18th January 2020 : The Hindu Editorials Notes : Mains Sure Shot

No. 1.

Question – What is meant by student politics? Should student politics be banned in India?

Context – The ongoing student protests


What is meant by student politics?

  • Student politics or campus activism is work by students to cause political, environmental, economic, or social change. Although often focused on schools, curriculum, and educational funding, student groups have influenced greater political events.

How student politics is an important part of India’s democracy:

  1. To understand the need for politics in our institutions, the realities of society we live in need to be understood.
  2. Being a country with a high youth population, there are several people who believe that students should participate in politics. Student unions are important as they act as a mediator between the administration and the student population and because they have the power to work for the welfare of the students.
  3. Our economic development – industries, corporates, social welfare schemes, health, education, infrastructure development is all guided by political policies and practices. Political patronage determines the benefits the people of a particular religious community enjoy. Politics controls the creativity of our singers, filmmakers and actors and what they can or cannot say. It even impacts, or often controls, our personal lives – the number of children we can have (in China for example), the food that we can eat, the dress we can wear etc.
  4. If politics is so deeply entrenched in our system, how can universities be an exception. If the goal of a university is not myopically defined to train students only in a particular subject, but is to prepare students for unforeseen and unimagined things that life has to offer, then politics is very important, as a part and parcel of college activities, for the overall development of an individual’s personality and character. It must be remembered that character building is the first step to nation building.
  5. Also, politics is needed in institutions not only because it is present everywhere but to produce better leaders instead of having leaders foisted upon us because of their money/muscle power, or by virtue of their lineage. Since college politics has direct links with national and state level politics, it becomes a good launching pad for new faces that otherwise would not have had a chance to enter the political arena. Therefore, student politics institutionalised the merit-based search for future leaders.
  6. As John Dewey, an American philosopher, states that “Democracy must be born anew every generation, and education is its midwife”.

Arguments against:

  1. Colleges have become proxy battlefields for various political parties.
  2. Students are forced to adopt “identity politics” -The youth is a free bird and can choose what it wants to be. Students are supposed to be a clean slate and take whatever path they fancy. Sometimes this choice is not made even after the completion of the education process. It’s a journey to discover who you really are. However, when you become part of a student body you are immediately straightjacketed. You are forced to adopt an identity you may not be comfortable with. After that, you will be defined by that label. It will guide your actions and ideology. That is extremely unhealthy for an impressionable developing mind.
  3. Right not to practise politics lost in the pressure – What about the right not to practise politics? Most students want to stay apolitical but they find it difficult to do so and they are sucked into politics whether they like it or not. They find politicking students more powerful.
  4. Is there any shortage of pressure on students nowadays? – Student politics in the 1970s was different. Life was more slow-paced and leisurely. Students could still find time for both politics and studies. In 2016, that has radically changed. Academic pressure is more. The pressure of finding jobs can be crushing. Competition is tough. It’s the intense 24X7 internet age. Even without politics the pressure can be too much.
  5. Leads to violence which is brushed under the carpet.
  6. Leads to tremendous inefficiency – our educational institutions have become extremely inefficient owing to the type of student politics that is practised. According to those who argue against student politics, very few Indian colleges make it to the list of the top 100. One of the several reasons they cite is student politics.

Way ahead:

  • Whether we argue for it or against, student politics plays an important role in Indian democratic setup.
  • If it is going astray there is a need to reform it rather than banning it altogether.



No. 2.


Question – What is the significance of Phase one of trade agreement between the US and China in relation to US-China trade war ?

Context – The trade agreement signed between them.

Trade war between China and the US :

  • The world’s two largest economies have been locked in a bitter trade battle.
  • The dispute has seen the US and China impose tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of one another’s goods.
  • The highest-profile example of the US use of targeted coercive measures against China is its year long campaign against Huawei, China’s national-champion telecommunications company.
  • US President Donald Trump has long accused China of unfair trading practices and intellectual property theft.
  • In China, there is a perception that America is trying to curb its rise as a global economic power.

Why tariffs have been imposed?

  • Trump’s tariffs policy aims to encourage consumers to buy American products by making imported goods more expensive.
  • The US has imposed tariffs on more than $360bn of Chinese goods, and China has retaliated with tariffs on more than $110bn of US products.
  • Washington delivered three rounds of tariffs in 2018, and a fourth one in September last year. The most recent round targeted Chinese imports, from meat to musical instruments, with a 15% duty.
  • Beijing hit back with tariffs ranging from 5% to 25% on US goods.

Impact of trade war on India:

  • India is benefiting from the trade war.
  • India can strengthen its trade relationships with both superpowers.
  • Favourable goods that can replace the Chinese goods in the US are sacks, bags, polymers, printed circuits, automobile lighting equipment, Christmas-lighting sets, etc.
  • India gained about $755 million additional exports, mainly of chemicals, metals and ore, to the US in the first half of 2019

Phase one of trade agreement:

  • On January 15, United States President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He signed the long-awaited first phase of a trade agreement after both countries were in an 18-month trade war.
  • US lowered some of its tariffs on Chinese goods
  • And in exchange for Chinese pledges to buy more US goods and services, amounts $200-billion in the coming two years.
  • China has promised to open its markets in dairy products, poultry, fish and allied sectors.
  • China has given assurances to remove barriers for American banking, insurance and other financial services.

Way forward:

  • India should not officially push forward any such policy that intends to take advantage of the crisis. We should stick to our fundamental foreign policy of non-alignment and wait and watch without getting involved in the core trade war.
  • Uncertainties around the trade war have hurt businesses and impacted the global economy.
  • Questions over government control of China’s state-owned firms and industrial subsidies — at the core the bilateral dispute — are yet to be resolved.
  • Trump has said that negotiations on phase two agreement would begin immediately in the future.
  • This will help to end trade war and led the global economy flow again vigorously.

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