14th February 2020 : The Hindu Editorials Notes : Mains Sure Shot
Question – How is stakeholder capitalism with its energy needs hampering the environment?
Context – The deteriorating state of our planet.
What is stakeholder capitalism?
- Stakeholder capitalism is a system in which corporations are oriented to serve the interests of all their stakeholders. Among the key stakeholders are customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders and local communities.
How is it hampering the environment?
- One of the chief characteristics of economic development is the intensification of energy use.
- The bulk of the energy continues to be generated from non-renewable sources. The developed world’s, and China’s, central objective is to capture energy-generating resources from across continents and put them to use to push GDP growth to greater heights. In the process, sustainability is becoming a casualty.
The issue of wastage of energy and environment –
How do we define energy?
- In physics, energy is defined as ‘work done’ or, in other words, the force that moves all objects. It is important to understand the philosophical implications of one of the great laws of physics — the Laws of Thermodynamics.
- The first law states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it merely changes form and is always conserved. The second law states that when ‘work is done’, only a part of the energy is consumed, the balance is lost.
- The lost part is called ‘entropy’ and it is proven that entropy always maximises. This whole phenomenon also leaves behind inert material as waste. The higher the use of energy, the larger the amount of waste generated. Entropy, like time, is always unidirectional, it only goes forward.
The issue of excessive consumption and environment –
- Egregious consumption of energy by the developed world has been accompanied by the disposal of residual products (‘e-waste’) on the shores of many African and Asian countries. As a result, the poor in the developing world are, unwittingly, drawn and exposed to toxic, hazardous materials like lead, cadmium and arsenic. Hence, the ‘globalisation’ phenomenon has turned out to be nothing other than exploitation of the developing world, with most countries being treated as a source of cheap labour and critical raw material.
- Most, if not all, transactions are based on the arbitrage between price and value difference, from which only the ‘middleman’ gains, not the primary producer. Countries in the developed world, and China, are ferociously using up finite raw materials without care or concern for the welfare of present and future generations.
New technology as an answer?
- Certainly, there has been significant technological progress which has brought about revolution in the fields of healthcare and communications, but there is also a dark side to this. High expenses and Intellectual Property Rights load the system further in favour of the rich. To demonstrate how deep the rot is, one can look at the pernicious plan to set up a carbon credit system. Under this, countries with high energy consumption trends can simply offset their consumption patterns by purchasing carbon credits, the unutilised carbon footprint, from poor developing countries.
An alternate model:
- ‘Nordic Economic Model’, which pertains to the remarkable achievements of the Scandinavian countries comprising Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, and allied territories. The total population of the Nordic countries is estimated at almost 27 million people.
- These nations are among the richest in the world when measured in terms of GDP per capita. They also have large public sector enterprises; extensive and generous universal welfare systems; high levels of taxation; and considerable state involvement in promoting and upholding welfare states. UN reports also indicate that the Nordic countries are the happiest countries in the world. The U.S., in contrast, is in 19th place.
- The model includes — effective welfare safety nets for all; corruption-free governance; a fundamental right to tuition-free education, including higher education; and a fundamental right to good medical care. This also has to involve shutting of tax havens.
- Also in Nordic countries, personal and corporate income tax rates are very high, especially on the very rich. If a just, new world order is to arise, taxes everywhere should go up.
- Holding the companies responsible – In traditional business accounting, ‘bottom line’ refers to the financial year’s profit or loss earned or incurred by the company on pure financial parameters.
- A new format has emerged under which a company’s performance is measured through four ‘Ps’. The first is ‘P’ for ‘profit’. The second ‘P’ is for people — how the company’s actions impact not only employees, but society as a whole. The third ‘P’ is for planet — are the company’s actions and plans sensitive to the environment? The four ‘P’ is for purpose, which means the companies and individuals must develop a larger purpose than ‘business as usual’.
- They must ask: what is the larger purpose of the company, apart from generating profits? Using big data and text analytics, a company’s performance can be measured in terms of all the four ‘P’s and a corporate entity can be thus held accountable. Market capitalisation need not be the only way to measure the value of a company.
