15 Feb 2019: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. SC sends Delhi power tussle case to larger Bench
C. GS3 Related 
ENVIRONMENT
1. Wasted effort: half of India’s waste-to-energy plants defunct
INTERNAL SECURITY
1. 37 CRPF men killed in J&K suicide attack
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Auditor’s account
2. Stress points of democracy 
ECONOMY
1. Is the unemployment crisis for real?
F. Tidbits
1. God’s Own Country gets back visitors after deluge of issues
2. Panel moots minimum wage of ₹375 per day
G. Prelims Facts
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains practice Questions

A. GS1 Related

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

 

1. SC sends Delhi power tussle case to larger Bench

Context

  • A Supreme Court Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan gave a split opinion on whether the Delhi government has control over the administration’s services and decided to refer the question to a larger Bench.
  • While Justice Bhushan held that the Delhi government has no power over services, observing that Entry 41 of the State List in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution — dealing with ‘State Public Services’ — was outside the purview of the Delhi Assembly, Justice Sikri, the lead judge on the Bench, took the middle path.

Details of the issue

Back2Basics – Article 239AA

  • Delhi, although a union territory, is not administered by the president acting through the LG under Article 239.
  • It is administered under Article 239 AA. Article 239 AA was incorporated in the Constitution in 1992. It creates a “special” constitutional set up for Delhi.
  • It has provisions for popularly elected assembly, a council of ministers responsible to the assembly and a certain demarcation of responsibilities between the LG and the council of ministers.
  • As per Article 239 AA (3) (a), the Delhi assembly can legislate on all those matters listed in the State List and Concurrent List as are applicable to union territories. The public order, police and land are reserved for the LG.
  • This special set up worked well mainly because the same party held office at the Centre as well as in Delhi for much of the time. Things changed when different government ruled the city and the centre.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ENVIRONMENT

 

1. Wasted effort: half of India’s waste-to-energy plants defunct

Context

  • Nearly half of India’s waste-to-energy (WTE) plants, meant to convert non-biodegradable waste, are defunct. Further, the country’s inability to segregate waste has resulted in even the existing plants working below capacity, says an analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment.

Details of the India’s WTE plants

  • Since 1987, 15 WTE plants have been set up across the country. However, seven of these plants have shut down.
  • Apart from Delhi, these include plants at Kanpur, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Vijayawada and Karimnagar.
  • The key reasons for closure are the plants’ inability to handle mixed solid waste and the high cost of electricity generated by them that renders it unattractive to power companies.
  • However, this has not stopped the government from betting big on WTE. The NITI Aayog, as part of the Swachh Bharat Mission, envisages 800 megawatt from WTE plants by 2018-19, which is 10 times the capacity of all the existing WTE plants put together.
  • It also proposes setting up a Waste-to-Energy Corporation of India, which would construct incineration plants through PPP models. Currently, there are 40-odd WTE plants at various stages of construction.
  • The fundamental reason (for the inefficiency of these plants) is the quality and composition of waste. MSW (municipal solid waste) in India has low calorific value and high moisture content. As most wastes sent to the WTE plants are unsegregated, they also have high inert content. These wastes are just not suitable for burning in these plants. To burn them, additional fuel is required which makes these plants expensive to run
  • About 1.43 lakh tonnes per day (TPD) of municipal solid waste (MSW) is generated across the country. Of this, 1.11 lakh TPD (77.6%) is collected and 35,602 TPD (24.8%) processed.
  • In addition, India generates close to 25,940 TPD of plastic waste of which 15,342 remains uncollected, according to the Central Pollution Control Board.
  • As per the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, MSW generation will reach 4.5 lakh TPD by 2031 and 11.9 lakh TPD by 2050.
  • The WTEs have also triggered widespread opprobrium among citizens. For instance, there has been a continuous protest against the Okhla WTE plant for polluting the environment. In 2016, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) slapped environmental compensation fine of ₹25 lakh on the plant.
  • Moreover, the plants are expensive because they produce power at nearly ₹7 per unit, which is more than the ₹3-5 offered by thermal as well as solar sources.

