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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 5th November, 2015

  • November 5, 2015
  • 15
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs November 2015, National, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 5th November, 2015

 

 

NATIONAL

 

TOPICGeneral Studies 1

  • Role of women and women’s organization – women empowerment

THE POWER OF PARITY: ADVANCING WOMEN’S EQUALITY IN INDIA

Gender inequality is a pressing issue which has time and again pulled up its socks to give out a signal of readiness to walk out of the maze of constant ramifications that it holds, to be witnessed– but unfortunately has always been silenced; pointing towards unwillingness of the society to embrace it.

Observations by MCKINSEY

The world can add $12 trillion to GDP in 2025, doubling the contribution of women to global growth in business-as-usual scenario in the coming decade. India could boost its GDP by $0.7 trillion in 2025 or 16 percent of the business-as-usual level (largest relative boost). This translates into 1.4 percent per year of incremental GDP growth for India.

Where gender parity is set at 1.00, India’s GPS is just 0.48, lower than warranted by its stage of economic development

India Female Empowerment Index or Femdex

  • Wide variation in gender equality among India’s states
  • Highest Femdex: Mizoram
  • Lowest Femdex: Bihar

 

Areas in need of Concerted Actions:

  1. Closing gender gaps in secondary and tertiary education in India’s large states;
  2. Lowering barriers to job creation;
  3. Expanding skills training for women in key sectors;
  4. Expanding the reach of financial and digital services to enable women entrepreneurs;
  5. Stepping up gender diversity policies and practices in private-sector organisations;
  6. Further strengthening legal provisions for women and the enforcement of laws;
  7. Improving infrastructure and services to address the high burden of routine domestic work, childcare and elder care;
  8. Reshaping deep-rooted attitudes about the role of women in work and in society.

 

If taken care of the above mentioned points:

  • $2.9 trillion of additional annual GDP in 2025 could be added in India by fully bridging the gender gap in the workplace (60% higher than business-as-usual GDP in 2025)
  • $0.7 trillion could be added in 2025 by matching the best-in-region country in progress toward gender parity in work, an increase of 16% compared with business-as-usual GDP in 2025
  • India can bring 68 million more women into the workforce by 2025 (70% from the top 9 states)

Well-formulated Steps—Need of the hour

Women’s empowerment and equal participation in social, political as well as in the economic sphere is important at all levels of Indian society. But merely addressing the challenges shouldn’t be the goal—exploring the emerging opportunities should be the focal point of the present day political workers and policy formulators.

Paid vs Unpaid: Need to be Gender-Responsive

  • Substitute non-market work with market-base work (lead to increase in GDP- will provide value to market-based production)
  • More equitable sharing of unpaid work among men and women
  • Productivity-enhancing measures for unpaid work (greater financial independence for women, and intergenerational benefits)

Gender equality in Work:

  • Labour-force participation rate,
  • Professional and technical jobs,
  • Perceived wage gap for similar work,
  • Leadership positions and
  • Unpaid care work

Essential services and enablers of economic opportunity:

  • Unmet need for family
  • Planning,
  • Maternal mortality rate,
  • Gap in education level,
  • Financial inclusion, and
  • Digital inclusion

Legal protection and political voice

  • Presence of legal protections for women
  • Representation of women in parliamentary and ministerial positions (Reservation Bill)

Physical security and autonomy

  • Sex ratio at birth,
  • Child marriage
  • Violence against women

 

IASbaba’s Views:

  • Progress on all aspects of gender equality in India is not only critical to its economic growth but to achieving the world’s aim of advancing gender equality and the Sustainable Development Goals and thus, underlying social attitudes about the role of women are, arguably, some of the biggest barriers India’s women face, which needs to be shed urgently.
  • Women’s economic empowerment is about increasing the ability of women to bring about change that drives valuable outcomes as result of their increased economic capabilities and agency by influencing the processes of each sphere enabling determination of growth and development. Therefore, empowering women economically and making them centralto solutions is not only a moral imperative but makes good economic sense.
  • Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates: If female farmers had the same access to productive resources as male farmers, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30%, raising total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5 to 4 percent, thereby contributing to both food security and economic growth

(Please take it as a yardstick for further development of points under the various points and sub-points)

Connecting the Dots:

  • ‘India’s position on gender equality is somewhat lower than its stage of economic development would warrant’. Do you agree? Substantiate
  • ‘Gender equality in society with gender equality in work’—Is latter possible without the former? Discuss.

