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10 May 2024 : Indian Express Editorial Analysis

1. The recovery debate

Topic: GS3 – Indian Economy – Issues relating to growth
Context:
  • India’s economic growth trajectory in the 2010s, exacerbated by the pandemic-induced collapse, has sparked contrasting views regarding the sustainability and underlying causes of growth.
  • One perspective posits that fundamental flaws persist, necessitating a comprehensive overhaul of policies to sustain growth.
  • In contrast, an alternative interpretation suggests that ongoing reforms have initiated a virtuous growth cycle.
  • This analysis delves into the evidence supporting each viewpoint.

Supporting Evidence for Sustainable Growth:

  • Continued Robust Growth: Despite global challenges, India has sustained robust growth for the fourth consecutive year post-pandemic. This sustained growth, coupled with contained inflation and poverty reduction, suggests the efficacy of existing policies in fostering economic resilience.
  • Inflation Metrics: Critics of sustained growth often cite discrepancies in inflation metrics to question its authenticity. However, revisions in growth figures have been upward, countering claims of spurious growth. While concerns about inflation measures persist, the absence of a double deflation mechanism complicates accurate GDP estimation.
  • Quarterly Growth Trends: Fluctuations in quarterly growth rates are often misinterpreted due to seasonal and base effects. Base effect distortions, evident in the sharp rebound from negative growth in the first quarter of 2020-21, require cautious interpretation. Recent data indicating accelerating growth in Q3 2023-24 suggests a positive trajectory.
  • Data Reliability: Doubts regarding data reliability, particularly concerning GVA growth, have been raised. However, measures like GST and subsidies on essential goods are well-documented. Discrepancies between production-side and expenditure-side measurements are natural and do not invalidate overall growth trends.

Challenges to Sustained Growth:

  • Data Skepticism: Skepticism towards growth data persists, with critics leveraging discrepancies to undermine growth narratives. However, high-frequency data reflects robust economic activity, challenging assertions of deceleration.
  • Global Context: While global economic conditions influence India’s performance, domestic policy efficacy remains paramount. Despite favorable global growth in previous years, India’s economic performance was subpar, emphasizing the need for effective domestic policies.
  • Household Savings and Investment: Declines in household financial savings are often cited as indicators of impending economic challenges. However, rising physical savings, accompanied by healthier borrowing patterns for investment rather than consumption, signal a more sustainable economic model.
  • Private Investment: Contrary to perceptions, private investment is on the rise, supported by a strong financial sector and conducive policy environment. Sustainable private capex, illustrated by significant investment levels and new project announcements, underscores the potential for continued growth.

Conclusion:

  • India’s economic growth trajectory is subject to contrasting interpretations, with evidence supporting both sustainable growth and underlying challenges.
  • While continued robust growth, favorable trends in inflation, and healthy investment patterns bolster the case for sustained economic expansion, skepticism towards data reliability and global economic factors present challenges.
  • However, prudent policy measures, including ongoing reforms and investment incentives, hold the potential to navigate these challenges and sustain India’s growth momentum.
What is the Global Economic Situation?
Cascading Crises and Long-Term Growth:

  • Challenges to long-term growth have emerged due to cascading crises. Addressing this issue requires the implementation of well-calibrated macroeconomic and structural policies.
  • The focus will be on protecting vulnerable populations, promoting equitable growth, and enhancing macroeconomic and financial stability.
  • This approach aims to resolve the cost-of-living crisis and unlock strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive growth.

Global Economic Growth and Uncertainty:

  • Global economic growth is currently below its long-run average and remains uneven. High uncertainty surrounds the economic outlook.
  • Notable tightening in global financial conditions, potential debt vulnerabilities, persistent inflation, and geoeconomic tensions contribute to downside risk.
  • Well-calibrated monetary, fiscal, financial, and structural policies are emphasized to promote growth, reduce inequalities, and maintain macroeconomic and financial stability. Cooperation in macro policy and support for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are key goals.

 

PYQ: It is argued that the strategy of inclusive growth is intended to meet the objectives of inclusiveness and sustainability together. Comment on this statement. (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2019)
Practice Question:  Critically analyze the contrasting viewpoints on India’s economic growth trajectory post the 2010s, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Discuss the evidence supporting both perspectives and their implications for future economic policies and outcomes. (250 words/15 m)

2. TOGETHER, STEP BY STEP

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice
Context:
  • The journey towards achieving equity for women in public discourse is characterized by both progress and setbacks, reflecting a systemic churn that confronts latent misogyny.
  • Despite repression and regression, women’s movements continue to gain momentum, albeit gradually.
  • This analysis explores the complexities of women’s struggle for equity, examining instances from around the world that illustrate both resilience and challenges.