Related Concept – Solid Waste Management

Solid waste encompasses the following waste components:

  • Construction and demolition waste – wastes generated in construction of new buildings, renovation and demolition work.
  • Plastic waste– includes polythene bags, plastic bottles etc
  • Biomedical waste – wastes involved in diagnosis, treatment and immunization such as human and animal anatomical waste, treatment apparatus such as needles and syringes and cytotoxic drugs.
  • Hazardous waste– wastes that cause immediate danger to exposed individuals or environment.
  • E-waste – includes discarded computer monitors, motherboards, cathode ray tubes (CRTs), printed circuit board (PCB), mobile phones and chargers, compact discs, headphones etc.

Solid Waste Management

  • It is a term that is used to refer to the process of collecting and treating solid wastes. It also includes solutions for recycling items that do not belong to garbage or trash.

Issues and Challenges in India’s SWM

  • With rapid urbanisation, there is substantial increase in solid waste generation which has strained the Solid Waste Management System
  • Most Urban local bodies in India struggle to provide efficient waste management services due to financial problems, lack of infrastructure and technology
  • Though solid waste management rules mandate source segregation of wastes, it has largely not been followed. Due to improper segregation of waste, much of recyclability of waste is lost.
  • Most of the municipal authorities deposit solid waste at open dump sites without any leachates treatment. These sites emanate foul smell and is breeding grounds for pests and insects causing disease. Liquid seeping out of waste pollutes groundwater and poses a serious threat to health and environment. Further, these landfill sites are also responsible for air pollution.
  • Most of the funds for solid waste management is allotted to collection and transportation, with very less left for processing or resource recovery and disposal. Also many waste-to-energy plants are non-operational.
  • The waste management sector in India is constituted primarily of the informal workers who come from the urban poor. The rag pickers, who are instrumental in waste recycling, are highly vulnerable to health damages owing to poor work conditions.
  • Apathy on the part of management and also poor community participation is a major constraint in solid waste management in India

Category: INTERNAL SECURITY

 

1. 37 CRPF men killed in J&K suicide attack

Context

  • At least 37 CRPF personnel were killed on February 14th when a convoy in which they were travelling was attacked by a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) suicide bomber, who rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into one of the convoy’s buses near Awantipora on the -Jammu Highway.
  • The bombing in the Lethpora area of Pulwama district also left at least eight jawans critically injured and was the deadliest attack in terms of casualties in the last three decades of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The attack raises questions over security on the national highway, which is patrolled three agencies — the local police, the CRPF and Army — on a daily basis
  • Immediately after the attack, the JeM claimed responsibility and released a picture of its local operative who had carried out the attack. He was identified as Adil Ahmad Dar alias ‘Waqas Commando’, a resident of Pulwama’s Kakapora. According to the police, Dar joined the outfit in 2018 and was a Class 10 dropout.

Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)

  • CRPF is the largest of India’s Central Armed Police Forces. It functions under the aegis of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) of the Government of India.
  • The CRPF’s primary role lies in assisting the State/Union Territories in police operations to maintain law and order and counter insurgency.
  • It came into existence as the Crown Representative’s Police on 27 July 1939. After Indian Independence, it became the Central Reserve Police Force on enactment of the CRPF Act on 28 December 1949.
  • Besides law and order and counter-insurgency duties, the CRPF has played an increasingly large role in India’s general elections. This is especially true for the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar and in the North East, with the presence of unrest and often violent conflict.
  • During the Parliamentary elections of September 1999, the CRPF played a major role in the security arrangements. Of late, CRPF contingents are also being deployed in UN missions.
  • With 239 battalions and various other establishments, the CRPF is considered India’s largest paramilitary force and has a sanctioned strength of 313,678 personnel.

Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)

  • JeM is a Deobandi jihadist terrorist group active in Kashmir. The group’s primary motive is to separate Kashmir from India and merge it into Pakistan.
  • It has carried out several attacks primarily in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It also maintained close relations with Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and continues to be allied to them.
  • Jaish-e-Mohammed is viewed as the “deadliest” and “the principal terrorist organisation in Jammu and Kashmir”.
  • In 2001, 38 people were killed when a three-member JeM squad blew up a car outside the J&K Assembly.
  • In 2016, Jaish was suspected of being responsible for an attack on the Pathankot airbase in India. The Indian government, and some other sources, accused Pakistan of assisting Jaish in conducting the attack. Pakistan denied assisting Jaish, and arrested several members of Jaish in connection with the attack, who were then released by the security establishment

D. GS4 Related

 Nothing here today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

 

1. Auditor’s account

Larger Background:

Article 148 – Comptroller and Auditor-General of India

  • There shall be a Comptroller and Auditor-General of India who shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal and shall only be removed from office in like manner and on like grounds as a Judge of the Supreme Court.
  • Every person appointed to be the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India shall, before he enters upon his office, make and subscribe before the President or some person appointed in that behalf by him, an oath or affirmation according to the form set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule.
  • The salary and other conditions of service of the Comptroller and Auditor-General shall be such as may be determined by Parliament by law and, until they are so determined, shall be as specified in the Second Schedule:
  • Provided that neither the salary of a Comptroller and Auditor-General nor his rights in respect of leave of absence, pension or age of retirement shall be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment.
  • The Comptroller and Auditor-General shall not be eligible for further office either under the Government of India or under the Government of any State after he has ceased to hold his office.
  • Subject to the provisions of this Constitution and of any law made by parliament, the conditions of service of persons serving in the Indian Audit and Accounts Department and the administrative powers of the Comptroller and Auditor-General shall be such as may be prescribed by rules made by the President after consultation with the Comptroller and Auditor-General.
  • The administrative expenses of the office of the Comptroller and Auditor-General including all salaries, allowances and pensions payable to or in respect of persons serving in that office, shall be charged upon the Consolidated Fund of India.

Article 149 – Duties and Powers of the Comptroller and Auditor-General

  • The Comptroller and Auditor-General shall perform such duties and exercise such powers in relation to the accounts of the Union and of the States and of any other authority or body as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament and, until provision in that behalf is so made, shall perform such duties and exercise such powers in relation to the accounts of the Union and of the States as were conferred on or exercisable by the Auditor-General of India immediately before the commencement of this Constitution in relation to the accounts of the Dominion of India and of the provinces respectively.

Article 150 – Form of Accounts of The Union and of The States

  • The accounts of the Union and of the States shall be kept in such form as the President may, on the advice of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India, prescribe.

Article 151 – Audit Reports

  • The reports of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India relating to the accounts of the Union shall be submitted to the president, who shall cause them to be laid before each House of Parliament.
  • The reports of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India relating to the accounts of a State shall be submitted to the Governor of the State, who shall cause them to be laid before the Legislature of the State.

Article 279 – Calculation of “net proceeds”, etc.

  • (1) In the foregoing provisions of this Chapter, “net proceeds” means in relation to any tax or duty the proceeds thereof reduced by the cost of collection, and for the purposes of those provisions the net proceeds of any tax or duty, or of any part of any tax or duty, in or attributable to any area shall be ascertained and certified by the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India, whose certificate shall be final.
  • (2) Subject as aforesaid, and to any other express provision of this Chapter, a law made by Parliament or an order of the President may, in any case where under this Part the proceeds of any duty or tax are, or may be, assigned to any State, provide for the manner in which the proceeds are to be calculated, for the time from or at which and the manner in which any payments are to be made, for the making of adjustments between one financial year and another, and for any other incidental or ancillary matters.

Editorial Analysis:

  • Experts point out that the price-redacted audit report on the process to acquire 36 Rafale fighter jets is unlikely to bring closure to the controversy over the deal.
  • It is important to note that the recent report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India tabled in Parliament comes in the midst of a vigorous campaign by the Opposition that is questioning the process, based on media revelations about possible lapses and deviations and significant points raised by dissenting members of the Indian Negotiating Team (INT).
  • Experts have opined that the present Government at the Center can draw comfort from the fact that the CAG report concludes that the 2016 agreement is slightly better in terms of both pricing and delivery than what was under negotiation in 2007 during the UPA regime. However, the report does not allay all doubts.
  • Pegged at 2.86%, the price advantage in the contract over the 2007 offer is marginal.
  • As a matter of fact, it is a far cry from the 9% saving claimed by the government.
  • The delivery schedule is only one month sooner than the estimated outer limit in the earlier process.
  • Further, the CAG has found fault with Dassault Aviation being allowed to retain the gains made by the absence of a bank guarantee, which, if executed, would have come with significant charges.
  • Disappointingly, the CAG has not quantified this amount, though it declares that it should have been passed on to the Defence Ministry.
  • It is important to note that the 2007 price offered by Dassault included bank charges, and its absence in the 2016 contract is a clear benefit to the company. In other words, the ‘advantage’ is lower than the 2.86%.

