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(GIST OF YOJANA) Successful Education Transformation [APRIL-2018]

(GIST OF YOJANA) Successful Education Transformation


Successful Education Transformation

The Indian education landscape is witnessing a major reform across the sector. On the one hand, the development of the New Education Policy, through a consultative process, is underway and on the other, there is a thrust towards strengthening and expanding high quality institution (various legislation amendments/bills related to IIT, IIM, School of Planning and Architecture, Central Universities and Higher Education and Research have been prepared). The education system, however, has always been plagued with one shortcoming or the other: infrastructure, teacher, policy, budget etc.

The recently announced budget has been one of a kind in the last decade or so. This year’s budget has laid clear emphasis on education as the words ‘education’, ‘educational’, ‘teacher’, ‘teachers’ have been used more than 35 times -perhaps the highest in the last decade. The speech lays clear emphasis upon taking a holistic approach and thus invoking much needed system thinking. This is evident from important initiatives such as bringing integration in the school education sector and integrated B.Ed. The budget speech also focused on the training of untrained teachers which reminds us of the fact that the ‘quality of school education can be no better than the quality of its teachers’. The investment in education now should not only be perceived as just ‘financial investment’ rather investment of resources and optimizing the available budget. After sustained capital investment in programmes like SSA and RMSA for a long time to ensure that money is invested in areas to strengthen quality.

Re-appropriation of funds from one scheme to another is not currently possible at the implementation level even if one scheme urgently requires additional funds while these funds may be sitting idle in another scheme -leading to shortage of funds in some schemes and unspent funds in others. At the grassroots (institution level) the situation is even graver eg. a Government school having classes I-Xll will have to follow different norms (SSA, RMSA, MDM, State) for various interventions in the school and also maintain separate accounts for all schemes and provide separate monitoring related information to multiple authorities. These ‘multiple structures’ can be seen from school level to the highest level (national level; MHRD).

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(GIST OF YOJANA) North Eastern India: A Historical Explanation [APRIL-2018]

(GIST OF YOJANA) North Eastern India: A Historical Explanation


North Eastern India: A Historical Explanation

India’s Northeastern region is historically identified with three names Pragiyotishpura, Assam and Kamrupa. Other than oral history, the earliest mention of Assam can be found in KalikaPuran. Vishnu Puran and Jogini Tantra. Puranas and Tantra describes Assam as Kamrupa while the province is known as Pragiyotishpura in Mahabharata‘. Recorded history about Assam starts with the decoding of Nidhanpur Copper Plates Grant and the Doobi Plates. The Nidhanpur Copper Plates Grant takes the history of Assam from Puranic script to recorded history. The Nidhanpur Copper Plate Grant, consisting of seven copper plates with a seal, was discovered by a peasant in 1912 in the village of Nidhanpur of Pancakhanda Pargana of Sylhet now in Bangladesh. The peasant sold the plates to different persons but fortunately Padmanath Bhattacharya recovered the first, second, third, sixth, seventh and one more which may be either the fourth or the fifth and discussed in various journals. Finally, he edited the inscription in the Kamarupasasanavali. Starting from Fourth Century AD, Nidhanpur Copper Plates Grant describes the genealogy of the Varman dynasty that continued until Seventh century AD. Bana Bhatta’s ‘Harsha Charita’ and Hiuen Tsang's Si-Yu-Ki narrates the history of Assam until Seventh Century.
Copper Plate inscriptions of Ratna Pal and Dharam Pal along with the Koch Bansabali filled the historical gap about rulers until 13th century. In 1228 AD, when Ahom kings took over the territory from Koch kings, they started calling the region as Assam. The Ahoms were one of the most history conscious dynasties endowed with a high degree of historical faculty. Ahom priests and leading families possessed Buranjis, or genealogies, which were periodically brought up to date. They were written on oblong strips of bark and were very carefully preserved and handed down from father to son.

Muslims who accompanied Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khilji during his infamous invasion of Assam in 1205 faced hostile opposition from the local tribes that forced Khilji’s army of followers to retreat rather soon without leaving a footprint. As explained above, Khilji’s failed expedition followed by a series of unsuccessful invasion by other Muslim invaders including Mir Jumla, the fierce general of Aurangzeb, who all tasted failure in Assam. However, by this time few Muslim soldiers preferred to settle in Assam instead of going back with their defeated leaders. These people married local Assamese girls some of whose relatives also Converted into Islam.

