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Social Issues

Has hunger increased in India in recent years?: (Live Mint, Editorial)

Context:

  • The Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has ranked India at the 100th position among 119 countries in its 2017 Global Hunger Index (GHI) rankings.
  • These findings have created an impression that the prevalence of hunger has increased in India in recent years.

On what basis the ranking has been done?

  • The 2017 GHI rankings are based on the percentage of under-nourished population and three health indicators for children aged less than five years:
  • wasting (low weight for height)
  • stunting (low height for age) and mortality.
  • The actual score is a weighted average of standardized values of these four indicators.
  • Under-nourishment and under-five mortality have a weight of one-third while stunting and wasting have one-sixth weights each.

What is Global Hunger Index?

  • The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger globally and by country and region.
  • The Index was adopted and further developed by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Significance:

  • The Index ranks countries on a 100-point scale, with 0 being the best score (no hunger) and 100 being the worst.
  • Global Hunger Index highlights successes and failures in hunger reduction and provides insights into the drivers of hunger.

What is International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)?

  • The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) provides research-based policy solutions to sustainably reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition in developing countries.
  • Its mission is to provide research-based policy solutions that sustainably reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition.

What are the major objectives of IFPRI?

  • Ensuring Sustainable Food Production: IFPRI’s research analyzes options for policies, institutions, innovations, and technologies that can advance sustainable food production in a context of resource scarcity, threats to biodiversity, and climate change.
  • Promoting Healthy Food Systems: IFPRI examines how to improve diet quality and nutrition for the poor, focusing particularly on women and children, and works to create synergies among the three vital components of the food system: agriculture, health, and nutrition.
  • Improving Markets and Trade: IFPRI’s research focuses on strengthening markets and correcting market failures to enhance the benefits from market participation for small-scale farmers.
  • Transforming Agriculture: The aim of IFPRI’s research in this area is to accelerate the transformation from low-income, rural, agriculture-based economies to high-income, more urbanized, and industrial service-based ones.
  • Building Resilience: IFPRI’s research explores the causes and impacts of environmental factors that can affect food security, nutrition, health, and well-being
  • Strengthening Institutions and Governance: IFPRI’s research on institutions centers on collective action in management of natural resources and farmer organizations.

What are the causes of India’s poor performance at GHI?

  • Improper implementation: A major hindrance in fighting starvation in India is the lack of proper implementation of government schemes which are directed towards providing food for one and all
  • Corruption is the root cause: corruption on the local levels or there is a disinterest among the government officials to ensure that the schemes are properly being carried out.
  • Flawed food distribution system: Almost 51% of the food delivered is lost to leakages and is sold in the open market for a higher price.

What are the factors causing malnutrition in India?

  • Lack of awareness: Lack of awareness among people about sufficient health and nutrition is the primary reason (about wholesome, balanced and natural diets; healthy child-feeding and caring practices)
  • Access to nutritious food: People’s access to sufficient and nutritious food is equally important, which is still to be addressed
  • Loopholes in the National Food Security Bill: Clear mechanisms with respect to the identification of beneficiaries have not been defined.
  • The bill states that the states will provide the list of the poor but the states obviously do not possess such records.

What is the way ahead?

  • One effort to address the hunger (and nutrition) challenge is the enactment of the National Food Security Act.
  • To improve nutritional content in food products, steps must be taken towards universal food fortification.
  • Adequate funding is required for the effective implementation of any nutrition scheme.
  • Many of the causes for the occurrence of malnutrition is known, however attention needs to be paid to understanding what prevents the nation from achieving its goals related to nutrition.
  • Attention needs to be paid on building neighborhood health and nutrition profiles and carrying out interventions based on identified needs.

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Government Policies

Why make a show of patriotism: SC judge: (The Hindu)

Context

  • The apex court recently observed that people don’t have to stand up at a cinema hall to be perceived as patriotic.

‘Forced’ patriotism:

  • Patriotism is a very personal sentiment and an individual’s right to express it in his/her own way is ingrained in the constitutional right to freedom of expression.
  • The purpose for the measure as cited by the Court was to ‘instill the feeling of committed patriotism and nationalism within one’.

