Arresting the drift

(The Hindu)

Breaking the glass ceiling in economics

(Live Mint)

Arresting the drift

(The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on issue of India- Russia latest developments.

(GS paper II)

Overview

 

  • From the past 70 years since Independence, Russia has been a time-tested ally of India. Since the Soviet era, both countries have shared such amicable relations that the U.S. and its allies often registered their suspicions about India being a part of the Soviet camp during the Cold War, despite New Delhi’s affirmations that it was a leader of the Non-Aligned Movement.

 

  • Although India has traditionally sought to maintain a delicate balance between superpowers and refrained from groupism for its own advantage, but in recent years this position appears to have shifted in favour of finding new allies, based on India’s self-perception as an emerging power in the global system and its calculations about the changing alignments of power across the world.

 

Assessment

 

  • The changing alignments of power across the world had fuelled India’s interest in joining the Quad. In parallel to these creeping changes, India’s traditional equations with Russia have shifted, and Russia’s interest in getting closer to Pakistan and China has grown.

 

  • Indeed Russia-Pakistan relations seem to be on an upward trajectory, with Russia signalling its support for Pakistan’s candidature to the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Joint military exercises between Russia and Pakistan, of the kind held in October 2017, are another major concern for India, given the long history of India-Russia defence ties and the depth of mutual trust that it has engendered between the two militaries.

 

Recent issues

 

  • The latest developments raise some questions like- What are the risks of allowing a historically close bilateral relationship with Moscow to become a relatively lower priority? And Can India ever hope to attain the same level of trust with any another ally?

 

  • The answers to both questions seem to be in the negative, namely that the risks are high and the odds of “replacing” Russian support quite low, at least for now. In line with this reasoning, the biggest fear in India’s foreign policy circles is that the ongoing shift in equations with Russia could lead to Russia drifting away from India.

 

  • The immediate concern regarding this drift is that a Russia-China-Pakistan trilateral could emerge if India doesn’t play its cards well. It is easy to imagine that both China and Pakistan would be eager to support such an alliance as it could arrest India’s strategic momentum in the region and globally. 

 

Way ahead

 

  • Russia’s new Ambassador to India has taken charge at this critical juncture, a tough time for bilateral ties yet a positive opportunity to broaden areas of cooperation. If people-to-people contact between the two countries is promoted more, it could help ensure deeper linkages and fortify past associations.
  • In sum, the risks of Moscow drifting away from New Delhi’s strategic sphere, into the arms of regional rivals, are high. The quickest remedy is to reengage with Russia with the specific aim of demonstrating that it is still an important friend of India.

 

Question- Explain why India needs to re-engage with its ally Russia, which is getting closer to China and Pakistan?

Breaking the glass ceiling in economics

(Live Mint)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of disequilibrium deep inside the economics profession.

(GS paper II)

Overview

 

  • There is disequilibrium deep inside the economics profession, which can be seen through various examples like- Elinor Ostrom is the only woman to have won the economics Nobel Prize since it was instituted in 1969. As many as 78 men have won the prize. The skew is only one example of a problem that has profound implications for society as a whole.

 

Assessment

 

 

  • The problem is not limited to public recognition. In the 2013 paper, Ann Mari May, Mary G. McGarvey and Robert Whaples found that their survey of 143 doctorate-holding members of the American Economic Association showed women economists more likely than their male counterparts to agree with the need for a more equitable distribution of income and linking import openness to labour standards.

 

 

 

  • They were also more likely to disagree that the US government has unnecessary control over economic activity and that men and women have equal opportunities. With the help of experiments involving dictator games where a group of 164 undergraduate students were asked to divide a sum of money between themselves and the American Red Cross. In the paper, Altruism In Individual And Joint-Giving Decisions: What’s Gender Got To Do With It? It was found that women tend to give more money than men. Therefore, an underrepresentation of women in economics and the policy world has profound implications for all of us.

 

 

  • The question is why economics as a discipline is not very accommodative of women, if one goes beyond the crude explanation that men have a biological advantage in mathematics. Various studies have shown that economics has a persistent gender gap in promotion and salaries that cannot be explained by productivity differences. This problem of sexism is a threefold barbed-wire mesh keeping women from a level playing field with men.

 

Problems

 

  • First is the problem of opportunity. In the research it was found that the review process for papers submitted by women to Econometrica, a leading journal, takes six months longer than men’s despite controlling for childbirth and motherhood, factors that take away time from writing.

 

  • Second is the problem of sustenance, it was found that women dominate the undergraduate population. But, in the US, there are 2.9 men for every woman majoring in economics; 2.6 in Britain. The share of women choosing economics is falling. Women who earn a graduate degree in economics go into PhD programmes at the same rate as men and drop out at the same rate. But when they go on to seek tenure, they’re either pulled aside or pushed away; women have to face thicker glass ceilings.

 

  • Third is the problem of representation, according to an article in ‘The Economist’, the faculty of the economics department at Harvard boasts of 43 senior economists, and only three are women. Moreover, women spend their maternity leaves in childcare at crucial stages in their careers, whereas men use the sabbatical/parental leave to work on their research, un-distracted. Women are considered good fits only for stereotypical gender-sensitive areas, for example education and health.

 

In India

 

  • Most of the work done on the discrimination against women in economics has been done in the developed countries. It is also important to turn the spotlight on India. There is no data as yet to come to any firm conclusions about institutionalized discrimination, but one good way to begin is by ensuring that some stellar Indian women economists get more recognition for their contributions to our understanding of theoretical economics as well as Indian realities.

 

  • Few know that Padma Desai, whom Paul Samuelson described as an economists’ economist, jointly wrote the landmark 1969 study with Jagdish Bhagwati that was one of the first intellectual assaults on industrial licensing. Among the later generation of women economists are, for example, Gita Gopinath, Rohini Pande, Shamika Ravi, Ashima Goyal, Reetika Khera and Bina Agarwal. India needs more such women economists in academia and policy institutions.

 

Question Do women economists in India face institutional barriers? Suggest measures to address the problem.