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The Hindu Editorial

7-December-2023

1. MP Index reduction under the NDA is flawed.

Topic: GS3 – poverty reduction

Introduction: Samuel Johnson’s Perspective and Amartya Sen’s Contribution

  • Samuel Johnson highlighted that poverty undermines human happiness, destroys liberty, and affects the practice of virtues.
  • Amartya Sen introduced a broader perspective on well-being, focusing on capabilities and functionings, emphasizing the importance of each capability in itself.

Issues with Conventional Measures of Poverty: UNDP’s Approach

  • Conventional measures of poverty, based on income, are criticized for being narrowly focused on the scarcity of resources.
  • UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI) and the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) use uniform weights, which Sen finds problematic.

Flaws in the MPI Story: India’s Poverty Reduction Claims

  • Recent MPI estimates claim a near-halving of India’s national MPI value, indicating a significant reduction in poverty between 2015-16 and 2019-21.
  • The reduction is questioned due to reliance on data from National Family Health Surveys (NFHS) 4 and 5, which face credibility issues, and the impact of COVID-19 is not adequately considered.

Critique of MPI Estimates: Methodological Concerns

  • The MPI estimates are considered misleading and ill-informed due to inadequate data sources and the omission of critical factors such as the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Analysis of MPI Covariates: Factors Influencing Poverty

  • Covariate analysis focuses on factors such as per capita state income, urbanization, health and education expenditure, and the presence of criminal MPs.
  • The most significant factor influencing MPI is higher per capita state income, but the drastic income decrease during the pandemic led to a spike in MPI.
  • Urbanization contributes to higher MPI, driven by rural-urban migration and sub-standard living conditions.
  • Both health and education expenditure are associated with lower MPI, with education having a more significant impact.

Selective Review of MPI Estimates: Discrepancies and State-Level Variations

  • State-level analysis indicates discrepancies between official MPI estimates and alternative calculations, with a lower reduction in poverty according to the latter.
  • Poverty appears to have risen in populous states like Uttar Pradesh, and state elections in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh show varying MPI trends.

Conclusion: Exaggeration of Success and Obfuscation of Poverty Measures

  • The MPI exaggerates the success in poverty reduction and may obscure conventional measures, potentially presenting a contradictory story of poverty in India.

 

Question: Examine the methodological concerns and discrepancies in the recent National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) estimates for India, and discuss how these challenges impact the assessment of poverty reduction efforts.

2. Navigating the U.S.-China relationship

Topic: GS2 – International relations. 

US-China Summit and Military Communications:

  • The second summit between President Biden and President Xi in San Francisco aimed at improving the strained bilateral relationship.
  • The decision to restore military-to-military communications was a consequential outcome to prevent miscalculations.
  • The resumption occurred under the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement initiated in 1998.

Taiwan Issue and Military Tensions:

  • Military channels were closed after Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taiwan in August 2022.
  • Taiwan’s status is a contentious issue, leading to ballistic missile firings and military drills by China.
  • President Biden pledged intervention if China attacked Taiwan under the “one-China” policy.

Trade Dispute and Economic Framework:

  • Businesses navigate a volatile economic and trade policy framework amid political hostility.
  • President Biden’s blacklisting of defense and surveillance companies and restrictions on AI start-ups.
  • Export controls on advanced computer chips and semiconductor manufacturing aim to undermine China’s AI and supercomputing capabilities.
  • China responds with bans on critical raw material exports and tightened anti-espionage laws.

Economic Measures and Countermeasures:

  • US imposes bans on tech exports and an executive order prohibiting high-tech investments.
  • China responds with bans on critical raw material exports and tightened laws for national security.
  • Escalation in the use of economic measures to safeguard national interests.

Shift in Approach and the Way Forward:

  • US and China show a slight shift towards a more realistic and pragmatic approach.
  • Emphasis on exploring avenues for coexistence rather than disengagement or decoupling.
  • A subtle but significant change in the hope for a short-term resolution in the superpowers’ positions.

 

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