The Great Indian Distressful Examinations: An Introspection

The apprehensions to fail in examinations usher students to a distressful state. The education system should strategize to avert the fear psychosis in students in respect to any examination. The examination is not the end of the road. Instead, it is an opportunity of knowing the individual’s capabilities even through failure and move on to the other possible avenues for a successful life. Holistic improvement in the quality of primary education and secondary education holds the key to keep students away from any distress.

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Self-Financed Private Universities: Implications on Affordable Quality Higher Education

Private higher education may have gained traction in the country since the mid-nineties, but it is as old as the history of modern higher education itself. ‘Private tendencies’ have also been penetrating deep into the ‘public higher education’. The situation urgently calls for minimally invasive ways and means of ensuring affordable access to quality higher education for all segments of the society

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In Defence of Higher Education

Higher education can, indeed, be censured for expanding rather too rapidly, but it was in response to the call of the industry and to alley their apprehension that the country shall not have enough graduates to match their requirements to sustain their growth momentum. If the jobs are still not in the offing for the graduates, it is because enough jobs are not being created to match the growth in higher education.

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Excess Impedes Excellence: Empirical Evidence for Regulation in Higher Education

Quality of higher education in India seems to be inversely proportional to the intensity of regulation. Does empirical data support this proposition?
It is not only the newly-launched NIRF but also the time-tested NAAC grades which amply prove that stringent regulatory regimes have not necessarily promoted excellence in higher education. Relaxing the regulatory environment seems imminent for promoting excellence in higher education.

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United States, NATO, and the Taliban: Analysis of the Politics

So far, no government has recognized the Taliban as the official government of Afghanistan. The US is no more a global hegemon. It has declined relative to other powers, like China. The US and NATO must, thus, prefer acting pragmatically rather than ideologically. Convergence of national interests of the US and Pakistan in stabilizing Afghanistan may improve their relations. Meanwhile, Biden must stay the course and completely pull out American military forces by the August 31 deadline.

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Quality Education: A Luxury or A Fundamental Right?

The increasing costs of education have presented us with a pressing question: Is quality education still a tool to reduce disparity, or has it transformed into a luxury deepening the already-existing divide in our society? Any deprivation emanating from the constantly increasing cost of education at any level in the public sector and private sector institutions may create a deepening divide in terms of knowledge, skills, competence, and capabilities. Large number of students dropping out of the formal education system due to extreme and stingy frugality may turn into imperious problems in sustaining social harmony. NEP 2020 has come as a blessing in disguise with the decree of universalization of education while ensuring access, equity, quality, affordability, and accountability.

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The Great Indian Economy: Ravaged by COVID-19, Ruined by Petroleum Prices and Policies:

The economy has suffered immensely due to the price rise in essential oil and fuel. The economic slowdown put the economy under downward pressure leading to cutting down on the consumption of essential commodities. The policy needs to be more resilient to curb the ravages of unprecedented events. Let us see how the fluctuating petroleum prices are impacting the economy.

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Anniversary of NEP 2020: Education needs intensive care

On the commemoration of the first anniversary of NEP 2020, it will be prudent on the part of the regulators to revisit the progress made in the on-ground implementation of provisions of NEP 2020 and reschedule the milestones laid in it, else the disorderliness created through it may disarray the existing education system as well. The predominant disruptions caused by the pandemic and the pragmatic view on the desired transformations ought to be taken into consideration before a realizable road map is relaid.  

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Disaster Management in School Learning: A Safe and Cheap Option

The disasters happening around the world, especially in India, make it imperative to question ourselves on the importance of disaster management for the preparation of future generations of the country in having better and safer livelihoods. So, how can we incorporate disaster management for preparing people in schools?

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Afghanistan: A New Opportunity for the Quad?

The Quad’s Indo-Pacific policy is not limited to China’s containment or the promotion of a free and open Indo-Pacific, since there are several additional areas of concern, most notably in Central Asia. US army withdrawal provides a chance to engage the Quad partners in discussions on Afghan policy and to explore alternatives to existing peacekeeping arrangements. The Quad’s participation in Afghanistan will not only rebalance power in the wider Indo-Pacific region, but will also close a crucial continental chasm in the area’s conceptualization.

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Zomato Goes Public, Paytm in the Queue. Yet, 90% Indian Startups Fail within 5 Years. Why?

