EAM Visits to Maldives

In News

  • Recently the Indian Foreign minister visited Maldives in a bid to strengthen ties.


  • In recent years, the relationship has been strained, with the Maldives seeking closer ties with China and India’s concerns over Chinese influence in the region.
  • In this regard, India and Maldives have signed several pacts including development projects as External Affairs minister S Jaishankar visited the Maldives to hold talks with the top leadership in the country.

Major highlights

  • Both countries have signed a pact to grant assistance of 100 million Rufiyaa [currency of Maldives] for the High Impact Community Development Project (HICDP) scheme.
  • Under this funding, several socio-economic development projects to be implemented throughout the country to improve basic necessities.
  • Development of a sports complex in Gahdhoo, and academic collaboration between Maldives National University and Cochin University of Science and Technology.
  • India to hand over two sea ambulances to the Ministry of Defence of Maldives for emergency needs and humanitarian crisis.
  • India will send 10,000 school books to be distributed in 260 schools in the Maldives.

India & Maldives

  • India and the Maldives have a long-standing relationship, with historical and cultural ties dating back centuries.
  • India was among the first to recognize Maldives after its independence in 1965 and to establish diplomatic relations with the country. 
  • India has traditionally been one of the Maldives’ closest allies and partners.
  • India has provided economic, technical, and military assistance to the Maldives.
  • India has extended a $1.4 billion financial assistance package to Maldives for socio-economic development.
  • India has also agreed to provide a $800 million line of credit to Maldives for infrastructure development.
  • India and Maldives have been cooperating in areas of defense and security, with regular exchange of high-level visits and joint exercises e.g., Exercise EKUVERIN
  • India has also been a major tourism market for Maldives with a current share of nearly 14.4 percent of its tourism market share.
Importance Challenges
Strategic location: The Maldives sits at the crossroads of major international shipping lanes, and its location gives India a strategic advantage in the Indian Ocean region.Defense and security: India and the Maldives have a close defense and security relationship, with regular high-level visits and joint exercises.Economic ties: The Maldives is a major tourist destination, and India is one of its largest source markets for tourism.Cultural and historical ties: India and the Maldives have a long history of cultural and historical ties, dating back centuries. This shared history has helped to strengthen the relationship between the two countries.Countering Chinese influence: India has been concerned about the increasing Chinese influence in the Maldives and the Indian ocean region. India has been trying to strengthen its ties with Maldives and other Indian Ocean countries to counter the Chinese influence and assert its own regional leadership.Political instability: Change in government and a constitutional crisis has led to political instability in the Maldives and tensions between the two countries.China’s increasing influence: India has been concerned about the increasing Chinese influence in the Maldives, including large infrastructure projects and loans. Economic issues: The Maldives has been facing an economic crisis, which has led to delays in the implementation of development projects and debt issues.Difference in approach to terrorism and extremism: India has been concerned about the rise of Islamic extremism in the Maldives and has been urging the Maldives government to take firm action against it. However, Maldives has its own approach and concerns regarding the same.Tourism: India has been a major market for Maldives tourism, but the Maldives has been trying to diversify its tourism market and reduce its dependence on India.

Way ahead

  • Although India should try to assert its regional leadership in the Indian Ocean region, but not at the cost of Maldives aligning itself with the interests of China. 
  • Considering the rise in India’s economy and diplomatic area of influence, there is a need to revisit India’s role in regional politics.

Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2022


  • ASER, a nationwide citizen-led household survey that provides a snapshot of children’s schooling and learning in rural India has been released.

About ASER

  • The first ASER was conducted in 2005 and repeated annually for ten years.
  • Coverage: ASER is a rural survey, and urban areas are not covered in it. ASER 2022 reached almost 700,000 children in over 19,000 villages across 616 districts in India, and generated district, state, and national level estimates of children’s enrolment status and foundational skills.
  • Methodology: Unlike most other large-scale learning assessments, ASER is a household-based rather than school-based survey. This design enables all children to be included – those who have never been to school or have dropped out, as well as those who are in government schools, private schools, religious schools, or anywhere else.
    • Information on schooling status is collected for all children in the age group 3-16 living in sampled households. 
    • Children in the age group 5-16 are tested in basic reading and basic arithmetic. 
  • Who conducts the survey? ASER tools and procedures are designed by ASER Centre, the research and assessment arm of Pratham, which is one of the largest non-governmental organizations in the country created to improve the quality of education in India.
  • Significance: ASER has had a major influence in bringing the issue of learning to the centre of the stage in discussions and debates on education in India.
    • ASER data has been used in many reports such as NITI Aayog’s 3-Year Action Agenda for 2017-18 to 2019-20, Economic Survey of India 2021-22, and World Bank’s World Development Report 2018.

