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Indian Express Editorial Analysis

9-May-2024

1. From home to workplace

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies – Interventions for development in various sectors
Context:
  • India’s journey towards becoming a developed nation by 2047 requires a focused effort on empowering women economically.
  • Currently, women lag behind on various parameters of well-being, making it imperative to address gender disparities in socio-economic outcomes.
  • This analysis delves into key policies that the new government can adopt to propel India towards gender parity in socio-economic domains.
Expanding Labour Force Participation:
  • Background: India’s overall employment rate is notably lower compared to countries like China and Bangladesh, primarily due to women’s low labour force participation (LFP) rate.
  • What is ‘Labour Force Participation Rate’?
Definition: Labour force participation rate is defined as the section of working population in the age group of 16-64 in the economy currently employed or seeking employment. People who are still undergoing studies, housewives and persons above the age of 64 are not reckoned in the labour force.
  • Policy Recommendation:
  • Increasing women’s LFP to 50% of the labour force can significantly contribute to achieving higher GDP growth rates and a five-trillion-dollar economy by 2030.
  • This can be facilitated by focusing on labour-intensive sectors like ready-made garments and footwear, where women constitute a significant portion of the workforce.
  • Expanding the Production Linked Investment (PLI) scheme to include these sectors can mitigate cost disadvantages and create more job opportunities for women.
Enhancing Formal Sector Participation:
  • Background: India’s transition from low- to high-productivity activity in the formal sector is slow, leading to concerns about the quality of jobs.
  • Policy Recommendation:
  • Addressing gender imbalances in the skilling ecosystem is crucial. While several initiatives aim to improve skilling, they often overlook gender disparities.
  • Enhancing physical access, financial support, and employer matches after skill training can encourage more women to join the formal sector.
  • Increasing the number of training institutes exclusively for women and providing scholarships and subsidized loans can improve women’s access to vocational training.
  • Additionally, career counselling and mentorship programs can help bridge the gender gap in employment outcomes post-training.
Urban Infrastructure and Mobility:
  • Background: Urbanization in India presents opportunities for women’s economic participation, but mobility constraints hinder their access to education and work opportunities.
  • Policy Recommendation:
  • Urban infrastructure planning should prioritize women’s mobility and safety.
  • Subsidized urban care infrastructure can not only relieve women from care work but also create new job opportunities for them.
  • By focusing on gender-sensitive urban planning, India can encourage more women to participate actively in the urban workforce.
Energy Transition and Domestic Work:
  • Background: Women’s domestic responsibilities, particularly cooking, contribute to their time poverty and restrict their participation in the workforce.
  • Policy Recommendation:
  • India’s energy transition policies can incentivize households to adopt clean technology, reducing women’s time spent on domestic chores.
  • Initiatives like the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) have facilitated the shift towards cleaner cooking fuels, but there’s room for improvement in ensuring regular usage.
  • Adopting measures like cash rebates for clean technology purchases can further accelerate this transition and create new jobs in the clean energy sector, thus alleviating women’s burden of domestic work.
Conclusion:
  • Empowering women economically is integral to India’s journey towards development.
  • By expanding women’s labour force participation, enhancing their formal sector participation through skilling initiatives, improving urban infrastructure and mobility, and incentivizing clean energy adoption, India can create a conducive environment for women to thrive in the workforce.
  • Investing in women’s human capital is not only essential for achieving gender parity but also crucial for fostering a developed and inclusive society by 2047.
What are the Indian Initiatives to reduce Gender Gap in Social, Economic and Political Life?
Economic Participation and Health and Survival:
  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao: It ensures the protection, survival and education of the girl child.
  • Mahila Shakti Kendra: Aims to empower rural women with opportunities for skill development and employment.
  • Rashtriya Mahila Kosh: It is an apex micro-finance organization that provides micro-credit at concessional terms to poor women for various livelihood and income generating activities.
  • Sukanya Samriddhi Yojna: Under this scheme girls have been economically empowered by opening their bank accounts.
  • Female Entrepreneurship: To promote female entrepreneurship, the Government has initiated Programmes like Stand-Up India and Mahila e-Haat (online marketing platform to support women entrepreneurs/ SHGs/NGOs), Entrepreneurship and Skill Development Programme (ESSDP).
  • Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya: They have been opened in Educationally Backward Blocks (EBBs).
Political Reservation:
  • Government has reserved 33% of the seats in Panchayati Raj Institutions for women.
  • Capacity Building of Elected Women Representatives: It is conducted with a view to empowering women to participate effectively in the governance processes.
 
