QUESTION : Discuss how can CUET be a game changer in the sphere of higher education and help in curtailing the divide ?
The Hindu Editorial : DELHI UNIVERSITY INTAKE TO BE BASED ON CUET
- Central University Entrance Test
WHY IN NEWS ?
- On March 21, 2022, the University Grants Commission (UGC) announced the introduction of the Central University Entrance Test (CUET), which is now mandatory for undergraduate admission at any of the 45 central universities in the country. It would be a computer-based exam conducted by the National Testing Agency in 13 languages and substitute the current practice of admission based on a candidate’s score in 12th class.
BACKGROUND OF CUET :
- Several governments, over the years, have made attempts to replace multiple entrance tests with a single common test. In 2010, the government had launched the Central Universities Common Entrance Test (CUCET) however it failed to gather steam since only 14 central universities had adopted it until last year.
- CUET is a revamped version of CUCET and it is now compulsory for all 45 central universities to adopt it. This has come after the announcement of the new National Education Policy (NEP), which advocates the need for an entrance test for university admissions.
FEATURES OF CUET :
- The National Testing Agency (NTA), which conducts entrance tests such as JEE (Main) and UGC-NET, will also conduct CUET for all central universities in the first week of July. A student’s Board marks will have no role in determining her admission to a college or a programme. Admission will be based only on her CUET score. The Universities can use Board marks as the minimum eligibility criteria for admission though.
- For skill-based courses that have major practical components, such as music, painting, sculpture and theatre, universities will be allowed to conduct practical exams or interviews along with CUET. For professional programmes such as engineering and MBBS, central universities will admit through the entrance exams JEE (Main) and NEET respectively.
PROCESS OF CUET ?
- It will be a 3.5 hours computer-based test that will be held in two shifts and can be taken in 13 languages — Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Urdu, Assamese, Bengali, Punjabi, Odia and English.
- CUET will essentially have three parts :
(1).The first part will test a candidate on a language of her choice. This will consist of reading comprehension, questions on vocabulary, synonyms and antonyms, besides other things. There will be a choice of 13 languages.
(2).The second part is focused on testing a candidate’s domain-specific knowledge. This section offers a total of 27 domains, and a candidate can choose to have her knowledge tested in at least one and a maximum of six domains.
(3).The third part of the entrance test will be a general test with questions on general knowledge, current affairs, general mental ability, numerical ability, quantitative reasoning, logical and analytical reasoning.
Apart from the compulsory language test, a candidate’s participation in the domain-specific part of CUET and the general test will depend on whether a central university wants it for the programme she is applying for.
ITS SCOPE :
- At the moment, CUET has been made compulsory for central universities but the government is open to other institutions, including private universities, adopting this examination instead of conducting their own.
- Further, conducting admissions to postgraduate programmes through CUET is not compulsory for central universities. Therefore, they are free to adopt CUET for PG admissions or stick to their own admission process for now.
NEED OF THE CUET?
- Diversity in Evaluation: The government did not favor using Board marks for admission because of the ‘diversity’ in evaluation methods adopted by different Boards. Some Boards like CBSE are more generous than others in marking and this gives some students an unfair advantage over others.
- Unrealistic Cutoffs: The current pattern has led to generation of unrealistic cutoffs in many universities e.g., many colleges of Delhi University released their first cutoff at 100%.
- Second Chance: It would give students another opportunity to show their potential even if they are unable to score well in board examinations.
- Improper Pandemic scores: During the pandemic, many schools awarded marks in an arbitrary manner or inflated the marks of their students. In such a situation, the 12th marks don’t show a true picture of a candidate’s capability.
- Easing of Burden: The students need to give just one entrance test rather than multiple entrances for all the central universities which would save a lot of time and release considerable burden on them.
CONCERNS ASSOCIATED WITH CUET :
- Burden on the Marginalized Section: Some academics have expressed fear that CUET will result in additional expenditure towards coaching. This would put financial strain on the marginalized section.
- Reduce relevance of Board Examinations: With CUET in place, students might pay less attention to 12th class syllabus and school learning. They would focus on CUET and may even start skipping their regular classes as is done by many students who are preparing for JEE in Kota, Rajasthan.
- Curtailing the Autonomy: The new system will curtail the autonomy of institutions to respond to ground realities. Cut-offs are decided so as to have desired over-admission to ensure that seats do not go empty after closure of admission process.
- Infrastructure Deficit: It is not clear whether CUET will be conducted on a single day or multiple days. If it is conducted on a single day, then many cities especially tier 3 would not be able to provide the requisite number of computer labs and equipment for conducting the test.
- Lack of Vernacular content: CUET can be taken in 13 languages but experts have expressed concerns over the quality of content that would be provided in vernacular languages versus English.
WAY FORWARD :
- There should be a minimum weightage of 12th marks so that students don’t completely ignore their board examinations for CUET.
- The teachers of government schools should give additional classes to students for preparing for CUET. This would reduce the financial burden of marginalized sections.
- The government should give extra funds for spending on education so that more computer labs are built for conducting CUET. The National Education Policy has prescribed raising expenditure to 6% of GDP on the country’s edusection.
