TOPIC: General studies 2
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
- Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
Why migrants are Europe’s litmus test?
After the terror attack in Brussels on March 22 morning, two claims are being made on the European land by few of the political leaders as well as the angered public.
- The immediate association between the attacks and the migrant crisis, the argument being that the Islamic State (IS), which claimed responsibility for the attacks, was sending in armed jihadists with the vast migrant flow coming into Europe.
- The hardening of Euroscepticism and mounting criticism against the open border policy of the Schengen bloc.
Conflict over migrant policy supports jihadist project:
- The above positions are not representative of majority public or political opinion yet, but with the IS expected to step up its acts of targeted terror in Europe as a response to the reverses its forces on the ground in Syria and Iraq are facing, the misconceptions have gained considerable traction.
- The conflict over migrant policy within the countries of the European Union can only strengthen the jihadist project, as commentators have pointed out, and threaten the safety of the thousands who are fleeing from conflict and jihadist terror in West Asia and northern Africa.
Rising anti-migrant sentiment:
- The first sign of the spurt in anti-migrant and, more worryingly, anti-Muslim sentiment was the appearance of the hashtag #StopIslam which started trending on social media worldwide.
- The Polish government announced that it was suspending its commitment to take in its share of migrants, and reports of attacks against immigrants in the country and elsewhere in Europe surfaced.
- In the U.K., which is due for a referendum on June 23 to decide whether it will stay or leave the EU, the United Kingdom Independence Party, which is in the forefront of Brexit, used the Brussels attack to reiterate its anti-immigration and anti-migrant policies.
Looking into the new focus:
The new focus is on three things
- Islam in general and the conflation of 1.6 billion people with the acts of three people in Brussels.
- The worrying association of the attacks with migrants.
- Threats to the Schengen area, an alarming one.
However one important thing to be noted here if one travels freely between different countries, it doesn’t mean that he will penetrate an act of terrorism.
Right wing parties starting to gain ground in Europe :
- In Europe, where job insecurities have fed into threat perceptions on the erosion that immigration poses to national identity, right-wing xenophobic parties have gained ground.
- An incident of sexual abuse of women on New Year’s night in Cologne (Germany) by migrant youth was linked in public perception to the terror attacks, strengthening the popular belief that the EU has no effective policy to address either terrorism or migrant flows.
- In Germany, which has promised to relocate the largest number of the 1.3 million asylum applications in the EU, the liberal immigration policies of Chancellor Angela Merkel have contributed to the defeat of her party to the hard-right Alternative for Germany party in two of three regional elections held two weeks ago.
Foreign policy of western governments owes responsibility for the act:
- The big waves of recent migration into Europe are a direct response to Western foreign policy interventions in West Asia.
- The migrant surge first came from Afghanistan and Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
- This was followed by migration from conflict zones in North Africa through Libya that followed the intervention of Britain and France in Libya in 2011.
- Most recent is the migrant exodus from Syria, which began after Western intervention in that country in 2013.
- The common denominator is the foreign policy of Western governments.
- They are ultimately responsible for the appalling attacks in Brussels and Paris.
Controversial EU-Turkey agreement:
- The controversial agreement signed between the EU and Turkey last week, intended to seal illegal migration, has been criticised by aid agencies as inhumane and violative of EU law.
- An illegal immigrant now arriving in Greece through the Aegean Sea route can be expected to be sent back to Turkey if the person does not apply for asylum or his claim is rejected.
- Turkey today hosts three million Syrian refugees, more than any other country.
- Besides, the deal has not had the intended effect. There are currently over 49,000 migrants in Greece in overcrowded and squalid camps waiting for asylum in Europe, and the numbers have grown since the EU-Turkey deal.
Connecting the dots:
- Critically examine the reasons for the ongoing refugee crises in Europe. To what extent do you think the EU- Turkey agreement can solve the refugee crises?
General studies 1:
- Effects of globalization on Indian society.
