IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 3rd April 2018
Softbank and China’s Joint Solar Venture to come up in India
Part of: Mains GS Paper III- Energy security, Infrastructure
- Japan’s SoftBank Group has signed an agreement with China’s Golden Concord Group Ltd (GCL) to set up a joint venture firm with a $930-million investment.
The JV firm will manufacture and sell solar equipment in India.
- The firm, which intends to work on the photovoltaic (PV) technology that is used in solar panels, will manufacture PV ingots, wafers, batteries and component.
- Softbank Investment Advisors will fund the project through its Softbank Vision Fund, which is the world’s largest technology investment fund, with backing from Apple, Foxconn and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund among others.
- In March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had set a target of achieving 100 GW of solar power by 2022, out of the total 175 GW of electricity the country intends to produce from renewable. This was termed as the world’s largest renewable energy expansion programme.
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TOPIC : General Studies 2:
- Issues relating to development and management of Social sector or Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Question papers for few subjects of Class 10 and Class 12 board exams were leaked recently.
The lowest moment in the 55-year-old existence of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is ongoing.
The CBSE has assiduously built a great reputation since 1962 as one of the most credible examining bodies in the world.
- Its reputation and conduct explains its expansion from a body that catered initially to the educational needs of students, whose parents were employed in the central government and had transferable jobs, to an agency that has 19,350 schools in India and 211 schools abroad under its ambit.
- The use of NCERT’s standardised syllabus and globally acceptable grade point system have enhanced the board’s reputation.
Today, it conducts the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), which determines admission to IITs and other top engineering colleges.
The sacred thread that binds a student, her faith in examinations and the fairness with which it is conducted, can never be traded.
If question papers are leaked, the children feel deeply cheated by the system as they see the perpetrators benefiting either a small or a large group from amongst them and gaining an unfair advantage over the others.
Children and parents invest everything when the examinations are a major event in a student’s life.
As per the Board, In the case of Class 12 Economics paper, a repeat examination is to be held throughout the country while the re-examination of the Class 10 Maths paper is being limited to only Delhi, NCR and Haryana.
Repeat examinations should be held within a week’s time in order to mollify the children’s examination trauma and better plan the future. Holding it a month or two later would subject them to great stress. Besides, there are several other tests leading to professional studies, all in the months of May and June.
We need student-centric solutions. Making them administrator-centric or even technology-centric can be counterproductive and unfair to say the least.
There are some age-old methods to prevent such occurrences like:
- Setting multiple papers by unrelated examiners from different places.
- Using encrypted codes.
- Using special sealing techniques, which when broken leave a trail.
- Pro-actively substituting a paper at the hint of trouble and so on.
- Setting multiple papers stored at two to three locations and changing the paper sets at the last minute as a practice.
- Judiciously avoiding paper setters and examiners who either coach at home or outside for a fee.
- Using hexa-decimal mnemonics randomly generated to code and encrypt the papers.
- Bar coding and use of light-sensitive paints that leave a tamper trail.
All this requires training and a greater understanding of the art of paper setting so that the level of difficulty of each set of papers is assuredly similar.
- The use of technology where paper sets reach various centres through the Internet and are only made available through an encrypted code a few minutes before the examination.
The requirement for a robust internet system and sufficient bandwidth would be a non-negotiable for the success of this practise.
- A significant reform would be to re-look at the entire paradigm of examinations and assess if the whole or a part of the process can be completely engaged as a proctored online event in the future, as the IT infrastructure ramps up.
Granting autonomy to the CBSE:
The CBSE is not created by an act of Parliament. Its overall controlling authority is vested with the Secretary, School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India. The Board is answerable to its governing body and functions through various committees that are advisory in nature.
A proposal to make the CBSE autonomous, with a pan-India jurisdiction covering schools affiliated to it, was mooted in 2012. But this piece of legislation never saw the light of Parliament.
If we need a credible system in place, making the CBSE an autonomous body, headed by eminent academics of impeccable reputation and track record, is of utmost importance.
As the CBSE focuses on the next step, the agency should not lose sight of the task of fixing accountability.
This concerns the lives of students who are the future of this country. Nobody should be allowed to trivialise this.
Connecting the dots:
- Recent CBSE board exams paper leakage raises questions regarding credibility of the examination system in India. Suggest measures to avoid occurrence of such incidents in future.
TOPIC : General Studies 2:
- India and its neighbourhood- relations.
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un are planning a summit in May which according to Mr. Trump could lead to “the greatest deal in the world”. This will be the first summit meeting between the U.S. and North Korea.
Korea, caught between China, Japan, Russia and America, the Korean Peninsula has been a plaything of the great powers. But since the beginning of this year ,the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the South Korean president Moon Jae- have repeatedly surprised the world with their diplomacy across the divided peninsula.
- Since 2011 when Mr. Kim took over, North Korea has conducted four nuclear tests; the first two were conducted in 2006 and 2009. The sixth test, last September, had a yield more than six times the Hiroshima bomb.
- In his New Year address, Mr. Kim conveyed two messages — that the entire U.S. was within range and the nuclear button was on his table, and that he was open to dialogue with Seoul.
- South Korea responded positively and reaffirmed willingness to talk with North Korea at any time and anywhere.
In early March, a South Korean delegation visited Pyongyang to explore the idea of talks.
China and North Korea:
- China has long been North Korea’s political ally and economic lifeline, accounting for 90% of North Korea’s foreign trade.
It has often resisted tightening of sanctions that could lead to the collapse of the regime.
- Relations between the two countries have soured since 2013.
Missile tests when China was hosting the G20 summit in 2016 and the Belt and Road Forum in 2017 together with a nuclear test during the BRICS summit in 2017 were embarrassments for China.
As sanctions tightened under successive UN Security Council resolutions, North Korea blamed China for ‘dancing to the tune’ of the U.S.
However, Mr. Kim realises that he needs help to handle U.S. pressure. His China visit acknowledges Mr. Xi’s extension in power beyond 2022; and for China, it reflects its pivotal role in any negotiations regarding North Korea.
Mr. Kim’s objectives are clear — securing regime legitimacy, regime security and sanctions relief. A summit with Mr. Trump provides legitimacy as long as it begins a dialogue process leading towards diplomatic recognition.
- Having achieved a certain threshold in its nuclear and missile capabilities, North Korea can afford a pause in testing in return for sanctions relief.
- For ‘denuclearisation’ to happen, a long-drawn process involving discussions regarding the U.S. nuclear umbrella for South Korea will be required.
- South Korea would like to ensure that it has a veto over U.S. decisions regarding North Korea and gaining operational control over its own military forces, both of which will require protracted negotiations.
- North Korea’s aggressive testing provided justification for the deployment of the THAAD missile defence system aggravating Chinese concerns. China would prefer lowering tensions though it is in no hurry to see Korean unification.
- India should stop being a passive observer of the Korean geopolitical theatre.
While Delhi is in no position to influence the outcomes in the current diplomacy, a more active engagement with the leadership of the two Koreas would better prepare India for potential historic changes in the region.
- The importance of effective neighbourhood diplomacy- Kim and Moon have shown that relaxation of tensions between North and South can give both of them a greater say in regional affairs. If it makes creative moves in the neighbourhood, Delhi could find it a bit easier to cope with the penetration of rival powers into the Subcontinent.
Major compromises will be needed for reconciling interests of all the key players for the high stakes summitry on the Korean peninsula to succeed.
The success as of now hinges on multiple factors.
Connecting the dots:
- The recent developments in Koran peninsula is a welcome change. Discuss.
Federalism and fairness
Realistic policies to revive public spaces
The myth of rule-making in the international order
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