IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 31st May 2019
TOPIC: General studies 2
- Refugee issue; Citizenship Amendment Bill.
- 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.
Bill of Rights
- Towards the end of the previous government’s tenure, a number of controversial bills were introduced in Parliament. In the social sphere, the government introduced the Transgender Bill, the Surrogacy Bill, and the Trafficking Bill.
- In each of the cases, the draft legislation was — correctly — introduced with the aim of addressing an existing lacuna in the legal landscape.
- However, when it came to the content of these bills, consultation with impacted communities was effectively eschewed, and the result was a set of drafts that, far from protecting rights, actively harmed them. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the draft bills were met with a spate of objections and protests.
The Transgender Bill:
- It did away with the fundamental and non-negotiable principle — and one recognised by the Supreme Court in its NALSA judgment — of the right to self-determination of gender identity.
- Instead, it placed such decisions in the hands of government-appointed committees, extending state control over gender identities rather than liberating or emancipating them.
- It also contained deeply suspect provisions on gender reassignment surgery.
The Surrogacy Bill:
- It excluded LGBT individuals from its ambit (despite their recognition as equal citizens under the Constitution by the Supreme Court).
- It imposed discriminatory age restrictions upon men and women.
Also entirely outlawing “commercial” surrogacy (instead of regulating it with appropriate safeguards) opened up space for underground and unreported exploitation of women, effectively creating a black market.
The Trafficking Bill:
- It criminalised begging without providing any manner of effective alternatives and failed to distinguish between non-consensual trafficking and consensual sex work.
It thus opened the door to criminalising livelihoods on the basis of what was effectively a set of narrow, moral objections.
The Citizenship Bill:
- Advertised as a measure for benefiting the vulnerable and the marginalised, the bill would have granted fast-track to citizenship to persecuted minorities from neighbouring countries, who were Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, and Christians — but not Muslims.
- This was, at a very basic level, illogical and self-contradictory, apart from being clearly discriminatory on grounds of religion: the examples of the Ahmadiyyas and the Baloch in Pakistan make it clear that, just like any other identity, there are communities of Muslims in neighbouring countries who face persecution on the basis of their religious beliefs.
Strong movements in the northeastern States — concerned both about the demographic consequences and the anti-secular nature of the bill — ultimately forced the government to not go through with the legalisation.
National Register of Citizens:
- It presumes that the people living in India are interlopers, unless they prove otherwise. The last government was planning to implement it pan-India. Such a move would be a nightmare of administration and implementation, as the example from Assam has shown.
- There has been considerable — and continuing — confusion over the methods and form of identity that one can use to “prove” one’s citizenship (including “family trees”, which have been found to have a disproportionate impact upon vulnerable and minority claimants).
- The overlapping functions of the NRC process and the Foreigners Tribunals have added to the confusion.
- Each of the bills dealt with intimate subjects such as individuals’ decisions of what to do with their body, personal dignity and autonomy, and gender identity.
- They concerned the rights of some of the most vulnerable and marginalised members of our society.
- They were drafted without adequately consulting with, or listening to, the members of the communities who were impacted.
- Instead of guaranteeing and securing the rights of these communities to be free from state interference, they extended the state’s control and domination.
- They were met by extensive and widespread protests from the communities themselves.
What lies ahead?
While the government is entitled to frame policies, and draft and implement legislation to enact those policies, there are certain constraints upon how it should go about that task.
- At the minimum, the voices of those who will be directly impacted by the policy should be listened to and engaged with in good faith.
- The basic constitutional principles and values ought to be respected.
Connecting the dots:
- In the social sphere, the Transgender Bill, the Surrogacy Bill, and the Trafficking Bill were introduced by the last government. Discuss basic issues with each one of them. Also highlight the importance of engaging with the stakeholders and following basic constitutional principle before re-drafting these bills.
TOPIC: General studies 3
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
Measuring Employment in India
- Modi 2.0 presents a new window of opportunity to usher in some fundamental reforms for the Indian economy. A modern dynamic economy requires a robust statistical system to provide precise and real time estimates of several critical indicators.
- One of these is unemployment — which has been at the heart of prolonged acrimonious public debate in India for several years. Now is the time to move beyond the politics of unemployment to the real and pressing issue of measurement of unemployment.
- Measurement of economic indicators, for example the unemployment rate, is an apolitical issue that requires statistical expertise of the highest standards.
Before the release of any figure, it is imperative to discuss, debate and deliberate the methodological issues around the measurement.
For example, to measure the unemployment rate, it is practically impossible to conduct a periodic census of all citizens above 15 years. Therefore, we have to rely on the second-best option of conducting sample surveys, and the natural question is then about the size of the sample survey.
Therefore, there can be no credible discussion on changes in unemployment from one period to another in the absence of a paper that outlines in detail the underlying sampling methodology.
- Even if the sample size issue is addressed to minimise what statisticians call sampling errors (the sample size might not be large enough to address the question of interest), there are issues relating to non-sampling errors.
For example, suppose there is a job boom in the economy and the employed overwhelmingly refuse to participate in such surveys or do not answer all questions, then it is possible for the survey to indicate high unemployment. Therefore, non-participation is an important issue and methodological rigour requires for a survey to have transparent strategies to prevent or minimise these errors.
- Having local and real time socio-economic indicators:
India is a large, complex and diverse economy that is undergoing structural transformation. Hence, we are moving towards precision policy-making which requires local and real time socio-economic indicators.
The nature and incidence of unemployment, for example, differs from state to state. This requires local measures of unemployment so that economic policies can be tailored depending on local conditions.
For instance, unemployment is a rural phenomenon in several states, while in others it is concentrated in urban areas.
- Involving state governments:
The state governments will have to participate along with the central government to have comparable uniform measures of periodic unemployment.
Unfortunately, at present, several state governments do not have the capacity to conduct regular surveys. Robust statistical systems will require that we begin to create such local capabilities urgently. It is time to move beyond one-size-fits-all solutions to more inclusive solutions that take into account local conditions.
Any figure should be accompanied with a wise and reasoned account of its liability to systematic and fluctuating errors. For a figure as important as the employment-unemployment data, which is to serve as the basis of many important decision, the accompanying account becomes important than the figure itself.
To enhance India’s statistical capabilities, India move beyond the politics of it and focus on measuring with precision.
Connecting the dots:
- There is neither credible evidence of a job crisis in India, nor credible evidence of the absence of it. The problem requires a serious effort by the government to address issues of measurement. Comment.
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