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The Hindu Analysis Free PDF Download

Date: 07 August 2020

 

Academic research is necessary, but not sufficient

  • The Government of India is in the process of revisiting the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy.
  • The policy will guide the agencies of the government mandated with funding research in higher education institutions and national laboratories.
  • What kind of research should be funded?
  • William Shockley said in his Nobel lecture in 1956, that words like “pure, applied, unrestricted, fundamental, basic, academic, industrial, practical etc.” are being used frequently “in a derogatory sense, on the one hand to belittle practical objectives of producing something useful and, on the other hand, to brush off the possible long-range value of explorations into new areas where a useful outcome cannot be foreseen.”
  • Experts in science and technology studies have come up with alternate frameworks and terminology to provide a comprehensive picture and avoid any value judgement.
  • One approach was proposed by NASA in the form of Technology Readiness Levels (TRL), a type of measurement system used to assess the maturity level of a particular technology.
    • TRL-1 corresponds to observation of basic principles.
    • Its result is publications.
    • TRL-2 corresponds to formulation of technology at the level of concepts.
    • Then the TRL framework advances to proof of concept, validation in a laboratory environment, followed by a relevant environment, and then to prototype demonstration, and ending with actual deployment.
    • An alternative is to use the terminology ‘Academic Research (AR)’, and ‘Post-Academic Research (PAR)’.
    • To provide some granularity, one can divide PAR into early-stage PAR, and late-stage PAR.
    • Late-stage PAR has to be done by large laboratories (national or those supported by industry), while AR and early-stage PAR can be done at higher education institutions and large laboratories.
  • Both AR and PAR generate knowledge which is necessary for national development.
  • AR and PAR when pursued together and taken to their logical conclusion will result in a product or a process, or a better clinical practice, or a scientifically robust understanding of human health and disease, or provide inputs for a policy decision.
  • It is often said that India’s investment in research is lower than that by advanced countries.
  • Here two observations need consideration.
  • First, countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report research statistics according to the Frascati Manual, which was first drafted in 1963, and has gone through five revisions since then.
  • India has to decide where to increase investment: in AR or in PAR.
    • Investment in research can translate into national development only through pursuit of PAR.
  • This is not a call for abandoning AR, but a call to look for useful outcomes including via spin-offs and serendipity, and to prioritise research in areas that relate to national development.
  • The lukewarm response of industry is a message for academia to orient its priorities to address national needs and engage in both AR and early-stage PAR and provide inputs necessary to raise the technology intensity of industry.
  • Judging the growth of S&T based only on publications provides an incomplete picture.
  • The STI policy should emphasise PAR to ensure that investment in research results in economic growth.
  • The reward system in higher education institutions and national laboratories should be reoriented to promote PAR.
  • Academics in higher education institutions pursuing AR should pursue early-stage PAR themselves, or team up with those who are keen to pursue PAR.
  • In short, academic research is necessary, but not sufficient.

Cartographic challenge

  • Pakistan’s new political map: Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek and lays a new claim to Junagadh.
  • India: “political absurdity”, and accused Pakistan of attempting a form of “territorial aggrandisement supported by cross-border terrorism
  • Pakistan’s decision appears to reset several agreements with India that have been concretised over the past 70 years.

  • Pakistan’s claim to all of Jammu and Kashmir, but not Ladakh, goes against its own commitment to adjudicate the future of all six parts of the erstwhile royal state of Jammu-Kashmir (Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh, Gilgit-Baltistan, PoK and Aksai Chin) with India.
  • The claims to Siachen and Sir Creek, that have been the subject of several discussions between India and Pakistan, are also a regressive step.
  • While both sides had reached an impasse on Siachen, the Sir Creek agreement had made considerable progress, and was reportedly even resolved, pending a political announcement in 2007.
  • Finally, the move on Junagadh, a former princely state whose accession to India was accepted by Pakistan, opens up a whole new dispute.
  • While Junagadh was in contention at the time of Partition, the issue was successfully resolved after a referendum was conducted there in February 1948, in which an overwhelming 95% of the state’s residents voted to stay with India.
  • It is surely no coincidence that all three countries objected to the map New Delhi had issued in November 2019, albeit for different reasons, and New Delhi must be well-prepared to deal with the three-pronged cartographic challenge it will face in the coming months.

