- Why caste matters less in urban India
- Bank crisis calls for twin-track approach
Defence & Security Issues
- Why Kashmiri media is muzzled
- B.R. Ambedkar’s views on intercaste marriage
GS (M) Paper-1 Topic: “Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India”
Why caste matters less in urban India
Traditionally, marriage outside caste has not found social approval, as honour killings continue to be reported across the country.
However, in urban, middle-class India, young people are no longer limiting their search for partners within their own caste.
- In the US, although the percentage of black and white marriages remains close to 1 per cent of all marriages, but the social acceptance of these marriages has increased dramatically.
- Five per cent of Indians report they are in intercaste marriages.
- A study of more than 10,000 matrimonial advertisements that appeared across major national dailies between 1970 and 2010 found that the requests for within-caste proposals fell from 30 per cent for the decade of 1970-80 to 19 per cent for 2000-10.
- In India, urbanisation will continue to increase. By 2030, 40 per cent of Indians are predicted to live in urban areas.
- Genetic studies show the practice of intercaste marriage was common in the Indian subcontinent until 1,900 years ago when it disappeared.
- Evidence suggests that, in India, interest in intercaste marriage is higher than the actual reported rate.
- Urbanisation undermines caste. The relative anonymity of an individual’s identity in a city makes it difficult for rules of purity and pollution to be observed and enforced in the public sphere.
- The urban middle class, once a preserve of the upper castes, has become more diverse with gradual entry of backward castes and Dalits.
There is an increasing interest in inter-caste marriage in the ranks of the urban middle class. But significant obstacles remain.
- Families still police marriages through the threat of humiliation, boycott, and, in extreme cases, honour killing.
- Beyond the family, caste-based political parties and caste association leaders stand to lose influence if caste boundaries weaken; they are opposed to intercaste marriage.
- The state must act to protect individual freedoms to marry.
- Thus far, the state has encouraged intercaste marriage by providing cash rewards to intercaste couples. To add to these incentives, it can also provide these couples preferential access to government programs.
- By acting swiftly against the threat of honour killings and its instigators, it will deter such acts.
- Public campaigns in favour of intercaste marriage will also lower its barriers.
- The demise of the caste system is not imminent. Caste fault lines remain strong in social and political life.
- However, openness to intercaste marriage reflects a silent transformation in social attitudes that is no longer confined to the public sphere, but has begun to extend into the private sphere in urban, middle-class India.
GS (M) Paper-3 Topic: “Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.”
Bank crisis calls for twin-track approach
Public sector banks have done yeoman service to the country by providing timely long-term finance to infrastructure and core sector projects in the last decade.
But, when commodity prices crashed internationally, steel and other projects took a big hit, roads and other infrastructure projects languished causing huge problems for them.
Major problems PSBs facing:
The above situations have resulted in two problems:
First, the need for massive amount of capital in PSBs and
- Estimates by some rating agencies seem to indicate that by March 2019, PSBs would need additional capital of $90 billion, while the Government might provide about $7 billion.
- Government is the majority shareholder in PSBs with more than 55% in all PSBs. While government’s own financial capacity does not allow it to provide even 51 per cent of the additional capital, the existing political environment would not accept dilution of the Government’s share in PSB capital below 51 per cent.
Second, the extra cautious approach adopted by PSB officials while considering further finance for revival requests, made by the affected borrowers.
- PSB officials have worked under fear for a long time. This had been highlighted by the World Bank and an expert committee on banking reforms in 1998.
- The second (follow-up) committee on banking sector reforms under the chairmanship of M Narasimham, a former governor of the RBI, observed that “the pervasive fear of external vigilance authority has tended to inculcate a ‘fear psychosis’ among bank personnel”
- Indian PSBs would perhaps be the only banks in the world where the lending decisions of its officers are examined well after some years by government officials who might not have granted a single commercial loan in their entire lives.
- On that basis, PSBs are asked to initiate “penal action” against an official whose track record may have been otherwise exemplary.
