1.Rebooting India-Nepal ties (The Hindu)

2.Fundamental right to create jobs (Live Mint)

1.Rebooting India-Nepal ties (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on how the visit of Nepal’s prime minister can be opportunity for India to reboot its ties with Nepal. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • Nepal and India share a very unique relationship. Nepal is sandwiched between two huge states of India and China, when global geopolitics on the boil, and India’s relation with China is in free fall, it should be in India’s interest to secure its own neighbourhood through letting national politics and governance of the smaller neighbours evolve without interference.
  • Nepalese Prime Minister will begin his four-day trip to India during which he will hold wide-ranging talks with his Indian counterpart on issues of mutual interest. It is an opportunity to hit the reset button on Nepal-India relations. Such a rebooting requires a cold and hard look at how Nepal was handled over the past decade, exemplified by the impediments placed in the writing, adoption and implementation of the Constitution.

Matters need to be discussed

  • During Nepal constitutional crisis, India had extended its support to the Madhesis, ethnic people which has not gained representation in new political arrangement. Economic blockade by India has caused scarcity of essential supplies in Nepal that led to tarnished India’s image abroad, especially since it shares a special relationship with the Nepali people. This gave opportunity to China to enhance its ties with Nepal.
  • India should utilise the opportunity, two countries need to concentrate on the numerous matters that need concentration and resolution. An important issue is the open border itself, which is a unique joint heritage of the two countries. While it is Nepal’s Left that has traditionally demanded restrictions on the border, the call now rises from the Indian security establishment.
  • Nepal plains are suffering from massive floods that have also affected downstream areas across the border. Besides the spread of settlements, a prime cause for the severity is Chure or Shivalik hills that have been gouged of rocks to build elevated roads and levees just south of the border, leading to inundation in Nepal.
  • A permanent bilateral mechanism is required to save the plains population of Nepal from suffering. The India should demand for a high dam in the hills of Nepal because siltation of six decades has raised the riverbed within the levees far above the outlying tracts.
  • There are several matters that need to be discussed such as, the impact of demonetisation and the application of Goods and Services Tax on Nepal’ s economy and citizenry, border disputes pending between the two countries at Susta, Kalapani and the ‘tri-junction’ of Lipulekh, the rights of migrant Indian labour in Nepal and Nepali labour in India.
  • Nepal has long planned to sell electricity to India once it has a hydropower surplus, now that Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur transmission line has been completed it could again raise the issue, however Indian government has directed that it will not allow import of electricity other than from power companies with more than 51% Indian equity.
  • However there are few challenges like, the arbitrary blockages and go-slow at Indian Customs at border points, the selective use of quarantine for the export of Nepali agricultural produce, the increasing high-handedness of the Sashastra Seema Bal in dealing with Nepalis crossing over.

Way ahead

  • Due to political instability, over the years Nepal has lost its confidence in dealing with India. The visit will provide an opportunity to both the sides for holding wide-ranging discussions on issues of mutual interest, and advancing age old ties of friendship between our two countries. With China’s influence growing in the region, India should think strategically, while flexing its economic muscles in the neighbourhood.

Question– What are the potential for India-Nepal ties in terms India’s soft power diplomacy?

 

2.Fundamental right to create jobs (Live Mint) 

Synoptic line: It throws light on the need to grant a fundamental right to create jobs. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • Recently, Prime Minister Idea floated the idea for youth to generate employment rather than just seek jobs. He also called for a collective resolve to build a “New India” by 2022. A secure, prosperous and strong nation cannot be built without providing every able-bodied individual an opportunity to create jobs.

Job Creation

  • It appears that government initiatives on job creation are having limited impact. According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, 1.5 million jobs were lost during the first four months of 2017.
  • Simultaneously, the number of people declaring themselves unemployed fell by 9.6 million. Seasonal jobs, demonetization, underemployment, reskilling, a reduction in investment, and a shift towards entrepreneurship, are being offered as explanations.
  • If none of these is true, there is a danger of unemployed youth straying towards undesirable activities.
  • To ensure that jobs are created on a large scale, we need to treat the freedom to create jobs on a par with other freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution. There is a need to recognize that all sectors, from commercial sex services to defence manufacturing, have the potential to generate direct and indirect employment.

Right to job creation

  • Even today, close to half of the working population is engaged in agriculture, including tobacco production. Farmers have the potential to emerge as the largest direct and indirect job creators in the economy. A fundamental right to create jobs will aid in unshackling growth in key sectors like agriculture and allied activities, by repeal of restrictive policies and practices.
  • Farmers will be able to demand their rightful access to land, capital, technology, markets, inputs, skills, remunerative pricing, and the government will be bound to oblige.
  • We have seen the impact of the rural employment guarantee scheme for quite some time now. While it has been a boon in times of distress, it might have diverted agriculture entrepreneurs to other occupations. Better sustainable results could have been achieved through supporting innovation and profitability enhancement in agriculture.
  • The potential of a rural non-farm economy has also remained untapped in creating job creators. Due to lack of opportunities, the rural population is migrating to urban centres. However, if there is a fundamental right of job creation, then the divergence in delivery and quality of basic education, health and social service between urban and rural residents will be narrowed.
  • For instance, the Start up India programme is focused on information technology and related sectors, and restricted to urban centres. It should be replicated in rural areas, with a focus on the non-farm sector. If the infrastructure is in place, investments in retail will open opportunities along the agriculture value chain, including processing, packaging, warehousing and transportation.
  • Rural job creators should be involved in these plans. For every smart city, a smart village or cluster will need to be created.
  • Despite the hardships, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) continue to create more jobs than large enterprises. Without hurdles, they will gallop in this mission.
  • MSMEs cannot be treated like large enterprises they bear a disproportionately higher burden of compliance, while having fewer resources at their disposal. Government and financial institutions must realize this and treat them accordingly.

Way ahead

  • A digital economy aimed at curing asymmetry in information, finance and data can help in operationalizing the fundamental right to create jobs. The existing trinity of Jan Dhan accounts, Aadhaar and mobile can act as a stepping stone.
  • Digital tools transmitted through mobile phones can aid in providing information about technology, markets and price. Expanding the direct benefits transfer programme can help in expanding access to finance.
  • Informed consent to share Aadhaar-linked data, with adequate privacy protections, can aid in designing customized policies, products and services that cater to the needs of job creators, creating an ecosystem that stimulates job creation.

Question– Right to job creation can be an innovative approach to tackle the problem of unemployment in India. Critically analyse.