Resilience Amidst Repression:

  • In the face of adversity, women activists like Manahel al-Otaibi from Saudi Arabia persist in advocating for women’s rights, challenging patriarchal norms such as male guardianship.
  • Despite facing incarceration, global support for her cause amplifies, highlighting the resilience of women’s movements worldwide.
  • Similarly, Iranian women find solidarity from marginalized counterparts in Afghanistan, demonstrating the transnational nature of feminist activism.

Challenges and Patriarchal Mockery:

  • While progress is evident in cases like the #MeToo movement leading to the incarceration of figures like Harvey Weinstein, patriarchal structures persist, exemplified by the political elevation of individuals like Brij Bhushan Singh in India.
  • Such instances underscore the enduring power dynamics that prioritize male privilege over championing women’s rights, perpetuating systemic inequities.

Empowerment or Tokenism?

  • The notion of “women’s empowerment” is critiqued as a form of male largesse or guilt-tripping, rather than genuine agency granted to women.
  • Traditional cultures often reinforce inequitable norms, perpetuating a sense of powerlessness among women.
  • This highlights the need for strategic engagement within existing systems to earn leadership on women’s terms, rather than exiting prematurely.

Challenges in the Workplace:

  • The workplace emerges as a battleground for gender equity, with sexual harassment posing significant barriers to women’s advancement.
  • Despite redressal mechanisms, survivors often face mental scarring and marginalization, leading some to abandon their careers.
  • However, quitting further diminishes women’s stake in leadership, perpetuating a cycle of discrimination and underrepresentation.

Addressing Sexual Harassment:

  • Sexual harassment is identified as a coercive tool aimed at subjugating women competitors, rather than stemming from physical desire.
  • The imperative lies in shifting the narrative from “protecting” women to “punishing” perpetrators, necessitating a shift in leadership dynamics towards greater female representation.

Uphill Battle for Gender Equity:

  • Statistics reveal the stark gender disparities in decision-making positions globally, highlighting the enduring challenges faced by women in achieving parity.
  • Overcoming normative behavior requires collective pushback from women, reframing the discourse from one of victimhood to empowerment.

Conclusion:

  • The struggle for women’s equity is multifaceted, characterized by resilience in the face of repression and systemic challenges.
  • While progress is evident, entrenched patriarchal structures continue to impede gender equity efforts.
  • Addressing issues such as sexual harassment and gender disparities in decision-making requires concerted action and a reimagining of leadership dynamics to empower women on their own terms.
What are the Indian Government Initiatives to Promote Gender Equality?
  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) ensures the protection, survival, and education of the girl child.
  • Mahila Shakti Kendra (MSK) aims to empower rural women through skill development and employment opportunities.
  • The National Creche Scheme offers safe environments for children, enabling women to pursue employment.
  • Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandna Yojna provides maternity benefits to pregnant and lactating mothers.
  • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana ensures housing under women’s names.
  • Sukanya Samriddhi Yojna (SSY) economically empowers girls through bank accounts.
  • Gender Budget has been made a part of the Union Budget of India since 2005 and entails fund allocation towards programmes/schemes dedicated to women.
  • Nirbhaya Fund Framework provides for a non-lapsable corpus fund for the implementation of initiatives aimed at enhancing the safety and security of women in the country.
  • One Stop Centres (OSCs) offer integrated services for women victims of violence, including medical aid, legal assistance, and counselling.
  • The Constitution (106th Amendment) Act, 2023, reserves one-third of all seats for women in Lok Sabha, State legislative assemblies, and the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, including those reserved for SCs and STs. 33% reserved seats in Panchayati Raj Institutions for women are already in place.
  • The Vigyan Jyoti programme aims to encourage girls to pursue higher education and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), especially in the areas where women’s participation is low in order to balance the gender ratio across the streams.
  • Other Initiatives like Stand-Up India, Mahila e-Haat, Entrepreneurship and Skill Development Programme (ESSDP), and Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) promote women entrepreneurs.

 

PYQ: Male membership needs to be encouraged in order to make women’s organization free from gender bias. Comment. (200 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-1 2013)
Practice Question:  Discuss the challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equity in public discourse, with a focus on the role of women’s resilience and workplace dynamics. (150 marks). (250 words/15 m)

 

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