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The Hindu Editorial

27-December-2023

1. The outlook for 2024, for the world and India.

Topic: GS2 – International Relations, GS2 –  Governance
UPSC relevance: Covers global geopolitical challenges, Sino-Indian relations, and internal dynamics, essential for understanding international affairs and governance issues.
Context:
  • Global risks rise in 2024, challenging the existing order. Geostrategic tensions, Ukraine conflict impact on U.S. elections, and Middle East turmoil pose threats.
  • India faces uncertainties in Sino-Indian relations, neighborhood dynamics, and internal political challenges. Improved central-state relations crucial for stability.
Global Risks and Uncertainties in 2024
  • Increasing Global Risks: The new year brings heightened global risks and uncertainties, indicating a time of great peril.
  • Challenges to the International Order: The existing international order faces challenges from both advocates and critics, creating further instability.
  • Geostrategic Contradictions: Ongoing conflicts, such as the war in Ukraine, may escalate, posing threats to global stability.
  • Impact of Ukraine Conflict on U.S. Election: The outcome of the war in Ukraine could influence the U.S. presidential election, with a potential impact on Biden’s chances.
  • Middle East Tensions: Recent events, like Hamas’s assault on Israel, have the potential to escalate tensions in the Middle East, reshaping geopolitics in the region.
  • Shifts in West Asia Alliances: The West’s hypocrisy and changing alliances in West Asia may challenge U.S. leadership, affecting the strategic balance.
  • Caution for the West in Other Regions: Given the evolving geopolitics, the West, especially in the Indo-Pacific, should act cautiously to maintain the existing strategic balance.
India’s Outlook in 2024
  • General Election in Mid-2024: India faces a pivotal year with a general election scheduled, where the ruling party expresses confidence despite potential challenges.
  • Sino-Indian Relations: Stalemate persists, with China perceiving India as part of an anti-China alliance, raising concerns about possible adventurist actions.
  • Russia-China Axis Impact: Strengthening Russia-China ties could impact India’s relations with Central Asia, requiring careful navigation.
  • Neighborhood Dynamics: India faces uncertainties in its immediate neighborhood, with pressure from China affecting ties with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and the Maldives.
  • Diminishing Influence in West Asia: India’s influence in West Asia may be diminishing as countries in the region align more with China and Russia.
Internal Dynamics in India
  • Election Preparations: Internal political dynamics indicate a charged atmosphere as ruling and opposition forces gear up for a competitive electoral battle.
  • Social Fragmentation: Factors like caste loyalties, social engineering, and fragmentation are influencing the political landscape.
  • Unitary vs. Federal Aspects: There’s a growing bias towards unitary aspects of India’s Constitution, with a trend towards increased centralization of authority.
  • Parliamentary Disarray: Parliament is expected to continue in disarray throughout 2024, with limited room for improvement.
  • Centre-State Relations: The relationship between the central and state governments needs careful consideration, as the recent Supreme Court judgment on Article 370 may fuel conflicts.
  • Need for Political Rethink: Incumbent political parties need to reconsider their approaches, recognizing the importance of improved Central-State relations for a stronger and more cohesive nation.

