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India’s Role In Reconciliation Between The North And The South Korea



  • GS Paper- 2, International Relations

Why in news?

  • The recent 4-day visit of the South Korean President to India , Moon Jae-in offers scope for India’s role in reconciliation between the North and the South Koreas.

What are the ongoing developments?

  • Talks between US Secretary of State and his hosts in North Korea ended in accusations.
  • This has impacted the American diplomacy on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.
  • America demands for a quick and comprehensive denuclearization of North Korea.
  • However, North Korea’s agenda on political and military trust building is a challenge.
  • On the other hand, South Korean President is particular of reconciliation between the two Koreas.
  • Amidst this, Moon’s visit to Delhi offers possibility for strengthening India’s role in the Korean Peninsula.

What made India a part of all this?

  • Independent India played a significant role in the Korean Peninsula.
  • This was especially in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War.
  • India also maintained diplomatic relations with the North and South during the Cold War.
  • With 1991 economic reforms, South Korea became an important participant in India’s economy.
  • Russia and China also increased their collaboration with South Korea for economic gains.
  • Resultantly, the socialist North Korea was increasingly isolated.
  • It looked for making up for the loss of its old communist allies.
  • It thus started focussing on developing nuclear capability.
  • Eventually, the Indian Subcontinent became a part of North Korea’s strategy.
  • North Korea’s atomic quest found convergences with that of Pakistan.
  • North Korea and Pakistan thus stepped up their nuclear and missile cooperation.
  • Certainly, this strained the India’s relationship with North Korea.

What is the possible role of India?

  • India is now in a position to develop a more strategic view of the Korean Peninsula.
  • For South Korean President is increasingly seeking reconciliation with the North there is much international skepticism about the prospects for this peace.
  • Given this, Indian support for reconciliation would be of great political value to South Korea.
  • Importantly, it will align Delhi with the long-term interests of the Korean people.
  • For, they had been the victims of troubles in the divided peninsula over the last 7 decades.

What are the challenges?

  • The post-Cold War Asian landscape is shifting.
  • The relations between major powers – US, Russia, China and Japan – are strained.
  • This is a new challenge that Asia had not to deal with in decades.
  • Meanwhile, prosperity brought by globalization to Asia over the recent decades is under stress.
  • Measures against free trade and open borders, by the Western leaders are contributing to this.

What lies ahead?

  • South Korea has announced a “New Southern Policy”.
  • This looks beyond Northeast Asia to focus on Southeast Asia, Australia and India.
  • Likewise, India’s Act East policy now has a much wider coverage, the Indo-Pacific.
  • These strategies should be taken forward, to reap the benefits of geopolitical developments.
  • With global trade war unfolding, Delhi and Seoul have an urgent need to liberalize the bilateral trade relations.
  • The two sides also need to focus on expanding bilateral security and defense cooperation.
  • They should work with other countries to promote a stable Asian balance of power system

National Testing Agency- Why & What



  • GS Paper-2, Education

Why in news?

  • Recently the government announced setting up of the National Testing Agency (NTA).
  • It also announced a change in the structure of JEE and NEET examinations.

Why these exams?

  • The Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) (Mains) is for admission to National Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Information Technology, etc.
  • It is also the eligibility to appear for JEE (Advanced) for admission to the Indian Institutes of Technology.
  • NEET decides admissions to all medical colleges except AIIMS and JIPMER, Puducherry.

What are the proposed changes in the pipeline?

  • The JEE (Mains) and NEET will be conducted twice a year.
  • The same student can take these examinations twice a year.
  • The two tests would be equated using psychometric methods, standardisation techniques.
  • The best of the equated scores would thus be used for the admissions.
  • However, the IITs will continue to conduct the JEE (Advanced) and this is likely to be held just once a year.
  • NTA- The new National Testing Agency (NTA) would conduct these examinations.
  • The NTA will start conducting the JEE (Mains), NEET, UGC NET, CMAT and GPAT examinations from this year itself.
  • This would reduce the burden of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
  • All these examinations will be computer-based, though not online.
  • The papers have to be downloaded at the test centres just before the exam.
  • After downloading, the Internet would be disconnected.
  • The papers would then be distributed to all candidates through a local server.
  • After the exam, the papers would be uploaded to central servers.
  • There would be encryption, and this ensures foolproof testing.
  • There would be no examiners and the answers would be fed into the system.
  • So a candidate would know her raw score immediately.
  • The result would come out after some days to address any possible complaints.
  • Examinations will be held on a number of days, with multiple question papers with equal level of difficulty.
  • A candidate can choose which date to appear for the exam.
  • All the examinations would be held in all the existing languages with no change in syllabus.
  • Those who did not have a computer or laptop at home could practise at authorised centres.

What are the advantages?

  • There had been concerns of paper leaks, cheating scandals, outdated syllabus, etc with the CBSE.
  • The National Testing Agency is thus likely to address these shortfalls.
  • A professional agency could make the selection criteria more objective and assess the candidate’s suitability.
  • Moreover, curbs on commercialization can help expand higher education.
  • Taking the better of the two scores and offering more days on which the exam is held would help the students.
  • This may lower the pressure that students encounter and address exam related suicides to an extent.
  • Process- Computer-based exam process would bring in more flexibility, less stress and a more transparent process.
  • It would be on par with international norms, be student- friendly, open, scientific and leak-proof.

What are the concerns?

  • The real issue with the entrance system is the examination itself.
  • The JEE, NEET or NET should be reduced to a score that counts towards the admission process.
  • It should not be the single deciding factor.
  • The government could consider allowing the institutions to design their own entrance criteria.
  • But the fundamental issue is the lack of trust based on past years’ experiences.
  • As is often the case, institutions favour students, take money and grant admission based on criteria other than merit.
  • Additionally, innovative cheating methods are evidently adopted across states.
  • Institutions such as IITs, AIIMS and some medical colleges had taken entrance examination result as one of the inputs for final selection.
  • The number of these kinds of trusted institutions could be expanded.
  • The list of designated institutions of eminence (now six) could be increased.
  • There are hundreds of other medical and engineering colleges that charge humongous amounts.

There has to be at least three firmly defined criteria, including:-

  1. the 10th and 12th board results
  2. the entrance test score
  3. a third criteria to assess and make a final selection instead of basing it all on the JEE or NEET
  • A computer-based test should not turn into a barrier for rural students.
  • Good planning and sufficient fund allocation should allay the concerns with online testing.
  • The coaching institutes form a sector worth about Rs. 24,000 crore a year.
  • Regulation of coaching institutes is essential to ensure that the changes do not result in further exploitation of students.

What is the way forward?

  • The entrance examinations level reforms would be meaningful only with a revamped school education system.
  • Eventually, measures at improving the learning outcomes should be taken.

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