The recent IPO of Zomato is just one case in the larger canvass of the Indian startups going public. Another Indian startup, Paytm, is eyeing the largest Indian IPO of Rs. 16,600 crore. However, India’s startup ecosystem is lagging behind in terms of the conversion rate of startups into unicorns. Here, we analyse the internal and external factors that play role in the survival of start-ups in India, the various government policies in place for providing them with a supportive environment, the reasons for the failure of Indian startups and required measures to ensure their viability in the long run.

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End of Oli Era: A New Start for Indo-Nepal Relations

For the second time in five months, the Supreme Court of Nepal reversed President Bidya Devi Bhandari’s decision to dissolve the House of Representatives (HoR) of Nepal. This time, it further ordered President Bhandari to appoint Nepali Congress leader Sher Bahadur Deuba as the Prime Minister by July 13, 2021. The ensuing end of the KP Sharma Oli era is likely to provide a renewed impetus to the relations between India and Nepal.

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Afghanistan Surge: Taliban at the Door of Kabul As US Troops Withdraw

On July 2, 2021, Friday, the US forces quietly vacated the Bagram airfield, considered to be the epicentre of its campaign to remove the Taliban and capture the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, after nearly two decades. This effectively brings an end to the Afghan ‘forever war’, the longest war fought in US history. As foreign troops retreat, the Taliban forces are sweeping across Afghanistan. The possibility of civil war looms over the country as the region has been pushed into turmoil after the withdrawal of western forces. Twenty years down the line, are we back to square one?

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National Education Policy 2020: Issues and Implications

It has been a year since the NEP 2020 was announced and shall be due for the anniversary celebration on 29th July 2021. All policies must undergo the stages of formulation, notification, anatomization, modification, implementation, and, in between, celebration. It is now high time that the details are worked out and implementation strategies announced.

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Blended Learning in Indian Higher Education: How Feasible is it?

Accolades to University Grants Commission (UGC) for out of the box thinking in allowing the higher education institutions (HEIs) to teach up to 40% syllabus of each course (other than SWAYAM courses) through online mode and remaining 60% of the syllabus in the offline mode along with their examinations in the respective mode.
Holistic and collective brainstorming across the HEIs is required before exercising the major shift from the conventional face-to-face teaching approach lest blended learning may have limited cosmetic value.

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Indian Startup Ecosystem Third Largest, Behind China & US: A Comparison of Three Growth Engines

The global race to become the most developed nation starts from the roots: the start-ups. India, China and the US are in the middle of intense competition to become production leaders with the former two growing at unprecedented rates. This article throws light on the policies implemented by these nations to achieve this growth and how they differ amongst them. It also looks at the upcoming markets which are expected to see an inflow of a great number of start-ups in the future.

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Protect the Protectors of Indian Ecological Wealth

The second wave of the pandemic has claimed many of these valuable employees of the IFS ranging in rank from senior officers to daily wagers. But unfortunately, although the forest departments of several protected areas have requested the administration to include foresters in the list of frontline workers, no action has been taken in this regard. Lack of concern towards the health of foresters reflects general apathy of policymakers. As a progressive nation, it is our duty to address the issues and protect the protectors of our ecological wealth.

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Understanding Indian Startup Ecosystem

This article closely analyses the Indian start-up ecosystem and how these start-ups are distributed throughout the states of the country. It further observes which sectors see the most rush of new start-ups and what are the reasons why start-ups prefer some states over others. Lastly, it throws light on the sources of investments these start-ups receive and how this picture is also changing amidst an increase in tensions with neighbouring China.

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Is Course Correction Needed in the Election Engine of BJP? – Part 2

This is a two-part primer. Part 2 covers the main takeaways for BJP from the 2021 Vidhan Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal. This part elaborates on the positives of the election outcome for BJP; along with analysing how BJP could’ve improved its performance in these states by critiquing its key decisions related to candidature, manifesto promises and strategies.

BJP’s religious politics worked best in West Bengal; hardly worked in Tamil Nadu while it never worked in Kerala.

With 2024 LS elections not far away, if BJP doesn’t take efforts to break-free from its stereotype of being a Right-Wing nationalist party trying to homogenize India under Hinduism using Hindutva, as openly advocated by senior party leaders like Dr Subramanian Swamy, there is a significant chance for an All-India Mahagathbandhan to steal the incumbency from NDA!

