SECURE SYNOPSIS: 16 March 2017
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General Studies – 1;
Topic : Role of women; Social empowerment
Recently parliament cleared the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill granting more rights to working women with regard to maternity condition. Despite its good intent bill has been criticized for its shortcomings.
Highlights of the Bill
- The Act provides maternity leave up to 12 weeks for all women. The Bill extends this period to 26 weeks. However, a woman with two or more children will be entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave.
- The Bill introduces maternity leave up to 12 weeks for a woman who adopts a child below the age of three months, and for commissioning mothers. The period of maternity leave will be calculated from the date the child is handed over to the adoptive or commissioning mother.
- The Bill requires every establishment with 50 or more employees to provide for crèche facilities within a prescribed distance. The woman will be allowed four visits to the crèche in a day.
- An employer may permit a woman to work from home, if the nature of work assigned permits her to do so. This may be mutually agreed upon by the employer and the woman.
- The Bill requires an establishment to inform a woman of all benefits that would be available under the Bill, at the time of her appointment. Such information must be given in writing and electronically.
Key Issues and Analysis
- The Bill extends the period of paid maternity leave for women working in the organised sector to 26 weeks from the current 12. This is applicable to all organisations that employ 10 or more people. The gender ratio in corporate India is already highly lopsided. In 2015, women accounted for only 21% of the jobs at the entry level to managerial position, according to a report, ‘From Intention to Impact’, published by Catalyst, a non-profit organisation. Even as HR managers who strive to increase the gender diversity in their organisations, are wary about the added costs of hiring young, fertile women. These extensions of maternity leave to six months will effectively double these costs and this is likely to result in much fewer women being employed in the corporate sector.
- There is both a direct as well as an indirect cost to long maternity leaves. When working teams are small, absence of female employee would affect the other team-members in terms of work burden. Thus according to employers, hiring a women for a team work would affect its productivity negatively.
- Various countries have implemented different funding models in relation to maternity benefits. In progressive countries, at least a part of the maternity costs are borne by the government. In India, this is entirely passed on to companies.
- Also, India’s leaking pipeline – the number of women who quit their jobs between junior and middle levels – is 50%, compared to the average of 29% in Asia. This also implies that the number of women who avail their maternity benefits and yet do not resume their jobs is rather high, adding to the cost concerns of their recruiters.
- While women will be provided with 26 weeks of maternity leave for two children, the period of leave for a third child will be 12 weeks. This could affect the growth and development of the third born child.
- The Act and Bill cover women workers employed in establishments with 10 or more employees, and other notified establishments. However, a majority of the women workforce (around 90% of total women workforce), who are in the unorganised sectors, may not be covered.
- There are several labour laws that provide maternity benefits to women in different sectors. These laws differ in their coverage, benefits and financing of such benefits.
- Bill fails utterly in its complete negligence of the roles of fathers. Not only is this a lost opportunity to make some provisions for gender parity, it also works as a double whammy against women, by heaping all parental responsibilities exclusively on her. It further pushes the arguments of both comparative costs of hiring women versus men, as well as ties women down to the primary role of being childcare providers and not professionals in the workplace.
Although bill has many shortcomings, it is good step towards providing maternal and infant care and to ensure healthy beginning to the mother and child’s relationship.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
2) Why does Scotland want to exit from the United Kingdom? If Scotland breaks away from the UK, what will be the consequences to the UK and Scotland? Also examine how will this affect Indian diaspora in UK. (200 Words)
The issue of independence of Scotland from United Kingdom has once again surfaced due to exit of Britain from the European Union. The Scottish parties are demanding new referendum for Independence to which British government has firmly opposed.
Reasons for demand of Scotland for Independence-
Scotland wants to exit from UK, as it prefers access to the single market of the EU, which it perceives as a specific economic advantage that it has been enjoying so far. Scotland voted decisively in favour of remaining in the EU (62% of Scots voted to remain, against 55.8% of Northern Ireland, 47.5% of Wales, and 46.6% of England). It is being interpreted that Scots want EU more than UK.
The more traditional reason has been that Scots see themselves culturally different from British (although cultural differences have minimized over a period) and Scotts think they have ample oil reserves in north sea required for independent economy.
Consequences for UK-
- The United Kingdom may not remain united thereafter. The separation of Scotland would diminish the United character of UK.
- With the loss of Scotland, UK will shrink to England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Further divisive tendencies may erupt in N Ireland leading to territorial disintegration.
- UK may lose access or have minimized access of Scottish market in case Scotland joins EU.
- UK may also be deprived of rich oil reserves of North Sea.
Consequences for Scotland-
- If Scotland joins EU, it would have access to larger market and benefit from stability of EU.
