Current affairs 14-10-2017

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answered Oct 14 by prashant1984 (20,280 points)

To reverse women leaving the workforce, policies must change behaviour before they change beliefs

Context-1.Low participation of women in the economic sphere despite they are outnumbering the boys in postgraduate studies.

Economic position of women-1.only 27 per cent of working-age women in India work.

2. The number fell sharply in the last decade from 43 per cent to 27 per cent.

Nepal and Bangladesh are way ahead, leaving only the Arab countries and Pakistan behind India.

Higher numbers of educated women have resulted in the improvement of their societal status and economic participation.

-The World Bank report, ‘Precarious Drop: Reassessing Patterns of Female Labour Force Participation in India

1. According to the report,the economic position of women depending on marital-status, age, education, family labour composition and whether in rural or urban India.

2. Stability in family income levels also lead to women dropping out of the workforce.

3. Other factors include lower levels of job creation, availability of very low paying jobs in the informal sector, poor infrastructure, safety issues, and boys outnumbering girls in technical and professional education.

4.According to the study, Education skilling and legal provisions may not be sufficient.

Norms for women to work in India-India, ‘acceptable’ norms of work may differ based on income, caste, rural/urban and informal/formal sector, one belief is allpervasive:

women are primarily homemakers and men breadwinners.

-Stereotype and biases in the social system-Breaking stereotypes and discarding biases is necessary but activists, NGOs or government merely voicing it, is ineffective.

Research in neuroscience states that deep-seated ‘typical’ beliefs regarding race, caste, gender and other social categories get embedded or hardwired in the brain.

Inaccurate to start with, the brain finds it difficult to ‘unlearn’ them even when the reality has changed. It interprets new data in a biased manner to confirm originally held beliefs (confirmatory bias).

-Role of Behavioural change in breaking stereotypes-Research in behavioural design provides evidence that this is indeed possible and has been successfully pursued in many countries in areas ranging from public health, tax collection, organ donation, energy savings to representation of women on corporate boards.

There are ‘behavioural insights’ groups advising governments in the US, Britain, Australia and Germany.

-Situation In India-1. some semblance of fluidity in gendered roles has appeared in pockets of the urban rich and uppermiddle-income households.

2. Government and corporate sector policies, instead of taking steps to encourage and hasten this permeability, have been misguided.

e.g. The flawed legislation introduced recently increasing maternity benefits from three to six months is a case in point.

3. women don’t opt out of work, it reinforces gendered norms and unwittingly places women at a disadvantage.

Way forward-1. Involving women in the decisionmaking process and in leadership roles, rather than providing benefits passively, can have far-reaching benefits across income classes in the formal and informal sectors.

2.  Behavioural design, when complemented by a judicious mix of legislation and incentives, can go a long way in resetting norms sooner.

3. change in cultural attitudes-Men need to understand that traditional manual jobs are not coming back and they can be nurses or hairdressers without losing their masculinity

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answered Oct 14 by prashant1984 (20,280 points)

Six step to job creation(GS 3-Economy,Employment)

Paradox-  India is indeed the fastest growing large economy in the world.

yet with investment low, credit offtake low, capacity utilisation in industry low, agricultural growth low, plant load factor low, it is hardly surprising that job growth is low as well.

 India’s highly segmented labour market, one can still discern at least three demographic groups that are in urgent need of jobs:

- a growing number of better educated youth;

- uneducated agricultural workers who wish to leave agricultural distress behind;

-and young women, who too are better educated than ever before.

Major Cause of low job growth rate-1. it is the pattern of growth that is the problem.

2. Among many dimensions of this problem is the fact that in the quarter century since economic reforms began, it is not manufacturing that has been the leading sector driving growth.

 3.Manufacturing should drive productivity in the whole economy. Services cannot, as services by definition ‘service’ the distribution of produced goods.

What can be done to Revive growth-

1.Industrial,Trade Policy- An industrial and trade policy is needed.

- For 20 years after economic reforms began in 1991 there was no National Manufacturing Policy, and the Policy, when it came in 2011, was not even implemented.

3.  The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) is finally preparing an industrial policy.

4. it is essential that trade policy is consistent with such an industrial policy. Otherwise the two may work at cross purposes and undermine each other’s objectives.

5.  Excessive imports have been decimating Indian manufacturing.

2.Special packages are needed for labour-intensive industries to create jobs. There are a number of labour intensive manufacturing sectors in India such as food processing, leather and footwear, wood manufacturers and furniture, textiles and apparel and garments.

3.Cluster development-  There should be cluster development to support job creation in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

-Most of the unorganised sector employment is in MSMEs, which tend to be concentrated in specific geographic locations.

-There are 1,350 modern industry clusters in India and an additional 4,000 traditional product manufacturing clusters, like handloom, handicraft and other traditional single product group clusters. 

-There is a cluster development programme of the Ministry of MSMEs, which is poorly funded and could be better designed as well.

4. Align urban development with manufacturing clusters to create jobs. 

-The Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) has a programme called AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) aimed at improving infrastructure for small towns.

- An engagement between the Urban Development and MSME Ministries is necessary to ensure that when infrastructure development is taking place in any town,it must engage cluster of activity.