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Students Steering the Education Wheel through Stormy Virus

How did the Students Cope with the Disruptions in Learning and Life Around Them?
It has been more than a year since campuses were compelled by the COVID-19 pandemic to close their doors to their students and resort to remote teaching. Since few universities and even fewer colleges had a Learning Management System (LMS) in vogue, choices of the tool, technology, medium, and platform were largely left to the teachers to manage to the best of their abilities. The result was a wide variety of ways in which the teaching-learning processes were carried on. Students, though more tech-savvy and better equipped to guide the transition, hardly had a say in the matter and they remained largely at the receiving end. Not only did their chosen and settled ways of learning get disrupted, their lives and the lives of people around them too got tossed into the turbulence

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The Song of Urban Forest

When will the birds in the backyard sing again, louder than our morning alarms, the bees do the bumble dance, and the vision of the landscape change with the greens around? We must be willing to give them a chance, not in the hit of a moment, not as a ‘cool’ thing to do but as a necessary step to build a better today and resilient future. Do we have the boldness to leap?

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Calibrate Crappy Education in COVID Aftermath

The regulators of education for all levels should inevitably ponder upon the concerned stakeholders and palliate the damage incurred to the younger generation of the country which is blessed with a 37-year advantage of demographic dividend. The opportunity loss on account of youth remaining disengaged from their pursuits of getting educated well warrants strategizing for immediate correction.

Let’s deliberate and discuss extensively to create a well-laid framework based on the holistic considerations for negotiating the past, present, and future disruptions in the education system lest it is late again.

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Time to Rethink and Reform the Examination System

Alas, the colonial mindset of subjecting their subjects to the supervision and control of their masters has only deepened, as far as the education, examination, and evaluation systems are concerned. Isn’t it desirable or isn’t it the time to reform these terminal examinations to the teacher-based and school-supervised comprehensive continuous internal assessment – an idea that has been in discussion for decades?

The pandemic situation has been quite frightening this time. This indeed limits the choices to a compromised solution – a truncated examination, sufficiently delayed to allay the imminent threat of the pandemic. Whatever is decided by or for the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), most state boards are likely to follow the suit.

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New India: What to focus on – ‘Positivity Rate’ or ‘Positivity Drive’?

Rather than crediting all positives to the regime, and all negatives to the ‘enemies of the state’, we, as a democracy and as ideological inheritors of our freedom fighters, have the moral responsibility of taking the society forward while accounting for the positives as well as the negatives of all the governments democratically elected by us – we, the people!

If the reality is ‘negative’ news, let’s face it. If the reality is ‘positive’ news, let’s rejoice in it! But, let’s not ‘build’ positive news by concealing the reality!

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When Schools look like the ‘Garden of Selfish Giant’!

The battle against COVID-19 is the battle of the entire human society. We have already wasted enough time understanding the meaning of “disruption in schooling” and how it matters to children and society. Building up resilience to address contextual issues is the need of the hour. Else, the schools may experience the abandoned look of winter just like the garden of “Selfish Giant”, even in the next spring!

The pandemic is a wake-up call for us to plan for better planning for our schools, and the future of our country.

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The Dead Cannot Cry Out for Justice

Death robs you of dignity but in this case, it robbed you of personhood – you were just a statistic in the hospital register or the crematoriums, and the illusion of governance that had existed till now showed itself for the sham it was.

The “System’ has gone into hibernation fulfilling a dream for an “atmanirbhar” Bharat. “Don’t expect hand-holding folks, go deal with the Pandemic yourself. Manage your own oxygen and hospital beds and if you fail, don’t act like a cry baby. Just die quietly and be done with it” the ‘System’ seems to be telling us in no uncertain terms. Add to this, the fancy house the ‘System’ is building -it will see the demolition of our colonial past and will usher in the legacy of the great majoritarian premier. If this isn’t good news, what is? Haters and corrupt foreign media might talk about the stench of death all around but who cares for them anyway? You and I can only hope that the palace has enough mirrors where the “System” can see itself stark naked just for once.

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India’s Treatment of the Dead: Shame on Humanity or Shame on Governance?

