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G.S II - Education/HR

Will replacing PhD professors with practitioners work?


What is the issue?

The recent decision of University Grants Commission (UGC) to do away with the mandatory PhD qualification to teach in Central Universities (CUs) comes with lot of challenges

What are the directions issued by UGC for recruitment of faculties in CUs?

  • History - In 2018, the Centre brought in the UGC (Minimum Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers and Other Academic Staff in Universities and Colleges and Measures for the Maintenance of Standards in Higher Education) Regulation.
  • The regulation required that all candidates for the assistant professor position must have a doctoral degree.
  • It gave a three year period for the transition, saying the mandatory requirement would be introduced from July 1, 2021 for the 2021-22 academic year.
  • Change in decision - However recently UGC has announced that it will do away with the mandatory PhD qualification to teach in Central Universities (CUs).
  • The Centre has amended UGC regulations to delay the mandatory requirement of a PhD to July 2023.
  • Entry-level position like Assistant Professors could be filled by Master’s degree holders who had qualified through the National Eligibility Test.
  • Also Industry experts and professional practitioners from different fields with domain expertise will be recruited by creating special positions of Professor and Associate Professor of Practice.

Why did UGC come up with this decision?

  • The decision has been taken to addresses a shortage of qualified faculty in CUs.
  • More than 10,000 teaching positions lying vacant in CUs as of December 2021.
  • Also New Education Policy (NEP) emphasises better collaboration with industries.

What will be the outcomes of this decision?

  • Practitioners bring knowledge and deep expertise relevant to a specific contexts and applications.
  • However non-PhDs are not trained to conduct original research, they reproduce what others have create.
  • The current fast-changing business and technological environment may confine them to limited shelf-life experiences that may quickly become outdated.
  • This would result in students getting knowledge that may be of great value but in a limited context.
  • Therefore, only contractual teaching positions would make sense for practitioners.

What value do good PhDs bring to teaching?

  • Fundamentally they are researchers.
  • They create new knowledge through long and deep investigations of relevant issues using academic rigour.
  • Besides imparting cutting-edge knowledge they train and equip students with skills to face real-life challenges.
  • A good PhD teacher would focus on the relevant theories and show how they are applied in practice in various contexts to equip students to face current and future challenges.
  • This forms the foundation of any application or solution in the real world.

What needs to be done?

  • A workable and sustainable solution to this situation is to have a mix of practitioners and traditional academicians, as many business schools in India and abroad have.
  • They hire a limited number of practitioners as clinical and adjunct faculty on contract for a limited time to fulfil specific teaching needs.
  • The responsibilities and evaluation of both these categories of faculty are also different.

 

Reference

  1. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/will-replacing-phd-professors-with-practitioners-work/article65427618.ece
  2. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/phd-requirement-for-assistant-professors-postponed-till-2023-ugc/article36970784.ece

G.S II - Polity

AG Perarivalan’s Road to Freedom


Why in news?

Three decades after his arrest in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, A G Perarivalan has been set free by the Supreme Court.

What was the history of Perarivalan’s case?

  • Perarivalan was accused of buying the two 9-volt batteries used in the bomb to assassinate the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.
  • He was sentenced to death by a TADA court in 1998.
  • The Supreme Court upheld the sentence the next year but commuted it to life imprisonment in 2014.
  • In 2015, Perarivalan submitted a mercy petition to the Tamil Nadu governor seeking release under Article 161 of the Constitution and moved to Supreme Court after receiving no response.
  • Tamil Nadu Cabinet headed by the then chief minister recommended the release of all seven convicts in 2018.
  • In 2021, the governor sent the files to the President despite it being a state cabinet recommendation.
  • The top court had granted him bail in March 2022 and it has ordered the release of Perarivalan, 31 years after he was arrested.

Perarivalan’s autobiography, An Appeal from the Death Row, claimed how he was implicated in the conspiracy by taking a confession under duress that he bought a battery to make the bomb.

What about the Article 161?

  • Article 161 talks about the power of Governor to grant pardons, etc, and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases.
  • Under this Article, the Governor is empowered to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence.
  • Perarivalan had submitted a mercy petition to the Tamil Nadu Governor in 2015 seeking release under Article 161 of the Constitution but failed to receive a response.
  • Even after the recommendation of the CM and Council of ministers, the Governor continued to sit on the recommendation.
  • Madras High Court and the Supreme Court even talked about the Governor’s inordinate delay.
  • In February 2021, the Governor’s office forwarded the state government’s recommendation to President.
  • The Centre, too, argued, that cases involving murder under the IPC came under the President’s exclusive jurisdiction in matters of remission of life sentences.