- It would strengthen and consolidate the distinct Scottish culture.
- Depleting oil reserves may not sustain the independent economy of the Scotland.
- Scotland may not be able to take benefit of British currency ‘Pound’ in case of separation.
Effect on Indian Diaspora-
- Glasgow and Edinburgh might emerge as new business hubs for Indian Diaspora apart from London.
- The border issue between Britain and Scotland may hinder the free migration of Diaspora.
- Diaspora may have to alter their business strategies as new sovereign government in Scotland may have different policies than Britain.
- Excess pride of Scottish culture may prove detrimental for progress of Indian community in Scotland.
It seems that UK parliament may not agree for second independence referendum for Scotland in near future as issues of staying in EU and independence from UK have different dimensions. However in case of Scottish Independence, it would change the course of British History forever.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
3) What is the mandate of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)? What is its opinion on the issue of settlements being built by Israel in the occupied territory? Do you think Israel is practising apartheid? If yes, hot its should be dealt with? Critically comment. (200 Words)
Introduction:- ESCWA The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) headquartered in Beirut, Lebanon, is one of five regional commissions under the administrative direction of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. ESCWA has 18 member states (the latest countries to join were Mauritania in 2015 Libya, Morocco and Tunisia in 2012)
Its mandate is to:-
- Support economic and social development.
- Promote interaction and cooperation between.
- Encourage the exchange of experience, best practice and lessons learned.
- Achieve regional integration and ensure interaction between Western Asia and other regions.
- Raise global awareness of the circumstances and needs of member countries.
- Found Israel guilty of apartheid not only in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, the occupied territory, but also within its own boundaries and against the Palestinian refugees.
- Israeli government is unwilling to consider a most propounded, “one-state solution” with equal rights for all Israelis and Palestinians, as they would dwarf the Israeli population in their home country.
- Palestinians who have Israeli citizenship (ezrahut) do not have the right to a nationality (le’um)- means only access to inferior social services, restrictive zoning laws, and contained social movement. And those living in exile in other neighboring countries like Lebanon, Syria and Jordon have no rights to their homeland [art 7(a) of Israeli Basic Law].
Regarding the contention of Israel practicing apartheid, the following points are in favour of the contention
1. The Palestinians, who are refugees, are being denied restricted access to the social services, and are subjected to restrictive laws on zoning, in comparison to the Jews.
2. The recently proposed bill to regulate the use of loudspeakers during prayers by the Muslims, and the Basic law, which prohibits the questioning of the Jewish character of Israel further re-assert this fact.
In fact, the ways in which the allegations against Israel, if proved true, can be dealt with in the following ways:
1. Initiating a regime of economic sanctions against Israel by activating the provisions of the International Convention against Apartheid.
2. Israel can also be requested to come forward to the negotiating table, and engage with the Palestinians to defuse the ongoing conflict, which is at the base of such discrimination against the Palestinians.
3. ICC investigation to get a clear picture of the issue is necessary.
4. Mobilizing the entire International community against the Isralian faults could pressurize the nation to behave itself with regard to Palestine.
5. Continuance of the hard stand by international organisations like this of ESCWA would make Israel come in lines and provide the Palestinians their fair share.
In fact, Israel must abandon its current strategy of arrogance and conflict-prone mentality, and instead heed to the recommendations of the international organizations and commissions. This would enable a broader, accomodative stance, and would be beneficial to the future of the two-state solution, or to the rights status of the Palestinians living within Israel.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
A constitutional referendum will be held in Turkey on Sunday, 16 April 2017. Voters will vote on a set of 18 proposed amendments to the Constitution of Turkey. The amendments have been suggested by the AK Party and its leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as well as being agreed to by the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
Some Provisions on which Referendum will be held:
1) Introduction of an executive presidency that would replace the existing parliamentary system of government
2)The abolition of the Office of the Prime Minister
3)The raising of the number of seats in Parliament from 550 to 600
4) Changes in the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors
Demerits of the move:
1)Erosion of the separation of powers
2)Abolition of parliamentary accountability
3)Executive president would have controls over the executive, legislative and judiciary.
4) It threatened judicial independence and secular democratic values
5) Arrests and political suppression can lead to violence
Causes of recent tensions between the EU and Turkey:
1) Overseas election campaigning, even in diplomatic missions, is illegal under Turkish law; yet most political parties in Turkey have flouted the law
2) In early March, Several European countries, including Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands, and some German towns, banned such rallies, raising security concerns as well as fear of domestic political repercussions..
3) Turkey effectively removing the Dutch ambassador.
4) Threats from Turkey to scrap an agreement reached with Europe last year to curb the passage of migrants through Turkey in return for financial help from the EU.