How come our society has stooped down to such levels? Is this incident a rare outlier in our so-called ‘culturally rich and diverse society’ or is it a feeling being identified by many? Are social conventions above the survival of a human?
It is indeed an appalling reality of our civilisation which we need to face point-blank keeping aside the so-called excuse of ‘negativity all around in pandemic era’.
The earliest realization of the fact that the large size of India’s population is reeling under penury is the only way to catalyse the government for strategizing jobs/source of livelihood to every hand.

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Engineering without Science and Mathematics: A Disaster for India

The regulators are perhaps perturbed at the decline in admissions and to boost the admissions, a radical decision to make engineering open to all irrespective of the prior knowledge of science and mathematics at senior secondary levels has been taken. Engineering without Science and Mathematics will be a disaster for India and is not the way to save technical education nor is good for the future.

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Is COVID Giving Birth to an Inevitable Climate-Crisis?

Imagine a future where the plastic in the ocean will weigh more than the fish in it, approximately 710 million metric tons of plastic dumped in the environment, and plastic eventually entering the human food chain. Unless the handling of COVID-19 induced plastic is not addressed on war-footing, the scenario will just worsen with rapid global warming and a major climate crisis.

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Unravelling India’s Gender Slide

India’s fall in the world ranking based on the gender parity index warrants sincere introspection to strategize for achieving gender parity. We have already lost much of the ‘India 2020’ dream envisioned by Former President Kalam to petty politics and jingoism. Let’s not lose this golden phase of 37-year demographic dividend into which India entered three years ago!

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Should Incumbent Ministers and Chief Ministers Campaign for Civic Body Polls?

As of late, it has been observed that many charismatic leaders across major political parties of India, who happen to be incumbent Ministers of Union and Chief Ministers, have started campaigning even for civic body polls for their favoured candidates. However, should these individuals holding constitutional offices really campaign for their parties?

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Kashmir’s Gurez Valley: Vistas of a Vanishing World

Hemmed in by the high Himalayas and dappled with wooded villages and meadows, Gurez looks straight out of a picture book of folktales set in the bucolic countryside. Notwithstanding its tranquillity, however, Gurez Valley evokes a disturbing sense of the futility of war in the perceptive visitor owing to the unnatural division of its natural heritage.

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Bihar Elections 2020: Anti-incumbency or Pro-incumbency?

The state, with more than 12 crore population, has the credit of influencing national politics significantly in the past. Thus, the outcome of Bihar state elections is likely to have serious implications on the future political moves in the Hindi heartland of India. With all political parties pursuing the voters through numerous tactics and tantrums, the canvassing for the first round of polling has come to an end. Nonetheless, it is not discernible to categorically conclude the swinging mood of the voters.

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A Spine-Chilling Moment for India: Will Hathras become an eye-opener?

The brutality of the Hathras rape was mind-boggling. The questions that beg asking are these: Could the behaviour of the police have been the same if the girl belonged to an upper class and caste? Would the media have maintained a dogged silence for 2 weeks if this had happened in a metropolis? And would those in power remain silent if the incident had happened in a state ruled by the Opposition?

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Agri Bills: Why are Farmers Protesting even after PM’s Assurance?

The government needs to view the issue through the perspective of a farmer. The small farmers of today need safeguard from exploitation along with greater choices. Although the bill promises them more choices, it doesn’t attempt to strengthen the safeguards. This is what the farmers of today are protesting against!

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India joins Hypersonic Club: A Step towards Atmanirbharta in ‘Next-Gen’ Delivery Systems

A Step Towards Atmanirbharta in Next-Gen Delivery Systems: India’s test of the “next-gen” weapon systems is to secure its position and defend itself from any threat especially when the major powers have re-engaged in a nuclear arms race through improved delivery systems.

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The Astonishing Relevance of Cinema: Five 20th Century Classics that Need to be Watched

There are certain films whose relevance transcends the boundaries of time and age. By embracing the leitmotifs of human struggle across the ages, such films appear to be true witnesses of the past and foretellers of the future all at once. Here is a list of five cinematic masterpieces that are startlingly relevant as the tumultuous first quarter of the 21st century nears its end.

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Indian Ocean and South China Sea: Jugular Vein as Gordian Knot

At a time when China’s protracted pre-meditated military moves along India’s northern boundary are drawing the nation’s attention, it is important that India doesn’t lose sight of its surrounding seas and maritime environment.