PYQ: Which of the following gives ‘Global Gender Gap Index’ ranking to the countries of the world? (2017) (a) World Economic Forum (b) UN Human Rights Council (c) UN Women (d) World Health Organization Ans: (a)
Practice Question:  How can India’s new government promote gender equality and women’s economic empowerment to accelerate the country’s development goals by 2047? (250 words/15 m)
 

2. Roti, kapda, makaan, good air

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

GS3 – Environment – Environment Pollution and Degradation

Context:
  • The inclusion of environmental, climate change, and air pollution issues in the 2024 Lok Sabha manifestos of major political parties is a positive development.
  • However, the question arises whether these issues are among the top priorities or mere guarantees for parties and candidates.
  • Additionally, the analysis explores the potential for actual improvement in air quality, emphasizing the need for it to become a people’s movement or a prominent political issue.

Lack of Priority in Political Agendas:

  • Background: Manifestos typically reflect the issues that resonate with voters, shaping political priorities.
  • Analysis:
    • Despite its significance, air quality has not emerged as a top priority for either voters or political parties.
    • Limited information dissemination by local government bodies has contributed to the public’s lack of concern regarding air pollution, which could have severe consequences in the future.

Perception of Air Quality:

  • Background: Some perceive poor air quality as an inevitable consequence of economic development, prioritizing economic progress over environmental concerns.
  • Analysis:
    • However, studies indicate substantial economic losses due to air pollution, highlighting the need for urgent action.
    • Economic theories like the Kuznets curve suggest that environmental degradation initially increases with economic development but eventually improves.
    • Yet, the challenge lies in determining the threshold of economic development where this improvement occurs.

Turning Air Pollution into a Political Agenda:

  • Background: Air pollution must become a mainstream political issue to drive significant change.
  • Analysis:
    • For this to happen, it needs consistent coverage in mainstream media and public discourse.
    • Generating public awareness is crucial, requiring collaboration between academia, scientific communities, and local government bodies.
    • Initiatives like the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) are commendable but require better implementation and decentralization.

Strategies for Improvement:

  • Background: To address air pollution effectively, on-ground activities and public awareness are essential.
  • Analysis:
    • Allocating funds for pollution reduction efforts, decentralizing policies, and engaging local communities are critical steps.
    • Micro-level initiatives, such as identifying pollution hotspots and creating green zones, can directly involve individuals in pollution mitigation efforts.
    • Additionally, regular public awareness programs and mass movements are vital for spreading the demand for clean air across the country.

Conclusion:

  • Efforts to improve air quality in India must transcend political promises and become a collective endeavor involving all stakeholders.
  • By prioritizing public awareness, decentralized action, and community engagement, India can progress towards cleaner air and a sustainable future.
What Measures should be taken to Control Air Pollution?
  • ·      Alternative Strategy of City Building: There is a compelling need to have an alternative strategy of city building, where the focus is on more public transport, having secure pedestrian paths and bicycle lanes with the creation of a post of bicycle officers.
  • Promote Public Transport: There needs to be good public transport, with investment in buses for towns and cities. It is estimated that nearly 10 lakh buses would need to be added to the existing bus fleet in cities to meet the demands of urban mobility.
  • There must be firm initiatives that emulate the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.
  • Control of Private Vehicles: Strong steps need to be taken to control private motorized vehicular movement in the cities. A congestion tax being levied on private car owners driving during peak hours can be thought of. Likewise, an odd number-even number plate formula can be another important intervention.
  • Some cities have a no-car day on certain days — an example that should be put into practice by those in power and with influence.
  • For Example, World Car Free Day is celebrated annually on 22nd September to encourage the use of alternative modes of transportation.
  • Zero Acceptance of Industrial Pollution: There should be zero acceptance of industrial pollution and real-time monitoring must become a reality. There must be street supervision by residents instead of waiting for the statutory bodies to react, which urban local bodies can ensure.
  • Preservation of Urban Commons: Urban commons (ponds, water bodies, urban forests, parks, playgrounds) are another major area that should not at all be allowed to be taken over by either public or private bodies for private gains. Urban communities must protect, nurture and expand them.
  • Incorporating Ecological Wisdom in Urban Planning: Incorporating ecological principles into urban planning, as advocated by Ian McHarg’s “Designing with Nature,” can help create more sustainable and environmentally friendly cities. This involves considering the natural environment, open spaces, and afforestation within the city.
  • Promote Public Awareness and Participation: Raise public awareness about the sources and effects of air pollution and integrate pollution guides and standard operating procedures into the daily lives of city residents.

 

PYQ: What are the key features of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) initiated by the Government of India? (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2020)
Practice Question:  How can India transition air pollution from a neglected issue to a prominent political agenda, and what strategies are essential for effective implementation of policies to combat air pollution at both macro and micro levels? (250 words/15 m)

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