Bijoe Emmanuel vs. State of Kerala

  • Apex Court had extended protection to children belonging to the Jehovah’s Witness sect, who had refused to sing the national anthem during a school assembly.
  • The Court, while upholding the children’s right to freedom of speech and expression and right to religion categorically held.
  • There is no provision of law which obliges anyone to sing the National Anthem

Constitutional Patriotism – a reasonable restriction under Article 51(A)?

  • It has been argued that free speech and expression can be curtailed under Article 51(A) only by an existing law or a law made by the State and no other mechanism.
  • The Court has taken refuge of Article 51A of the Indian Constitution to direct individuals to compulsorily stand up during the national anthem as a ‘sacred obligation’.
  • Article 51A(a) of the Constitution only casts a duty on the citizens to ‘abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the national flag and the national anthem’ and does not prescribe specific standards such as being required to sing and/or stand to show respect.

About Article  51A

  • Fundamental Duties in India are guaranteed by the Constitution of Indiain Part IVA in Article 51A. These fundamental duties are recognized as the moral obligations that actually help in upholding the spirit of nationalism as well as to support the harmony of the nation, as well as of the citizens. These duties are designed concerning the individuals and the nation. However, these fundamental duties are not legally enforceable.
  • Furthermore, the citizens are morally obligated by the Constitution to perform these duties. These Fundamental Duties were added by the 42nd Amendment Act in 1976.
  • Article 51-A of the constitution provides 10 Fundamental Duties of the citizen. These duties can be classified accordingly as relating to the environment, duties towards the state and the nation and also towards self. However, the main purpose of incorporating the fundamental duties is to encourage the sense of patriotism among the country’s citizens. (encourage and not enforce)

What is the Conclusion?

  • This order could spell disastrous consequences by giving teeth to self-appointed vigilantes looking to uphold the nation’s honour.
  • The feeling of love and respect for the country should come to a citizen from within and something as sacred as national anthem should be played or sung only on special occasions.

Colonial Rajasthan: (Indian Express, Editorial)

Context:

Rajasthan’s legislative assembly was adjourned yesterday amidst an uproar caused by the government’s attempts to convert the “Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017” into law.

Introduction:

  • The ordinance was promulgated by the governor of Rajasthan last month, shields public servants from being investigated by the police on charges of corruption, unless the investigation is authorized by the government.
  • The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) recently demanded repeal of ordinance.
  • The Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 has been promulgated in this regard.

Key features of Ordinance:

  • The ordinance, promulgated on September 6, attempts to silence the media and prevent the judiciary from exercising its function of setting the criminal law in motion.
  • The ordinance bars the media from disclosing names of officials until prior sanction is granted for their prosecution.
  • The ordinance amends the Criminal Code of Procedure, 1973 and also seeks curb on publishing and printing in any case the name, address, photographs , family details of the public servants.
  • If a government official is accused of bribery in Rajasthan, the offence cannot even be investigated unless the government gives its approval.

Controversy:

  • PUCL national vice-president Radha Kant Saxena said the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code and Indian Penal Code brought the ordinance went against the Supreme Court’s ruling in Lalita Kumari’s case, in 2014.
  • In its judgment, the Constitution Bench of apex court had held that an FIR has to be lodged and investigation initiated by the police officer on a complaint about a cognizable offence. In the cases of non-cognisable offences, the investigating officer is empowered to initiate a preliminary enquiry and seek the court’s direction to obtain sanction for prosecution.
  • The ordinance also contains a peculiar provision which makes it an offence for any person to disclose the identity of a public servant against whom a complaint of corruption has been made until the government gives its sanction for launching an investigation.
  • This provision, a throwback to colonial times, violates the most basic principles of the law of free speech.
  • The ordinance imposes what is referred to in law as a “prior restraint” on the press. A prior restraint is a form of censorship which is imposed before, not after, something is published.

“Prior restraints:”

  • Prior restraints have been held to be constitutionally valid by the Supreme Court of India.
  • The Supreme Court in a previous judgement had  held that a prior restraint would be valid so long as it was designed to fall under the exceptions to free speech contained in Article 19(2) of the Constitution.
  • If a prior restraint seeks to prevent, say, defamation or contempt of court from taking place, then it will be considered valid, since those are enumerated exceptions to the right to free speech under the Constitution.

