Polity & Governance
- Economic management key to handling refugee crisis, says World Bank
- Equal opportunity for women will boost growth
Science & Technology
- A blow for the right to knowledge
Polity & Governance
GS (M) Paper-2: “Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.”
GS (M) Paper-1 Topic: “Role of women”
Equal opportunity for women will boost growth
The new report on economic freedom in the world was released by the Fraser Institute recently. The new report has one interesting innovation- It adjusted the data by considering the economic freedom of women in various countries.
Once the legal status of women is considered by adjusting rankings, several countries move up and down the ranking.
The adjusted rankings underline the point that the economic freedom of women is too often ignored in the broader narrative about open economies.
Highlights of the report:
- Muslim countries fare badly when it comes to the legal protections offered to women to take advantage of economic freedom.
- The United Arab Emirates was the fifth most open economy in the world in 2013. Its rank plummeted to 74 once the overall ranking is adjusted for the economic freedom of its women.
- Slovenia climbs from 92 to 72 in the adjusted ranking.
- The adjusted score for India in 2013 was 92.
- The European countries do very well, especially some of those that were once under communist rule.
About the index:
- The Fraser Institute and its research partners—including the Centre for Civil Society in New Delhi—have developed an index of gender disparity in terms of legal rights.
- This measures the legal barriers women face when it comes to exercising the same economic freedom available to men in their countries.
There are five components to the index of gender disparity—
- Freedom of movement,
- Property rights,
- Financial rights,
- Freedom to work and
- Legal status.
Performance of India:
According to the report,
- India does not do badly in terms of the legal rights of women—but not so well that its economic freedom score adjusted for the legal rights of women takes it far up the ranks.
- India has done well in terms of its formal institutions. But more work is needed when it comes to social practices.
Female participation in the labour force in India:
- In case of female participation in the labour force, India is an outlier in Asia.
- Too few women go out of their homes to work for a wage on a regular basis.
- The experience of the past two decades shows that women enter the labour force in large numbers when there is economic distress, such as a drought. They come out to support the dwindling family income. They then withdraw from the labour force once economic circumstances improve.
Why better Female participation in the labour force is needed for India?
There are three reasons why a better deal for Indian women will not only advance gender equality but also help the economy.
- First, a higher proportion of women in the labour force will boost economic growth, as was the case in most successful Asian economies.
- Second, the persistent problem of high levels of child malnutrition cannot be solved unless pregnant women have privileged access to nutrition within families, itself a function of gender rights.
- Third, higher political participation by women seems to result in better public goods choices for example, panchayat decisions in India.
- Although India does quite well in terms of female access to formal economic institutions, there are specific issues such as physical safety on one hand and the access to formal credit on the other.
- The more daunting problem is that of social norms that deny the possibilities of economic freedom to women. These social norms cannot necessarily be changed by government orders. It will be a slower process of reform from within society.
GS (M) Paper-2 Topic: “Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections”
Economic management key to handling refugee crisis, says World Bank
Refugees are often seen as harbingers of socioeconomic instability in host countries.
However, a World Bank report titled- ‘Forcibly Displaced: Toward a New Development Approach Supporting Refugees, the Internally Displaced, and their Hosts’, which was released recently, suggests that such a view could be rooted more in prejudice than facts.
General beliefs about refugees:
It is generally believed that
- Giving greater freedom to refugees could increase rather than decrease their number in individual countries.
- Billions of dollars have to be spent on sustaining refugees because they are not allowed to become independent.
Who is called Internally Displaced People (IDP)?
- An internally displaced person (IDP) is someone who is forced to flee his or her home but who remains within his or her country’s borders. They are often referred to as refugees, although they do not fall within the current legal definition of a refugee.
As per United Nations Refugee Agency statistics, the number of IDP is much greater than refugees. At the end of 2015, there were 41 million IDPs against 24 million refugees and asylum seekers.
Hardness a refugee experiences:
- Refugees as well as IDPs have to face a lot of hardship and economic uncertainty after being forcibly displaced.
- What is even more worrying is that once a person becomes a refugee, chances of a return to the earlier life are not very bright. Just about one-fourth of those who exited refugee status over the last six years returned back to their home countries.
- A large number of IDP also do not go back to their original places and resettle in urban areas, due to a mix of security and economic reasons. Even those who return might be forced to flee again. The report notes that of the 15 largest episodes of return, one in three was followed by a new round of fighting within a couple of years, which suggests either a premature return or fragile recovery.
Reactions to refugees in developed world:
- In Europe, a lot of people have tried to link the refugee crisis with a spate of terror attacks and other civic disturbances.
- Around 53% of Americans voting against taking in Syrian refugees after the 2015 Islamic State attacks in Paris, and an additional 11% opining that only Christian refugees should be taken.
Myths busted by the World Bank report:
- Over the last 25 years, hosting refugees may have contributed to causing conflict in only eight out of 991 country-year episodes, and in each case, the country was already on the brink of conflict.
- Refugees typically represent less than 1% of the population of host countries and their impact on economic performance is more muted than factors such as changes in oil prices.
- Although the refugee influx might be on an upward trajectory, it is by no means the biggest in the advanced world. The number of refugees in high-income countries today is much less than what it was in the 1990s.
- Countries that have the biggest number of refugees in the world are already backward in terms of their business environment and incomes.
