Editor’s Pick

Editor's PickSci-TechSocietyTechnology

Navigating the Complex Terrain of AI in India’s Judicial System: A Pragmatic Inquiry

Without careful oversight and mitigation strategies, AI applications in the judiciary could inadvertently perpetuate biases, affecting the fairness and impartiality of legal outcomes. Ensuring that AI systems are used as a tool rather than a definitive authority is crucial to maintaining the balance between efficiency and the human judgment essential to justice.

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Editor's PickPoliticsWorld

Riyadh’s ‘Active Neutrality’ at Play: SCO, OPEC+ and Proposed Defence Deal with USA

In March 2023, Riyadh entered the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a dialogue partner. Saudi Arabia had also signed a Beijing-mediated agreement with Iran to resume diplomatic ties. The Gulf nation has played an important part along with Russia in the OPEC+ cuts in oil production much to the displeasure of Washington DC. Yet, in recent days, Saudi Arabia has been pushing for getting a defence pact with the US ratified before the US election of 2024.

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Editor's PickEducationIndia

Beyond Books and Bells: Organizational Citizenship Behavior in Higher Education

Despite budget constraints, Indian universities like Jadavpur, Jamia Millia Islamia, and Aligarh Muslim University thrive, attributing their success to Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB). OCB, defined as discretionary actions benefiting the organization, extends from academic staff to students, fostering positive change within higher education institutions. The unsung heroes embody dedication, commitment, and selfless actions, impacting holistic development despite the challenges.

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Editor's PickIndiaPolitics

BJP drubs Congress in Hindi Heartland, Congress Consolidates in the Peninsula: The Larger Trends in India’s Electoral Politics post-2023 Assembly Elections

National issues and leadership cannot be relegated totally to the sidelines in assembly elections, even though it is not possible to win state elections without strong regional leaders. What is clear from the election results of the MP, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana is that welfare schemes, which often draw strong criticism from certain commentators, strike a chord with the voter. All political outfits have also begun to focus on welfare schemes specifically targeted at women.

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Editor's PickPoliticsWorld

Biden Vs Trump 2024: The Geopolitics of Russia-Ukraine & Israel-Hamas in USA’s Politics

A recent poll by The New York Times and Siena College found former President Donald Trump leading over President Joe Biden in five key swing states for a potential 2024 presidential election match-up. The poll suggests Biden is losing support among young and black voters, and despite improvements in economic indicators, voters appear pessimistic about the US economy. Trump’s potential win could have significant implications for the ongoing geopolitical conflicts in Russia-Ukraine and the Middle East.

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Editor's PickEducation

Uniform Retirement Age of Teachers: A Panacea for Higher Education

The retirement age of Indian college and university teachers should be uniformly set at 65 to ensure equal opportunities and rights. Knowledge, skills, and experience are vital prerequisites for educators, these only develop over time. Though the increase in retirement age may pose hiring challenges, the resulting longer tenure of experienced educators would greatly enhance the quality of education, fostering more effective teaching and higher quality of research. Having a uniform retirement age would also address the potential decline of experienced teachers by 2027.

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Editor's PickWorld

A Month Since the October 7 Attacks: Bibi’s Ground Operations to ‘Eliminate Hamas’ and Post-War Scenario in Gaza

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) are now encircling Gaza treating Hamas as a target. This escalating conflict ignited anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world, with global opinion turning against Israel. A month of heavy bombardment killed over 10,000 people, including 4,104 children, leading to international calls for a ceasefire. WHO, U.N. agencies, and international charities express concern over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

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Editor's PickPoliticsWorld

Israel-Hamas War: No Endgame Amid International Pressure

In response to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, the United Nations General Assembly has called for an immediate ceasefire. The warfare has resulted in significant casualties and prompts international concerns about an impending humanitarian catastrophe. Despite global pressure, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, remains resolute to continue ground operations. Simultaneously, diplomats are considering possible administration changes in Gaza post-conflict. The international community continues to advocate for a two-state solution, emphasizing the significance of justice, reconciliation, and peaceful coexistence.

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Editor's PickWorld

The Chinese Potential: Close Ties with Tehran, Dialing Down Israel-Palestine Tensions

Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, urges Israel to respect international humanitarian law, protect civilians, and ensure Chinese interests in Israel. Amid tensions following Hamas’s multi-pronged attack, China criticizes the killing of civilians but avoids condemning Hamas. As the conflict escalates, upcoming meetings between Wang Yi and US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, could present opportunities for dialogue. Despite increasing aggression from Iran, China’s influence in the Middle East could potentially help mitigate the situation.

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Editor's PickWorld

Israel-Palestine Conflict Dynamics in West Asia

The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine marked a significant turn, with a surprise attack on Israel marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Arab-Israeli war. The violence, which has been consistent since post-WWII, escalated as Hamas launched over five thousand rockets at Israel. Despite international efforts, including the Cairo Summit for Peace, a resolution seems elusive. Accusations of Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and retaliatory violence add tension, while powerful countries attempt to exert influence and propose solutions.

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Editor's PickEnvironmentSci-TechTechnologyWorld

Vulnerability of Energy to Climate: A Perspective on Thermal Power Plant & Scope of Renewable Energy

Climate change’s severity in India is escalating, driven largely by the country’s dependence on coal-based power plants. Recognizing this, the government aims to satisfy 50% of energy needs through renewable sources by 2030 and has taken steps to limit pollution with clean coal technologies. However, the transition from coal presents challenges, including fluctuating costs of natural gas and the reliability of renewable energy. Implementing new technologies and shifting towards renewables requires strong local institutions, community involvement, and private sector participation.

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Editor's PickWorld

Israel-Hamas War: Gaza Hospital Attack, Biden’s Visit, Iran-USA Powerplay

The shifting global power equation combined with increasing advocacy for regional peace through a sovereign Palestinian state necessitates that the US rethink its global strategy. Tensions in Gaza are escalating, potentially leading to a large-scale conflict as Israel plans a comprehensive offensive against Hamas. Amidst growing fears of war and a worsening humanitarian crisis, there’s a pressing need for negotiating peace and ensuring timely humanitarian aid in the region.