Article 19(1):

  • Article 19(1)(a) of Indian Constitution says that all citizens have the right to freedom of speech and expression.
  • Freedom of Speech and expression means the right to express one’s own convictions and opinions freely by words of mouth, writing, printing, pictures or any other mode.It thus includes the expression of one’s idea through any communicable medium or visible representation, such as gesture, signs, and the like.
  • This expression connotes also publication and thus the freedom of press is included in this category. Free propagation of ideas is the necessary objective and this may be done on the platform or through the press.

Article 19(2): This article contains grounds on which reasonable restrictions can be imposed on Freedom of Speech and Expression.

Reasonable Restrictions

  1. Sovereignty and Integrity of India
  2. Security of State
  3. Friendly relations with foreign states
  4. Public Order
  5. Morality or Decency
  6. Contempt of court
  7. Defamation
  8. Incitement to an offence

Ordinance making powers of the executive in India:

Ordinance making powers of the President

  • Article 123 of the Constitution grants the President certain law making powers to promulgate Ordinances when either of the two Houses of Parliament is not in session.
  • An Ordinance may relate to any subject that the Parliament has the power to legislate on.
  • It has the same limitations as the Parliament to legislate, given the distribution of powers between the Union, State and Concurrent Lists

The following limitations exist with regard to the Ordinance making power of the executive:

  • Legislature is not in session: The President can only promulgate an Ordinance when either of the two Houses of Parliament is not in session.
  • Immediate action is required: The President cannot promulgate an Ordinance unless he is satisfied that there are circumstances that require taking ‘immediate action.
  • Parliamentary approval during session: Ordinances must be approved by Parliament within six weeks of reassembling or they shall cease to operate.  They will also cease to operate in case resolutions disapproving the Ordinance are passed by both the Houses.

Ordinance making powers of the Governor

  • The Governor of a state can issue Ordinances under Article 213, when the state legislative assembly (or either of the two Houses in states with bicameral legislatures) is not in session.

Judiciary

The gown and the Bench: (The Hindu, Editorial)

Context

  • The Supreme Court has laid down guidelines for designating lawyers in the Supreme Court and High Courts as senior advocates

How are lawyers designated a senior lawyer?

  • Applications for designation is submitted to the Designation Committee, which examine the same and give its views to the Supreme Court.
  • The Designation Committee shall consist of the Attorney General for India
  • Secretary, SCBA may be asked to act as the convener and in charge of records.
  • The 2 eminent senior members are to be nominated by the Attorney General for India
  • A basic threshold/eligibility for all applicant is required.
  • It is suggested that the applicants must have Argued at least 25 cases in the Supreme Court in the last 3 years
  • Normally, the applicant should have put in 18-20 years of practice.
  • The Designation Committee would deliberate upon the credentials of the applicants and submit a note to the Supreme Court.
  • The Supreme Court is requested to deliberate upon each candidate giving due consideration to the same.

What changed now?.

  • Application will be vetted by a permanent committee known as the Committee for Designation of Senior Advocates that will publish the names of candidates on the respective courts’ websites to ensure transparency.
  • Political interference in the selection of judges in the third and fourth decades of independent India resulted in the collegium system where judges select judges

What are the criticisms for the present selection process?

  • The opaque system and unsatisfactory selection, transfer, and elevation of judges to the Supreme Court caused disquiet and led to the passing of the Constitution (99th Amendment) Act, 2014
  • Until now, the judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts had the sole discretion of according this status to advocates.
  • National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014, which sought to give politicians and civil society a final says in the appointment of judges to the highest courts.
  • Political Influence
  • Political interference in the selection of judges in the third and fourth decades of independent India resulted in the collegium system where judges select judges.
  • The opaque system and unsatisfactory selection, transfer, and elevation of judges to the Supreme Court caused disquiet and led to the passing of the Constitution (99th Amendment) Act, 2014
  • The National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014, which sought to give politicians and civil society a final says in the appointment of judges to the highest courts.
  • Inclusion of the Law and Justice Minister in the NJAC was faulted on the ground that participation of the executive would erode the independence of the judiciary.