What has the Supreme Court ruled?

  • The Court has held that the Governor is bound by the State Cabinet’s advice when acting under Article 161 of the Constitution.
  • It has also held that the non-exercise of the power under Article 161 or inexplicable delay in exercise of such power not attributable to the prisoner is subject to judicial review.
  • The court dismissed the Centre’s argument that the President exclusively, and not the Governor, had the power to grant pardon in a case under Section 302 (murder) of the IPC.
  • It has said that the long delay and the Governor’s reluctance to take a call on the pardon plea has compelled the court to employ its constitutional powers under Article 142 to do justice to Perarivalan.

What is Article 142 of the Constitution?

  • Article 142 provides a unique power to the Supreme Court, to do “complete justice” between the parties, where at times law or statute may not provide a remedy.
  • In those situations, the Court can extend itself to put a quietus to a dispute in a manner that would fit the facts of the case.
  • There were many instances where the Supreme Court has invoked its plenary powers under Article 142.
  • A.R. Antulay v. R.S. Nayak- The Supreme Court held that any discretion which is given by the court should not be arbitrary or in any way be inconsistent with provisions of any statute laid down.
  • Union Carbide Corporation v. Union of India- In Bhopal Gas Tragedy Case, the court ordered to award compensation to the victims and placed itself in a position above the Parliamentary laws.
  • Ayodhya dispute- The Central Government was directed by the Supreme Court to grant a five-acre land in an alternative site within the purview of the area being acquired by the Central Government.

 

References

  1. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-perarivalans-road-to-freedom-7924619/
  2. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chennai/rajiv-gandhi-assassination-case-a-timeline-of-events-perarivalan-7922961/
  3. https://indianexpress.com/article/upsc-current-affairs/upsc-essentials/upsc-essentials-article-142-all-you-need-to-know-7923551/

 

G.S II - Polity

The Fallout of Delimitation


Why in news?

A delimitation of the constituencies that will elect Members of the Lok Sabha, following the population figures is to take place in 2026.

What is delimitation?

  • Delimitation literally means the act of fixing the boundaries of constituencies.
  • Under Article 82 of the Constitution, Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act after every Census which establishes a delimitation commission.
  • The main task of the commission is redrawing the boundaries of the various assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies to ensure an equitable population distribution.
  • Delimitation commissions have been set up four times in the past under ‘Delimitation Commission Acts’ of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002.

What is the status now?

  • The government had suspended delimitation in 1976 until after the 2001 census.
  • This is done for the reason that the states' family planning programs would not affect their political representation in the Lok Sabha.
  • Later, delimitation based on the 2001 census was done in 2008.
  • However, the total number of seats in the Assemblies and Parliament decided as per the 1971 Census was not changed.
  • The constitution has also capped the number of Lok Shaba & Rajya Sabha seats to a maximum of 550 & 250 respectively.
  • The 84th Amendment Act, 2001 has postponed the lifting up of the cap on the maximum seats in the parliament to the year 2026.
  • This was justified on the ground that a uniform population growth rate would be achieved throughout the country by 2026.

Article 81 of the Constitution defines the composition of the Lok Sabha and it mandates that the composition should represent changes in population.

What is the issue with the scheduled delimitation exercise?

  • Considering the Census data for 2011, almost half (48.6%) of our population is contributed by the States of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh.
  • According to the projections made by the Technical Group formed by National Commission on Population, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for 2011-36, the share of these states in India’s population would see an increase.
  • The share of states such as Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and West Bengal is said to decline.
  • The scheduled delimitation exercise will inevitably lead to
    • a reduced representation for States that have managed to stabilise their populations
    • a higher representation for States that have not stabilised their populations
  • This will add to the tension on the north-south front in addition to those we already have.

What can be done?

  • Another freeze can be made for until all States have achieved population stabilisation.
  • The demographic and statistical experts can be asked to devise a mathematical model along the lines of the ‘Cambridge Compromise’ based on a mathematically equitable formula for the apportionment of the seats of the European Parliament between the member-states.
  • That formula can be used to customise it for our needs.
  • There is an urgent need to limit population and not representation.

 

References

  1. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/delimitation-fallout-needs-no-political-forecasting/article6542675ece

G.S II - International Issues

Fall of Mariupol


Why in news?

The surrender of defensive forces in Mariupol likely marks the end of fighting in the eastern Ukrainian city that has been under Russian siege.

What about the city of Mariupol?

