TOPIC: General Studies 3
- Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
- Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
Economic Inclusion and Equality in 2017
How 2016 shaped up?
The year gone by has seen a lot of political developments around the world whether it was the exit of Britain from the European Union (EU) or the presidential elections in the USA. The people around the world who have constituted the vote bank have been concerned about issues such as trade, migration, and structural labour market changes.
However, from an economic viewpoint, 2016 has not been a very happening year and has just seen nations recovering slowly from the after effects of the global crisis of 2008.
The economic activity in the US, Europe and other emerging markets has seen gradual improvement with a few vulnerabilities still in existence.
- The expansionist policies shown by the USA have had a positive impact worldwide.
- The approach by USA has helped in raising expectations of global growth and inflation and also gives some respite and manoeuvring space to the central banks of advanced nations which have carried the burden of the economic policies throughout the past few years of recovery and growth.
Co-existence and Co-operation
- As per International Monetary Fund (IMF), the fiscal policy of countries with a stronger economic base and capacity to withstand the shocks need to be supportive for global growth.
- These countries should have monetary policies and structural reforms which aid increase in productivity and growth.
- Other factors such as Germany assuming leadership of the G-20 will push the countries towards structural reforms and building more resilient and stronger economies.
Expectations and Role Play in 2017
In the coming year, China is expected to continue focussing on reorientation of its economy away from exports and more towards domestic demand. Other Asian economies are also expected to and need to exhibit more dynamism in their growth strategies.
Economic Challenges in 2017
The economic challenges in 2017 will be a result of various political developments that have occurred in the last one year.
- Imbalance in technological progress in countries is widening income inequality within many countries. The same can be well understood by the fact that in major advanced economies, the top 10% of earners’ incomes increased by 40% in the last two decades.
- Another major challenge staring in the face of the international community is migration which is increasing in magnitude due to geopolitical pressures.
- Migrants and refugees are substantially beneficial for host countries but their increase leads to fears of economic and cultural change and ethnic insecurities.
- Nations believe that restrictions on cross-border movement of goods, capital, and people will improve employment prospects and economic security of the domestic population
- Countries need to preserve the gains from economic openness while addressing inequalities or else welfare and living standards of people especially in the low income countries would be endangered.
- There is also a growing feeling among people that policymakers are not focussing adequately on interests and welfare.
The major problems related to inequality can be addressed in many different ways.
- Governments can provide and enhance direct support for lower-skill workers, especially in countries and regions which have had high rate of automation and outsourcing.
- Policy makers should focus on increasing the public investments in healthcare services, education and skills training and also try to improve occupational and geographic mobility.
- A huge focus has to be laid on significance of lifelong education to prepare current and future generations for fast-changing technologies.
- Countries should strengthen social safety nets and promote affordable childcare, parental leave, access to healthcare and workplace flexibility.
- Tax reforms and legal minimum wage rules can also be implemented to support lower-income earners and create tax incentives to bring more women into the labour market.
- Economic fairness should be ensured so as to restore social trust and bolster public support for reforms.
- Governments around the world should try to promote competition in important industries that lack it, crack down on tax evasion and prevent business practices that shift profits to low-tax locations.
As a result of the above suggestions, the policies can improve economic inclusion if the same are implemented effectively. Various stakeholders and professions need to join the economic world in this effort.
The IMF recommends a more equitable income distribution as a sound social policy and a sound economic policy as well. As per research, reduction in high inequality makes economic growth more robust and sustainable over the long term.
Political developments that have happened in 2016 will push policymakers to focus on those countries or people who have benefited least from economic integration or have been displaced by technology-driven labour-market changes.
Lastly, we need to understand that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to tackle inequality and promote inclusion around the world. Policies have to be flexible and suitable for different countries and regions depending on the set of problems they face.
Connecting the dots
- What are the reasons that the world countries are witnessing inequality and lack of inclusion in the post global crisis era? Suggest a strategy for nations to promote equality and inclusion with due concern towards economic growth.
TOPIC: General Studies 1
- Social empowerment
- Salient features of Indian Society
Untouchability in India? Yes, it exists!
The Constitution of India has abolished untouchability under article 17. It has been made it a punishable offence under the Untouchability Offences Act, 1955. The practice of reservations has been going on for a while where in the society aims to reconstruct the society by giving the depressed, oppressed and the under privileged some status in the society.
Despite the constitutional provision, punishable offence and upliftment efforts, untouchability is present in the society, and unfortunately, thriving.
- It is a product of the caste system in Indian society where people from lower strata of the society are called ‘untouchables’ or ‘achut’ as they are ‘impure’.
- They are called ‘impure’ as their ancestors were doing jobs that were considered polluting and impure such as removing human waste (known as “manual scavenging”), dragging away and skinning animal carcasses, tanning leather etc.
- It has now been taken for granted that such activities have to be performed by ‘untouchables’ or ‘Dalits’.
