TOPIC: General Studies 1
- Social empowerment
- Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues.
Gender as growth driver
Empowering women to engage in productive employment is critical to achieving not only this SDG but is also pivotal to economic growth, poverty eradication, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, and attaining universal primary education.
Economic crises affect women more than men:
- Women are often laid off first as men are traditionally considered to be the main breadwinners.
- Economic shocks that worsen infrastructure, physical and human, affect women more than men by reducing their access to markets and basic services.
- Girls are often withdrawn from schools to help with household work and informal enterprises during times of economic crisis, reinforcing gender gaps in education.
Gender as a new growth driver:
- It has begun to attract the attention of policymakers in recent years.
- Economic growth and development depend upon successfully utilizing the workforce, both male and female. Recent estimates suggest that increasing the female participation rate to that of men could potentially raise economic growth by as much as 5%.
- While achieving economic growth sometimes requires tough structural reforms and choices (e.g., progressive taxation that may discourage effort), the opposite is true for gender as a driver of growth.
- Multilateral global institutions have scaled up the importance of gender in their growth work. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has increased the focus on gender and growth in Article IV consultations in a diverse group of countries, including Chile, Costa Rica, Egypt, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Iran, Jordan, Mali, Macedonia, Mauritius, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland and Rwanda.
- The World Bank has also increased its focus on gender-informed lending and advisory services.
- A range of structural policy reforms are being implemented to eliminate gender distortions to promote sustainable growth.
- The international community, under the aegis of the UN, has been pursuing gender equality since 2000, which now features as one of the primary Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- India is simultaneously a leader in promoting women’s participation in government but also a laggard in gender issues in the workplace. Its growth rate for manufacturing has been disappointing compared to its potential.
- Gender-based segmentation has not subsided in India. India’s gender balance in entrepreneurship and jobs remains among the lowest in the world. Improving this balance is an important first step for India’s development and its achievement of greater economic growth and gender equality.
- Globalization and trade policy reforms have made a limited contribution towards India’s convergence in gender segmentation, while domestic pro-competitive reforms are strongly associated with lower segmentation among male employees. Policies targeting the domestic competitive environment have been more effective in mitigating gender discrimination in the labour market.
Challenges in closing the gender gap:
- Lack of resources to implement promising gender policy initiatives. Governments mobilize resources for gender equality from multiple sources, including taxes, overseas development assistance and through public-private partnerships. But progress has been slow from mobilizing resources to close the gender gap.
- Domestic resources are particularly important for accelerating progress on gender equality.
First, investing its own resources signals that a country is committed to achieving gender equality, which is important for both economic and ethical reasons.
Second, only domestic resources can ensure longer-term sustainability for those interventions and activities that are needed to create the fundamental transformation in the way that societies conceive of and organize men’s and women’s roles and responsibilities.
Eliminating the obstacles faced by women in economic participation:
Fiscal and financial reforms that eliminate gender gap can play a vital role.
- Gender budgeting improves gender equality through well-structured fiscal policies and adequate and properly monitored spending on gender-related goals.
- In some countries, gender budgeting has inspired fiscal policies in key areas of the budget, such as education, health, and infrastructure, that contributes to the achievement of gender-related goals.
- It has also improved systems of accountability for public spending for gender-related purposes.
- Some 60 countries, including Rwanda and Mexico, have already introduced gender budgeting.
- Gender budgeting efforts need to address key gender-related education and health goals as well as public infrastructure deficiencies, such as household access to clean water or electricity, that impose high unpaid work burdens on girls and women.
- Gender budgeting efforts can also contribute to improved administration of justice, law, and order, to help reduce violence against girls and women.
Gender-focused structural reforms:
It can increase women’s contribution to productivity growth, job growth, and improve advancement practices that promote talented women into leadership and managerial roles.
Increasing female labour force participation:
National Sample Survey (NSS) data for India show that labour force participation rates of women aged 25-54 have stagnated at about 26-28% in urban areas, and fallen substantially from 57% to 44% in rural areas, between 1987 and 2011.
Improved access to land and bank loans:
Women disproportionately face financial access barriers that prevent them from participating in the economy and from improving their lives. Access to credit can open up economic opportunities for women, and bank accounts can be a gateway to the use of additional financial services. However, women entrepreneurs and employers face significantly greater challenges than men in gaining access to financial services.
Higher levels of political representation:
- India ranks 20th from the bottom in terms of representation of women in Parliament, as per the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2012.
- To remedy the low participation of women electors, India in 1994 established quotas (reservations) vide the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments to reserve 33 per cent of the seats in local governments for women.
- The Women’s Reservation Bill (108th amendment) that seeks reserve 33 per cent of the Lok Sabha seats for women is yet to be passed.
- Though increasing the number of women in national government may not guarantee an impact on governance, a critical mass of women in power can bring about transformation in leadership.
Empowering half of the potential workforce has significant growth benefits, that go beyond promoting just gender equality. While policy interactions can be country-specific, gender and growth are intimately linked. Policy and structural reforms to eliminate gender gap can be a powerful tool for accelerating growth. Simply put, empowering half of the potential workforce has significant economic benefits beyond promoting gender equality.
Connecting the dots:
- Empowering half of the potential workforce has significant growth benefits, that go beyond promoting just gender equality. Analyze.
TOPIC: General Studies 3
- Government Budgeting.
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
- Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.