What is the significance of the new selection committee?

  • It will consist of the Chief Justice of India, two senior-most judges of the Supreme Court/ High Courts, the Attorney General of India/ the Advocate General of State, and a member of the Bar to be nominated by the above four members.

The committee will have a permanent secretariat.

  • All applications for designation of senior advocate will be submitted to the secretariat which will compile all the relevant information with regard to the reputation, conduct, integrity, participation in pro-bono work, reported judgments in which the advocate has appeared, etc. of the candidates.
  • The committee will examine each candidate’s case, interview the candidate, and make its assessment based on a point-based format.
  • The secretariat should not be dragged into the quagmire of investigating frivolous complaints or objections.

Conclusion

  • While this institutional mechanism and selection criteria seem suited to substitute the existing collegium system, the executive and the legislature could also seriously consider introducing a new version of the NJAC which incorporates the salient features of this institutional mechanism.
  • The sooner the judiciary adopts such a mechanism for judges too, the better it is for the institution

The road to partnership: (Indian Express, Editorial)

Context:

The US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has drawn attention to an enduring paradox that marks the relationship between India and America.

Two paradoxes:

  1. One such paradox is about the gap between expert expectations and actual outcomes.
  2. The relationship remains very below potential. Neither side has taken full advantage of all the possibilities that have emerged.

Recent development on their relations:

  • The two countries have now advanced to $115 billion, with the surplus in India’s favour.
  • Still there are multiple obstacles remain in boosting two-ways trade to the proclaimed goal of $500 billion.
  • America has become a major arms supplier for India.
  • The volume of Indian defence imports has grown from near zero at the turn of the century to about $15 billion presently.
  • And now, both Trump and Tillerson have signalled renewed strategic enthusiasm for India.
  • In the last couple of decades, both the nations made progress by setting aside their differences on Pakistan and China.
  • America has begun to clear the path for strategic regional coordination between two nations.

Problems:

  • There are residual issues in Washington about supplying advanced defence technologies to India and Delhi remains reluctant to inject greater political content into the security partnership.
  • Under-estimation of the bipartisan political commitment in both countries to build a strong strategic partnership.
  • Conflicts related to the IPR regime under the aegis of  WTO.
  • Increased Protectionism being brought in by the Trump Regime.
  • President George W.Bush invested huge political capital to reconcile America with the reality of India’s nuclear weapons programme and lifted the decade-old domestic and international restrictions on atomic energy cooperation with India.
  • President Barack Obama resisted the temptations to connect the problems in Kashmir and Afghanistan, completed the negotiations on the nuclear deal, and elevated India to a central position in America’s strategy towards Asia and the Indo-Pacific.

India-U.S relations:

1-      Economic dimensions:

  • India ranks just 130th on the World Bank’s annual survey on the ease of doing business. Yet Tillerson cited the growth of the two countries’ economic partnership, saying 600 American companies work there and that U.S. investment in the country has risen 500 percent in two years.
  • Bilateral trade will climb beyond the record $115 billion reached last year, noting that a U.S. shipment of crude oil arrived in India this month for the first time.
  • Citing India’s role as the world’s most populous democracy, Tillerson said the two nations “share a vision for the future.” He called for closer defense ties, referring to a range of hardware the U.S. is prepared to sell India

Trade relations:

  • The U.S. is India’s second largest trading partner, and India is its 11th largest trading partner.
  • In 2015, the US exported $ 21.5 billion worth of goods to India and imported $ 44.8 billion worth of Indian goods.
  • Major items imported from India include information services, textiles, machinery, gems, and diamonds, chemicals and iron and steel products, coffee etc.
  • Major items imported by India include aircraft, fertilizers, computer hardware, scrap metal and medical equipment.

