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6 May April 2024 : Indian Express Editorial Analysis

1. Jobs picture in perspective

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies – Interventions for development in various sectors

GS3 – Indian Economy – Issues relating to development and employment

 

Context:
  • The India Employment Report 2024, jointly presented by the Institute for Human Development (IHD) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), has garnered significant attention.
  • However, certain findings within the report have been subject to misunderstanding or misinterpretation.
  • This analysis aims to delve into the comprehensive insights provided by the report, highlighting both positive developments and emerging challenges in the Indian labor market.

What is India Unemployment Report?

  • The India Employment Report 2024 is the third in the series of regular publications by the IHD on labour and employment issues.
  • This report on Youth Employment, Education and Skills examines the challenge of youth employment in the context of the emerging economic, labour market, educational and skills scenario in India and changes over the past two decades.
  • The report is primarily based on analysis of data from the National Sample Surveys and the Periodic Labour Force Surveys between 2000 and 2022, with a postscript for 2023.

Positive Developments in the Labor Market:

Employment Quality Improvement

  • The report underscores a positive shift in employment quality, evidenced by a robust Employment Condition Index across all states.
  • This improvement is particularly notable in the transition from agriculture-based employment to non-farm sectors, signaling a structural transformation in the economy.
  • Moreover, there has been a steady increase in regular employment while the unorganized sector witnessed a decline, indicative of a more stable labor market.

Increase in Female Workforce Participation:

  • A remarkable increase in the female workforce participation rate from 5% in 2019 to 37.0% in 2023 is highlighted.
  • Although predominantly in the agricultural sector and involving own-account or unpaid family work, this surge signifies a positive trend towards greater gender inclusivity in the labor force.

Resilience Amidst Covid-19:

  • Despite the global economic slowdown induced by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Indian labor market demonstrated resilience.
  • Wages of casual workers increased, particularly among the bottom income groups, potentially mitigating extreme poverty and deprivation.
  • Notably, both farm and non-farm job opportunities expanded during the pandemic period, indicating adaptability in the face of crisis.
Emerging Challenges:

Skewed Employment Patterns

  • The report underscores persistent challenges, such as the skewed distribution of employment towards agriculture, which continues to employ nearly half of the workforce.
  • Addressing this imbalance necessitates concerted efforts to accelerate non-farm job creation, particularly through labor-intensive manufacturing.

Youth Unemployment:

  • Youth unemployment emerges as a principal challenge, with educated youth comprising a significant portion of the unemployed.
  • This challenge is exacerbated by qualifications and skills mismatches, highlighting the need for enhancing the quality of education and skill development initiatives, in collaboration with the private sector.

Gender Disparities and NEET Population:

  • Gender disparities persist, with women predominantly engaged in less remunerative agricultural and unpaid family work.
  • Additionally, the proportion of youth not in employment, education, or training (NEET) remains high, particularly among females.
  • Addressing these disparities requires targeted policies to boost women’s employment and cater to the needs of NEET populations.
Policy Recommendations:

The report proposes several policy measures to address emerging challenges and further enhance positive trends in the labor market:

(a) Prioritize labour-intensive production and growth strategies, with a focus on employment-generating sectors like manufacturing and agriculture.

(b) Improve the quality of jobs by strengthening social protection measures and promoting formalization.

(c) Address labour market inequalities, particularly by boosting women’s employment and implementing effective policies to tackle NEET populations.

(d) Enhance the effectiveness of skills training and active labor market policies, bridging the supply-demand gap in jobs and involving the private sector more actively.

(e) Generate reliable statistics to better understand the evolving dynamics of the labor market in the face of rapid technological changes.

 

Conclusion:

  • The India Employment Report 2024 provides valuable insights into the evolving landscape of the Indian labor market, highlighting both positive developments and persistent challenges.
  • By implementing targeted policy measures and fostering collaboration between public and private sectors, India can capitalize on its demographic advantage and achieve inclusive and sustainable growth in the coming years.

 

What are the Government’s Initiatives Related to Employment?
  • Support for Marginalised Individuals for Livelihood and Enterprise (SMILE)
  • PM-DAKSH (Pradhan Mantri Dakshta Aur Kushalta Sampann Hitgrahi)
  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)
  • Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)
  •  Start Up India Scheme
  • Rozgar Mela
  • Indira Gandhi Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme- Rajasthan.
What is the International Labor Organization?
  • It is the only tripartite United Nations (UN) agency.
  • It brings together governments, employers and workers of 187 Member States (India is a member), to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.
  • It received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969.
  • It was established in 1919 by the Treaty of Versailles as an affiliated agency of the League of Nations and became the first affiliated specialised agency of the UN in 1946.
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland

 

PYQ: Most of the unemployment in India is structural in nature. Examine the methodology adopted to compute unemployment in the country and suggest improvements. (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2023)
Practice Question:  How does the India Employment Report 2024 assess the evolution of the Indian labor market over the past two decades, and what are the key findings and policy recommendations highlighted in the report? (250 words/15 m)

 

2. LOOK EAST

Topic: GS2 – International Relations – India and its neighbourhood

 

Context:
  • The article discusses the recent conflict in Myanmar, specifically the battle for Myawaddy, a crucial trade node near the Thai border.
  • It highlights the involvement of various armed groups, including the Myanmar army and pro-democracy fighters, as well as the Border Guard Force (BGF), which operates a significant criminal network in the region.
  • Additionally, it emphasizes the need for India to reassess its approach to the Myanmar crisis and engage with diverse stakeholders to ensure stability along its eastern border.

