QUESTION: Do you agree with the view that slowdown in the reforms in land, labour and capital after the reforms of 1991 restricted India’s economic progress? Give reasons in support of your argument.
HOW TO COUNTER CHINA
- India needs serious economic reforms
WHY IN NEWS ?
- India’s success in countering China’s assertiveness will hinge upon completing the economic reforms begun in 1991, which will not only help India close the widening economic gap between India and China but also help it meet its immediate economic challenges.
HOW CHINA IS AHEAD OF INDIA :
- In 1987, both countries’ nominal GDPs were almost equal.
- China’s economic opening-up has left India behind, contributing to a military imbalance.
- China’s economy was nearly five times larger than India’s in 2019.
- Not coincidentally, from rough parity in 1989, China’s military spending last year more than tripled India’s.
- Heightened vigilance along the LAC demands summoning scarce resources.
- If India cannot close the economic gap and build military muscle, Beijing may feel emboldened to probe the subcontinent’s land and maritime periphery.
INDIA’S ECONOMIC CHALLENGES :
- India’s pronounced economic slump, predating the epidemic, will add to the economic impact of the pandemic.
- The government’s near-term attention may be consumed by tending to the needs of the poor. Limited fiscal and monetary tools, and dried-up private financing, constrain India’s options.
- Heightened vigilance along the LAC demands summoning scarce resources. Defence budgets were already tightening
- Economic Disparities : A critical problem facing India’s economy is the sharp and growing regional variations among India’s different states and territories in terms of poverty, availability of infrastructure and socio-economic development concerns.
- Debt burdens may cause a recession across emerging markets : Fragile economies that have recently seen a stabilisation in their currencies, such as Turkey and Argentina, could rapidly fall back into crisis, and new crises could emerge, particularly in the countries hoping for bilateral support from China or regional powers.
- SLOWDOWN IN REFORMS: The root causes of India’s economic woes can be traced to a slowdown in reforms. In 1991, India enacted changes allowing markets to set commodity prices but did not similarly liberalise land, labour and capital.
REFORMS ARE KEY TO PROGRESS:
- Now, the government has delivered mixed messages about a revitalised reform agenda.
- Some States have temporarily lifted labour restrictions.
- Some others intend to make land acquisition easier.
- Positive demographic characteristics: India will enjoy the benefits of a growing working age population. This should boost economic growth in the years ahead.
ECONOMIC LIBERALISATION IN INDIA :
- New Economic Strategy of 1991 give rise to LPG (Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization) reforms in India.
- Liberalization of the Indian industry has taken place with respect to abolishing license requirements in most of the industries across the country. Today, only 5 industries require a license (Distillation and brewing of alcoholic drinks; Cigars and cigarettes of tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes; Electronic aerospace and Defense equipment: all types; Industrial explosives including detonating fuses, Safety Fuses, gun powder, nitrocellulose and matches; and Hazardous chemicals).
- Removal of restrictions on the movement of goods and services across the country, freedom in fixing the prices of goods and services, reduction in tax rates, simplification of procedures for imports and exports and easier paths to attract foreign capital and technology in India.
COMPETITION FROM OTHER COUNTRIES:
- China is facing intense scrutiny for its role in the pandemic, geopolitical competition, trade wars, and economic coercion.
- Businesses are revisiting whether or not to diversify suddenly exposed international value chains.
- India’s competitors [like Bangladesh, Vietnam] are trying to attract the businesses shifting out form China.
- These countries are highlighting their regulatory predictability, stable tax policies, and fewer trade obstacles.
- While India remains outside the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, competitors are wooing companies seeking lower trade barriers.
- Asian countries are pushing ahead: Vietnam just inked a trade deal with the European Union that threatens to eat into India’s exports.
WAY FORWARD :
- India needs increased exports and investments to provide more well-paying jobs, technology.
- Before committing to long-term, multi-billion investments, companies often want to test India’s market through international sales.
- Liberalisation remains the tried-and-true path to competitiveness.
- If India can unite its people and rapidly strengthen capabilities, it will likely discover that it can deal with China effectively.
- The choices that India makes to recapture consistent, high growth will determine its future. Bold reforms offer the best option to manage Beijing and achieve greater independence on the world stage.
- India needs structural economic reforms which can lead to consistent high growth.
QUESTION: How covid-19 like pandemic can affect voting rights of migrant labourer in India? Elucidate by giving some important suggested remedies.
Topic- RE-ENFRANCHISE THE FORGOTTEN VOTER
- Covid-19 crisis and Migrant voters
WHY IN NEWS ?
- In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has made it possible for senior citizens above the age of 65 to vote by postal ballot.
Why are they called the forgotten voters?
- Most of the migrant workers never intend to settle down in their locations of work.
- They only wish to return to their native villages and towns once their work is completed or the working season ends.
- Often they toil in exploitative low-wage jobs, lacking identity and proper living conditions.
- So, they often go without access to welfare.
- Internal migrant workers do not enrol as voters in their place of employment.
- This is because they find it hard to provide proof of residence.
- They also cannot afford to return home on election day to vote.
- Thus, migrant workers become quasi-disenfranchised, and forgotten voters.
- It is perhaps this group does not constitute a vote bank worthy of attention.
- Also, since they do not have a vote where they work, their concerns are easy to ignore in their host State.
- Sometimes, they are targeted for allegedly taking jobs away from the local population.
RECENT CHANGES MADE BY ECI :
- In response to the pandemic, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has made it possible for senior citizens above the age of 65 to vote by postal ballot.
- This is given the fact that they are at greater risk from exposure to the novel coronavirus.
- Until now, this option was available only to disabled citizens and those above 80 years.
- The same empowering approach could be extended to the migrants who evidently face difficulties in exercising their franchise.
How significant are the migrant workers?
- Internal migrant workers constitute about 13.9 crore as in the Economic Survey of 2017.
- This is nearly a third of India’s labour force.
- They travel across India in search of an economic livelihood.
- They engage in the construction sector, as domestic work, in brick kilns, mines, transportation, security, agriculture, etc.
PRESENT SCENARIO :
- With COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown, the country witnessed the magnitude of internal migration.
- The hardships that migrant workers endured in their quest for livelihoods were also apparent.
- The humiliation they faced showed how politically powerless they were perceived to be.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MOVE:
- Facilitates voting and remove obstacles to voters exercising their franchise .
- Indicates the efforts of ECI to ensure that no one is left out of Democratic process
MODELS IN PLACE FOR VOTER PORTABILITY :
- Service voters (government employees) posted away from home can vote through the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS).
- Classified service voters (e.g., military personnel) can do so through their proxies.
- The ECI has said that it is testing an Aadhaar-linked voter-ID based solution.
- This is to enable electors to cast their votes digitally from anywhere in the country.
- It will be some time in the future before this becomes a functional reality.
WAYS AHEAD :
- To facilitate voting by migrant workers, the ECI could undertake substantial outreach measures using the network of District Collectorates.
- Migrants should be able to physically vote in their city of work based on the address on their existing voter IDs and duration of their temporary stay.
- Voting must be viewed not just as a civic duty but as a civic right.
- There must be the political will to usher in a ‘One Nation One Voter ID’ to ensure ballot portability and empower the forgotten migrant voter.
- ECI must fast track its testing an Aadhaar-linked voter-ID based solution to enable electors to cast their votes digitally from anywhere in the country.