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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs 27th June, 2017

  • June 27, 2017
  • 5
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs June 2017, IASbaba's Daily News Analysis, National, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 27th June 2017

Archives

DEFENCE/SECURITY

TOPIC:

General Studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

General Studies 3:

  • Mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment
  • Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Indian Defence Manufacturing

In news:

  • Tata Advanced Systems Ltd and US plane-maker Lockheed Martin Corp. signed an agreement at the Paris Air Show to produce F-16 fighter jets in India.
  • Reliance Defence entered into a strategic partnership with Serbia’s Yugoimport for ammunition manufacturing in India.
  • Reliance Defence joined hands with France’s Thales to set up a joint venture that will develop Indian capabilities in radars and high-tech airborne electronics.

Meanwhile, at home in India, the army rejected, for the second year in a row, an indigenously-built assault rifle after it failed field tests—a pointed reminder of how the country’s sub-par defence industry continues to damage the military’s operational preparedness.

Recent developments:

  • In recent years there has been a greater focus on developing indigenous capabilities through technology transfers and joint production projects with international partners.
  • The government has also put defence at the core of its flagship domestic manufacturing programme, Make in India.
  • It has opened up the still largely state-run sector to private players and foreign firms in an effort to build a “defence industrial ecosystem” that will not only support the country’s military requirements but also emerge as an important economic lever—generating exports, creating jobs, and spurring innovation.
  • The target is to source about 70% of India’s military needs from domestic sources by 2020.

Importance of having an indigenous technology base:

  • Immunity against technology denials
  • Enabling the pursuit of an independent foreign policy without having to kowtow to global powers
  • An indigenous technology base provides an impetus for a country’s economic development.

Cause of concern:
Notably, the defence manufacturing industry has been open to the private sector for well over a decade, and several foreign firms are involved in the joint production of weapons systems in India. Yet the defence industrial ecosystem hasn’t quite taken off. The Indian military is still heavily reliant on foreign imports and state-owned defence firms are still the dominant force in the market. Private firms, though growing in number, have struggled to find their feet. Much will depend on how its “strategic partnership” model, released late May, plays out on the ground.

“Strategic partnership” model:

  • Conceptualized by the Dhirendra Singh committee in 2015
  • The ultimate aim of the model is to enhance India’s self-reliance index in defence procurement which continues to remain at an abysmally low level
  • Under this model the defence ministry will identify a few Indian private companies as strategic partners (SPs) to tie up with a few foreign original equipment manufacturers to produce some big-ticket military platforms.
  • To allay fears that the MoD may favour one company over another, the selection of SPs and their foreign OEM partners would be based on a competitive process to be undertaken simultaneously.
  • In the process, the SPs are expected to help catalyse the country’s defence industrial ecosystem.

Potential Benefits:

  • From the private sector’s point of view, the biggest benefit would be the opportunity to participate in some big ticket contracts which were hitherto reserved for the DPSUs and OFs.
  • The model would also go a long way in bridging the long-standing trust gap between the Indian private sector and MoD, with the latter perceived to be friendlier toward public sector entities.
  • Given that future orders would not be awarded automatically after the initial contract, it is in the interest of SPs to constantly improve upon their competitiveness and core expertise.
  • The development of competitiveness and expertise to compete to win future contracts, which was lacking in the case of DPSUs/OFs because of a constant flow of orders handed over on a platter by the MoD, is something that would contribute to laying a strong and credible foundation for India’s military industrial complex.

Challenges:

  • Lack of institutional capacity and ability to guide the new process to its logical conclusion. In the past, several promising measures, especially those connected with the ‘Make’ and ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ procedures, have failed to yield the desired results because of these shortcomings.
  • There is also a concern regarding the long-term viability of SPs largely due to the privileged position enjoyed by public sector entities. Time and again, the MoD has deviated from its own promise of fair play in award of contracts and handed over large orders to DPSUs and OFs on nomination. It would be futile to expect SPs to make major investments if the government does not provide a level-playing filed to the private sector.
  • Yet another issue is that of how small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) will respond to this model. SMEs are crucial to building a vibrant and robust ecosystem. In particular, they do a much better job of absorbing, developing and commercializing niche technology, which is key in the defence sector. But while the government acknowledges their role and importance, it is unclear if its policy supports that vision.
  • Outside of policy design, the biggest challenge to developing India’s defence industry ecosystem is undoubtedly human resource and skill development. The Dhirendra Singh committee report deals with this issue at length, noting that “India at present does not have a structured framework and a robust system to prepare its human resources to address all issues connected with building and sustaining defence systems”.

