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1.After the sanctions (The Hindu)

2.Countering growing inequality (The Hindu)

3.Segregation must begin at home (The Indian Express)

1.After the sanctions (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the recent UN resolution to impose sanctions upon North Korea. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • The U.N. Security Council is going to meet recently to vote on whether to impose new sanctions on North Korea, including sharply cutting limits on its imports of refined oil, forcing all North Koreans working overseas to return home within 12 months and cracking down on the country’s shipping.
  • The fresh round of economic sanctions imposed unanimously by the UN Security Council on North Korea is a predictable response to mounting international frustration over the nuclear stand-off.

Reasons for sanctions 

  • North Korea has conducted six underground nuclear tests so far and each one has taken it closer to what decades of international talks have tried to prevent – a nuclear weapon in the hands of one of the world’s most unpredictable states.
  • After the launch of North Korea’s latest ballistic missile, which Pyongyang claimed, can reach anywhere on the US mainland. The US drafted the resolution after negotiating with China, North Korea’s closest ally.
  • The fresh round of economic sanctions imposed unanimously by the UN Security Council on North Korea. The measures come days after the U.S., echoing suspicions in other countries, charged the North Korean government with the world-wide ‘WannaCry’ cyber attacks in May.
  • The UN draft resolution circulated to all 15 council members, wouldn’t go as far as the toughest-ever sanctions that have been sought by the US administration, such as prohibiting all oil imports and freezing international assets of North Korea’s government and its leader, Kim Jong Un.
  • The sanctions include an 89% curb on refined petroleum imports into North Korea, stringent inspections of ships transferring fuel to the country, and the expulsion of thousands of North Koreans in other countries (who send home crucial hard currency) within two years.
  • As China and Russia approved the latest measures, they continued to state their preference for diplomatic engagement. It remains to be seen how much more pressure Beijing can exert upon Pyongyang.
  • The stated aim of the sanctions regime has been to force North Korea to halt its nuclear programme and start disarmament negotiations. In September, North Korea detonated its sixth underground nuclear device, which it claimed was a hydrogen bomb. Though that assertion remains unverified, but experts believe the explosion was many times more powerful than previous detonations.

India’s view

  • India considers the nuclear proliferation in North Korea as a threat to its “own national security” and will continue to demand an in-depth investigation into how the country acquired nuclear technology.
  • New Delhi holds China and Pakistan, both nuclear power nations responsible for the rise of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and wants the linkages between North Korea and China and Pakistan to be probed by the international community.

Way ahead

  • However against this backdrop, a revival of stalled peace negotiations between the P-5 nations and North Korea may be the only realistic alternative on the horizon. The successful conclusion of the 2015 civilian nuclear agreement between the P-5 plus Germany and Iran affords a constructive template to move ahead with North Korea.

Question– Explain why diplomacy will remains the best option to bring North Korea to disarmament talks, in the backdrop of recent UN sanctions going to impose upon North Korea.

2.Countering growing inequality (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the findings of the World Inequality Report 2018, and what India needs to be done. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • Recently the World Inequality Report 2018 has brought into focus an aspect of economic progress in India. Economic inequality is largely driven by the unequal ownership of capital, which can be either privately or public owned.

Aim of World Inequality Report

  • The World Inequality Report 2018 relies on a cutting-edge methodology to measure income and wealth inequality in a systematic and transparent manner. By developing this report, the World Inequality Lab seeks to fill a democratic gap and to equip various actors of society with the necessary facts to engage in informed public debates on inequality.

Report’s findings

  • Consider the reported finding that the top 1% of income earners received 6% of the total income in the early 1980s, close to 15% of it in 2000, and receives 22% today. As this is a report on a global scale, we can see the trend in inequality across the world, providing a comparative perspective across countries.
  • In particular, it enables a comparison of economic progress made in India and China. This is not flattering of India. Since 1980, while the Chinese economy has grown 800% and India’s a far lower 200%, inequality in China today is considerably lower than in India. The share of the top 1% of the Chinese population is 14% as opposed to the 22% reported for India.
  • Also growing inequality need not necessarily accompany faster growth, observing that inequality actually declined in China from the early 21st century. By then China had grown faster for longer than most countries of the world ever did.

Methodology

  • First, the results are based on the share of top incomes. This is not invalid but some of the findings may alter if we adopt measures of inequality that characterise the entire distribution. To be precise, the inequality ranking of China and India may now reverse.
  • But this need not hold us back as it is evident that China’s performance is far superior all round to that of India. China has grown faster, has far lower poverty and far higher average income, and its income distribution is less unequal at the very top.
  • The World Development Indicators data released by the World Bank show that per capita income in China was five times that of India in 2016 while the percentage of the population living on less than $1.90 a day was about 10 times less at the beginning of this decade. India has a forbidding gap to traverse in all directions, but for now let us focus on inequality.
  • India-based researchers have pointed out that the country is becoming less equal since 1991. Also, we need not turn to the experience of China to recognise that growth need not be unequalising. Inequality in India declined for three and a half decades since 1950 even as the economy grew steadily, though maybe not spectacularly. It is important to comprehend this outcome if we are to understand the source of inequality in India, not to mention why India lags China.
  • The share of the Indian population with secondary schooling is less than 15%, while China had by the early 1970s achieved the level of schooling India did only by the early 21st century. The spread of health and education in that country enabled the Chinese economy to grow faster than India by exporting manufactures to the rest of the world.
  • These goods may not have been the byword for quality but they were globally competitive, which made their domestic production viable. The resulting growth lifted vast multitudes out of poverty.
  • As the human capital endowment was relatively equal, most people could share in this growth, which accounts for the relative equality of outcomes in China when compared to India. An ingredient of this is also the greater participation of women in the workforce of China, an outcome that eludes India.

