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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 6th January, 2016

  • January 6, 2016
  • 20
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs January 2016, National, Science and Technology, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 6th January, 2016

 

NATIONAL

TOPIC:

General studies 1:

  • The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors or contributions from different parts of the country.
  • Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
  • Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

General studies 2:

  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

 

The promise of Dalit capitalism

The present Prime Minister made two significant observations in the course of his speech to the new generation of Dalit entrepreneurs during the National Conference of Dalit Entrepreneurs held on 29th December, 2015.

  • First, he cited B.R. Ambedkar to argue that a community that has little access to land should see rapid industrialization as its best bet for advancement.
  • Second, he said it is more difficult to escape the shadow of social discrimination than it is to break the shackles of economic backwardness.

Low Dalit entrepreneurship:

Successive census reports on enterprises outside agriculture show that Dalits own far fewer businesses than we should expect from their share of the total Indian population.

The case of Dalit capitalism:

The concept can be traced back to a conference of Dalit intellectuals held in Bhopal in 2002, which argued that the retreat of the state in the era of globalization means that dependence on reservations will bring diminishing returns (the returns keep on decreasing with time).

The representatives of Dalit capitalism want to correct this imbalance because they believe that capital is the best way to break caste in the modern economy. 

  • Few existing Dalit entrepreneurs can be role models for upcoming ones.

Hurdles in realising Dalit entrepreneurship:

  • One of the main problems is the lack of access to existing business networks.
  • India is one of the many countries where weak contract enforcement means that entrepreneurs depend on trust-based community networks to transact business.
  • There is no shortage of examples of specific businesses being dominated by members of one community.
  • It is very difficult for a Dalit entrepreneur to break into these networks, a challenge that is perhaps even more difficult than getting bank loans.

Case study:

  • In a 2011 paper on how caste matters in entrepreneurship, Lakshmi Iyer and Tarun Khanna argued that the growth of enterprises depends strongly on network effects to find the right workers as well as to forge links with suppliers and customers.
  • And World Bank chief economist Kaushik Basu has tried to show in a new paper that discrimination exists because it acts as a coordination device.

 

How to break the existing business networks?

  • One possibility is through voluntary action by large companies that have expansive supply chains.
  • The Tata group has been at the forefront of such experiments.
  • Large government departments have also tried to bring Dalit enterprises into their networks.
  • How such initiatives can be expanded while maintaining commercial goals remains to be seen?

 

Way ahead:

  • The past few decades have seen the political empowerment of Dalits.
  • But all sorts of data show that the community has still not got its rightful place in the economic landscape.
  • What a new generation of Dalits intellectuals has been arguing is that the market rather than the state is the best antidote to social inequality.
  • Start up India, stand up India:
  • The government has announced a new campaign “Start-up India, Stand up India” to promote bank financing for start-ups and offer incentives to boost entrepreneurship and job creation.
  • Let us hope this initiative will provide adequate opportunities for the Dalit community to find their economic landscape in India.

Connecting the dots:

  • Critically examine the various measures taken by the government to promote economic empowerment of Dalit community in India.
  • Analyse the contribution of Dalits to India’s freedom struggle.
  • Critically analyse the role of start up stand up India, in promoting India as a manufacturing hub in future.

 

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

TOPIC:

  • General studies 3:
    • General Studies 3: Science and Technology – developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology. 
    • General Studies 2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. I; Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential
    • General Studies 1: The Effects of globalization on Indian society; Social empowerment

 

Internet-The Public Good

If the growth of the Internet in the 1990s led to the fear of a new kind of social inequity in the form of the digital divide, the present potential of this same internet has brought in a majority of changes— right from the way it overcomes existing divides to its role in providing government support to capture the challenges of ICT (information and communications technology) in under-served areas

