9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – January 12, 2021

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GS- 2 

  • Gulf reconciliation
  • Kenneth Arrow’s paradox and why elections are flawed
  • Diplomatic practices
  • Dialogue and deliberation with beneficiaries are a prerequisite for Welfare Policymaking
  • Paying women for domestic and care work
  • Formalising the work of community workers

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FACTLY

Gulf reconciliation

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 2 – Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

Synopsis – Gulf leaders have signed a solidarity and stability agreement towards ending the diplomatic rift with Qatar in the 41st Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia.

Background-

  • In 2017, Saudi Arabia and its allies [UAE, Bahrain and Egypt] decided to boycott Qatar and imposed a naval, air and land blockade.
  • Qatar was charged to be too close to Iran and backed radical Islamist groups.
  • The four countries presented Qatar with 13 demands as conditions for ending the embargo, which included-
      • Closing Al-Jazeera and other Qatar funder TV network,
      • closing a Tusking military base in Qatar,
      • Reducing diplomatic ties with Iran and
      • Ending interference in other countries internal affairs.

However, Qatar did not budge despite the heavy economic cost.

What are the impacts of 2017 boycott on Qatar?

Qatar showed resilience and manage the economic blockade. Qatar was able to deepen its relations with Turkey and Iran during the embargo, as both countries provided vital support.

  • First, When the Saudi and Emirati airspaces were closed, Iran offered Qatar global connectivity.
  • Second, Turkish troops arrived in Qatar and Iran increased shipments of supplies to the import dependent country. Qatar also bolstering its ties with Turkey during this period, which is eager to play a bigger role in West Asia.
  • Third, Qatar played an important role in the U.S.-Taliban deal and continued to host talks between Taliban representatives and the Afghan government.

Saudi Arabia and its ally’s embargo on Qatar failed in its objective and Members of the GCC signed a deal in Al­Ula, Saudi Arabia to remove all the sanctions over Qatar and re-open their land, sea and air borders to Qatar.

However, Qatar has made few concessions to reach the reconciliation. The 13 specific demands were replaced by a broad agreement on non-intervention in other countries’ internal affairs and cooperating to ensure regional stability and security

What are the main reasons behind reconciliation?

  • First, to counter Iran- The move is mainly aiming to create a regional bloc to counter Iran as the rift in the gulf helped Iran.
      • Iran, reeling under U.S. sanctions, got some financial relief from Qatari payouts for using its airspace. Lifting the air and sea blockades, the Saudis and the Emiratis could deny Iran of those funds.
  • Second, bridging the Gulf between two American allies– The reconciliation also a signal of unity for incoming administration of President Joe Biden.
      • By resolving the feuds, Saudi Arabia will be able to put forward a much more united stance in front of US against Iran as Joe Biden is preparing to renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal.

Way forward-

  • Although the Gulf reconciliation is a progressive step, especially in warming relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Saudi Arabia should learn from the mistakes and build ties based on mutual interests and cooperation.

Kenneth Arrow’s paradox and why elections are flawed

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS-2

Synopsis- Theory of Arrow’s paradox and the impact of loss of concentration

Introduction-

  • The mechanics of all elections are flawed. The mathematician Kenneth Arrow laid bare the flaws in elections.
  • The internet helps the minority voice to instigate a large part of the populace. The recent U.S. presidential election is an example of this.

What is Arrow’s paradox?

The theorem is named after mathematician and Nobel laureate Kenneth Arrow, who demonstrated the theorem in his doctoral thesis in 1950.

He identified that in any electoral system where three or more options exist, a curious paradox comes into play. Views of the minority voice can dictate the broader choice. His finding is now called Arrow’s Paradox.

For example-

  • A set of population has three preferences in the run-up to an election which pits binary choices against each other – A= go to war or B= Don’t go to war.
  • the voters will be distributed along three lines as follows:
    • The minority – The hawks, those who want to go to war.
    • The majority of voters but are roughly equally split.
        1. The doves, who prefer not to go to war under any circumstance.
        2. The realists, who don’t want to go to war unless it’s absolutely necessary.
  • The minority hawks have the ability to dictate the outcome by convincing the realists by prevailing on the realists that war is actually needed.
  • Arrow’s Paradox can cause an election which should have a predictable outcome to become a farce since the outcome can be gamed to allow minority factions to prevail.

How arrow paradox theory swayed US elation result?

People now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the affects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.

  • The recent events such as Proposition 22 in US elections have proved this phenomenon.

Proposition 22

  • Uber, Lyft and other gig industries poured money into their ‘Yes on Proposition 22’ campaign, raising over $200 million and the courts to preserve their business model by keeping drivers from becoming employees eligible for benefits and job protections.
  • Misleading campaigns- 58% of more than 11 million voters choosing to keep drivers classified as independent contractor, without the additional steps needed after that to get to the truth.
  • The outcome was a defeat for labor unions that had pushed for a state law aimed directly at Uber and Lyft, mandating they provide drivers with protections like minimum wage, overtime, health insurance and reimbursement for expenses.

