- QUESTION: Evaluate the challenges faced in tackling the average reduction in the climate change and also suggest some measures to promote collective global action.
- QUESTION : Define ‘Time Use Survey’ and bring out the highlights of all India Time Use Survey, 2019 analyse has it proved to be a lost opportunity for India ?
- QUESTION : Liberalism is probably more challenged in India today than in any other democracy in the world. Why?
- QUESTION : What are liveable cities? Examine their relevance in urban development of India and enlist the challenges faced by them. (250 words)
- QUESTION : Critically evaluate the performance of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) and challenges before it in tackling the air pollution.
- QUESTION : Discuss the significance of maintenance rights of divorced women considering the recent judgement of Supreme Court of India.
- QUESTION : Discuss the issues involved in interfaith marriages? What are the constitutional rights involved in these marriages?
- QUESTION : “The reasons for malnutrition/ hunger are multidimensional” considering the above statement discuss the factors contributing to malnutrition and also suggest appropriate measure to improve malnutrition in India.
- QUESTION : “India is facing major challenges to regulate Ayurveda medicine system to meet the demand for natural remedies in India and in the world market”. Comment
- QUESTION : Critically evaluate how the trade relations between India and the US have gone through many ups and downs for last couple of years ?
- QUESTION : Throw a light on the state of Scheduled Tribes of J&K and list the major concerns regarding their forest rights.
- QUESTION : Evaluate the factors and implications of India’s exit from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) .
- QUESTION : Discuss the difficulties while preparing a vaccine and major challenges in its distribution at ground level .
- QUESTION : Discuss disputed boundary areas between India and China and reasons for increased tensions with remedial steps ?
- QUESTION : What do you understand by minimum government, maximum governance? Discuss whether this maxim has been practised or not.
- QUESTION: Discuss the need for protection of rights for both victims and accused . What are the challenges faced by victims in India ?
- QUESTION : A trade agreement like RCEP is both an opportunity and a threat. Economic isolation is not an option for India and It must move towards bilateral trade pacts. Analyse.
- QUESTION : Discuss the recent developments in India-US relations and what are various issues in India-US relations ?
- QUESTION : What lessons can be learnt by India’s healthcare sector during the time of covid-19 pandemic and suggestive ways to strengthen this ? Discuss.
- QUESTION : Considering Act East Policy of India highlight the areas of concern in India-Bangladesh and India-Vietnam relationship and measures to improve them.
- QUESTION : What are the common priorities for India and Maldives in Indian Ocean Region? Discuss measures taken by India to curb perils of China’s debt trap diplomacy in Maldives.
- QUESTION : Explain how are the presidential election of India different from the presidential elections in U.S ?
- QUESTION : Elaborate the reasons for the declining financial health of the States in India and implications for the States suggesting ways to deal with this issue.
- QUESTION : The quality of higher education in India requires major improvements to make it internationally competitive. Do you think that the entry of foreign educational institutions would help improve the quality of higher and technical education in the country? Discuss.
- QUESTION : Examine the reasons behind changing dynamics of Indian foreign policy and challenges impacting relations with neighbours.
- QUESTION : Do you think the reforms proposed for agricultural sector under the realm of Farm Bills ensure better price realization for farmers? Elucidate.
- QUESTION : Strengthening the domestic manufacturing under “Make In India” Initiative and increasing domestic demand can result into job creation and inclusive growth.” Discuss.
- QUESTION : What are various challenges faced by Housing Finance Companies in India and how India can ensure better business environment in India?
- QUESTION : Discuss the crisis being faced by NBFCs in India. Suggest what measures need to be taken to resolve the same ?
- QUESTION : How is agriculture responsible for degradation of land, air and water? What measures can be taken to reduce it?
- QUESTION : India faces several challenges in attracting relocating supply chains in trade and give some suggested measures to deal with these challenges.” Elaborate
- QUESTION : What are various reasons for low labour force participation of women in India? Suggest some measures to correct the labour market’s gender skew.
- QUESTION : Discuss the problems with labour section of India? What are the steps taken by GoI for solving these problems?
- QUESTION : Discuss the legal status of right to work in India and major challenges faced by workers in day to day life .
- QUESTION : What is Over the Top (OTT) media services? Critically analyse the benefits and challenges offered by the OTT media services in India.
- QUESTION : Discuss various advantages and issues related to public-private partnership (PPP) in viability gap funding scheme in
- QUESTION : Write important functions of the Finance Commission? Discuss the terms of reference of the 15th finance commission and various apprehensions about it.
- QUESTION : Chinese aggression towards India is not new. Since past 200 years Chinese have been deploying expansionist policy in south western frontier. Comment
- QUESTION : Terrorism is emerging as a competitive industry over the last few decades.” Analyse the above statement.
- QUESTION : Critically evaluate the reasons behind India’s increasing income inequality as far as current scenario is concerned.
- QUESTION : “Covid-19 and the ensuing global economic crisis have demonstrated that the world is unprepared for food security.” Justify the given statement especially in the context of India.
- QUESTION : Elaborate RBI’S Monetary policy and its limitations as far as the inflation targeting is concerned.
- QUESTION : What are the provisions for gig workers and platform workers in the new labour code? What are the issues with the provision?”
QUESTION: Evaluate the challenges faced in tackling the average reduction in the climate change and also suggest some measures to promote collective global action.
Topic- THE PARIS AGREEMENT IS NO PANACEA
- Agreements related to climate change
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Many countries left climate agreements and due to which situation of climate may be worrisome.
WHAT IS PARIS AGREEMENT ?
- In December 2015, 195 countries signed an agreement (came into force on Nov 2016) within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change(UNFCCC), dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance
- Objective: To slow the process of global warming by limiting a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
- Another crucial point in this agreement was attaining “net zero emissions” between 2050 and 2100. Nations have pledged “to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century”.
- Developed countries were also told to provide financial resources to help developing countries in dealing with climate change and for adaptation measures.
- As part of a review mechanism, developed countries were also asked to communicate every two years the “indicative” amount of money they would be able to raise over the next two years, and information on how much of it would come from public financial sources.
- In contrast, developing countries have only been “encouraged” to provide such information every two years on a voluntary basis.
- The agreement also includes a mechanism to address financial losses faced by less developed nations due to climate change impacts like droughts, floods etc. However, developed nations won’t face financial claims since it “does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation”.
So, why did the US leave the Paris agreement?
- During his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump had described the Paris Agreement as “unfair” to US interests, and had promised to pull out of the agreement if elected.
- So in June 2017, months after his inauguration, Trump announced his government’s decision to quit the accord
- The US could not immediately exit the Paris Agreement, however, as United Nations rules permitted a country to apply for leaving three years after the accord came into force, i.e. November 4, 2019.
- The US formally applied to leave on that day, and the departure automatically came into effect on November 4, 2020, at the end of a mandatory year-long waiting period
INDIA AND CLIMATE EMISSIONS :
- Despite the accelerated economic growth of recent decades India’s annual emissions, at 0.5 tonnes per capita, are well below the global average of 1.3 tonnes.
- China’s total C02 emission is 29.51% of the world and per capita emission is 7.7 whereas USA’s total C02 emission is 14.34% of the world and per capita emission is 16.1.
- In terms of cumulative emissions, India’s contribution by 2017 was only 4% for a population of 1.3 billion, whereas the European Union, with a population of only 448 million, was responsible for 20%.
- India is one of the few countries which is currently on track to fulfilling their Paris Agreement commitments.
EFFORTS OVER THE YEARS :
- The most hopeful time for global cooperation in protection of the planet was between the time of the Stockholm Conference (1972) and the time of the Rio Conference (1992).
- That was when mounting scientific evidence about the role of anthropogenic emissions in global warming led to political initiatives to harmonise development and environment.
- Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s resounding address at Stockholm declaring poverty as the worst polluter reverberated in many conference halls.
- The historic consensus in Rio led to the adoption of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), which was a model global instrument balancing the right to development of the developing countries and the obligations of the developed countries.
- A distinction was made between the “luxury emissions” of the developed countries, which were reduced mandatorily, and the survival emissions of the developing countries, which were allowed to increase.
- Moreover, a huge financial package was approved to develop environment-friendly technologies in developing countries.
- But by the time the Conference of the Parties was held in Berlin in 1995, the developed countries had backed off from their commitments.
- They made a determined effort to impose mandatory cuts on developing countries.
- Though the G-77 was split, we managed to maintain the Rio principles with the assistance of the Chairperson, Angela Merkel.
- The Kyoto Protocol enshrined the Rio principles.
- It fixed emission targets for developed countries and a complex set of provisions was included to satisfy their interests.
- But it was never ratified by the U.S. Congress and the U.S. withdrew its support in 2001.
COPENHAGEN ACCORD, 2009 :
- The end of the Kyoto Protocol and the abandonment of the spirit of the Rio principles were reflected in the Copenhagen Accord (2009), engineered by the U.S. and China and sold to some key countries including India on the argument that a global climate action plan would be possible only if all reductions of the greenhouse gases were made voluntary.
- The basic terms of the Copenhagen Accord were brokered directly by a handful of key country leaders including the U.S., China, India and Brazil on the final day of the conference.
- It took another full day of tense negotiations to arrive at a procedural compromise allowing the deal to be formalised over the bitter objections of a few governments.
- There was a virtual revolt by the developing countries, but the Paris Agreement was virtually born in Copenhagen, and adopted later in 2015.
KYOTO PROTOCOL-2 :
- This period bridges the gap between the end of the 1st Kyoto period (2012) and the start of the new global agreement in 2020.
- The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol commits countries to contain the emission of greenhouse gases, reaffirming its stand on climate action.
NATIONALLY DETERMINED CONTRIBUTIONS (NDC) :
- NDCs marked a departure from the Rio principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) in bringing all countries to commit to reduce emissions and combat climate change.
- NDCs are the cornerstone of countries’ efforts to achieve the targets set by the Paris agreement. NDC places great faith in the efforts of the countries in achieving the set goals, as the countries must themselves set emission targets voluntarily and there is no penalty for failing to achieve them.
- Lack of transparency in the targets achieved and a total absence of accountability when failing to achieve them has disappointed the environmentalists. The 2 degrees Celsius limit will not be achieved with the current level of national and international efforts via NDCs.
ROLE OF USA :
- S. President-elect Joe Biden has declared that the U.S. will have the most progressive position on climate change in the nation’s history.
- He has already laid out a clean energy and infrastructure plan, a commitment to return to the Paris Agreement, and a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
- The appointment of former Secretary of State John Kerry as Climate Change Envoy is a clear indication of the importance that Mr. Biden attaches to addressing global warming issues.
- Having been one of the architects of the Paris Agreement, Mr. Kerry must be aware of its merits and deficiencies.
- It is hoped that he will also be aware of the development imperatives of the developing nations.
- If Mr. Kerry and Mr. Biden insist on matching cuts by the developing countries as a conditionality to return to the Paris Agreement, the whole debate of equity and climate justice will emerge, with India and the U.S. on opposing sides.
SITUATION REGARDING CLIMATE AGREEMENTS :
- US and China is out of Rio Declaration and Kyoto protocol.
- Many developing countries, including India, which hesitated to sign the Agreement because it had exempted developed countries from their mandatory obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,
- Today, the Paris Agreement is deemed as the panacea for all environmental ills when the truth is that it is a repudiation of the principles of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ and ‘the polluter must pay’.
- Many scientists and environmentalists expressed deep disappointment when it was adopted, as the national and international actions envisaged under it were far below the optimum levels.
WAY FORWARD :
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) whose objective is to provide governments at all levels with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies has echoed the need to have an economic as well as societal transformation to avoid a hotter earth.
- It requires a multilateral and universal approach to tackle the impending climate crisis. The Paris Agreement falls short of such a response.
- Strong institutions along with a global leadership committed to the goals of equity and climate justice are the needs of the hour.
- Significant diplomatic capital has to be invested to ensure that the developed countries do not feel that they are burdened and the developing countries’ concerns of the right to development are not forgotten.
- As a concluding line we can say that although global efforts to tackle climate change and global warming is on the way but we have to focus on reducing emission as soon as possible. As many reports of IPCC show the worst situation.
QUESTION : Define ‘Time Use Survey’ and bring out the highlights of all India Time Use Survey, 2019 analyse has it proved to be a lost opportunity for India ?
Topic- THE ‘TIME USE SURVEY’ AS AN OPPORTUNITY LOST
- Time Use Survey (TUS)
WHY IN NEWS ?
- The all India Time Use Survey, 2019 has been recently published by the Government of India. National Statistical Office (NSO) conducted the first Time Use Survey in India during January – December 2019.
‘TIME USE SURVEY’ (TUS) :
- A time use survey measures the amount of time people spend doing various activities, such as paid work, childcare, volunteering, and socialising. The primary objective of a time use survey (TUS) is to measure participation of men and women in paid and unpaid activities.
- It collects comprehensive information on all human activities, provides improved estimates of the workforce as well as shed light on important characteristics of the workforce.
- To measure participation of men and women in paid and unpaid activities.
- To measure the time spent in unpaid care-giving activities, volunteer work, unpaid domestic service producing activities of the household members.
- To measure time spent on learning, socializing, leisure activities, self-care activities, etc., by the household members.
DATA COLLECTION :
- It was done for one day in a 24-hour time diary.
- In India, where literacy is low, the time diary was filled in by interviewers in 30 minute time slots through face-to-face interviews.
- In developed countries where literacy is high, time use is recorded in a 24-hour time diary by the respondents themselves, using 10-15 minute time slots.
- The International Classification of Activities for Time-Use Statistics of the United Nations Statistics Division, was used for classification of activities.
- The participation rate of men in paid employment — which includes jobs, farming, fishing, mining amongst other economic activities — is high at 57.3 %, compared to women whose participation rate is only 18.4 %.
- Indian men also spend more time at paid work, spending on average 7 hours 39 minutes compared to the 5 hours 33 minutes spent by women.
- Around 81.2 % women participate in unpaid domestic services spending an average 4 hours 59 minutes each day. The participation rate of men in domestic services is low at 26.1 % spending an average 1 hour 37 minutes each day.
- Contrary to popular perception, men tend to participate more in socialising and communication, community participation, and religious practice than women. Around 91.4 % of men participated in social activities, spending two hours and 27 minutes each day. The participation rate for women is just a little less at 91.3 %, and spend two hours and 19 minutes each day.
- Indians do not like to participate in unpaid volunteer work. Only 2.7 % of Indian men participate as unpaid volunteers or trainees, or participate in other unpaid work. The participation of women in volunteer work is lesser at 2 %.
NEED FOR TUS :
- Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG):
- Time use data are needed for implementing not only the SDG 5.4 on unpaid work, but also for implementing the SDG-1 to the SDG-10.
- For the SDG 5.4 , the Indian TUS data is not adequate.
- TUS data are also required for understanding and monitoring major socioeconomic concerns of countries.
- Resolution of the 19th International Conference on Labour Statistics, International Labour Organization 2013” formally recognizes unpaid domestic services and unpaid care as “work” for the first time.
- It presents a new definition of work, new forms of work and a new labour force status classification.
- It defines “work” as “any activity performed by persons of any sex and age to produce goods or provide services for use by others or own use”.
- The Resolution cannot be implemented without time use data.
- Flaws in calculation of unpaid work:
- Input method: This method values the labour input in unpaid work using suitable prices (minimum wages of workers, housekeeper’s wages, opportunity costs or specialised wages).
- However, this valuation is not adequate, because it values only the labour input and excludes the capital and technology used.
- Satellite accounts of unpaid work takes into consideration capital/technology.
SHORTCOMINGS OF TUS :
- Information regarding capital is not collected by this TUS in the background questionnaire.
- Not accounting informal work: A TUS collects data only for one or two days per person in a week, while according to the ILO, “a person is a worker if she/he has spent at least one hour on work in the reference week”.
- As informal work is frequently intermittent and irregular, the TUS information on one day’s work (for less than one hour) or non-work cannot qualify the person to be a worker or non-worker.
- It is quite likely that the person reporting as a non-worker on one day may be working on other days, or one reporting work may not work for one hour totally in the week.
- Thus, the TUS cannot provide information on the workforce/employment status of persons.
CONCERNS WITH INDIA’S METHODOLOGY –
- Defining work:
- It was a good opportunity for India to implement the Resolution.
- However, the Standing Committee on Labour Force Statistics that designed the time use survey decided to keep the Resolution out and conducted an independent TUS.
- The TUS does not even have employment as one of the objectives.
- Breaks in Indian surveys
- Indian Employment/Unemployment Surveys (EUS), tend to under-report informal workers, due to the nature of informal employment which is frequently intermittent, scattered, temporary, short term or unstable.
- Women frequently view work as a part of household work and under-report it.
- The EUS are not equipped to collect data on multiple jobs performed by people, the time spent on work (i.e. intensity of work), the scattered nature of work, subsistence work, and work performed under simultaneous activities.
WAY FORWARD :
- The TUS can provide critical information to add the richness of the EUS.
- Accounting informal work: It is necessary to draw the TUS sample (which is always smaller) from the same sampling framework that is used by the labour force survey (EUS), with some common units.
- The TUS can complement the labour force survey (LFS) information.
- The independent TUS cannot provide estimates of the workforce/labour force.
QUESTION : Liberalism is probably more challenged in India today than in any other democracy in the world. Why?
Topic- INDIA’S MASK OF ECONOMIC LIBERALISM IS OFF
- Fault lines in India’s Economic Liberalism
WHY IN NEWS ?
- The article counters the argument made by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar about the impact of economic liberalisation on India’s economy.
What is liberalism?
- Liberalism has been the dominant socio-political ideology in the West since the end of the Second World War, where it has been regarded as the norm until recently.
The term broadly encompass three definitions:
- Economic liberalism: ‘emphasises free competition and the self-regulating market, and which is commonly associated with globalisation and minimal state intervention in the economy’.
- Political liberalism: It is founded on ‘belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human being, the autonomy of the individual, and standing for political and civil liberties’ as laid out in various United Nations Covenants.
- Social liberalism: ‘linked to the protection of minority groups, and such issues as LGBTQ rights and same-sex marriage’.
LIBERALISM IMPACT ON INDIA :
- India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar recently disapproved of free trade and globalisation.
- About FTA’s he said that “the effect of past trade agreements has been to de-industrialise some sectors.”
- These observations were made days after countries of the Asia-Pacific region signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.
- He said that , “in the name of openness, we have allowed subsidi[s]ed products and unfair production advantages from abroad to prevail”
FLAWS IN ARGUMENT :
- A) India cannot be the part of global value chain
- India is now truly at the margins of the regional and global economy.
- With trade multilateralism at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) remaining sluggish, FTAs are the gateways for international trade.
- By not being part of any major FTA, India cannot be part of the global value chains.
- India’s competitors such as the East Asian nations, by virtue of they being part of mega-FTAs, are in an advantageous position to be part of global value chains and attract foreign investment.
- B) Indian economy has bee relatively closed economy
- India is surely a much more open economy than it was three decades ago, globally, India continues to remain relatively closed when compared to other major economies.
- According to the WTO, India’s applied most favoured nation import tariffs are 13.8%, which is the highest for any major economy.
- Likewise, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, on the import restrictiveness index, India figures in the ‘very restrictive’ category.
- From 1995-2019, India has initiated anti-dumping measures 972 times (the highest in the world) trying to protect domestic industry.
- C) Economic survey accepts the benefits of FTAs
- The External Affairs Minister is contradicting government’s economic survey presented earlier this year.
- The survey concluded that India has benefitted overall from FTAs signed so far.
- Blaming FTAs for deindustrialisation means ignoring real problem of the Indian industry — which is the lack of competitiveness and absence of structural reforms.
- D) India has been a major beneficiary of economic globalisation
- It cannot be ignored that India has been one of the major beneficiaries of economic globalisation — a fact attested by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
- Post-1991, the Indian economy grew at a faster pace, ushering in an era of economic prosperity.
- According to the economist Arvind Panagariya, poverty in rural and urban India, which stood at close to 40% in 2004-05, almost halved to about 20% by 2011-12.
INDIA’S LIBERALISM :
- This was due to India clocking an average economic growth rate of almost is liberalism has evolved through stages that first emphasised earthly life and materialism, then social reforms and political independence, and now economic and social freedom
- Ancient Liberalism of Materialism: A culture as old as India’s would obviously have a strand of thought that is labelled today as liberalism or libertarianism. Liberalism is a philosophy for living life on this earth; it does not directly concern itself or rather leaves individuals free to choose their beliefs about after-life.
- Modern Liberalism of Social Reforms: Modern liberalism in India took roots during the social reform movements of the middle and late nineteenth century. Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Gopal Krishna Gokhale and others launched a systemic attack on anti-life social practices like sati and ban on widow remarriage through Arya Samaj and Brahmo Samaj movements. These movements influenced a large section of the population.
- Liberalism of Political Freedom: Under the banner of Congress Party, all activists were engaged in discussion about the political and economic system that India should adopt after independence. The socialist Sect formed a separate Congress Socialist Party and the liberal group formed the liberal group but they all worked under the umbrella of the Congress Party. ? India started with a Soviet like welfare state with the five year plans and a planning Commission, however non essential things were left to the private trade and industry.
- Liberalism of economic freedom: After the reforms in the 1990s, the role of the state reversed, from a welfare state India transformed into a liberal state with minimum intervention. This marks the start of India’s exponential growth in terms of its economy.
- Desire to make India a global destination for foreign investment is a pipe dream because it is naive to expect foreign investors to be gung-ho about investing in India if trade protectionism is the government’s official policy.
QUESTION : What are liveable cities? Examine their relevance in urban development of India and enlist the challenges faced by them. (250 words)
Topic- REINVENTING CITIES
- Planning to make cities liveable and Sustainable
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Prime Minister’s call for a reimagining of urban planning and development to make cities and towns healthy and liveable after COVID-19 reflects the reality of weak infrastructure aiding the virus’s spread.
LIVEABLE CITIES :
- It is a place that promotes healthy and happy people and community wellbeing – a place where people want to live. A more liveable city is a great place to live.
- According to the PM, liveable meant having better housing, better work environment and short and efficient travel facilities.
CRITICAL FACTORS FOR LIVEABLE COMMUNITIES :
- residents feeling safe, socially connected and included;
- environmental sustainability
- access to affordable and diverse housing options linked via public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure to employment, education, local shops, public open space and parks, health and community services, leisure and culture.
Need for change
- In the first hundred days of the pandemic, the top 10 cities affected worldwide accounted for 15% of the total cases.
- In the Indian context, cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Chennai, became the epicenters of the disease.
- It was due to the density of the population infections erupted, and this eventually spread to smaller towns as well due to reverse migration from the cities.
- Therefore the PM is looking at developing a strategy beyond the current pandemic.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING :
- Mumbai is estimated to have added only 5% of rental housing in New Residential Construction (1961-2000), and that too led by private funding.
- The abject housing conditions of migrant labourers in major cities in India has come under scrutiny during the pandemic, with virus hotspots in slums.
- Creating well-designed good affordable housing to tackle inequality is one way governments can help economies recover from the crisis.
- The post-COVID-19 era, therefore, presents an opportunity to make schemes such as the Centre’s Affordable Rental Housing Complexes deliver at scale, focusing on new good houses built by the state — on the lines of the post-war reconstruction in Europe, Japan and South Korea.
QUALITY OF LIFE :
- Education: Household expenditure on education; literacy rate; pupil-teacher ratio; dropout rate; access to digital education; professionally trained teachers; national achievement survey score.
- Health: Household expenditure on health; availability of healthcare; professionals; accredited public health facilities; availability of hospital beds; prevalence of water borne diseases; prevalence of vector borne diseases;
- Mobility: Availability of public transport; transport related fatalities; road infrastructure (road density, footpath density).
- WASH and SWM: Water supply to household; households with piped water; supply Swachh Survekshan score; amount of waste water treated; connected to sewerage network.
- Housing and Shelter: Households with electrical; connections; average length of electrical; interruptions; beneficiaries under PMAY; slum population.
- Safety and security: Prevalence of violent crime; extent of crime recorded against women; extent of crime recorded against children; extent of crime recorded against elderly.
- Recreation: Availability of open space; availability of recreation facilities.
ECONOMIC ABILITY :
- Level of Economic Development: Traded clusters
- Economic Opportunities: Cluster strength; credit availability; number of incubation centres/skill development centres.
- Gini Coefficient: Inequality index based on consumption expenditure.
- Environment: Water quality; total tree cover; households using clean fuel for cooking; hazardous waste generation; air quality index (SO2, NO2, PM10).
- Green Spaces and buildings: Availability of green spaces; does the city incentivise green buildings?; green buildings in the city.
- City Resilience: Has the city implemented local disaster reduction strategies?; number of deaths and directly affected persons attributed to disasters.
