
  • While the inclusion of diverse gender identities in the SWATI initiative is a positive step, ensuring accountability and effectiveness remains crucial for meaningful progress.
Conclusion:
  • The launch of SWATI and the broader efforts to promote gender equity in Indian science reflect a growing recognition of the need for inclusive practices and policies.
  • By addressing systemic barriers and challenging gendered perceptions, the scientific community can create a more equitable and diverse environment conducive to innovation and progress.
  • Continued collaboration and transparency are essential for realizing the vision of gender equality in STEM fields.
Government of India initiatives for promoting women in science:
  • Women Scientist Scheme: Women Scientist Scheme aims to provide opportunities to women scientists and technologists who desire to return to mainstream science after a break in career due to social responsibilities.
  • Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN): Department of Science & Tech. restructured all women specific programmes under one umbrella called KIRAN. The mandate of the KIRAN programme is to bring gender parity in S&T through gender mainstreaming.
  • S&T for women: Science and Technology for women programme was initiated in 1981–82 with the mandate to promote gender equality and empower women at grass root level with inputs of S&T through development, adaptation, adoption, transfer, demonstration of appropriate and successful technologies.
  • Consolidation of university research for innovation and excellence in women universities’ (CURIE): KIRAN is involved in taking proactive measures through the component- CURIE, to develop state-of-the-art infrastructure in women universities to attract, train and retain promising girl students in S&T domains.
  • Women technology parks: Through the development of women’s capacity and the adoption of regionally-specific technologies, women technology parks (WTPs) serve as a single point of convergence for a variety of technologies, resulting in the socioeconomic development of women.
  • Training and capacity building: Several training programmes specifically for capacity building of women scientists working in various sectors covering multifarious themes are conducted in partnership with premier institutions including the National Programme for Training of Women Scientists and Technologists in the Government that provided opportunity to over 1000 women scientists to upgrade their knowledge base and skills.
Practice Question:  Discuss the initiatives undertaken to address gender disparities in Indian science, examining the challenges encountered in implementation and the progress achieved. (150 words/10 m)

2. Ten years on, India and UAE

Topic: GS2 – International Relations – Bilateral Relations
This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of bilateral relations between India and the UAE, highlighting historical ties, diplomatic engagements, and economic cooperation.
Context:
  • Indian traders have historically played a significant role in the Persian Gulf region, predating the oil boom era. Their involvement ranged from investing in pearl fishery operations to supplying commodities like textiles, spices, and furniture.
  • Indian entrepreneurs even introduced modern amenities like electricity to dynamic trading hubs such as Dubai, despite facing harsh living conditions.
  • The influence of Indian expertise and entrepreneurship was evident across various sectors, contributing to the economic landscape of the region.
More about the news: Perception of Bilateral Relations:
  • Despite the substantial presence and contributions of the Indian diaspora in the UAE, bilateral relations between India and the Emirates were perceived as lacking adequate political capital investment.
  • This sentiment persisted, with the last prime ministerial visit from India occurring in 1981.
  • The success of Indian entrepreneurship contrasted with perceived neglect from Indian policymakers, prompting calls for greater engagement and strategic cooperation between the two countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Visit:
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic visit to the UAE in August 2015 marked a turning point in bilateral relations.
  • The warm reception from Emirati leadership and the signing of a Joint Statement signaled a commitment to elevating the relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
  • This visit laid the groundwork for significant initiatives across various sectors, including trade, security, infrastructure, and education.
Progress and Achievements:
  • Subsequent visits and agreements between India and the UAE have demonstrated tangible progress in strengthening bilateral ties.
  • Initiatives such as the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), increased investment, and cooperation in areas like energy transition and education underscore the depth and breadth of the partnership.
  • The establishment of an Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi campus in Abu Dhabi further solidifies collaborative efforts in education and research.
Symbolic Gestures and Community Engagement:
  • Symbolic gestures, such as the allocation of land for the construction of a temple in Abu Dhabi, reflect the growing cultural and social ties between India and the UAE.
  • The responsiveness of Emirati leadership to the needs and aspirations of the Indian community underscores the importance of community engagement in fostering closer relations.
Outlook and Future Prospects:
  • Prime Minister Modi’s upcoming visit to the UAE reaffirms the commitment to strengthening bilateral ties and addressing remaining areas of cooperation.
  • The dedication ceremony at the BAPS Hindu Temple in Abu Dhabi symbolizes the fulfillment of longstanding requests and aspirations of the Indian community.
  • As both countries continue to deepen their partnership, the prospects for mutual growth and prosperity remain promising, paving the way for a flourishing relationship in the years ahead.
What are Different Challenges in India-UAE Relations?
Trade Barriers Impacting Indian Exports:
  • Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) like Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), notably mandatory Halal certification, have impeded Indian exports, particularly in sectors such as poultry, meat, and processed foods.
  • These barriers have led to a significant decline in processed food exports to the UAE by almost 30% in recent years, according to a report from India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Chinese Economic Influence in the UAE:
  • China’s “Cheque Book Diplomacy,” characterized by offering low-interest loans, has overshadowed Indian economic endeavors in the UAE and the broader Middle East.
  • Data from the American Enterprise Institute’s China Global Investment Tracker reveals that China’s investments and contracts in the UAE exceeded USD 30 billion between 2005 and 2020, significantly surpassing Indian ventures in the region.
Challenges of the Kafala System:
  • The Kafala system in the UAE, which grants employers considerable power over immigrant laborers, especially those in low-wage jobs, presents significant human rights concerns.
  • Instances of passport confiscation, delayed wages, and poor living conditions underscore the challenges faced by migrant workers under this system.
Concerns Over UAE’s Financial Support to Pakistan:
  • The UAE’s substantial financial aid to Pakistan raises apprehensions about the potential misuse of these funds, considering Pakistan’s history of sponsoring cross-border terrorism against India.
  • For instance, in 2019, the UAE pledged USD 3 billion to bolster Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves, raising concerns about the funds’ diversion towards activities detrimental to India’s national security.
Diplomatic Balancing Act Amid Regional Conflicts:
  • India finds itself in a delicate diplomatic position due to the ongoing conflict between Iran and Arab nations, notably the UAE.
  • Despite U.S. sanctions on Iran, India continued to import oil from the country, accounting for approximately 10% of its total oil imports. This underscores issues in India’s need to navigate its relations with both Iran and the Arab world cautiously.
  • Recent outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas further aggravates the challenges as it runs the proposed IMEC into rough weather.
PYQ: The question of India’s Energy Security constitutes the most important part of India’s economic progress. Analyze India’s energy policy cooperation with West Asian Countries. (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2017)
Practice Question:  Analyze the significance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visits to the UAE and the outcomes of bilateral agreements in elevating the relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership. (250 words/15 m)

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