- Much work is yet to be done to uplift the global economic order, but the important point is that new tools are now emerging. What is required is a global consensus and the will to make the planet more sustainable, so that all individuals can live with justice and equality, ensuring that not a single child is hungry or seriously unwell because of poverty or lack of affordable medical help.
Question – Should women officers be given command posts in the army?
Context – The Supreme Court (SC) has asked the Central Government to accommodate women at command post in non-combat services like National Cadet Corps and Sainik Schools.
- However, the Government highlighted the difficulties in giving ‘Command Appointments’ for women.
What is a permanent commission?
- Permanent commission in Army to be opened for women from April 2020.
- The defence ministry earlier this year said that women officers will be granted permanent commission in the army in all the 10 branches in which they are inducted into under short service commission.
- Permanent Commissioned officer can serve till he retires. Short Service Commission means that they are recruited for a period of 10 years. However, the tenure can be extended to 14 years. They also have an option to take permanent commission.
What is the issue:
- Till September 2019, permanent commission for women was restricted to only two departments: the Army Education Corps and the Judge Advocate General’s branch. In September, the Defence Ministry announced that it is opening this up to eight other arms and services from April this year, for women already selected for the Short Service Commission. So, permanent commission now is open in 10 departments or arms and services.
- In 2019, the policy was released to grant permanent commission to women officers on SSC, but this was to apply only prospectively.
- The Women officers contended that the application of permanent commission prospectively is arbitrary and discriminatory. It should be applied retrospectively.
- Also from here (i.e. from forming permanent commission for women the next step is appointing them in command posts) women’s careers can be furthered only if they get what are called command assignments or criteria appointments.
So should women be given command positions/ posts in the army?
- The time has come for us to at least experiment, if nothing else, and that experiment needs to be done first with the Services — Army Service Corps, Army Ordnance Corps and Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. In all these there are women who have been commissioned for the last 30 years as Short Service Commissioned officers.
- Many of them have commanded workshops. Some of them are in a position to be selected. The focus is on the word selected because they have to be selected through their confidential reports, a board of officers, a promotion board, which will determine whether they are fit to command. Only then will they command a unit.
The government’s argument:
- The Central Government has asserted that the “physiological limitations” of women officers and changed battlefield scenario as the primary reasons for not granting the command posts for women in the Army.
- The troops are not yet mentally schooled to accept women officers in command of units, the composition of rank and file being male predominantly drawn from the rural background with prevailing societal norms.
- Officers have to lead from the front. They should be in prime physical condition to undertake combat tasks. Inherent physiological differences between men and women preclude equal physical performance resulting in lower physical standards.
- Apart from lower physical standards of women officers compared to men, other challenges include prolonged absence due to pregnancy, children’s education, husband’s career prospects, etc.
- For the last 30 years we have had women in the army.
- There are challenges — domestic issues, fitness, pregnancy — all that has been quoted by the government in its affidavit. But this is an argument we had 30 years ago when we were inducting women into the Army. All these issues have been handled by the Army in a very mature manner over the years.
- Coming specifically to the issue of whether they should be given command or not, there is very little justification in saying that while women officers can be company commanders, platoon commanders, second in command, they should be excluded when it comes to command appointments, commanding a unit, only on the basis that they are women. This argument doesn’t hold water.
- There is a board of officers to decide whether promotions to the rank of Colonel can take place or not for a particular officer. It’s not as if all male officers get automatically promoted as Colonels. In some cases, in some services, less than 30% of male officers are promoted to the rank of Colonel. The decision is made by a board of officers. Let the same board of officers decide whether a woman officer is fit to command a unit. Women should be judged on the basis of their professionalism and on the basis of merit.
- Coming to the issue of the troops mentality about male taking command from women – if someone above them, whether man or woman, is someone who demonstrated capability and leadership qualities, there is no question that they would not accept directions, orders. In the Army, they are trained to do that. It’s just a mindset [regarding women], we need to overcome that.
- Women have been in the Indian army for the last 30 years. The time is ripe for an experiment. The army is a disciplined force and they are trained to follow commands of their seniors. Women should not be limited just because of their gender. Capable officers must get the responsibilities they deserve.