2-       Civil Nuclear Partnership:

The bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement was finalized in July 2007 and signed in October 2008. During Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the US in September 2014, the two sides set up a Contact Group for advancing the full and timely implementation of the India-US Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, and to resolve pending issues.The India-United States Civil Nuclear Agreement also referred to as the “123 Agreement” signed  in 2008 is a bilateral agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation which governs civil nuclear trade between American and Indian firms to participate in each other’s civil nuclear energy sector.  For the agreement to be operational, nuclear vendors and operators must comply with India’s 2010 Nuclear Liability  Act which stipulates that nuclear suppliers, contractors and operators must bear financial responsibility in case of an accident.

Counter terrorism:

Cooperation in counter-terrorism has seen considerable progress with intelligence sharing, information exchange, operational cooperation, counter-terrorism technology and equipment. India-US Counter-Terrorism Cooperation Initiative was signed in 2010 to expand collaboration on counter-terrorism, information sharing and capacity building.

Energy and climate change:

The U.S.-India Energy Dialogue was launched in May 2005 to promote trade and investment in the energy sector, and held its last meeting in September 2015 in Washington DC. There are six working groups in oil & gas, coal, power and energy efficiency, new technologies & renewable energy, civil nuclear cooperation and sustainable development under the Energy Dialogue.

Recently, Indian Oil Corp. Ltd received its first crude oil shipment from the US on Monday, after Washington re-entered the export market last year, increasing competition in an already depressed oil market.

Significance of Present visit for India-U.S bilateral relations:

  • The visit set the course for India-U.S. relations going ahead, mapping convergences in connectivity, trade and economics and counter-terrorism cooperation.
  • America wants to be India’s most “reliable partner” in an increasingly uncertain world.
  • The U.S. put India at the very heart of America’s efforts to balance an increasingly assertive China.
  • The meeting will lead to more intensive regional collaboration between the US and Asian democracies- India, Japan and Australia — to ensure peace and promote prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.
  • In facing up to India’s concerns about Pakistan’s use of terror as an instrument of foreign policy and China’s quest for hegemony in the Indo-Pacific, Trump and Tillerson have raised hopes for a closer regional alignment between Delhi and Washington.
  • Tillerson sketched out a crucial role for India in maintaining in stability in the Asia Pacific region—along with partners like Japan and Australia besides the US. This was against the backdrop of the unpredictable rise of China.

Conclusion:

India should resist the temptation for an endless debate on whether America can move away from China and Pakistan and be India’s reliable partner. Delhi should focus, instead, on strengthening practical cooperation wherever possible with Trump’s Washington.

In the talks with Tillerson this week, Delhi must seek to stiffen America’s resolve to confront the Pakistan Army’s sponsorship of terror, encourage him to discard the residual bureaucratic hesitations in Washington about supporting India’s rise and delineate the pathways for constructing a stable balance of power system in the Indo-Pacific.

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Indian Economy

Economic growth: an alternative view: (The Hindu, Editorial)

Context

  • India’s current method of GDP calculation treats environmental damage costs as income.

What is GDP?

  • GDP stands for Gross Domestic Product. It is the final value of the good and services produced within the territory of the country

Decline in GDP

  • India’s decelerating GDP growth rate in the past five quarters has generated panic. A drop in GDP growth rate from 7.4% in January-March 2016 to 5.7% in April-June 2017.
  • This decline provide an opportunity to bring economic welfare through improvement in environment quality

Economic development v\s development

  • Economists concerned about sustainable development advocate low levels of economic growth since with large expansions in national income come negative environmental consequences such as pollution.
  • These adversely affect the environmental quality and economic welfare of individuals and households dependent on the environment for their basic livelihood.

The Indian context

  • Studies that have attempted to estimate the economic costs of environmental damages in India have revealed some striking findings.
  • Study by the World Bank and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington found that India’s air pollution alone caused welfare loss equivalent to 7.69% (approximately Rs. 31,316.2 billion) of its GDP in 2013.

Problem of quantification of Ecosystem services

  • The environment generates a range of ecosystem services such as provisioning services (food, irrigation, drinking water), regulating services (climate regulation, water quality regulation), cultural services (recreational and religious services) and supporting services (nutrient recycling, soil formation). Identifying and quantifying them for the purpose of damage assessment is a difficult task in the absence of relevant data.
  • In India, millions of households and economic activities utilise these ecosystem services for production and consumption.
  • Though economically highly valuable, ecosystem services are not traded in the markets and, therefore, their true values are not reflected in the system.
  • Therefore, the actual value of economic welfare lost due to loss of ecosystem services will be much higher than what is being currently estimated.