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Indian and Australian Federalism during Pandemic

Even though the pandemic is taking its toll on federal structure of most countries, as can be seen in the case of India and Australia in this article, if there is one good thing that comes out of the COVID-19 pandemic for both countries, it is the push to re-evaluate what federalism means in the 21st century.

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Rebooting Infrastructure: National Infrastructure Pipeline Dashboard

Rebooting Infrastructure by NIP Dashboard holds promises as in monetizing infrastructural assets, public trust plays a crucial role. The dashboard shall also let the people of the country know how many projects are being implemented. Such a social audit mechanism increases efficiency & promotes a culture of accountability in the functioning of the government.

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Poetry as a Tool of Dissent in Modern-Day Authoritarian Regimes

The recitation of poems and songs at the anti-CAA protests was in keeping with the near-universal practice of deploying poetry to question, challenge, and condemn. Poetry is commonly seen as a tool of dissent in Modern Day Authoritarian Regime in countries like China, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia. Ironically, all over the world, the violent governments that invest millions of dollars in arms and ammunition are precisely the ones hurt most by the weapon of poetry!

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Time to educate about nature!

Its time to educate about nature. A child trained in a conservation-oriented philosophy will seek to respect nature in the world he will grow up in and take steps to pass on the heritage to his/her forthcoming generations.
The reverence provided to elements of nature has decreased drastically because of the reduction of dependency and a perceived decrease of benefits to us, the humans.

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Do cent percent marks evince cent percent learning? – A Vantage point

It dates back to a century earlier when some examiner commented on the academic performance of Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India, that the examinee is better than the examiner. A more or less similar situation is evinced again in the results through 100 % marks obtained in the recent results announced by the examining boards at the secondary level. However, the award of cent percent marks is seen for the last few years. It is not to cast aspersions on the individual children scoring cent percent marks, but the scenario of examinees scoring full marks requires introspection. The moot point is “Does cent percent marks evince cent percent learning?”

The marks obtained should always allude to the scope of further improvement by the students.

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Does High Cost of Electioneering Foster Corruption?

The largest democracy of the world is a successfully functional democracy. But, there also exist certain instances where unethical practices woo the voters. It seems that the high cost of electioneering fosters corruption. The money should not play any role in influencing the voters. A nationwide debate to have major reforms in the electoral process is inevitable.

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Ensuring Education to Poor in Post-Pandemic Era

The outbreak of COVID-19 has brought miseries to humanity across the world. Like every affected country, India also undertook measures to contain the spread of the pandemic. The lockdown was enforced in the country to terminate the chain of contagion, but it had certain consequences. The economic activities became standstill for quite a long period. Among various happenings, the most concerning was the psychological impact and absence of work that drove the majority of the workforce back to their native places. With the increasing unemployment and reduced earnings, ensuring education in the post-pandemic era will be a big challenge.

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Strengthening democracy through scientific temper

The all-important is to initiate public discourses through well-conceived opportunities to stimulate the scientific temper in all segments of the population across the country. For efficient deliveries in the democracy of around 1.33 billion population, there should not be any room for irrational thinking, else the country will lag in the present and an ensuing era of technology.

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Beginning of a new Cold War

As we reach the midway of 2020, the year is giving no respite from its wrathful events. Apart from the pandemic, the year 2020 will also be remembered as the year of the beginning of a new Cold War. The COVID-19 pandemic has become the flashpoint as both countries blame each other for the devastation caused by the virus across the world. To avoid falling into Tacitus Trap, both the countries are playing the nationalist card to regain their lost legitimacy.

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Don’t Compromise on Quality Education While Formulating Contingency Plans

“Inclusive, good-quality education is a foundation for dynamic and equitable societies.” – Desmond Tutu
Very few higher education institutions (HEIs) of India, like the IITs, IISc and few other good Indian universities, find a place in the world rankings. The education processes got disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic since the last week of March this year. So, it has become important to maintain the standards of excellence in education as we ‘Unlock’ as per the COVID-19 Recovery Plan.
The uncertainty in the decision-making process at the end of the institutions has been due to lockdowns. As a result, academic governance has been unable to comprehend a congenial contingency plan. Owing to it, the higher education regulators of the country have come out with broader outlines to handle this disruption. The disruption embedded with uncertainty raises concerns with the proposed guidelines too.

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