Implications for regional peace:
1)Mr. Erdogan might win short-term political dividends from this ongoing spat, but in the longer run he is endangering both Turkey’s ties with Europe
2) Endanger hundreds of thousands of Turks living in the continent
3) Instability in region
4) Can lead to formation of regional political Blocs.
European countries could also have avoided extreme reactions, such as refusing to give landing rights to a plane carrying Turkey’s Foreign Minister. Such escalation is politically unwise, given the context in which Mr. Erdogan is running his campaign. Instead, the Netherlands and other countries could have opted for direct engagement with Ankara to avoid a showdown. After all, Turkey and Europe need each other. The EU is Turkey’s largest trading partner.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Economic growth and development
5) What’s the role of innovation, entrepreneurship and faster technology deployment in economic growth? It’s is said that democratization of these three factors is crucial for India to to reach new heights in economy and technology. Discuss. (200 Words)
In a rapidly changing modern world; innovation, entrepreneurship and technology deployment have become inevitable for economic growth. Innovation gives the competitive edge, Entrepreneurship help in organising and Technology helps in delivering.
For the growth of Indian economy all the three sectors need to contribute i.e Agriculture, Industry and Services. For this to happen innovation, entrepreneurship and faster technology deployment in all the three will provide necessary impetus for faster growth.
- Prerequisite for development of new technology and start-ups based on it.
- It aids knowledge based economy through more efficient, cost-effective and inclusive technologies.
- Increasing global competitiveness, through IPR, export of ideas,technologies.
E.g. Indian pharma sector, ISRO.
- Reaping fruits of demographic dividend – employment generation, new opportunities to skillful youth.
- Inclusive development through linkages(supply chain) and via capital formation.
E.g. internet based start-ups: E-commerce,E-education, E-taxi, E-finance, etc.
- The growth of social entrepreneurship –
The next phase of entrepreneurship will expand into areas of public services delivery and infrastructure, bringing the efficiency and discipline of the private sector, coupled with the integrity of young founders looking to leave a positive impact.
Currently, start-ups in India are tackling challenges such as clean water, telemedicine, rural electrification and solid-waste management, often filling gaps left by the state. In doing so, new technologies are introduced, leapfrogging many generations of technological development.
TECHNOLOGY DEPLOYMENT –
- Aids in catalysing the above two.
- It brings in efficiency, precision and competitiveness in all the processes.
- It increases productivity by making processes cost- and time-effective.
Thus, increase export.E.g. Growth and spread of the Internet– It’s ubiquitous availability encouraged change of several prominent human behaviours, such as shopping, reading, social connection, travel, movie ticket purchases, taxi hailing and food delivery and most importantly financial transactions. This affected economic activities and growth immensely.
- Even though sectors such as health, affordable housing, hygiene and sanitation, clean energy and sustainability, water and wastewater, and agriculture have seen immense technological innovation in recent years, private venture investment in these sectors has not matched either their business potential or their societal importance, leading to inadequate deployment. However, the best of private efforts will under-serve some priority areas, either due to insufficiently high financial return, or due to societal or regulatory barriers.
- It is concerned with accessibility and use to the masses.
- It will lead to spillover effect of above three factors in sectors like Agriculture, MSME, service sector. This will truly bring holistic growth and penetration of gains.
- Here role of social entrepreneurship is very crucial to bring innovative technologies at the doorsteps of ordinary citizens.
India is following the similar path i.e Atal Innovation Mission , Start-up India , INSPIRE, Stand up India , Enabling companies to collaborate with foreign defence major, etc. These Government measures should be supplemented by Industry-academia link and Skilling people to be capable of handling these changes.
Topic: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
6) Counter-insurgency operations by the security forces, especially against maoist insurgency, have often been undermined by poor intelligence, flagging alertness of the security forces and the absence of a multi-layered political strategy. Discuss what needs to be done to overcome these deficiencies to fight insurgency effectively. (200 Words)
In the recent incident, 12 personnel of the CRPF were killed and four others sustained injuries.These brutal killings in Sukma district of Chhatisgarh have again highlighted the risk associated with the counter insurgency operations due to poor intelligence, flagging alertness of the security forces and the absence of a multi-layered political strategy.
Despite govt. efforts to reduce the maoism, there has not been much success. It can be seen from the fact that still 104 districts in central and south India are affected by maoist insurgency, labeling it as Red Corridor.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE –
ABSENCE OF MULTI-LAYERED POLITICAL STRATEGY:
- Grid-Guard-Govern-develop strategy – Mulitlayered Political strategy targeted at maoist areas.
