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The Hindu Editorial

16-October-2023

1. The world needs to stop taking water for granted.

Topic: GS3 – water scarcity.

Introduction:

  • Water is essential for food production and nutrition security.
  • Climate change is exacerbating water scarcity and variability, threatening food and nutrition security.
  • Urgent action is needed to manage water wisely and sustainably.

Challenges:

  • Water scarcity and variability:Climate change is exacerbating water scarcity and variability, making it more difficult to grow food and ensure nutrition security.
  • Land degradation:Decades of poor water management, misuse and pollution, and the climate crisis have degraded freshwater supplies and ecosystems, making farmers more vulnerable to climate shocks.
  • Small-scale farmers:Small-scale farmers, who make up more than 80% of farmers globally, are especially affected by water scarcity and land degradation as they often lack access to finance, technology and irrigation.
  • Crop productivity:Extreme weather events and variability in water availability are severely affecting agricultural production, changing agro-ecological conditions and shifting growing seasons.

Impact of climate change on crop production in India:

  • Without adaptation measures, rainfed rice yields in India are projected to reduce by 20% in 2050, and by 47% in 2080 scenarios, while irrigated rice yields are projected to decline by 3.5% in 2050 and 5% in 2080 scenarios.
  • Wheat yields are projected to decrease by 19.3% in 2050 and 40% in 2080, while kharif maize yields could decline by 18% and 23%.

Initiatives by UN food agencies in India:

  • FAO:
    1. Piloting a crop forecasting framework and model to aid rainfed farmers in making informed decisions.
    2. Supporting the farmer water school programme in Uttar Pradesh and the Andhra Pradesh Farmer Managed Groundwater Systems project.
  • WFP:
    1. Supporting soil and water conservation, the building or fixing of irrigation canals, dams, ponds, and dykes, as well as flood barriers through food assistance in exchange for labour.
    2. Collaborating with the Government of Odisha to develop solutions for smallholder farmers, focusing on women.
  • IFAD:
    1. Supporting Indian States in leveraging the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme.
    2. Implementing projects in Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Nagaland and Mizoram that incorporate climate-resilient seed varieties and crops, including millets, and train farmers in climate-sensitive agricultural practices and soil management.

Steps needed to achieve global food and nutrition security:

  • Innovative and proven technologies that allow farmers to increase their productivity, adapt to climate change and become more resilient to shocks.
  • Environmentally and socially sustainable and financially viable irrigation and water management strategies.
  • Reducing the climate footprint of agricultural production, as well as bio-hazards and environmental pollution.
  • Bringing sanitation and drinking water supplies closer to rural households.
  • Adopting efficient food and water recycling strategies.
  • Strengthening institutional arrangements and capacity for sustainable and equitable water regulations, management, access and ownership.

Question: In light of the theme of World Food Day 2023, ‘Water is Life, Water is Food’, discuss the challenges of water management and sustainable agriculture in India, and suggest measures to address them.

2. Closing the gender pay gap in the workforce

Topic: GS3 – gender equality

Claudia Goldin’s Work and Gender Equality

  • Challenging Traditional Views: Claudia Goldin, a 2023 Nobel Prize-winning economist, challenged conventional economic ideas about women in the workforce.
  • Persisting Gender Wage Gap: Despite women’s entry into the workforce and educational achievements, they continued to earn less than men.
  • Parental Responsibilities and Career: Goldin attributed the wage gap to women’s difficulty in taking on jobs with long hours and irregular schedules due to parental responsibilities. Gender ideologies often lead women to assume more family duties.
  • “Greedy Work” and Inequality: Goldin identified “greedy work” as the root cause, characterized by demanding extraordinary efforts and rewarding workers with high salaries and promotions.

Solutions for Gender Equality in the Labor Market

  • Restructuring the Workplace: Goldin proposed restructuring the workplace to eliminate the need for heroic efforts. This involves introducing moderate work hours and predictable schedules.
  • Aligning with Juliet Schor: Goldin’s ideas align with Juliet Schor’s concept that hiring more workers with regular hours is more beneficial than overworking a few employees.
  • The Role of the Service Sector: India’s growing service sector offers opportunities for women’s employment not typically available in the manufacturing sector.
  • Education and Fertility: Rising education levels can increase women’s employability. Declining fertility can free up more time for women to participate in the labor force.

Reshaping the Work and Social Environment

  • Work-Life Balance for Both Genders: Achieving a work-life balance requires reshaping the work and social environment to support both men and women.
  • Reducing Long Work Hours: Longer working hours do not necessarily lead to higher productivity.
  • Addressing Time-Consuming Institutions: Institutions such as schools that rely on parental supervision of homework and urban developments that place homes far from workplaces need attention.
  • The Path to Gender Convergence: Implementing supportive institutions is essential to achieve the grand gender convergence in labor market outcomes advocated by Claudia Goldin.

Question: How has Claudia Goldin’s work influenced the discussion on gender equality in the labor market, and what are her proposed solutions for addressing gender wage gaps?

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