Concluding Remarks:

  • Experts have pointed out that while the key question of pricing is sought to be resolved by the CAG by comparing the auditors’ aligned price with the INT’s computation, some issues remain unaddressed.
  • The original issue of bringing down the total acquisition from 126 to 36 aircraft does not draw much comment.
  • Also, the huge outgo on the India-Specific Enhancements (ISEs), despite the final figure being projected as a 17% saving on the aligned offer, is something that requires deeper examination.
  • While auditing the earlier process, the CAG found that ISEs were upgrades allowed to be made so that Dassault’s bid would be compliant with qualitative requirements.
  • As a matter of fact, even a team of Ministry officials that examined in March 2015 the integrity of the earlier process concluded that “the acceptance of [Dassault’s] additional commercial proposal after bid submission date… was unprecedented and against the canons of financial propriety.”
  • Dassault was not the lowest bidder in the earlier process, and its technical bid had been rejected.
  • Some experts opine that perhaps, this presented an opportunity to the present regime to reopen the entire process to buy Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) and invite fresh bids. However, it chose the IGA route with France, possibly for diplomatic reasons.
  • In conclusion, the CAG identifies as a major problem the fact that the technical requirements are too narrowly defined for most vendors to comply with. The message from the report is that defence acquisition processes require reforms and streamlining.
 

2. Stress points of democracy

Editorial Analysis:

  • Some experts have pointed out that the times we live in are difficult and unsettling.
  • As a matter of fact, it is not the complexity of issues that confront the world as much as the steady undermining of institutional and knowledge structures that are posing a threat to the world.
  • Across the world, democracy is in obvious retreat, with authoritarian tendencies on the ascendant. Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan are constantly projected as the faces of authoritarianism, but many democratic leaders reveal a similar authoritarian streak, which adds to democracy’s woes.
  • Currently, it may be too early to predict the demise of democracy, but the reality is that it is not a good time for democratic institutions, or for those who see democracy as the answer to the world’s problems.

Examples everywhere:

  • Several examples exist worldwide on how decisions today are handed down, rather than being the outcome of discussion and debate.
  • Even hallowed international institutions such as the World Bank are facing the heat today for not conforming to the prescriptions of certain powerful members.
  • At the same time, there are enough examples of democracy going awry. Brexit, and the Brexit debate, in the U.K. and Europe is a good example.
  • The U.S., which prides itself as a leading democracy, is setting a bad example today. Under President Donald Trump, arbitrary decision-making has replaced informed debate. His bitter verbal attack against what he calls a “ridiculous partisan” investigation against him is an indication.
  • Another is his determination to build a wall to keep out Mexican immigrants, even risking an extended shutdown of the U.S. government.
  • The decision of the U.S. to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty — a key pact signed in 1987, and hailed as the centrepiece of European security since the Cold War — without a detailed internal discussion appears to be setting the stage for Cold War 2.0.
  • It is, however, the ignoring of democratic conventions nearer home that are cause for greater concern. In a pluralistic, multi-party federal system, disdain for democratic conventions and the violation of well-entrenched behavioural patterns are causing irreversible damage to the polity.

Federal fallout:

  • Currently, we are witnessing bitter exchanges between the Prime Minister and some Chief Ministers which involve accusations such as fomenting riots and running extortion rackets.
  • This damages the fabric of democracy.
  • Centre-State relations are already under strain, and face the threat of still greater disruption.
  • Selective interpretation of information is a fallout of such situations. Those in authority deem all information not acceptable to them as nothing but disinformation.
  • Further, those opposed to the government, on the other hand, insist that the government suffers from a lack of probity.
  • The current exchanges between the ruling dispensation and the Opposition over the purchase of Rafale aircraft are an example.
  • Unfortunately, the casualty is truth, and the veracity of official facts and statistics.
  • Many instances of this kind can be quoted, but one specific instance that has caught the fancy of the public is the current debate on jobs and unemployment.