Findings – Enrolment and attendance

  • Overall enrolment: The enrolment rate for the 6 to 14 age group has been above 95% for the past 15 years. Despite school closures during the pandemic, overall enrolment figures have increased from 97.2% in 2018 to 98.4% in 2022.
  • Government school enrolment: The proportion of children (aged 6 to 14) enrolled in government schools increased sharply from 65.6% in 2018 to 72.9% in 2022. 
  • The proportion of girls who are not currently enrolled: In 2022, the all-India figure for 11-14-year-old girls not enrolled in school stands at 2%. This figure is around 4% only in Uttar Pradesh and is lower in all other states.
    • The proportion of 15-16-year-old girls not enrolled has continued to drop, standing at 7.9% in 2022. Only 3 states have more than 10% of girls in this age group out of school: Madhya Pradesh (17%), Uttar Pradesh (15%), and Chhattisgarh (11.2%).
  • Enrolment in the pre-primary age group: Across rural India, the proportion of 3-year-olds enrolled in some form of early childhood education stands at 78.3% in 2022, an increase of 7.1 percentage points over 2018 levels. 

Findings – Paid private tuition classes

  • Nationally, the proportion of children in Standard I-VIII taking paid private tuition classes increased from 26.4% in 2018 to 30.5% in 2022.

Findings- Learning levels: Foundational skills in reading and arithmetic

  • Nationally, children’s basic reading ability has dropped to pre-2012 levels, reversing the slow improvement achieved in the intervening years. Drops are visible in both government and private schools in most states, and for both boys and girls.
  • Nationally, children’s basic arithmetic levels have declined over 2018 levels for most grades. But the declines are less steep and the picture is more varied than in the case of basic reading.
  • Nationally, children’s ability to read simple English sentences has stayed more or less at the 2016 level for children in Standard V (from 24.7% in 2016 to 24.5% in 2022). Slight improvements are visible for children in Standard VIII (from 45.3% in 2016 to 46.7% in 2022).

Findings – School observations

Small schools and multigrade classrooms

  • The proportion of government schools with less than 60 students enrolled has increased every year over the last decade. 
  • The states with the highest proportion of small schools in 2022 include Himachal Pradesh (81.4%) and Uttarakhand (74%). 
  • However, some states show a decrease in the fraction of small schools, such as Uttar Pradesh (from 62.2% in 2018 to 57.7% in 2022) and Kerala (from 17% in 2018 to 13.4% in 2022).

Teacher and student attendance 

  • At the All-India level, no major change is seen in students’ and teachers’ attendance. Average teacher attendance increased slightly, from 85.4% in 2018 to 87.1% in 2022. Average student attendance continues to hover at around 72% for the past several years.

School facilities

  • The fraction of schools with useable girls’ toilets increased from 66.4% in 2018 to 68.4% in 2022. 
  • The proportion of schools with drinking water available increased from 74.8% to 76%, and the proportion of schools with books other than textbooks being used by students increased from 36.9% to 44% over the same period.
  • Most sports-related indicators also remain close to the levels observed in 2018. In 2022, 68.9% of schools have a playground, up slightly from 66.5% in 2018.
Initiatives by the Government of India for Promoting Elementary Education Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan under the Samagra ShikshaPradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman (PM POSHAN) SchemeMahila Samakhya ProgrammeStrengthening for providing quality Education in Madrassas ( SPQEM)

Reshuffling in China’s Foreign Policy

In News

  • In recent weeks, China launched a personnel reshuffle on the foreign policy front.