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Editor's PickEducationSci-Tech

AI Chatbots May Devitalize Ingenuity: Arrival of New Disruptors in Education

There is a lot of buzz around ChatGPT, a language model software capable of responding to queries with human-like intelligence. However, AI poses the threat of the diminishing use of human cognitive skills. The absence of ample thinking before writing and the sheer utilization of AI tools for generating reports and documents may make one devoid of skill and imagination to create new things. Spoon-feeding by artificially intelligent systems is enfeebling metacognition and promotes a lackadaisical attitude in students in the education process. Analyzing, report writing, etc. is likely to get reshaped with the evolving AI chatbots based on disruptive technology that redefines the ontology and epistemology of teaching, learning, examination, and research. There is a thin line between someone requiring support and someone becoming parasitic to the support. The likelihood of loss of ingenuity, and diminishing cognitive skills need to be investigated thoroughly at every activity level.

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Editor's PickEnvironmentFood & Health

Clean Drinking Water: A Necessity Increasingly Difficult to Fulfill

The paucity of an essential invisible – clean drinking water – is threatening the very existence of homo sapiens. India finds itself at the 120th rank among 122 countries in the Water Quality Index. Three-fourths of rural households find it difficult to get drinking water in India. In large tracts of remote and arid regions of India having high solar irradiance, especially the Thar Desert, Solar Thermal Desalination technology can play a crucial role in fulfilling the needs of the local communities. Strong local institutions and community participation would become the key to their success. The government must encourage private players to provide technological solutions to tackle the water crisis while ensuring that the accessibility of clean drinking water remains a basic and universal right, instead of becoming a paid service.

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Editor's PickPoliticsWorld

Ukraine Conflict, ‘Spy Balloon’ and Evolving US-China Relationship

In recent weeks, tensions between Beijing and Washington seem to have escalated after the incident of an ‘alleged’ Chinese spy balloon being spotted in US airspace. The Biden Administration may not want ties with China to deteriorate further and it may also seek to find common ground on important global issues. It is likely however to continue with its tough economic stance vis-à-vis China in the run-up to the 2024 US presidential election. The important factors which will influence the trajectory of the Washington-Beijing relationship are the course of the Russia-Ukraine war and China’s stance on the same as well as China’s approach towards Taiwan.

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Editor's PickEducationPublic PolicySci-TechTechnology

Darkness of Cyber Attacks Requires the Light of Cyber Security Education

Statistics show that cyberattacks occur every 39 seconds. The total damage caused by cyber-attacks amounted to $6 trillion in 2022. Growing adaptation to smartphones is heightening security vulnerabilities. Ransomware as a service (RaaS) is evolving as a business model. The formal education system must trigger well-crafted education programmes for rolling out a cyber defence army that understands the creativity behind cyber attacks and can protect society at large. Galloping advances in the cyber world push not just for cyber hygiene to become part of formal education at the school level, but also for the ineluctable rigorous campaigns to update every individual to remain cyber safe.

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EconomyEditor's PickWorld

Vicious Cycle of Economic Slowdown in South Asia

Sri Lanka and Pakistan are dealing with serious economic crises. Apart from serious domestic issues like shortage of essential commodities, and power cuts, both countries have meagre foreign exchange reserves. The excessive dependence on China is the main reason for the increasing debt trap. Both countries also had to seek International Monetary Fund (IMF) assistance despite domestic opposition against the conditionalities imposed by the IMF. It is important for South Asian countries to work towards more robust economic linkages within the region and to shed dependence upon external assistance. 

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Editor's PickEducationPoliticsWorld

Protectionist UK Restricting Indian Students May Backfire

Limiting the number of students from India or changing rules pertaining to the graduate post-study work visa will make the United Kingdom a less attractive destination for higher education for Indian students. The UK needs to understand that Indian students contribute significantly to the UK economy, not just in the form of tuition fees, but also through their talent and skills. 

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Editor's PickIndiaSports

Odisha: A Guiding Light for Sports Tourism and Paradiplomacy

Hosting the FIH Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023, Odisha is the first state in India to host the event for the second time in a row. This is an important feat and highlights the fact that Odisha — along with Punjab — has emerged as a key nursery for Indian hockey. Odisha’s focus on sports, especially hockey, also shows that every state should create its own template for economic prosperity and give a boost to tourism. Its success in hockey, where all stakeholders have worked in harmony, is important not just from the dimension of sports but also economy and para-diplomacy. Other states should seek to emulate its success!

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Editor's PickEducation

The Curious Case of Foreign Universities: UGC Draft

The UGC, coming up with a regulation to allow foreign universities to set up their off-shore campuses in India, has had academics at sixes and sevens and divided. While one stratum welcomes the move saying it would increase job prospects, foreign collaborations, and the research environment in the country, the other believes it will sound the death knell for the home universities. It is strongly felt that Ivy League universities and colleges are unlikely to apply for setting up their campuses in India. India must desist from the temptation of attracting substandard universities that would dupe Indian people out of their money in the name of dazzling foreign degrees.

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CultureEditor's PickIndiaSocietyWorld

North-East Festival: A Roadmap To Domestic And Global Ties

North-East Festival is a festival that celebrates the beauty, diversity, and integrity of North-East India. The USP of this festival is the way in which we seamlessly integrate elements of social cohesion, cultural heritage, and economic welfare, making them an immersive experience for all. This also seeks to give a fillip to ties between North Eastern India and the increasingly important ASEAN region. The festival is important for a number of reasons. First, it highlights aspects of the region’s culture and economy that residents in other parts of India are not familiar with.  Second, it can give a boost to tourism in the region. Third, it can open up new horizons for entrepreneurs from North Eastern India, and the rest of the country.