5.  Focus of women- Girls are losing out in jobs, or those with increasing education can’t find them, despite having gotten higher levels of education in the last 10 years. 

- The problem with skilling programmes has been low placement after skilling is complete.

-The availability of jobs close to where the skilling is conducted will also enhance the demand for skilling.

-  Skilling close to clusters (rather than standalone vocational training providers), which is where the jobs are, is likely to be more successful.

6.  Public investments in health, education, police and judiciary can create many government jobs.

Health-  Public investment in the health sector has remained even in the last three years at 1.15% of GDP, despite the creation of the national health policy at the beginning of 2017.

The policy indicates that expenditure on health will rise to 2.5% of GDP only by 2025.

 In the absence of greater public expenditure, the private sector in health keeps expanding, which only raises the household costs on health without necessarily improving health outcomes.

- More government expenditure in health means more jobs in government and better health outcomes.

Revitalise schools- Government schools also have such poor quality that parents are voting with their feet by spending money on private schools, whether or not the poor parents can afford it.

 The number of teachers required, at secondary and higher secondary levels, is very high, particularly in science and mathematics. 

Police and judiciary-  While the number of paramilitary personnel continues to grow, State governments are not filling even sanctioned posts in the policy and in the judiciary (at all levels there are vacancies).

More police and a larger judiciary can both reduce crime as well as speed up the process of justice for the ordinary citizen.

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answered Oct 14 by prashant1984 (20,280 points)

Trade deficit at 7-month low in September as exports soar

-  India’s merchandise exports grew at the fastest pace in six months in September, helping cut the trade deficit to a seventh-month low, belying concerns that implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) .

- Exports rose 25.7% to $28.6 billion last month, and the trade gap narrowed to $8.9 billion.

-Exporters have complained that the imposition of integrated GST and delays in refund of input tax credits were hurting overseas shipments,

 prompting GST Council  to continue two pre-GST era schemes that allow duty-free sourcing of materials for export production until March 2018.

The move is expected to improve the liquidity of exporters by preventing working capital from getting locked up in tax procedures.

- . It introduced a 0.1% GST rate for merchant exporters, offering relief from the full applicable GST rates on procurements.

- In September, exports of engineering goods (44.2%), gems and jewellery (7.1%), petroleum products (39.7%), chemicals (46.1%), ready-made garments (29.4%), and drugs and pharmaceuticals (14.7%) grew at a brisk pace.

Imports of vegetable oil (11.6%), coal (48%), petroleum products (18.5%), chemicals (20.3%), plastic (21.9%), precious stones (56.9%), iron and steel (35%), machinery (16.4%) and electronic goods (41%) also grew at a faster pace.

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answered Oct 14 by prashant1984 (20,280 points)

If India cuts post-harvest losses, over 5 cr people could be fed for a year – at Rs 50 per day

Context- India is one of the largest producers of over 80% of agricultural products, including cash crops like coffee and cotton.

But largely due to storage, logistic and financing infrastructure inadequacies, harvest and post-harvest losses of major agricultural produce is estimated at Rs 92,651 crore ($13 billion), according food processing ministry data of August 2016.

-  If these were prevented, over 5 crore people could be fed, for a year, at the rate of Rs 50 per day.

Concerns-1. Post-harvest losses vary depending on crops, agricultural practices, climate, etc, storage is usually the primary reason in most cases.

2. Most harvested grains, fruits and vegetables are stored in traditional structures, made of grass, wood or mud, without any scientific design, and cannot protect crops against pests and decay.

 As a result, a bulk of stored commodities is lost to insect infestation, rotting and mould growth.

3.  It is reported that only 10-11% of fruits and vegetables cultivated in India use cold storage due to the expense involved and lack of suitable facilities.

4. Finance is another setback.

 To avert storage woes, due to the lack of finance and liquidity, farmers are compelled to sell their produce immediately, within days of harvest, at any prevailing rate.

5.  Due to supply glut in the market immediately after harvest, farmers do not realise the best price.

6. Transferring goods from cultivation centres to processing centres or markets is an impediment.

Due to inadequate transportation infrastructure, commodities get damaged through bruising and bad roads, spillage due to repeated loading, unloading and contamination,

and heat and humidity in the absence of cold chain transportation.

Solution-1. Tech intervention through improved storage structures and logistics can reduce post-harvest losses and increase farmers’ revenues.

2.  Use of hermetic structures and cold chain transport facilities can reduce post-harvest losses, maintain freshness of fruits and vegetables and seed viability, and retain the quality.

3. Using scientific storage facilities  can prevents storage losses and facilitates funding of post-harvest activities.

4.Warehousing receipts, from certified warehouses, can be used as collateral for funding from banks and lending institutions.

5. Loans enable farmers to access the funds they require, and meet consumption needs and working capital requirements, like purchasing inputs for next season and transporting goods.

6. They can also monitor market prices and sell their produce, wholly or partly, when prices reach suitable levels.

7.  Use of enclosed structures and cold chain transport facilities can reduce post-harvest losses due to transportation.

8. In all, preventing post harvest losses can increase farmers’ revenues and can also notably aid the food security initiatives.

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