It is certain that there will be future attempts at influencing elections using both intense messaging which takes advantage of our shortened attention spans as well as the setting of agendas of electoral choice which Arrow first described.


Diplomatic practices

Source: click here

Syllabus: GS 2

Synopsis: India is unwilling to interfere in the political turmoil of Kathmandu and Beijing on the other hand is making efforts to preserve the unity of ruling party in Nepal. Stances of both the countries are very different from their traditional foreign policies.

Introduction

Interventions in the happenings of neighbouring countries have been a permanent feature of Indian and Chinese foreign policy.

  • China’s intervention in Nepal is a part of its interventionist strategy across Asia and beyond.
  • Big nations like China and India always interfere in other nations but ward off possible threats to their own sovereignty. For example, India countered intensely the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments on the farmers’ distress.

On what factors does India’s national sovereignty depend upon?

The national sovereignty has always depended on the ability of the nation to secure it by its widespread national power. Big nations tend to intervene more, and the smaller ones find ways to manage this through the politics of balancing against their large neighbours.

  • First, India has to carefully manage the unavoidable and active interaction between the domestic political processes of India and its neighbours.
      • Active and direct intervention in the domestic politics of neighbours must be a sensible exemption rather than the rule in India’s regional diplomacy.
  • Second, the bitter past of partition leave the domestic political connotations of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan knotted together and complicate their relations as distinct sovereign bodies.
  • Third, the concept of national sovereignty and effectiveness of third-party intervention is limited by circumstance. Outside mediations in the domestic politics of neighbours are rarely successful and yield unplanned penalties.

What are the steps to be taken?

It is extremely hard for even the most powerful nations to make the smallest states agree to do what is right on issues such as democratic governance, minority rights and federalism.

  • India can only encourage and not force Colombo and Kathmandu to respect the rights of Tamils and Madhesis but given the complex web of linkages across South Asian borders, Delhi can’t avoid dealing with these challenging issues either.
  • India should try to be a dependable partner and reliable friend and should be committed to strengthening bilateral ties “on the basis of mutual trust, mutual interest, mutual respect and mutual sensitivity” as promised by the minister of external affairs to the political leaders in Sri Lanka.

Way forward

  • Delhi’s constant quest of this agenda could help India in managing the multifarious dynamic with its neighbours a little better.

Dialogue and deliberation with beneficiaries are a prerequisite for Welfare Policymaking

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Important Aspects of Governance, Transparency and Accountability, E-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential.

Synopsis: The state and central government can learn from the good practices of Rajasthan on dialogue and deliberation with beneficiaries while policy making to transform from mere governance to good governance.

Background

  • The recently enacted Farm laws were passed without any consultation with the farmer community.
  • Even when policies are made in good principles, for effective programme implementation, consultations and deliberations are needed during the initial stages of law making.
  • If the farm laws were made by taking consultations from the relevant stakeholders especially from the farming community, we could have avoided the ongoing Farmers protest in Delhi.
  • The case of Rajasthan, that has a healthy tradition of consulting with worker groups and civil society organisations during the initial stage of policy formulation and to take continuous feedback from the field to carry out periodic midway course corrections serves as a shining example for effective policy making.

How Rajasthan shines as a text book example for effective policy making?

  • The example of the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in Rajasthan can illustrate this better.
  • Though MGNREGA wages are now directly credited from the central government to a worker’s bank account this system faces the Issue of payment rejections. There are numerous reasons for rejection, for example,
      • There are instances where block level data entry operators make errors in entering the account or Aadhaar details of workers.
      • There are instances where money does not get credited due to technical issues, for example, the issue of ‘Inactive Aadhaar’. This happens when the linkage of the worker’s Aadhaar and their bank account is broken in the software maintained by the NPCI.
      • Sometimes banks are not able to transfer money as the beneficiary account remains

How the Rajasthan government was able to solve the Issue of payment rejections?

  • To resolve payment rejections, the Department of Rural Development of the Government of Rajasthan has held numerous discussions which resulted in conducting periodic workshops with the relevant stake holders.
  • Through workshops the worker groups and civil society organisations interacted directly with the aggrieved workers, administrative officers from the village level to the State level, and bankers.
  • Through Continuous dialogues with aggrieved workers, they were able to finalise a detailed guideline with well-defined responsibility, clear timelines, and monitoring and protocols to be followed by officials to resolve the issue.
  • This has resulted in a significant reduction in payment rejections in Rajasthan. Within a period of 1 year, the Rajasthan government was able to clear ₹380 crore worth of payments to workers that were earlier stuck due to rejections.
  • By resolving the payment issue through dialogues, deliberations and constant feedback, the government ensured that every person who has worked, gets their full payment on time
  • There is also another case of Jan Soochna Portal similar to MGNREGA where government through a ‘digital dialogue’ involving government officials and numerous civil society organisation have designed and formatted each scheme of Jan Soochna Portal.
  • Jan Soochna Portal was launched to facilitate The Right to Information (RTI) Act that was obscured by issues such as ill-defined formats, inaccessibility
  • The JSP is a single platform in the public domain providing information across 60 departments of over 104 schemes. The JSP makes disclosure of information accessible for all.