- The government can make a provision of common counseling sessions for CUET students in the future to ease the admission process as is done in the JEE(Main) entrance test.
- The NTA should deploy additional vernacular experts so that students of local languages don’t feel at a disadvantage in comparison to English medium students.
The CUET can be a game changer in the sphere of higher education and help in curtailing the divide created by evaluation methodology of different education boards in the country. However, a greater degree of equity can be infused only when the issues surrounding CUET are duly addressed in a timely manner.
QUESTION : “Appropriate monetary and fiscal policy initiatives will be needed to overcome the impact and sustain the economic recovery”. Comment
The Hindu Editorial : GLOBAL UNCERTAINTIES , INDIA’S GROWTH PROSPECTS
- India’s Growth Prospects 2022
WHY IN NEWS ?
- On February 28, 2022, the National Statistical Office (NSO) released India’s GDP data for Q3 of 2021-22 along with Second Advance Estimates (SAE) for 2021-22.
GROWTH PERFORMANCE OF INDIAN ECONOMY :
- In the COVID-19 year of 2020-21, both real GDP and GVA contracted by minus 6.6% and minus 4.8%, respectively.
- The NSO’s SAE show that real GDP and GVA growth are estimated to recover to 8.9% and 8.3%, respectively, in 2021-22.
- Despite this improvement, the magnitude of real GDP at ₹147.7 lakh crore in 2021-22 is only marginally higher than the corresponding level of ₹145.2 lakh crore in 2019-20.
Revival of demand has been slow
- The growth of consumption demand measured by private final consumption expenditure (PFCE) in 2021-22 over 2019-20 is only 1.2%
- The growth of investment demand measured by gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) in 2021-22 over 2019-20 is only 2.6%
- Growth in the construction sector in 2021-22 was at only 1.9% over 2019-20.
- Assuming some base effects to continue in the first two quarters, the annual growth in 2022-23 may not be more than 7%.
CHALLENGES FOR INDIAN ECONOMY IN COMING DAYS :
- Rise in crude oil prices due to geopolitical conflict in Ukraine. It is estimated that an increase of U.S.$10/ barrel there is reduction in real GDP growth by 0.27% and an increase in CPI inflation by 0.40%. As a result the growth estimates will be brought down to 6.3% for 2022-23 (with CPI inflation of 6%)
- Alongside, there would be increase in government expenditures related to petroleum and fertilizer subsidies as rising prices will put pressure on government to offer reliefs in forms of reduced tax or increased subsidy.
- Other economic challenges emanating from global uncertainties may include a worsening of the current account balance due to higher import bills with a depreciating rupee.
- A study by the RBI in 2019 had estimated an increase in the current account deficit (CAD) following a U.S.$10/bbl. increase in global crude price, to be nearly 0.4% points of GDP. As a result, the estimate of CAD at 1.9% of GDP for 2022-23 may have to be revised upwards to 2.9%.
- Sectors that draw heavily on petroleum products, such as fertilizers, iron and steel foundries, transportation, construction and coal, would be adversely affected.
- Due to the discontinuation of transactions through SWIFT, there would be some disruption in trade to and from Russia and Ukraine.
- There would also be some adverse effects with regard to financial flows. Net foreign portfolio investment (FPI) outflows during October to December 2021 increased to U.S.$6.3 billion.
- Net foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows have also been falling during this period although they have remained positive.
- As developed countries are being forced to raise their interest rates (to contain their own inflationary pressures) there is increased outflow of U.S. dollars thus putting pressures on RBI to raise its policy rate.
WAY FORWARD :
Policymakers may have to exercise a critical choice regarding who bears the burden of higher prices of petroleum products in India among
- Consumers (increased cost of fuel & inflation)
- industrial users (increased input cost)
- oil marketing companies (reduced profits)
- Government (reduced revenues & increased subsidy burden)
- If growth is to be revived, maximum attention should be paid to supporting consumption growth and reducing the cost of industrial inputs with a view to improving capacity utilisation.
- The time is now to close the inequality gaps within and among countries.
- Without a coordinated and sustained global approach to contain COVID-19 that includes universal access to vaccines, the pandemic will continue to pose the greatest risk to an inclusive and sustainable recovery of the world economy.
- The government must focus its resources on capital investment, for example, on physical infrastructure, skill-building, and improving public health and other social infrastructure, as the country learns to live with the pandemic.
- These expenses should be financed through sustained efforts toward monetization of assets and attracting investments.
- The other area of focus must be enabling the ecosystem around job, income, and demand creation. India is a domestic demand–driven economy and needs demand to sustainably pick up for a strong recovery.
- Since MSMEs are India’s largest job creators, the government will have to identify their pain areas, and devise a solution that helps them become a part of “Aatmanirbhar Bharat.”
- Government must focus on short- as well as long-term measures to boost exports and encourage foreign direct investment in sectors where India has a competitive advantage
- Government must be cautious of future variants and likely adopt a calibrated response through intermittent regionalized mobility restrictions.
The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict and the geopolitical uncertainties caused by it will adversely impact the normalization of the Indian economy in the post-pandemic phase. Appropriate monetary and fiscal policy initiatives will be needed to overcome the impact and sustain the economic recovery.