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Editor's PickEducation

Academia Wary of New UGC Regulations for PhD

Although the new UGC regulations for research appear to change the face of higher education in India and encourage institutions to compete with world-class universities across the globe, their implementation is bound to be shoddy without proper reflection and spade work. A critical rethinking on the part of the policymakers is the need of the day for improving the quality of PhDs in the country. Simple cosmetic changes and juggling around with existing structures cannot bring any positive reform in the quality of higher education, especially research in the country. 

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Editor's Pick

Indo-China Great Power Competition in the Indo-Pacific: An Essay

With the establishment of the Indo-Pacific concept, the relationship between India and China has taken a drastic turn in their bilateral and multilateral engagement causing constrain in their ties. In such regard, no longer the Indo-China ties could be viewed from a narrow perspective as it has evolved and rather should be viewed from the great power politics. Although, the ambition of China is clearly visible of acquiring more power and enhancing its stature and position in global politics and power vis-à-vis India which has kept a balanced and friendly approach to secure its national and strategic interest ensuring its rise doesn’t alarm others.

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EconomyEditor's PickWorld

The Growth Story Of ASEAN Powers: Indonesia and Malaysia

While the Malaysian economy has been adversely impacted as a result of political instability, the Indonesian economy has benefited immensely from political stability. Also, Malaysia has been lagging behind Indonesia in terms of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). But still Malaysia continues to be one of the most attractive investment destinations in ASEAN.

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Editor's PickEducationWorld

The New Geopolitics Of Global Education

Geopolitical issues have affected the people-to-people links and higher education adversely. While the UK, like other developed countries in the West, is keen to attract talented professionals as well as students who could contribute positively towards its economy, it is mooting the idea of restricting the inflow of international students who get admitted into ‘low-quality degrees’, and also bring in their dependents through the student visa route. On the other hand, Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy makes a clear reference to strengthening people-to-people contact with different parts of Asia and seeks to enhance Canada’s international student program with permanent residence and job opportunities for students from the Indo-Pacific.

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CareerEconomyEditor's Pick

Gig Economy: The New Disruptor of Education, Jobs & Social Security

A new philosophy of labour economics is flourishing because of gig recruiters who only target their requirements irrespective of whether the doers have any formal educational certificates or not and the worthiness of gig workers decides their hiring. The sole reliance on the expertise of individuals to perform the respective jobs is likely to delink the educational attainments with the jobs which in turn will also decouple the educational attainments from the pay levels. It is imperative for the education system to engrain the students with comprehensive abilities to adapt, and learn-unlearn-learn in the self-initiated mode for remaining relevant and fetch higher incomes for themselves in the changed economic spectrum. The ensuing independence of educational attainments from jobs and income may push children out of the formal education system for immediate jobs and higher incomes, which may have its implications on the overall capacity building of human resources for sustainability.

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Editor's PickSportsWorld

A Rundown of Sports Diplomacy

The ongoing FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar once again highlights the importance of sports in foreign relations. Sports, over the years, have helped unite nation-states with opposing ideologies. Diplomacy through sports harnesses soft power in geopolitics. Major sporting events like the Dynamo Moscow Football Tour after WWII stands as a testament to two rival countries coming together to settle their indifferences through the means of sport. The ping-pong game between China and the US helped end two decades of animosity between Sino-US relations. In recent years, sports diplomacy has been used to promote legitimate means of peace and development infrastructure in countries while hosting major sporting events. A country with a strategy of sports diplomacy will benefit in economic development and will leave a positive impact.

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Editor's PickPoliticsWorld

Saudi Arabia and UAE: Playing the Balancing Act

Two Gulf countries – Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) – have re-oriented their external relations significantly in recent years. The improvement in ties between both these Gulf countries, especially UAE, and Israel is a strong reiteration of the same. UAE along with Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan normalised ties with Israel via the Abraham accords signed in 2020. Even at a global level, not just the Middle East, both Saudi Arabia and UAE are trying to re-position their foreign policy. One important change has been the strengthening of UAE-China and Saudi Arabia-China relations, much to the discomfort of the US.

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AgricultureEconomyEditor's Pick

Making Sense of Falling Apples Prices in Jammu and Kashmir

Apple growers in Kashmir Valley are on the roads to express their simmering anger due to price crashes and infrastructural bottlenecks. Out of  2.1- 2.9 million tons of apples grown in India annually, around 75 percent comes from the Kashmir valley. In order to enhance the income of apple growers, there is a need to address the infrastructural bottlenecks, technical upgradation of capabilities of horticultural staff, improvement in market intelligence system, branding and government need to regulate the pesticides. Further, there is also a need for reducing the layers in the supply chain by necessary ICT intervention. The government needs to explore Cooperative farming, strengthen farmer-produce organizations and incentivize the establishment of fruit processing units.

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Editor's PickIndiaSociety

Mahatma Gandhi and The Young India

As the nation celebrates Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday this year, it is important to reinstate the larger vision of Swaraj of the Father of the Nation that advocated for inclusive and sustainable development based on the principles of education with character, work with ethics, and professional morals and promotion of mass entrepreneurship to ensure zero unemployment for a populous country like India. For Mahatma Gandhi, mere urbanization was no answer for development as the soul of India lives in its villages. As such his vision of sustainable development need to be realized in modern times of technology innovations by creating clusters of high-tech smart villages so the cause of economic growth and environmental sustainability can be addressed with clarity and with conviction. In this article, the authors have presented a strong case for making the vision and philosophy of  Mahatma Gandhi relevant to Young India, as they are the future and have the potential to create the India of our dream.

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Editor's PickEducationIndia

Education Pollution: Substandard Schools, Decaying Higher Education, Mushrooming Coachings

There are nearly 1.2 lakh single-teacher schools in the country of which an overwhelming 89% are in rural areas. More than 30% of schools had no toilets and over 60% had no playground. The selection of the top positions of the institution has emerged as a great challenge. A research scholar who gets a UGC fellowship does not want to complete his Ph.D. work in time but tries to extend it since after his/her Ph.D. if he/she gets an appointment in a private institution, he /she will get less salary. The conditions of teachers in self-finance institutions are very pathetic. Mushrooming of coaching centres and dummy schools across all cities has misled students into believing that they can perform better in entrance exams if they go for coaching at such centres and by skipping classes in regular schools.

