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Special teams handle arrival of African dignitaries

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New Delhi: Even as senior ministers and officials from Africa have started arriving for pre-summit consultations, special teams have been formed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) to ensure the smooth arrival of the dignitaries – from kings, to presidents to prime ministers – for the October 26-29 India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS).

The sheer task of handling the aerial logistics is a daunting challenge in itself.

“The aviation logistics is a key area, as it is entry point for the dignitaries for the event,” a senior government official, who is in the know of transit arrangements, told IANS.

“For this purpose, we have formed special teams comprising air traffic control (ATC) and ground handling personnel at IGIA to track and handle the large contingent of foreign dignitaries who will arrive for the summit.”

These teams will work to coordinate the aerial movements of arriving dignitaries.

“We have stationed enough manpower and equipment to easily handle the communication, navigation, surveillance (CNS), air traffic management (ATM) and ground handling services for the arriving dignitaries,” the official said.

He pointed out that airspace over the IGI airport will not be closed to cater to the VVIP aerial movements.

“Nowadays, airspace restrictions are not imposed during VVIP movements. However, special teams do handle the monitoring and surveillance of such flights. This will also be accorded to the flights ferrying the dignitaries,” the official said.

However, special protocols will be followed to administer smooth transit to and from the airport.

“We will make sure that the aircraft are not kept waiting on ground to take off or circling in the sky for getting a landing slot. Arrangements have been made in advance so that these circumstances do not arise,” the official said.

Another senior government official associated with organising the event said that the dignitaries will start arriving from October 26-27 and start departing from Oct 29.

“Many of the dignitaries are arriving here by scheduled flights. Nearly half of the visiting dignitaries will be ferried by chartered jets or state-owned aircraft,” said the official.

The dignitaries travelling by scheduled flights will be formally received by the MEA (ministry of external affairs) officials at the IGIA’s Terminal-3 (T3) area known as the Canyon. This enormous area, that also houses the immigration counters, is resplendent with large-scale models of ‘hand dance mudras’ (gestures).

Chartered or state-owned aircraft have been allotted dedicated parking bays which will be connected to the airport terminal via aerobridges. Dignitaries arriving by these flights will then be received in the same manner as those who arrive by scheduled flights.

Dedicated parking bays and contact stands have already been allotted to the dignitaries coming through private jets or state-owned aircraft, the official said.

He said that a few dignitaries will disembark at bays located at the technical area of the Indian Air Force. This is being done on the request of the protocol staff of some of the visiting delegations.

On the parking of aircraft, the official said that there is ample airside space and bays available to handle all the private jets and state-owned aircraft.

“Unlike other mega diplomatic events of the past, when few aircraft were parked in nearby airports such as Agra or Jaipur due to shortage of space in Delhi, this time around there is enough parking space available at the IGIA,” the official added.

On the city side, apart from the well manicured landscapes, the roads to and from the airport will sport the Indian flag along with those of the 54 African nations.

(Rohit Vaid,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)