 

TOPIC

  • General Studies 2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 
  • General Studies 3: Infrastructure: Energy

Oiling India’s reforms

  • Oil prices, measured using the Brent Oil benchmark, have fallen more than 50% since striking $115 per barrel in June 2014.
  • Latest prices are hovering just under $50 a barrel, having hit a low of about $43 per barrel in late August.
  • Few predicted such a sharp fall in oil and fewer still suggested that it could remain so for 17 months.

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Tentative reasons for decrease in crude oil prices :

  1. Significant increase in supply of shale gas from USA with demand more or less remaining the same.
  2. OPEC’s decision not to change output irrespective of the demand in the market, due to internal policies of OPEC countries.
  3. Chinas soft economy with reduced demand for oil due to slow economic growth.
  4. US attempt to squeeze Russia out of its influence in European continent especially among eastern European countries.

What are the implications on other countries?

  • Due to reduces prices, Oil producers are significantly affected—Saudi Arabia may have to debt finance its budgetary burden for the first time in its modern history
  • Russia’s ability to finance conflicts in Ukraine, Crimea and elsewhere may well be impacted, as its economy to an extent depends on export of natural gas.
  • Brazil’s woes are getting a whole lot more complicated and Venezuela’s economic disaster may be entering its terminal stage.

 

Impact on India:

India imports 80% of its crude and is the unequivocal beneficiary of lower oil prices: it impacts India’s current account and budget deficits directly and positively.

  • The reduced prices will not only lower the import bill but also help save foreign exchange. As per rough estimates, a $10 fall in crude could reduce the current account deficit by approximately 0.5% of GDP and the fiscal deficit by around 0.1% of GDP.
  • Inflation levels may come down, this would allow RBI to cut rates and  this again promotes investment, further employment generation and GDP growth.
  • The sectors that will have a positive impact due to falling oil prices directly as well as indirectly will be a) automobiles, (b) plastic industries including pipes, (c) chemicals and resins selectively, (d) paints, (e) footwear manufacturers etc.

What should India do now?

India can use the present situation to reduce its dependence on import and further become energy secure by

  1. Accelerate strategic oil reserve:
  • India has had plans to build and implement strategic petroleum reserves (SPR) in the rock caverns of Visakhapatnam, Mangaluru and Pudur.
  • While the financing for SPR must come from the budget, the stored oil can be part of “international reserves” on the Reserve Bank of India’s balance sheet.
  • In recent weeks, China has been stockpiling crude at a furious pace and is nearly half way through building 500 million barrels in storage, which is equivalent to 90 days’ oil demand.
  • India’s ambition is to hold nine days of demand (36 million barrels) and the implementation has only just begun with the completion of the Visakhapatnam facility.
  • SPRs are no panacea, but have both a strong strategic and insurance rationale.
  1. Accelerate Euro VI standard for vehicles: 
  • The current plan is to require auto manufactures to implement the Euro VI standard by 2020.
  • Even though it is not trivial to accelerate engine design and development, revised standards must push auto manufacturers to do so.
  • India must become more effective at managing its oil demand if it is to reduce its external oil dependence.
  1. Make bolder budget choices: 
  • Even though fertilizer prices have remained flat for some time, they have fallen over 50% from a 2011 peak.
  • In the context of an oil price “tax cut”, the fertilizer subsidy should be phased out.
  • Present Finance minister, has already begun a subtle shift from spending to investment in infrastructure.
  • Carefully chosen infrastructure projects in roads, ports, electricity transmission and agricultural markets have the potential to catalyse the economy.
  • Long-term social infrastructure projects in public health and education should be prioritized over unproductive government wages.
  • An imperative is to streamline government functions and close unviable government companies.

Way Forward:

  • India from a long time has suffered from rising oil prices, now the time is ripe for India to en cash on it and start moving towards self reliance and development.

Connecting the dots:

  • Critically examine the reasons for decreasing global crude oil prices.
  • Examine the impact of decreasing crude oil prices on countries with special focus on its impact on India.

 

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