Key Points 

  • Change in China’s Foreign Administration: 
    • China appointed the former Chinese ambassador to the US as the new foreign minister and a former foreign ministry spokesperson was transferred to the department of boundary and ocean affairs.
    • The new foreign minister is seen in some foreign policy circles as someone who is a wolf warrior but a much more tactful one.
  • Expected Implications:
    • Some political analysts view these changes as possible signs that China may be pivoting from the hardline “wolf-warrior diplomacy” that has characterized China’s foreign policy over the last few years. 
    • China is buying time to stabilize the situation at home while strengthening itself for the ongoing rivalry with the United States and its allies.
    • Through this appointment, China is trying to rebalance the earlier era of wolf warrior diplomacy.
    • Some experts say the personnel reshuffling doesn’t necessarily change the trajectory of China’s diplomatic approach.
  • Predictability for Western Countries:
    • The new appointment will provide greater stability and predictability in China’s diplomacy going forward
    • For western countries, that will probably be a good thing, since China’s wolf warrior diplomats have been rather unpredictable over the last few years.
Wolf-warrior DiplomacyOrigin:The term that gained popularity, especially after Xi became President, A 2015 Chinese action film, titled ‘Wolf Warrior’, and its sequel have served as the inspiration for the term. About:It is a tactic for the Chinese government to extend its ideology beyond China and counter the West and defend itself. It is an unofficial term for the more aggressive and confrontational style of communication that Chinese diplomats have taken to in the last decade.It confronts head-on any criticism of China in the public sphere. They lecture host governments and don’t always show up when ‘summoned’ by foreign offices. Delhi has been at the receiving end for a while — especially during the recent crises of Doklam and Ladakh.”Need for wolf warrior diplomacy:The change in strategy has been attributed to many reasons, such as Xi’s more authoritarian tendencies as compared to earlier leaders, deteriorating US-China relations under former US President, the coronavirus pandemic-related accusations on China, etc.According to Chinese officials, the move is simply about standing up to what they believe is Western interference. China’s leader stated that the term was rhetorical “tit-for-tat”.


  • China- US Rivalry:
    • Despite the optimism expressed, tensions between China and the US remain high. 
  • Isolation of China:
    • Over the last three years, China has largely isolated itself from the rest of the world, as its top officials, including the President, were consistently absent from major international events. 
  • Enhanced Military Activities:
    • Since the former US House Speaker’s visit to Taiwan last year, China has increased its military activities around the island. 
    • The US, meanwhile, is also seeking to strengthen security and military ties with countries like Japan and the Philippines.

China’s Focus in Future

  • Strengthening Economy:
    • China needs to strengthen its economy and break out from the relative isolation the zero-COVID policies have put it in.
  • Focus on Western Europe:
    • As China tries to recalibrate its foreign policy approach under Xi’s third term, experts think the personnel reshuffling seems to suggest that western European countries, Australia and Canada are going to be the major focus of China’s foreign policy efforts in the coming years.
    • China will make Western Europe and by extension, some western countries the major focus of their diplomatic engagement in the coming years.
  • No Change in Stance:
    • Even though China and the US are trying to restart bilateral dialogue, China and the US are not going to make any fundamental changes to their positions on key foreign policy issues.
    • On the issues of the international system, the rules-based order and the position of Taiwan, there is not much of a shift on either side.

Current Chinese Discourse on India

  • Not Underestimating India:
    • Chinese observers believe that China should not underestimate an otherwise adversary, that is India’s potential for accelerated development in the coming years and prepare for a situation where it emerges as the world’s second or third-largest economy, challenging China’s primacy in Asia and threatening its national security.
  • Development Competition:
    • It is interesting to note that at a time when all eyes in India are fixed on the volatile border, the Chinese side seems to be of the opinion that the real conflict between China and India is not at the LAC but in the development competition, particularly in India’s ambition to catch up with China.
  • Challenging India’s Manufacturing Industry:
    • China is acting on the risks and challenges arising from the rise of India’s manufacturing industry and in turn taking effective measures to safeguard China’s critical economic and geopolitical interests.
  • United States (US) Disturbing China-India Game:
    • China does not like India adding the US power to the China-India game” to neutralize China’s existing economic and military superiority vis-à-vis India.

Way Ahead

  • The China-US relations shouldn’t be a zero-sum game and the world is wide enough for China and the United States to both develop and prosper.
  • At the same time, it would be ideal if major European countries would keep or even deepen their dependencies on China and thus make them less likely to stand by the US in the time of potential conflict.

Fourth Industrial Revolution

In News,

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has chosen Hyderabad for establishing its Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution focused on healthcare and life sciences.

  • C4IR Telangana will be the 18th center to join WEF’s Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) network that spans four continents.
Do you Know?The first industrial revolution used water and steam power to mechanise production (the 1800s). The second used electric power to create mass production (the early 1900s).The third used electronics and information technology to automate production (the late 1900s). 