A Closer Look:

  • The Central government has effectively rejected a report by the well-regarded National Sample Survey Office — which showed that unemployment in 2017-18 was at a 45-year high — without giving any valid reason for doing so.
  • The government’s only reasoning for rejecting the report is that it is a ‘draft’, which has only added to existing doubts about its real intentions.
  • Similarly, doubts are being raised about the validity of the government’s revised GDP estimates.
  • Breaches of democratic conventions are adding to the already existing disquiet.
  • It is important to note that adherence to democratic norms has for long been perceived as crucial to maintaining the independence of institutions and processes.
  • An impression exists today that attempts are being made to effect changes in the existing system.
  • As a matter of fact, two instances during the past year when the government breached long-held conventions have raised questions about the intentions of those in authority.
  1. One was the issue concerning the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), and a perceived attempt to reduce its functional independence, to compel it to fall in line with the views of the government. The resignation of the RBI Governor put a temporary quietus to these concerns, but it is widely believed that the RBI has been brought into line with the government’s wishes.
  2. The second instance relates to the Interim Budget in an election year.
    Some experts point out that the Interim Budget announced on the eve of the 2019 general election clearly breaches certain long-settled conventions, by including many substantial measures that ordinarily would form part of a regular Budget. Some sections argue that the intention is plain, viz. build more support for the ruling dispensation in an election year.

Collapse of the CBI:

  • Alongside the decline in democratic conventions, another cause for concern is the virtual collapse of key institutions such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
  • Touted as India’s premier investigation agency, its reputation has of late suffered a near mortal blow, mainly on account of internecine quarrels, as also external interference in its internal affairs.
  • Created out of the Delhi Special Police Establishment in 1963, a brainchild of then-Home Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, the agency was earlier headed by persons with impeccable integrity and ability.
  • It had also adhered previously to the salutary principle of not carrying out arrests, except in the most exceptional of circumstances. Over time, the quality of the CBI leadership and the tribe of proven investigators has witnessed a decline, which has impacted the image of the organisation.
  • The choice of Director of the CBI, following the Vineet Narain case, by a committee headed by the Prime Minister, with the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of Opposition as the other members, has hardly helped the CBI maintain a reputation for independence.
  • As a matter of fact, the recent unsavoury drama, which witnessed friction between the Director and his No. 2, reflects the lack of institutional culture in the organisation.
  • Compounding the situation arising from the lack of trained and competent investigators is the fact that supervisory officers, who come and go, are most often not in a position to provide proper guidance to investigating officers.
  • Some experts point out that at times, they also tend to tinker with the investigation reports sent to them, to reject the findings of investigating officers.

A changing work culture:

  • What is worse is that while earlier the CBI used to carry out arrests of so-called accused persons only as a measure of last resort, today it is overturning this on its head.
  • Unfortunately, as its investigating officers’ skills have declined, it is increasingly resorting to peremptory arrests, often on very slender evidence, in anticipation of securing approvers to build, or strengthen, a case.
  • Lastly, it is important to note that the law generally disapproves of approver evidence, but this has become the stock in trade of the CBI.
  • In many instances, the CBI has also been resorting to pressure tactics while questioning individuals, even when they are not accused persons, setting aside legal niceties and requirements.
  • In a few instances recently, the CBI has even resorted to intimidatory tactics, taking recourse to a battery of investigators to question a witness, let alone an accused, in the hope of securing useful leads.
  • It is important to note that the recent incident where a posse of CBI personnel went to question the Kolkata Police Commissioner at his residence late in the evening, though he was only a witness, reflects the changing mores of the CBI.
  • Some experts point out that this should be a matter of concern for one and all.

Category: ECONOMY

 

1. Is the unemployment crisis for real?

Larger Background:

Context:

This is an analysis-based article which presents different perspectives to the reader on the Unemployment Crisis that India is currently facing. UPSC aspirants would benefit from these points as they can use much of this content to present answers on the topic in case it is asked in the UPSC Mains Examination, be it as a part of the General Studies- III paper or the Essay paper.