Keeping the soil healthy is a challenge
- Government estimates an all-time high total foodgrain production of 273 million tonnes in 2016-17 (8.67% higher than the last year).
- The agriculture ministry estimates show that production of key crops like rice, wheat and pulses will be at record levels during the year.
Factors that helped foodgrain production:
- Good rainfall during monsoon 2016
- Various policy initiatives taken by the government
- Increasing penetration of agricultural inputs has helped Indian farmers achieve record food grain production year after year
However, this does not automatically imply that all is well on India’s agricultural front.
Major concern: Limited availability of agricultural land and declining soil fertility
- India’s land area is about 2.5 per cent of the global land area. India supports more than 16 per cent of the total human population along with around 20 per cent of the global livestock population.
- Clearly, the have in turn resulted in a persistent decline in soil fertility — a major challenge that Indian agriculture is currently facing.
- Soil is the principal medium of plant growth for providing nutrients in adequate manner. At the dawn of the civilization, agriculture based sedentary civilizations have been grown up in fertile soil of the river. Over time, with the increase of population and food demand, methods of agriculture and stress on soil have been accelerated simultaneously because of mismanagement of soil fertility.
- Over the years, increasing pressure on limited agricultural land in India has resulted in overuse of chemical fertilisers on soil, excessive tillage, jettisoning of age-old organic soil revival practices and lack of appropriate crop rotation. This has resulted in soil degradation and loss of fertility, which are emerging as major challenges for Indian farmers.
- In several agricultural regions across the country, there has been observed a gap between nutrient demand and supply including decline in organic matter status, deficiencies of micronutrients in soil, soil acidity, salinisation and sodification.
- Deterioration in chemical, physical and biological health of the soils.
- Conventional practices followed by farmers such as leaving the land fallow for some time to allow it to regain its lost nutrition, and appropriate crop rotation have been junked in favour of continuous cropping which has led to a decline in Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) content to 0.3-0.4 per cent in the country when it should ideally be at 1 to 1.5 per cent.
Therefore, declining soil fertility has become a major threat in agricultural productivity and agro-economic scenario. India is under serious threat of losing its food surplus status in the near future. According to estimates, the demand for foodgrain is expected to increase from 192 million tonnes in 2000 to 355 million tonnes in 2030.
If we do not take this disturbing trend into account and start acting now, our country might be saddled with vast swathes of land rendered infertile.
What causes soil fertility loss?
- Apart from natural factors such as floods, volcanoes and earthquakes, a number of human-induced factors such as deforestation, ill management of industrial wastes, overgrazing by cattle, and urban expansion, are also responsible for the loss of soil’s productive capacity.
- Widespread land degradation caused by inappropriate agricultural practices has a direct and adverse impact on the food and livelihood security of farmers.
- Inappropriate agricultural practices that contribute to this include excessive tillage, frequent cropping, poor irrigation and water management, and unscientific rotation of crops.
- Decline in soil organic matter causes limited soil life and poor soil structure.
The way forward:
- Experts say one of the main ways forward is to make agriculture more sustainable and revive the age-old practices of soil regeneration, while balancing the same with judicious use of agrochemicals.
- The agrochemical industry must also rise to the occasion and invest in producing organic biological products that help improve the health of Indian soil.
- Organic matter plays a key role in maintaining soil fertility by holding nitrogen and sulphur in organic forms and other essential nutrients such as potassium and calcium. The loss of organic matter is accelerated by frequent tillage.
Organic carbon’s an enabler
- Soil organic carbon plays a key role in maintaining soil fertility by holding nitrogen, phosphorous and a range of other nutrients for plant growth, holding soil particles together as stable aggregates improving soil properties such as water-holding capacity and providing gaseous exchange and root growth, playing an important role as food source for soil fauna and flora and even suppressing crop diseases, and acting as a buffer against toxic and harmful substances such as sorption of toxins and heavy metals.
- As a result of human activities releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the carbon pool in the atmosphere has increased and the elevated carbon dioxide is considered to be a contributory factor to the danger of global warming and climate change.
- Soil organic carbon is the largest component of the terrestrial carbon pools, approximately twice the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and in vegetation. If more carbon is stored in the soil as organic carbon, it will reduce the amount present in the atmosphere, and therefore help to alleviate the problem of global warming and climate change.
- Therefore, in order to ensure that India’s growing foodgrain needs are met while at the same time soil health and fertility are nurtured and improved, it is important to focus on biological products to improve soil health, propagating the judicious use of agrochemicals, reducing excessive dependence on fertilisers and pesticides while also reviving practices such as intelligent crop rotation.
Enhancing sustainable food production through improved soil health is not just the job of the Government and cultivators. The agrochemical industry also has a responsibility to invest with renewed vigour in biological products that can rejuvenate soil health organically.
At the same time the need of the hour is to educate farmers about what they can do to improve the health of their nutrient-depleted soil by following practices such as crop rotation, and using organic manure boosters such as cow dung and dried leaves.
It is also pertinent to educate them about the judicious use of agrochemicals and attain a fine balance between chemical and organic products — both of which are critical to India’s food sustainability goals.
Connecting the dots:
- Discuss the challenges being faced by the agricultural sector in the area of foodgrain production. What measures should be taken to address these challenges? Examine.
- ”Even though Indian farmers achieve record food grain production year after year the fruits of agriculture may not be as sweet as it should be”. In the above context Critically examine the state of Indian agriculture and issues associated with it.
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