General Studies 1
- Social empowerment
General Studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes
General Studies 3
- Indian economy and issues related to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
Missing women in India’s labour force
A major problem with India’s labour force is :the women are missing.
Indian women are not only staying out of the workforce, they are doing so in increasing numbers across the board.
FLFP(Female labour force participation rate) is typically measured as the share of women who are employed or are seeking work as a share of the working-age female population.
The labour force participation rate (LFPR) for working-age women (15 years and older) is abysmally low in India. At about 27%, it performs only slightly better than Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Census 2011 report:
A total of 20.5% women were employed in the organized sector in 2011 with 18.1% working in the public sector and 24.3% in the private.
The labour force participation rate for women across all age groups was 25.3 in rural sector and 15.5 in urban sector compared with 55.3 and 56.3 for men in the rural and urban sector respectively.
Why improving female LFPR is important?
- Ensuring gender justice and equality.
- When women have productive, paying jobs, they have greater agency and that has a positive impact on their men and children, which reflects in higher human development indices.
- In economic terms, a low LFPR slows down growth, while bringing women into the fold is known to increase GDP.
Reasons behind low LFPR for women:
- Young women are studying longer. Increasing numbers of women of working age are enrolling in secondary schools.
- As incomes have increased, women who worked only out of necessity have retreated to their homes.
- Safety issues & Harassment at work place: Women are more vulnerable to exploitation and harassment at work in developing countries like India.
- As agriculture has come under stress rural women have been squeezed out of their farm jobs.
- Educated urban women haven’t moved into the workforce in considerable numbers.
- The pressures of urbanization.
- Social norms and biases. In some communities, notably some upper castes, there may be a stigma attached to women working outside the home – especially if it involves work considered ‘menial’.
- Infrastructure issues
Low LFPR for urban women:
Urban women seem to be the big drag on women’s overall LFPR despite the country’s supposedly booming women-friendly services sector.
- The lack of jobs overall, paired with men taking the lion’s share.
- Another reason is the quality of jobs. Women want jobs that are well-paying, close to their homes, and have flexible working hours, according to World Bank research, and these are hard to come by.
- Also, there are many jobs to which women’s access is restricted by law, such as those in mines and hazardous industries.
The World Bank’s report finds a clear pattern of gender segmentation in both manufacturing and services, where, for instance, about 90% of employees in female-owned business in unorganized manufacturing are females.
Gender segmentation is a double-edged sword in the sense that just like female-owned or female-led firms tend to hire more female workers, male owners and employers have the same tendencies.
In the long run, such extreme levels of gender segmentation are obviously undesirable and inefficient.
Every cloud has a silver lining:
The World Bank’s report draws attention to an interesting insight: Women employers tend to hire a significantly greater number of women.
This is partly the result of the kind of businesses that women set up in what is already a heavily gendered labour force. For example, a beauty salon or a small tailoring unit owned by a woman can be expected to mostly hire other women. Also, many of these women-owned firms have only a single worker, which also skews the picture. But the trend holds true even in medium-sized firms.
This lends credence to the idea that a targeted focus on women’s entrepreneurship might be the tool needed to improve the labour force’s gender balance. It should be seen as a catalysing opportunity that will bring more women into the workforce.
A multifaceted response is required:
- Regulatory changes example The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016
- Public awareness campaigns.
- Improving law and order so that women feel secure outside their homes.
- Encouraging entrepreneurship in women can be a good starting point.
- Reshaping societal attitudes and beliefs about women participation in the labour force.
Encouraging women entrepreneurship:
India currently ranks 70 out of 77 nations on the Female Entrepreneurship Index, but moving up that index might not be as difficult as it seems. Certainly, long-term, structural reforms are needed but in the short term there are a few examples from around the world that indicate how targeted policy measures can deliver specific goals even when the rest of the infrastructure (such as ease of doing business, access to credit facilities and affordable childcare) may not be in place.
A good example here is Bangladesh, where the export-oriented garment industry has brought a large section of women into the workforce. It ranks sixth among 54 countries on ‘women business ownership’, while India is at the bottom of the pile along with Iran, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
India needs to take gender segmentation as an opportunity. We need to increase women entrepreneurship. Thus women will be creating jobs and opportunities for themselves, and bringing other women on board. In short, if India’s growth story has to translate into shared prosperity for all its people, then it cannot afford to have one half of its population sit out.
Connecting the dots:
- Female labour force participation rate(FLFPR) in India is abysmally low and is diturbingly declining. Outline reasons behind such a state, what should be done and why is improving FLFPR important.