- Energy Consumption: Energy requirement vs energy supplied; energy generated from renewable sources; number of energy parks.
WAY FORWARD :
- The Ministry of Housing, which until now has focused on smart cities, can work with State Governments to collect the data on housing requirements to meet the demand and supply in each city.
- Laws on air pollution, municipal solid waste management and water quality should be implemented in its true spirit.
- Past scourges such as cholera, the plague and the global flu pandemic a century ago led to change in waste handling, social housing and health care. It is now important that governments show the political will to reinvent the cities.
- A new urban development paradigm should focus on cutting disease spread.
QUESTION : Critically evaluate the performance of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) and challenges before it in tackling the air pollution.
Topic- THE COST OF CLEARING THE AIR
- Tackling Air Pollution
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Recently, the finance Minister announced a ₹4,400 crore package for 2020-21 to tackle air pollution in 102 of India’s most polluted cities. The funds would be used to reduce particulate matter by 20%-30% from 2017 levels by 2024 under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).
KEY STATISTICS :
- India accounts for two-thirds of the world’s most polluted cities — 21 of the most polluted 30 cities; 14 of the highest 20; and 6 of the highest 10 — in the 2019 World Air Quality Report released by the pollution tracker AQI and Greenpeace. The ranking is based on a comparison of PM2.5 levels. Among countries, when population is taken into account, average PM2.5 pollution is highest in Bangladesh, followed by Pakistan, while India is at number 5.
- Globally some 9 million premature deaths a year are associated with air pollutants, such as fine particulate matter, known as PM 2.5. Regrettably, 14 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in India. The air in Ghaziabad, Delhi, and Noida is particularly hazardous. Last year, a public health emergency was declared as post-Diwali New Delhi’s air quality index approached 500, the “severe plus emergency” category.
- Inadequate allocation:
- Though it was the largest-ever yearly allocation by a government to specifically tackle air pollution, only half the money was finally allotted to 15 States till now.
- The rest will be given in January based on how cities achieve certain ‘performance parameters’ that are still being worked out by the Centre.
- Air quality monitors:
- Several of the States with the most polluted cities that have been allotted NCAP funds are expected to spend a substantial fraction in the act of measurement.
- Only Delhi has managed to firmly install an extensive network of continuous ambient air quality monitors managed by several government or allied bodies.
- It has also managed to conduct source apportionment studies and now has the minimum data to determine the degree of pollution that is contributed by its internal sources (construction, road dust, vehicle movement) and that brought on from external sources such as stubble burning.
- Lack of data: An analysis by research agencies Carbon Copy and Respirer Living Sciences recently found that only 59 out of 122 cities had PM 2.5 data available.
- Old machines:
- Historically, cites have used manual machines to measure specific pollutants and their use has been inadequate.
- Now manual machines are being replaced by automatic ones and India is still largely reliant on imported machines though efforts are underway to make and install low-cost ones.
- Pollution cleaning up:
- Funds for pollution clean-up activities and mechanical street sweepers are less. Therefore budgetary allocations alone don’t reflect the true cost of stemming air pollution.
- Improper imposition:
- In the case of the National Capital Region, at least ₹600 crore was spent by the Ministry of Agriculture over two years to provide subsidised equipment to farmers in Punjab and Haryana and dissuade them from burning paddy straw.
- Yet this year, there have been more farm fires than the previous year and their contribution to Delhi’s winter air woes remain unchanged.
NATIONAL CLEAN AIR PROGRAMME (NCAP) :
- The NCAP is a programme of the Union Environment Ministry to reduce pollution by at least 20% in 102 cities(2017 level).
- The tentative national level target of 20%–30% reduction of PM2.5 and PM10 concentration by 2024 is proposed under the NCAP taking 2017 as the base year for the comparison of concentration.
- To augment and evolve effective and proficient ambient air quality monitoring network across the country for ensuring comprehensive and reliable database
- To have efficient data dissemination and public outreach mechanism for timely measures for prevention and mitigation of air pollution and for inclusive public participation in both planning and implementation of the programmes and policies of government on air pollution
- To have a feasible management plan for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution.
NATIONAL AIR QUALITY INDEX (AQI) :
- The AQI is an index for reporting daily air quality. It tells how clean or polluted the air is.
- The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health Concern.
- Research studies have attributed the key sources of PM2.5 in summer to be: dust and construction activities (35%), transport sector (20%) and industry (20%).
- Would measure
- Particulate Matter 2.5
- Carbon monoxide
- Nitrogen oxide
- Sulpher dioxide
- PM 10
WHAT IS PM2.5?
- Includes pollutants, such as sulfate, nitrates and black carbon, which pose the greatest risks to human health.
- 5 is a particulate matter in the atmosphere that has a diameter of 2.5 micrometres, which is around three per cent the diameter of a human hair.
- These particulate matters reduce visibility and even cause respiratory problems.
- Owing to its small size, it can easily pass through a person’s nose and throat and cause chronic diseases such as asthma, heart attack, bronchitis and other respiratory problems by making way the circulatory system.
WAY FORWARD :
- Collaborative, Multi-scale and Cross-sectoral Coordination between relevant Central Ministries, State Government and local bodies.
- Focus on no Regret Measures, Participatory and Disciplined approach
- As India begins to direct resources towards addressing the post-pandemic economic crisis, policymakers should display political and economic commitment towards addressing the multi-dimensional impact of air pollution.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has only emphasised the need to proactively invest in public healthcare and resilient development.
- The air pollution crisis will require innovative, collaborative solutions from public, private, and civil society stakeholders.
- Institutions, governments, philanthropies, and members of the academe have been fighting the battle for clean air for decades; it is time to tap into the power of a multi-stakeholder framework to hurdle this challenge.
- The ORF programme is an effort to mainstream conversations on the issue of air pollution, and influence public discourse on improving the air quality in the country in post-Covid era.
- The funds don’t account for the trained manpower and the support system necessary to effectively maintain the systems and these costs are likely to be significant. While funds are critical, proper enforcement, adequate staff and stemming the sources of pollution on the ground are vital to the NCAP meeting its target.
QUESTION : Discuss the significance of maintenance rights of divorced women considering the recent judgement of Supreme Court of India.
Topic- ALIMONY GUIDELINES
- Women Maintenance Laws
WHY IN NEWS ?
- The Supreme Court set down comprehensive guidelines on alimony while hearing a dispute between a Mumbai-based couple.
WHAT ARE MAINTENANCE RIGHTS ?
- Maintenance means an amount which husband has to pay to the wife for the Divorce. The main aim is to provide financial independence to the divorced women so as to facilitate convenience. Section 125 of Criminal Procedure Court provides remedy to those who are neglected and seek maintenance. Only a legally wedded woman is considered as a “wife”.
- According to 2001 census of Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India, under Ministry of Home Affairs, around 468,593 individuals got married, out of which 3,331 separated.
- Divorce statistics in different states according to 2011 census:
IMPORTANT POINTS OF SC JUDGEMENT :
- Constitutional safeguards for women:
- Article 15(3), which states ‘nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children’
- Article 39, directs state policy towards equal pay and opportunities for both men and women, and protecting the health of women and children
- The court ruled that an abandoned wife and children will be entitled to ‘maintenance’ from the date she applies for it in a court of law.
- The court outlined specifics, including
- “Reasonable needs” of a wife and dependent children,
- Her educational qualification,
- Whether she has an independent source of income, and
- If she does, if it is sufficient, to follow for family courts, magistrates and lower courts on alimony cases.
- Applicable laws: The Court laid down that while women can make a claim for alimony under different laws, including the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and Section 125 of the CrPC, or under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
- Keeping in mind the vastness of India and its inequities, the Court also added how an “order or decree of maintenance” may be enforced under various laws and Section 128 of the CrPC.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE JUDGEMENT :
- Given the large and growing percentage of matrimonial litigation, some clarity was necessary. Cases are known to drag on and acquire cobwebs, worsening the misery for vulnerable women.
- For women in India, especially the poor who are often overlooked in discourses, maintenance laws will mean little if they do not prevent dependent wives and children from “falling into destitution”.
- Girls are married off early and bear children long before they should. This triggers a state of poor maternal health and is one of the root causes of high levels of child stunting and wasting in India.
- There is also the possibility of a marriage not working out for varied reasons, leaving the girl or young woman in extreme distress because often she is not financially independent.
ON PERMANENT ALIMONY :
- The duration of a marriage should be accounted for while determining the permanent alimony.
- The Judgment came under section 125 Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) Section 125 of the CrPC –
- It was conceived to ameliorate the agony, anguish, financial suffering of a woman who had left her matrimonial home, so that some suitable arrangements could be made to enable her to sustain herself and the children would include couples living together for years within its ambit.
- Strict proof of marriage should not be a pre-condition for grant of maintenance under this.
INHERITANCE RIGHTS OF A WOMAN UNDER HINDU LAW :
- Hindu law permits women to inherit property and gives them equal rights in inheriting property. Before 2005, Hindu women did not have the right to inherit property. In 2005, the Parliament passed the Hindu Succession Amendment Act, which gave women equal rights to inherit property.
Hindu women can inherit all types of property:
- Movable property – Like, jewellery, cash, household items (like furniture, appliances, kitchen items), etc.
- Immovable property – Like, land, apartments, etc.
There are two ways in which a Hindu woman can inherit property:
- If someone leaves you property through a Will – called inheritance through Will
- If there is no Will, then according to the rules of the Hindu Succession Act – called inheritance through succession.
- These uniform and comprehensive guidelines should be followed by family courts, magistrates and lower courts while hearing applications filed by women seeking maintenance from their estranged husbands.
- These norms will hopefully ensure that many women who were dependent on their husbands would not be deprived of their rights after separation. The court has spelt it out clearly: “Maintenance laws have been enacted as a measure of social justice to provide recourse to dependent wives and children for their financial support so as to prevent them from falling into destitution and vagrancy.” They should therefore be implemented effectively.
QUESTION : Discuss the issues involved in interfaith marriages? What are the constitutional rights involved in these marriages?
Topic- UNCIVIL PROPOSAL
- Inter-faith Marriage
WHY IN NEWS ?
- The astounding proposal by Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to enact a law to curb what they call ‘love jihad’ reeks(smells) of a vicious(harmful) mix of patriarchy and communalism
WHAT IS LOVE JIHAD ?
- The term “love jihad” was first mentioned in around 2007 in Kerala and neighbouring Karnataka state, but it became part of the public discourse in 2009. Jihad, also called Romeo Jihad.
- Love jihad’ is the term Hindutva politicians have coined and use to describe an imaginary conspiracy they themselves conjured up in which Muslim men supposedly dupe unsuspecting Hindu girls into marriage in order to convert them to Islam
- The latest debate on “Love Jihad” follows on from two separate incidents that have received national attention in the past month.
- One was the alleged murder of a 21-year-old Hindu woman in Faridabad, near Delhi, by a man who – her family say – was stalking her and tried more than once to abduct her. Three people have been arrested over the crime, including the accused shooter, a Muslim man.
- The second case was that of an advertisement by popular Indian Jewellery brand Tanishq featuring an interfaith couple. It showed a baby shower organised for the Hindu bride by her Muslim in-laws.
ISSUES RELATED TO INTERFAITH MARRIAGE :
- Most of interfaith marriage couples are forced to conversion.
- In Muslim Personal law in order to get married to a non Muslim conversion is the only way.
- Hindu religion allows only monogamy and those who want to marry second time takes another course.
- The Maternal and paternal succession have complexion in interfaith marriages.
- There is no provision regarding caste determination of child born out such marriages.
- Special Marriage Act 1954 is not compatible with backwardness of the society.
- There is debate over the validity of Article 226 in context of annulling the interfaith marriage by high court.
UN CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE :
- The UN Convention against torture is an international treaty signed and enforced in 1984 and 1987 respectively.
Significance of the convention:
- It aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment around the world.
- It considers all acts of torture as criminal offence.
- It includes right of compensation for victims.
- It forbids nations to send citizens to any country where they believe the transported person may be tortured.
- It inspires the countries and individuals to avoid inhuman treatment to others.
WHY STATE OVERNMENTSS WANT TO ENACT THE LAW TO CURB IT ?
- The state government argued that it is duty of state to protect the dignity of women from the men, by concealing their identities and operating secretly.
- The UP government referred to a recent order of the Allahabad High Court which said religious conversion for the sake of marriage is unacceptable. The court in its order observed that conversion “just for the purpose of marriage”, and where the religious belief of the party involved is not a factor, is unacceptable.
ISSUE OF RELIGIOUS CONVERSION IN INDIA :
- Indian constitution in its Part III (Articles 25 to 28) endorses the freedom of religion in India (for Indian citizens and anyone who resides in India) along with specified limitations. However, the term religion is nowhere defined in the Indian Constitution but it has been given expansive content by way of judicial pronouncements.
- Although Indian position on the freedom of religion entails limited & permissible interference of the state in religious matters, various state governments (Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, MP, Odisha etc.) have enacted anti-conversion laws with the purported aim of preventing conversions brought about by coercion or inducements. Such laws have been a subject of intense criticism and have been alleged as infringing on one’s right to freedom of religion.
- What further compounds the issue is the absence of any explicit right to convert in the provisions relating to the concerned fundamental right in the Constitution. Court judgements in various cases have brought a certain crucial understanding on the matter of conversion in the country in light of freedom of religion and the individual’s right to choice.
THE SC JUDGEMENT REGARDING A PERSON’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE A RELIGION :
The Supreme Court in the case of Hadiya, a 26-year-old Homeopathy student gave followings observations:
- Right to Choice: Freedom of faith is essential to individual’s autonomy. Choosing a faith is the substratum of individuality without which the right of choice becomes a shadow.
- Liberty: Matters of belief and faith, including whether to believe, are at the core of constitutional liberty and the Constitution exists for believers as well as for agnostics.
- Identity: Matters of dress and of food, of ideas and ideologies, of love and partnership are within the central aspects of identity. Society has no role to play in determining our choice of partners.
- Constitutional Protection: Constitution protects the ability of each individual to pursue a way of life or faith to which she or he seeks to adhere.
- The Supreme Court held that Right to choose religion and marry is an intrinsic part of meaningful existence. Neither the State nor “patriarchal supremacy” can interfere in person’s decision.
- The judgement reinvigorates freedom of religion and freedom of conscience which has been recognized under the international law under the Universal Declaration on Human Rights recognizing fact that the entire humanity enjoys certain alienable rights. India is also a signatory of the same.
CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS :
- Article 25: All persons are equally entitled to “freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.” subject to public order, morality and health, and to the other fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution.
- Article 26: gives every religious group a right to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes, manage its affairs, properties as per the law. This guarantee is available to only Citizens of India and not to aliens.
- Article 27: This Article mandates that no citizen would be compelled by the state to pay any taxes for promotion or maintenance of particular religion or religious denomination.
- Article 28: This Article mandates that No religious instruction would be imparted in the state funded educational institutions.
THE HINDU MARRIAGE ACT, 1955:
- The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 deals with marriage registration in case both husband and wife are Hindus, Buddhists, Jains or Sikhs or, where they have converted into any of these religions.
- It is to be noted that Hindu Marriage Act deals with only marriage registration that has already been solemnized.
THE SPECIAL MARRIAGE ACT , 1954:
- The Special Marriage Act, 1954 lay down the procedure for both solemnization and registration of marriage, where either of the husband or wife or both are not Hindus, Buddhists, Jains or Sikhs.
- It is the duty of the judiciary to ensure that the rights of both the husband and wife are protection.
- In case this union between the husband and wife breaks, it should be determined that if this break-up was a result of actions of any of the parties or not.
- It is indeed salutary as a principle that inter-faith couples retain their religious beliefs separately and opt for marriage under the Special Marriage Act. However, this principle cannot be used to derogate(diminish) from personal choice or become a ruse to interfere in the individual freedom to forge matrimonial alliances . Court verdicts in unrelated cases shouldn’t be a ruse to curb personal freedom to marry.
QUESTION : “The reasons for malnutrition/ hunger are multidimensional” considering the above statement discuss the factors contributing to malnutrition and also suggest appropriate measure to improve malnutrition in India.
Topic- STEPPING OUT OF THE SHADOW OF INDIA’S MALNUTRITION
- Malnutrition and Food Security in India
WHY IN NEWS ?
- The stock of the food insecurity and malnutrition in India with the aid of two recently published reports.
REPORTS ABOUT FOOD SECURITY IN INDIA :
- Two recent reports — “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020” by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and the 2020 Hunger report, “Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow” by the Bread for the World Institute – document staggering facts about Indian food insecurity and malnutrition.
- The reports use two globally recognised indicators, Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU) and the Prevalence of Moderate or Severe Food Insecurity (PMSFI).
- Using these indicators, the reports indicate India to be one of the most food-insecure countries, with the highest rates of stunting and wasting among other South Asian countries.
COMPARING RATE OF REDUCTION IN MALNUTRITION WITH NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES :
- Malnutrition in India has not declined as much as the decline has occurred in terms of poverty.
- On the contrary, the reduction is found to be much lower than in neighbouring China, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.
- The decline in China is way higher than that of India, even though it had started with lower levels of PoU in 2000.
FOOD SECURITY DURING PANDEMIC AND NFSA, 2013 :
- Two crucial elements still got left out in the National Food Security Act – 2013.
- These two elements are the non-inclusion of nutritious food items such as pulses and exclusion of potential beneficiaries.
- Because of this, the current COVID-19 pandemic would make the situation worse in general, more so for vulnerable groups.
- Though States have temporarily expanded their coverage in the wake of the crisis, the problem of malnutrition is likely to deepen in the coming years.
- Hence, a major shift in policy has to encompass the immediate universalisation of the Public Distribution System which should definitely not be temporary in nature.
PREVALENCE OF MODERATE OR SEVERE FOOD INSECURITY (PMSFI) :
- These findings also get substantiated through Food Insecurity Experience Scale survey, which covers almost 90% of the world’s population.
- Because it is not allowed to be conducted in India, direct estimates are not available.
- However, estimates indicate that between 2014-16, about 29.1% of the total population in India was food insecure, which rose up to 32.9% in 2017-19.
- In terms of absolute number, about 375 million of the total population was moderately or severely food insecure in 2014, which went to about 450 million in 2019.
Why National Food Security Act – 2013 failed to tackle malnutrition?
Despite the act ensuring every citizen “access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices”, two crucial elements that still got left out which were –
- The non-inclusion of nutritious food items such as pulses
- Exclusion of potential beneficiaries.
AIMS OF THE POSHAN ABHIYAN OR NATIONAL NUTRITION MISSION (NNM) :
- Ending all forms of malnutrition by 2030 is also the target of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG-2) of Zero Hunger.
- Towards this end, NNM aims to reduce stunting, underweight and low birth weight each by 2 per cent per annum.
- It aims to reduce anaemia among children, adolescent girls and women, each by 3 per cent per annum by 2022.
- However, the Global Burden of Disease Study 1990–2017 has estimated that if the current trend continues, India cannot achieve these targets under NNM by 2022.
STATE OF FOOD SECURITY AND NUTRITION IN THE WORLD (SOFI) 2020 REPORT :
- Recently, the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2020 report revealed that between 8.3 crore and 13 crore people globally are likely to go hungry this year due to the economic recession triggered by COVID-19
ABOUT THE REPORT :
- The SOFI report was released in New York on the sidelines of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development which tracks the progress of nations towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
- It is produced jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). Its first edition was brought out in 2017
- The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 (SOFI 2020) report presents the most recent and authoritative estimates of the extent of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition around the world.
- This year, the report includes a special focus on transforming food systems for affordable healthy diets.
- It analyses the cost and affordability of healthy diets around the world, by region and in different development contexts.
WAY FORWARD :
- As the National Nutrition Mission continues to play an important role in India’s endeavour against malnutrition, India needs to now accelerate actions on multiple fronts. The projections are optimistic, and will need to be re-adjusted for the Covid-19 disruptions to health and nutrition services.
- There is a need to quickly graduate to a POSHAN-plus strategy which apart from continued strengthening the four pillars of the mission (Technology, Convergence, behavioural change and Capacity building), also requires a renewed focus on other social determinants in addition to addressing the governance challenges of the National Health Mission and ICDS delivery mechanisms.
- There has to be distribution of quality food items and innovative interventions such as the setting up of community kitchens among other things.
- An immediate universalisation of PDS , distribution of quality food items and community kitchens are a few solutions.
- There is a need for systematic data collection at the district level for policy formulation and programme.
- Need collaboration with civil society to educate women about family planning and child nourishment
- This year’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the UN World Food Programme, which should bring some of the focus back on these pressing issues of undernourishment and hunger in India.
QUESTION : “India is facing major challenges to regulate Ayurveda medicine system to meet the demand for natural remedies in India and in the world market”. Comment
Topic- A CLEAR READING OF THE AYURVEDA SURGERY MOVE
- Ayurvedic Medicine System in India
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Ayurveda is an alternative medicine system with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent. The government is pushing towards promoting Ayurveda (co-existing with Allopathy) in Indian healthcare while the Indian Medical Association characterizes the practice of modern medicine by Ayurvedic practitioners as quackery.
RECENT NOTIFICATION :
- The Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) has amended Indian Medicine Central Council (Post Graduate Ayurveda Education) Regulations, 2016, to allow the PG students of Ayurveda to practice general surgery (Shalya).
- The act has been renamed Indian Medicine Central Council (Post Graduate Ayurveda Education) Amendment Regulations, 2020.
- The Postgraduate students in Ayurveda will be trained in two streams of surgery and would be awarded titles of MS (Ayurved) Shalya Tantra — (General Surgery) and MS (Ayurved) Shalakya Tantra (Disease of Eye, Ear, Nose, Throat, Head and Oro-Dentistry).
WHY IS PROTEST ON THIS AMENDMENT ?
- The Indian Medical Association has been opposing the Centre’s move to allow traditional systems of AYUSH to offer allopathic therapies and treatment.
- The recent notification authorizes General Surgery postgraduate degree holder on completion of his course to perform 58 surgical procedures.
- Some of the procedures in the list are rather complicated.
- For any surgeon to be trusted to perform any surgery independently require to have assisted or been taken through at least 100 odd procedures, which is not the case here.
- This can instill distrust or fear in the minds of people going for surgeries by the Ayurvedic ssurgeon.
STATE OF AYURVEDA AFTER 1947 :
- After Independence, the Indian state was faced with the difficult task of accommodating both the modern medicine brought in by the British and India’s traditional systems of medicine, notably Ayurveda.
- There options were to take the best from all systems and integrate them into one cohesive science but it was not easy as the systems have certain incompatible differences of approach.
- The state patronized and encouraged formal medical education in modern medicine as well as in other traditional systems.
- For a brief period there actually existed ‘integrated’ courses, wherein both Ayurveda and Modern medicine were taught to students but were discontinued later.
- Thus, the degree in Ayurvedic medicine became largely an Ayurveda course and it was necessary out of a practical career compulsion to teach the basics of modern medicine to these graduates.
- As modern medicine made rapid strides, the Ayurvedic graduates have experienced an identity crisis.
SIGNIFICANCE OF AYURVEDA SURGEONS IN MODERN TIMES :
- Ayurveda graduates including surgeons are a large workforce in search of an identity and they are needed in the country.
- If they are creatively and properly trained, they can play important roles in our health-care system.
- Given the right training, pay and identity, Ayurvedic surgeons can be trained to strengthen on site or ambulance care of trauma victims and save hundreds of lives.
CHALLENGES RELATED TO AYURVEDA :
- Ineffective Treatment in Emergency Cases: The inadequacies of Ayurveda in treating acute infections and other emergencies including surgery, and lack of meaningful research in therapeutics continue to limit the universal acceptance of Ayurveda.
- Lack of Homogeneity: The medical practices in Ayurveda are not uniform. It is because the medicinal plants used in it vary with geography and climate and local agriculture practices.
- Misleading Propaganda by Ayurvedic Pharmas: Ayurvedic pharmacopeia industry claimed that its manufacturing practices were consistent with the classic Ayurveda texts.
- Lack of Recognition: Over the last few decades, there has been an increase in the global interest in Ayurveda.
- However, several countries do not officially recognise Ayurveda as a medical field and have placed many restrictions on the use of Ayurvedic medicines.
- Lack of Deep Knowledge : In 2004, a leading American journal reported heavy metal (arsenic, mercury, lead) content in some of the Ayurveda drugs sold in the US, way beyond the allowed safety limits.
- Sub-standard Research In Ayurveda: During the last five decades or so, research in Ayurveda was mainly confined to hundreds of drug trials using the normal procedures that are used in other medical systems.
- Often it was found that standardisation of formulation and quality of methods and data in the study was substandard.