Assam, during the Mughal-British t era, divided into three regions-Sylhet, Manipur and Assam. The three regions interacted separately with various foreign regimes namely the Mughal, Burmese and British. Sylhet passed into the hands of the British in 1765, together with the rest of Bengal. It was during the Mughal rule, precisely during early 17005, the region first interacted with the Muhammadans. Ain-i-Akbari of Abul Fazl clarified that Sylhet was an independent region. In Aurangzeb’s reign (1648-1707), it is said that Raja Gobind of Sylhet was summoned to Delhi and there he became a Muhammadan. Since the conversion of Raja Gobind, some Muslims settled in Sylhet and that was the beginning of Islamic presence in Assam and adjacent regions.
After the Battle of Plassey in 1757, when the East India Company established its administration in Bengal and when Assam came under the company’s protection after the Treaty of Yandabo in 1826, Muslims from the two provinces interacted frequently with each other. A number of Muslims from Bengal migrated to Assam and settled in the province. The new settlers encouraged their fellow religionists from Bengal to come to Assam and settle there to augment their economic prosperity.

Study Material for IAS (UPSC) Pre 2018

(GIST OF YOJANA) The Fallacy of Socio-Cultural Isolation [APRIL-2018]

(GIST OF YOJANA) The Fallacy of Socio-Cultural Isolation


The Fallacy of Socio-Cultural Isolation

Coined by British civil servant Alexander Mackenzie, the term ‘northeastern Frontier’ in the contemporary time comprised of eight Indian states viz. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. Alexander Mackenzie was the first to use the term ‘North-east Frontier’ to identify Assam, including the adjoining hill areas and the princely states of Manipur and Tripura in his book ‘North-east Frontier of India’ in 1884. Mackenzie said, ‘The North-east frontier of Bengal is a term used sometimes to denote a boundary line, and sometimes more generally to describe a tract. In the latter sense it embraces the whole of the hill ranges north, east, and south of the Assam Valley, as well as the western slopes of the great mountain system lying between Bengal and independent Burma, with its outlying spurs and ridges.’
Some contemporary historians of Assam talk about the region’s ‘Splendid Isolation’ from the Western World and argue that, with the introduction of English education only, the separation ended. The very idea of ‘separation, isolation, distinctiveness and differentness’ of northeast is stemmed from the impact of ‘introduction of western print culture”. Although, the Assamese dynasties of yore years had a tremendous sense of history and used to maintain Buranjis or chronological record with surprising ease and accuracy, there was lots of oral history which existed for millennia. The transition from an oral to literary culture resulted in the loss of much of the history and tradition of northeast region. With the introduction of reading and writing, the inhabitants of northeast were forced to believe that oral traditions are simply ‘stories laden with irrelevant, incoherent and falsely made up tales.’

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(GIST OF YOJANA) Giving Momentum to Skill Development [APRIL-2018]

(GIST OF YOJANA) Giving Momentum to Skill Development


Giving Momentum to Skill Development

The economic order of the let century has unveiled new economic understanding and a new way of defining economic capital and strength of a nation. One important component of this economic strength is ‘demographic dividend’ of a nation. The ‘demographic dividend’ of a nation is defined as the growth potential of the nation that can occur due to the rapid increase in the percentage of working population (15-64 years), in comparison to the total population of the nation. Since the last two decades, while other countries have witnessed a decline in the percentage of working population, in India it continues to rise. Economists across the world have termed this as India’s demographic dividend and a key factor in propelling India into a five trillion dollar economy within the next decade.

With Skill Development gaining traction across the country, it is indeed interesting to look at its position in the North Eastern of India as well. In the past few years, North East has found much prominence in the governance paradigm of the country. The rebranding of North East as ‘New Engine in New India’ is a testimony to the prominence that North East India holds today. The trajectory of Skill Development in the region does not betray this new found focus in the region.

In Arunachal Pradesh, recently the government coordinated with the North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd (N EDF i) in preparing a study which would prepare the groundwork for strengthening the foundation of skill development in the state. The government has given itself an ambitious target of guaranteed jobs for 87,000 youth under the aegis of the Prime Minister Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY). Further, there is a target to build 4 new ITI’s in 2018-2019. The Department of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has also announced the setting up of ‘Rural Skill Development Training Centres’ in Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) mode across the state. A unique Skill Development University is in the development stages while the country’s first ‘Home Stay Skill Development Programme’ under PMKVY was launched in Tawang.