Straying into troubled waters

  • Along the coastal areas of Porbandar, Mangrol, Veraval in Gujarat and the Union Territory of Diu on India’s western coast are hundreds of families whose lives have been torn asunder, the men of their households missing with only stray hopes of their return, women and children struggling to make ends meet and see another sunrise.
  • The men are currently in jail in Pakistan, their families barely aware of their health and welfare.
  • Their only ‘crime’ was that they were doing their work in the waters between India and Pakistan.

  • As fishermen do not get ample fish on the Gujarat side, they have no option but to go farther and farther out into the sea.
  • As they fish in mid-sea, they end up in waters controlled by Pakistan and are arrested for inadvertently entering into that country.
  • India and Pakistan exchanged lists of prisoners on July 1 as per which 270 Indian fishermen and 54 civilian prisoners are in Pakistan’s prisons.
  • India has 97 Pakistani fishermen and 265 civilian prisoners in its jails.

The 2008 proposal

  • To address this issue, in 2008, India and Pakistan had formed a judicial committee consisting of four retired judges from each country.
  • The committee used to visit prisons of the other country specifically to meet the prisoners, examine consular access, status of their cases, delay in release and repatriation, their health condition, and so on.
  • It unanimously suggested release and repatriation of fishermen and a few women prisoners.
  • The governments of both countries praised their work but did not implement the recommendations.
  • The last meeting was held in October 2013.
  • Five years later, there was a move to revive the panel.
  • India nominated its four members but Pakistan did not.
  • It is yet to take a step in that direction.
  • Islamabad must do so urgently and call a meeting, given that the last meeting was held in India.
  • Further, when fishermen are arrested, their boats are also confiscated.
  • Their release means little till they get back possession of their boats from the other country.
  • Both the countries should release those boats which can sail with some repair work.
  • It is also time that the two countries now consider adopting a ‘no-arrest policy’ in the case of fishermen.
  • In the coastal villages of both the countries, when men are imprisoned in the other country, women bear the brunt of the load, while somehow holding their families together.

Distance covered in Kashmir | IndExp

  • Tariq Mohand, a carpenter from village Heff in Shopian district, was abducted by terrorists on the evening of July 8, 2018.
  • This village in South Kashmir has been home to a number of terrorists over the years.
  • Tariq was the cousin of a terrorist named Bilal Mohand who was killed in an encounter in May 2018.
  • The terrorists who abducted Tariq tortured him through the night. His body was recovered from a nearby village next morning.
  • His family, including his pregnant wife, had to undergo much trauma that week.
  • Over the last 30 years, such tragedies have occurred at regular intervals in the Kashmir Valley.
  • The most egregious of such excesses take place when civilians labelled as “informers” are murdered.
  • Over the years, there has been an increased tendency to understand the impact of terrorism by referring to incidents that involve the killing of a considerable number of civilians or security personnel.
  • In the same vein, the number of terrorists neutralised is seen as an indicator of success against terrorism.
  • The most important aspect of this phenomenon, checking the recruitment of young boys to terrorist ranks, is often ignored.
  • The process of recruitment is not a very complex one. The recruits to various terror organisations in the aftermath of the killing of Burhan Wani were mostly from South Kashmir.
  • The difference of nearly 60 recruits is what defines the success in arresting the upheaval of terrorism in Kashmir.
  • In fact, after August 5, 2019, there was a visible fall in terrorist recruitment.
  • The story that is not in the limelight is the painstaking work undertaken at the grass roots to stop recruitment.
  • More than 80 per cent of the new recruits belong to the age group 24 to 32.
  • The toughest job is to convince and counsel these youngsters to not join terror organisations.
  • In post-August 5 Kashmir, officers at the ground have more freedom and space to implement their vision and check the rise in recruitments to terrorist ranks.
  • The most important development in the Valley after August 5, 2019 has been the drastic fall in the number of civilians pelting stones on security forces during encounters.
  • This downfall has a positive spinoff on the general environment because a very small number of civilians have got injured near encounter sites.
  • A large number of new recruits since 2016 had been stone-pelters at some point.

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