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Editor's PickEnvironment

India’s State Animals Are A Mixed Bag Of Happy And Sad Stories

Many state animals remain highly threatened in the present day with diminishing hope of survival. While Hangul suffer from a skewed sex ratio, fishing cat is beaten to death. The Alpine musk deer is an endangered species mercilessly killed for the musk pod of the males. Many other state animals like the clouded leopard of Meghalaya, Nilgiri tahr of Tamil Nadu, Phayre’s langur of Tripura, red panda of Sikkim, sambar of Orissa, wild water buffalo of Chattisgarh, and the Sangai of Manipur are also highly threatened.

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DefenceEditor's PickPoliticsWorld

Japan, The Land of Rising Militarism

By 2028, the military budget of the Land of the Rising Sun will exceed $80 billion. The Russian-Ukrainian crisis, the rising tensions around Taiwan, and North Korea’s continued missile tests are all reasons for the drastic increase in Japan’s defence spending. Its defence ministry is now considering the prospect of purchasing new weapons: advanced missiles and air defence systems capable of intercepting rockets launched from China and North Korea, including hypersonic missiles.

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Editor's PickPoliticsSci-TechWorld

The Chip War: US Restrictions, China’s Ambitions and the Semiconductor Industry

Semiconductor chips form a very crucial part of the technological and strategic competition between the US and China. The disruptions in the supply and value chain due to the pandemic and trade tensions with China have brought out the significance of semiconductor chips. These are crucial for technological progress and responsible for the country’s growth as an economic power. The present article looks at the present US-China tensions and the implications of such spillover on the semiconductor ecosystem.

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Editor's PickHealthSociety

We, the Guinea Pigs of the World

As the pandemic hit, governments all over the world imposed severe lockdowns, clamping down everything to naught. This was a mega experiment of making people sacrifice their freedom of movement, right to livelihood, and right to learning in order to save their lives. Did community transmission help in checking the spread of the virus? We have no conclusive evidence of that. Did it help in developing immunity from the virus amongst a large section of the population? We can’t say. If there was some immunity amongst some people, was it lasting and reliable? We don’t know. These were all experiments conducted on people who were treated no better than guinea pigs.

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Editor's PickEnvironmentPublic Policy

Illegal Wildlife Trade Is Silently Killing Lesser Known Species In India

Although the Indian culture is generally gentle towards flora and fauna of the country, certain ritualistic practices and traditional beliefs are not. ‘Siyar singhi’ (‘jackal horn’) is a part extracted from a golden jackal’s skull and used as a talisman to satiate superstitious beliefs. The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau of India seized over 370 such talismans between 2013 and 2019. Owls are trapped and illegally traded in India during Diwali and Laxmi Puja to be sacrificed to appease the deities for tantric rituals and ceremonies, endangering the survival of the owl species. People also extensively poach turtles and tortoises for their meat in several parts of the country or capture them for the illegal pet trade.

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Editor's PickEducation

Heading Towards Extinction of Formal Education?

The new trend of popularizing coaching institutions, over-dependence on digital technology, and reduced financial support to institutions of higher learning shall prove to be the death knell of our long cherished formal education. Are we giving free/subsidized education and scholarships to regular students just to enroll in the institution and join coaching classes? The ground reality is that in universities and colleges, we are teaching with the minimum number of teachers without students. The greatest threat to formal education is the recent trend of robbing universities of their academic autonomy. Policymakers have been acting as feudal lords to impose and further their agenda through higher education institutions. One of the turning points for the survival of formal education and universities could be to generate active value-based research.

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Editor's PickEducation

An Era of Dynamism in Higher Education

The HEIs must assess the changing requirements for programmes commensurate to the specially trained manpower requirements. The quick responsiveness of private sector HEIs in offering programmes as per market demand is facilitating good admissions to them. The regulatory framework must enable public universities to exercise their choices of being dynamic in conceiving and offering market-centric demand-driven programmes/courses. Nonetheless, the public sector HEIs must not get rid of their mandate to roll out well-trained and qualified graduates and postgraduates in all disciplines whether popular or not popular.

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CultureEditor's PickEnvironment

Pushed to Periphery: The Case of Mudumalai Tiger MDT-23

Biodiversity or wildlife-related conflicts are often described as situations where wildlife comes into conflict with humans over common resources. However, in many situations, particularly in those where conservation organizations are active, conflicts take the form of disputes between different stakeholder groups over wildlife management goals or priorities, and it is increasingly being acknowledged. Recent research shows that the development of conservation management schemes is affected by a multifaceted range of criteria and this has implications for the design of such schemes, and the way in which their aims are communicated to those affected and executed. There is now a growing awareness amongst conservation biologists that sociological and psychological approaches are often required to achieve a realistic understanding of such issues. Local communities are carrying a very heavy burden of conservation, while elites have the pleasure of enjoying the wilderness and wildlife, resulting in the cost-benefit ratio of conservation being strongly skewed in favour of tourism companies, national governments, and the international conservation community. Compensation and enhanced assistance to the locals should be regarded as a payment for ecosystem service they were generationally safeguarding and contributing towards its sustenance.

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Editor's PickPoliticsWorld

I2U2 and its Significance in the Indo-Pacific Region

The arrival of the I2U2 as a quadrilateral security structure in West Asia will act as a strategic group. Coupled with QUAD and the AUKUS, it will strengthen the position of the West in the Indo-Pacific Region. As the I2U2 focuses on the strategic concerns in West Asia as a geopolitical shift is taking place in the Western Indian Ocean, it will become a feature of the broader region with greater implications. I2U2 provides the opportunity for its members to collaborate and assist one another in six key areas. Being an economic group, it addresses the vacuum in West Asia and allows the Middle Eastern countries to view it as an alternative. With the smooth access and supply of oil being a prime aim across the world, the development of a security net under I2U2 will ensure peace and stability in the region.