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;
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector or Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
The Elderly—as a resource
Statistics behind the increase in life expectancy at birth:
1950-55: Life expectancy at birth in India was 36.6 years, whereas the average in the world was 46.8 years
2010-15: Life expectancy in India had almost caught up with the global average: 67.5 years in India, compared with 70.5 years globally
- Reduction in poverty
- Improvement in healthcare and general social conditions
India will have 330 million elderly people (19.4% of the population) by 2050
Problem of ageing populations
This profound shift in the share of older Indians—taking place in the context of changing family relationships and severely limited old-age income support—brings with it a variety of social, economic, and health care policy challenges.
- Becomes an obligation
- Increase in Life Expectancy + Mortality Rate (decrease)?Dependency (HIGH)
- Outward Migration to urban areas? Abandonment
- Worst case: Aged women (Mathura Case); Widowhood? Enhanced dependency
- Agriculture + industries: Adversely affected the participation rate of the elderly + less scope of financial assistance
- Organized sector- Mandatory retirement
- Women: Immense contribution but with no ‘counted’ economic value
Early marriage + Prohibition on remarriage- Widowhood prevails (Double jeopardy)
Health & Disability
- Low: Literacy level + present healthcare conditions
- Transition from communicable to non-communicable diseases
- Increased disability in female
- Rise in suicide cases: Depression + destitution + Socio-economic factors
- Action—Help Age India: Comprehensive Plan + Program + Action
- Social Security: Weakened + Declining
- Decline in Joint Family
- Decrease in interaction & expression of emotions— Alienation
Ways of Inclusion
- Liberate them from repetitive exclusion from all spheres of life: Social + Economic + Political
- Rectify the negligence awarded by valuing their wisdom (fastest growing, but underutilized resource available to humanity), insights and values—Induction in advisory groups (turning the ‘problem’ of the elderly into a ‘solution’ for other social problems)
- Creation of a sense of social identity of aged—Social Security cover; Evolving an indigenous care module and an overall family & community care system
- Increased interactions with the youth (Sense of value + Ways of imparting traditions)
- More research needs to be employed in the healthcare dimension of the ‘aged’ population
The paradigm shift required in perspective—
India: SEWA (the self-employed women’s association), founded by Ela Bhatt, is one of the best examples which organizes the women in self-help groups and improve the quality of lives.
Vietnam— Old People’s Associations (OPAs) are improving the lives of the elderly
- Out of 90 million people, as many as 8.5 million are members of OPAs in their village and town communities which are democratically run by the elderly in the communities— set their own agendas, choose what community causes to apply themselves to, which elderly persons need special assistance and assign responsibilities among themselves
- They represent the needs of the community and the elderly to government agencies, who also see them as a vital support for the government’s outreach programmes into communities.
- Women constitute the majority in OPAs since they live longer than men
- Youth volunteers support the OPAs, providing energy and expertise that the elders may not have
- Great benefit— of ‘inter-generational self-help groups’ (as the OPAs are called) is the social capital they accumulate and the cohesion they enable within communities
Anubandh—Bhatt advocates the building of ‘hundred-mile communities’ as a way to improve the world for everyone; encourages us to follow the links of mutual interconnectedness towards a sense of wholeness
- For sustainable and inclusive growth, local communities must be enabled to govern themselves. Rather than isolating them and making them dependent on others’ charity for their own survival, the integration of elders can help communities to survive and to thrive.
- Elders can act as a glue providing cohesion with tradition, and that brings together conflicting movements for ‘special causes’.
- Investing a little to engage the elderly in communities can improve the health and well-being of the elderly as well as improve the health and well-being of communities.
Connecting the Dots:
- India should lay the groundwork for increased economic productivity and “ease the process of caring for growing numbers of older Indians in the future”. Discuss.
Revisiting the EPF rollback
Understanding the Islamic State
The need to pre-empt nuclear terrorism
Out of depth- Oil and gas exploration
The gas opportunity-The new hydrocarbon policy can help India reduce its import dependency
When less is not more- Simultaneous elections to panchayat, assembly and Lok Sabha may be desirable. They are not feasible.
Not just a flyover collapse- Malaise afflicting infrastructure projects runs deep
India’s new federal polity takes root-The 14th Finance Commission championed the idea that one size cannot fit all; relevant in such a large country like India
1. Modi’s Saudi Visit
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