About the Fourth industrial revolution

  • The  Fourth is building on the third revolution and has data at its core.
  • The term 4IR was coined by Klaus Schwab, executive chairperson of the World Economic Forum (WEF), in 2016 
  • The term “fourth industrial revolution” refers to technical advancements in artificial intelligence, machine learning, 5G technology, the internet of things, robotics, biotechnology, quantum computing, and so on.
    • these technologies have opened up new possibilities for organisations, allowing them to dream large and expand into previously unthinkable regions.


  • It has the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for populations around the world. 
  • It will also lead to a supply-side miracle, with long-term gains in efficiency and productivity. 
  • Transportation and communication costs will drop, logistics and global supply chains will become more effective, and the cost of trade will diminish, all of which will open new markets and drive economic growth.
  • Governments will gain new technological powers to increase their control over populations, based on pervasive surveillance systems and the ability to control digital infrastructure. .
  •  Advances in technology will create the potential to reduce the scale or impact of violence, through the development of new modes of protection, for example, or greater precision in targeting.


  • The immediate fear is that of job loss, particularly in the informal sector. 
  • It could yield greater inequality, particularly in its potential to disrupt labor markets. 
  • Besides joblessness, there are several other critical concerns surrounding safetyethics, and the short- and long-term socio-economic impact that remain unanswered. 
  • The adoption of 4IR technologies is also going to be skewed as developing and least developed countries lack the data framework and infrastructure. 
  • There is a growing concern that the existing fallacies in humans might only get more accentuated after 4IR.
    • There are several studies that show how facial recognition technologies have a higher chance of misidentifying African and Asian people compared to their Western counterparts. 
  • It will also profoundly impact the nature of national and international security, affecting both the probability and the nature of the conflict.
    • This will lead to new fears.
  • One of the greatest individual challenges posed by new information technologies is privacy. 

Global Progress

  • In 2022, US researchers unveiled a pacemaker that dissolves in the human body after completing its job.
    • The pacemaker is a near-perfect example of the ongoing fourth industrial revolution (4IR), which, simply put, is the use of different technologies to blur the boundaries between the digital, physical and biological worlds.
  • Germany is giving incentives to companies that are embracing 4IR technologies in production.
  • Kenya is using blockchain to verify property records and transactions.
  •  the UN has adopted the same policy under its Industrial Development Organization.
  • There is great evidence from Australian studies recently that automation normally takes away the work you do not want to do and Australian workers in the last 15 years have gained more than two hours a week, a substantial amount of time in interpersonal work, in creative work, in information synthesis work, which is all highly correlated with increased job satisfaction.

Status in India 

  • India and most countries are investing in 4IR technologies
  • India is moving towards becoming a hub of global manufacturing… 3D printing, machine learning, data analytics, and IoT are key to promoting industrial growth,
    • In November 2020, the Modern Coach Factory (MCF) at Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh, rolled out smart railway coaches that are fitted with a battery of sensors to provide a comfortable experience to passengers.
    • In May 2020, the Union Ministry of Heavy Industries launched the Smart Advanced Manufacturing and Rapid Transformation Hub (SAMARTH) scheme, which brings together manufacturers, vendors, and customers to make them aware of 4IR technologies.
    • In 2022’s budget speech, the Union finance minister announced a slew of new 4IR-driven projects, including Drone Shakti, to encourage start-ups that will facilitate the use of drone services.
    • India even has a 4IR centre in Mumbai run by WEF, which is closely working with several state governments. 
    • The Centre has recently come up with the Fourth Industrial Revolution for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) Cancer Care model in which 4IR technologies would be used to provide better healthcare for cancer patients
    • In February 2022, Government launched the pan-India 3D maps programme by Genesys International for the 100 smart cities.
      • The company plans to map an entire city in intricate detail so that many 4IR revolution technology-based projects, such as driverless cars, will become easier to implement. 

Conclusion and Way Forward 

  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution is about more than just technology-driven change, it is an opportunity to help everyone, including leaders, policy-makers, and people from all income groups and nations, to harness converging technologies in order to create an inclusive, human-centered future. 
  • The real opportunity is to look beyond technology and find ways to give the greatest number of people the ability to positively impact their families, organisations, and communities.
  • We should grasp the opportunity and power we have to shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution and direct it toward a future that reflects our common objectives and values.
    • To do this, we must develop a comprehensive and globally shared view of how technology is affecting our lives and reshaping our economic, social, cultural, and human environments.
  • the Fourth Industrial Revolution can also lift humanity into a new collective and moral consciousness based on a shared sense of destiny.
    • Technologies need to be more inclusive and acceptable to all and They also need to make political, social and not just economic sense.
  • The rapidly changing technology landscape offers India a good opportunity to industrialise.
    • To secure India’s active involvement in the fourth industrial revolution, it will be necessary to restructure some vital domestic industries and strengthen institutional capability.

