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

  • December 6, 2016
  • 2
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Dec 2016, National, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 6th December, 2016

 

ENVIRONMENT

 

TOPIC:

General Studies 3

  • Disaster and disaster management.

General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Environmental ‘Refugees’

Who are environmental refugees?

  • In the increased frequency of natural disasters due to climate change, there are more evidences of people getting displaced due to droughts, famines, rising sea levels and other natural disasters.
  • In popular literature, this class of migrants are called ‘environmental refugees’.
  • “Environmental refugee”, a term coined by Essam El-Hinnawi, describes “people who have been forced to leave their traditional habitat, temporarily or permanently, because of a marked environmental disruption (natural and/or triggered by people) that jeopardizes their existence and/or seriously effects the quality of their life”
  • According Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, an international body reviewing trends of internal displacement, approx. 24 million people are being displaced annually by natural disasters since 2008.
  • 98% of this displacement was caused by climate- and weather-related disasters, especially flooding.
  • If such crisis events continue, almost half a billion people worldwide will become “environmental refugees” by the end of the century.
  • In 2013, natural disasters displaced three times as many people as war, with 22 million people driven out of their homes by floods, hurricanes and other hazards. Out of these, 80% were from Asia. Thus, those living in developing countries face more risk.

Refugees are unwelcome

  • Refugees puts pressure on existing population to share their resources.
  • In cases when resources are already scarce, the refugees are seen as unwelcome guests.
  • For example, desertification threatens around 50 million inhabitants in North Africa which has led to them migrating to neighbouring western Europe.
  • In a condition of scarce resource and burden of additional population, there rises social mistrust and competition which may further escalate into conflicts and violence.

dna1-6dec

Picture credit: http://www.globalization101.org/uploads/Image/Migration/map-water-scarcity.JPG

UN Refugee Convention, 1951

  • It grants certain rights to people fleeing persecution because of race, religion, nationality, affiliation to a particular social group, or political opinion.
  • The entitled rights follow the principles of non-discrimination, non-penalisation, and non-refoulement.
  • However, people migrating due to environmental disasters have no such recognition of their ‘refugee’ status in international law, leaving them without any basic rights of rehabilitation and compensation.
  • A recent example is refusal of rehabilitation of family to New Zealand from Kiribati islands, which regularly witnesses environmental problems including storm surges, flooding and water contamination.
  • The New Zealand Court pronounced the judgement saying that asylum was sought on grounds of being an ‘environmental refugee’ which does not have such category under UN Refugee Convention.

 

Paris fails to initiate

  • The Paris conference had presented a unique opportunity to address the challenge of increasing environmental refugees.
  • Even before the negotiations had commenced, there were numerous demands to incorporate ways to tackle climate migration in the final agreement.
  • It included
    • Recognising the threat posed by climate change to livelihoods and human safety, and environmental refugees or migrants affected by climate change.
    • Providing technical and capacity building support to national and local initiatives tackling such displacement.
    • Developing suitable policies to manage loss and damage by addressing climate change-induced displacement.
  • However, the final agreement did not deliver on these issues in a satisfactory manner.
  • Paragraph 50 of the Loss and Damage section of the agreement, states to create a task force to build upon existing work and develop recommendations for addressing climate migration. But this is not sufficient as
    • The recommendations of task force have no binding authority
    • No details have been provided on task force’s functions, operations, funding and other aspects.
  • Thus, the ambiguity does not build confidence in the realistic capability of task force to effectively tackle climate migration.

What can be done?

It has been one year since Paris agreement and the political will has displayed its commitment to take meaningful action against climate change. However, the issue of environmental refugee cannot be sidelined.

Climate Change Displacement Coordination Facility

  • The draft of Paris Agreement provided for a Climate Change Displacement Coordination Facility.
  • This facility was intended to target organised migration and planned relocation of displaced persons, securing emergency relief, arranging compensation for those displaced and establish guidelines and standards for addressing climate change-induced displacement and migration.
  • The facility had more meaningful objectives on hand than the proposed task force. Unfortunately, the coordination facility was not a part of final agreement. So it might be important to reconsider this option too.

 

International Treaty

  • The coordination facility will provide for a short term solution to relocate migrants and rehabilitate them in safer regions.
  • But a permanent solution is required, like an international treaty framework that recognises ‘environmental refugees’ and obligation of nation states to accommodate them.

Expanding the definition

  • The refugees’ definition under existing UN Refugee Convention should be expanded to include climate migration.
  • This along with international treaty framework will provide necessary support to the people who are most likely to lose their habitat and face threat to their lives due to climate changes.

dna-6dec

Picture credit: https://www.digitalmethods.net/pub/Dmi/MappingClimateConflictVulnerabilityAndVictims/Climate_vulnerability_world_map.jpg

Conclusion

The world is already witnessing strong reactionary attitude towards political refugees as seen with Brexit and Trump’s election as US President. This underlines the existing paranoia towards migrants. Hence, there is a need to recognise the existence of environmental refugees to save them under international law from danger to their survival and legal complications.