Federalism and good governance require constant constructive engagement between people and officials through Deliberation and debate. A constitutionally committed government should listen to the voices of the marginalised before making welfare policies.


Paying women for domestic and care work

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States

Synopsis: Paying women for domestic and care work will not reduce or redistribute their burden. It will only lead to mere recognition of their efforts.

Background

  • Women bear a disproportionately high burden of unpaid domestic work and care work in India.
  • According to the all-India Time Use Survey (2019) data, females bear more than 83% of the burden of domestic and care work both in Tamil Nadu and India.
  • To end this disparity, recently, Kamal Haasan’s political party, Makkal Needhi Maiam, proposed that homemakers should get due recognition through payment for their work at home.
  • This proposal has generated curiosity and reopened the unsettled academic debate of Paying women for domestic and care work.

Can the proposed policy address the huge gender disparity in unpaid care work?

Evaluation of Makkal Needhi Maiam party’s proposal reveals that though it will be a progressive step, it has the risk of furthering the gender disparity in unpaid work within homes.

  • According to economist Diane Elson (2017), the public policy should aim at closing the huge gender gap in unpaid domestic and care work through ‘recognition, reduction and redistribution’ (Triple-R).
  • The Makkal Needhi Maiam party’s proposal only satisfies the first component of Triple-R, that is ‘recognition’.
  • Since it is women who predominantly carry out unpaid domestic and care activities, often at the expense of their employment prospects and health, the monetary reward is a recognition of their contribution to the well-being of the household and the opportunities forgone by women. The proposal appears progressive, for this reason.

However, the proposal also has the potential to increase women’s burden. This is because

  • Firstly, paying monetary benefits will endorse the social norm that domestic and care work are ‘women’s work’, for which they are being paid.
  • Secondly, paying monetary benefits for women makes redistribution’ of the burden of unpaid work impossible. This is because, paying women for domestic and care work will give Rights to men that women are bound to do these unpaid activities as they are being compensated.
  • Instead of incentivising men to participate more in household work and reducing women’s burden by redistributing the responsibility, the current proposal might do the opposite.

The electoral promise of Paying women for domestic and care work cannot possibly address the ‘strategic’ gender needs of reducing and redistributing women’s burden. What is needed is to Incentivise men, to participate more and spend longer hours in sharing unpaid work.


Formalising the work of community workers

Source: Indian Express

Gs2: Development Processes and the Development Industry — the Role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

Synopsis: Government should strive to formalise the work of community workers such as Anganwadi, ASHA and National Health Mission workers to make them accessible for various social security benefits such as safety, insurance, risk allowance and fixed wages etc.

Background

  • In India, there are about a lakh ASHA worker, 1.3 million Anganwadi workers and another 1.2 million Anganwadi helpers. (Community workers)
  • At present, community workers are classified as “honorary workers” and are denied of minimum wages, leave and other conditions that is available to formal workers.
  • Even in the best paid states, this honorarium is not even close to the government-mandated minimum wages offered to workers doing comparable jobs.
  • Also, the state by preferring to call them as “volunteers “denies the opportunity to recognise their crucial work as care service providers.
  • This led to the two-day nationwide strike by Anganwadi, ASHA and National Health Mission workers demanding safety, insurance, risk allowance and fixed wages during the pandemic

What is the importance of community workers to society?

  • Firstly, during the COVID-19 the Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) and Anganwadi workers, women “volunteers” functioned as the frontline warriors in the battle against the pandemic.
  • Second, these community workers serve as the connecting link between the community and the state machinery. This was very much visible when there was uncertainty and fear of the virus.
  • Third, the services of community workers are essential to facilitate localised approaches to problems as they have robust contacts at the grass roots.

What is the way forward?

  • Firstly, there is an urgent need to recognise Community workers as workers. It can be done by Implementing the recommendation of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour to formalise the work of community workers.
  • Second, Recognition of care work in the public sphere could also help in settling the issue of gendered and unequal division of house work and unpaid care burden.

It is high time that the state recognises the contributions of these women and accept them as workers. The recognition of ASHA and Anganwadi volunteers as workers will be a tribute to their contribution during the pandemic and also it gives a fresh start towards the structural understanding of women’s labour and their status in the labour market leading to Gender sensitive policy making


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