Issue with GDP calculation

  • The current method of GDP estimation treats environmental damage costs as income. Since development policies give more priority to income and employment generation, implementation of pollution control policies are very poor.
  • At present, the price of a commodity from a polluting unit covers only the private cost of production, not the damage cost. This makes the commodity relatively cheaper leading to more demand and output, and more pollution and environmental damage cost.
  • More environmental damage may lead to an increased level of purchase of market goods contributing to expansion of the GDP.

Environmental cost

  • An important lesson from empirical studies on environmental damage is that the size of environmental social costs is significantly higher than the social benefits being brought about by GDP growth.

What is  Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) hypothesis?

  • The Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) hypothesis that underlines almost all our development policies, which are directed towards pushing double-digit income growth with little concern for environmental capital.
  • The EKC hypothesis is shown in an inverted U-shaped curve depicting the relationship between per capita income and environmental deterioration.
  • It suggests that during the initial period of economic development, where per capita income is low, deterioration of environmental quality caused by rapid industrialisation and urbanisation is inevitable.
  • Society will have to accept a certain level of environmental damage arising from income-generating activities because large-scale income growth is essential for achieving other development goals such as generation of mass employment and poverty reduction.
  • Once per capita income reaches a higher level, the trade-off between income growth and environmental quality will cease to exist.
  • With increased financial and technological capabilities, we can restore the environmental quality to desired levels.
  • So, income growth on a higher path brings a win-win outcome in the long run where poverty is reduced and environmental quality is improved.

Why EKC is a faulty approach?

  • The EKC is a near myth since an increase in per capita income does not bring desirable levels of improvement to the environment.
  • The empirical evidence across countries reveals that various attempts to increase per capita income causes more environmental deterioration.
  • A large number of poor people are dependent on the environment for their day-to-day activities and therefore more focus on improved environmental quality can push income growth on a sustainable basis.

Conclusion

  • Since GDP growth and environmental damage have a strong positive relationship, lower growth in GDP could afford benefits.
  • A proper assessment of environmental social benefits and social costs of income growth is warranted so that policies can be directed towards setting environmentally sustainable growth rates.
  • Efforts to develop environmental accounting and green GDP for India can help us achieve sustainable development in future.

Agriculture

Long-run trends in rural wages: (Live Mint, Editorial)

Context:

  • Rural wages in India over the past few years seem to have been ignored.
  • This collapse and stagnation deserves a closer look than it has received thus far.

Rural economy in India: An overview:

  • India is known as an agricultural country, as most of the population of villages depends on agriculture. Agriculture forms the backbone of the country’s economy.
  • The agricul­tural sector contributes most to the overall economic development of the country.
  • But the Indian agricultural sector is heavily prone to the vagaries of the monsoon and hence, excessive drought or rainfall are the order of the day.
  • This leads to failure of crop leading to poverty, instability  and farmers distress in a large number.
  • The small and borderline  farmers,hence, have to look for other sources of income and form a large part of the manual labour in nearby cities.

Commercialization of Agriculture:

  • In the present days, a large part of rural economy has been opened up, which has made commercialization of agricul­ture possible.
  • This has also made the average farmer more prone  to the price fluctuations in the commodities market.
  • Excessive reliance on wheat and rice and the successful implementation of the MSP’s only for these two, have also added to the vows of the farmers.

Rural Society and  Urbanism:

  • Many industries have been flourished in rural areas, depriving the farmers of the agricultural land. This problem is aggravated when the farmers are not adequately compensated for the loss of land due to lack of effective land acquisition laws.
  • Urbanism also brought development of rural roads and transport and communication.
  • Contacts with the urban areas have created awareness among the rural masses about consumer goods.
  • Also, due to green revo­lution, the income levels of the rural people have increased, which encourages such consumption of goods possible.

