Wednesday, September 22 2020

Dive In

The coaching centres make the students ‘marks-scoring machines’ as learning is discouraged in favour of coaching. The prospective medical aspirants do not get the opportunity to acquire all-round skills… including cognitive, reasoning, creative, social and behavioural skills that are very much essential prior to enter medical studies.

That’s from a damning report issued by a state government-appointed panel in Tamil Nadu—tasked with studying the impact of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) required for admission into medical and dental colleges. It also found that 99% of those who passed NEET went through special coaching—and yet received only average goods. The result: a pool of mediocre but affluent medical students. FYI: TN recently passed a bill seeking an exemption from NEET. The Telegraph has more details.

Coming up soon: Our next Ask Me Anything session with the popular comedian Aditi Mittal—one of the funniest women in India. We promise you will have a wonderful time. Just check out her ‘Girl Meets Mic’ special on Netflix or this clip from ‘Mother of Invention’ (sadly not available on Amazon Prime India). Time/Date: 6 pm on Thursday, September 23, via Zoom. Sign up here for one of the limited slots.

Big Story

The empty victory of Justin Trudeau

The TLDR: “It looks like nobody wanted an election and no one got what they wanted,” said a Canadian political pundit after Trudeau’s Liberal Party returned to power—in a snap poll called two years earlier than scheduled. Here’s a quick look at what may be the most pointless and expensive election in Canadian history.


First thing to know

It is fairly rare for one party to win a majority (170 seats) in the Parliament, and here’s why:


“Canada’s entrenched political map currently makes it difficult for parties to break out of their own strongholds and forge a majority. Liberals do well in the eastern maritime provinces and in the populous and affluent suburbs in Ontario. Quebec is dominated by a francophone party. The left-leaning New Democrats are strong in Manitoba and laid-back British Columbia. And the Conservatives dominate in the rural and oil rich plains of Alberta and Saskatchewan.”


Key point to note: No, they do not have coalition governments in Canada. Typically, the party with the most seats forms the government with the outside support of one or two other smaller parties.  


Justin Trudeau has a bright idea

Before this election, his Liberal party held 157 seats in the Parliamentand was ruling with the support of the New Democrats. But in Augustsurprising everyone, including his own party leadershe called for a snap poll, two years earlier than scheduled! FYI: Canadian elections are held every four years. So Trudeau was just midway through his current term.


The pandemic effect: Trudeau’s popularity poll numbers were soaring all year thanks mainly due to his handling of the pandemic. Canada has had one of the most successful vaccine campaigns of any large country, with more than 60% now fully vaccinated. And the government’s Covid relief programs have been the most generous in the world. Therefore, 50% of Canadians believe that Trudeau did a great job managing the crisis.


Seizing the day: The PM therefore decided there was no time like the present to make a big play to secure himself that ever-elusive majoritythough Trudeau never quite put it that way. It was “a political sweet spot wedged between a successful vaccination halo and before [pandemic] stimulus checks to Canadians get cut off.” 


The pitch: Announcing the snap poll, Trudeau declared, “Canadians need to choose how we finish the fight against Covid-19.” But most of his grand statements did little to explain why such an early election was necessary:


“Everyone understands that we are really at a pivotal moment in the history of our country… This is a moment where Canadians can and should be able to weigh in on what we’re going through and on how we’re going to build a society that is stronger and better.”


Point to note: Trudeau’s government has been embroiled in a number of scandalswhich may point to the real motive for this play for a clear majority: “More problematic for Trudeau has been control that the opposition parties have had over parliamentary committees, which has allowed them to investigate the governing Liberals and prime minister over ethics.”


Justin Trudeau gets a scare


In today’s edition

Headlines That Matter

  • Amazon under fire for bribery
  • ‘Havana syndrome’ in New Delhi
  • Book that ticket to Amreeka!
  • Pandas can get too much “space”


A list of curious facts

  • Researchers in Germany potty-trained cows
  • A plan to construct bases on Mars made of blood, sweat, tears, and urine

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