In Assam, skill development is imparted through EGM (Employment Generation Mission) as well as Assam State Livelihood Mission and National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM). These schemes have achieved considerable success in the past few years. In late 2017, it was announced that Employment Centres across the state will be converted into Skill Development Centres. A Skill Development department in Assam has also been set up recently to spearhead the success story of skill development in Assam. The Assam government has set itself an ambitious target of training 3 lakh new entrants in the next few years. Assam has been one of the first states m the country which has rolled out a unique ‘Karaghor Pora Karighor Scheme‘ which is imparting skill development to jail inmates, for them to be able to contribute meaningfully when they return into mainstream society. Further, the government has partnered with companies like Cisco and Dabur to focus on sectoral skill development programmes, which would undoubtedly reap rich dividends.

Manipur has set up a number of committees that are engaging with varied stakeholders to carry the idea of skill development forward. The Manipur government has recently announced the target of providing 1.5 lakh jobs while targeting one job in each household. Vocational skill training courses have been initiated across 40 colleges in the state. The government has also given special focus to imparting skill development to the tribal women as well as surrendered militant.

The Meghalaya State Skill Development Society has trained 7700 youths in skill development, in its first phase and has ensured their placement too in different industries and sectors. The DDU-GKY (Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana) aims to train rural youths and bring them into the job market. The Meghalaya government has also identified a few key sectors to work on, including Tourism, Automobiles Mechanics, and Housekeeping among others, through this scheme.

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(GIST OF YOJANA) Governance Challenges in the North East [APRIL-2018]

(GIST OF YOJANA) Governance Challenges in the North East


Governance Challenges in the North East

The North-East Region (NER) is one of the backward regions of lndia characterized by low per-capita income, lack of private investment, low capital formation, inadequate infrastructure facilities. geographical isolation, and inadequate exploitation of natural resources like minerals, hydro power potential, and forests. lts own tax collection and internal resources are quite meagre rendering the region totally dependent on central devolution. The local moneyed people prefer to invest in landed property and shy from setting up enterprises which are perceived as risky ventures. The peripheral locations of the states, the terrain and inadequate infrastructure have impeded the growth of industry. Except for Sikkim and Tripura, and to some extent Mizoram, other states have not done well in improving their economic growth as shown in Table 1. Upto the beginning of 19703 Assam was one of the better-off states in India. However, the state did not do very well in the next four decades and started slipping on all indicators. Since Assam accounts for almost 70 percent of NER population, and has been a , laggard state on almost all development indicators, it has pulled down the overall performance of the region.

Fund Utilisation - As is well known, all non-exempt Union Ministries are required to mandatorily earmark 10 per cent of their Gross Budgetary Allocation (GBA) annually for the North Eastern Region. The unspent balances are transferred as Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR). While some projects are implemented on time, the other projects get delayed because funds are not transferred to them on time, the utilization capacity of these states is poor, and the works are hampered due to the short working season.

The website of Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) shows that cumulative accrual in NLCPR since 2000 to 2010 was Rs 17,213 crores, but releases upto 2011 were only Rs 8,796 crores, that is just 50 percent. It could be because the states are not able to send good proposals to the administrative Ministry. In NREGA the expenditure during 2016-17 in Assam and Manipur (the two most poor states in NE) was only Rs 1630 and Rs. 4953 per rural poor, as against Rs 15657 in Kerala and Rs. 1 1942 in Andhra Pradesh (including Telangana).
According to a CAG report (1 of 2015) on sanitation programme in Manipur the process of planning was devoid of comprehensive assessment of the needs/requirement of rural beneficiaries. Reliable baseline data was not available. There was no community participation in the preparation of PIPs (Project Implementation Plan). Financial management was inefficient which resulted in delays in release of funds, short release of State’s matching contribution, retention of huge balances and leakage of funds through inadmissible payments and avoidable expenditure. There were neither norms for assessment/ identification of beneficiaries nor for upkeep of the toilets by them.

Improve M&E Systems - At present, officials at all levels spend a great deal of time in collecting and submitting information, but these are not used for taking corrective and remedial action or for analysis, but only for forwarding to a higher level, or for answering Assembly Questions. The data collected are not normally subjected to any regular checks. There is a failure of the departments in verification of their correctness and almost total absence accountability procedures.

For instance, according to the state governments the percentage of severely malnourished children in the northeastern states is much less than 1 per cent, whereas independent verification by UNICEF in 2014 has reported a much higher figure varying from 3.5 per cent in Manipur to almost 16 per cent in Meghalaya and Tripura.

There is urgent need to reconcile the two sets of figures. Process reforms are needed so that field data is authentic, reliable and tallies with the evaluated data. It appears that state governments actively encourage reporting of inflated figures from the districts, which renders monitoring ineffective and accountability meaningless.

