IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 22nd October 2018
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Bribery case against top CBI officer
Part of: GS Mains III and IV – Corruption and Black Money; Ethics – challenges of corruption
- Gujarat cadre IPS officer and number 2 in the CBI Rakesh Asthana was named in an FIR for allegedly accepting bribe.
- CBI Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar also named.
Important value additions:
- Corruption is not just the clearly bad cases of government officials scanning off money for their own benefit. It also includes cases where the systems do not work well, and ordinary people are left in a bind, needing to give a bribe to get a work done or the licenses they need.
- Corruption violates human rights, challenges the rule of law, distorts the development process, and dis-empowers the Indian state. Corruption hinders the process of fulfilling civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
- It raises doubts over integrity of government officials.
Saffron marigold is the colour of sacrifice
- The marigold was chosen as the symbol of remembrance for Indian soldiers martyred in First World War.
- A unique Indian symbol will allow citizens in India, as well as the international diaspora, to acknowledge the valour and sacrifice of the Indian armed forces in the service of the nation, including those who fell in the two world wars.
- World to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War on November 11.
- The marigold was chosen because it is easily and widely available and also because saffron is often seen as a colour of sacrifice.
About India Remembers project
The India Remembers project is a joint endeavour of the United Service Institution of India (USI) and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and a part of the ‘India and the Great War’ Centenary Commemoration project initiated by the USI in 2014 with the support of the Ministry of External Affairs and in close association with the British High Commission.
The Project highlights India’s contribution during the First World War and primarily aims at exploring India’s engagement in war efforts from a variety of perspectives.
Important Value Additions:
- First World War (1914-1918) is considered as one of the largest wars in history.
- The world’s great powers assembled in two opposing alliances: the Allies (British Empire, France and the Russian Empire) versus the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary).
- Triple Entente – France, Russia, and Great Britain.
- Triple Alliance – Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy.
Do you know?
- The Indian War Memorial, to be inaugurated at Villers-Guislain in France, has a bronze marigold wreath as an integral part of its design.
- The First World War ended with the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918. Since then, poppy was adopted as the symbol of remembrance as it grew widely in the Flanders fields in Europe where some of the major battles were fought.
Note: Try to know the Causes of the First World War and India’s contribution during the First World War.
U.S. to pull out of Russia missile pact
Part of: GS Mains II – International Relations
- U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed that the U.S. would pull out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia.
About Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty
- INF Treaty is a crucial Cold War-era treaty which led to banning the development, testing and possession of short and medium range ground-launched nuclear missiles with a range of 500-5,000 km.
- The treaty, signed in 1987, was central to ending the arms race between the two superpowers, and protected America’s NATO allies in Europe from Soviet missile attacks.
The real issue:
- US has accused that Russia has developed and deployed Novator 9M729 missile, also known as the SSC-8, that could strike Europe at short notice. (However, Russia has repeatedly denied the allegation)
- The Russians denied the allegations and raised counter-allegations of the U.S. installing missile defence systems in Europe.
- A withdrawal will allow the U.S. new weapon options in the Pacific in its efforts to counter China’s growing influence.
- There are also concerns that the treaty’s end could mark the beginning of a new arms race between the U.S. and Russia.
TOPIC:General studies 2 & 3
- Social justice and government policies for empowerment of vulnerable sections of the society
- Labour laws and related reforms
Lip service to labour rights
- Gujarat is one of the top States in India that receive migrant workers, largely temporary and seasonal, on a large scale.
- In Gujarat, they work in unskilled or semi-skilled jobs in a wide range of activities such as in agriculture, brick kilns and construction work, salt pans and domestic work, petty services and trades (food and street vending) as well as in textiles and garments, embroidery and diamond cutting and polishing, small engineering and electronics and also small and big factories.
- These workers are from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and even from as far as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Assam and Karnataka.
- Employers send contractors to distant unexplored places to gather labour at the lowest possible wage rate.
- For example, a new township in Gujarat being promoted by a large industrialist is to be built with workers from Assam.
- Surprisingly, the Gujarat government has no data on/estimates of migrant workers coming to Gujarat.
- Informally, the figures are estimated to be between 40 lakh to one crore.
- Segmenting the labour market and creating a separate labour market for migrant workers — who are easy to exploit — has been a common strategy of employers across India.
- The pathetic conditions migrant workers face has been widely documented.
- They earn low wages, work very long hours without any overtime benefits, and are almost without any leave or social protection.
- Lakhs of unskilled and migrant workers live on worksites in makeshift huts (usually made of tin sheets) or on roads, slums and in illegal settlements not served by municipalities.
