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1.Should India have simultaneous elections? (The Hindu)

2.Robotic revolution: derailing the jobs (The Hindu)

1.Should India have simultaneous elections?

(The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue diverse viewpoint regarding simultaneous elections. (GS paper II)

Overview

 

  • The Election Commission of India superintend, direct and control of the entire process for conduct of elections to Parliament and Legislature of every State and to the offices of President and Vice-President of India.  There are frequent elections in one or more states and if the elections to the local bodies are included there is no year without some elections taking place. 

 

  • To end this vicious cycle of elections, the debate on the proposal of simultaneous elections is heading up.

 

Diverse views

In favor

 

  • Free and fair elections are integral to democracy. Continuity, consistency and governance are also integral to democracy. To achieve good governance, elections are held. But if the means (elections) become the goal, this will not serve democracy well. Holding simultaneous elections will ensure consistency, continuity and governance, and elections then will only be the means to achieve this and not an end in themselves.

 

  • Implementing simultaneous polls would require a substantial shift from the status quo and would involve amendments to the Constitution and election-related laws. There are stumbling blocks in the current system of holding elections. In terms of governance and implementation of development programmes, enforcing the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is detrimental. 
  • As the government is preoccupied with local body elections and Assembly elections throughout the year, there is no time for developmental work. Simultaneous elections can also be a means to curb corruption and build a more conducive socio-economic ecosystem. While the Election Commission’s efforts to curb illicit finances are laudable, elections continue to be a conduit for black money and corruption.
  • Frequent electoral cycles disrupt normal public life by impacting the delivery of essential services. They also provide opportunities to unscrupulous elements to create tears in the social fabric of society.
  • Holding simultaneous elections is not merely about elections; it is about stable governance. Such a sensitive and far-reaching reform requires unanimous support from all political parties. Parliamentary Committee reports have proposed implementable roadmaps for simultaneous elections.

Against

 

  • The proposal to convert elections into a disciplined affair with a grand idea of simultaneous elections cannot be welcomed; the argument that the staggered cycle puts policymakers at a disadvantage because of the constraints of the code of conduct, emerges mainly because parties and governments fail to arrive at a consensus on the scope of the code of conduct and the meaning of what constitutes policymaking and what constitutes distribution of patronage.

 

 

  • If the system of simultaneous elections are enforced, then there will be need to curtail the legislature’s power to unseat a government. It would be mandatory to have a ‘constructive vote of no-confidence’. This means that no opposition party would be able to table a no-confidence motion unless it has the capacity to also simultaneously form a new government. The fundamental instrument of the no-confidence motion would thus be effectively taken away. Instead, the life of the legislature would depend on the cycle of a fixed term.

 

  • The proposed elections can make democratic government sacrificed at the altar of simultaneous elections and at the State level at least, the President would carry on the government for the remainder of the period or the new legislature shall have only a truncated term instead of the full five-year term. So, States would be penalised if the legislature is unable to produce a majority government.

Complicated

  • The reasons for advocating simultaneous elections are exorbitant expenditure and the repeated dislocation of administrative machinery on election duty throughout the year, there are some reasons that elections have unfortunately become the root cause of corruption. When we are in constant election mode, we are also in permanent corruption mode. When crores are spent in elections, crores have to be collected by hook or by crook.
  • The way out is to cut the role played by money in elections, and this can come about only through a ceiling on political party expenditure. The other aspect is the state funding of elections. Besides, elections have become too divisive. Communal riots and caste disturbances are deliberately created around election time to ensure polarisation of communities for electoral gains.
  • Arguments against the holding of simultaneous elections are equally convincing: this goes against the spirit of the Constitution and against the spirit of federalism. Besides, there is a practical difficulty.  But even if simultaneous elections are called for, the Constitution has provided for a five-year term. In order to bring about uniform elections, we have to increase or decrease the term of Parliament and State Assemblies.
  • As regard to logistical and administrative feasibility, simultaneous elections would be most convenient for the Election Commission. Since voters, polling personnel, and polling booths are all the same, it does not matter if the voter is casting her vote for one election or two or three.
  • Feasibility aside, there is apprehension that whenever there is a majoritarian government at the Centre, any anti-incumbency in the States is likely to get neutralised if simultaneous elections are held. All these factors have to be thought through before a consensus is worked out.

Question- Critically analyse that the India should have simultaneous elections or not?

 

Robotic revolution: derailing the jobs

(The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the implications of technological revolution on the employment generation.

(GS paper III)

Overview

 

  • A technology revolution is fast replacing human beings with machines in virtually every sector and industry in the global economy. Already, millions of workers have been permanently eliminated from the economic process, and whole work categories and job assignments have shrunk, been restructured, or disappeared.

 

  • More than 800 million human beings are now unemployed or underemployed in the world. That figure is likely to rise sharply between now and the turn of the century as millions of new entrants into the workforce find themselves without jobs.

 

Technology posing threat to employment avenues

 

  • Global unemployment has now reached its highest level since the great depression of the 1930s.

 

  • According to a recent survey by the OECD, more than 30% of Indians aged 15-29 are neither in employment nor in any training or education.

 

  • Even, All India Council for Technical Education had said that more than 60% of the eight lakh engineers graduating from technical institutions across the country every year remain unemployed.

 

  • Artificial intelligence (AI)-based technologies and robotics are penetrating all the sectors of economy (even in core industrial sectors) and subsequently taking a toll on both blue-collar and white-collar jobs.

 

  • Nobel laureate economist Wasilly Leontief warned that with the introduction of increasingly sophisticated computers, “The role of humans as the most important factor of production is bound to diminish in the same way that the role of horses in agricultural production was first diminished and then eliminated by the introduction of tractors.”

 

  • However, there is a silver lining, as once old jobs became obsolete, often new jobs evolved. Moreover, machines decreased costs and prices, boosted demand, and created more employment opportunities.

 

  • In India, for instance, as jobs started declining in farms, more productive sectors like manufacturing and services emerged.

 

Impacts on Society

 

  • The rapid elimination of work opportunities resulting from technical innovation and corporate globalisation is causing men and women everywhere to be worried about their future.

 

  • The young are beginning to vent their frustration and rage in increasingly antisocial behaviour. Older workers, caught between a prosperous past and a bleak future, seem resigned, feeling increasingly trapped by social forces over which they have little or no control.

 

  • In Europe, fear over rising unemployment is leading to widespread social unrest and the emergence of neofascist political movements.

 

  • In Japan, rising concern over unemployment is forcing the major political parties to address the jobs issue for the first time in decades. Throughout the world there is a sense of momentous change taking place – change so vast in scale that we are barely able to fathom its ultimate impact.

 

Way ahead

 

  • Though AI may not cause mass unemployment in a near term, but it will speed up the existing trend of computer-related automation, disrupting labour markets just as technological change has done before, and requiring workers to learn new skills more quickly than in the past. Hence, schemes like skill India can come handy. Government should focus on strict implementation of skill development schemes.

 

  • It is often quoted as most of our future jobs are expected to come from the services sector. Hence it is vital to impart social and communication skills along with the requisite domain expertise to ensure the creation of a market-ready workforce.

 

Question: How technological revolution along with bringing ease of business is derailing the job sector?