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DefenceEditor's PickPoliticsWorld

Crossing China’s Red Line: Pelosi’s Taiwan Visit on the Cards and Challenges Ahead

Recently leaked information regarding the possible visit of Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, to Taiwan in August created a diplomatic row between the US and China, pushing China to object to such a visit strongly. Pelosi is a long-time critic of China. Newt Gingrich was the last US Speaker to visit Taiwan, 25 years ago. With August being critical for President Xi Jinping’s leadership, it coincides with the Biden-Xi virtual summit. Although a statement from President Biden regarding the visit is concerning for the US-Taiwan ties, the visit being called off will only convince China that its deterrence worked and will strengthen its position over the Taiwan Issue.

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CultureEditor's PickEnvironment

Seashells Belong To The Sea, Not Our Homes

While the world is busy trying to save the tigers, lions, sharks, and whales, the marine organisms with seashells are silently vanishing from the sea and filling up our homes. Their absence is creating a void in the oceans that will have a long-lasting impact on every species’ survival in the coming times. Let us leave the seashells where they belong and admire them for the life they harbour and the ocean ecosystem they sustain.

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DefenceEditor's PickIndiaWorld

The Significance of Neutrality for Ukraine

Considering the long history of Ukraine and Russia, the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine factored in Kyiv’s desire to join NATO, bringing NATO close to Russian borders. The desire to join NATO not only extended the conflict, which stretched to more than 100 days, but it also caused one of the major humanitarian crises in recent times. With the West continuing to aid Ukraine through military aid, the relevance of Ukraine adopting neutrality still stands valid, as Russia continues to occupy more Ukrainian territory with no scope of peace in the forefront.

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Editor's PickSociety

Caste-based Reservation and Discrimination: An Equitable Social Order?

Based on an open-house discussion, the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay is planning to introduce a mandatory course on caste awareness and racial discrimination to increase awareness and eliminate the caste-based and racist slurs that have entered into colloquial language. Indisputably, the statutory provisions of reservations based on caste and economic status have been created to facilitate in reduction of the social and educational gaps as envisaged by the enabling provisions of the Constitution of India. The presupposition of OBC, SC, or ST candidates spoiling the merit is not appropriate. The transformations are happening and the comparable performance by reserved category candidates indicates their competency upgradation and forthcoming change in the social order that is free from discrimination and has equity and access at its core. Sensitizing the community about the relevance of caste reservation for the deprived classes of society on social and educational fronts has to be talked about continuously along with checking the discrimination for a healthy society.

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Editor's Pick

Iran and Venezuela on Cooperation Road

Iran and Venezuela recently signed a 20-year agreement that sought to strengthen cooperation in a number of areas – though the focus of the agreement is on bolstering ties in the finance and energy sectors.  The agreement will be closely watched by the West since both countries have been facing US sanctions and have repeatedly lashed out at western imperialism. While Venezuela and Iran share close ties with Russia and China, the agreement sends a strong message that the countries that are part of the Russia-China camp need to have an independent foreign policy and economic vision.

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EconomyEditor's PickWorld

Catastrophic Consequences of the Conflict

The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict has had a long history and with threat perceptions on both sides. However, the conflicts and wars benefit only a few, and that too in the short term. The world must work together to end this crisis at the earliest. Or else, its cascading effect might push the whole world into an abyss from where the recovery would become extremely difficult. The underdeveloped and the developing world are likely to be the worst affected and they all must come together to pitch for peace.

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Editor's PickPoliticsWorld

Decoding China’s Hegemony in Indo-Pacific Region and Its Repercussions

The Chinese economy is faltering, the business sector is more indebted than ever, the fertility rate (1.702) remains below replacement level, the population is ageing, and the benefit of cheap labour is eroding. China’s debt-to-GDP ratio (US$27 trillion) is 159 percent. However, China’s objective has been to reclaim its former glory by controlling Asia in the short term and the rest of the globe in the long run. The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the western world’s response have introduced a new dimension to the Indo-Pacific power struggle. China may be emboldened by the western world’s reluctance to intervene directly in the Ukrainian situation. India would need to tread carefully and traverse the rough waters in this new geopolitical context.China’s rise will continue to be a source of contention for states in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

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Editor's PickEnvironmentPublic PolicySociety

Local Communities Key To India’s Wildlife Conservation

In a country with a burgeoning human population, creating or extending such protected areas is not feasible. Several Indian communities, like Bishnoi, Maldhari, Mumbai Adivasi, and people of Sundarbans, have deep-rooted beliefs that allow them to live with wild animals, including large predators. Such an attitude toward wildlife has allowed the world’s second-most populous country to protect and preserve its biodiversity to a significant extent. As Indians, we all have a duty and a role to play in fostering community-based conservation in our country to allow our rich biodiversity to thrive in the coming decades.

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EconomyEditor's Pick

Fee Fixation for Technical Higher Education

Prescribing a precise amount of fees may well be construed as if the council is exceeding its mandate of prescribing the norms and guidelines for charging tuition and other fees. Pricing regulation assumes particular significance in the context of the higher educational institutions, which are, as yet expected to operate as not-for-profit entities. They are prohibited from profiteering or indulging in crass commercialization. Nonetheless, unable to fill their sanctioned intake, many institutions do not invest in labs, physical facilities, infrastructure, and human resources and, thus, find themselves trapped in the vicious cycle of mediocrity. Fixing a mandatory minimum level of fees would favour such institutions but cannot be said just for the students.