  • Mariupol sits on the coast of the Azov Sea between the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014, and the self-declared Donetsk republic.
  • Named after Maria Feodorovna, the 18th century Russian empress, Mariupol was part of the Azov Governorate of imperial Russia.
  • Over the years, it emerged as one of the biggest trading centres on the Black Sea and Azov coasts.
  • By the late 19th century, the city became a steel manufacturing hub, attracting thousands of workers from around the region.
  • During the Second World War, Mariupol was occupied by the German Nazis, for almost two years.
  • Mariupol, the largest port of the Sea of Azov, was the industrial engine of eastern Ukraine.
  • But everything would change in 2014 after the so-called “Euromaidan revolution” and fell into the hands of pro-Russian rebels.
  • In June 2014, the rebels retreated from the city, giving it back to the Ukrainian authorities.

maripuol

Why is the city of Mariupol critical for Russia?

  • Separation of Donbas from Ukraine- The city is part of the areas claimed by the Donetsk republic.
  • So if Mr. Putin’s actual military goal is separating the entire Donbas region from Ukraine, he would need Mariupol.
  • Denazification- The city hosts the headquarters of the Azov Battalion which is a local neo-Nazi militia.
  • As denazification is one of the declared goals of Russia’s invasion, they would want to take over the city and declare victory over the neo-Nazi group.
  • Establishing land bridge- The strategic location of Mariupol is critical for Russia if it wants to establish a land bridge from Donbas to Crimea.
  • Controlling Black Sea- With Mariupol in their hand, the Russians would be in control of almost 80% of the Black Sea coast.
  • With many of the fighters ending the fight and allowing themselves to be evacuated to the Russia-controlled territories of Donbas, the whole city is now in the hands of the Russians.

What does this hold for Russia?

  • Russia has suffered several setbacks in its invasion of Ukraine.
  • It started a three-front war but was met with fierce Ukrainian resistance in the north and east.
  • Its battleground focus is now almost entirely on the Donbas region where Russian troops are making incremental advances.
  • Now, with Mariupol under its control, Russia can free up resources to move to its next target, which suggests that the war could grind on.
  • Despite the West’s massive financial and military support, Ukraine keeps losing territories.
  • The invasion has already prompted Finland and Sweden, which have historically stayed out of military alliances, to formally seek NATO membership.
  • Ukraine is losing territories, Russia is witnessing another round of NATO’s enlargement, and Europe, battered by inflation and an energy crisis, is likely to be facing prolonged instability and conflicts.

 

References

  1. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/the-hindu-editorial-on-fall-of-mariupol/article65426546.ece
  2. https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/battle-for-the-east/article65261858.ece

 

G.S III - Infrastructure

The Sela Tunnel – Importance and the strategic edge it promises


Why in news?

The strategically-significant Sela Tunnel project in Arunachal Pradesh is nearing completion.

What is Arunachal's Sela tunnel project?

  • The Sela tunnel was announced by the government in 2018.
  • It is a part of the Balipara-Charduar-Tawang road, one of the key strategic projects near the Chinese border.
  • It is located in the West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The project is being executed by the Border Roads Organisation,
  • This will be the longest twin-lane tunnel above 13,000 feet in the world.
  • The project includes two tunnels and a link road.
    • Tunnel 1 is 980m long
    • Tunnel 2 which is 1555m long is a twin tube tunnel.
    • Tunnel 2 has one bi-lane tube for traffic and one escape tube for emergencies.
    • The link road between the two tunnels will be 1,200 metres.
  • Tunnels longer than 1500 m needs to have to have an escape passage alongside.
  • The total length of the project, including the tunnels, the approach and the link roads, will be around 12 km.
  • The tunnels are coming up through two ridges west of Sela.

Sela Tunnel

Why is it so significant?

  • It will cut down travel time to from Tezpur to Tawang by at least one hour as well as provide all-weather connectivity.
  • At the moment, Sela pass stays closed for a few winter months due to winter and heavy snowfall.
  • This poses serious logistics challenge for both military and civil vehicles.
  • Now faster deployment of weapons and soldiers to the Line of Actual Control and forward areas in the Tawang sector can be made.
  • Once the tunnel is ready, the road will remain open for 12 months of the year.
  • The local population of Tawang will no longer get cut off from the mainland

 

Reference

  1. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/sela-tunnel-project-arunachal-pradesh-importance-explained-7924404/lite/
  2. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/sela-tunnel-project-to-be-completed-by-yearend-101652639310065.html

  IAS Parliament Current Affairs December 2021


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