Way ahead:

Apart from overcoming above mentioned challenges we need to bridge the skills gap by-

  • Bringing changes to academic curriculum.
  • Setting up institutions that specialize in defence and security.
  • Raising a new generation of system integration managers.

Conclusion:

The “strategic partnership” model can potentially be a turning point in India’s endeavour to have a robust home-grown private defence industrial base. It can be seen as shot in the arm for the government’s ‘Make in India’ programme as well as efforts by the Indian private sector to make inroads into the lucrative defence equipment business. Thus the step is a welcome one,however, we need to overcome some challenges.

Connecting the dots:

  • Discuss how the “Strategic Partership” model released by the government this year can help India establish its own domestic base for defence manufacturing.

Also read: Towards Military self-reliance

 

NATIONAL

TOPIC:  General Studies 2

  • Issues relating to development and management of Social sector or Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

What ails Indian education system?

Present state of Indian education:
The problem of poor learning outcomes is of particular concern, for it is a structural issue pertaining to the design of curricula and ingrained rote learning methods.

  • Some years ago, PISA, the measurement standard adopted in Europe and utilised in a large number of countries, studied Indian school quality in two states. The depressing conclusion of the 110-country study was that India ranked second last — beating only Kyrgyzstan in the honours list.
  • The Annual Status of Education Report conducted by Pratham, an Indian NGO with some credibility, had assessed in 2014 that 75 per cent of all children in Class III, over 50 per cent in Class V and over 25 per cent in Class VIII could not read texts meant for Class II. Further, reading levels for all children enrolled in government schools in Class V showed a decline between 2010 and 2012.
  • National Survey Sample results in 2015 indicated sharp decline in learning outcomes in mathematics, science and English in the secondary schools.
  • A recent study in Delhi has come out with the finding that only 54 per cent of the city’s children can read something — it could be only a sentence.

Low education standards-Is the Indian child responsible?
There is ample evidence that the Indian child is as good a learner as any in the world. Indeed, Indian Americans are among the highly educated communities in the US, according to many research studies. It is just sheer lack of basic opportunity that has kept the Indian child at very low education standards — a proof of apathy in governance.

Wherein lies the problem?

  • The abysmal quality of governance, with politics permeating every aspect of educational administration. Factors other than merit play a significant part in the management of affairs; proper governance standards, with adequate incentives, and checks and balances, have not been put in place. The focus of the entire structure at the Centre and the states is on the minister, secretary, and the educational regulatory institutions — not on the student, teacher, principal and school.
  • The system is not “inclusive” and does not give a second chance to the weaker sections.
  • The fundamentals of teacher management, teacher education and training as well as school governance and management are lacking at every step.
  • The curriculum is rote-oriented and little practical thought has been given to pedagogy at any stage.
  • The school-level data are unreliable.
  • The access promised to the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) has hardly been implemented.
  • The infrastructure promised in the Right to Education Act (RTE) is scarcely visible on the ground.

Reforms required:

  • Activity-Based Learning and “teaching at the right level”, tools for real learning and skill-absorption must become a norm
  • While efforts of the present and previous government to boost the quality of learning in higher and vocational education must be appreciated, policymakers ought not to ignore early childhood education and primary schooling, the phases during which the most important cognitive development milestones are attained.
  • A healthy pupil-teacher ratio could help overcome many of the shortcomings. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act stipulates a 30:1 ratio.

Conclusion:
In today’s competitive environment, the ability of students to read, write, count and measure is a bare minimum. The country cannot continue to fail its children. For India’s medium-term prospects of stability, and for the country to play a rightful role in world affairs, it is imperative that the Centre takes this as a major area for intervention.

Connecting the dots:

  • Both national and international surveys have painted a depressing picture of Indian education system with Indian children having very low education standards. Discuss the underlying problems and possible solutions.
  • While the government is focusing on building a clean, industrial, sustainable and powerful country, not enough attention is being paid to education sector on which depends the success of other sectors. Discuss.

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