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The Hindu Editorial

19-January-2024

1. Smaller citizens

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice- Education 

This topic is not much relevant in the context of Prelims but more for Mains in the context of educational policy and learning challenges in India.

Context:
  • The article discusses about the impact of the Pandemic on Education in India.
  • The age range of 14 to 18 is the subject of the ASER 2023 survey, which sheds insight on the existing state of affairs and difficulties encountered by this understudied demographic.

Introduction:
The challenges faced by India’s children during the pandemic are now becoming evident. The “ASER 2023: Beyond Basics” report by Pratham sheds light on the educational impact, particularly among rural students aged 14 to 18.

  • Educational Struggles:
    – More than half of surveyed students in this age group struggle with basic mathematics, a skill expected to be mastered in Classes 3 and 4.
    – About 25% cannot read a Class 2 level text in their mother tongue.
    – Boys outperform girls in arithmetic and English reading skills.
  • Enrollment and Age Disparities:
    – Overall, 86.8% of 14-18 year olds are enrolled in an educational institution.
    – Disparities emerge as students grow older; 32.6% of 18-year-olds are not in school.
    – For Class 11 and higher, most students opt for Humanities, with a gender gap in science stream enrollment.
  • Vocational Training and Private Tuition:
    – Only 5.6% have opted for vocational training or related courses.
    – Private tuition has increased from 25% in 2018 to 30% in 2022.
  • Technology and Online Safety:
    – Close to 90% of youngsters surveyed own smartphones and know how to use them.
    – Many are unaware of online safety settings, highlighting potential risks.
  • Challenges and Corrective Measures:
    – Lag in reading and arithmetic skills reveals challenges in the education system.
    – National Education Policy 2020 prioritizes achieving universal foundational literacy and numeracy by 2025.
    – Despite efforts under the NIPUN Bharat Mission, there is a significant gap in achieving foundational skills.

Conclusion:
While rising enrollment is positive, challenges persist after the compulsory school cycle (Class 8), emphasizing the need for comprehensive educational reforms to fulfill the true spirit of the Right to Education Act, 2009.

PYQ: The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 remains inadequate in promoting incentive-based system for children’s education without generating awareness about the importance of schooling. Analyse. (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2022) (250 words/15 m)

2. Crafting a new phase in India-¬U.K. defence ties

Topic: GS2 – International Relations – Bilateral Relations 

This topic is not much relevant in the context of Prelims but more for Mains in the context of understanding development in bilateral relations and strengthening India-UK defence ties.

Context:
  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s recent visit to the United Kingdom marks a significant development after a 22-year hiatus.
  • Growing opportunities have emerged in recent years, driven by the rise of Chinese military power, especially its expansion into the Indian Ocean, posing threats to India and Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCs) crucial for the U.K.

Strategic Reorientation:

The British reorient their priorities, recognizing the need to address strategic challenges posed by China’s military expansion in the Indian Ocean, aligning with India’s concerns.

  • Technological Collaboration:
    A key focus of Singh’s visit is securing key technologies for the Indian Navy. The UK, particularly adept in electrical propulsion technology used in aircraft carriers, offers collaboration to address the Indian Navy’s technological gaps against the Chinese.

    Electric Propulsion Partnership:
    India and the UK establish a joint working group, termed the “India-UK Electric Propulsion Capability Partnership,” emphasizing cooperation in electrical propulsion for naval capabilities.
  • Technical Knowhow Transfer:
    Preliminary engagements and delegation-level discussions precede Singh’s visit, with a focus on transferring technical knowhow from the Royal Navy, which has mastered maritime electric propulsion.
  • Testing and Integration:
    Plans include testing electric propulsion initially on landing platforms and later on next-generation surface vessels. The British commit to training, equipping, and assisting in establishing necessary infrastructure.
  • Challenges in Defence Relationship:
    Despite opportunities, challenges persist, notably legacy issues related to the UK’s historical ties with both India and Pakistan. Complexities around weapons exports to the subcontinent and concerns regarding Khalistan and Sikh separatism add complexity.

    Shifting Strategic Realities:
    The emergence of China as a major naval power prompts a shift in strategic realities, providing a strong rationale for closer defence ties between the UK and India.
  • Joint Military Exercises and Deployments:
    Several joint military exercises have taken place, with deeper defence industrial cooperation anticipated. During Singh’s visit, the UK officially declares plans to deploy a littoral response group in 2024 and a carrier strike group in 2025 to enhance interoperability with the Indian Navy.

    Conclusion:
    Rajnath Singh’s visit signifies a renewed and strengthened military involvement by the UK in the Indian Ocean, addressing contemporary strategic challenges and fostering closer defence ties with India.
PYQ: The newly tri-nation partnership AUKUS is aimed at countering China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region. Is it going to supersede the existing partnerships in the region? Discuss the strength and impact of AUKUS in the present scenario. (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2021)

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