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Editorial Notes

Editorial Notes 4th January 2017

Social Attitudes Research for India (SARI); What is stunting and how does it develop? Reasons for Indian women’s malnourishment; Why India is heading for jobless growth? Caste based reservation to class based reservation.
By IT's Editorial Notes Team
January 04, 2017

 

GS (M) Paper-1: “Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.”
GS (M) Paper-2: “Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.”

 

Quota demands will only grow with jobless growth

Recent protests made for reservations:

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  • In 2015, the Patels in Gujarat asked for job quotas in the public sector. In 2016, dominant castes in other parts of the country did the same.
  • The Jats of Haryana demonstrated in February in a violent manner.
  • In Maharashtra, the Marathas started an agitation to demand reservation in July, after a young Maratha girl was allegedly raped by a Dalit.
  • But in contrast to the Jats, they opted for a completely non-violent — even silent — method. Rallies were organised at the district level during August to October in which more than 1.2 million people were mobilised.
  •  The Kapus of Andhra Pradesh had mobilised 4,00,000 people after agitators from the caste burnt a train in coastal Andhra.
  • These movements reflect the differentiation among the big caste groups along class lines: While those in the upper echelons have benefited from growth, those at the bottom of the pyramid have been badly affected by the crisis of India’s agriculture

What Labour Bureau says?

  • According to a 2016 report of the Labour Bureau, 42 per cent of the rural population is underemployed.
  • This causes a flow of migrants to towns and cities, but those who leave their homes in villages to find a job in the private sector are often frustrated too.
  • While its demographic dynamism requires the creation of more than eight million jobs a year, India is not doing well on that front.
  • According to the Labour Bureau, which has been surveying eight sectors of industry since 2009 (textiles/apparel, leather, metals, automobiles, gems and jewellery, transport, information technology/business process outsourcing and handloom/powerloom), the number of jobs created by these industries is declining: From 6,40,000 in 2009 to 1,17,000 in 2014, in spite of a 7 to 8 per cent growth rate.

Why India is heading for jobless growth?

  • Such jobless growth partly relates to the nature of foreign multinational activity in India. In February, the function to mark the “Make in India Week” in Mumbai was well attended by global corporates. They committed to invest $ 225 billion over five years.
  • However, these FDIs will officially translate into only six million jobs because of the highly capitalistic nature of these companies.
  • Not only are the jobs too few, they are insecure and do not pay well.
  • By contrast, wages in the public sector were almost three times more: Rs 679 for workers and Rs 945 for all employees.
  • The seventh pay commission recently recommended an increase in the minimum monthly salary from Rs 7,000 to Rs 18,000.

Ground realities:

  • All this explains the demand for job quotas by the dominant castes — but quotas are not a solution.
  • Firstly, opportunities are very few. There were 19.5 million jobs in the public sector in 1992-1993 when India’s population was 839 million.
  • While the country’s population is now 1.3 billion, the number of jobs in the public sector has shrunk to 17.6 million.
  • Second, positive discrimination has been designed in favour of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes — a category the Supreme Court has redefined in caste terms in the Mandal verdict.
  •  Most dominant castes are not backward, only fractions are backward. For that reason, the courts systematically strike down the quotas introduced by governments for such castes.
  • The courts also strike down additional quotas because they push up the proportion of reservation above the 50 per cent limit set by the Supreme Court.

Caste based reservation to class based reservation:

  • Politicians have tried to avert this problem by creating quotas for economically backward classes.
  • The BJP, whose parent organisation, the RSS, always held that caste-based reservations divided society, has tried to introduce class-based reservations in states governed by the party.
  • The Rajasthan Economically Backward Classes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions in the State and of Appointments and Posts in Services under the State) Bill was passed in 2015.
  • The governments of Gujarat and Maharashtra also tried to introduce quotas for economically weaker sections. But these governments were overruled by the courts.

Conclusion:

  • Ruling parties find it is easier to blame the judiciary rather than create jobs. But there is no alternative if protests of the kind mentioned above have to be avoided.
  • Governments should facilitate small and medium enterprises which have a labour intensity about four times that of large firms.
  •  Many such enterprises are in bad shape, not just because of financial problems caused by demonetisation, but also because their access to credit is shrinking.
  • Behind the reservation issue lies the political economy of India. Big is beautiful for the rulers who need corporate sector funds to contest elections, but by ignoring agriculture (and reducing the budget of the MGNREGA) and the SMEs (which are not protected from competition by big firms any more), they aggravate the job problem.
[Ref: Indian Express]

 

GS (M) Paper-2: “Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.”

 

When women eat last

Introduction:

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Social Attitudes Research for India (SARI) undertook a survey to measure discrimination against women.

Social Attitudes Research for India (SARI) is a new phone survey. One of the things SARI measures is discrimination against women.

Health of a mother matters, Why?

  • The Rapid Survey on Children (2012-13) found that about 4 in 10 children are stunted. On average, children who are stunted do less well in school, earn less, and die sooner.
  • There are many causes of child stunting. Addressing poverty and improving education would help, but development is not the only factor. Poor sanitation spreads diseases that sap children’s energy and stunts their growth.
  • Also, the health of a child’s mother matters critically for whether or not the child is stunted. The first two years of life are the most important time for a child’s physical and cognitive growth.
  • During this time, she depends heavily on her mother for nutrition. As a growing foetus, she gets all her food from her mother’s bloodstream, and after birth, is ideally breastfed for at least six months.

What is stunting and how does it develop?

  • Stunting is a gradual and cumulative process during the 1,000 days window from conception through to the first two years of a child’s life.
  • Stunting develops as a result of sustained poor dietary intake or repeated infections or a combination of both.

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Ground reality:

  • Research shows that many Indian women start pregnancy underweight and gain little weight during pregnancy. This leads to low birth weight babies and high rates of neonatal mortality.
  • Women’s undernourishment contributes substantially to India’s unacceptably high rates of child stunting.

Reasons for Indian women’s malnourishment:

  • Researchers suggests that poverty and sanitation play a role.
  • Also, widespread discrimination against women in their own homes likely plays an important role.

Key findings of the SARI survey:

  • In India, girls are less likely to survive infancy than boys, and if they do, parents invest less in their education.
  • Women are far less likely to work outside the home and have their own bank accounts than men. Many report little decision-making power over their own lives.
  • One aspect of discrimination against women that matters for health is whether women eat less or worse quality food than men. In order to measure discrimination in women’s food intake, SARI used a question that was previously used by the India Human Development Survey (2011).
  • SARI found that “One in three adults in Delhi, and six in ten adults in U.P. said they lived in households where men eat first.” These number are higher when compared to IHDS 2011 survey.

Contradiction in numbers:

Why are these numbers higher than what the IHDS found in 2011?

  • Part of the reason is that SARI and the IHDS asked different people. The IHDS asked only women, while SARI asked both women and men.
  • In U.P. (but not in Delhi) men were significantly more likely to say that they eat first. We do not know why men in U.P. reported more often than women that women eat last.
  • Nor do we know for sure why even among women, the SARI figures are higher than the IHDS figures. It may have to do with how respondents react to a phone survey.
  • For a respondent in a conservative household, it may be easier to admit discrimination to a stranger on the phone than to a progressive woman sitting in front of her.

Suggestions:

  • While the government cannot force people to give women an equal share of food, it could do a lot more to promote gender equality.
  • It could publicise and condemn this practice. It could also more aggressively pursue policies to address discrimination against women in other domains.
  • Encouraging girls’ education, discouraging dowry, supporting marriage choice, and encouraging female labour force participation would all give women more power to challenge this damaging practice.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

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