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The Hindu Editorial

4-November-2023

1. The IITs are overcommitted, in crisis

Topic: GS3 – education sector.

IITs and Their Global Ventures

  • Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are highly regarded in India’s higher education system and known internationally.
  • They are renowned for producing leaders in high-tech and related fields.
  • IITs face increasing challenges while expanding globally and domestically.

The IIT system in India is in crisis

  • The government has expanded the system too quickly, adding new IITs that have struggled to meet the high standards of the traditional institutes.
  • There is a severe shortage of academics in the IIT systemand salaries are dramatically below international standards.
  • The IITs are also facing challenges in attracting young professors committed to the IIT idea and to Indias development.
  • Building overseas branch campuses is highly problematical, given the domestic challenges facing the system.

Foreign adventures:

  • IIT-Madras has opened a branch campus in Zanzibar and IIT Delhi will be launching programmes from its Abu Dhabi campus in 2024.
  • The admission standards for these campuses are not as high as those at home, and they are open to students from across the globe.
  • The annual tuition fee is $12,000 for the BS programme and $4,000 for the M.Tech programme, but only 70 students have signed up for the first year.
  • It is unclear whether these campuses will be able to attract high-quality faculty and students, or whether they will be able to provide the same level of education as the main campuses in India.

Overexpansion at home:

  • The government has added seven new IITs in the past decade, most of which are located away from major metropolitan centres.
  • These new IITs have struggled to meet the high standards of the traditional institutes, and many of them have empty seats.
  • There should not be several tiers of IITs, with varying standards and levels of prestige.

Faculty challenges, future prospects:

  • Attracting and retaining high-quality faculty is a major challenge for the IIT system.
  • Salaries are dramatically below international standards, and foreign trained Indians are generally reluctant to return to uncompetitive salaries, often inferior work environments, and more academic bureaucracy.
  • Top Indian talent is increasingly attracted to the burgeoning IT sector, emerging biotech, and related fields.
  • There is now a severe shortage of academics in the IIT system, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that the IITs are in crisis.
  • Building quality in the new IITs is a significant challenge, and in the long run if this is not done, the prestige of the entire system will suffer.
  • Maintaining faculty quality and attracting young professors committed to the IIT idea and to India’s development are both serious tasks.

Conclusion:

  • Expanding the system domestically may not have been a wise idea, and building overseas branch campuses is highly problematical.

Question: The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are facing a number of challenges, including overexpansion, faculty shortage, and foreign adventures.

2. Governors should not give scope for criticism they challenge elected regimes.

Topic: GS2 – Indian polity

Context:

  • Two Indian states, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, have approached the Supreme Court to challenge the conduct of their respective Governors.
  • The primary concern is that political appointees in Raj Bhavan, as Governors’ residences are known, might misuse their authority to delay or undermine decisions made by elected regimes.

Delays in Granting Assent:

  • Tamil Nadu and Kerala have raised questions about the delay in granting assent to Bills passed by the state legislatures.
  • Tamil Nadu is also concerned about the pending proposals related to remission for convicts, prosecution sanctions, and appointments to the State Public Service Commissions.

Governors’ Actions and University Laws:

  • Some Governors, particularly in states not governed by the ruling party at the Centre, have been accused of obstructing decisions and Bills.
  • There are instances where Governors appear to resist amendments to university laws that might limit their power, such as the appointment of vice-chancellors and the establishment of new universities.

Recommendation for National Prohibition:

  • The article suggests a national prohibition on Governors holding the role of chancellor in any university, as recommended by the Justice M.M. Punchhi Commission on Centre-State relations.

Lack of Time-Frame for Assent:

  • The absence of a time-frame for granting assent to Bills is being used by some Governors to obstruct the implementation of laws.
  • The Supreme Court has emphasized the significance of the phrase “as soon as possible” in the Constitution’s Article 200, suggesting that Governors should not indefinitely hold onto Bills without conveying a decision.

Responsibility of States:

  • States should also exercise prudence in their decision-making to avoid potential challenges to the merit of their decisions.
  • The absence of a well-defined process for appointing chairpersons and members of the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission is noted as an example.

Governors’ Role and ‘Aid and Advice’ Clause:

  • The article highlights that Governors are explicitly restricted in their functioning by the ‘aid and advice’ clause in the Constitution and should not misuse their discretionary authority.

Note: for more details – Please refer The Hindu News section – 3 November 2023.

Question: Some Governors have been accused of using their discretionary powers to delay or block decisions and Bills passed by elected governments. Discuss the challenges posed by this trend and suggest measures to address them.

3. A narrative of ‘roti, kapada aur makaan’ under the NDA.

Topic: GS3 – development

Context:

  • The article discusses the film “Roti, Kapada Aur Makaan,” which portrays the hardships faced by individuals due to deprivation of essential needs such as food and shelter.
  • Undernourishment, especially in children, can lead to long-term consequences, including poor cognition, low wages, lost productivity, and a higher risk of nutrition-related chronic diseases in adult life.

Examination of Deprivations During NDA Regime:

  • The article aims to examine the extent to which deprivations, particularly in terms of access to food and shelter, have increased or decreased during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime.
  • It highlights that the cause of starvation is not just a shortage of food supply but also a lack of real income to purchase food, and a lack of shelter is due to inadequate income to rent or buy a house.
  • The study period covers 2018 to 2021.

Exaggerated Claims vs. Pervasive Deprivation:

  • Despite claims of growing affluence and reductions in the Multidimensional Poverty Index, the article points out that there is a widespread and increasing deprivation of access to food and shelter in India.

Income Growth Disparity:

  • Income growth has been slow and has not significantly benefited the poorest segments of the population.
  • Infrastructure development projects have taken precedence over agriculture, Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), and social safety nets.

Caste and Economic Deprivation:

  • The article highlights that the recent focus on a caste census is not just political propaganda but is rooted in persistent economic and social deprivation.
  • Analysis using the Gallup World Poll (GWP) caste classification reveals that economic deprivation is particularly acute among Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Scheduled Castes (SCs).
  • The deprivation of food and shelter is influenced by caste dynamics, with the situation of the unreserved population being somewhat better.

Age Group and Economic Deprivation:

  • Among those lacking money for food and shelter, the highest share is found in the age group of 25 to 45 years in 2021.
  • Low wages and salaries are seen as constraints on expenditure for food and shelter.

Rural-Urban Disparities:

  • A significant majority of those lacking money for food and shelter are in rural areas, with a small fraction in urban areas.
  • However, urban areas have witnessed a doubling of those facing deprivation, and rural-urban migration may contribute to urban deprivations.

Policy Aberrations and Trust in the NDA:

  • Policy irregularities, protectionist measures, job fairs with perverse incentives, politically determined mega projects, and neglect of employment generation have contributed to these deprivations.
  • The consequences of these deprivations may have adverse effects on both the polity and the economy.

Note – Data mentioned in the article can be used for the mains answer enrichment.

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