For example, of the 10 largest refugee-hosting countries in 2015, all but one were in the bottom half of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index. The average rank in Ease of Doing Business for the 10 largest countries with Internally Displaced People (IDP)—people displaced within their countries—was 148 out of 189.
- Evidence of Liberian refugees in Ghana suggests that better-off refugees, with better access to resources, skills and networks are keener to return as they have a better chance of starting their lives afresh.
Suggestions by the report:
- Development actors should support efforts to transform camps into settlements.
- They should also work with other partners to enhance the way assistance is provided so as to gradually reduce dependency.
- They can reduce dependency by strengthening targeting, supporting people in rejoining the labour force, and building capacity to allow for a gradual shift to country systems.
- Countries which allow refugees to participate in economic activities have a better chance of them returning. Billions of dollars have to be spent on sustaining refugees because they are not allowed to become independent.
What should be the role of development institutions regarding forced displacement?
The report identifies three phases of forced displacement where development institutions can intervene to help reduce the costs of the crisis.
- Prevention and preparedness:
- Help potential hosts prepare before large numbers of people arrive by planning for contingencies, developing instruments to transfer resources rapidly, and creating ‘surge capacity’ for service delivery. Forced displacement peaks at an average of 4.1 years after its onset, giving countries time to prepare.
- Strengthen the resilience of those who stay behind, by financing investment in stable parts of unstable countries to maintain livelihoods. People weigh the risks of staying against the risks of leaving, and the majority stay, coping until they have exhausted all other options.
- Mid-crisis action:
- Support host communities in addressing long-standing development issues, such as improving the business environment and reducing inequalities, which the presence of forcibly displaced may exacerbate.
- Strengthen and expand delivery of education, health, urban and environmental services to cope with the increase in population.
- Encourage policies that enhance freedom of movement and the right to work for the displaced, which are in the interest of host communities as well.
- Help the displaced move to places where there are opportunities, create jobs in hosting areas, or invest in skills and education that are in demand in the labor market
- Rebuilding Lives:
- Support successful return by creating jobs and opportunities in communities receiving returnees, and assist with recovery efforts.
- Help those in displacement integrate locally, by providing development support for countries that are willing to provide adequate legal status to refugees.
Science & Technology
GS (M) Paper-3 Topic: “Issues relating to intellectual property rights”
A blow for the right to knowledge
In its much awaited judgment in the Delhi University photocopying case (The Chancellor Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford v. Rameshwari Photocopy Services), the Delhi High Court has dismissed the copyright infringement petition initiated in August 2012 by three publishers (Oxford, Cambridge and Taylor & Francis) against a photocopy shop located in the premises of Delhi University.
Why this case is important?
- The case has immense significance as it involves questions of access to knowledge.
- The judgment has immense consequences beyond India and is a bold articulation of the principles of equitable access to knowledge.
Initially involving only the publishers, the photocopier and the university, the case also saw intervention petitions being filed by a student group as well as by teachers and academics.
Arguments by publishers:
- The creation of course packs and the photocopying of academic material for the same amounted to an infringement of the exclusive copyright of the authors and publishers.
The petitioners tried to provide a narrow reading of the section 52(1)(i), claiming that at best what the section allows for is the provision of materials in the course of a lecture and spatially restricted to a classroom.
Arguments by defendants:
- The reproduction of materials for educational purposes fell within the exceptions to copyright under Section 52(1)(i) of the Copyright Act.
What exactly the Section 52(1)(i) of the Copyright Act says?
The nature of Section 52 of the Copyright Act is such that any act falling within its scope will not constitute infringement.
Section 52(1)(i) allows for the reproduction of any work
- By a teacher or a pupil in the course of instruction; or
- As part of the questions to be answered in an examination; or
- In answers to such questions.
Important observations made by court:
- Copyright is a statutory right and not a natural right, and hence any right that is granted to owners is also limited by exceptions carved out by law.
- The court has argued that “instruction” cannot be narrowly understood and concludes that instruction includes the entire ambit of pedagogy from the creation of syllabus to teaching and provision of reading materials
- The court has argued that “when an action, if onerously done, is not an offence, it cannot become an offence when, owing to advancement in technology doing thereof has been simplified”. For instance, when photocopying was very limited, students used to copy by hand, like a scribe. Photocopiers have just made the task simpler and faster.
- No law can be interpreted so as to result in any regression of the evolvement of the human being for the better.
- If Indian law makers have allowed through statute for the reproduction of a copyrighted work in the course of instruction, it has done so on the basis of purpose (teaching) and with the conviction that this does not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interest of the author.
What will be the Global implications of the judgement?
- For a while now, the Globalisation of copyright norms through international law (Berne Convention, TRIPS Agreement), aggressively pushed by the copyright lobby, such as Hollywood, the music industry and the publishing cartels seem to cater to narrow commercial interests.
- S. and other countries that have defined quantitative restrictions on photocopying might not happy with the judgement.
- The court while delivering the judgement is acutely aware of the specific needs of countries like India where libraries and universities have to cope with the needs of thousands of students simultaneously, and it would be naïve to expect every student to buy copies of every book.
- The publishers should understand that teacher, readers, students and photocopiers are not the enemies of publishers; they are their greatest allies.
- In a time when books and reading itself are under threat from competing media forms, it may be useful to remember that it is education and greater access that makes readers, not copyright.