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Rice prices may increase more: Assocham

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New Delhi: With India experiencing spiralling pulse-prices, Assocham on Sunday called for close monitoring of food prices, warning that rice prices may soon reach “boiling point” with stocks falling fast as a fallout of deficient monsoon and drop in output.

“Prices of rice may shoot up to reach a boiling point in the coming months as the stocks of the key staple cereal are depleting fast, owing to deficient rains and fall in output,” Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) said in a statement here.

“After pulses, onion and some edible oils like mustard oil, rice may cause pain-in-stomach of the consumers if timely adequate safeguards are not taken,” Assocham’s latest study said.

The industry chamber said though the government estimates kharif rice production at 90.61 million tonnes (MT), the target is unlikely to be achieved owing to severe deficit rains in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra and Karnataka “and the best that could be achieved is 89 MT”.

“The actual production may be around 103 MT during 2015-16. On the stock front, rice stocks have been steadily declining in the past three years,” the study reported.

“As against the stocks of 24.59 MT in 2012, only 13.89 MT (plus unlimited paddy 3.61 MT) are in stock as of today,” it added.

The study titled “Impact of weak/deficient monsoon on agricultural production and prices” said: “Increasing export outgo on account of PDS (Public Distribution System) and other welfare schemes will continue to weigh on availability in the open market”.

“Unless the government is able to handle the situation prudently, depleting stocks will soon reflect on the open market prices.”

It said the deficient monsoon this year is likely to slow down the economy considerably and accentuate inflationary pressure coupled with shortages of essential food items across the country.

“A recurring monsoon failure might push the country into a tight corner in respect of rice, sugar, etc.,” it said.

Assocham suggested that Direct Seeded Rice (DSR) should be encouraged to conserve water.

“Presently, less than 10 percent of paddy production is under DSR due to limitations in the availability of suitable equipment for DSR in clay soils. Urgent attention is needed in this regard to expand DSR acreage on war footing,” the chamber said.

“Given the drop in kharif 2015 foodgrain production at 252.68 MT for 2014-15, against a record 265 MT for 2013-14, it is highly doubtful if India could reach even 250 MT for 2015-16, which is ominous,” it added.

(IANS)

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India Needs to Improve its Educational Outcomes to Catch up with China

To catch up with China, India needs to lay emphasis on improving its educational outcomes

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The Article 30 of the Constitution gives religious and linguistic minorities “the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.”
India needs to improve its educational outcomes to catch up with China. Pixabay

By Amit Kapoor

Both China and India started building their national education systems under comparable conditions in the late 1940s. Different policies and historical circumstances have, however, led them to different educational outcomes, with China outperforming India not just in terms of its percentage of literate population and enrollment rates at all levels of education, but also in terms of number of world-class institutions in higher education, and greater research output.

The roots of China’s successful education system date back to the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), which unintentionally expanded access to the primary education through democratising the schooling system, which was previously elitist in character, thus addressing the problem of mass illiteracy.

In contrast, India continued to focus on its higher education system since independence and only realised the importance of basic education in 1986, keeping it behind China and many other countries in Asia in educational development. In terms of enrollment, China reached a 100 percent gross enrollment rate (GER) in its primary education in 1985, whereas, India attained that level only in 2000.

In terms of secondary school enrollment, India and China both started at the similar rates in 1985, with about 40 percent of their population enrolled in secondary schools. However, due to a wider base of primary school students, the rate of increase in China has been much faster than in India, with 99 percent secondary enrollment rate in China and 79 percent in India in 2017.

India is closing in on the Chinese rate in terms of access to education, but on the literacy level front, there is a huge gap in the percentage of literate populations in the two countries. In the age group of 15-24 years, India scores 104th rank on literacy and numeracy indicator, compared to China’s 40th rank.

The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which assesses after every three years the domain knowledge of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics, science and finance, revealed that students in China performed above the OECD average in 2015. Moreover, one in four students in China are top performers in mathematics, having an ability to formulate complex situations mathematically. Further, China outperforms all the other participating countries in financial literacy, by having a high ability to analyse complex finance products. For India, the comparable data is not available as it was not a participating country in PISA 2015.

abroad, study
Representational image.

However, in India, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2017 provides data for rural youth, aged 14-18, with respect to their abilities to lead productive lives as adults. According to this survey, only about half of the 14-year-old children in the sample could read English sentences, and more than half of the students surveyed could not do basic arithmetic operations, like division. For basic financial calculations, such as managing a budget or making a purchase decision, less than two-thirds could do the correct calculations.

With regard to the higher education system, both India and China dominate the number of tertiary degree holders because of their large population size, but when it comes to the percentage of the population holding tertiary degrees, only about 10 per cent and 8 per cent of the population possess university degrees in China and India, respectively. By contrast, in Japan, almost 50 per cent of the population holds a tertiary degree, and in the United States, 31 per cent of the population hold a tertiary degree.

In terms of the international recognition of universities, the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking for 2019 places seven of the China’s universities in the top 200, compared to none for India. The global university rankings, which are based on various performance metrices, pertaining to teaching, research, citations, international outlook and industrial income, shows progress for several of China’s low-ranked universities, largely driven by improvements in its citations.

In fact, the Tsinghua University has overtaken the National University of Singapore (NUS) to become the best university in Asia due to improvements in its citations, institutional income and increased share of international staff, students and co-authored publications.

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While India has progressed in terms of massification of education, there is still a lot which needs to be done when it comes to catching up with the China’s educational outcomes. China’s early start in strengthening its primary and secondary education systems has given it an edge over India in terms of higher education. Moreover, Chinese government strategies are designed in line with the criterion used in major world university rankings, especially emphasis is on the two factors which weigh heavily in the rankings — publications and international students.

The relentless publications drive, which is very evident in China, is weak in India and has led to a growing gap in the number of publications contributed by the two countries. Further, China enrolled about 292,611 foreign students in 2011 from 194 countries, while India currently only has 46,144 foreign students enrolled in its higher education institutions, coming from 166 countries. The large number of international enrollments in China is a reflection of its state policies granting high scholarships to foreign students.

To catch up with China, India needs to lay emphasis on improving its educational outcomes. Massification drive for education has helped India raise its student enrollments, but a lot needs to be done when it comes to global recognition for its universities. Further, it needs to focus on building the foundation skills which are acquired by students at the school age, poor fundamental skills flow through the student life, affecting adversely the quality of education system. (IANS)