SIGNIFICANCE OF AYURVEDA :
- In Ayurveda it is believed living man is a conglomeration of three humors (Vata, Pitta & Kapha), seven basic tissues (Rasa, Rakta, Mansa, Meda, Asthi, Majja & Shukra) and the waste products of the body i.e. mala, mutra and sweda.
- The growth and decay of this body matrix and its constituents revolve psychological mechanisms of these elements and its balance is the main reason for the state of one’s health.
- The treatment approach in the Ayurveda system is holistic and individualized having preventive, curative, mitigative, recuperative and rehabilitative aspects.
- The principal objectives of Ayurveda are maintenance and promotion of health, prevention of disease and cure of sickness.
CENTRAL COUNCIL OF INDIAN MEDICINE :
- Central Council of Indian Medicine is a statutory body under the Indian Medicine Central Council Act.
- It regulates the Indian medical systems of Ayurveda, Siddha, Sowa-Rigpa and Unani Medicine
WAY FORWARD :
- Given the right training, pay and identity, Ayurvedic surgeons can be trained to strengthen services and save hundreds of lives.
- AYUSH, or Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy, is a priority area for the present government. The revival of Indian medicine fits well into a certain narrative.
- The IMA in its opposition to such moves needs to be precise and constructive.
- Utilising India’s large workforce of non-MBBS doctors to improve access to decent health care for ordinary citizens is one of the urgently needed and serious discussions.
- Though deeply rooted in antiquity and Hindu civilisation, Ayurveda has carried forward some of the finest traditions in healing and cure the world has ever seen. Moreover, it has undergone some transformation to suit modern India, but more is required.
- Thus, there is a need for state patronage, so that Ayurveda can claim its rightful place along with modern medicine as a mainstream medicinal system.
QUESTION : Critically evaluate how the trade relations between India and the US have gone through many ups and downs for last couple of years ?
Topic- PUTTING TRADE TIES ON NEW FOOTING
WHY IN NEWS ?
- After tumultuous years of Trump administration in trade policies, the article examines the new possibilities under the next U.S. President in trade ties with India
APPROACH TOWARDS WTO AND INDIA :
- The new U.S. administration will have more constructive stance on multilateral issues in the World Trade Organization (WTO).
- The Trump administration went out of its way in seriously undermining WTO institutions when the organisation was already in need of reform and new direction.
- The Biden administration is less likely to engage in unilateral tariff increases and more likely to pursue remedies in the WTO.
- In case of India, the Trump administration it pursued an aggressive approach to resolve market access concerns through threats to eliminate India’s benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences programme.
- However, the follow-through was weak.
- The administration was on the brink of concluding a historic bilateral trade deal, yet it lost focus.
INDIA-US TRADE :
- The US is India’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade touching $88.75 billion in the 2019-2020 financial year.
- The bilateral trade between the US and India is approximately 62 per cent in goods and 38 per cent in services, the bilateral trade between India and China is dominated by goods.
- Trade has increased 10 times in the last 15 years. India is a trade deficit country in most cases, but it has a trade surplus with the US. The trade surplus was around 26 billion dollars in 2018.
WHAT IS GENERALISED SYSTEM OF PREFERENCES (GSP)?
- It is a US trade program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 4,800 products from 129 designated beneficiary countries and territories.
IMPORTANT LIKELY DEVELOPMENTS AFTER TRUMP :
1) It is clear that Mr. Biden plans to focus on domestic concerns first.
- There may be trade aspects to some of these efforts, but they may have limited early relevance for a future U.S.-India trade policy.
2) Two, as it turns to trade policy, the Biden administration is not likely to place India among its top few priorities.
- Among top priorities will include formulating its approach with China, such as finding alternatives to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership to set new global standards that address China’s practices.
3) The trade deal still pending with the Trump administration remains compelling.
- There could be an early opportunity to conclude these negotiations and for the Biden administration to get credit.A bilateral deal will not lead to serious consideration of FTA negotiations any time soon.
- But this first trade agreement could pave the way for later additional small agreements.
4) The existing Trade Policy Forum (TPF) met only once over the last four years.
- It seems likely that the Biden administration will see the TPF’s value as a venue for more regular discussions on a range of trade issues.
5) A reinvigorated TPF will present new opportunities for the two countries to take up a range of cutting-edge trade issues that will be critical in determining whether the U.S. and India can converge more over time or will drift further apart.
- These include digital trade issues, intellectual property rights and approaches to nurturing innovation, better health sector alignment, and more regular regulatory work on science-based agricultural policies.
TRADE POLICY FORUM :
- It was established in 2005.
- The Forum is part of the overall United States-India Economic Dialogue, replacing the Trade Policy Working Group pillar.
- It convenes on a regular basis.
- The Forum provides an opportunity to work together to expand trade between the two countries.
- The agenda could cover the following subjects: tariff and non-tariff trade barriers; foreign direct investment; subsidies; customs procedures; standards, testing, labeling and certification intellectual property rights protection; sanitary and phytosanitary measures; government procurement; and services.
- The future looks bright for U.S.-India trade under a Biden administration, but that does not mean it will be any easier. It will be critical for leadership on both sides to commit to strong efforts to put the trade relationship on a new footing, which will have to involve a ‘can-do’ attitude to solving problems.
WAY FORWARD :
- India would also have to create a suitable environment for private investments, as it’s currently an issue.
- India would also have to work on its own development in order to be able to take advantage of international events and not become vulnerable in the face of a crisis.
- In order to counter China in the maritime domain, India needs to fully engage with the US and other partners in the Indo-pacific region, in order to preserve the freedom of navigation and the rules-based order.
- A new trade deal with the US is the need of the hour. It will make it a lot easier to deal divergences in trade under Biden’s administration on a range of issues including terrorism, Kashmir and the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan.
QUESTION : Throw a light on the state of Scheduled Tribes of J&K and list the major concerns regarding their forest rights.
Topic- WITH LAND RIGHTS BUT NO LAND
- Scheduled Tribes in J&K and Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Lack of political reservation has been a major reason for marginalisation for tribals in J&K.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION :
- Tribal politics in the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir was focused on the twin issues of political reservation and enactment/extension of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006.
- Tribals were provided reservations in jobs, but no political reservation was given.
- The J&K government has now decided to implement the FRA.
STs in J&K :
- According to the 2011 Census, Scheduled Tribes form 11.9% of Jammu and Kashmir’s population.
- Prominent tribes like Gujjars and Bakerwal mostly depend on forest land for their livelihoods and shelter and most of them don’t own any land or shelters.
WHAT ARE THE CONCERNS ?
- Inadequate legislative representation: Lack of political reservation meant that tribal issues were never adequately represented in the Legislative Assembly.
- Evictions of tribals : The eviction and demolition drives against nomads have increased and no rehabilitation plans are in place. The FRA would have provided Adivasis in J&K access and ownership rights, forest-based livelihood rights, and minor forest produce rights.
- Delay in extension of FRA: The extension of the FRA to J&K after the abrogation of special statuses pending, though many other Central laws were extended to the Union Territory.
- Hassles in proving land ownership: The J&K government has nullified the State Land (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001, also known as the Roshni Act.
o This Act was controversial due to the questionable transfer of ownership of state land to many influential people.
o But it also provided ownership rights to many poor, landless Adivasis as well.
o Now the land will be retrieved from them. Therefore the Adivasis will fail to prove their claims of ownership under the FRA.
o The FRA, will not benefit such poor, landless Adivasis in this situation.
- No cut-off date: In the rest of India, the FRA provided and recognised the forest rights of forest dwellers who had occupied forest land before December 13, 2005.
THE STs AND OTHER TRADITIONAL FOREST DWELLERS (RECOGNITION OF FRs)ACT , 2006 :
- It was enacted to protect the marginalised socio-economic class of citizens and balance the right to environment with their right to life and livelihood.
- The Act basically does two things:
- Grants legal recognition to the rights of traditional forest dwelling communities, partially correcting the injustice caused by the forest laws.
- Makes a beginning towards giving communities and the public a voice in forest and wildlife conservation.
- Eligibility: First, everyone has to satisfy three conditions:
- Primarily residing in forests or forest lands;
- Depends on forests and forest land for a livelihood.
- One belongs to a Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes
Rights granted: The law recognises three types of rights:
- Land Rights: No one gets rights to any land that they have not been cultivating prior to December 13, 2005 and that they are not cultivating right now.
- a) The land cannot be sold or transferred to anyone except by inheritance.
- Use Rights: The law secondly provides for rights to use and/or collect the following:
- a) Minor forests produce things like tendu patta, herbs, medicinal plants etc “that have been traditionally collected. This does not include timber.
- b) Grazing grounds and water bodies
- c) Traditional areas of use by nomadic or pastoralist
communities i.e. communities that move with their herds, as opposed to practicing settled agriculture.
- Right to Protect and Conserve: For the first time, this law also gives the community the right to protect and manage the forest.
- Procedure for granting rights: There is a transparent three step procedure for deciding on who gets rights.
- a) First, the gram sabha (full village assembly, NOT the gram panchayat) makes a recommendation – i.e who has been cultivating land for how long, which minor forest produce is collected, etc.
- b) The gram sabha’s recommendation goes through two stages of screening committees at the taluka and district levels.
- c) The district level committee makes the final decision (see section 6(6)). The Committees have six members – three government officers and three elected persons.
J&K STATE LAND (VESTING OF OWNERSHIP TO THE OCCUPANTS) ACT, 2001 -THE ROSHNI ACT :
- It sought to regularise unauthorised land.
- Anybody who had grabbed this land in the past, could now come to the government, make an application and pay a certain fee.
- The J&K government then said they would collect fees to the tune of roughly Rs 25,000 crore, which would then be used to upgrade the region’s electricity generation, thus bringing “roshni” into the lives of the Kashmiris.
- However, in 2014, a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) found irregularities in the transfer of the encroached land to occupants from 2007 to 2013.
- Later on, the J&K governor repealed the Roshni Act.
- Without a cut-off date, with land being retrieved after declaring the Roshni Act null and void, and with forceful evictions taking place, many tribal families are unlikely to benefit from the implementation of the FRA.
QUESTION : Evaluate the factors and implications of India’s exit from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) .
Topic- TIME FOR AN ASIAN CENTURY
- RCEP AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR INDIA
WHY IN NEWS ?
- India’s challenge is in securing an ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ in the emerging world order.
- RCEP implications: In an irreversibly more equal world, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has immediate geopolitical and economic implications.
- It may lead to the west adapting to Asian rules and marking the end of the colonial phase of global history.
- India’s perspective:India’s challenge lies in securing an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ in the emerging digital order, navigating the U.S.-China technology and supply chain clash.
ABOUT RCEP :
- Largest regional trading agreement: Described so, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership was originally being negotiated between 16 countries – ASEAN members and countries with which they have free trade agreements (FTAs), namely Australia, China, Korea, Japan, New Zealand and India.
- The objective of RCEP: To make it easier for products and services of each of these countries to be available across this region.
- India’s exit: Negotiations to chart out this deal had been on since 2013, and India was expected to be a signatory until its decision last year to walk out from the agreement.
BACKGROUND OF RCEP :
- The RCEP trade pact includes a mix of high-income, middle-income, and low-income countries.
- It was conceived at the 2011 ASEAN Summit in Bali, while its negotiations were formally launched during the 2012 ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.
- The RCEP is the first free trade agreement between China, Japan, and South Korea (three of the four largest economies in Asia).
- It is the first multilateral free trade agreement to include China.
IMPLICATIONS FOR INDIA :
- Reapply for the membership:
- India will have to re-apply for membership negotiation.
- However, as an original negotiating participant of RCEP, India has the option of joining the agreement on easier terms, unlike new members.
- Did not influence other Quad partners: Like Japanese and Australian plans regarding RCEP.
- Leverage for China:
- Experts are interpreting the beginning of RCEP as a major development that will help China’s trade in Asia-Pacific region in the post-COVID-19 scenario.
- Also the idea of decoupling from China is not a substantive issue in a regional sense.
- May affect bilateral trading relations: Staying out of RCEP may interfere with India’s bilateral trading with the RCEP member-countries and could potentially leave India with less scope to tap the large market that RCEP presents.
- Repeatedly missing the Asian bus: Likening the present to India’s decision to stay out of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in the 1990s.
- Push Aatmanirbhar Bharat: The policy of self-dependent India where India could decide the rules and consolidate “comprehensive national power”.
- India’s priorities: The RCEP already includes India’s priorities such as rules of origin, services and e-commerce. The time-bound upgradation of national capacity through ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ should enable agreements with individual ASEAN countries. RCEP members have expressed their “strong will” to re-engage India, essentially to balance China.
QUESTION : Discuss the difficulties while preparing a vaccine and major challenges in its distribution at ground level .
Topic- IN VACCINE LAST LAP, THE KEY STEPS FOR INDIA
- Covid-19 Vaccine
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Nearly unparalleled efforts in science over the past few months have yielded at least two COVID-19 vaccines (from major pharma companies, Pfizer and Moderna) with promise (above 90% efficacy), in a historically short span of time.
DIFFICULTIES TO DEVELOP A VACCINE :
Historically, we have faced difficulties in the development of coronavirus vaccines.
- No Reference Vaccines: Although there were some attempts at development of vaccines against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), there are no licensed vaccines for any coronavirus yet.
- Danger of Re-infection: Previous coronavirus vaccines were found to be immunogenic (generate antibodies as in phase II) but did not effectively prevent acquisition of disease (phase III) fuelling a concern that re-infection may be possible
- Inadequate Long term experience: There are also safety concerns due to immunological consequences of the vaccine as these vaccines use newer techniques with which we do not have long term or large population experience.
- Need of post-licensure surveillance system: About the safety of vaccines, there are always possibilities of rare (one in million) or delayed (by months or years) serious adverse events which will come to light only after mass vaccination has started; this requires a good post-licensure surveillance system to be in place.
- Given various candidate COVID-19 vaccines, what should the government strategy be while choosing a vaccine and for vaccination?
- Ranking by risk category: The first rule would be to not to put all your eggs in one basket. We already know that government has planned for vaccine supply from different sources
- The second rule would be to prioritise: WHO has issued guidelines for prioritisation for vaccine recipients. For this, we need to rank population sub-groups by risk category and by programmatic ease of vaccination. Vaccination should start with where these two criteria intersect — health-care workers followed by policemen
- The third rule is use multiple channels to immunise the population. Other important considerations would be of equity and cost.
Vaccinating the general population
- Vaccinating the frontline workers like healthcare workers (& policemen) by utilizing the cold storage requirements at their own facility, including in private sector or district hospitals
- The problem arises in vaccinating general population especially the high-risk groups (the elderly and those with co-morbidity)
- It might be easier to vaccinate the institutionalised elderly as compared to community-dwelling ones.
Ensuring Equity in Vaccine Distribution
- The greatest challenge would be to immunise the poorest and the most vulnerable (slums/migrants/refugees/people with disabilities).
- Solution: Because of access issues, this must be by an outreach or camp approach (booths along with web-enabled appointments facilitated by civil society)
- Leveraging Institutional Experience: India has learnt major lessons through social mobilisation efforts during the Pulse Polio campaigns, Aadhaar card enrolment and elections, which will serve as good models
- Strategic Usage: It is expected that the pandemic would start receding once we protect about 60% of the population (in terms of coverage x effectiveness). However, we should ensure that this coverage is well-spread out, else focal outbreaks will keep occurring in areas with poor vaccine coverage.
Issue of Market forces
- One major challenge would be that many people would be willing to pay for the vaccine and ask for expedited access.
- Obviously, till we cover a bulk of phase 1 beneficiaries, the government should not concern itself with other groups.
- However, government can and should allow the vaccine to be available in the private sector at a market-driven price for such people.
- It will be ethical as well as cost-saving for the government, if it does not divert vaccines from the government-driven programme.
IMPORTANCE OF VACCINE DEVELOPMENT FOR INDIA :
- India is the largest vaccine producing country in the world and if India is able to produce an indigenous vaccine, it will help in matching the demand in time, which otherwise would not have been possible for one more year.
- India is the one of the most affected country due to COVID, it would have to wait for long time, if it was not being developed indigenously. Once the trials are done, Bharat Biotech will be targeting a manufacturing capacity of 300 million doses.
- Approximately 70 per cent of vaccines for low- and middle-income countries are manufactured in India and delivered through partnerships with UNICEF and Gavi. Vaccine development in India ensures availability of affordable vaccines.
- Many countries have already published their prioritisation policy, therefore it is critical that the government has a fair, transparent and published policy in this regard even if it results in heartburn in some quarters.
QUESTION : Discuss disputed boundary areas between India and China and reasons for increased tensions with remedial steps ?
Topic- IS INDIA FACING A TWO-FRONT THREAT ?
- Territorial Dispute between India, China and Pakistan
WHY IN NEWS ?
- The possibility of a two-front war with Pakistan and China has been debated in the past. The ongoing standoff with China in eastern Ladakh has brought India closer to that reality.
MORE ABOUT NEWS :
- Earlier, India felt that it could avoid any military action from China through political and diplomatic action.
- The threat from China has become more real than it was in the past after the Ladakh clashes.
- Some are seeing this as a failure of Indian diplomacy.
- Disengagement is not possible because of the Chinese actions. This is also because India has become more assertive and vocal in terms of what it believes to be its own role in the region, how it defines its parameters, the debate on Article 370, Aksai Chin, etc.
- China’s regime believes its time has come and that India is taking certain steps that are important to be countered in real time.
- New dynamic on the LAC: There will be a greater militarisation along the LAC.
INDIA’S STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES :
- The size of India’s defence budget is decreasing, which is also a challenge of a two-front conflict or threat, if the primary threat is from China, that presents a much greater challenge to India.
- Over the years, India has built extremely strong defences along the border. The Air Force has a geographical advantage over the PLA Air Force. Our Navy has a significant edge over the
- PLA Navy in the Indian Ocean.
- Technological advantage of China: The PLA also has a technology edge in some very critical areas like ballistic missile, electronic warfare, cyber, air defence, etc., which are going to play a significant role in future warfare.
- There are shortfalls in Indian infrastructure along the northern borders.
STRATEGIC SIGNIFICANCE OF DEPSANG PLAINS :
- Chinese troops continue to block Indian Army patrols in the Depsang Plains. Siachen is the closest point of ‘collusivity’ between China and Pakistan.
- Siachen is important but geographically it is very difficult to carry out major military operations across the Saltoro Ridge in Siachen.
- Depsang is strategically important because it gives access to Siachen, it’s an area where we have the DS-DBO road which is a vital link to the northern areas of Ladakh and to the DBO airfield.
- The more China feels vulnerable in the CPEC, the more open and explicit its policies have become vis-à-vis India. This has also allowed India to be more open about its policies with China.
- In Indian foreign policy Pakistan is seen as part of a larger China problem.
INDO-PACIFIC GEOPOLITICS :
- Chinese aggression: However, we are also seeing that China is facing an intense backlash across the world post COVID-19, post the kind of aggressive postures it has adopted.
- Now that is a challenge faced by India, Japan, Australia, the U.S. and Europe.
- So, the Indo-Pacific is becoming very contested.
- So, there are opportunities there as well for India to build relationships with countries, which are threatened by China in the post Covid-19 world.
SIGNIFICANCE OF INCREASED MILITARY COOPERATION, EXERCISES AND LOGISTIC AGREEMENTS :
- Quad has been revived, the Australians have been invited to Malabar, the U.S.-India relationship has achieved a new dynamic with all the foundation agreements now being signed.
- Unlike in the past, where relationships were seen as constraining India’s strategic autonomy, now the argument is that these relationships enhance India’s space to manoeuvre vis-a-vis China in particular.
- The Chinese have been very sensitive about the Quad and Indo-Pacific.
- Ultimately, India will have to fight its own battles. But with partners it will be a value addition.
- India has to mind that China is now a very important player in the global matrix. Indian diplomacy and military thinking will have to evolve more rapidly.
QUESTION : What do you understand by minimum government, maximum governance? Discuss whether this maxim has been practised or not.
Topic- THE NEED FOR ‘MAXIMUM GOVERNMENT’
- Government Interventions
WHY IN NEWS ?
- The Government’s core belief in ‘minimum government’, which ties its hands when it comes to fiscal measures even in such harsh economic conditions.
REASONS FOR THE FAILURE OF STIMULUS PACKAGES ?
- Lack of Demand– The aggregate demand for goods and services again is dependent on the income and purchasing power of people, which has come down drastically, at the aggregative level, due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
- Nothing to stimulate demand – many economists have opined that the government stimulus tries to resolve only supply-side issues. There is nothing to generate demand. This could only be done by putting money in the hands of people.
- Risk of taking housing loans – Though the consumer or housing loans are easily available at lower rates of interest, still people are not taking the household loans, as they are in doubt of their future incomes or dwindling current one.
- Bank burdened with bad loans- On the supply side, the big constraint on fresh lending is the burden of non-performing assets (NPAs).
- Credit easing will not work immediately– Credit easing by the RBI is not direct government expenditure and banks will be hesitant to lend the money available with them.
POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS ?
- Relax FRBM target– Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) should be kept in a state of suspension for both Centre and the States.
- Cash transfer to Households– The government needs to announce a ₹10 lakh crore fiscal stimulus package providing universal food ration and cash transfers for households in order to revive the economy at this time.
- An urban employment guarantee law– This could help improves worker incomes and have multiplier effects on the economy.
- Improving health infrastructure– The government needs to build a robust public health infrastructure on the principle of public provisioning instead of walking down the insurance route.
- Investment in Green Deal- – A comprehensive green deal can be planned, which changes the energy mix of the economy and also makes the poor and the marginalized a part of a sustainable development process.
WHAT IS GOOD GOVERNANCE ?
- ‘Governance’ is the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented).
- Governance can be used in several contexts such as corporate governance, international governance, national governance and local governance.
- In the 1992 report entitled “Governance and Development”, the World Bank set out its definition of Good Governance. It defined Good Governance as “the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development”.
- Good governance has 8 major characteristics .‘It is participatory, consensus-oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive and follows the rule of law.
- It assures that corruption is minimized, the views of minorities are taken into account and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making.
- It is also responsive to the present and future needs of society.
- The current COVID-19 pandemic has given an opportunity to rethink of health, economic and climate policies. We can choose to act on these or walk down the beaten path. Whatever we choose, it will be good to remember that the future generations will never forgive us for losing an opportunity to fundamentally change course.
QUESTION: Discuss the need for protection of rights for both victims and accused . What are the challenges faced by victims in India ?
Topic- CHANGING THE DISCOURSE ON VICTIM JURISPRUDENCE
- Rights of Victims in India
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Supreme Court has led the movement for recognition of victim rights to access to justice, compensation and assistance, little has changed in terms of both the black letter of the law and the ground realities.
CRIME PREVENTION :
- Crime prevention is an oft-cited but least studied aspect of our criminal justice system.
- Examination of crime-prevention from the victim’s perspective is even rarer.
- Among other methods, situational crime prevention through risk-mapping and vulnerability-mapping stands out in terms of viability and efficacy.
- A truly effective criminal justice system can identify potential victims and to put measures to protect them in place — before the incidence of crime itself.
- Capacity building and effective implementation are key to such endeavours.
VICTIM’S RIGHTS AND NEEDS :
- In a post-crime scenario, however, there is a need to shed the image of the victim as a mere witness and to institutionally recognise their rights and requirements.
- The same thing can be achieved through a legislative recognition of the following points:
- Access to Justice:
- The conceptualisation of access to justice for victims requires viewing such access less in terms of Directive Principles of State Policy under Article 39A, and more as a fundamental right under Articles 14 and 21.
- There is an urgent need to strengthen the complaint mechanism for non-registration of FIR u/s. 154(3) Code of Criminal Procedure, and extension of Section 166A(c) in the Indian Penal Code to all cognisable offences.
- Further, access to justice also requires the creation of victim-friendly procedures that are aimed at reducing their inconvenience.
- Effective victim participation:
- Currently, the victims and their counsels are entitled to extremely limited participation.
- In line with the global trend, there is a need to recognise the right of victims to be heard at all appropriate stages of a trial.
- Victim Impact Statements can help accord this right.
- Moreover, substantive access to justice also requires access to legal aid.
- Such legal aid has the potential to culminate in effective victim participation if provided to the victim from the stage of reporting to the stage of sentencing and appeal.
- Right to information
- The right to information, in turn, enables their access to all other rights.
- Victims must be entitled to information regarding their role in the criminal justice process, what they can expect from the criminal justice system, status of the trial,and also their other rights and entitlements as a victim of crime.
- Right to protection:
- The right to information can also go a long way in securing the right to protection.
- The victim must be kept abreast of all developments in the trial process which may potentially compromise their security.
- This would require intimation of the victim in connection with any hearing changing the nature of the accused’s custody including his release on bail or parole.
- The framework for such intimation is already available to specific victims in Section15A of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
- Other measures for witness protection such as relocation and change in identity, as provided for in the Witness Protection Scheme, too need to be reviewed and enforced effectively.