Editorial Analysis:

Analysis- I:

The points mentioned here, take the view that employment opportunities, formal jobs and the labour force are all shrinking.

  • The jobs situation in India does not reflect a crisis, but it is a matter of serious concern.
  • A crisis is understood as an emergency that demands immediate attention, without which we could see a calamity of sorts. There is no immediate calamity of any kind on hand.
  • However, having said this, there is a deeply insidious problem at work in the form of shrinking employment opportunities, shrinking formal jobs, and a shrinking labour force.
  • It is important to note that a populous and demographically young country like India has a lot to gain if the expanding working-age population can join the labour force and be provided with gainful employment.
  • In essence, more hands at work can ensure greater prosperity and relatively evenly spread growth.

Problems of unemployment:

  • But if India cannot provide employment to its growing working-age population, it does not just miss a chance to become a prosperous country, but also risks becoming an unmanageable or unruly country.
  • It is important to note that unemployed youth, beyond a threshold, can lose hope of a job and can easily stray into becoming unsocial elements.
  • A bigger problem is that those who do get jobs and prosper do not appreciate the plight of those who do not.
  • It is mistakenly believed that those who do not get good jobs are not worthy of getting them. The blame is placed at the door of the unemployed as if it is entirely their problem.
  • Critics point out that the macro-economic and social dimension of the problem is not appreciated in India.
  • It is important to note that statistics give us clues of the brewing problem and its insidious nature. First, we are in the midst of a serious investments deficit.
  • CMIE’s CapEx database demonstrates the persistent fall in new investment proposals since 2011-12. New investment proposals had peaked at Rs. 25 trillion in 2010-11.
  • In 2017-18, these were down to Rs. 11 trillion, and in 2018-19, these are unlikely to cross Rs. 10 trillion.
  • It is important to note that the impact of this fall in investments is visible in shrinking jobs.
  • In a point-to-point comparison, in 2018, the number of persons employed declined by 11 million.
  • An estimated 408 million people were employed in December 2017. This fell to 397 million in December 2018. The average employment in 2017 was 406.5 million. This fell to an average of 402.1 million in 2018. This shows a smaller fall of 4.5 million. Either way, we see a very substantial fall in employment. One (11 million) is only much worse than a fairly bad fall of 4.5 million, or 10%.
    A Perspective on Labour participation rate:
  • This fall in jobs is not translating into a proportionate rise in unemployment. But it is showing up in a fall in the labour participation rate.
  • A rise in unemployment is bad, but a fall in the labour participation rate is worse.
  • The former reflects a shortage of jobs compared to the number of people looking for jobs. The latter reflects a fall in the number of people looking for jobs.
  • When we juxtapose this against falling jobs, we see a glimpse of the hopelessness of people who should be looking for jobs.
    The crisis is the response:
  • Some experts point out that our real crisis is in the nature of the government’s response to the situation.
  • Lastly, critics point out that when the establishment works hard to rubbish sound statistical practices and results of large sample household surveys and instead uses back-of-the-envelope calculations to measure employment, we are headed towards a bigger crisis than the jobs crisis.

Analysis- II:

The points mentioned here, take the view that the methodology used in the surveys is questionable. What India currently has is a wage problem.

  • Experts opine that the furore around the unemployment issue is ill-founded.
  • Most of the analysis is based on incomplete representations of the labour market.
  • Further, the recent surveys that profess spiralling unemployment are either unverifiable or heavily skewed by sampling biases.
  • This narrative raises questions on the political motivations behind these surveys that may intend to change the perception of India’s growth trajectory, nationally and globally.

What the surveys ignore:

  • CMIE claimed that the total working population in India declined by 11 million (1.1 crore) in 2018.
  • Some experts have opined that these preliminary estimates seem opportunistically quoted by the think tank two months ahead of schedule.
  • CMIE has considered a minuscule sample of 1,40,000 respondents for a nation of more than 1.3 billion citizens.
  • With regards to the leaked excerpts of the National Sample Survey Office survey, the public has been unduly kept in the dark about the methodology used to compute the claimed 6.1% unemployment rate.
  • Estimating a macro profile of employment for the country based on a survey of even 2 million participants is not statistically valid without a study of the various components of job creation.
  • Such surveys have biased weights which have recently been contradicted by more concrete research.
  • These surveys give higher weight to States with large populations but where less formal jobs are being created.
  • There is a higher supply of formal jobs in Maharashtra and in south India than in States like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
  • Another trend which was noticed was that jobs were being created in big cities. However, it is important to note that cities carry less weight in the aforementioned surveys.
  • A company called BetterPlace Safety Solutions, which has one of the deepest databases of the formal sector workforce in India, had recently released these revelatory migration trends. Until such biases are removed using actual data, we must reserve judgment.