Government initiatives:

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA):

  • MGNREGA attempts to address two of the key concerns related to poverty in India: unemployment and a flagging agriculture sector.

The present policy frame of MGNREGA is based on three-pronged accomplishment to alleviate and reduce poverty in the country which constitutes:

  • Stepping up of economic growth
  • Direct strike on poverty through employment, income-generating programmes and assets creation for the poor and
  • Human and social development policies for the poor and the needy.

Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana or DDU-GKY:

  • It is Government of India youth employment scheme.
  • It aims to target youth, under the age group of 15–35 years. DDU-GKY is a part of the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), tasked with the dual objectives of adding diversity to the incomes of rural poor families and cater to the career aspirations of rural youth.

Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP):

  • Jobs created by the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), generates employment in rural and urban areas by initiating new micro enterprises and small projects.
  • Startup India: Under this programme, the government encouraged banks to provide finance to young entrepreneurs to start their own business ventures.

What are the problems of rural wages?

  • Lower income of the people in rural areas is because of the low prices of agricultural products.
  • Most new jobs in the rural are for unskilled workers, so the wages and nature of the work are unattractive.
  • There is a strong gender disparity, where the female worker is paid only 70% of what the male worker earns.
  • With the advent of Green Revolution, money wage rates started increasing, but with the raise of prices, real wage rates did not increase.
  • Increase in wages, unaccompanied by productivity increases, could lead to a wage-price spiral, thereby offsetting the positive impact of initial increase in real wages on welfare.
  • If increase in wages in one sector leads to subsequent increase in wages across the economy, the competitiveness of the economy could be negatively impacted.

What are the drawbacks of rural wages programmes in India?

  • Objectives of one program conflict with those of others, and there is no institutional mechanism for reconciling them.
  • Poor norms of fixation, enforcement, implementation and coverage in various parts of the country are other important drawbacks.
  • Different wages are fixed for the same work in different sectors. Thus there is no justification of labour cost.
  • The funds which are allotted for a particular wage program is not supervised. Hence, it is not used with honesty.
  • There is ardent insufficiency of manpower, training and efficiency to run these rural wages programmes.  

Prelims Related News

‘Paika Bidroha’ to be named as 1st War of Independence:

Context:

  • The ‘Paika Bidroha’ (Paika rebellion) of 1817 will find a place in the history books as ‘the First War of Independence’ from the next academic session.

Significance of the change:

  • Paika Bidroha’ took place four decades before the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny.
  • But, the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny is so far been regarded as the First War of Indian Independence.
  • Thus, to give concrete factual knowledge, the government is on the verge to ammend Paika Bidroha’ of 1817 as ‘the First War of Independence’

Who was the Paika Bidroha?

  • Paika Bidroha, was an armed rebellion against the British East India Company’s rule in Odisha in 1817.
  • The Paikas rose in rebellion under their leader Bakshi Jagabandhu and, projecting Jagannath as the symbol of Odia unity.
  • The rebellion quickly spread across most of Odisha before being ruthlessly put down by the company’s forces.

Who were the Paikas?

  • Paikas were essentially the peasant militias of the Gajapati rulers of Odisha who rendered military service to the king during times of war while taking up cultivation during times of peace.
  • The Paikas were organised into three ranks distinguished by their occupation and the weapons they wielded.
  • These were the Paharis, the bearers of shields and the khanda sword,
  • The Banuas who led distant expeditions and used matchlocks and
  • The Dhenkiyas – archers who also performed different duties in Odisha armies.

The Sepoy Mutiny, 1857:

  • The Sepoy Mutiny was a violent uprising against British rule in India in 1857.
  • It is also known by other names: the Indian Mutiny, the Indian Rebellion of 1857, or the Indian Revolt of 1857.
  • It happened so that the Indian soldiers were discriminated on the basis of racism and were paid low salary.
  • But this kind of outbreak happened only when the Indian soldiers were given cartridges which had a coating of grease that was made up of Cow and Pig fat.
  • It was against the religious views of both Hindu and Muslim community.
  • They were given false hopes by the company that all of this is rumour but when it came out to be all true, the soldiers lost their temper and resulted in a movement being called as Sepoy Mutiny.
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