- Victim Assistance:
- The concept of assistance as envisaged in the 1985 UN Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power needs to be recognised as a right, not merely for victims of rape and acid attack, but for all victims of crime in general.
- The state must play the role of a facilitator in providing to the victims all such assistance as is necessary — medical, psychological, financial and material.
- The same would require institutional capacity building, through ramping up of infrastructure such as one-stop centres, training of existing functionaries, and by engaging with and promoting the non-governmental organisations involved in providing such assistance to victims.
- Right to Compensation:
- The right to compensation, recognised to a limited extent under our current laws, is lacking in many respects.
- Primarily, the political will for its enforcement at a state level has been found to be wanting.
- Additionally, the Victim Compensation Scheme provided for under Section 357A of the Code of Criminal Procedure must be revitalised by revising it in terms of accessibility and adequacy.
- Right to restitution:
- The right to restitution must be separated from the right to compensation.
- Both terms have been used inter-changeably in our criminal justice system, leading to a large degree of confusion.
- But if the scheme of the 1985 Declaration is adopted, restitution can be differentiated from compensation in that the first right is enforceable against the accused while the second right is enforceable against the state.
SECTION 357 OF CRPC :
- In this sense, the right to restitution is already present to some extent in Section 357A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, but has been mis-termed as ‘compensation’.
- Section 357 provides that where the court imposes a sentence of fine, the court may use the same, in whole or in part, for paying compensation for any loss or injury.
- The Supreme Court has repeated that the provision should be used liberally. The same must be made mandatory wherever appropriate.
Why a legal definition of ‘victim’ is important?
- Crimes are registered in the form of sections of the Indian Penal Code (in numbers) which do not mean anything to the victims of crime in terms of their impact. Crimes do not impact all victims in the same manner.
- There is no way to assess the impact suffered by a victim. And whatever little is tried in this direction is always through a third party, such as a prosecutor or judge, who is invariably incapable of registering the aftermath of victimization. (Only the victim of a crime may truly feel the impact of the crime, others can at best imagine and sympathize with it).
- NCRB, headquartered in New Delhi, was set-up in 1986 under the Ministry of Home Affairs to function as a repository of information on crime and criminals so as to assist the investigators in linking crime to the perpetrators.
- It was set up based on the recommendations of the National Police Commission (1977-1981) and the MHA’s Task Force (1985).
- NCRB brings out the annual comprehensive statistics of crime across the country (‘Crime in India’ report).
- Being published since 1953, the report serves as a crucial tool in understanding the law and order situation across the country.
- The global discourse on victim jurisprudence has now matured enough to be incorporated directly into our laws. In his seminal piece, Herbert L. Packer stressed that a criminal justice system focuses on two values — of crime control and due process.
QUESTION : A trade agreement like RCEP is both an opportunity and a threat. Economic isolation is not an option for India and It must move towards bilateral trade pacts. Analyse.
Topic- THREAT OR TREAT
- RCEP And India
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Recently, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a mega trade bloc comprising 15 countries led by China came into existence.
- India opted to stay out after walking out of discussions last year, the new trading bloc has made it clear that the door will remain open for India to return to the negotiating table
WHAT IS RCEP ?
- Described as the “largest” regional trading agreement to this day, RCEP was originally being negotiated between 16 countries — ASEAN members and countries with which they have free trade agreements (FTAs), namely Australia, China, Korea, Japan, New Zealand and India.
- The purpose of RCEP was to make it easier for products and services of each of these countries to be available across this region. Negotiations to chart out this deal had been on since 2013, and India was expected to be a signatory until its decision last November.
WHY DID INDIA WALK OUT ?
- Unfavourable Balance of Trade: India has trade deficits with 11 of the 15 RCEP countries, and some experts feel that India has been unable to leverage its existing bilateral free trade agreements with several RCEP members to increase exports.
- Fear of Dumping of Chinese Goods: India has already signed FTAs with all the countries of RCEP except China. This is the major concern for India, as after signing RCEP cheaper products from China would have flooded the Indian market.
- Non-acceptance of Auto-trigger Mechanism: In order to deal with the imminent rise in imports, India had been seeking an auto-trigger mechanism that would have allowed India to raise tariffs on products in instances where imports cross a certain threshold. However, other countries in RCEP were against this proposal.
- Lack of Consensus on Rules of Origin: Rules of origin are the criteria used to determine the national source of a product. India was concerned about a “possible circumvention” of rules of origin. The deal did not have sufficient safeguards to prevent routing of the products.
- Protecting domestic industries: Throughout the negotiations, the dairy industry demanded protection as the industry was expected to face stiff competition from Australia and New Zealand when the deal was signed. Similarly, steel and textiles sectors have also demanded protection.
- MFN Status: India wanted RCEP to exclude most-favoured nation (MFN) obligations from the investment chapter, as it did not want to hand out, especially to countries with which it has border disputes, the benefits it was giving to its strategic allies
- Issue of Market Access: RCEP also lacked clear assurance over market access issues in countries such as China and non-tariff barriers on Indian companies.
- Lack of Commitment to resolve above issues: India had been “consistently” raising “fundamental issues” and concerns throughout the negotiations and was prompted to take this stand as they had not been resolved by the deadline to commit to signing the deal.
- No deal better than bad agreement: India’s stance was based on a “clear-eyed calculation” of the gains and costs of entering a new arrangement, and that no pact was better than a “bad agreement”.
How far is China’s presence a factor for India’s decision?
- Apart from economic reasons (fear of dumping), escalating tensions with China are a major reason for India’s hardened position on the deal.
- China’s participation in the deal had already been proving difficult for India due to various economic threats, the clash at Galwan Valley has soured relations between the two countries.
- The various measures India has taken to reduce its exposure to China would have sat uncomfortably with its commitments under RCEP
WHY RCEP IMPORTANT FOR CHINA ?
- China is trying to overcome Covid-19 disruptions and resurrect the supply chain mechanism and possibly put pressure on US President-elect Joe Biden.
- The Indo-Pacific so far ran on twin tracks of economy and security with economy on a weak wicket.
- China is trying to strengthen the economic base while the US is focussed on the security aspects.
- For India, RCEP hardly makes a difference as it has FTAs with ASEAN, and CEPAs (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements) with Japan and South Korea already.
WHAT CAN THE DECISION COST INDIA ?
- There are concerns that India’s decision would impact its bilateral trade ties with RCEP member nations, as they may be more inclined to focus on bolstering economic ties within the bloc. The move could potentially leave India with less scope to tap the large market that RCEP presents —the size of the deal is mammoth, as the countries involved account for over 2 billion of the world’s population.
- Given attempts by countries like Japan to get India back into the deal, there are also worries that India’s decision could impact the Australia-India-Japan network in the Indo-Pacific. It could potentially put a spanner in the works on informal talks to promote a Supply Chain Resilience Initiative among the three.
- However, India’s stance on the deal also comes as a result of learnings from unfavourable trade balances that it has with several RCEP members, with some of which it even has FTAs. An internal assessment by the government has revealed that the growth in trade (CAGR) with partners over the last five financial years was a modest 7.1%. While “there has been growth rate in both imports from and exports to these FTA partners”, the “utilisation rate” of FTAs both for India and its partners has been “moderate” across sectors, according to this study, which covers pacts with Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Bhutan, Nepal, Republic of Korea and Malaysia.
- India has trade deficits with 11 of the 15 RCEP countries, and some experts feel that India has been unable to leverage its existing bilateral free trade agreements with several RCEP members to increase exports.
- Moreover, one doesn’t get into FTAs merely to provide your market to your partner countries. While one accommodate their partner countries, the objective is also to increase the presence of their own products in the markets of partners, and India hasn’t been able to achieve the latter objective. India’s share in the imports of RCEP partner countries have either stagnated or fallen.
WHAT ARE INDIA’S OPTIONS NOW ?
- Can Join in future: Japan worked hard to keep the RCEP agreement “open for accession by India” and also said that India may participate in RCEP meetings as an “observer”.
- Observer in RCEP meetings: RCEP signatory states said they plan to commence negotiations with India once it submits a request of its intention to join the pact “in writing”, and it may participate in meetings as an observer prior to its accession.
- RCEP not connected to its vision on Indo-Pacific: Indian government has made it clear that India was not about to step back from its Act East policy, nor was the decision on RCEP connected to its approach to the Indo-Pacific
- Exploring other alternatives: There is also a growing view that it would serve India’s interest to invest strongly in negotiating bilateral agreements with the US and the EU, both currently a work in progress.
WAY FORWARD :
- Strengthen Existing Agreements: The trade and investment agreements with ASEAN, Japan and Korea, as well as its bilateral arrangements with Malaysia and Singapore must be strengthened.
- Marketing Products: The marketing of Indian products to existing favourable markets, as well as other countries where India has a low export presence.
- Export Diversification : The export strategy for India requires a two-pronged approach, focussing on both enhancing domestic competitiveness and undertaking targeted promotional activities
- Deeper Economic Reforms: Must be initiated particularly in factor markets of land, labour and capital
- Targeted Export Promotion: Provide information on markets to their manufacturers and exporters, especially small enterprises, and assisting them with marketing efforts.
- External Integration Strategy: The country needs to keep its interests on the table.
- Instead of sitting out and building tariff walls across sectors, it must prod and incentivise the industry to be competitive, and get inside the RCEP tent at the earliest opportune moment.
QUESTION : Discuss the recent developments in India-US relations and what are various issues in India-US relations ?
Topic- INDIA-US RELATIONS UNDER JOE BIDEN
- India-US Relations
WHY IN NEWS ?
- The long drawn out US elections finally resulted in Joe Biden being declared President-elect. The Biden-Kamala Harris administration will be sworn in on 20th January 2021.
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- China Factor: India is essential to the US’s hopes of counterbalancing China. As a result, security cooperation has become the cornerstone of any Indo-US strategic partnership.
- New Millennium New Direction: The George W Bush administration first began the US commitment to co-opting India as a “natural ally”, a commitment that resulted in the landmark civil nuclear deal in 2008.
- Since then, while there had been progress, it had also not been as rapid or deep as the US would perhaps have liked.
- India-U.S. bilateral relations have developed into a “global strategic partnership”, based on shared democratic values and increasing convergence of interests on bilateral, regional and global issues.
- Regular exchange of high-level political visits has provided sustained momentum to bilateral cooperation, while the wide-ranging and ever-expanding dialogue architecture has established a long-term framework for India-U.S. engagement.
- India-U.S. bilateral cooperation is broad-based and multi-sectoral, covering trade and investment, defence and security, education, science and technology, cyber security, high-technology, civil nuclear energy, space technology and applications, clean energy, environment, agriculture and health.
INDIA-US RELATIONS PROGRESSED UNDER TRUMP ERA :
- Fast Diplomacy: In the past four years under the Donald Trump administration, Indo-US security cooperation moved at breakneck speed.
- Status of Major Defence Partner: In 2016, the US designated India as a Major Defence Partner, which led to, among other things, India being able to receive access to a wide range of military and dual-use American technologies.
- Foundational Defence Agreement signed : Over the space of three years, three defence agreements – LEMOA, COMCASA, BECA – were reached and signed.
- Institutional Structure for Strategic Dialogue: In 2018, the two countries began the 2+2 strategic dialogue, one of the highest level dialogues ever institutionalised.
- Joint Exercises: In 2019, the US and India conducted Tiger Triumph, the first ever tri-service (ground, naval, and air forces) exercises between them.
- QUAD taking shape: In 2020, Australia joined India, Japan, and the US in conducting the India-led Malabar naval exercises, giving a big impetus to the Quad .
- Chinese aggressiveness acted as catalyst: In the US view, while it had always been ready to engage in this level of cooperation, it was the border clashes with China that made India more willing to engage deeply with the US.
- Despite both the US and India being on the same page in terms of the deepening relationship, there are obstacles that have remained like:
- Indian Military’s systemic dependence on Russia: The US believes that India, which is still 60% to 70% dependent on Russia for military resupplies and hardware, will, in the future, have to choose with the kind of warfare that India wants to align itself with. India can no longer choose from an à la carte military menu; rather it has to choose a system.
- India’s insistence on Strategic Autonomy: The real Achilles’ heel is, as experts have pointed out, is India’s economics and the continuing harping on strategic autonomy. PM Modi’s use of power (full majority) to promote a nationalistic agenda is viewed by US as a lost opportunity which has not brought the expected economic growth.
- Domestic Issues: President Biden would be more committed to human rights which could lead to a rift with India, on, for example Kashmir.
POTENTIAL OF BOTH NATIONS UNDER BIDEN :
- Despite these obstacles, a Biden administration will not particularly change the relationship. And,in many ways, it may even come out stronger.
- Any US concerns, like that of Kashmir, are more likely to be conveyed privately rather than publicly.
- Under President Trump, decision-making was more ad hoc and at times chaotic. The dismantling of US national security decision structure by Trump, due to his deep suspicion of bureaucracy, added to this chaos.
- President Biden will restore the US national security decision structure – like regular inter-agency meetings, National Security Council meetings – and a process by which bureaucracy recommendations and decisions will make its way up to the President’s office.
- Biden is also more likely to be considerate when it comes to Climate funding, which India needs so as to fulfil its Paris Climate Commitments
- President Biden will reverse the US withdrawal of leadership role in International affairs and help in resurrecting the rules-based international order under the leadership of US. This is in the interest of India because the space left by US will be occupied by China
- While it is undeniable that Trump and Modi had a bond, both Biden and Modi are likely to be extremely pragmatic about a relationship which is really about the geopolitical compulsions.
QUESTION : What lessons can be learnt by India’s healthcare sector during the time of covid-19 pandemic and suggestive ways to strengthen this ? Discuss.
Topic- STRENGTHENING PUBLIC HEALTH CAPACITIES IN DISASTERS
- Public Health Emergency
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Much of Europe is witnessing a menacing second wave of COVID-19, which is seemingly worse than the first.
2nd WAVE OF COVID-19 AND CHALLENGES AHEAD :
- Desensitised Public: Living with the pandemic for months together has had a desensitising effect on the collective psyche.
- Reduced Urgency: Owing to such ‘desensitisation’, disasters that are not sudden and striking – like the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic- tend to be minimised.
- Impacting Disaster Management Framework: Unfortunately, the above two has characterised and thus weakened India’s disaster management framework in dealing with many pressing public health issues.
INDIA’S DISASTER MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK :
- In 2005, India enacted the Disaster Management Act(DMA), which laid an institutional framework for managing disasters across the country
- What hitherto comprised largely of reactive, ad hoc measures applied in the event of a disaster, was to be replaced under the Act with a systematic scheme for prevention, mitigation, and responding to disasters of all kinds.
- Disaster management considerations were to be incorporated into every aspect of development and the activities of different sectors, including health.
- The Disaster Management Act is one of the few laws invoked since the early days of COVID-19 to further a range of measures — from imposing lockdowns to price control of masks and medical services.
- Concerns with respect to Disaster Management Framework: While some headway has indeed been achieved with the enactment of Act, the approach continues to be largely reactive, under-emphasizing of Public Health concern and presence of significant gaps in terms of medical preparedness for disasters.
- Experience of using DMA during Pandemic and lessons learnt
DRAWBACKS IN PVT. SECTOR :
- Weak regulations: The Indian private sector is characterised by weak regulation and poor organisation.
- It is incapable for mounting a strong and coordinated response to disasters.
- A large majority of private hospitals in the country are small enterprises which cannot meet the inclusion criteria for insurance.
- Overcharging by hospitals: It illustrates how requisitioning of private sector services during disasters can hardly be a dependable option in the Indian context.
- This is important since the future development of hospital care services is being envisaged chiefly under publicly financed health insurance, which would very likely be private-sector led.
- Business interests: They are generally averse to infectious diseases and critical cases with unpredictable profiles.
- Disaster preparedness does not make a strong “business case” for hospitals, which prefer to invest in more profitable areas.
- Lesson Learnt: Strong public sector capacities are therefore imperative for dealing with disasters. There is a strong case for introducing a legal mandate to strengthen public sector capacities via disaster legislation
WEAKNESS IN DMA :
- DMA fails to identify progressive events (which nevertheless cause substantial damage, often more than sudden catastrophes) as disasters, thus neglecting pressing public health issues such as tuberculosis and recurrent dengue outbreaks
- Had they been identified as disasters, they would have attracted stronger action in terms of prevention, preparedness, and response
- Inadequate Integration with primary care: Primary care stands for things such as multi-sectoral action, community engagement, disease surveillance, and essential health-care provision, all of which are central to disaster management. This area of disaster management, especially relevant for low-income setting, has been overlooked.
WAY FORWARD :
- Medical preparedness for disasters
- Strong public sector capacities are therefore imperative for dealing with disasters.
- Integration of disaster management with primary care
- Synergies with the National Health Mission:
- The National Health Mission espouses a greater role for the community and local bodies
- While the novel coronavirus pandemic has waned both in objective severity and subjective seriousness, valuable messages and lessons lie scattered around. It is for us to not lose sight and pick them up.
QUESTION : Considering Act East Policy of India highlight the areas of concern in India-Bangladesh and India-Vietnam relationship and measures to improve them.
Topic- LESSIONS FROM VIETNAM AND BANGLADESH
- What India can learn from Vietnam-Bangladesh growing trade
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Bangladesh has become the second largest apparel exporter after China, while Vietnam’s exports have grown by about 240% in the past eight years.
VIETNAM’S SUCCESS STORY – REASONS :
- A less inexpensive workforce
- Open trade policy mainly through Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) which ensure that its important trading partners like the U.S., the EU, China, Japan, South Korea and India do not charge import duties on products made in Vietnam
- Domestic laws modified to attract foreign firms: Foreign firms can compete for local businesses. For example, EU firms can open shops, enter the retail trade, and bid for both government and private sector tenders. They can take part in electricity, real estate, hospital, defence, and railways projects.
- FDI linked export strategy: In 2019-20, Vietnam received investments exceeding $16 billion. As a result, Vietnam’s exports rose from $83.5 billion in 2010 to $279 billion in 2019.
SUCCESS STORY OF B’DESH :
- In Bangladesh, large export of apparels to the EU and the U.S. make the most of the country’s export story.
- The EU allows the import of apparel and other products from least developed countries (LDCs) like Bangladesh duty-free.
- India, as a good neighbour, accepts all Bangladesh products duty-free (except alcohol and tobacco).
- Sadly, Bangladesh may not have such advantages in four to seven years as its per capita income rises and it loses the LDC status. Bangladesh is working smartly to diversify its export basket.
ELEMENTS OF BOTH COUNTRIES’ MODELS CAN INDIA EMULATE :
- Supporting Large firms: The key learning from Bangladesh is the need to support large firms for a quick turnover. Large firms are better positioned to invest in brand building, meeting quality requirements, and marketing. Small firms begin as suppliers to large firms and eventually grow.
- Focus on Specific Sectors to kick start trade: Vietnam has changed domestic rules to meet the needs of investors. Most of Vietnam’s exports happen in five sectors which has helped increase its growth in trade. In contrast, India’s exports are more diversified which are slow to grow but nevertheless provides resilience to global shocks in long term.
Vulnerabilities in Vietnam’s growth model
- High export to GDP ratio (EGR). Vietnam’s EGR is 107%. Such high dependence on exports brings dollars but also makes a country vulnerable to global economic uncertainty.
- The EGR of large economies/exporting countries is a much smaller number. The U.S.’s EGR is 11.7%, Japan’s is 18.5%, India’s is 18.7%. Even for China, with all its trade problems, the EGR is 18.4%
- Lack of Organic economic growth: The quick build-up of exports in Vietnam resulted from large MNC investments. But most of its electronics exports are just the final assembly of goods produced elsewhere. In such cases, national exports look large, but the net dollar gain is small
- For India, the focus is on organic economic growth through innovation and competitiveness.
- With reforms promoting innovation and lowering the cost of doing business, India is poised to attract the best investments and integrate further with the global economy.
QUESTION : What are the common priorities for India and Maldives in Indian Ocean Region? Discuss measures taken by India to curb perils of China’s debt trap diplomacy in Maldives.
Topic- STRATEGIC COMFORT WITH THE MALDIVES
- India-Maldives Bilateral Relations
WHY IN NEWS ?
- The visit of Foreign Secretary to the Maldives is significant for taking forward bilateral relations.
INDIA- MALDIVES BILATERAL RELATIONS :
- Historical relations: India and the Maldives have had bilateral relations for centuries. Technology has made connectivity easier for everyday contact and exchanges.
- People to people contact: Maldivian students attend educational institutions in India and patients fly here for super-speciality healthcare, aided by a liberal visa-free regime extended by India.
- Tourism is the mainstay of Maldivian economy. The country is now a major tourist destination for some Indians and a job destination for others.
- Given the geographical limitations imposed on the Maldives, India has exempted the nation from export curbs on essential commodities.
- Emergency assistance:
- In 1988, when armed mercenaries attempted a coup against President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, India sent paratroopers and Navy vessels and restored the legitimate leadership under Operation Cactus.
- The 2004 tsunami and the drinking water crisis in Male were other occasions when India rushed assistance.
- To help in COVID-19 disruption, India rushed $250 million aid in quick time. New Delhi also rushed medical supplies to the Maldives, started a new cargo ferry and also opened an air travel bubble, the first such in South Asia.
WHY IS THE MALDIVES IMPORTANT FOR INDIA ?
- In the Indian Ocean, Maldives ensures uninterrupted energy supplies to countries like China, Japan, and India.
- Maldives has extended its support for India’s candidature for permanent membership of an expanded and reformed UN Security Council.
- The Maldives also has reiterated support for India’s candidature for a non-permanent seat for the year 2020-21.
- India’s interests in the Maldives range from political stability in the neighbourhood, and protection of its investments and trade to the prevention of state and non-state forces which are harmful to Indian interests
- Under Maldivian President Ibrahim Solih, bilateral cooperation, especially on the economic front, has become a ‘model’ that New Delhi can adopt to make the Prime Minister’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ a sustained success.
- ‘India First’ policy : Given ex-President Yameen’s tilt towards China and bias against India when in power, India can take respite in the ‘strategic comfort’ of the ‘India First’ policy of the Solih government.
- Protests from the Yameen camp: Ex-President Yameen’s camp has launched an ‘India Out’ campaign against New Delhi’s massive developmental funding for creating physical, social and community infrastructure.
- They are also protesting Maldivian President Solih’s government retaining two India-gifted helicopters and their operational military personnel.
- Maldives had deployed the helicopters for humanitarian operations.
- Political instability: India should be concerned about the protests as well as the occasional rumblings within the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).
CONCERNS FOR INDIA :
- Nasheed has also been pushing for a parliamentary system. There is concern within the government that his moves might undermine the President, who is trying to work with the coalition partners.
- The Maldives has maintained a close relationship with China, especially in financial terms, under its previous government
WAY FORWARD :
- Investment cooperation with Maldives should be enhanced by establishing an advisory cell to guide all stake-holders
- India must enhance anti-terrorism cooperation and intensify cooperation in the areas of training and capacity building of the Maldives National Defense Force and the Maldives Police Service
- A regular bilateral security dialogue amongst the officials of both sides should be instituted to expand the scope of security cooperation
- The SAARC and IORA can provide a platform to work on lingering concerns. Moreover, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka can explore ways to strengthen trilateral mechanisms to address these issues.
- India must collaborate with like-minded countries like EU and US for reducing Maldives’ dependence on China.
- India’s increasing geostrategic concerns in the shared seas, taking forward the multifaceted cooperation to the next stage quickly could also be at the focus of Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s visit.
QUESTION : Explain how are the presidential election of India different from the presidential elections in U.S ?
Topic- TURNING THE SPOTLIGHT ON AMERICA’S ELECTION CUSTODIAN
- US Federal Election Commission Vs Indian Election Commission
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Comparison between Indian U.S. Federal Election Commission and Indian Election commission
ISSUES PERTAINING TO THE FUNCTIONS OF U.S. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION :
- The Commission has hardly been able to function in the last year because of resignations.
- The Commission haven’t passed a single order since August 2019, owing to lack of quorum, for which at least four members are needed.
- As a result, several hundred matters lie pending before the Federal Election Commission.
Lack of consensus:
- The six posts of Commissioner are supposed to be equally shared by Democrats and Republicans.
- This has created a situation where decision making was often divided on partisan lines.
- During the recent Presidential election, when there are allegations over election process the President decided to appeal only to the U.S. Supreme Court without any reference to the Federal Election Commission.
INDIAN VS US ELECTION COMMISSIONS :
- Origin: The Federal Election Commission was established recently in 1975, with the special mandate to regulate campaign finance issues. Whereas Election commission of India came in to force on 25th January 1950.
- Members: The Federal Election Commission is led by six Commissioners. Whereas Indian Election commission consists of one Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.