Promote e-Governance – ‘e-Governance’ is the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to transform government by making it more accessible, effective and accountable. e-Governance utilizes technology to accomplish reform by fostering transparency, eliminating distance and other divides, and empowering people to participate in the political processes that affect their lives. While e-Governance has great potential to bring benefits to all citizens, knowledge about e-Governance is mostly restricted to educated and professional groups. Most citizens are still unaware of the potential benefits.

A World Bank report on Assam observed in 2014 that there was absence of a comprehensive ICT Plan, and there was no common framework for service delivery, including a strong and supporting ICT infrastructure. A common ICT Plan could be developed addressing legacy issues, infrastructure bottlenecks, horizontal connectivity, wide area networks and data centers, ICT strengthening, standards and interoperability; and future growth and scalability model in terms of technologies and usage. Each Department should be required to make an ICT Plan covering the services, back-end requirements, requirements of horizontal connectivity, capacities and could be encouraged to adopt f a m a central bouquet of application that would help in improved efficiencies and better accountability.

Study Material for IAS (UPSC) Pre 2018

(GIST OF YOJANA) North East : An Economic Perspective [APRIL-2018]

(GIST OF YOJANA) Taking The Economy Forward


North East : An Economic Perspective

The Seven Sisters of North East’, comprising of seven separate but adjoining states as well as standalone Sikkim, definitely occupy a distinctive place in our country, primarily due to their social, cultural, political, geographical and historical features. It is worth mentioning that Tripura and Mizoram are two of the country’s most highly literate states. The Assam tea industry is the second largest commercial producer of tea, next only to China. The first ever oil well of Asia, is in Digboi of Assam.

Currently, if we look at the .right side of the picture, as per India Spend research, the impressive growth rate of 9.7 percent of Meghalaya is higher than that of the fastest-growing big state, MP at 9.5 per cent. Arunachal Pradesh grew faster than Gujarat. Fewer people, (12.8 million) fall in the BPL category in the entire NER than in just one large state, Karnataka (12.9 million). On the other hand in contrast, Tripura reported India’s highest unemployment rate, 25.2 per cent in urban areas, followed closely by Nagaland with 23.8 per cent in 201 1-12. The share of industrial sector for all the 8 states has increased while the share of agriculture and allied activities has declined. Unemployment in urban areas across all the NE states is higher than rural areas and is in line with the national pattern. The poverty here is also unevenly spread: Manipur is poorest: Sikkim the richest.

Geographical Factors: The hills account for about 70 per cent area of NER and accommodate about 30 percent of the population and the plains constituting the remaining 30 percent of area hold about 70 per cent of its population. The regions accessibility has always remained weak due to geographical reasons and underdeveloped transport links with the rest of India. Also, as the region witness floods and Barak Valleys of Assam, Considerable strain is exerted on the economy of not only Assam but other NER states too.
Infrastructure Factors: One of the reasons for the economic backwardness of the North-Eastern states is the poor state of basic infrastructural facilities like roadways, waterways, energy and so on as well as social infrastructure like educational institutions, health facilities etc.

Constraints on Industrial Growth: At the time of Independence, there was a small but significant industrial sector in Assam which was mostly dominated by the colonial capitalists. This sector consisted of plantation and manufacturing of tea, mining of coal and oil, oil refinery, manufacturing of plywood and other forest resource-based products. Post Independence, due to the partition of India, the industrial sector in Assam received a serious set-back as its trade routes cut-off from the rest of India.

Agriculture: Despite agriculture being the major subsistence occupation of the tribal population here, the pattern of agricultural growth has been uneven across states and between crops. Rice is the major crop of the region (kharif). Other crops (rabi) grown in the region are wheat, potato, sugarcane, pulses and oilseeds. The NER produces only 1.5 percent of the country’s total food grains and provides livelihood support to 70 per cent of the population. The pace of agricultural growth in the eastern and North-Eastern regions has been slower than the rest of the country. The Green Revolution was largely limited to the North-Western parts of the country and has not benefited the North-Eastern regions.

Natural Resource Base: In spite of having a reservoir of natural resources- soil, water, vegetation and hydrocarbons, the NER is underdeveloped because the resources are being indiscriminately exploited and mismanaged, thereby leading to depletion of the very assets that are usually highlighted as triggering the greatest potential for growth and development of the NER. Also the biodiversity of the region is under severe threat. The bulk of natural resource degradation is being caused by coal mining, fertilizer, paper, cement industry etc. and militant activities.

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