Ability to Use

  • The modern consumer today, understands the level of dependency and usage that internet has commanded and with this viewpoint, it thus, becomes important to also measure the relevance of it, in the context of, the need to balance the allocation of scarce public money among different urgent priorities
  • Social Inclusion: European Union Universal Service Directive in 2002 had suggested that a necessary condition for a service to be included within the ambit of universal service is that of it being critical for social inclusion—that is, it is a consumption norm.
  • Minimum number of users of a service that would need to be crossed before provision of subsidies for its universalization: In the context of India, number of internet users have multiplied multi-fold but these numbers are still low for it to be considered as a “consumption norm” that a government is obligated to provide
  • Government & New Technologies: Since the 1980s, sophisticated statistical techniques have been used to establish cause-effect relationships between the adoptions of new technologies—the mobile phone, the Internet and broadband—and gross domestic product (GDP) growth.
  • India- Studies show that a 10% increase in Internet penetration can increase the GDP by 1.6% in the presence of a minimum penetration level of 25% and this study has thus, made a case for the use of public money for Internet access and broadband expansion

 

Major Policy Concerns:

  • Positive spillovers are not guaranteed by the studies conducted
    • The cause-effect relationship also needs to be considered while identifying the various factors that are getting affected by the internet.
    • Also, the level of penetration is visibly low considering the under-served areas that lie far below the threshold
  • Secondly, will the investment reap- as much benefit as much as the investments that can be diverted towards providing basic facilities like health and education?
  • Third, these econometric studies are carried out with either a country or a province within a country as the unit of analysis and given the immense size and heterogeneity of the unit; the claims do not automatically extend to the sub-unit level—for example, to rural areas within a province. Therefore, bias as well as inconsistency

 

Rural areas & Internet:

  • The externalities may not accrue in many rural areas at their present level of development mainly because of the issue of it being relevant and the ‘theory of utmost needs’ playing foul here.
  • Compared to the internet, the roads and education as well as proper provision of health would serve as a major and the utmost requirement faced by Indian villages which are still majorly under-developed and lacks access to even basic amenities of life.
  • In fact, the ability and willingness of the villagers, if put to question regarding the usage of the new technology, would result in the proof of the access without a host of complementary inputs is unlikely to lead to positive spillovers

Enabler of development:

Ideally, one should view internet as an entity which has value not in and of itself but rather as a medium that gives access to other basic goods and services

ICT for development projects cover many domains including healthcare, education, online government services and the provision of commodity price information to small producers and therefore, there exists two implications-

  • Provision of the basic goods and services facilitated via ICT should adhere to some consumption norm which can simply be in the form of, as an example, aiming for a level that at the minimum achieves the targets of the Millennium Development Goals
  • Complementary inputs need to be provided to utilize internet facility efficiently by making it largely a demand-based service as well as align itself with its complementary entities; for example- the ICT network should develop in rough alignment with the complementary institutions, processes and skills needed to provide remote medical services
  • Complementary inputs and the development of ability to use (“build it and they will come”) can also be triggered with the penetration of internet but the experience of several government schemes in India shows that there are limits to this rationale for advance build-out of connectivity

 

Questions to be Answered by TRAI

 (1) Who are the actors?

(2) What factors influence each actor’s position?

(3) What is in the best interest of the sector and for realizing the ambitions of Digital India?

(4) If operator-service provider arrangements would limit competition and weaken innovation?

IASbaba’s Views:

  • Universal access to the Internet need not be interpreted as “uniform access” and the build-out of networks should be aligned to the absorptive capacity of a region by making it a demand-driven service
  • Deliberations on the national optic fibre network (NOFN) and “free basics” should understand the various nuances, theories and explanations and design a plan accordingly.
  • With Facebook nudging its 130 million Indian users to send emails to TRAI to lend their voice to differential pricing, and about 1.4 million obliging, TRAI should make sure that paid prioritisation, blocking and throttling of lawful content and services on the net be excluded (strictly, at that)

Connecting the Dots:

  • What do you mean by ‘Free Basics’? Do you agree with the stand taken up by Facebook in the course of spearheading the issue, in India?

 

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