- Scope: Federal Election Commission has a much narrower mandate than its Indian equivalent. In India, by virtue of being the custodian of the electoral roll, all matters related to keeping the roll updated, fall under the ECI’s domain and ECI enjoys enormous power.
- Role of Judiciary: In India the role of the judiciary is limited post the election period. Our constitutional makers were clear that if election-related petitions were entertained during the course of the election process, it would impede the process and delay election results.
- Scope of Postal ballot: In the 2016 U.S. election, almost a quarter of the votes counted arose from postal ballots. In India we have confined postal ballots to only a few categories, of largely government staff, the police or armed forces.
ABOUT ECI :
- It is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India.
- It administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.
- Article 324 vests “in an Election Commission” the “superintendence, direction and control of elections”.
- Parliament enacted The Representation of the People Act, 1950 and The Representation of the People Act, 1951 to define and enlarge the powers of the Commission
- It plays an important role in stopping the dissemination of misinformation with the help of technological tools.
- It conducts elections with the highest standard of credibility, freeness, fairness, transparency, integrity, accountability, autonomy and professionalism.
- It creates awareness about the electoral process and electoral governance amongst stakeholders namely, voters, political parties, election functionaries, candidates and people at large
ARTICLES ASSOCIATED WITH ECI :
- Article 324 -Superintendence, direction and control of elections to be vested in an Election Commission.
- Article 325 –No person to be ineligible for inclusion in, or to claim to be included in a special, electoral roll on grounds of religion, race, caste or sex.
- Article 326 –Elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assemblies of States to be on the basis of adult suffrage.
- Article 327 –Power of Parliament to make provision with respect to elections to Legislatures.
- Article 328 –Power of Legislature of a State to make provision with respect to elections to such Legislature.
- Article 329 –Bar to interference by courts in electoral matters
- In its functioning, Election Commission of India has broad powers as compared to its counterpart in the U.S. which has helped India see a smooth power transfer from the first election in India in 1951-52 and every single election since.
QUESTION : Elaborate the reasons for the declining financial health of the States in India and implications for the States suggesting ways to deal with this issue.
Topic- THE FINANCIAL CAPACITY OF STATES IS BEING WEAKENED
- Weakening Financial Health of States
WHY IN NEWS ?
- The ability of the States to expand revenue has been constrained since the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime was adopted.
ROLE OF STATES IN DEVELOPMENT :
- State governments drive a majority of the country’s development programmes.
- Greater numbers of people depend on these programmes for their livelihood, development, welfare and security.
- States need resources to deliver these responsibilities and aspirations.
FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR DECLINING FISCAL CAPACITY OF THE STATES :
1) Declining devolution to State
- Finance Commissions recommend the share of States in the taxes raised by the Union government and recommendations are normally adhered to.
- The year 2014-15 commenced with a shock: actual devolution was 14% less than the Finance Commission’s projection.
- Between 2014-15 and 2019-20, the States got ₹7,97,549 crore less than what was projected by the Finance Commission.
2) Cess and surcharge
- Various cesses and surcharges levied by the Union government are retained fully by it, they do not go into the divisible pool.
- This allows the Centre to raise revenues, yet not share them with the States.
- Hence, the Union government imposes or increases cesses and surcharges instead of taxes wherever possible and, in some cases, even replaces taxes with cesses and surcharges.
- As a result, the States lose out on their share.
- Between 2014-15 and 2019-20, cesses and surcharges soared from 9.3% to 15% of the gross tax revenue of the Union government.
- This systematic rise ensures that the revenue that is fully retained by the Union government increases at the cost of the revenue that is shared with the States.
- This government has exploited this route to reduce the size of the divisible pool.
3) GST shortfall
- Shortfalls have been persistent and growing from the inception of GST.
- Compensations have been paid from the GST cess revenue.
- GST cesses are levied on luxury or sin goods on top of the GST.
- GST compensation will end with 2021-22. But cesses will continue.
- With the abnormal exception of this year, the years ahead will generate similar or more cess revenue.
- Hence, many States have been insisting outside and inside the GST Council that the Union government should borrow this year’s GST shortfall in full and release it to the States.
- The Union government will not have to pay a rupee of this debt or interest.
- The entire loan can be repaid out of the assured cess revenue that will continue to accrue beyond 2022.
- Of the nearly ₹3 lakh crore GST shortfall to the States, the Centre will only compensate ₹1.8 lakh crore.
- The States will not get the remaining ₹1.2 lakh crore this year.
- In fact, it flies against the need of the hour to revive the economy.
- Governments ought to spend money this year to stimulate demand.
4) Declining grants from the Centre
- Central grants are also likely to drop significantly this year.
- For instance,₹31,570 crore was allocated as annual grants to Karnataka.
- Actual grants may be down to ₹17,372 crore.
IMPLICATIONS FOR THE STATES :
- To overcome such extreme blows to their finances and discharge their welfare and development responsibilities, the States are now forced to resort to colossal borrowings.
- Repayment burden will overwhelm State budgets for several years.
- The fall in funds for development and welfare programmes will adversely impact the livelihoods of crores of Indians.
- The economic growth potential cannot be fully realised.
- Adverse consequences will be felt in per capita income, human resource development and poverty.
- This is a negative sum game.
ABOUT THE FINANCE COMMISSION :
- The Finance Commission is a Constitutional body that is at the centre of fiscal federalism.
- Set up under Article 280 of the Constitution, its core responsibility is to evaluate the state of finances of the Union and State Governments, recommend the sharing of taxes between them, lay down the principles determining the distribution of these taxes among States.
- The Finance Commission has to be reconstituted every five years. The Constitution doesn’t talk about whether it should be continuous or not continuous.
- It is a quasi judicial body.
- Its recommendations are advisory in nature.
- The 15th Finance Commission: The interim report of the 15th Finance Commission (FC) under chairmanship of N.K. Singh has been tabled in Parliament this budget session.
- The 15th Finance commission makes recommendations for the period of 2020-2025 (5 years).
WAY FORWARD :
- COOPERATIVE FEDERALISM :
- it is important to have provisions for a higher devolution to the state governments in order to fiscally achieve the goals of the nation.
- DECENTRALISED APPROACH :
- In fact, all tiers should be fiscally empowered to achieve state-specific targets of fiscal deficit, rather than adopting a top-down approach.
- FUTURE OBLIGATIONS :
- Future legislations issued by the New Delhi in relation to states should enact more provisions for cost-sharing to aid them in fulfilling their duties.
- FOCUSSING ON LIBERALISATION :
- Liberalizing the financial system, and increase the role of the private sector should reap benefits.
- FUTURE ECONOMIC REFORM :
- It must therefore include substantial changes in the system of intergovernmental fiscal relations, with the ultimate objective of substituting market discipline of state finances.
- NO-BAILOUT POLICY : If such a policy lacks credibility, and as a consequence states prove reluctant to push ahead with reforms, there would appear to be no alternative but to rely on tight borrowing restrictions .
- States are at the forefront of development and generation of opportunities and growth. Strong States lead to a stronger India. The systematic weakening of States serves neither federalism nor national interest.
QUESTION : The quality of higher education in India requires major improvements to make it internationally competitive. Do you think that the entry of foreign educational institutions would help improve the quality of higher and technical education in the country? Discuss.
Topic- ACADEMIA AND THE FREE WILL
- Higher Education In India
WHY IN NEWS ?
- India has scored considerably low in the international Academic Freedom Index (AFI) with a score of 0.352, which is closely followed by Saudi Arabia (0.278) and Libya (0.238).
OBJECTIVES OF HIGHER EDUCATION IN INDIA :
- Increase the gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education from 25 per cent in 2016-17 to 35 per cent by 2022-23.
- Make higher education more inclusive for the most vulnerable groups.
- Adopt accreditation as a mandatory quality assurance framework and have multiple highly reputed accreditation agencies for facilitating the process.
- Create an enabling ecosystem to enhance the spirit of research and innovation.
- Improve employability of students completing their higher education.
CURRENT STATUS OF HIGHER EDUCATION :
- The private sector accounts for a large share of institutions, managing 36.2 per cent of universities, 77.8 per cent of colleges and 76 per cent of standalone institutions in 2016-17.
- India’s higher education GER (calculated for the age group, 18-23 years) increased from 11.5 per cent in 2005-06 to 25.2 per cent in 2016-17. However, we lag behind the world average of 33 percent.
- GER is 26.0 per cent for males and 24.5 per cent for females.
- The GERs for scheduled castes (SCs), scheduled tribes (STs), other backward castes (OBCs) and minorities have been increasing, these are still below the overall average in most cases.
- India’s expenditure on higher education as a percentage of its total budget has remained largely stagnant, hovering around an average 1.47% over 12 years to 2018-19.
- Funding for universities is also inconsistent with demand: Among public universities, around 97% of students study in state universities, but 57.5% of the government’s higher education budget goes to central universities and premier institutes like IITs and IIMs.
- Indian universities have consistently ranked low in global university rankings: Not a single Indian university has ranked in the top 200, as per the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019 and only five institutes made it to the top 500.
CONSTRAINTS REGARDING H.EDUCATION IN INDIA :
- Fragmentation of the higher education system: Over 40% of all colleges run only a single programme, far from the multidisciplinary style of higher education that will be required in the 21st century. Over 20% of colleges have enrolment below 100, while only 4% of colleges have enrolment over 3000.
- Too many silos; too much early specialisation and streaming of students into disciplines: India’s higher education has developed rigid boundaries of disciplines and fields, along with a narrow view of what constitutes education.
- Lack of teacher and institutional autonomy: The lack of teacher autonomy has led to a severe lack of faculty motivation and scope for innovation.
- Inadequate mechanisms for career management and progression of faculty and institutional leaders: The system of selection, tenure, promotion, salary increases, and other recognition and vertical mobility of faculty and institutional leaders is not based on merit but tends to be either seniority based or arbitrary. This has had the negative effect of severely disincentivising quality and innovation at all levels.
- Outdated curriculum results in a mismatch between education and job market requirements, dampens students’ creativity and hampers the development of their analytical abilities.
- There is no policy framework for participation of foreign universities in higher education.
- There is no overarching funding body to promote and encourage research and innovation.
- Most universities in the country are subjected to unnecessary interference from governments in both academic and non-academic issues.
- A majority of appointments, especially to top-ranking posts like that of vice-chancellors, pro vice-chancellors and registrars, have become highly politicised.
Bureaucratization of the education system:
- Currently, many public educational institutions and regulatory bodies, both at the Central and State levels, are headed by bureaucrats.
MEASURES TAKEN BY GOI :
- Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) by 2022: Qualitatively upgrade the research and academic infrastructure in India to global best standards by 2022. Make India into an education hub by making available high-quality research infrastructure in Indian higher educational institutions.
- Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) has been tasked to mobilise Rs. 1,00,000 crores for this initiative. As per this initiative, the scope of institutions to be funded through HEFA has been enlarged to encompass School Education and Medical Education institutions, apart from Higher Education.
- UGC’s Learning Outcome-based Curriculum Framework (LOCF): LOCF guidelines, issued by UGC in 2018, aims to specify what graduates are expected to know, understand and be able to do at the end of their programme of study. This is to make student active learner and teacher a good facilitator.
- Graded Autonomy to Universities & Colleges: 3-tiered graded autonomy regulatory system has been initiated, with the categorization based on accreditation scores. Category I and Category II universities will have significant autonomy to conduct examinations, prescribe evaluation systems and even announce results
- Global Initiative for Academics Network (GIAN): The programme seeks to invite distinguished academicians, entrepreneurs, scientists, experts from premier institutions from across the world, to teach in the higher educational institutions in India.
- All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE): The main objectives of the survey are to- identify & capture all the institutions of higher learning in the country; and collect the data from all the higher education institutions on various aspects of higher education.
- National Institutional Rankings Framework was developed in 2015. The rankings are published annually since 2016. It outlines a methodology to rank educational institutions across the country based on five broad parameters:
- Teaching, learning and resources;
- Research and professional practice;
- Graduation outcomes;
- Outreach and inclusivity;
WAY FORWARD :
- Regulatory and governance reforms: Restructure or merge different higher education regulators (UGC, AICTE, NCTE etc.) to ensure effective coordination.
- Curriculum Design:
- Set minimum standards in curriculum to serve as benchmark for institutions at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels. Update curriculum & pedagogy with feedback from domain experts, faculty, students, industry, and alumni.
- Accreditation Framework
- Creating ‘world class universities’
- Performance-linked funding and incentives
- Improving the quality of education
- The NEP, 2020 envisions some much-needed measures for the Indian educational system and there is the need for political will to put these provisions into practice.
- This can ensure the fulfilment of the vision of making India a global knowledge superpower and also achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal-4 (SDG 4).
QUESTION : Examine the reasons behind changing dynamics of Indian foreign policy and challenges impacting relations with neighbours.
Topic- THE SHIFTING TRAJECTORY OF INDIA’S FOREIGN POLICY
- Changing dynamics of Indian foreign policy
WHY IN NEWS ?
- As the third India-U.S. 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue concluded recently, New Delhi’s diplomatic skills will be tested, as the country is now a part of the U.S.’s security architecture.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION :
- The build-up to the talks was extraordinary, as in the words of the U.S. Defence Secretary – “India will be the most consequential partner for the US in the Indo-Pacific this Century”.
- The strategic focus: During the talks, the U.S. made an all-out attack on China and the threat it posed to democratic nations.
- The centrepiece of the dialogue was the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for Geo-Spatial Cooperation.
Strengthening India-US ties, but at a price:
- Challenging India’s strategic autonomy: Though, access to this kind of highly classified information is an advantage, it must be recognised that the information comes with a price – such as a two-way exchange of information.
- Anti-China stance:
- The primary push for getting India to sign the foundational agreements was the threat posed by China and by signing the agreement India has shown its willingness to become part of the wider anti-China ‘coalition of the willing’.
- Compromising neutrality: By signing on to BECA at this juncture, India has allegedly compromised its previous policy of neutrality, and of maintaining its equi-distance from power blocs.
- A pragmatic deal?
- In keeping with the current state of global disorder and an ideologically agnostic attitude is better suited to the prevailing circumstances of today.
INDIA’S ROLE IN AFGHANISTAN :
- India must decide on how best to try and play a role in Afghanistan without getting stuck.
- India had subscribed to an anti-Taliban policy and was supportive of the Northern Alliance (prior to 2001).
- The new policy that dictates India’s imperatives today, finds India not unwilling to meet the Taliban.
- India must decide how a shift in policy at this time would serve India’s objectives in Afghanistan, considering the tremendous investment it has made in recent decades to shore up democracy in that country.
CHANGING DYNAMICS :
- Recent shifts in trajectory: For instance, after having distanced itself from the Quad for years, on account of its security and military connotations and anti-China bias, India has more recently waived its objections.
- Quad has become more anti-China in its orientation: The invitation to Australia to participate in the Malabar Naval Exercises this year, to which the other two Quad members had already been invited, further confirms this impression.
- Neighbours stepping out of India’s sphere of influence:
- While, both China and the U.S. separately, seem to be making inroads and enlarging their influence in India’s neighbourhood, India seems to be losing grounds.
- For example, the Maldives has chosen to enter into a military pact with the U.S. to counter Chinese expansionism in the Indian Ocean region.
- Impacting China-India relations: Since 1988, India has pursued a policy of avoiding conflicts with China. This will become increasingly problematic as India tilts towards the U.S. sphere of influence.
- For example, even after Doklam (2017) India saw virtue in the Wuhan and Mamallapuram discourses, to maintain better relations.
- Impacting India-Russia relations: India-Russia relations in recent years have not been as robust as in the pre-2014 period. It is difficult to see how this can be sustained, if India is seen increasingly going into the U.S. embrace.
WAY AHEAD :
- Maintaining close ties with Afghanistan: India must try and play a role in Afghanistan without getting sucked into the Afghan quagmire. India must shift its policy, considering the tremendous investment it has made in recent decades to shore up democracy in that country.
- Balancing the opponents: With its full membership, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which has China and Russia as its main protagonists and was conceived as an anti-NATO entity will test India’s diplomatic skills.
- Role of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM): From which India has increasingly distanced itself and still plays a key role in strengthening ties from the African and Latin American group.
- Maintaining ties with Russia: This is one relationship which India will need to handle with skill and dexterity, as it would be a tragedy if India-Russia relations were to deteriorate at a time when the world is in a state of disorder.
- Holding grounds in West Asia: While India has been complacent about improved relations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it needs to ensure, through deft diplomatic handling, that the latest UAE-Israel linkage does not adversely impact India’s interests in the region.
- While India moves towards more robust engagement with the U.S., it must also consider impact of such move on the relations with the other countries.
- In the changing geopolitical order India must build a strong foundation based on both India’s civilizational values as well as new considerations.
QUESTION : Do you think the reforms proposed for agricultural sector under the realm of Farm Bills ensure better price realization for farmers? Elucidate.
Topic- REAPING THE WHIRLWIND
- Delhi Chalo Farmers Protest March
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have been marching toward the national capital in protest against the three central farm legislations.
- Farmers want the Union government to either withdraw the three legislations or guarantee them the minimum support price (MSP) for their crops by introducing a new law.
WHY ARE THESE BILLS BEING OPPOSED ?
- Against the spirit of cooperative federalism-
- Since agriculture and markets are State subjects – entry 14 and 28 respectively in List II – the ordinances are being seen as a direct encroachment upon the functions of the States.
- The three ordinances passed by the Centre are viewed as against the spirit of cooperative federalism enshrined in the Constitution.
- Absence of any regulation in non-APMC-
- According to farmers, the proposed bills give the preference for corporate interests at the cost of farmer’s interests.
- In the absence of any regulation in non-APMC, the farmers may find it difficult to deal with corporates, as they solely operate on the motive of profit seeking.
- End of MSP [Minimum Support Price]– By allowing trade zones to come up outside the APMC area, as a sign of ending the assured procurement of food grains at minimum support price.
- There is no mention whatsoever of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) regime, which is the lifeline of poor farmers and their key to survival, as also the survival of the nation’s agriculture sector.
- Lack of consultation– Farmers have argued that there is hastily attempt to pass the bills without proper consultation with any major stakeholders, farmer’s representatives or any state governments before bringing the ordinances.
- Non-Favourable Market Conditions- While retail prices have remained high; data from the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) suggest a deceleration in farm gate prices for most agricultural produce.
6.Food security undermined-
- Easing of regulation of food items would lead to exporters, processors and traders hoarding farm produce during the harvest season, when prices are generally lower, and releasing it later when prices increase.
- This could undermine food security since the States would have no information about the availability of stocks within the State.
7.Deregulation of food items-
- The Essential Commodities [Amendment] bill removes cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities, which deregulate the production, storage, movement and distribution of these food commodities
WHAT DO FARMERS WANT ?
- Farmers would want no restrictions on the movement, stocking and export of their produce.
- For example, Maharashtra’s onion growers have vehemently opposed the Centre’s resort to ban on exports and imposition of stock limits whenever retail prices have tended to go up.
- But these restrictions relate to “trade”.
- When it comes to “marketing” — especially dismantling of the monopoly of APMCs — farmers, especially in Punjab and Haryana, aren’t very convinced about the “freedom of choice to sell to anyone and anywhere” argument.
WHERE LIES THE MAJOR ISSUE ?
- Much of government procurement at minimum support prices (MSP) — of paddy, wheat and increasingly pulses, cotton, groundnut and mustard — happens in APMC mandis.
- In a scenario where more and more trading moves out of the APMCs, these regulated market yards will lose revenues.
- They may not formally shut, but it would become like BSNL versus Jio.
- And if the government stops buying, farmers will be left with only the big corporates to sell .
APPROPRIATE SOLUTIONS :
- Improve Agricultural Infrastructure to Strengthen Competition: Government should massively fund the expansion of the APMC market system, make efforts to remove trade cartels, and provide farmers good roads, logistics of scale and real time information.
- Empowering State Farmers Commissions: Rather than opting for heavy centralisation, the emphasis should be on empowering farmers through State Farmers Commissions recommended by the National Commission For Farmers, to bring about a speedy government response to issues.
- Consensus Building: The Centre should reach out to those opposing the Bills, including farmers, explain to them the need for reform, and get them on board.
- There are loopholes in the existing system and the case for reforms is strong . If the Centre is open to legislating a guarantee of procurement at MSP, farmers could be convinced to accept the new laws.
- While market factors must be taken into consideration, any country’s agriculture sector must find an equilibrium of the interest of the producers and consumers, and account for uneven environmental factors across different regions. The apprehensions of the farmers are not unfounded.
QUESTION : Strengthening the domestic manufacturing under “Make In India” Initiative and increasing domestic demand can result into job creation and inclusive growth.” Discuss.
- Initiative to boost domestic manufacturing in India
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Government has recently approved the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme worth up to ₹ 1.46 lakh crores for 10 sectors with an aim to make Indian manufacturers globally competitive, attract investment in India and enhance export.
PRODUCTION LINKED INCENTIVE (PLI) SCHEME :
- It proposes a financial incentive to boost domestic manufacturing and attract large investments in the electronics value chain.
KEY FEATURES :
- The scheme shall extend an incentive of 4% to 6% on incremental sales (over a base year) of goods manufactured in India and covered under target segments, to eligible companies, for a period of five (5) years with financial year (FY) 2019-20 considered as the base year for calculation of incentives.
- The Scheme will be implemented through a Nodal Agency which shall act as a Project Management Agency (PMA) and be responsible for providing secretarial, managerial, and implementation support and carrying out other responsibilities as assigned by MeitY from time to time.
- Companies that make mobile phones which sell for ₹ 15,000 or more will get an incentive of up to 6 percent on incremental sales of all such mobile phones made in India.
- In the same category, for companies that are owned by Indian nationals and make such mobile phones, the incentive has been kept at ₹ 200 crore for the next four years.
INTENDED BENEFITS OF THE SCHEME :
The scheme is aimed at:
- Incentivizing foreign companies to set up shop in India.
- Encouraging local manufacturing units to set up or expand manufacturing units.
- Reducing the dependence on Chinese imports.
- Attract Investment in cutting edge tech and manufacturing In India.
- Making India a part of the global supply chain.
STATUS OF IMPORTS IN INDIA :
- Analysis of factory-level production data from the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) shows that value addition for surveyed firms ranged from 1.6% to 17.4%, with most of the firms being below 10%. More than 85% of the inputs were imported for the majority of the surveyed firms in 2017-18.
- UN data for India, China, Vietnam, Korea, and Singapore (2017-2019), show that except for India, all countries exported more mobile phone parts than imports.
- India’s imports of mobile phone parts were 25 times the exports in 2019.
- The PMP policy increased the value of domestic production while improvement in local value addition remains a work-in-progress.
CHALLENGES FACED BT DOMESTIC MANUFACTURERS :
- Less presence of domestic firm: Domestic firms have been nearly wiped out from the Indian market and thus their ability to take advantage of the PLI policy and grab a large domestic market share seems difficult.
- Cheap imported material: Domestic firms may have the route of exporting cheaper mobile phones to other low-income countries but their performance has not been promising.
- For example, among the chosen domestic firms, Lava International reported exports of ₹324 crores in 2018, while Optimus Electronics exported ₹83 crores in 2018 and ₹4 lakh in 2019.
- Low Level of Participation in Global Value Chains (GVCs): India’s participation in GVCs has been low compared to the major exporting nations in East and Southeast Asia. Export growth of capital-intensive products from China has been mainly driven by its participation in the GVCs.
- Lack of integration: China’s export promotion policies since the 1990s have relied heavily on a strategy of integrating its domestic industries within the GVCs.
- Lack of competitiveness: India’s mobile phone exports grew from $1.6 billion in 2018-19 to $3.8 billion in 2019-20, but per unit, value declined from $91.1 to $87, respectively.
- Missing Profits: Despite the impressive growth of electronic products in India, the net value added by production units is very low.
- Challenges in Set-up of Foundries: Many industry experts also cite the lack of a foundry as contributing to low R&D in this sector in India, which results in poor talent retention and eventually ‘brain drain’.
- Low R & D: Domestic players have also shown low interest due to their inability to compete with tech giants in research and development (R&D) and investment.
STEPS THAT WERE TAKEN TO BOOST MANUFACTURING :
- Scheme for Promotion of Manufacturing of Electronic Components and Semiconductors:
- Under the scheme, a financial incentive of 25% of capital expenditure has been approved by the Union Cabinet for the manufacturing of goods that constitute the supply chain of an electronic product.
- The SPECS notified for manufacturing of electronics components and semiconductors has a budget outlay of ₹ 3,285 crore spread over a period of eight years.
