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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs 20th May, 2017

  • May 21, 2017
  • 1
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs May 2017, IASbaba's Daily News Analysis, National, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 20th May 2017

Archives

NATIONAL/ENVIRONMENT

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

  • Conservation, Environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
  • Disaster and disaster management.

Natural Infrastructure

Introduction

India is a developing country and faces multipronged developmental challenges. In the age of competing priorities the need for a sustainable development model is critical. Natural infrastructure should be integrated in the process of development.

Cost of Disasters:

  • Natural disasters cause huge losses annually and there have been growing concerns over the measures needed, particularly with respect to the ecosystem in which society, business and government exist.
  • In India, approximately 805 million people were affected by around 288 weather-related disasters during 1995-2015.
  • In order to avoid risk and damage, and to build resilience to these disasters, natural infrastructure solutions are increasingly being considered and implemented.

Issue:

  • Natural infrastructures are planned and managed natural or semi-natural systems, which can provide benefits or even replace a functionality that is traditionally provided by grey infrastructures.
    • These natural or green infrastructures can be areas such as forests, agricultural lands, estuaries, coastal landscapes and wetlands.
  • These solutions comprises –
    • coastal ecosystem (mangroves, coral reefs) for coastline protection from storms;
    • watershed restoration (by sustainable land management) for water quality regulation;
    • afforestation for carbon sequestration; habitat restoration or conservation for pollination;
    • phyto-remediation to rehabilitate contaminated soil and water;

Multi-pronged approach

Natural infrastructure (NI) solutions arrayed across different scales, from buildings to landscapes in rural, urban, terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine areas, hold huge potential.

  • At the local level, NI solutions include permeable pavements, trees and rainwater harvesting systems.
  • Vegetative solutions consists of green roofs, rain gardens, and bio-swales, which can be used in cities and industrial parks to balance storm water conveyance systems.
  • Rain gardens capture rainwater in a depression in the ground, and prevent flash floods and erosion in streams by slowing down storm water.
  • Bio-swales are made along roadsides so that rainwater from the road flows towards them and percolates into the ground.
  • NI solutions include constructed wetlands that are used for industrial processed water and waste-water treatment, substituting traditional waste-water treatment infrastructure.
  • Oyster reefs and seagrass beds can decrease erosion and protect coastal areas from storms, while also filtering contaminated seawater and supporting local fisheries.

Benefits of Natural infrastructure:

Natural infrastructures offer numerous benefits to society.

  • For example, a well-managed forest can regulate water for drinking, agriculture and energy, store carbon, support pollinators and provide recreational and tourism opportunities.
  • Further, it can increase biodiversity and improve storm resilience.
  • Natural infrastructure can help avoid water pollution that would otherwise need to pass through a conventional water treatment plant, thus reducing costs.
  • Many cities have a water fund focused on NI solutions that has resulted in significant savings every year by reducing water treatment costs.
  • NI solutions often require less initial capital investment and reduced operations and maintenance costs. These solutions often require fewer human resources for oversight.
  • As more businesses invest in NI solutions, the demand for related skills will increase, resulting in new job opportunities.
  • Additionally, NI can contribute to new natural resource-based industries, such as commercial fisheries.
  • NI solutions offer the social licence to operate businesses and enhance public health. For example, parks and permeable pavements reduce noise pollution by dampening traffic noise.
  • NI investments can even lead to increase in property values due to the enhanced aesthetics of landscapes.

Sustainable Development Goals

  • Mapping and assessing NI solutions is essential to ensure that their true values are considered in policies and decision-making across sectors.
  • For example, a hydro-power company’s dependence on a forested watershed can measure days of operation lost or costs of turbine repair per year because of sedimentation of waterways due to deforestation.
  • Businesses have the opportunity to contribute to the SDGs particularly SDG9 (resilient infrastructure), SDG 13 (climate change) and SDG 15 (reverse land degradation) while addressing business needs and deriving benefits from NI solutions.
  • Businesses can integrate disaster risk into their management practices as indicated in the recently adopted ‘Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction’.
  • The ability and needs related to measuring and accounting natural capital will vary, so multiple, flexible, yet rigorous approaches will be required for effective decision-making.
  • In some cities, governments and companies pay for ecosystem services to secure clean water supplies instead of paying for expensive grey water treatment facilities and processes.