2. A new economics for inclusive growth.

Topic: GS3 – Economy – Inclusive growth
UPSC Importance: Understanding economic policies, inclusive growth, and global opportunities, key in governance and international relations is crucial for aspirants
Context:
  • The article calls for a shift in India’s economic policies, emphasizing inclusive growth through local economic activity, learning adjacencies, and cautioning against shortcuts.
The Challenge of Economic Policies
  • Manufacturing Policies: India should shift from manufacturing to exporting high-end services, challenging past 30 years’ policies.
  • Job and Income Challenges: India faces economic challenges with inadequate jobs and incomes, reflected in farmer demands and the classification of 60% as economically weaker sections.
Growth Hindrance: Mismatch and Learning Process
  • Mismatch in Growth: India’s growth hindered by a mismatch between skills, jobs, and incomes, deviating from traditional development paths.
  • Learning Process Ignored: Economists often overlook the learning process vital for development, hindering citizens’ skill acquisition and nations’ capability development.
 Importance of Adjacencies and Local Economic Webs
  • Learning Adjacencies: Rural areas’ economic growth best achieved through “adjacencies” in work and location, allowing a gradual climb up the skill-income ladder.
  • Local Economic Activity: Manufacturing and value-added services can thrive in small, labor-intensive enterprises around farms, creating dense economic webs.
Inclusive and Sustainable Growth
  • Inclusive Growth: Economic growth patterns must change for inclusive and sustainable development, emphasizing local economic activity and small-scale manufacturing.
  • Financial Constraints: The Indian state faces financial constraints, requiring prudent spending to benefit the masses.
Reimagining Economic Growth
  • Break from Past Models: Policymakers must break from 20th-century economic models and reimagine India’s growth path for inclusive economic development.
  • Utilizing Global Opportunities: India should leverage global interest in its unmet needs, making more products within the country to boost jobs and incomes.
Caution Against Shortcuts
  • No Shortcuts: There are no shortcuts to inclusive growth; policymakers must focus on the basics and avoid expecting benefits to trickle down from incentives and reduced taxes.
Conclusion
  • There is a need to think about a fundamental shift in India’s economic approach, urging policymakers to prioritize inclusive growth, local economic activity, and strategic utilization of global opportunities for development.
PYQ: Despite Consistent experience of High growth, India still goes with the lowest indicators of human development. Examine the issues that make balanced and inclusive development elusive. (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2019) (150 words/10 m)
Practice Question: Examine the importance of prioritizing local economic activity and learning adjacencies for sustainable and inclusive growth in India. (150 words/10 m)

3. Development led by corporates, not women.

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice – Gender Equality
UPSC Significance: G20 Summit’s women empowerment focus crucial for aspirants, addressing global challenges, development models, and economic policies affecting women.
Context:
  • The G20 Summit’s resolution to establish a “working group on the empowerment of women” is welcomed
  • But there are concerns about the effectiveness of past initiatives, vague terminology, and inadequate investment in women’s development.
 Judicial Decision
  • Empowerment Initiative: G20 Summit in Delhi resolves to establish a “working group on the empowerment of women,” addressing ongoing discrimination against women and girls.
Implementation Concerns
  • History of Ineffective Working Groups: Past “working groups” have not yielded significant results, as acknowledged by the Declaration, citing off-track progress on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Ambiguity in Gender Equality Section
  • Vague Phrasing: The Gender Equality section lacks clarity, particularly the term “women-led development” contributed by the Government of India, without providing a concrete explanation of its parameters.
Critique of Development Models
  • Inequality and Discredited Models: Raises concerns about existing development models, pointing to obscene inequalities, trickle-down theory flaws, and the impact of macro development models on women.
Challenges to “Women-led Development”
  • Macroeconomic Model Inconsistency: Questions how “women-led development” aligns with the existing macroeconomic model, emphasizing private enterprise’s role without addressing fundamental structural issues.
Government Schemes and Budgetary Concerns
  • Reduced Investment in Women’s Development: Government schemes under the banner of “women-led development” mask a decrease in actual investment, evidenced by a shrinking Gender Budget and inadequate allocations for wholly women-specific schemes.
Economic Independence and Employment Trends
  • Decline in Women’s Economic Independence: Periodic Labour Force Survey reveals a drop in women’s share in regular waged work, increased reliance on the unorganised sector, and challenges to economic independence.
Exploitation in Central Government Schemes
  • Exploitation in Flagship Schemes: Women, particularly in Central government schemes, face exploitation with low allowances, lack of recognition as government employees, and inadequate wages.
Impact on Dalits and Adivasis
  • Burden on Marginalized Women: Dalit and Adivasi women bear the brunt of economic policies favoring the richest, highlighting the negative consequences of corporate-led development.
Conclusion
  • The G20 Summit’s commitment to women empowerment faces skepticism due to historical implementation challenges.
  • There is a urgent need to resolve vague terminology, and concerns about alignment with existing development models, especially the impact on marginalized women.
Practice Question: Discuss the effectiveness and challenges of the G20 Summit’s initiative on women’s empowerment, considering vague terminology, historical outcomes, and economic policy implications (150 words/10 m)

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