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Editor's PickEducation

Fixing Responsibility for Wrong Appointment of a Vice-Chancellor

Recently, on 3rd March 2022, Hon’ble Supreme Court has held that a state cannot legislate the appointment of a Vice-Chancellor contrary to the provisions of the UGC Regulations. Therefore, if any state does not follow the apex court judgment, the appointments shall be unconstitutional. It is very unfortunate when the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor gets challenged after the selection, and the honourable courts turn down the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor on the basis of either not following the rules and regulations of the Act or the selected Vice-Chancellor not possessing the minimum qualifications as per the rules made by the UGC. If a Vice-Chancellor is removed by the Hon’ble High Court, a serious question arises in the mind – who should be held responsible for such a fault?

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Editor's PickEducation

Academic Collaboration of Indian and Foreign Institutions Needs Soul-Searching

The new UGC regulations for academic collaboration are said to have three possible formats of collaboration, namely, joint degree, dual degree, and twinning programmes, with a liberal view of UGC to encourage collaborations. The intent of exposing Indian students to the education system abroad sounds reasonable, nevertheless, the affordability of practising such engagements and their relevance to students calls for honest introspection. The private sector HEIs market their programmes by showcasing their foreign collaborations to woo new students during admissions. In most cases, the poor socio-economic conditions of Indian families may not allow their children to take advantage of the foreign collaborations unless they get sponsorships to sustain the expenses.

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DefenceEditor's PickPoliticsWorld

Defence Sector During Russia-Ukraine Crisis: Implications for India

Although several developed countries might propagate the idea that the conflicts and wars bring misery to humanity at large, they promote the idea of defence preparedness as a means and instrument of deterrence, and this ensures that their interests are served even during good times. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created all the needed threat perception amongst many a country to cause the global armament exports to flourish. Will the geopolitics permit, promote, and support India to capitalize on this export opportunity, or would it be prevented from doing so? 

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Editor's PickWorld

Political Turmoil and Strained Ties with the West: A Double Whammy for Pakistan’s Economy

Apart from Pakistan’s army and opposition political outfits, the business lobbies in Pakistan have been flagging the point that strained ties with the US and the EU will have an adverse impact on Pakistan’s economy. While the Pakistan Army Chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, had alluded to the importance of Pakistan’s ties with the US in his address on April 2, 2022, Pakistan’s business has expressed its apprehensions with regard to the current political situation and the potential souring of ties with the West, in general, and the US, in particular. The current economic crisis in Sri Lanka also underscores the pitfalls of being excessively dependent upon China and the need for an astute foreign policy.

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EconomyEditor's PickWorld

Alternative to SWIFT: Russia-Ukraine War Highlights the Urgency

The financial warfare against Russia, inter alia, has cut off Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) thereby blocking Russia from rapid money transfers internationally. Even though SWIFT accounts for no more than 1 percent of the transactions involving Russian entities and payments, the ban may potentially disrupt its trade in energy and agricultural produce as well as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Foreign Institutional Investors (FII). In totality, the sanctions against Russia may shrink its economy by 5 percent. The current crisis has made many countries of the world think of developing alternative payment systems and capabilities. This would be a challenging task as the alternative to SWIFT would work only when a larger number of countries become willing to cooperate and agree to become a part of the alternative network.

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Editor's PickWorld

Decoding the Objectives of FM Wang Yi’s Visit to India

The visit to India of Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister and State Councillor, which was kept secret until he arrived in New Delhi following visits to Pakistan and Afghanistan, had multiple objectives. China appeared to have attempted to advance its agenda in this region in light of the larger objective in the South China Sea, after assessing the geopolitical changes resulting from the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Unfortunately for Wang, Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Minister Jaishankar made it abundantly clear to him that normal relations between the two countries are impossible until the border situation improves. Wang, as is customary in Chinese diplomacy, used subtly disguised concepts to argue that normalization of relations between the two countries should take precedence and that the border issue should be placed in an appropriate position—that is, given no weight.

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Editor's PickIndiaPoliticsSociety

Publicizing Caste and Religion in Electoral Politics: Representation or Appeasement?

Dependence on caste and religion to win elections is observed frequently in India. Few call it appeasement while few others call it representation. Is it not paradoxical? Classification of victorious public representatives by their caste/religion tacitly enhances their importance in the country’s democracy. Apparently, it messages about corroborating the wide representation of communities through the leaders belonging to them. But at the same time, it evinces the unfading pertinence of caste/religion in our society. It is inevitable to delve into the disquietude nucleating from the issues of publicizing representation and appeasement of communities based on caste/religion for strengthening coherence in the society.

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EconomyEditor's PickWorld

Russia-Ukraine Conflict: Impact on Global Flow of Funds

The Russia-Ukraine conflict can intensify the already shaken economic conditions created by COVID-19 as inflationary pressures might have an effect on many countries. Investors in Central and Eastern Europe are cautious with their investments. As per an IMF report, the sanctions imposed against Russia will impact the global economy. It clearly seems to have already affected FDI and portfolio investment in many countries, including India. For the sixth month in a row, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) were net sellers in February, selling shares worth $4.9 billion. It was also the most shares sold by FPIs since the epidemic began in March 2020, when they sold $8.3 billion worth of stock. The Union Finance Minister of India had stated that the Russia-Ukraine conflict and surge in crude oil prices pose risk to the financial stability of the country.

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EconomyEditor's Pick

Economic Implications of Russia-Ukraine Crisis

The world has been thrown into yet another catastrophe caused by the Russian attack on Ukraine and the retaliatory sanctions imposed on Russia by the major economies of the world. It is now time to see how would these twin crises of the pandemic and the ongoing conflict affect the geopolitics and world economy. Russia accounts for nearly a quarter of the global gas market and has been a major supplier of crude, platinum. Russia and Ukraine are also the top suppliers of neon gas, essential for making semiconductor chips, an essential component of every electronic item. Even though the direct effect of sanctions on major economies might appear minuscule as they may have relatively smaller and limited trade with Russia, they too would suffer significantly on account of indirect, collateral, and tangential repercussions.