- The government estimates that the push for the manufacturing of electronics components and electronic chips will create around 6 lakh direct and indirect jobs
- Modified Electronics Manufacturing Clusters Scheme
- The EMC 2.0 has a total incentive outlay of ₹ 3,762.25 crore spread over a period of 8 years with an objective to create 10 lakh direct and indirect jobs under the scheme.
- The EMC 2.0 scheme will provide financial assistance up to 50% of the project cost subject to a ceiling of ₹ 70 crore per 100 acres of land for setting up of Electronics Manufacturing Cluster projects.
- Electronic manufacturing clusters to be set up under the scheme will be spread in an area of 200 acres across India and 100 acres in the North-East part of the country.
MAKE IN INDIA INITIATIVE :
- Make in India campaign was launched by the Prime Minister of India on September 25, 2014.
- To attract foreign investment for new industrialisation and develop the already existing industry base in India to surpass that of China.
- Target of an increase in manufacturing sector growth to 12-14% per annum over the medium term.
- To increase the share of manufacturing sector in the country’s Gross Domestic Product from 16% to 25% by 2022.
- To create 100 million additional jobs by 2022.
- To promote export-led growth.
WAY FORWARD :
- Focus on supply chain co-location: Foreign firms chosen under the PLI policy should be encouraged to co-locate their supply ecosystems in the country as the assemblers and component manufacturers move together.
- Focus on the value of production:
- The new PLI policy offers an incentive subject to brinks of incremental investment and sales of manufactured goods; these thresholds vary for foreign and domestic mobile firms.
- However, the focus remains on increasing the value of domestic production, and not local value addition. If implemented, an additional capacity of 60 crore mobile phones per year may be on stream at the end of the PLI.
- Profiting from Anti-Chinese Sentiments: USA’s allegations on China for worsening Covid-19 and India-China conflict are golden opportunities for India to act fastly on it and attract outgoing investment.
- Both the States and the Central government needs to work in tandem to boost the manufacturing in India and transform the economic landscape of India.
QUESTION : What are various challenges faced by Housing Finance Companies in India and how India can ensure better business environment in India?
Topic- SAY ‘NO’ TO CORPORATE HOUSES IN INDIAN BANKING
- NBFCs and their Challenges
WHY IN NEWS ?
- In today’s pro-business climate, the proposal of giving licenses to the corporate houses would evoke jubilation. It should have been hailed as another ‘big bang’ reform that would help undo the dominance of the public sector in banking. Instead, many analysts doubt the proposal will fly.
WHY IS A DOUBT ?
The idea is not novel:
- The idea of allowing corporate houses into banking is by no means novel.
- In February 2013, the RBI had issued guidelines that permitted corporate and industrial houses to apply for a banking licence. Some houses applied, although a few withdrew their applications subsequently.
- No corporate was ultimately given a bank licence. Only two entities qualified for a licence, IDFC and Bandhan Financial Services.
- The IWG report quotes RBI – Not giving a licences to any corporate houses is the most appropriate stance due to the public concern about governance.
- In 2014, the RBI restored the long-standing prohibition on the entry of corporate houses into banking.
- The Committee on Financial Sector Reforms (2008) was against the entry of corporate houses into banking. It had the following reservations:
- It is premature to allow industrial houses to own banks.
- This prohibition on the ‘banking and commerce’ combine still exists in the United States.
- India needs to wait till the private governance and regulatory capacity improve.
- The RBI’s position on the subject has remained unchanged since 2014.
The worry is the risks:
- The IWG report weighs the pros and cons of letting in corporate houses.
- Corporate houses will bring capital and expertise to banking. Moreover, not many jurisdictions worldwide bar corporate houses from banking.
- The main concerns are:
- Interconnected lending
- Concentration of economic power and
- Exposure of the safety net provided to banks (through guarantee of deposits) to commercial sectors of the economy.
- Corporate houses can easily turn banks into a source of funds for their own businesses. They can ensure that funds are directed to their cronies.
- They can use banks to provide finance to customers and suppliers of their businesses.
- It can mean an increase in concentration of economic power.
- Not least, banks owned by corporate houses will be exposed to the risks of the non-bank entities of the group.
- If the non-bank entities get into trouble, sentiment about the bank owned by the corporate house is bound to be impacted. Depositors may have to be rescued through the use of the public safety net.
Regulator credibility at stake:
- Pitting the regulator against powerful corporate houses could end up damaging the regulator. The regulator would be under enormous pressure to compromise on regulation. Its credibility would be dented in the process. This would indeed be a tragedy given the stature the RBI enjoys today.
- There are corporate houses that are already present in banking-related activities through ownership of Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs).
- Under the present policy, NBFCs with a successful track record of 10 years are allowed to convert themselves into banks. The IWG believes that NBFCs owned by corporate houses should be eligible for such conversion.
It points to privatisation:
- Corporate houses are unlikely to be enthused merely by the idea of growing a bank on their own.
- The real attraction will be the possibility of acquiring public sector banks, whose valuations have been battered in recent years.
- Public sector banks need capital that the government is unable to provide. The entry of corporate houses, if it happens at all, is thus likely to be a prelude to privatisation.
- Given what we know of governance in the Indian corporate world, any sale of public sector banks to corporate houses would raise serious concerns about financial stability.
CHALLENGES AHEAD :
- Corporate houses are adept at routing funds through a maze of entities in India and abroad. Tracing interconnected lending will be a challenge.
- Monitoring of transactions of corporate houses will require the cooperation of various law enforcement agencies. Corporate houses can use their political clout to thwart such cooperation.
- The RBI can only react to interconnected lending ex-post, that is, after substantial exposure to the entities of the corporate house has happened. It is unlikely to be able to prevent such exposure.
- Suppose the RBI does latch on to interconnected lending. Then, any action that the RBI may take in response could cause a flight of deposits from the bank concerned and precipitate its failure.
WAY FORWARD ?
- The RBI must be equipped with a legal framework before corporate houses are allowed to enter banking. It will deal with interconnected lending and a mechanism to effectively supervise conglomerates venturing into banking.
- India’s banking sector needs reform but corporate houses owning banks hardly qualifies as one. The entry of corporate houses into banking is the road to perdition.
- There is a world of difference between a corporate house owning an NBFC and one owning a bank. Bank ownership provides access to a public safety net whereas NBFC ownership does not. The reach and clout that bank ownership provides are vastly superior to that of an NBFC.
- The objections that apply to a corporate house with no presence in bank-like activities are equally applicable to corporate houses that own NBFCs.
QUESTION : Discuss the crisis being faced by NBFCs in India. Suggest what measures need to be taken to resolve the same ?
Topic- BANKING HEALTH AND ‘K CURVE’ DYNAMICS
- NBFCs related issues
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Depositors in Lakshmi Vilas Bank Limited (LVB) recently got bailed out by the RBI. The non-banking financial companies, or NBFCs are also in trouble.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT NEWS :
- The implications of this financial turmoil will reflect on the price performance of individual banks.
- Price action of banks in the market can provide useful insights about the financial system dynamics that will change in the coming years.
PRICE TO BOOK VALUE RATIO :
- The key metric for financial companies is the ‘Price to Book Value’ ratio (P/BV).
- The P/BV reflects on two critical features:
- Adequacy of current capital and
- Runway available to the entity for profitable growth
- Meaning of the values associated:
- A P/BV ratio above 1 indicates that the market believes that the company can grow and generate Return on Equity (RoE) above the hurdle rate that investors expect.
- The faster it can grow above the hurdle rate, the greater the P/B multiple (above 1).
- A P/BV below 1, indicates that the market either does not believe the bank has recognised all its bad loans or has the business model to deliver returns above the hurdle rate.
- It may be because the bank does not have a good deposit franchise, has bad cost discipline or a broken lending model.
- There are banks that have a P/BV above 4 while some others are at much below 1, even at 0.25. Some NBFCs have values in excess of 7.
THE K CURVE ?
- The K Curve depicts the inequality existing between different financial entities in terms of their attributes that determine their future growth and profitability.
- Widening of the arms of the ‘K’ would imply that the inequality is increasing, while narrowing of the span of the ‘K’ would mean the opposite.
ALPHA BANKS :
- Private sector banks: Major banks have always had their P/BV above 3 on a consistent basis.
- Capital is available in plenty for these banks and the market is optimistic that these banks will generate attractive RoE.
- Therefore they have disproportionate incremental market share on both assets and liabilities.
- Banks having P/BV of above 1.5: These banks have access to sufficient capital.
- Both the above sets of banks are called Alpha banks. They would form one arm of the K, having adequate access to capital and the intrinsic ability to grow market share. The only constraint for these banks would be their ability to grow their liability franchise as changes in market share on deposits are much slower than changes on the asset side.
PRIVATE SECTOR BANKS HAVING P/BV OF 1 OR BELOW :
- Business model issue: The new generation banks amongst these have to demonstrate consistent growth and stability on the liability side to earn their stripes for a higher P/BV again.
- The market perceives issues with their lending practices and thereby, asset quality. That is the reason their P/BV is at very low levels.
- They need to transform themselves by upgrading technology, add skilled manpower and improve management quality and governance.
WHAT ARE NBFCs ?
- NBFC is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956.
- It is engaged in the business of loans and advances, acquisition of shares/stocks/bonds/debentures/securities issued by Government or local authority or other marketable securities of a like nature, leasing, hire-purchase, insurance business, chit business.
- But, it does not include any institution whose principal business is that of agriculture activity, industrial activity, purchase or sale of any goods (other than securities) or providing any services and sale/purchase/construction of immovable property.
- A non-banking institution which is a company and has principal business of receiving deposits under any scheme or arrangement in one lump sum or in installments by way of contributions or in any other manner, is also a non-banking financial company (Residuary non-banking company).
FEATURES OF NBFCs :
- NBFC cannot accept demand deposits.
- NBFCs do not form part of the payment and settlement system and cannot issue cheques drawn on itself.
- Deposit insurance facility of Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation is not available to depositors of NBFCs.
POWERS OF RBI OVER NBFCs :
- The Reserve Bank has been given the powers under the RBI Act 1934 to register, lay down policy, issue directions, inspect, regulate, supervise and exercise surveillance over NBFCs.
- The Reserve Bank can penalize NBFCs for violating the provisions of the RBI Act or the directions or orders issued by RBI under the RBI Act.
- The penal action can also result in RBI cancelling the Certificate of Registration issued to the NBFC, or prohibiting them from accepting deposits etc.
- It is illegal for any financial entity to make a false claim of being regulated by the Reserve Bank to mislead the public to collect deposits. They will be liable for penal action under the Indian Penal Code in such a scenario.
WAY FORWARD :
- For public banks
- Their current governance model depresses their P/BV.
- These banks should run in a professional manner with an ability to decide their own destiny.
- Along with the government move to consolidate PSU banks into few large banks, these banks must have differing value propositions to offer to the market.
- Clear level playing field amongst all banks: Government should move towards transparent and fair compensation for services rendered to various State-sponsored programmes to all players.
- PSU banks should be free to adopt human resource practices to on-board lateral talent to fill in skill set gaps and adapt to the new digital world.
- More Alpha banks needed:
- The Alpha banks widen the K Curve and squeeze out the weak banks. However, there is clearly more room for banks to migrate into the Alpha banks set.
- For NBFCs, there is no clear path. The more valued NBFCs can become part of the Alpha banks in the long term.
QUESTION : How is agriculture responsible for degradation of land, air and water? What measures can be taken to reduce it?
SOURCE : NOT THE HINDU
- Agriculture Pollution and Subsidies
WHY IN NEWS?
- Much of the policy attention has focused on how to change the disposal of paddy stubble, but our current system of subsidies is a big reason that there is stubble on these fields in the first place.
AGRICULTURE’S CONTRIBUTION TO AIR POLLUTION :
- Agriculture’s contribution to air pollution runs deeper than what happens between crop seasons.
- The Indo-Gangetic plain is also one of the world’s largest and rapidly-growing ammonia hotspots.
- Atmospheric ammonia, which comes from fertiliser use, animal husbandry, and other agricultural practices, combines with emissions from power plants, transportation and other fossil-fuel burning to form fine particles.
POLLUTION’S IMPACT ON AGRICULTURE:
- It is important to note that agriculture is a victim of pollution as well as its perpetrator.
- Particulate matter and ground-level ozone formed from industrial, power plant, and transportation emissions among other ingredients cause double-digit losses in crop yields.
- Ozone damages plant cells, handicapping photosynthesis, while particulate matter dims the sunlight that reaches crops.
- Agriculture scientist Tony Fischer’s 2019 estimates of the two pollutants’ combined effect suggest that as much as 30 per cent of India’s wheat yield is missing (Sage Journals, Outlook on Agriculture).
- Earlier, B Sinha et al (2015), in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions, found that high ozone levels in parts of Haryana and Punjab could diminish rice yields by a quarter and cotton by half.
ROLE OF SUBSIDIES :
- The current system of subsidies is a big reason that there is stubble on these fields in the first place.
- Free power — and consequently, “free” water, pumped from the ground — is a big part of what makes growing rice in these areas attractive.
- Open-ended procurement of paddy, despite the bulging stocks of grains with the Food Corporation of India, adds to the incentives.
- Subsidies account for almost 15 per cent of the value of rice being produced in Punjab-Haryana belt.
- Fertiliser, particularly urea in granular form, is highly subsidised.
- It is one of the cheapest forms of nitrogen-based fertiliser, easy to store and easy to transport, but it is also one of the first to “volatilise,” or release ammonia into the air.
- This loss of nitrogen then leads to a cycle of more and more fertiliser being applied to get the intended benefits for crops.
WAY FORWARD :
- We need to shift the nature of support to farmers from input subsidies to investment subsidies.
- This could involve the conversion of paddy areas in this belt to orchards with drip irrigation, vegetables, corn, cotton, pulses and oilseeds.
- All of the above consume much less water, much less power and fertilisers and don’t create stubble to burn.
- A diversification package of, say, ₹ 10,000 crore spread over the next five years, equally contributed by the Centre and states, may be the best way to move forward in reducing agriculture-related pollution.
- The approach to diversification has to be demand-led, with a holistic framework of the value chain, from farm to fork and not just focused on production.
- On the fertiliser front, it would be better to give farmers input subsidy in cash on per hectare basis, and free up the prices of fertilisers completely.
- If taken altogether these measures could double farmers’ incomes, promote efficiency in resource use, and reduce air The need of the hour is to create mass awareness about the consequences of this increasing pollution.
QUESTION : India faces several challenges in attracting relocating supply chains in trade and give some suggested measures to deal with these challenges.” Elaborate
Topic- SHIFTING SANDS FOR ASIAN ECONOMIES
- India’s challenges in maintaining its viability against competitive economies
WHY IN NEWS ?
- The article deals with the challenges India faces in attracting the relocating supply chains in the wake of the pandemic.
IS CHINA LOSING ITS APPEAL ?
- Some labour-intensive industries, such as textiles and apparels, have been moving to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as labour costs in China are increasing.
- But trends in other industries show that businesses have mostly remained in China.
- COVID-19 crisis has resulted in firms establishing relatively small-scale operations elsewhere.
- This is perceived as a buffer against being completely dependent on China, referred to as the ‘China +1’ strategy.
REASONS FOR FIRMS TO CONTINUE IN CHINA :
- Starting an enterprise and maintaining operations in China are much easier than elsewhere.
- Chinese firms are nimble and fast, which is evident from the quick recovery of Chinese manufacturing after the lockdown.
- Many global companies have spent decades building supply chains in China, getting out would mean moving the entire ecosystem.
KEY CHALLENGES FACING INDIA :
Increasing domestic public investment –
- The task of increasing domestic public investments, which have implications for both demand and supply sides.
- In India, even before the pandemic, the growth in domestic investments had been weak,
- This seems to be the opportune time to bolster public investments as interest rates are low globally and savings are available.
- Private investments would continue to be depressed, due to the uncertainty on the future economic outlook.
Reforms in trade policy-
- India needs a major overhaul in her trade policy world trade had been rattled by tendencies of rising economic nationalism and unilateralism leading to the return of protectionist policies.
- A revamped trade policy needs to take into account the possibility of two effects of the RCEP:
- Walmart effect: It would sustain demand for basic products and help in keeping employee productivity at an optimum level, but may also reduce wages and competition due to sourcing from multiple vendors at competitive rates.
- Switching effects: It would be an outcome of developed economies scouting for new sources to fulfil import demands, which requires firms to be nimble and competitive.
- Trade policy has to recognise the pitfalls of the present two-track mode, one for firms operating in the ‘free trade enclaves’ and another for the rest.
- A major fallout of this ‘policy dualism’ is the dampening of export diversification.
- The challenge is to make exporting activity more attractive for all firms in the economy.
Increasing women’s participation in labour force –
- While India’s GDP has grown by around 6% to 7% per year women’s labour force participation rate has fallen from 42.7% in 2004–05 to 23.3% in 2017–18.
- This means that three out of four Indian women are neither working nor seeking paid work.
- Globally, India ranks among the bottom ten countries in terms of women’s workforce participation.
- When Bangladesh’s GDP grew at an average rate of 5.5% during 1991 and 2017, women’s participation in the labour force increased from 24% to 36%.
- India could gain hugely if barriers to women’s participation in the workforce are removed.
- The manufacturing sector should create labour-intensive jobs that rural and semi-urban women are qualified for.
- The intensity of competition is evident from the fact that after India passed 3 Labour Code Bills on September 23, Indonesian Parliament on October 5 passed a legislation that slashes regulations contained in more than 70 separate existing laws, to open up the country to more foreign investment.. India’s approach to the changed scenario needs to be well-calibrated.
QUESTION : What are various reasons for low labour force participation of women in India? Suggest some measures to correct the labour market’s gender skew.
Topic- FALLEN THROUGH THE CRACKS
- Women Employment Status In India
WHY IN NEWS ?
- The year 2020 marks the anniversary of two major events concerning the status of women.
MORE ABOUT IT :
- The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020 ranked India at 149th position out of 153 countries on Economic participation and opportunity. According to the WEF report, raising women’s participation in the labour force can increase India’s GDP significantly. A working woman creates a lot more employment in the economy thus providing a source of livelihood for others.
- The declining women’s labour force participation, gender pay-gap, high rates of informal work with lack of social security are seen as impediments to the goal of gender equality and the empowerment of women in India.
ISSUES OF WOMEN’S ECONOMIC PARTICIPATION IN INDIA :
- Economic Growth not translating into employment: India’s female employment trends do not resonate with its high economic growth, low fertility, and rise in female schooling.
- Declining Female Labour Force Participation rate: Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), 2018-19 shows that women faced a decline in labour participation rates (from 2011 to 2019) in rural areas from 35.8% to 26.4%, and stagnation in urban areas at around 20.4%.
- Low Global Ranking: Furthermore, the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report ranks India at 149 among 153 countries in terms of women’s economic participation and opportunity.
- Wage Gap: The gender wage gap is the highest in Asia, with women 34% below men (for equal qualification and work), according to a 2019 Oxfam report. This stifles women’s labour force participation, despite the guarantees of India’s Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.
- Feminisation of Agriculture: Agriculture that is an almost completely informal sector employs nearly 60% of women, who form the bulk of landless labourers, with no credit access, subsidies, little equipment, and lack of social security measures.
- Abysmal Land ownership: Only about 13% of women tillers owned their land in 2019.
- Low participation in Manufacturing Sector: Manufacturing employs (almost completely informally) only around 14% of the female labour force.
- Care work dominates Women’s participation in Service Sector: According to the National Sample Survey (NSS) 2005, over 60% of the 4.75 million domestic workers are women.
- Unequal gender division of household work: Women spend (an unpaid) three times (as per NSS) or even six times (as per OECD) more time than men in household work.
- Overburdened Healthcare work: According to WHO, 70% of the world’s healthcare and social workers are women. In India, women are indispensable as frontline ASHA workers, but they are underpaid and overworked.
- Disproportionate impact of Pandemic: In India, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) showed that 39% of women lost their jobs in April and May compared to 29% of men, in the context of the ongoing pandemic.
REASONS FOR LOW WOMEN LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION :
- Lack of opportunities: In recent times, rural distress has affected women the most as income-generating opportunities have disappeared. The problem of ‘labour demand constraints’ or the lack of suitable job opportunities is acute for women in rural India, with a fall in the availability of farm jobs and the lack of economic opportunities in non-farm employment. Mechanisation of farm and non-farm activities has also reduced opportunities for work.
- Women education: Data from the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) show that education and employment have a U-shaped relationship (a rise and subsequent decline in employment with the rise in education levels). Work participation drops sharply for women with primary and secondary education and rises only with college-level education. Further, the non-availability of white collar jobs, disproportionate long hours and lesser job security narrow downs the job opportunities for educated women in India.
- Unpaid work: A 2018 study has found that the time spent on unpaid economic activities performed at the household and community levels by women is one of the important determinants of the FLFPR. So, the time spent on unpaid work, especially on unpaid care and domestic chores has hindered women’s participation in the labour force.
- Gender bias: Constraints in form of casteist and patriarchal notions of purity and pollution where women are prohibited from certain jobs, especially in the food processing, sericulture, and garment industries has added to the low participation.
- Changing family nature: Of late, with a reduction in family sizes and distress migration of rural males, the burden of unpaid work on women has been increasing disproportionately. The burden of domestic work and unpaid care inhibits women’s ability to acquire skills for better jobs, leading to a vicious cycle of women being kept out of the labour force.
- Under-reporting: Finally, though most women in India work and contribute to the economy in one form or another, much of their work is not documented or accounted for in official statistics, and thus women’s work tends to be under-reported. Therefore, mis-measurement may not only affect the level but also the trend in the participation rate.
CRITICISM OF RECENTLY PASSED 3 LABOUR CODES of
- The laws are expected to transform labour relations, but they only end up ‘easing business’ labour codes acknowledge neither the gender wage gap nor non-payment of wages and bonuses, and ignore informal (mostly women) workers in terms of social security, insurance, provident fund, maternity benefits, or gratuity.
- Though ‘allowing’ women to work night shifts, there is little focus on accountability and responsibility
- Even protection from sexual harassment at workplace is missing.
- Maternity benefits remain unchanged from the 2017 amendment, with an insensitively formulated adoption leave policy that grants leave to women who adopt infants under the age of three months, ignoring that most children are much older at the time of adoption.
STEPS TAKEN BY THE GOVERNMENT :
The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 –
- The amendment provides for 26 weeks of paid maternity instead of 12 weeks.
- The Bill introduces a provision wherein an employer may permit a woman to work from home after the period of paid leave.
- The Bill introduces a provision that requires every establishment with 50 or more employees to provide crèche facilities within a prescribed distance.
- The Bill has faced criticism for excluding paternity leave. There are also apprehensions
Sexual Harassment Electronic-Box (SHe-box)
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has launched an online platform to enable women employees working in both the public and private organisations to file complaints related to sexual harassment at the workplace.
- It has been launched to ensure the effective implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013.
WAY FORWARD :
- Science needs the best scientists, and a knowledge economy needs a gender-balanced workforce.
- Government policies should focus on behavioural changes that make female employment more acceptable in the society.
- Government schemes must target the fundamental cultural and social forces that shape patriarchy.
- Communication programmes on gender equality in secondary education to help students imbibe equitable gender norms.
- Acknowledging child care as the responsibility of both parents.
- As for the workforce, much needs to be done, beyond maternity benefit entitlements and other quotas.
- A useful and easily implementable idea would be to give income tax benefits to women. It would be a bold and effective step to increasing India’s female workforce participation.
- For political empowerment of women, their representation in Parliament and in decision making roles in public sphere is one of the key indicators of empowerment.
- Gig Economy provides women flexible work options to pursue their career while not missing important milestones in their family lives.
- Initiatives such as Skill India, Make in India, and new gender-based quotas from corporate boards to the police force can spur a positive change. But we need to invest in skill training and job support.
- There is a need for timely auditing of laws to ensure better implementation of legislation.
- Better transport infrastructure added with childcare facilities at or near workplaces will help women realise their full potential.
- Ultimately, the goal is not merely to increase female labour force participation, but to provide opportunities for decent work that will, in turn, contribute to the economic empowerment of women.
- Gender cannot be wished away, since every policy and code affects a giant proportion of India’s workforce — both paid and unpaid, acknowledged and unacknowledged.
QUESTION : Discuss the problems with labour section of India? What are the steps taken by GoI for solving these problems?
Topic- A RECIPE TO TEAR DOWN TRADE UNIONS
- Trade Unions and Workers’ Rights in India
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Labour law ‘reform’ has been on the table since 1991 as every government’s favourite solution for economic growth. Yet, there was no consensus between governments,political parties, workers and their trade unions, and employers, on what this meant.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND :
- Trade unions first emerged in the 19th century as self-managed organisation of workers in the face of extreme exploitation.
- They provided, and continue to provide, a collective voice to working people against employers’ exploitative, unfair and often illegal practices.
