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Q.1 What are the likely benefits for India if it’s claim for the membership of APEC is accepted?  What are the barriers for India in joining APEC? (GS-2)

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a forum for 21 Pacific Rim member economies that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) was established in 1989. It has become the pre-eminent economic forum in the Asia-Pacific economic region.
Its primary purpose is to facilitate economic growth and prosperity in the region. APEC operates on the basis of non-binding commitments and dialogue.

Key benefits for India:

  • APEC would provide India with an opportunity to socialize with the developed economies of Asia-Pacific region.
  • With India’ entry in APEC, its chances to get into TPP and FTAAP brightens
  • APEC is a missing link between India’s Act East Policy.
  • APEC membership would embed India in the premier organization promoting free trade and economic cooperation in Asia.

Barriers for India

  • Large trade deficit is not allowing India to be more liberal in trade policies.
  • APEC member economies also have concerns over India’s trade policy and record in international trade negotiations.
  • India’s role in endangering the WTO trade facilitation agreement has created a negative and constructive image in the eye of other countries.
  • APEC membership would allow India to engage member countries on evolving trade and investment rules and norms.

Q.2 The Union Cabinet has approved creation of National Testing Agency (NTA) as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization to conduct entrance examinations for higher educational institutions. What is the significance of this move for education sector of India?(GS2)

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the creation of a National Testing Agency (NTA) as a Society registered under the Indian Society Registration Act, 1860, and as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization to conduct entrance examinations for higher educational institutions.

The NTA will begin by conducting exams managed by the CBSE and gradually conduct other examinations too. It will be chaired by an eminent educationist appointed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development. There will be a Board of Governors comprising members from user institutions.

This move is significant for education sector of India because of following reasons:

  • Establishment of NTA will benefit about lakhs of  students appearing in various entrance examinations.
  • It will also bring in high reliability, standardized difficulty level for assessing the aptitude, intelligence and problem solving abilities of the students.
  • NTA will benefit about 4 million students appearing in various entrance examinations.
  • The NTA will initially conduct entrance examinations currently being conducted by CBSE. Other examinations will be taken up gradually a gradually after NTA is fully geared up.
  • These examinations will be conducted in online mode at least twice a year to give adequate opportunity to candidates to bring out their best.
  • In order to serve requirements of the rural students, it will locate centres at sub-district and district level and as far as possible it will undertake hands-on training to the students.
  • It would locate the centres at sub-district/district level and as far as possible would undertake hands-on training to the students.
  • Its creation will relieve the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)- which conducts exams like the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test- and the All-India Council for Technical Education of the burden of conducting entrance tests.

Q.3 As farmers in India struggle with dwindling incomes and soaring costs, with huge debts triggering a wave of suicides, experts said one solution may be to only work part-time on the land. Explain the statement. (GS-3)

As farmers in India struggle with dwindling incomes and soaring costs, with huge debts triggering a wave of suicides, experts said one solution may be to only work part-time on the land.

Why farming should be taken up as a part- time job?

  • Over the past decade, tens of thousands of farmers have killed themselves across India, with debt or bankruptcy cited as the main reason.
  •  Problems usually stem from failed monsoon rains or low prices due to a supply glut in produce like lentils and cereals.
  •  About 60% of people in India make their living from the land, but earnings from agriculture have plunged to one-third of a farm family’s income from two-thirds in the 1980s.
  • Employment in agriculture shrank by 26 million jobs between 2011 and 2015, according to McKinsey Global Institute, the research arm of the consulting firm
  • Seven out of ten rural households in India are landless or own plots of less than 1 hectare (2.5 acres).

Conclusion:

There is a strong case for part-time farming: when opportunities arise elsewhere, they must go there. And when there are new opportunities on the farm, they can return there. Common alternative sources of income are the government’s rural jobs scheme, which is often road-building work, and earning daily wages in cities, such as on construction sites.

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