- They are neither able to save much to improve their conditions back in their home States nor save enough to live comfortably in Gujarat.
- They go back home only once or twice to celebrate festivals.
- Semi-skilled workers with some education and skills (such as those in diamond cutting and polishing units, power looms and factories) get slightly higher wages and earn some leave.
- However, these workers are also exploited in multiple ways and are mostly unprotected.
- Factory owners, employers and traders are only too happy with such a situation as they earn huge profits from wage labour exploitation.
Causes and effects of exodus from Gujarat
- Local workers resent the presence of migrant workers who they feel take away their jobs in factories and other places on account of being cheap labour.
- The recent attacks on migrant labour after an incident in Gujarat late last month, involving the sexual assault of a 14-month-old girl, allegedly by a migrant labourer from Bihar, appears to be have been a consequence of this resentment.
- Many migrant workers have now rushed out to their home States out of fear despite several local people having been taken into custody on the charge of inciting violence against migrant workers.
- There have been reports of an estimated 60,000 to more than a lakh workers leaving the State. Those who have stayed back now live under constant fear.
- Prosperity of the state over well-being of the migrants
- The exodus is cause for concern as it is bound to impact Gujarat’s growth and create resentment among factory owners and other employers, especially at a time when the general election is drawing close.
- The concerns are that losing cheap labour will be at the cost of Gujarat’s prosperity than out of genuine concern for the welfare of migrant workers.
- All this shows the utter indifference of States to the well-being of migrant workers and their rights.
- The Gujarat government wants normalcy to return so that migrant workers can toil for the prosperity of Gujarat.
- While the Bihar government, which is at its wit’s end trying to manage the sudden inflow of returning migrants, wants migration to Gujarat to continue as before.
Only on paper
- Under the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act and other labour laws (for unorganised workers), migrant workers in Gujarat are legally entitled to all their basic labour rights.
- These include minimum wages, regular wage payment, regular working hours and overtime payment, and decent working and living conditions which include taking care of the health and education of their children.
- Under the same Act, the governments of the States from where migrant workforce originate are expected to issue licences to contractors who take workers away, register such workers and also monitor their working and living conditions in other States.
- But most State governments remain indifferent to these laws. Gujarat has taken a few steps but these are far from adequate.
- In the political sphere, there has been hardly any mention about protecting the legal rights of migrant workers in India.
- The political impulse has been to maintain status quo — the continuation of the situation where migrant workers are exploited.
Employment for local workforce
- The Gujarat government passed a rule in the 1990s making it mandatory for industries and employers in Gujarat to give 85% of jobs to local people.
- This rule was never really implemented in reality, but watered down by the State government in its subsequent industrial policies, as new and large investors coming to the State did not like any such restrictions.
- Now there is a move in the State to introduce a law for industries and investors in Gujarat which reserves 80% of labour jobs for State domiciles and at least 25% for local workers.
- As long as there are huge surpluses from the labour of migrant workers, employers will have no incentive in hiring local workers.
- The objective of such a move is to perhaps contain the anger of local workers — at least till the 2019 election.
Conclusion: A way out
- In the end, the real solution to this issue would be to enforce all relevant labour laws for migrant workers so that segmentation of the labour market becomes weak, and workers (local and migrant) get a fair and equal deal in the labour market.
- This will also weaken unfair competition between local and migrant labour and enable migrant workers either to settle down in the place of destination or to go back home and make a good living there.
- State and Central governments should genuinely take interest in improving the conditions of workers in the economy.
Connecting the dots:
- The exodus of migrant labour from Gujarat highlights the indifference of States to their well-being and rights. Critically comment.
TOPIC:General studies 2 & 3
- Role of women and women related issues
- Financial inclusion
Designing financial products for women
- Marketers from a growing range of industries have gone to great lengths to create consumer markets that are segmented along gender lines—from soaps to two-wheel vehicles to vacation packages.
- However, financial services providers (FSPs) remain largely oblivious to the needs of women.
Financial inclusion of women in India
- Across the globe, a billion women remain financially excluded, with a gender gap of 9% persisting stubbornly in developing countries.
- Further, the 2017 Global Findex survey conducted by the World Bank found that in India, while the gender gap in access to bank accounts has decreased to 6% from 20%, the percentage of women who are active users (35%) is less than that of men at 47%.
- Poor financial product design for women contributes to this.
- The micro-credit movement brought these women into the formal financial fold for the first time, with loans and passbooks issued in their names.