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
Understanding 2107 Qatar diplomatic crisis
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed their diplomatic ties with Qatar on 5 th , June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism and opening up the worst rift in years among some of the most powerful states in the Arab world.
State of Qatar is a high-income economy, backed by the world’s third largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves. The country has the highest per capita income in the world. Qatar is classified as a country of very high human development and is the most advanced Arab state for human development. Qatar is a significant power in the Arab world, supporting several rebel groups during the Arab Spring both financially and through its globally expanding media group, Al Jazeera Media Network. Qatar is a constitutional monarchy, ruled by the house of Thani since 19 th century. The Emir of Qatar is the head of state and head of government.
What is Gulf Cooperation Council ?
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain and Oman came together in 1981 to form Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the motive was increased cooperation amongst themselves and a decreased dependence on foreign powers.This move was inspired by certain major events from the late 70s (the Iranian revolution of 1978-79, the soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the Iran-Iraq war) that made it imperative for the Gulf countries to come together more cohesively both for economic and security reasons.
Reason behind the crisis:
- A want for Doha to fall in line with the GCC’s visions, aims and objectives, instead of pursuing more independent, domestic and more importantly, foreign policies.
- The immediate provocation seems to be the payment of huge ransom to secure the release of Qatari royal falconers kidnapped in Iraq more than a month ago.
- Qatar’s refusal to depose members of Muslim Brotherhood, which is a long-standing tiff between Doha, Dubai and Cairo.
- Tensions were brewing within the Gulf Cooperation Council for the past six years ever since Qatar started actively supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, a political Islamist movement that the Saudis and their close allies see as a threat to stability in West Asia.
- Riyadh seems to be emboldened by President Donald Trump’s open embrace and anti-Iran agenda, the kingdom could be making a renewed attempt to rally Sunni countries under its leadership against Tehran.
Rift between GCC and Qatar:
Most GCC nations have had long-standing issues with Qatar. On several occasions Qatar has been criticized by its Arab neighbors of extending support to Islamic terrorist organizations – ‘Muslim Brotherhood’, a Sunni Islamist political group outlawed by Saudi Arabia and UAE. Qatar has been for long, blamed for using its media and political clout to support long-repressed Islamists during the 2011 pro-democracy “Arab Spring” uprisings in several Arab countries.
Ramifications of the Qatar blockade:
The Qatar blockade will have interesting geo-political ramifications.
- The fact that the sea-routes and borders from Saudi to Qatar are closed means much of food supplies to the country will be blocked.
- Iran has offered to ship food supplies to Qatar, saying the first such consignment can reach the isolated country within 12 hours if need be. Acceptance of such an offer will, of course, make the unfolding diplomatic situation even worse.
- Qatar is an economic powerhouse in the Gulf and hosts the headquarters of the U.S. military’s Central Command. The air war command for the U.S.-led fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is also in Qatar. So any prolonged attempt to isolate the country would complicate the fight against the IS yet more.
- Economic consequences — Oil prices rose after the moves against Qatar, which is the biggest supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and a major seller of condensate — a low-density liquid fuel and refining product derived from natural gas.
- It threatens the international prestige of Qatar, which is set to host the 2022 FIFA World cup and if Qatar’s land borders and air space were closed, it would wreak havoc on the timeline and delivery of the World Cup.
Effects on India:
Instability in Qatar could also have adverse effects for India.
- New Delhi is the second largest buyer of Qatari liquefied natural gas (LNG), after Japan. India’s Petronet LNG, as part of a long-term deal, imports 8.5 million tones of LNG from Doha every year. One consignment worth Rs 150 crore arrives on Indian shores every 72 hours.
- Besides this, more than 650,000 Indians live and work in the country, and any major deterioration in the situation could put India into difficulties. The interest of citizens living and working in Qatar, many of them engaged in projects related to the FIFA World Cup in 2022, is paramount for India.
While Saudi Arabia and partners have escalated matters with Qatar significantly, de-escalation may take time, and is harder to orchestrate as is in most such cases. Both Qatar and the Saudi-led GCC members will need to find a common ground for their grievances, but a long-drawn diplomatic rift of such nature has more adverse affects for Qatar than the others.
What West Asia requires is a united front against terror and lowering of Saudi-Iran tensions. Opening new fronts in the rivalry will only destabilise the region further.
Connecting the dots:
- The Middle-East region has been strife of rivalries since decades. Discuss the reasons and ramifications of recent crisis between Qatar and GCC majorly led by Saudi Arabia.
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