Overview:

  • Last week, Myanmar’s army claimed victory in retaking Myawaddy, a crucial point along its trade route with Thailand, after facing resistance from an anti-government coalition comprising ethnic armed groups and pro-democracy fighters.
  • However, the real winner appears to be the Border Guard Force (BGF), which holds great autonomy on the ground and operates a vast criminal network along the Thai border.

About Myawaddy:

  • Myawaddy is Myanmar’s most active trading post with Thailand.
  • Myawaddyy is a trading town in Myanmar that connects with Mae Sot in Thailand.
  • These are the endpoints of the India- Myanmar- Trilateral Highway.

Everything You Need To Know About

The Role of the Border Guard Force (BGF):

  • The BGF, aligned with the military government in Yangon, is reported to play both sides to expand its regional dominance while overseeing illegal activities such as gambling, drug trafficking, and smuggling.
  • The battle for Myawaddy underscores the breakdown of state authority in Myanmar, with the BGF emerging as a key player amidst the chaos.

Historical Context of Myanmar’s Fragile State Control:

  • Myanmar has historically struggled to maintain control over its diverse territory due to conflicts between the majority Bamars and various ethnic minority groups.
  • However, the situation has deteriorated since the 2021 coup, with the army losing control over significant portions of the country as pro-democracy and ethnic armed groups unite against military rule.

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External Intervention and Regional Dynamics:

  • As Myanmar’s authority weakens, external powers are increasingly involved in the nation’s affairs.
  • China has deepened its intervention under the guise of stabilizing its frontier, while the US supports pro-democracy movements with substantial assistance.
  • The inability of regional forums like ASEAN to address the crisis has further exacerbated the situation.
Implications for India’s Security:

Inadequate Response from India

  • Despite profound implications for India’s security, there has been a lack of debate in Delhi on how to address the Myanmar crisis.
  • India’s previous policy bias in favor of Myanmar’s army, which can no longer secure India’s interests, needs reevaluation.

The Need for Dialogue and Engagement:

  • India must initiate dialogue with Myanmar’s National Unity Government, comprising democratic opposition and ethnic armed groups, while also engaging with local forces controlling regions along the shared border.
  • Focusing solely on border defense through fencing is insufficient to address the challenges on India’s eastern frontier.

Conclusion:

  • The battle for Myawaddy serves as a microcosm of Myanmar’s broader state breakdown, with the Border Guard Force emerging as a powerful player amidst internal strife.
  • As external powers intervene and regional dynamics shift, India must reassess its approach, prioritizing dialogue and engagement with Myanmar’s diverse stakeholders to safeguard its interests and ensure stability along its eastern border.
What are the Key Issues in the India-Myanmar Relationship?
Internal Security Concern:

  • India – Myanmar border is highly porous, poorly guarded, and located along a remote, underdeveloped, insurgency-prone region and proximate to an opium-producing area.
  • This vulnerability has been exploited by terrorist organizations and insurgent groups operating in the northeastern region of India. Instances include the supply of trained personnel and the trafficking of arms through this porous border.
  • Indian rebel groups from the northeast had established camps in Myanmar’s border villages and towns.
  • According to a paper published by Anuradha Oinam of the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), several insurgent groups such as the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), and small groups of Kukis and Zomis have built camps in Sagaing Division, Kachin State, and Chin State (in Myanmar).

The Free Movement Regime (FMR):

  • The Indian government is considering terminating the Free Movement Regime (FMR) with Myanmar.
  • While advantageous for the local population and instrumental in enhancing Indo-Myanmar relations, it has faced past criticism for inadvertently facilitating issues such as illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and arms trade.
  • Triangular Power Struggle in Myanmar:
  • Three years post a military coup that stripped Myanmar of its modest democratic gains, the country remains entangled in internal strife.

‘Sick Man of Southeast Asia’:

  • Myanmar perceives no signs of improvement, with the military regime, political entities, and ethnic organizations perpetuating the cycle of violent conflict. This civil unrest appears to offer little prospect of a decisive triumph for any party involved.

Civil Liberty Index:

  • Myanmar has been assigned a score of 0 in the civil liberty index, which measures the extent to which citizens enjoy civil liberties.

China’s Influence:

  • China is Myanmar’s largest investor as well as the biggest trading partner. China has solidified its influence in Myanmar not only through economic ties and trade but also by leveraging soft power, particularly through significant infrastructure projects.
  • The task of mitigating Chinese influence within Myanmar has proven challenging for India.

Infrastructure Project Delays:

  • Over time, a growing trust deficit has emerged in India-Myanmar relations, attributed to India’s reputation for consistently prolonging the implementation of diverse projects.
  • The prolonged delays in the timely execution of collaborative infrastructure projects, notably the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project and the Sittwe port, crucial for bolstering connectivity, have become impediments to fostering economic cooperation.

Rohingya Crisis:

  • The Rohingya crisis is a humanitarian and human rights tragedy that has strained the relations between India and Myanmar.
  • They have fled to neighboring countries, especially Bangladesh and India, seeking refuge.
  •  India has cited security concerns, such as the alleged links between some Rohingya and terrorist groups, as well as the burden on its resources and social harmony, as the reasons for its stance

 

PYQ: How far are India’s internal security challenges linked with border management, particularly in view of the long porous borders with most countries of South Asia and Myanmar?

(200 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2013)

Practice Question:  What are the key dynamics and implications of the recent conflict in Myanmar, particularly focusing on the battle for Myawaddy and the involvement of various armed groups? (250 words/15 m)

 

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