Editorial Notes

Editorial Notes 1st November 2016

Delink classroom teaching from student learning; Afghanistan’s strategic Partnership with India; Growing Indian clout in arms sales.
By IT's Editorial Notes Team
November 01, 2016


GS (M) Paper-2: “Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests”


India’s Pivot Through Kabul


Afghanistan’s strategic Partnership with India:

  • Then Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, on a visit to New Delhi in May 2013 put forward asked India’s assistance to tackle terrorism in Afghanistan.
  • In 2014, it agreed to supply small arms to Afghanistan but wary of provoking Pakistan because it was concerned by where its weapons might end up, and pleading a shortage of stocks.
  • The arrival of President Ashraf Ghani later that year in 2014, and his outreach to Pakistan, rendered the question moot.
  • As the Afghnaistan’s outreach to Pakistan now in tatters because the Taliban rejecting peace talks, and Mr. Ghani turning back to New Delhi, the question of arms has come back on the agenda. 
  • Three Indian-built transport helicopters were donated in April 2015 and following year.
  • The Indian press reports suggest that New Delhi is “firming up” plans to send artillery, trucks, and T-72 tanks.
  • The Afghans seem to have asked not for Main Battle Tanks (MBT), which would be overkill for fighting the Taliban, but Russian-designed BMPs, which are quick, versatile, and lightly armoured vehicles for infantry.
  • India has been phasing out its older variants of Russian made arms.
  • Since Afghan forces took the lead in fighting, the Taliban have gained more territory than at any other point in the last 15 years.
  • India should not ignore the important progress made in shrinking the Islamic State’s presence considerably, the Afghan National Security Forces have been rolled back by the Taliban pressure.

US assistance to Afghanistan:

  • The high level of foreign support that remains in place — 9,000 U.S. troops remain in the country.
  • The U.S. President Barack Obama expanded authorisation for air power to support Afghan offensives to repel insurgent attacks, and for U.S. troops to embed with regular Afghan infantry.

India’s support to Afghanistan:

  • For an isolated patrol outnumbered by insurgents, the prospect of air support by an Indian-supplied helicopter should not be overlooked.
  • Their real purpose is to serve as political signals of support, encouraging Mr. Ghani’s pivot back to New Delhi and ensuring that India retains influence over the direction of the conflict.
  • India is a net security provider for Afghanistan and have emphasised soft security missions, like disaster relief and evacuation, rather than full-blown military intervention.

Arms Sales:

  • At the strategic level, arms cannot compensate for more fundamental problems. The “failure of leadership” in the police and army, leaving young police officers and soldiers dying on isolated checkpoints without adequate food, water, or ammunition.
  • The failures are extended to the political level. The Vice President, controversial warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, attacked President Ghani for favouritism towards Pashtuns over the former’s own Uzbek constituency and threatened to “gather my people”.
  • Ghani’s office retaliated with a threat to investigate Mr. Dostum’s personal militias operating in the northern Faryab province.
  • In the context of these profound military and political failings, no injection of arms — whether from India, NATO, Russia, or China — will help to reduce the problem of terrorism.
  • Arms can make a difference at the margin, affording protection to some units where previously there might have been none.

Misuse of Arms Sales:

  • Arms sales and donations are a halfway house, an arm’s-length instrument of national power.
  • During 2011-15, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council collectively supplied almost 70 per cent of all international arms exports.
  • Arms generate revenue, of course, but they can also transform the balance of power, cement alliances, and — as India has discovered to its cost through its history — provide leverage during crises and wars.
  • Arms can be misused or even turned on their provider, especially where regimes change suddenly, and can render the providers awkwardly complicit in their use.
  • Arms can also fuel conflicts, reducing the incentive on one side or another to negotiate with adversaries.

Growing Indian clout in arms sales:

  • Indian arms exports doubled by value from 2012-13 to 2014-15 to over $200 million.
  • The recipients included Afghanistan, Nepal, Myanmar, Vietnam, South Korea, and even major exporters like Russia, Israel, and Britain.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a $500 million line of defence credit to Vietnam during his trip to Hanoi, building on an earlier line of credit two years ago for Indian patrol boats.
  • Over the past decade, other Indian transfers to neighbours have included patrol boats, maritime patrol aircraft, radar, armoured vehicles, anti-tank weapons, and helicopters.
  • India directly operates some of these assets, notably part of the coastal surveillance radar chain unfolding across the Seychelles, Mauritius, Maldives, and Sri Lanka.
  • Beneficiaries have included every single member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) except, of course, Pakistan.
  • There have been murmurs that BrahMos might be exported to nearly a dozen different countries, including Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates.
  • India has also discussed potential sales of its Light Combat Helicopter and has ambitions to export the Tejas combat aircraft.
  • India’s growing arms footprint in Afghanistan points to an important future aspect of its regional power projection.
[Ref: The Hindu]


GS (M) Paper-2: “Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.”


Delink classroom teaching from student learning



  • Students in India spend most of their day in school/college – attending lectures and learning in classroom. He/She gets very less time for innovative thinking. Thus rote learning becomes practice.
  • Students are forced to conform to a standardized template, it discourages failure and thereby discourages deviation from the standardized average. Outliers are not encouraged.

Scenario in US and Europe:

  • In the US and Western Europe, classroom teaching is for around 15 hours a week.
  • There is difference between learning hours and classroom hours.
  • The objective is not to teach to the student, which happens through classroom contact, but to make the student learn, which can happen outside classroom contact too.
  • The norm in those countries is, for every one hour spent through didactic teaching and classroom contact, the student spends two hours on learning indirectly — 15 hours of classroom teaching thus translates into 45 hours of weekly learning.

Scenario in India:

  • A student has no time to learn on his/her own.
  • The student spends 40 hours per week on lecture which would translate to 120 hours of weekly learning applying the same method as done for in the case of US.

Problems with Indian model:

  • Student who does not learn on his/her own and therefore, never thinks. He will invariably reproduce by rote.
  • That norm of 40 hours of lectures per week emanates from indicative workloads laid down for teachers. In other words, students have 40 (or 45) hours of lectures a week because teachers have to “teach” for 40 hours a week – But higher education isn’t factory production.


  • Thus, there is an imperative need to delink classroom teaching and student learning. Due importance and recognition should be given to out of class learning.
  • The focus should be primarily on encouraging innovation and creativeness.
[Ref: Indian Express]



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