- It is through trade unions that workers have been able to win better wages, fairer employment conditions, and safe and secure workplaces.
TRADE UNION ACT,1926 :
- In India, workers won the legal right to form trade unions under the colonial rule in 1926, when the Trade Union Act (TUA) was adopted.
- The law provided a mechanism for the registration of trade unions, from which they derived their rights, and a framework governing their functioning.
- The TUA also bound workers’ actions within a legal framework by providing for deregistration if a trade union “contravened any provisions of the Act”.
- The TUA gave workers the right, through their registered trade union, to take steps to press their claims, and where necessary, as in the case of a malevolent employer, agitate for their claims and advance them before the government and the judiciary.
- It also provided members (workers) and elected officers of a union a degree of immunity, including against the law on criminal conspiracy.
PROBLEMS FACED BY THE LABOUR MOVEMENT POST INDEPENDENCE :
- Uneven growth: They are concentrated in the metropolises, largely catering to organised sector. Rural Agricultural labour and small scale labour are grossly underrepresented.
- Low membership: Trade union membership is growing, but the vast majority of India’s labour is not part of any trade unions. This reduces their collective bargaining power.
- Weak financial position: Membership fees are set too low (25 paise) by the Trade Union Act, 1926. They are particularly disadvantaged against corporate lobbying groups that are flush with cash.
- Political leadership: Careerist politicians and vested political agenda mean that worker interests are sidelined. Since the leadership may not be from the labour force, they are held captive to party politics. This lead to further exploitation.
- The multiplicity of unions: Bargaining power is diluted and it is easy for employers to divert the attention of the labour.
- Inter-union rivalry: There are conflicts of interest and party politics between the unions.
- The problem of recognition: Employers are under no obligation to give them recognition. This means that docile unions get recognition and genuine ones may be sidelined.
- Diverse nature of labour: Most unions don’t have properly differentiated organisational structure to cater to different classes of labour. Eg: Differences between agricultural, formal and informal labour.
- Lack of public support: Especially post 1991, trade unionism is looked down as an impediment to growth and development. This has led to a general ebbing of the movement across the country.
MAJOR LABOUR UNIONS IN INDIA :
- All India Trade Union Congress – Communist Party of India.
- Indian National Trade Union Congress – Indian National Congress.
- Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh – Bharatiya Janata Party.
- Centre for Indian Trade Unions – CPI(M).
- Hind Mazdoor Sabha – Samajwadi Party.
- Self Employed Women’s Association – Unaffiliated.
THREE NEWLY PROPOSED BILLS :
- Industrial Relations Code Bill 2020
- Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code Bill, 2020
- Code on Social Security Bill, 2020
BENEFITS OF LABOUR CODES :
- Consolidation and simplification of the Complex laws: The three Codes simplify labour laws by subsuming 25 central labour laws that have been on the table for at least 17 years.
- It will provide a big boost to industry & employment and will reduce multiplicity of definition and multiplicity of authority for businesses.
- Single Licensing Mechanism: The codes provide for a single licensing mechanism. It will give fillip to industries by ushering in substantive reform in the licensing mechanism. Currently, industries have to apply for their licence under different laws.
- Easier Dispute resolution: The codes also simplify archaic laws dealing with industrial disputes and revamp the adjudication process, which will pave the way for early resolution of disputes.
- Ease of Doing Business: According to the industry and some economists such reform shall boost investment and improve ease of doing business. It drastically reduces complexity and internal contradictions, increases flexibility & modernizes regulations on safety/working conditions
- Other benefits for Labour: The three codes will promote fixed term employment, reduce influence of trade unions and expand the social security net for informal sector workers.
WHAT ARE THE ISSUES WITH NEW LABOUR CODES ?
- Dilutes rights of Workers: Workers in small establishments (with up to 300 workers) will have their rights watered down with no protection of trade unions, labour laws.
- Workers safety safeguards diluted: The new rules will enable companies to introduce arbitrary service conditions for workers.
- Corporate Friendly: The new rules provides more flexibility to employers for hiring and firing workers without government permission.
- Restricts Freedom of Speech: Restrictions on strikes and demonstrations is akin to assault on the freedom of industrial actions.
- Ambiguity about reskilling Fund: The Code lacks clarity on the substantive and procedural aspects of reskilling Fund which will fizzle out like the National Renewal Fund in the 1990s.
- Women’s Safety: Allowing women to work during night time inspite of various safeguards imposed may increase their vulnerability to sexual abuse.
LABOUR IN INDIAN CONSTITUTION :
- Article 246 Labour being in concurrent list, many states and even centre have enacted laws. It led to confusion and chaos.
- Article 43A (42nd amendment) – directing state to take steps to ensure workers participation in management of industries.
- Article 23 forbids forced labor, Article 24 forbids child labor (in factories, mines and other hazardous occupations) below age of 14 years.
INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANIZATION (ILO) :
- Founded in 1919 as result of Treaty of Versailles, it became first specialized agency under United Nations in 1945. Its vision is to secure humane working conditions for workers and to attain social justice for them universally. In short it carries ‘Decent Work Agenda’
- It has produced about 189 legally binding conventions on member countries and more than 200 non-binding recommendations. It is also global center for research and study on work and labor.
- It also gave 4 core standards on labor which are part of general human rights as per UN declarations. These are –
- Freedom of Association, Right to organize and Right to Collective Bargaining
- Abolition of forced labour.
- Minimum age of employment and abolition of child labour.
- Prohibition on workplace discrimination and Equal pay for men and women for work of equal value.
SALIENT FEATURES OF LABOUR REGULATIONS IN INDIA :
- India has a federal government and the Constitution has demarcated law making authority between the centre and the states through the Union list, State List and the Concurrent List.
- Regulation of labour is on the Union List but certain aspects such as industrial disputes and social security also figure on the Concurrent List. As a result, both the Parliament and state legislatures have been enacting labour laws and there is multiplicity of such laws.
- State amendments provide mostly for minor variations, but sometimes for more significant ones, without departing from the main thrust of the central enactment.
WAY FORWARD :
- Labour laws applicable to the formal sector should be modified to introduce an optimum combination of flexibility and security.
- Make the compliance of working conditions regulations more effective and transparent.
- There is a need for holistic labour laws reforms, which would enable firms to expand, while keeping the interest of labours intact, thereby resulting in the formalisation of the Indian economy
- With respect to Covid-19 pandemic, the central and state governments in India should follow what most governments have done across the world.
- The government should partner with the industry and allocate a percentage of the GDP towards sharing the wage burden and ensuring the health of the labourers.
- In the changed economic scenario post COVID-19 pandemic, the government has to balance the rights of workers and economic recovery. Favouring one over the other will impact the Country’s prospects in long run.
QUESTION : Discuss the legal status of right to work in India and major challenges faced by workers in day to day life .
Topic- CAN THE RIGHT TO WORK BE MADE REAL IN INDIA ?
- Status of Right to work
WHY IN NEWS ?
- As economies around the world struggle to recover from the double whammy of a pandemic and a lockdown, unemployment is soaring. There is a growing demand for work as a right.
RIGHT TO WORK :
- It is the right to earn livelihood without any obstruction.
- The term ‘right to work’ is often used in the context of unemployment or lack of availability of work.
- Safeguarding employment: The state should generate its own employment. But at the same time, it’s also supposed to safeguard people’s employment. That includes everything, from ensuring that street vendors have vending zones, and fish workers are protected, to ensuring that farmers have viable incomes.
- All of this comes broadly under the right to livelihood or right to work.
LEGAL STATUS OF RTW :
- Internationally: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, both of which were acceded by India, recognise the right to work in an employment of one’s choice and the State’s responsibility to safeguard this right.
- In India, we don’t have a constitutional right to work but it is provided under DPSPs.
- Article 41 of the Constitution provides that “the State shall within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want.
- Under right to life: In Olga Tellis & Ors. v Bombay Municipal Corporation & Ors.- ‘right to work’ was recognised as a fundamental right inherent in the ‘right to life’.
- Statutory right: Under MGNREGA, a person can hold the state accountable for not fulfilling the right by demanding an unemployment allowance. But if the law is amended or withdrawn, the right vanishes.
RELEVANCE OF RTW :
- India has been seeing a declining jobs-to-GDP ratio, and mostly jobless growth, with labour also subject to the laws of the market. It is precisely under these circumstances that this right becomes important.
- There are questions about the responsibility of the state in a capitalist economy where welfare and employment are not a guaranteed by-product of private economic activity.
- Ignoring GDP per capita: For instance, GDP growth can come from both an increase in the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction as well as from the manufacture of medicines. We rarely discuss per capita GDP growth; from the vantage point of people’s welfare, the former matters more.
- Distribution issues: For a labour-abundant country like India, how much policy sense it makes to encourage capital-intensive methods of production. More and more automation in a country like India is likely to lead to jobless growth.
- Profound lack of public goods and assets: In MGNREGA, the asset creation part is often under-emphasised.
- Weak labour laws: The government has whittled down 44 labour laws into four labour codes that labour organisations have criticised as a dilution of workers’ rights.
- India is a labour surplus economy. In the capital-labour bargaining process, labour is structurally weak in India.
WAY FORWARD :
- Decentralised Urban Employment and Training, or DUET: It is to create new employment opportunities so that those who are unemployed may be gainfully employed and earn a dignified living.
- Creating public goods:
- It is the state’s responsibility to provide these public goods, and this imperative can be combined with an employment creation programme just like MGNREGA does in rural areas.
- Providing basic services: It is incumbent on the state to provide basic services such as health, education and housing, and in providing them, employment is generated.
- Better condition for workers: An effective employment guarantee programme can be an excellent solution to the structural weakness of labour.
- Right to leisure: If the state guarantees a good eight hours of work, then automatically one is guaranteed that the rest hours are for enjoying life
QUESTION : What is Over the Top (OTT) media services? Critically analyse the benefits and challenges offered by the OTT media services in India.
Topic- MEDIA REGULATION THAT IS QUITE OVER THE TOP
- Issues with the regulation of digital media by government
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Recent decision of the government to regulate digital media through the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and issues with it.
REGULATING THE PRESS :
- Recently, government put the online news and current affairs portals along with “films and audio-visual programmes made available by online content providers” under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
- Through the move, government is clubbing the only sector of the media which has pre-censorship, namely films with the news media which has so far, at least officially, not been subject to pre-censorship.
- The move hijacks matters before the Supreme Court of India relating to freedom of the press and freedom of expression to arm the executive with control over the free press, thereby essentially making it unfree.
- It also hijacks another public interest litigation in the Supreme Court relating to content on “Over The Top” (OTT) platforms not being subject to regulation or official oversight to bring that sector too under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
- The move creates an artificial distinction between the new-age digital media which is the media of the future, the media of the millennial generation — and the older print and TV news media.
REASONS GIVEN BY THE GOVT AND ISSUES WITH IT :
- The explanation given is that the print media have the oversight of the Press Council of India and the TV media of the News Broadcasters Association (NBA).
- Therefore the digital media needed a regulatory framework — no less than that of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
- However, there is no comparison between the Press Council of India and the NBA as professional bodies on the one hand and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on the other.
- The fate of the digital media under the control of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting leaves little scope for hope.
WHAT ARE OTT MEDIA ?
- An over-the-top (OTT) media service is a streaming media service offered directly to viewers via the Internet.
- OTT bypasses cable, broadcast, and satellite television platforms, the companies that traditionally act as a controller or distributor of such content.
- The term is most synonymous with subscription-based video-on-demand (SVoD) services that offer access to film and television content.
- They are typically accessed via websites on personal computers, as well as via apps on mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablets), digital media players, or televisions with integrated Smart TV platforms
REGULATING OTT :
- Currently, there is no law or autonomous body governing digital content. The recent move will give the government control over OTT platforms, which were unregulated till now.
- From time to time, the government had indicated the necessity to monitor these platforms.
- In October 2019, the government had indicated that it will issue the “negative” list of don’ts for the video streaming services like Netflix and Hotstar.
- It also wanted the platforms to come up with a self-regulatory body on the lines of the News Broadcasting Standards Authority.
SELF-REGULATION IS NOT SUFFICIENT :
- Anticipating the government’s intervention, in January 2019, video streaming services had signed a self-regulatory code that laid down a set of guiding principles for content on these platforms.
- The code adopted by the OTTs prohibited five types of content:
- Content that deliberately and maliciously disrespects the national emblem or national flag,
- Any visual or storyline that promotes child pornography
- Any content that “maliciously” intends to outrage religious sentiments
- Content that “deliberately and maliciously” promotes or encourages terrorism and
- Any content that has been banned for exhibition or distribution by law or court
- The government had refused to support this code.
ISSUES INVOLVED IN THIS CASE OF REGULATING DIGITAL MEDIA :
- Constitutional Rights involved: The content of the episodes in question goes against and demeans the constitutional right of access to equality of employment
- Balancing contending interests: The court has to balance the right to freedom of speech versus right of dignity of a community and hate speech
- Public interest issue: Since the case deals on issues of “foreign funding” and “reservation”, there has to consultation with government before any order
- Role of Courts: Constitutional values, human dignity are needed to be protected but the court cannot “become the enforcers of programme code” (which falls under the domain of Executive)
- Extent of Courts Power: There is debate on whether the court could order a blanket injunction of a programme or should restrict itself to only those portions which hurt a community.
- Complex Nature of Hate Speech: Hate speech comes dressed as small nuggets of facts, and a lot depends on the tenor, tone and manner of their presentation. Thus any regulation of speech has to be on case-to-case basis.
- Sophisticated Nature of Media Space: The lines between the different platforms for media and journalism today are increasingly blurring. For example, Sudarshan TV also has a dedicated YouTube channel, where all of its programs are uploaded.
- Ineffective implementation of existing rules: The laws to tackle incendiary content and hate speech that fuels violence is already in place. What is seen lacking is a will to uniformly apply these rules, irrespective of political affiliations.
- Ability to survive legal scrutiny: Earlier attempts at imposing a high degree of liability on intermediaries (like Google & Facebook) for content posted on their platforms have not survived legal scrutiny, with Section 79(1) of the IT Act, 2000, giving them some immunity in this regard.
WAY FORWARD :
- Better regulation: Efforts must be made to enable regulations that would lower the barriers to media ownership and reduce concentration of media ownership.
- Legislation: Although India has the Press Council of India and specific regulations, the country needs more detailed law regarding the media
- Adherence to Media Ethics: It is important that the media stick to the core principles like truth and accuracy, transparency, independence, fairness and impartiality, responsibility and fair play.
- Tackling Fake News: Countering content manipulation and fake news to restore faith in the media without undermining its freedom will require public education, strengthening of regulations and effort of tech companies to make suitable algorithms for news curation
- There should be a Moral Code of Conduct for such contents.
- The government regulations would be counterproductive for both the media practitioner and the media entrepreneur and for the start-ups that have been the new vibrant face of contemporary journalism.
QUESTION : Discuss various advantages and issues related to public-private partnership (PPP) in viability gap funding scheme in India.
SOURCE – NOT THE HINDU
- Viability Gap Funding (VGF) Scheme
WHY IN NEWS ?
- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved continuation and revamping of the Scheme for Financial Support to Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in Infrastructure Viability Gap Funding (VGF) Scheme Till 2024-25.
MORE ABOUT THE SCHEME :
- The Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance introduced the Scheme in 2006 with a view to support infrastructure projects undertaken through PPP mode that are economically justified but commercially viable due to large capital investment requirements.
- VGF up to 40% of the Total Project Cost (TPC) is provided by the Government of India and the sponsoring authority in the form of capital grant at the stage of project construction (20%+20%)
- The revamped Scheme is mainly for mainstreaming private participation in social infrastructure.
- The aim of the scheme is to promote PPPs in social and Economic Infrastructure leading to efficient creation of assets and ensuring their proper Operation and Maintenance and make the economically/socially essential projects commercially viable.
COMPONENTS OF SCHEME :
Sub scheme -1
- The Central Government will provide a maximum of 30% of Total Project Cost (TPC) of the project as VGF and State Government/Sponsoring Central Ministry/Statutory Entity may provide additional support up to 30% of TPC.
- This is for Social Sectors projects such as Waste Water Treatment, Water Supply, Solid Waste Management, Health and Education sectors etc.
- These projects face bankability issues and poor revenue streams.
- The projects should have at least 100% Operational Cost recovery.
Sub scheme -2
- This Sub scheme will support demonstration/pilot social sectors projects.
- In such projects, the Central Government and the State Governments together will provide up to 80% of capital expenditure and upto 50% of Operation & Maintenance (O&M) costs for the first five years.
- Eligibility: The projects may be from Health and Education sectors where there is at least 50% Operational Cost recovery.
- PPP projects: It will attract more PPP projects and facilitate private investment in the social sectors.
- Employment and infrastructure: Creation of new hospitals, schools will create many opportunities to boost employment generation.
- It means a grant one-time or deferred, provided to support infrastructure projects that are economically justified but fall short of financial viability.
- The lack of financial viability usually arises from long gestation periods and the inability to increase user charges to commercial levels.
- Through the provision of a catalytic grant assistance of the capital costs, several projects may become bankable and help mobilise private investment in infrastructure
PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPs ?
- Public-private partnerships involve collaboration between a government agency and a private-sector company.
- It can be used to finance, build, and operate projects, such as public transportation networks, parks, and convention centres .
- Financing a project through a public-private partnership can allow a project to be completed sooner or make it a possibility in the first place.
- Public-private partnerships often involve concessions of tax or other operating revenue, protection from liability, or partial ownership rights over nominally public services and property to private sector, for-profit entities.
WAY FORWARD :
- Checking Viability: PPPs should not be used to evade responsibility for service delivery to citizens
- Risk allocation and management: Public-Private Partnership PPP contracts should ensure optimal risk allocation across all stakeholders by ensuring that it is allocated to the entity that is best suited to manage the risk.
- Strengthening governance
- Strengthening institutional capacity
- Strengthening contracts: The private sector must be protected against such loss of bargaining power. This could be ensured by amending the terms of the Public-Private Partnership PPP contracts to allow for renegotiations.
- To foster the successful implementation of a PPP project, a robust PPP enabling ecosystem and sound regulatory framework is essential.
QUESTION : Write important functions of the Finance Commission? Discuss the terms of reference of the 15th finance commission and various apprehensions about it.
Topic- ROAD BUMPS
- 15 Finance Commission Report on State Finances
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Fifteenth Finance Commission submitted its report with recommendations on the formula for sharing the divisible pool of tax revenues between the Centre and States for the next 5 years to the President.
ABOUT 15TH FC :
- The 15th Finance Commission was constituted by the President of India under the chairmanship of NK Singh.
- The term of the commission was originally set to end in October 2019 but was extended to November 30, 2019.
- Its recommendations will cover a period of five years from April 2021 to March 2026.
FUNCTIONS OF FC :
- The Commission makes recommendations to the President of India on the distribution of tax proceeds between the Union and the States and the share of each state.
- The Commission also decides the principles that govern the payment of grants-in-aid to states from the Consolidated Fund of India.
- The President of India can also refer any other matter to the Finance Commission in the interest of building a sound financial system
CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS :
- Several provisions to bridge the fiscal gap between the Centre and the States were already enshrined in the Constitution of India, including Article 268, which facilitates levy of duties by the Centre but equips the States to collect and retain the same.
ARTICLE 280 of the Indian Constitution defines the scope of the commission:
- The President will constitute a finance commission within two years from the commencement of the Constitution and thereafter at the end of every fifth year or earlier, as the deemed necessary by him/her, which shall include a chairman and four other members.
- Parliament may by law determine the requisite qualifications for appointment as members of the commission and the procedure of selection.
- The commission is constituted to make recommendations to the president about the distribution of the net proceeds of taxes between the Union and States and also the allocation of the same among the States themselves. It is also under the ambit of the finance commission to define the financial relations between the Union and the States. They also deal with the devolution of unplanned revenue resources.
WHY NEED THE FINANCE COMMISSION ?
- As a federal nation, India suffers from both vertical and horizontal fiscal imbalances.
- Vertical imbalances between the central and state governments result from states incurring expenditures disproportionate to their sources of revenue, in the process of fulfilling their responsibilities.
- However, states are better able to gauge the needs and concerns of their inhabitants and therefore more efficient at addressing them.
- Horizontal imbalances among state governments result from differing historical backgrounds or resource endowments and can widen over time.
- The first FC was established in 1951 by Dr B.R. Ambedkar, the then-incumbent law minister, to address these imbalances.
- The 15th Finance Commission said it had taken the unique requirements of each State on board and come up with State-specific considerations in its report, which was submitted to President Ram Nath Kovind .
- Apart from its main recommendation on devolution of funds between the Centre and the States for the period 2021-22 to 2025-26, the Commission addressed all its unique terms of reference, such as considering a new non-lapsable fund for financing national security and defence spending and offering performance incentives to the States that deliver on reforms
- Apart from the main report, uniquely titled Finance Commission in Covid Times, the 15th Finance Commission presented two volumes as part of its submissions.
- The first one focuses on the state of the Centre’s finances, with an in-depth scrutiny of the key departments, the medium-term challenges facing the Centre and a road map for the future.
- The other volume is dedicated to the States, with the finances of each analysed in great depth.
- The panel has come up with State-specific considerations to address the key challenges that individual States face, as per a statement issued by the Commission after a meeting with the President.
- Commission chairman N.K. Singh was accompanied by members Ajay Narayan Jha, Anoop Singh, Ashok Lahiri and Ramesh Chand for the report’s submission to the President. The report is expected to be presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon, and will be available in the public domain once it is tabled in Parliament along with an action taken report on its recommendations.
- The Commission was asked to give its recommendations on many unique and wide-ranging issues in its terms of reference. Apart from the vertical and horizontal tax devolution, local government grants, disaster management grant, the Commission was also asked to examine whether a separate mechanism for funding of defence and internal security ought to be set up and if so how such a mechanism could be operationalised.
- Though its original remit was to make recommendations for the period 2020-21 to 2024-2025, the Commission has submitted an interim report for 2020-21 last year, stressing that it was difficult to make projections for five years when the economy is slowing down after structural reforms like the GST and the insolvency code. The interim report had reduced the States’ share in the divisible pool of taxes from 42% to 41% for the current year, after the dissolution of Jammu and Kashmir as a State
- The need of the hour is to address the concerns of stakeholders and evolve principles that lead to an equitable distribution of resources between states and between centre and states.
QUESTION : Chinese aggression towards India is not new. Since past 200 years Chinese have been deploying expansionist policy in south western frontier. Comment
Topic- THE FORGOTTEN FACT OF CHINA-OCCUPIED KASHMIR
- J&K issue and China
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Following the abrogation of Article 370 and reorganization of the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), a China-Pakistan tandem has emerged to internationalize the issue, including in the UN Security Council.
- While Pakistan continues to train and fund separatists and terrorists in Kashmir area, China’s support for Pakistan is motivated by a desire to perpetuate its own territorial grab in the trans-Karakoram Shaksgam Tract of Kashmir.
CHINA’S VIEW ON J&K ISSUE :
- China treats the J&K issue as a “bilateral dispute left” that should be resolved by India and Pakistan themselves.
- Recently, Pakistan announced that it will make Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) as the fifth province of Pakistan.
- China did not oppose this move of Pakistan. However, China questioned the establishment of the Union Territory of Ladakh when India scraped Article 370. This shows that China’s inclined behavior towards Pakistan.
PARTS OF TERRITORY OCCUPIED BY CHINA AND PAKISTAN :
- The Shaksgam valley in the trans-Karakoram tract, part of PoK, was handed over by Pakistan to China through an illegal border agreement on March 2, 1963. China transferred 750 sqm in Hunza to Pakistan.
- India rejected the Agreement, claiming the entire territory belonged to India. Also, the continuing Chinese occupation of Kashmir’s territory does not find adequate mention in the contemporary discourse surrounding this issue.
- China occupies 5180 square kilometres in the Shaksgam Valley in addition to approximately 38,000 square kilometres in Aksai Chin.
- China and Pakistan brazenly promote the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which runs through parts of Indian territory under their respective occupation.
- China played an insidious role in changing the frontiers of Jammu and Kashmir through fictitious claims and unscrupulous alliances with local chieftains.
- China exploited the ‘Great Game’ between British India and Russia in the late 19th century.
- It pitched territorial claims far beyond the traditional frontiers of Xinjiang (a Chinese autonomous region).
- It gradually crept into areas in the Taghdumbash Pamirs and the Karakorams, south of its frontier along the Kun Lun mountains.
Sino-Pakistan agreement :
- After the Partition of the Indian subcontinent, from 1953, Chinese troops actively started transgressing the frontier in eastern Hunza.
- In October 1959, they rustled some livestock from the area, with initially angry response, Pakistan spotted an opportunity in the rapidly deteriorating India-China ties in the late 1950s, and decided to pander to the Chinese.