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Editor's PickEducation

Expansion in Medical Education: Easier Said Than Done

The Ukrainian Crisis has brought the problems of medical education in India to the fore. While the most urgent challenge has been to evacuate all the Indian students to bring them back safely and also to explore all the possibilities to rehabilitate them within the country. In a short to medium-term framework, India must aim at expanding its intake capacity in medical education by manifold but with due regard to quality as well as affordability. Here are the facts as well as the opinions and views of a cross-section of society for investigating the expansion in medical education.

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Editor's PickIndiaPolitics

Goggling UP Assembly Elections

The fight in UP assembly elections remained primarily between the BJP and the SP. The star campaigners of ruling dispensation raked on the incidents during pre-2017 rule with few prominent ones being Kairana riots & associated migration in western UP, dynastic politics, law and order, camouflaged polarization, nationalism, etc. The law and order, women’s safety, free gas connection, free toilets, free houses, elimination of mafias, welfare schemes of a free ration on account of COVID disruption, direct benefit transfer, health care schemes, infrastructure, various freebies, etc. remained the mainstay for the BJP. Astoundingly, the SP leadership maintained reasonable decency in language while referring to the political opponents across the electioneering. The SP leadership continually reminded of its works, including the “Dial 100”, “Dial 1090”, police reforms, free ambulance service, solar energy initiatives, power plants, power station networks, farmer mandis, sugarcane procurement, the four-lane connection of district headquarters, Agra-Lucknow Expressway, Lucknow Metro, IT park, tourism, welfare schemes of food, pension, etc.

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EconomyEditor's PickWorld

Bracing for the Changing Geopolitics: Ukraine Crisis and Energy Security in India

As Russian troops reach Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, the Brent crude prices have already touched $110 a barrel, a level that was breached 8 years ago in 2014. The moot question, therefore, is, whether or not India was ready to anticipate and handle the consequences arising out of such a crisis with minimal disruptions. Taxes on petroleum, today, may be a major source of revenue but is also vulnerable to volatility impelling upon the need to look for an alternative but stable source of revenue to the government.

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Editor's PickPoliticsSportsWorld

Political Controversies at Beijing 2022 Olympics

The 2022 Winter Olympics concluded recently in Beijing. What made the 2022 Winter Games stand out was that the political aspect of the games was talked about exponentially more than the sporting aspects. The 2022 Beijing Olympics might have been the most tainted game in the history of the Winter edition. There was already a trend of increasing controversies and the political nature of the competition, but the latest set of events in China might have set the tone for years to come. Politicization, environmental problems, doping, decreasing viewership, fewer hosting candidates, increasing criticism, and many more problems cloud the future of the world’s oldest and grandest sporting phenomenon.

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Editor's PickSociety

Impact of COVID-19 on Women Self Help Groups of Odisha

This International Women’s Day, we look at the impact of COVID-19 Women Self-Help Groups of Odisha. While several studies have been done highlighting the role of WSHGs in providing support and sustaining livelihoods during the tough times of the pandemic, not much has been looked upon with regards to the impact on these WSHGs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic seems to have altered many facets of the lives of the WSHG members. However, a majority of them are optimistic about their activities and income returning to pre-pandemic levels in the near future.

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Editor's PickPoliticsWorld

The Lessons for Taiwan from Russia-Ukraine Conflict

Against the backdrop of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine Conflict, there is an increasing suspicion that Beijing would follow Moscow’s lead and attempt to conquer Taiwan militarily. Ukraine’s experience should instil a stronger sense of urgency in Taiwan regarding the need to overcome bureaucratic and partisan impediments to coalescing around a military plan that is fit for Taiwan’s security environment and resource restrictions. This is an opportunity for Taiwan’s current and future leaders to instil confidence in the country’s future.

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Editor's PickEducation

Why do Indians Go Abroad for Higher Education?

Against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the Prime Minister of India has revived a concern that needs to be taken seriously and urgently. It is imperative for the higher education policy planners, administrators, and regulators to take proactive measures to ensure quality higher education at an affordable cost within the country across the broad spectrum of higher education, including but not limited to only medical education.

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Editor's PickPoliticsWorld

Russia-Ukraine Crisis: The Impact on India

The ongoing Ukraine Crisis has transported India back to the Cold War era when it was expected to choose a side. However, given India’s growing stature in international affairs and its dynamics with the two countries, maintaining the same strategic autonomy as last time will be nearly impossible. While a Russia-China-India axis in the present scenario is next to impossible, jumping on the Washington wagon has its own set of ill consequences for India vis-à-vis Moscow. It is in India’s best interests for the Ukraine crisis to be de-escalated as soon as possible.

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Editor's PickPoliticsSportsWorld

Olympics and International Relations: Uncovering an Intertwined Relationship

*This is Part Two of the Two-Part Article Series on the Olympics and International Politics.* The Olympics are more than just a stage for international politics. They are a true reflection of the world order and what goes on in it. Hosting an edition of the Olympics is the most beneficial way of gaining soft power for any country. During the Cold War, the Olympics was not only a competition for power and a symbol of pride for the two countries, but also a representation of their global dominance. While the Olympics have been the victim of international political impact multiple times throughout their history, they keep showing their ability to overcome those challenges and continue to bring the international community together to promote sports with the objective of peace.

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Editor's PickPoliticsSportsWorld

The Political Nature of the Olympics: Protests, Boycotts and Violence at the Games

A few countries, including the United States of America, have decided to stage a diplomatic boycott of the ongoing 2022 Beijing Olympics. The Olympics and politics have had a complex relationship even in the past. Almost every Olympics has had one or multiple instances of politicisation. In Olympic history, multiple countries have boycotted the games to express dissent on the basis of international conflicts and issues. The Olympic games also have had their fair share of violence, resulting in human and infrastructural casualties over the years.