- Centre, State and local governments – work in silos. Improve communication and develop align strategy at different tiers.
- Negotiation, Sustained Dialogue process with maoist groups – will let the government understand their concerns and negotiations will certainly allow both sides to push for a compromise resulting in agreeable solution. eg. Naga peace accord signed by union govt with National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) to end insurgency in 2015.
- Rehabilitation – The efficacy of Surrender policy should be continually checked and revised. Special programs for rehabilitation to be introduced to make them forget their past and integrate them into mainstream society.
- Socio-economic welfare: One of the root cause is economic isolation and deprivation of social services. Socio-economic welfare programs to ensure food security and improve health, education, transport services targeting the areas to be devised.
- Employment: Investing in Skill development programs and vocational training programs in higher education pertaining to local priorities will provide opportunities for the youths to improve their life and certainly stand in their way to join militant groups.
- Good governance and local integration – Strong and effective political leadership in insurgent areas. Integrated approach by the politicians, administration and military by winning the hearts and minds of the local population.
Strengthening and effectively implementing the schemes like National Skill Mission, SSA, MDMS, MGNREGA, etc in the regions so that people can get the govt provisions and have confidence in the govt. Involving NGOs, CSOs and media to create awareness among the people and gaining their support.
- Intelligence gathering can be strengthened by integrating data from multiple central & state agencies through NATGRID , so that real-time inputs are regularly analysed and preemptive actions be taken based on them.
- BIG DATA can be technological intervention to get analytics of past incidents and enables to predict future incidents.
- Access to weapons and related resources: Curbing the sources of weapons and monetary resources based on intelligence gathered from Local people, NGO’s, local administration, experts & other non-state actors.
FLAGGING ALERTNESS OF SECURITY FORCES:
- India need to have an effective Multi Agency Centre (MAC) for better co-ordination with other intelligence wings, investigating wings, law enforcement agencies and armed forces. MAC would work as an umbrella organization, which would exercise control over agencies like NIA, NTRO, Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), NATGRID as well as NSG.
- Co-ordination among these multiple security forces is imperative to keep vigil on the movements of maoist groups.
- Institutionalized strategy helps to bring multiple agencies together to conduct operations.
The attacks on security forces involved in counter insurgency operations have to serve as a wake up call to beef up their standard operating procedures, especially intelligence-gathering capabilities. Though there is a decline in insurgent activities, there is still prevalence of well-organized destructive attacks by the maoists to showcase their presence. Strong political will along with integrated action plan is the need of the hour.
Topic: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
Recently China announced its official defence budget for 2017. The announcement was made to allay the fears and skepticism about transparency in China’s spending of defence budget. The announcement has also led experts to compare China’s defence budget to that of USA and India.
Comparing and contrasting nature of India’s, China’s and USA’s defence budget-
- With a rise of 7%, the official spending of China on defence would be 1.044 trillion yuan ($151.43 billion, or about Rs. 10 lakh crore) in 2017.
- USA’s budget, proposed in the last week of February, is $603 billion witnessing around 10% rise compared to last year.
- India has allocated Rs. 3,59,854 crore (roughly $53.5 billion) to the Ministry of Defence, which is a third of the Chinese defence budget.
China’s per capita defence budget is just US$ 106 vis-à-vis the US at US$ 1859 and India at US$ 35. Chinese technology is still 10-15 years behind the US.
- The officially announced figure may not fully reflect the Chinese spending in beefing up its military capabilities in both conventional and unconventional arenas. It is a well-known fact that nearly another 40% of China’s military activities like cyber, intelligence and dual use acquisitions are not reflected in the defence budget. This is not the case with India and USA which have fairly transparent budget regime.
- The Chinese are busy replacing their relatively old inventories with modern strategic missiles, space-based assets, aircraft carriers, fighter jets, warships and cutting manpower to make the Armed Forces ‘lean and mean’ with a proposed cut of 300,000 in the 2.3 million strong force. China spends on defence more than the next three largest Asian economies—Japan, India, and South Korea—put together. China’s military build-up has rattled the region, particularly because they have taken an increasingly assertive stance in its territorial disputes. While China inhabits a far more complex neighborhood, it is nowhere near the U.S. in terms of military capabilities, expeditionary operations and strategic capabilities.
- In Indian case some part of the Indian budget would be spent in catching up with the modern infrastructure and military capabilities across the border. However Indian capabilities are nowhere close to China and USA and India stands as distant third. India with its military resources cannot contain Chinese dragon and has played only catch-up game.
It would be disastrous for China to compete USA and for India to compete with China. All these countries must possess minimum deterrence but this should not escalate into cold war like competition. The three giants have their own developmental issues which should receive priority over excessive military spending.