Creation of formal jobs:

  • India has been creating formal jobs in large numbers. Further, deliberations based on other proxy databases like vehicle sales, the annual reports of the IT department, and MUDRA loan disbursals help ascertain jobs in large job-creating markets like transport, the professional sector, and small-scale entrepreneurship, respectively.
  • This provides us with a robust methodology of ascertaining employment.
  • We have estimated that India requires around 1.5 crore jobs a year.
  • This is because it has got about 2.5 crore people attaining the age of 21 every year.
  • We estimate that 40% of this population may not want formal jobs, as they choose agriculture or become homemakers after marriage.
  • The social security databases point to around 70 lakh jobs created annually (in companies with over 20 employees), the transport sector creates around 30-35 lakh jobs, and the professional sector creates around 6-10 lakh jobs. That’s 1.1 crore jobs from just three sources.
  • The rest (30-40 lakh jobs) is contributed by people starting their own ventures.
  • India has not improved on its Ease of Doing Business ranking for nothing, and this sector is expected to generate more employment with support from initiatives like Make in India.
  • Today, if you talk to employers like shopkeepers and small and large firms, they will tell you that they are not finding enough employees.
  • This means that there are not enough skilled people in the market.
  • Lastly, India has a wage problem and not a job problem.
  • This problem can only be solved by creating higher-quality jobs to meet aspirations.

Analysis- III:

The points mentioned here, take the view that the issue that is more pressing than unemployment is underemployment.

  • Work is fundamental in determining one’s quality of life.
  • Indians rely on their jobs to earn a living, to fulfil family obligations, and to satisfy the aspirations that motivate them daily.
  • Yet jobs that are productive, with fair pay, and that allow citizens to live healthy lives are scarce, and are becoming even more so.

Waiting for a good job:

  • Leaked data from the National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO) latest labour force survey suggests that unemployment rose to an all-time high of 6.1% last year (2018).
  • This is, no doubt, a worrying trend.
  • Yet the rise in unemployment can largely be explained by the fact that more young people are obtaining an education.
  • It is important to note that with education comes the expectation of a ‘better’ job. Those who can afford education also tend to be in a position to wait for a job that meets their requirements.
  • Those who are not as financially fortunate must find the means to make a living, however poor in quality the work may be.
  • The data show that unemployment is higher among the educated, and lower among those with less financial means and education.
  • The need to work to make ends meet also fuels India’s large informal economy.
  • Over 90% of the employed (farm and non-farm) are informal workers. In the non-farm sector, 66% of those employed are informal workers. The informal economy is characterised by low levels of productivity and low wages because many of these workers are underemployed.
  • The urgent crisis confronting the economy, then, is underemployment.

Perspective on Underemployment:

  • Underemployment occurs when workers are unable to find employment that makes use of their qualifications and skills.
  • For instance, an engineer might be working in a mechanic shop.
  • Underemployment and/or refers to the sharing of low-productivity work, as is common in agriculture, for example. Or picture a 16-year-old who spends his mornings selling just enough coconuts to make the bare minimum to survive. And these are just examples of visible underemployment.
  • Persistent underemployment also contributes to the decline in labour force participation rates. As people grow frustrated with their inability to find a good job, they may stop looking for work and drop out of the labour force altogether.
  • Data from the leaked NSSO labour force survey suggest that the labour force participation rate declined to 49.8% in 2017-18 from 55.9% in 2011-12.
  • Both underemployment and this form of discouragement are a significant loss of productive potential. This is particularly troubling when it pertains to India’s large and growing youth population.
  • It is important to note that pathways to productive and high-quality employment are essential to deliver better living standards to citizens, but also for sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
    Three-pronged strategy:
  • An important question arises: How can we address the problem? Addressing the underemployment crisis entails a three-pronged strategy.
  • First, we must improve the quality of jobs by improving productivity in agriculture and in enterprises.
  • Second, we must align education, technical and vocational education and training to market demand.
  • Third, we must make enduring and long-term investments in human capital through good-quality education, skills, and on-the-job training, as well as in basic social protection.
  • Recent data do suggest that there is rising unemployment. But perhaps the larger and arguably more pressing challenge is underemployment.
 