- Thus, untouchability is prompted by the spirit of social aggression and the belief in purity and pollution that characterises casteism.
Untouchability in modern India?
- With the economic growth, technological leapfrogs and scientific developments, many may feel that untouchability no longer exists in India or is not being practiced much except for in some rural areas.
- However, untouchability has various forms and not just ‘not touching the person’. Untouchability is present in nearly every sphere of life and practiced in an infinite number of forms.
- At the village level Dalits are barred from using wells used by non-Dalits, not allowed to the barber shop or entering temples, kids are given food to eat separately and clean school toilets, at the level of job recruitment and employment Dalits are systematically paid less, given menial work and rarely promoted.
- In urban areas too untouchability is visible in considerable proportion. There are separate utensils for servants, they have separate siting arrangement and are mostly not allowed to use toilets of the house they work in.
- Many in urban areas think about caste only in context of reservation or media reports like the Una flogging incident. People may think that caste hardly plays a role in modern society, but a research proves it otherwise.
- A survey called SARI (Social Attitudes Research for India) has conducted that caste discrimination is far more commonplace than most educated urbanites would care to acknowledge.
- The SARI used sampling in urban area (Delhi) and rural area (Uttar Pradesh). It was found that people’s attitudes towards their Dalit neighbours is sobering: among non-Dalit Hindus in Delhi, a third said that someone in their household practises untouchability. In Uttar Pradesh, half of adults said that someone practises it.
- This presents the ground reality of the so called ‘abolished’ practice.
Admitting the criminal offence
- When it was asked to a sample if untouchability was practiced at their home, the answer would be a unflinching yes from many.
- However, if it was a yes, it didn’t mean that only older people were engaged in such activity. There is very few age variations in reported untouchability. Sadly, in Delhi and U.P., young people are not much less likely to practise untouchability than their parents or grandparents.
- In Delhi, half the adults in non-SC Hindu households admitted to the fact that they practiced untouchability whereas in Uttar Pradesh, the numbers reached 70%.
- However, these numbers do have concealed truth in them. Some people know that it is politically incorrect to admit practising untouchability to a stranger. Hence, the responses are manipulated.
- The women are less likely to conceal the truth than men as they are less aware that it is not a politically correct thing to say. Hence, inspite of living in same household, there is observed difference in their answers at times.
- Also, as women work more with food, utensils and domestic help, there is more proof of practice of untouchability in their responses.
- If women’s responses are only considered, which are more likely to be accurate, it is found that 40% of non-Dalit Hindu households in Delhi report practising untouchability. In rural UP, it touches 60%. Inspite of this, there are women who do not admit to practising untouchability or do not recognise some of the things they do in their interactions with Dalits as untouchability.
- Untouchability is considered as an age old practice which found its way even after independence despite the fact that eminent persons like B.R.Ambedkar and Ganshiji have staunchly opposed such social discrimination.
- The reservations in government schools and jobs was initiated to socially uplift the backward classes. But, not much difference is visible on ground when abolishing of untouchability is concerned.
- To remove untouchability, the children have to be made aware ad educated about such ongoing process.
- It has been found that many urban families find themselves talking explicitly about caste only when their children are trying to get admitted to colleges. The children have the right to know what reservation is and why some social groups have certain privileges over another.
- Just like women report untouchability practices, the mothers are the foremost teachers of the children to educate them about caste differences and caste discrimination happening around.
- Rather than denying existence of untouchability with the hope that the new generation will not bother about it this technologically driven era and eventually untouchability will disappear, it is more matured approach by the parents, teachers, and even the government to make the child aware about it and make it end.
- The children have to be taught about respecting the fellow human being irrespective of their background and have kinder attitude towards different groups.
- A study of primary school students in the United States found that white students who read about both the accomplishments of and the discrimination faced by black Americans later displayed less biased attitudes towards blacks than white children who had merely read about accomplishments.
Untouchability is not easy to eradicate, but it does not mean it cannot be and thus should exist. If its existence is denied, the children will never come to know why it is practiced and what can be done to stop it. They will continue to follow the archaic and hurtful social norms without knowing the root cause of the same and thus crippling the growth of the society culturally. Hence, right from parents to teachers to government, all have to make sincere efforts to educate the children about the ongoing practice of untouchability in rural as well as in urban areas. This will make the children more aware of their unjust social customs and find ways to abolish them, thereby upholding the true spirit of constitution of India.
Connecting the dots:
- Why in your opinion is untouchability still being practiced? Critically evaluate the means for their upliftment.
- Though constitution abolishes untouchability, it is widely practiced by the common man, thereby making a considerable proportion of citizens of India against the law. Is there any remedy to it? Give reasons for you answer.
Notes to remember
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Raghuram Rajan | Democracy, inclusion and prosperity
Tarek Osman | The religion question in the new year
A German model for our MSMEs?
Ends and means
Disastrous rise of climate sceptics
Let’s admit it, China is not our enemy