Etalin hydroelectric project

In News

  • The Etalin hydroelectric project in Arunachal Pradesh has been rejected in its present form by the Forest Advisory Committee in the face of overwhelming opposition to its construction.


  • The Forest Advisory Committee has asked the Arunachal Pradesh government to file a fresh proposal for forest diversion and the construction of the Etalin hydroelectric project (EHEP) due to non-compliance to conditions stipulated by the FAC and the overwhelming pushback against the project in the region.

the Etalin project 

  • The project was being executed through the Etalin Hydro Electric Power Company Limited, a JV company of Jindal Power Limited and Hydro Power Development Corporation of Arunachal Pradesh Limited (A Govt of Arunachal Pradesh Undertaking).
  • The installed capacity of the project is 3097 MW as per the detailed project report.
  • It is envisaged as a run-of-the-river scheme on rivers Dri and Tangon in the Dibang Valley District of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Controversy: It ran into several controversies since its inception in 2008 over concerns of ecological damage, forest invasion, and tribal displacement. 

Ken-Betwa Link Project

In News

  • The Third Meeting of the Steering Committee of the Ken-Betwa Link Project (SC-KBLP) was held.

Image Courte

About Ken-Betwa Link Project 

  • Background: On 22nd March 2021, a historic agreement was signed between the Union Minister of Jal Shakti and the Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh to implement the first major centrally driven river interlinking project in the country.
  • Overview: Ken-Betwa Link Project is the first project under the National Perspective Plan for the interlinking of rivers
    • It aims to transfer surplus water from the Ken river in Madhya Pradesh to Betwa in Uttar Pradesh to irrigate the drought-prone Bundelkhand region.
      • Both Ken and Betwa are the tributaries of the Yamuna.
  • The project will provide annual irrigation of 10.62 lakh ha, drinking water supply to a population of about 62 lakhs, and also generate 103 MW of hydropower and 27 MW of solar power. 
  • Benefits: The Project will be of immense benefit to the water-starved Bundelkhand region, spread across the states of MP and UP.
    • It is expected to boost socio-economic prosperity in the backward Bundelkhand region on account of increased agricultural activities and employment generation. 
    • It would also help in arresting distress migration from this region. 
  • Concerns: The construction of large dams for the interlinking of rivers to solve the irrigation and drinking water problems has created potential threats to faunal as well as floral diversity.

US to revoke Pakistan’s designation as a Major Non-NATO Ally

In News

  • A US Congressman has recently moved a Bill in the House of Representatives to revoke Pakistan’s designation as a Major Non-NATO Ally.

Details of the Bill

  • The Bill says that Pakistan should be demoted from the major non-NATO ally status till the US President can submit a certification that it has met certain conditions.
  • The conditions listed are: 
    • Pakistan continues to conduct military operations that are contributing to significantly disrupting the safe haven and freedom of movement of the Haqqani Network in Pakistan
    • Pakistan has taken steps to demonstrate its commitment to prevent the Haqqani Network from using any Pakistani territory as a safe haven; 
    • The Government of Pakistan actively coordinates with the Government of Afghanistan to restrict the movement of militants, such as the Haqqani Network, along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border; and 
    • Pakistan has shown progress in arresting and prosecuting Haqqani Network senior leaders and mid-level operatives.

About the Haqqani network:

  • About:
    • The Haqqani network is a terrorist group whose leadership is based in Pakistan, though it operates majorly in Afghanistan
  • Origin:
    • The network came into being during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s and was armed and funded by the US and Pakistan to fight the Russians. 
  • Issues of US against Haqqani network:
    • After 9/11, Haqqani turned against the US.
    • US officials have long considered the Haqqani leadership to be among the closest proxies for Pakistan’s ISI.

Major Non-NATO Ally status

  • Designation as Major Non-NATO Ally status (MNNA) entitles a country to some military and economic privileges
  • According to the US Department of State website, Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) status is a designation under US law that provides foreign partners with certain benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation. 
  • While MNNA status provides military and economic privileges, it does not entail any security commitments to the designated country.

Way ahead

  • Before it can turn into a law with a signature from the President, the Bill has to be passed by the House and the Senate

For now, it has been sent to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.


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