F. Tidbits

 

1. God’s Own Country gets back visitors after deluge of issues

Context

  • Travel curbs imposed following the outbreak of the Nipah virus, the devastating August deluge, and the frequent hartals on the Sabarimala controversy badly affected tourism in Kerala in 2018. Tourist arrivals went up only by 9.35 lakh, registering a growth rate of 5.93%.

Details of the issue

The tourist footfall to Kerala, including foreign and domestic, during the January-December period in 2018 was 167 lakh. The number of international tourists who visited Kerala was 10,96,407, an increase by 0.42%, compared to the 10,91,870 in 2017, as per the figures released by Kerala Tourism.

  • Minister for Tourism Kadakampally Surendran said, “It is significant that the number of tourists who visited Kerala almost touched half the State’s total population. This impressive growth has been achieved despite adverse factors.”
 

2. Panel moots minimum wage of ₹375 per day

  • An expert panel has recommended that a need-based national minimum wage for workers across the country be set at ₹375 per day, or ₹9,750 per month.
  • In a report submitted to the Ministry of Labour and Employment, an Expert Committee on Determining the Methodology for Fixation of the National Minimum Wage has also recommended different national minimum wages for “different geographical regions of the country to suit the local realities and as per socio-economic and labour market contexts.”
  • These regional wage recommendations range from ₹342 per day in some States including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal to ₹447/day for States such as Delhi, Goa, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.
  • While the Minimum Wages Act was enacted in 1948, it stipulates different wages according to occupation and State; there is no national minimum wage. In 2016, then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley hiked minimum wages for unskilled non-agricultural workers by 42% to ₹350 per day.
  • The Code on Wages Bill, 2017, had proposed a national minimum wage and five regional minimum wages. However, it was referred to a parliamentary standing committee which, in its December 2018 report, said State governments must be consulted before any national minimum wage is set by the Centre.
 

G. Prelims Facts

   Nothing here today!!!

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Question 1.Consider the following statements about United Nations Human Rights Council:
  1. It is a non-governmental body within the United Nations system
  2. The Human Rights Council replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights
  3. The Council was created by the United Nations General Assembly in March 2000

Which of the above statement(s) is/are correct?

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2
  3. Only 3
  4. Only 1 and 3

See

Answer
Question 2. Which of the following statements given below is/ are correct about Common 
Risk Mitigation Mechanism?
  1. It is under the International Solar Alliance.
  2. It will act as a pooled insurance with limited liability
  3. Banks and multi-lateral institutions can contribute to the fund for a marginal premium

Select the correct answer using the codes below:

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. All of the above

See

Answer
Question 3. Which nations from the following list – comprising of members of SAARC – are also 
members of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation 
(BIMSTEC)?
  1. Bangladesh
  2. Bhutan
  3. Nepal
  4. Sri Lanka
  5. Maldives
  6. Afghanistan
  7. Pakistan

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  1. Only 4 and 5
  2. Only 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7
  3. Only 1, 4 and 5
  4. Only 1, 2, 3 and 4

See

Answer
 

I. UPSC Mains practice Questions

  1. February 2019 marks the 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, one of the major events of the 20th century and a momentous development in the modern history of Islam. In this context, discuss the impact of the Iranian revolution with special emphasis on the dissatisfaction of the current demography of Iran. (12.5 Marks; 200 words)
  2. Despite some solid legislative accomplishments—from the goods and services tax (GST), which is slowly improving tax compliance, to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, which is bringing crony capital to heel—there is not much progress in one critical area of corruption: corporate funding of political parties. Examine the statement. (12.5 Marks; 200 words)

See previous CNA

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