- Pakistan deliberately chose to downgrade the historical claims of the Mir of Hunza and eventually signed away the Shaksgam valley to China in 1963.
The Pakistan connection:
- Under the Sino-Pakistan Agreement of 1963, Pakistan gave the administration of Kun Lun mountains border to china.
- This enabled China to extrapolate a claim line eastwards along the Karakoram Range in Ladakh. In other words, China claim the whole of Aksai Chin in which it had no historical presence.
CHINA : AS PARTY TO THE DISPUTE
- The provisional nature of the territorial settlement between China and Pakistan is evident in Article 6 of the 1963 agreement.
- The two Parties have agreed that after the settlement of the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India, the sovereign authority concerned will reopen negotiations with the China to sign a formal Boundary Treaty to replace the present agreement.
- In effect, this agreement has established China as a party to the dispute. It has a vested interest in legitimising its illegitimate gains in the trans-Karakoram tract.
- The one option never tried before is a peace initiative by China, India and Pakistan to resolve their common border disputes through resolution of the Kashmir issue.
- India’s significant current military deployment to counter Chinese mobilisation may yet help persuade China to step back, there is no escaping the longer-term trend.
- If India can’t redress the growing military imbalance and as Pakistan becomes even more dependent on China, China will loom larger than ever on the entire Kashmir region.
QUESTION : Terrorism is emerging as a competitive industry over the last few decades.” Analyse the above statement.
- Terror Attacks in Vienna
WHY IN NEWS ?
- The attack in Vienna that killed four people on Monday night highlights the transnational threat European countries face from Islamist terrorists.
- The attack follows the beheading of a schoolteacher in a Paris suburb and a knife attack in Nice that took three lives.
WHAT IS TERRORISM ?
- Terrorism is the act of intimidating people by using organized and systematic violence done by an individual or group to achieve their political, religious, and cultural objectives.
TYPES OF TERRORISM IN INDIA :
- Ethnic terrorism
- Religious terrorism
- Ideological terrorism
- Terrorism based on an identity crisis, resource crisis and cultural imperialism among various ethnic groups is called ethnic terrorism. It is spread in the northeast region of India.
Religious terrorism: –
- The systematic violence propagated based on religion is called religious terrorism. The feeling of religious superiority is at the root of this terrorism. Religious terrorism in modern times is considered terrorism.
Ideological terrorism: –
- If the purpose of planned violence is motivated by communist elements, it is called Left Terrorism or Naxalism. But if the origin of violence is inspired by religious and cultural elements then it is called right-wing terrorism.
- Dominance of religious terrorism in India
- From India’s point of view, there are the following levels of terrorism in the light of religion
- Global terrorism
- Cross-border terrorism
- Domestic terrorism
Global terrorism: –
- This type of terrorism has a global impact. They mainly target the western countries (America, Europe). The first and frightening glimpse of global terrorism was seen during the 9/11 attacks in America. In recent times, the nature of global terrorism has been seen in France and Austria.
Cross-border terrorism: –
- In this mode of terrorism, persons who are not citizens of India, but who are sponsored by any religious purpose or neighboring countries, carry out terrorist incidents in the country. Along with this, they also support separatist movements going on in India. UT of Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir is the most affected by these activities. There was clear evidence of Pakistan sponsored terrorism in incidents like Pulwama, Mumbai 26/11, Pathankot.
Domestic Terrorism: –
- Relative deprivation, identity crisis and increasing extremist feeling of the majority community and the presence of communal elements in society takes the form of domestic terrorism. The society and nation of India are still going through the process of maturity, so communalism becomes an obstacle in this Nation building process.
- Laws like UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) have been enacted by the Parliament of India to deal with terrorist activities, communalism,etc.
- India’s security forces are constantly engaged in creating an environment of security in the country.
Changing nature of terrorism: –
- Along with technological advancements, there have also been changes in terrorism. With the revolution in information technology, terrorists are also using technology to brainwash the young minds.deprived, and refugees and carry out terrorist incidents. This form of terror is called cyber terrorism.
FACTORS FAVOURING CROSS-BORDER TERRORISM :
- Porous borders: These indicate borders which are not highly protected. India’s borders with most of her neighbours cannot be physically sealed or wired due to difficult terrain, and other factors. Terror groups take advantage of such porous borders and infiltrate into another country.
- Support from non-state actors: India’s troubled relationship with Pakistan fuels the latter’s support for secessionist groups, which are provided financial support, weapons and training by the establishment in Pakistan.
- Internal support: Many times, terrorists find support from the local population due to varying reasons like ideological or ethnic affinity, fear, monetary lure, etc.
- Corrupt officials: Unfortunately, many officials in the establishment of a country can abet terrorists and allow their illegal entry for terrorist activities purely for financial benefits.
STEPS TO BE TAKEN :
- The fact that the person involved in the Vienna incident had been previously convicted in a terrorism case and was still able to slip off the security radar and launch an attack in the capital city at a time when Europe was on high alert poses serious questions on the security apparatus.
- Austria will also have to plug the security loopholes.
- It should clamp down on terror networks, isolate and punish the jihadists.
- The larger challenge in countering the threat of terrorism is how to address the issue of radicalisation among youth and counter attempts to disrupt the social cohesion.
- Given that jihadists use violence to create social discord, there is a need for unity in the fight against terrorism. While stopping terror, authorities should build on values of pluralism, secularism, democracy and equality to counter the ideology of jihadists.
The Government has taken various steps to combat terror financing in the country, which inter alia, include:-
- Strengthening the provisions in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 to combat terror financing by criminalizing the production or smuggling or circulation of high quality counterfeit Indian currency as a terrorist act and enlarge the scope of proceeds of terrorism to include any property intended to be used for terrorism.
- A Terror Funding and Fake Currency (TFFC) Cell has been constituted in National Investigation Agency (NIA) to conduct focused investigation of terror funding and fake currency cases.
- An advisory on terror financing has been issued in April 2018 to States/ Union Territories. Guidelines have also been issued in March, 2019 to States/ Union Territories for investigation of cases of high quality counterfeit Indian currency notes.
- Training programmes are regularly conducted for the State Police personnel on issues relating to combating terrorist financing.
- Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) network is one of the channels of terror financing in India. FICN Coordination Group (FCORD) has been formed by the Ministry of Home Affairs to share intelligence/information among the security agencies of the states/centre to counter the problem of circulation of fake currency notes.
- Intelligence and security agencies of Centre and States work in tandem to keep a close watch on the elements involved in terror funding activities and take action as per law.
QUESTION : Critically evaluate the reasons behind India’s increasing income inequality as far as current scenario is concerned.
Topic- FIXING THE RULES OF THE ECONOMY
- Re-examination of the fundamental economic policies
WHY IN NEWS ?
- This article evaluates the current economic policies in India and argues for a change keeping in view both the short and long term needs of the Indian economy
- Income inequality is a critical issue plaguing the Indian economy. The prevalent trend indicates that income inequality in India is rising independent of absolute incomes.
THE GINI COEFFICIENT (GC) :
- The GC is indicative of income inequality in India. It is a statistical measure to gauge the rich-poor income or wealth divide.
- The Gini Coefficient for India is estimated to be close to 0.50, which would be an all-time high.
- Its value varies between zero to 1, zero indicating perfect equality and one indicating the perfect inequality.
- A Gini figure below 0.40 is generally considered to be within tolerable limits by economic experts.
- A general rise in the Gini Coefficient indicates that government policies are not inclusive and may be benefiting the rich as much as (or even more than) the poor.
SOME CONSEQUENCES OF INCOME EQUALITY :
- Economic inefficiency: growing inequality is not good for the economic growth of the country
- Rigid social institutions like caste
- Failure of productive jobs for poors and migrants
- Lack of skill development
- A divide between poor and rich
- As Matthews says in Matthew’s Effect – Poor will get more poorer and rich more richer.
3 SOLUTIONS & ISSUES WITH THEM :
1) Freeing up the markets –
- It is suggested that markets should be freed up for agricultural products so that farmers can get higher prices; and freed up for labour to attract investments.
- Without adequate incomes, people cannot be a good market for businesses.
- In fact, it is the inadequate growth of incomes that has caused a slump in investments.
- Ironically, the purpose of freeing up markets for labour is to reduce the burden of wage costs on investors just when wages and the size of markets must be increased.
2) Increasing productivity –
- Productivity is a ratio of an input in the denominator and an output in the numerator.
- The larger the output that is produced with a unit of input, the higher the productivity of the system.
- Improvement of ‘productivity’ is key to economic progress.
- Economists generally use labour productivity as a universal measure of the productivity of an economy.
- Humans are the only ‘appreciating assets’ an enterprise has. They can improve their own abilities.
- The values of machines and buildings depreciate over time, as any accountant knows.
- Whereas human beings develop when they are treated with respect, and are provided with environments to learn.
- For capital-scarce and human resource-abundant countries, such as many developing countries, the correct ratio of productivity is output per unit of capital.
- This must be the driver of business as well as national strategies.
- This was the strategy of ‘Japan Inc.’ to make Japan an industrial powerhouse.
- This was E.F. Schumacher’s insight also.
3) Use of technology –
- Schumacher, best known for his seminal idea ‘small is beautiful’ understood where capitalism powered with technology would be heading.
- In his essay he wrote: “If we define the level of technology in terms of ‘equipment cost per work-place’, we can call the indigenous technology of a typical developing country (symbolically speaking) a £1-technology, while that of the modern West could be called a £1,000-technology.
- The current attempt of the ‘developing ‘countries, supported by foreign aid, to infiltrate the £1,000-technology into their economies inevitably kills off the £1-technolgy at an alarming rate.
- This results in destroying traditional workplaces at a much faster rate than modern workplaces can be created and producing the ‘dual economy’ with its attendant evils of mass unemployment and mass migration.
- Schumacher had warned there was a malaise brewing beneath the drive to ‘Westernise’ and ‘technologise’ economies.
Social contract between society and workers :
- Workers provide the economy with the products and services it needs.
- In return, society and the economy must create conditions whereby workers are treated with dignity and can earn adequate incomes.
- Good jobs require good contracts between workers and their employers.
- Therefore, the government should create a good society for all citizens, must regulate contracts between those who engage people to do work for their enterprises, even in the gig economy.
- Government should push innovation in socially more beneficial directions to augment rather than replace less skilled workers.
- The power balance must shift. Small enterprises and workers must combine into larger associations, in new forms, using technology, to tilt reforms towards their needs and their rights.
- NOTE : The coronavirus pandemic has dealt a huge blow to India’s middle and low-income groups. This is likely to further widen the wealth gap between India’s rich and poor.
- A January 2020 study by rights group Oxfam India suggests that India’s richest 1 per cent hold more than four-times the wealth held by 953 million people who make up for the bottom 70 per cent of the country’s population. The study added that India’s top 10 per cent of the population holds over 74% of the total national wealth.
QUESTION : “Covid-19 and the ensuing global economic crisis have demonstrated that the world is unprepared for food security.” Justify the given statement especially in the context of India.
Topic- THE NUTRITION FALLOUT OF SCHOOL CLOSURES
- Negative impacts of Covid-19 on schools
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Nearly 116 million children faced the problem of hunger due to the school closure caused by covid-19 caused in India.
- A report by the International Labour Organization and the UNICEF cautions that unless school services are strengthened with food security, there is a risk that some children may not even return to schools when they reopen.
HUNGER PROBLEM IN INDIA :
- The recent Global Hunger Index (GHI) report for 2020 ranks India at 94 out of 107 countries and in the category ‘serious’, behind Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
- The index is a combination of indicators of under-nutrition in the population and wasting (low weight for height), stunting (low height for age), and mortality in children below five years of age.
- The report ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020’ showed that 369 million children globally were losing out on school meals, a bulk of whom were in India.
MID-DAY MEAL PROGRAMME :
- Nutrition Support to Primary Education Scheme popularly referred to as Mid-Day Meal programme (MDM) was launched in 1995.
- It is centrally-sponsored scheme.
- Implementation of the scheme rests with the state government, while central government provides financial assistance
- To address the issues of hunger and education in schools by serving hot cooked meals.
- To improve the nutritional status of children and improve enrollment, attendance and retention rates in schools and other education centres.
- The scheme was made universal in all public schools in 2001 after the Supreme Court’s directions. The scope scheme was extended to cover the students of Upper Primary (Class VI to VIII) in 2007.
- The Scheme was further extended in 2008 to recognized as well as unrecognized Madarsas / Maqtabs supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).
- General states: Centre: State = 60:40
- Northeast and other special states: Centre : State = 90: 10
- All union territories: 100 % funded by the central government
LOOPHOLES IN MID-DAY MEAL PROGRAMME :
- A mid-day meal in India should provide 450 Kcal of energy, a minimum of 12 grams of proteins. This is approximately one-third of the nutritional requirement of the child.
- However, many research reports showed that many children reach school on an empty stomach, making the school’s mid-day meal a major source of nutrition for children.
- Further, these reports highlight the importance of innovative strategies to improving nutrition quality and food diversity under the MDM.
- Many state governments, like Tamil Nadu (a pioneering state in MDMS) and Puducherry introduced innovations to convert MDMS into a Nutritious Meal Programme.
Lower offtake of food grains
- In March and April 2020, Government of India announced that the mid-day meal or dry ration would be provided to all eligible school-going children. However, States are still struggling to implement this order.
- The offtake of grains under MDMS from Food Corporation of India during April and May, 2020 was 221.312 thousand tones. This was 22% lower than the corresponding offtake during April and May, 2019.
- Offtake agreement is an arrangement between a producer and a buyer to purchase or sell portions of the producer’s upcoming goods.
Irregular dry ration
- Data indicate that dry ration (as alternative to hot cooked meal) distributions in lieu of school meals are irregular.
- There are reports of children engaging in labour to supplement the fall in family incomes in vulnerable households.
Last-mile delivery challenges
- While many State governments have initiated dry rations provision in lieu of school meals, there are still challenges for ensuring last-mile delivery.
- Even States like Tamil Nadu, with a relatively good infrastructure for the MDMS, are unable to serve the mandated ‘hot cooked meal’ during the lockdown.
WAY FORWARD :
Local smallholder farmers’ involvement in school feeding:
- There should be a livelihood model that links local smallholder farmers with the mid-day meal system for the supply of food.
- This could diversify production and farming systems, transform rural livelihoods and the local economy, and fulfill the ‘Atmanirbhar Poshan’ (nutritional self-sufficiency) agenda.
School Nutrition (Kitchen) Garden:
- There are also new initiatives such as the School Nutrition (Kitchen) Garden under MDMS to provide fresh vegetables for mid-day meals. Such Garden needs to be created at major scale.
Similar to free urban canteens:
- Hot meals can be provided to eligible children with a plan to prepare and distribute the meal in the school mid-day meal centre. This is similar to free urban canteens or community kitchens for the elderly and others in distress in States like Odisha.
- Adequate awareness about the availability of the scheme is needed urgently so that missed areas can take benefits of this scheme.
Provide April Quote:
- Since the distribution of dry ration started only in late May, some experts are calling for immediate distribution of the April food quota, to which the children are entitled
- The Mid-Day Meal Programme, largest school-feeding programme in the world, has played significant role in increasing nutrition among school children. However, it has been one of the casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- With continuing uncertainty regarding the reopening of schools, innovation is required to ensure that not just food, but nutrition is delivered regularly to millions of children.
- Ensuring functioning of MDMS during the pandemic period, where children are under threat of nutrition and food insecurity, must be high priority.
QUESTION : Elaborate RBI’S Monetary policy and its limitations as far as the inflation targeting is concerned.
Topic- REINFORCING RBI’S ACCOUNTABILITY
- Inflation Targeting
WHY IN NEWS ?
- In each of the last three quarters, average inflation has not only exceeded the target, but has persisted above the upper tolerance limit set by the Centre.
- Inflation, as measured by the consumer price index (CPI), was 6.7% in the January-March quarter, 6.6% in the April-June quarter (based on imputed data) and 6.9% in the July-September quarter.
MONETARY POLICY COMMITTEE :
- The Monetary Policy Committee of India is responsible for fixing the benchmark interest rate in India.
- The Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 was amended by the Finance Act (India), 2016 to constitute MPC which will bring more transparency and accountability in fixing India’s Monetary Policy.
- The current mandate of the committee is to maintain 4% annual inflation until 31 March 2021 with an upper tolerance of 6% and a lower tolerance of 2%. The term of the present committee will end in 2021.
- The meetings of the Monetary Policy Committee are held at least 4 times a year. The monetary policy is published after every meeting with each member explaining his opinions. The committee is answerable to the Government of India if the inflation exceeds the range prescribed for three consecutive months.
- The committee comprises of six members – three officials of the RBI and three external members nominated by the Government of India. The Governor of the Reserve Bank of India is the chairperson ex officio of the committee. Decisions are taken by a majority with the Governor having the casting vote in case of a tie.
- The external members will hold office for a period of four years from the date of appointment while the other three members are official. All the central government nominees are not eligible to be re-appointed.
THE NEW MONETARY FRAMEWORK :
- An agreement between the RBI and central government in 2015: It explicitly made inflation targeting the objective of the MPC while using the repo rate as the instrument for it.
- Target given to MPC: The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) MPC was given the target of keeping inflation at 4% +/- 2%. This meant that inflation should be between 2% and 6%.
- Contrasting target: It contrasted with the multiple indicator approach that predated this framework where the central bank focused on both growth and price stability
INFLATION TARGETING IN INDIA :
- Inflation targeting is a monetary policy strategy used by central banks for maintaining inflation at a certain level or within a specific range. With many central banks adopting it, inflation targeting has emerged as an important monetary policy framework.
- This approach was in contrast with the multiple indicator approach that predated this inflation targeting framework where the central bank focused on both growth and price stability.
DATA LIMITATIONS-RBI’S REASONS FOR BREACH :
- Reports suggest that RBI has provided defence for the breach of the 4% inflation target and 6% upper tolerance limit was the handicap of data limitations.
- Coivid-19 disruption:
- The normal data collection exercise of the National Statistics Office was disrupted during the lockdown imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The publication of the CPI had to be suspended for the months of April and May.
CHALLENGES RELATED TO MPC:
- Ineffective monetary policy transmission: Monetary transmission refers to the process by which a central bank’s monetary policy signals (like repo rate) are passed on, through financial system to influence the businesses and households. The ineffective monetary policy transmission has following consequences.
- RBI is unable to achieve its mandate effectively– towards regulating various parameters like inflation, growth.
- Economic situation remains out of control– whereby country faces job losses, growth in unemployment rates due to stagnating growth.
- Inflation hurts the marginalized– as price rise hits at the pocket of poor sections the most. It becomes a failure on the part of a welfare state.
- Negative signals to the investors– which are otherwise tempted to invest in India due to its favorable interest eco-system.
- Uncertainties in business cycle– where major companies are not able to take decisions with predictable policy cycle.
- Ineffectiveness of Fiscal Policy– whereby government incentives like subsidies, interest subventions do not remain attractive as banks do not respond to policy signals.
REASONS FOR A LAG IN MONETARY TRANSMISSION IN INDIA :
- Overdependence on banks– The Indian financial system remains bank-dominated, and the share of nonbank finance companies (NBFCs) and markets (corporate bonds, commercial paper, equity, etc.) is less. Hence, most public savings are in Bank deposits, reducing the banks’ dependency on repo rate.
- Double Financial Repression– Pressure on banks due to locking of funds in government securities (SLR) and cash reserves (CRR).
- Priority Sector Lending- creates additional burden on banks to lend on a priority basis
- Increasing Non Performing Assets- in bank balance sheets, which impedes the bank’s ability to offer lower interest rates.
WAY FORWARD :
- Clarity of policy objectives: The central bank should be allowed to state expressly what support by way of government policy it needs to meet the inflation target.
- Reinforce the MPC framework: Transparency can enable more informed decision-making within the government, greater public scrutiny of the RBI’s performance, and an improved inflation-targeting regime.
QUESTION : What are the provisions for gig workers and platform workers in the new labour code? What are the issues with the provision?”
Topic- A SECURE FUTURE FOR PLATFORM WORKERS
- The Code on Social Security Act, 2020 and Platform workers
WHY IN NEWS ?
- The Code on Social Security Act, 2020, for the first time in Indian law, attempted to define ‘platform work’ outside of the traditional employment category.
THE SOCIAL SECURITY CODE ACT, 2020
- Social security funds for unorganised workers, gig workers and platform workers: It proposes to empower the centre to constitute a social security fund for provision of social security for the unorganised workers, platform workers or gig workers or any such class of workers.
- National Social Security for gig workers and platform workers:It proposes to bring unorganised sector, gig workers and platform workers under the ambit of social security schemes, including life and disability insurance, health and maternity benefits, provident fund and skill upgradation.
- It proposes to form a National Social Security Board that would recommend suitable schemes for the different sections of unorganised sector workers.
- The Social Security Code will extend the scope of the Employees State Insurance Corporation to all 740 districts in the country and that of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation to all institutions with 20 or more workers as well as the self-employed.
PLATFORM WORK :
- The Act defines Platform work as a work arrangement outside of a traditional employer-employee relationship in which organisations or individuals use an online platform to access other organisations or individuals.
- Platform work aims to solve specific problems or to provide specific services or any such other activities which may be notified by the Central Government, in exchange for payment.
ABOUT GIG ECONOMY :
- A gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements
- Examples of gig employees in the workforce could include freelancers, independent contractors, project-based workers and temporary or part-time hires.
- An estimated 56% of new employment in India is being generated by the gig economy companies across both the blue-collar and white-collar workforce.
ISSUES OF GIG WORKERS – Example of SWIGGY (Food Delivery platform)
- Swiggy workers have been essential during the pandemic.
- They have faced a continuous dip in pay, where base pay was reduced from ₹35 to ₹10 per delivery order, despite braving against the odds of delivering during Pandemic
- Stable terms of earning have been a key demand of delivery-persons
DOES NEW VERSION OF LABOUR CODE OFFER ANY RELIEF TO GIG WORKERS ?
- The three new labour codes passed by Parliament recently acknowledge platform and gig workers as new occupational categories in the making
- Defining gig workers is done in a bid to keep India’s young workforce secure as it embraces ‘new kinds of work’, like delivery, in the digital economy.
- In the Code on Social Security, 2020, platform workers are now eligible for benefits like maternity benefits, life and disability cover, old age protection, provident fund, employment injury benefits, and so on.
ISSUES WITH NEW LABOUR CODES :
- Platform delivery people can claim benefits, but not labour rights.
- This distinction makes them beneficiaries of State programmes but does not allow them to go to court to demand better and stable pay, or regulate the algorithms that assign the tasks.
- This also means that the government or courts cannot pull up platform companies for their choice of pay, or how long they ask people to work.
- The laws do not see them as future industrial workers.
- They are now eligible for government benefits but eligibility does not mean that the benefits are guaranteed. Actualising these benefits will depend on the political will at the Central and State government-levels.
- The language in the Code is open enough to imply that platform companies can be called upon to contribute either solely or with the government to some of these schemes. But it does not force the companies to contribute towards benefits or be responsible for workplace issues.
- Failing to delineate it from gig work and unorganised work: A categorical clarification could ensure that social security measures are provided to workers without compromising the qualities of platform work: flexibility and a sense of ownership.
- Misclassification of platform workers as ‘independent
- contractors’ instead of employee status: Granting employee status to platform workers, guarantees minimum wage and welfare benefits.
- Given the temporary nature of workers in the gig economy, there are question marks over social security for them.
- Flexibility of the platform
- The algorithm affects pricing per unit of work, allocation of work, and hours.
- The Code states the provision of basic welfare measures as a joint responsibility of the Central government, platform aggregators, and workers.
Need for welfare of platform workers:
- The dependence of companies on platform workers merits a jointly assumed responsibility by public and private institutions to deliver welfare measures.
- Doorstep delivery during pandemic:
- Platform workers were responsible for delivery of essential services during the pandemic at great personal risk to themselves.
- Public infrastructures:
- They have also been responsible for keeping platform companies afloat despite the pandemic-induced financial crisis. This has cemented their role as public infrastructures who also sustain demand-driven aggregators
WAY FORWARD :
- To mitigate operational breakdowns in providing welfare services, a tripartite effort by the State, companies, and workers to identify where workers fall on the spectrum of flexibility and dependence on platform companies is critical.
- A socio-legal acknowledgement of the heterogeneity of work in the gig economy, and the ascription of joint accountability to the State and platform companies for the delivery of social services is the way forward.
- Therefore, it is important to hand-hold this sector and help it grow. We need policies and processes that give clarity to the way the sector should function.
- The ‘platform worker’ identity has the potential to grow in power and scope, but it will be mediated by politicians, election years, rates of under-employment, and large, investment- heavy technology companies that are notorious for not complying with local laws.