Conclusion:

The need for integration of all areas of development and stakeholders for a coordinated policy is a crucial requirement. Natural infrastructure has a significant role to play in sustainable development especially when urbanisation and industrialization is having a free play at the cost of ecological concerns.

Connecting the dots:

  • Critically analyse the role of natural infrastructure in sustainable development. Elaborate on the benefits of the same.

 

NATIONAL/ECONOMY

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

  • Government Budgeting.
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Jobless Growth

Introduction

Growth should be inclusive and sustainable. One of the crucial determinant of the same is it should be employment intensive. India has witnessed servicisation of the economy and this has resulted in less job intensive growth. Further there are issues in policy orientations.

Issue:

Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramaniam recently pointed to the need to achieve higher economic growth, in the range of 8% to 10%, to solve the problem of jobless growth.

  • In particular, he flagged the underperformance of the information technology, construction and agricultural sectors, which earlier served as huge job-creators for the economy.
  • It is worth noting that India added just 1.35 lakh jobs in eight labour-intensive sectors in 2015, compared to the 9.3 lakh jobs that were created in 2011, according to Labour Bureau figures.
  • The rate of unemployment grew steadily from 3.8% in 2011-12 to 5% in 2015-16.
  • Union Labour and Employment Minister has downplayed the gloomy job situation as being a temporary one.
  • The focus instead is on the new National Employment Policy which, accordingly, would be released later this year and focus on shifting jobs from the informal to the formal sector.
  • NITI Aayog too has dismissed concerns over jobless growth, saying the real problem is underemployment rather than unemployment.
  • Nevertheless, this month the government set up a high-level task force headed by NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya to obtain reliable data on employment trends to aid policymaking.

Need for focus on Job oriented growth:

  • The focus on jobs is obviously vital. However, higher economic growth alone will not solve the jobs problem.
  • Jobs can be created when growth comes from the transition of labour from informal sectors like agriculture to the more formal manufacturing and service sectors.
  • Such extensive growth, however, runs the risk of stagnation once the available stock of informal labour is exhausted — as some Southeast Asian countries found out the hard way in the late 1990s.
  • On the other hand, growth can come about without any substantial job-creation in the formal sectors of the economy, but through improvements in productivity.
  • The growth record of several developed economies even after the modernization of their labour force explains such intensive growth.
  • India should aim at growth that is driven both by improvements in productivity and modernisation of its labour force — especially since better jobs are crucial to improving the lives of millions who are employed, indeed underemployed, in low-paying jobs in the farm sector.
  • Ironically, achieving both those objectives will first require labour reforms — ones that can both boost labour mobility within the formal sector and bring down the barriers businesses face in hiring labour.

Concerns – Productivity vs Employment intensity:

  • If output is growing much faster than employment, it is obvious that the output per worker, or what we call labour productivity, is rising rapidly.
  • This can happen either through technical progress in individual sectors or through growth-enhancing ‘structural change’, which means that the relatively productive sectors expand their share in national employment at the expense of other sectors.
  • While recent research has shown that growth – through both these channels of productivity growth – has reduced poverty in India, one can easily argue that employment growth lagging behind the growth in working-age population can have adverse economic, political and social consequences.

The negative consequences have already manifested themselves in the form of the recent Jat, Patel, and Maratha agitations

Conclusion:

Incremental labour reforms alone won’t work unless these are combined with a step-up in government spending on asset and job-creating areas such as infrastructure, which in turn inspires private investment. Job-creation needs to be an essential axis along which economic and social policies are formulated.

Connecting the dots:

  • Discuss relevance of a growth model that has employment orientation. Elaborate the ills of jobless growth on the economy.

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