Challenges and concerns
- Women were not necessarily considered active consumers of financial services. Rather, they were often seen just as conduits to push credit into households with the hope of eventually lifting people out of poverty.
- There is limited evidence on the scale-up and success of women-led enterprises financed by micro-credit.
- Governments in developing countries institutionalised conditional cash transfers (CCTs) to link social transfer payments to women’s bank accounts.
- But again, broadly, CCTs have been built with an emphasis on the social welfare of the family, rather than the economic benefit of individual women beneficiaries.
- In these financial services models—both of which are pioneering and landmarks in their own right—women have been conflated with ‘family’ and considered merely an avenue to pursue social welfare.
- Financial service providers have been surprisingly lackadaisical and unimaginative in sensing a business opportunity around the millions of poor women who have bank accounts at their retail branches.
- Innumeracy, distinctly apart from illiteracy per se, acts as a cognitive barrier and hinders women from developing familiarity with FSPs or their business correspondents (agents).
- Often, men take advantage of this handicap, using it as a pretext to deal with FSPs on ‘behalf’ of the women in the household, who, they claim, “would get duped or would be unable to transact”.
- Evidence from India suggests that financial service providers haven’t invested much resources in supporting women agents and their enterprises.
- An agent network Accelerator study conducted by MicroSave found just 8% women business correspondents in India.
- There is an urgent need to consider women as a distinct segment with specific financial services requirements, without disguising male-focussed products as gender neutral.
- To enable this change, one needs to study the myriad social and behavioural impediments impacting women, and use this knowledge to design customized financial product offerings.
- There is a need to actively employ oral informational management tools such that these women can transact independently.
- Also, women prefer to learn and work with peers. A collaborative approach reduces financial risk within a peer group and helps pool resources like time and labour.
- FSPs must make use of this critical element, given the strong influence it has on the uptake of personal financial services by poor women.
- Behaviourally as well, women customers take more time to develop trust in a particular agent, requiring more interaction with him or her.
- The presence of women agents can help in this context, especially because women customers consider them more trustworthy and better at maintaining confidentiality.
- Studies have shown that women-owned enterprises have stronger repayment records with non-performing loans being 30-50% lower than male entrepreneurs.
- They also have a likelihood of availing more products (up to three times) than men. This is a significant business opportunity that FSPs fail to utilize.
- The FSPs can use big data analytics to make sense of gender-disaggregated data points. Specifically, they can assess and track the benefits of providing financial services to poor women, both in terms of repayment and social benefits to households.
- FSPs can also use proxies, such as adherence to cash transfer schemes, as a measure of financial discipline and stable cash flows.
- Furthermore, women-led micro enterprises expect much more than the delivery of financial products—especially in terms of business advisory support in managerial capacity-building, bookkeeping, technological upgradation, skill development, and legal procedures to scale-up their businesses.
- Also, women-led micro and small enterprises not only struggle to access capital, but also to formally register their enterprises.
- This restricts their business development activities and engagement with e-commerce distribution channels.
- By providing support on all these fronts, financial services providers will gain by getting access to a more credit-worthy customer segment.
- In turn, they will transform the lives of women entrepreneurs and reduce the gender gap in access to financial services—all this while positioning themselves as engineers of social change for good.
- An immediate push to bring gender-centricity as a lens and a mindset to the forefront of policy framework and product design can do wonders.
- It will bring about gender equality in the financial services space, adding a customer base vastly underserved women.
- FSPs have to be mindful of the impact that each design attribute will have on the lives of women.
- The twin advantages of pursuing this course will be to transform women’s lives and offer a business value proposition for financial services providers.
Connecting the dots:
- Financial inclusion of women merely by opening a bank account will not be sufficient, women friendly financial products will economically empower women as an individual segment. Comment.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) The British participation in the First World War was supported by
Select the correct answer using code below
- Only 1
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 1, 2 and 3
Q.2) Which one among the following is considered to be the symbol of remembrance for Indian soldiers martyred in First World War?
- A reversed rifle, capped by a helmet
- National Emblem and two crossed swords
- Saffron marigold
Q.3) During the First World War (1914-1918), which countries were in the Triple Entente?
- Great Britain
Choose the correct answer:
- 1, 2 and 7
- 1, 6 and 7
- 2, 4 and 5
- 2, 3, 4 and 5
Lip service to labour rights
Time to hew a new antiquities law
The pilgrimage’s progress
A new Other
Failing the girl students
A Moment Of Rupture
An innovative method for boosting nutrition
Reviewing the Competition Act
Designing financial products for women
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