The largest three emitters of Greenhouse gases- USA, China and India should also proactively deal with the issue as these are predicted to be suffered tremendously from climate change-induced migration, resulting in large-scale displacement of their own populations.

Therefore, a collective effort is needed in finding an international solution to mitigate the looming crisis.

Connecting the dots:

  • What do you understand by environmental refugees? Critically analyse the challenges faced by India in dealing with new kind of disaster management.

 

NATIONAL/TECHNOLOGY

 

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

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
  • Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

 

Generating jobs through e-commerce

India has been facing ‘jobless growth’ which can rein in disaster in future with growing population and non-proportionate growing jobs options as well as opportunities. India needs to create 80 million new jobs over the next decade, double the number over the previous 10 years in order to keep up with the growing population. Therefore, the mode of job creation needs to be explored.

Going China’s way?

  • China was the only country which faced similar problems as India.
  • In late 1970s, it was confronted with this issue due to rapid global trade growth.
  • But China responded it by contributing to the global trade through which it gained.
  • China’s annual growth averaged 10% since 1970s due to staggering transformation from agriculture to manufacturing (largely export based).
  • But it is unlikely that same formula will be applicable to India.
  • The world is seeing lackasidal growth and more of inward looking economic policies are emerging. For the first time in decades, global trade growth is running lower than global economic growth.
  • Thus, there might not be anymore need of another export powerhouse in this period. And hence, India may have to rely more on domestic demand.

 

Domestic demand has austere future

  • Agriculture is a low-productivity sector, but it employs half the labour force. On the other hand, sectors such as financial services are highly productive, but only employ a little percentage of labour force.
  • Over the last decade, labour has been exiting agriculture but it is only going to construction and unregistered manufacturing, which are not noticeably better jobs.
  • Also, service sector, where labour tends to be most productive, are not generating the additional jobs the country needs.

Chance of change through e-commerce

  • The internet revolution has the potential to help India generate more jobs.
  • Recently, one survey mentioned that 88% of Indians had access to mobile phones and 34.8% had access to internet.
  • Thus, India could cope with China in ecommerce as it is lagging only 7 years behind it in terms of internet penetration and online purchases.
  • Comparison with China is important because of the structural similarities with India. China’s lack of organised retail was overcome by e-commerce which then led to its increased adoption.
  • India has around 10% of total retail activity as organised retail. Thus, it needs to put in more efforts to increase its e-commerce activity.
  • This will be supported with a young population which is more open to technology, spurt in Internet-enabled mobile telephony, decreasing cost of smartphones and the ongoing digital payments revolution due to demonetisation.
  • The e-commerce jobs are also touted as more productive as the employment will be generated in retail as well as transport services which are more productive than currently generated jobs in construction.

 

E-commerce: will it match the numbers?

  • Currently, the local media has multiple stories of failing e-commerce ventures. And this is exactly why it needs to be put in context.
  • Globally, a large majority of e-commerce businesses fail, and “creative destruction” is a vital part of that ecosystem because those that succeed become exceptionally large, often changing consumption patterns in economies.
  • In terms of job creation, it is estimated that higher wages (on the back of rising economic growth) and the convenience of buying online can increase online sales 20-fold over the next decade.
  • There will be jobs created through online sales in terms of average transaction value, parcels delivered per day, customer care per order and IT support ratios.
  • Data suggest that e-commerce could create 20 million “gross” jobs at different skill levels—logistics and delivery (70%), and customer care, IT and management (30%).
  • No doubt, there will be loss of jobs in brick-and-mortar businesses. But, if compared ‘with’ and ‘without’ e-commerce scenario, it is estimated that e-commerce could create 12 million net new jobs. In other way, for every job lost over the next decade, 2.5 jobs will be created.
  • It is often argued that huge economies of scale require less labour inputs and thus e-commerce will not create jobs and is bad for growth. But this is incorrect as estimates show that the rise in consumption due to the convenience factor of buying online can in itself enlarge the transactions which will require larger labour force to serve.
  • Also, currently e-commerce is focused in urban areas. When the rural areas will get accustomed to it, it will bring in huge benefits to countryside as well as economy.
  • Rural areas will have village merchants who will take care of that side of demands and thereby create livelihood opportunities. Together with it, there will be reduced pressure on crowded cities due to scattering of markets.

Conclusion

E-commerce has slowly picked up in India and is expected to get necessary push post demonetisation. But for that, building the physical and digital infrastructure is a necessary condition to spread and raise wages that boost consumption demand.

Simultaneously, Make in India should also succeed as e-commerce will grow with decreased trade deficit and macro instability.

Together with it, now there is a need for health and education service providers who can cater to mass’s demand on click of mouse. These sectors together will bring in more job opportunities in India from India.

Connecting the dots:

  • Though India is suffering from ‘jobless growth’, there are opportunities hidden beneath the internet revolution to create jobs. Discuss in detail.
  • India’s future lies in internet. Justify your answers by giving suitable examples.

 

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