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Editor's PickSociety

Shift Focus Away From Latrine Construction to Achieve an Open Defecation Free India: Swachh Bharat

*This is Part Two of the Two-Part Article Series on India’s ODF Challenge.* Human behavior is dependent on culture, with culture adapting to available resources along with cost and benefit of using a technology. In spite of 22 years having elapsed since the Total Sanitation Project started, India is still struggling with open defecation. The focus on the technology of individual household latrines construction seems to be misplaced. The talking points of the Indian Sanitation Campaigns have been handed down by the western agencies which were initially in the sanitation campaign and the message has remained constant. To achieve an open defecation free country, India must look at the state of its communities across the country rather than impose a ‘one-nation, one-fit’ solution or a western model. The only way ahead is to focus on health and hygiene by focusing on the accessibility and availability of water and soaps, and not on latrines.

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EconomyEditor's Pick

A Tax-Free Economy to Tackle the Menace of Black Money?

Recently, Rajya Sabha MP and economist Dr. Subramanian Swamy made a bold suggestion that Income Tax be abolished to boost the economy and that the revenue loss to the public exchequer could be easily recovered through other sources. Although a good number of economists may agree that taxation is the major culprit for creating black money, they are likely to shun the idea of abolishing taxes to tackle the menace of black money, due to their orientation and training in public finance which sees taxes inevitable. Yet, a few economists should at least explore this as a possibility by factoring in all the enormities and complexities that the idea entails.

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Editor's PickEducation

Challenges and Strategies of Better Online Assessment

The preparedness of the country’s education system and its stakeholders for resorting to the online mode in an efficacious manner is still reeling under the question mark of feasibility. Reducing the weightage of final examinations or the end-of-course examinations and increasing the weightage of continuous assessment will envisage good quality student assessment. The open-book type unproctored examinations hold the potential to resolve the institutional problems of likely use of unfair practices in online examinations. The teacher engagement, too, increases in, both, the continuous assessment of students and the open-book examination.

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Editor's PickSociety

Why Swachh Bharat’s Latrine Construction Focus Will Not Achieve An ODF India? – Introspecting Constraints

Human behavior is dependent on culture, with culture adapting to available resources along with the cost and benefit of using a technology. In spite of 22 years having elapsed since the Total Sanitation Project started, India is still struggling with open defecation. The focus on the technology of individual household latrines construction seems to be misplaced. The talking points of the Indian Sanitation Campaigns have been handed down by the western agencies which were initially involved either in funding or handholding during the initial start of the sanitation campaign and the message has remained constant and the focus again seems to be on latrine construction rather than on health and hygiene. The local population, which is supposed to take benefit of a particular development, is not being considered as a stakeholder by the Government of the country

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Editor's PickEducationPublic Policy

Challenges of Designing a New Regulatory Framework in Higher Education

While everyone has been recommending, since 2007, for an all-embracing single regulatory body to take care of all higher educational institutions and programmes, none has been able to provide details of deficiencies that have made the existing regulatory bodies dysfunctional. In the meantime, the idea of the single regulator has seen some major dilution. The first anniversary of NEP 2020 was celebrated with gusto, but there is still no sight of the single regulatory authority, even though the Finance Minister announced in the budget speech of 2021-22 that the new regulatory body shall be set up during that financial year itself. It must, therefore, be a real challenge to design a single regulatory body for higher education, which must meet the NKC’s idea of saving higher education from being ‘over-regulated and under governed” or the Kasturirangan Committee’s desire to evolve “light but tight” regulatory framework.

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Editor's PickEducation

Motivation for Higher Education

Higher education, for many, is an investment in hope for the future and it is incumbent upon the nation to ensure that it does not get turned into despair. Yet, higher education is generally confined to a minuscule proportion of the students mostly comprising the social and economic elites who have already accumulated enough resources. The mass of the highly educated talent pool that the country has is an invaluable resource that may be garnered as the demographic dividend, making it imperative to gainfully employ them to save ourselves from the onslaught of the demographic disaster.

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Editor's PickEducation

The Next Tech is Lifetech

This is perhaps the right time to look back at The Science of Life, a 1931 publication by the renowned biologists GP Wells, HG Wells, and Julian Huxley and look deep into the body machine and understand how this magnificent intelligent design works with a perfect synergy between rasayan, the chemistry and the jivavigyana, the biology, and allows the microbial kingdom to enjoy its fruits and produce the nutrients and proteins in the functioning of the metabolism. All our technology innovations should, now, be aligned towards our strengthening of the ‘Lifetech’ to make science and technology in the true sense, a valid means for living a life of bliss, happiness, and good health

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Editor's PickEducation

Appreciating the Importance of Teachers in Higher Education

People often fail to realize that teachers in higher education require time and space to contemplate, reflect and think on a number of issues relating to their teaching and research. Generation of ideas, formulation of the hypotheses,  methodology, and models are not mechanical processes. They need deep thinking and deep work. In the best universities of the world, teachers are supported a great deal through their teaching and research assistants and also some additional staff to help them prepare proposals for research fundings. Sadly, most universities in the country hardly have such a system. At the best, they have only a common room for all teachers hardly suited to do any serious work.

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Editor's PickEducationIndiaSociety

Brain Drain: An Apparent Loss to the Nation May Prove Lasting Gain to the Profession

According to an old adage, says that as soon as a student gets into an IIT his soul emigrates to the US; and the moment he graduates, his body too migrates to join the soul. The phenomenon is not confined to the domain of engineering and technology alone. The situation with the Indian scientists and academicians is no different. Many of those who went abroad for higher education and chose to make a career there, were recognized for their accomplishments and rewarded with coveted positions. How come most of the Indian Nobel Prize winners and Fields Medal awardees are those who left the country and were able to make their marks on foreign soil? They might appear a loss to the nation but are a gain to the profession that they wish to pursue and excel!

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Editor's PickEducation

Withering Public Sector and Bourgeoning Private Sector in Higher Education

The blossoming of few private sector HEIs as evident from their good rankings and sizeable share among top ranking institutions establishes that self-financed institutions too can achieve excellence, provided there is a strong will. Flourishing private sector HEIs is a positive sign in overall higher education; nevertheless, the shrinking number of public sector HEIs in the top 100 ranks is concerning because of the inadequacy of quality output from the public sector HEIs established and run by taxpayers money.

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