Solutions for above problems:
According to the author, the Centre can resolve both issues by taking some pragmatic steps.
- One, follow what the legendary investor, Warren Buffett, did when he wanted to attract public money into his company, Berkshire Hathaway, without diluting his control too much.
- Warren Buffett floated B-class shares having voting rights equivalent to 1/10,000th voting rights of the then existing A-class shares owned by him and his associates.
- Such differential voting rights are now approved under the present Companies Act.
- Since the Government owns more than 51 per cent in all PSBs, there should be enough room to get public money with, say, 1/10,000th voting right of existing shares.
- The B-class shareholders could be vested with the same dividend and other rights as A-class shareholders, excepting the restriction on voting in general meetings.
- The second option is to declare one share owned by the Government as a ‘golden share’ with 51 per cent voting rights.
- This concept had been bandied about in theory but does not seem to have been put into practice.
- If this route is adopted, the Government can even get money by off-loading its extra shares to the public, instead of pumping additional money into PSBs.
Redeemable cumulative preference shares:
- The third option is to raise capital from the public through redeemable cumulative preference shares.
- These should have a minimum tenure of 15 years to be counted as tier 2 capital.
- The only hitch could be that according to Reserve Bank of India rules under Basel III, the dividends on these shares are to be treated as interest and debited to the profit and loss account of the bank. This means that although the holder of the shares gets dividends, the amount might not be not tax-free in the hands of the shareholder, even as all other dividends are tax-exempt.
- M Narasimham suggested by saying: “The vigilance manual now being used has been designed mainly for use by Government Departments and public sector undertakings. It may be necessary that a separate vigilance manual which captures the special features of banking should be prepared for exercising vigilance supervision over banks.”
- The task of thoroughly revising the vigilance manual of PSBs brooks no delay. And the best way of doing this is to entrust it to the recently constituted high power Bank Board Bureau, under the chairmanship of Vinod Rai.
A two-pronged approach can make all the difference: additional capital for PSBs can easily be tapped from public without diluting Government majority holding, and the vigilance manual for PSBs should be completely revamped.
Unless these are done, the Centre’s drive for rapid economic growth may run into difficulties.[Ref: Business Line]
Defence & Security Issues
GS (M) Paper-3 Topic: “Role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges”
Why Kashmiri media is muzzled
Recently in J&K, authorities banned newspaper publication in Kashmir for three days. In this regard, police raided media houses and shut down a major printing press.
The government official argued in favour of the move that the decision is taken in view of apprehensions of serious trouble in Kashmir valley in the next three days aimed at subverting peace.
He also added that strict curfew will be imposed and movement of newspaper staff and distribution of newspapers will not be possible.
Editors of the newspapers had denounced the ban as “gagging and enforcing emergency on media.”
- There is nothing novel of the media gag in Kashmir. The Kashmiri media was silenced like it has been in the past.
- Local newspapers — a record of state violence — are the only source of news in curfew-bound flashpoints where mobile phone and internet services have been snapped.
- Besides, the local media has the wherewithal to cover such situations extensively. The state, however, prefers a media blackout on these occasions.
- It would rather have the journalists do the fire-fighting or, preferably, complement its actions, than perform its job.
- The local media is the biggest check on the propagandist reportage of the majority of Indian media channels, especially television, which can’t see such eruptions except through the prism of national interest.
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s views on intercaste marriage
In 1936, Ambedkar had the following to say on caste divisions and marriage:
“I am convinced that the real remedy is inter-marriage. Fusion of blood can alone create the feeling of being kith and kin, and unless this feeling of kinship, of being kindred, becomes paramount, the separatist feeling — the feeling of being aliens — created by Caste will not vanish. Where society is already well-knit by other ties, marriage is an ordinary incident of life. But where society is cut asunder, marriage as a binding force becomes a matter of urgent necessity. The real remedy for breaking Caste is inter-marriage. Nothing else will serve as the solvent of Caste.”
Ambedkar’s observation had a simple message: rules of caste and marriage were socially constructed, and what societies can build, they can also undo.