Way ahead

  • With growing inequalities in India, there is need to spread health and education far more widely amidst the population. India’s full panoply of interventions, invariably justified as being pro-poor, have not only not spread human capital, but they have also not been able to prevent a growing income inequality.
  • We need to reorient public policy so that the government is more enabling of private entrepreneurship while being directly engaged in the equalisation of opportunity through a social policy that raises health and education levels at the bottom of the pyramid.

Question – In the context of World Inequality Report 2018, highlight the what India can learn from China to reduce inequalities.

 

3.Segregation must begin at home (The Indian Express)

Synoptic line: It throws light on role of society for solid waste management. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • Rapid urbanisation, rising population and lack of ownership are key problems facing solid waste management in India. The basic fault lies with the middle and upper-income classes who ought to recognise their critical role in the solid waste management chain and live up to it. The poor cannot be blamed because they may lack knowledge and also have very little choice.

What is Solid Waste?

  • Solid waste is the unwanted or useless solid materials generated from human activities in residential, industrial or commercial areas. It may be categorised in three ways. According to its:
  • Origin (domestic, industrial, commercial, construction or institutional)
  • Contents (organic material, glass, metal, plastic paper etc)
  • Hazard potential (toxic, non-toxin, flammable, radioactive, infectious etc).
  • The Solid Waste Management reduces or eliminates the adverse impact on the environment & human health. A number of processes are involved in effectively managing waste for a municipality. These include monitoring, collection, transport, processing, recycling and disposal. The quantum of waste generated varies mainly due to different lifestyles, which is directly proportional to socio economic status of the urban population.

Assessment

  • The middle classes and the upper-income households ought to know better and behave responsibly and collectively to ensure a clean and healthy environment for themselves. This group typically dumps their unsegregated mixed waste at community bins and looks away. Their attitude derives from a traditional approach of opting for private solutions to public service delivery failures.
  • Since poor solid waste management does not lend itself to individual private solutions, the unsegregated waste from the households lies rotting at community bins, street corners and even in storm water drains for weeks or months before it is transported to landfill sites, which are mostly used only as dumpsites. The public health challenge is compounded by the huge deficiencies in the sewerage and drainage networks.
  • Even ‘The Solid Waste Management Rules 2016’ clearly state that every waste generator which includes every household, “shall segregate waste and store separately and hand over to Municipal workers or Authorized waste pickers.” The Rules also specify that municipal governments have to make door-to-door collection of segregated waste -wet, dry and hazardous.
  • About three fourth of the municipal budget on solid waste management goes into collection and transportation, most municipalities actually make only “secondary” collection of mixed waste from community bins, while door-to-door collection is either outsourced to private agencies or NGOs or rests with resident welfare associations who hire private waste pickers for collection of unsegregated waste from door to door.

Remedial measures

  • The wet waste or biodegradable waste, which is close to 60 per cent of India’s municipal solid waste, can be processed locally for composting or biomethanation. This local processing must be done by the municipality or in public-private partnership.
  • It will lead to the saving on transport cost if wet waste did not have to be hauled over long distances but was processed in decentralised units. Compost provides a significant supplement to chemical fertilisers because it replenishes nutrient-depleted soils. Biomethanation generates biogas which is an excellent fuel, and also manure, which is an input for improving soil fertility.
  • And for dry waste, the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016 have reduced considerably the burden and simplified the challenge of managing municipal solid waste for the urban local governments by taking construction and demolition waste out of the definition of municipal waste and specifying separate Rules for the disposal of this waste.
  • Incineration offers a last-mile solution after reduction, segregation, and recycling, the incineration plants can emit toxic gases in the air if they are not equipped with appropriate filters. Effective mechanisms for monitoring the emissions from these plants and enforcing the standards must be in place before such plants are set up, and resident welfare associations will have to be watchful that the regulations are enforced.
  • The resident welfare associations must play a leadership role in ensuring that waste is segregated and collected in conformity with the SWM Rules 2016. They have the ability to persuade municipalities to pursue the path of segregation and they will be morally in a strong position to demand greater accountability from the government.
  • The Swachh Bharat Mission must emphasise more the importance of segregation of wet waste from dry waste. The awareness campaign for Swachh Bharat must also highlight the link between Swachh Bharat and Swastha Bharat. By removing the garbage out of sight, we do not take care of the problem.

Way ahead

  • Through collective efforts, we can reduce the challenge of managing the solid waste flows that we generate currently by beginning to segregate at home.

Question –The middle and upper-income classes have their critical role in the solid waste management chain. Critically analyse, also provides solutions.