Mitras Analysis of News : 12-04-2017

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1.More Robots, fewer Jobs? (The Hindu) 

2.Reforming Backward class commission board( Misreading caste) (Indian Express) 

3.The role of states in Foreign policy (Live Mint)

4.Pivot to the Indo-Pacific (THE Hindu) 

 

1.More Robots, fewer 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: On one hand, technological revolution has brought more precision in areas such as manufacturing and medicine while on other hand various job are being lost. How policy makers should respond to such a challenge?

 

2.Reforming Backward class commission board ( Misreading caste) (Indian Express)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the constitution of more empowered backward classes commission and its possible implications. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • Government is planning to set up a New backward classes commission. However, it will depend on the final draft as how the new body will respond to social challenges.

Introduction

  • National Commission for the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (NCSEBC) will replace National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), created in response to a Supreme Court ruling in 1992. NCBC examines and recommends requests for inclusion and exclusion in the list of Other Backward Classes or OBCs.
  • NCSEBC will be a supposed to be a constitutional body (like the commissions for the Scheduled Castes and Tribes) rather than a statutory body (like the NCBC) by making an amendment to the Constitution, mainly by insertion of Article 338B.

Composition

  • On the lines of NCBC, the new body too will comprise of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and three other members.
  • According to a former member of the NCBC, the demand for giving it a constitutional authority has been pending for years. NCBC did not have powers to hear complaints from OBC members like the SC/ST commissions did, and in that sense, a constitutional authority will ensure it has more power.

Implications of the change

There will be two major changes:

  1. It shifts responsibility for amending the list of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) from the government to Parliament.
  1. It effectively takes away the power that the states currently have to determine their own OBC lists.
  • There will be clear political benefit of this move is that it denies opponents a free ride on the aspirational demands of electorally significant castes like the Jats, Marathas, Patidars or Kapus. Since it is Parliament that would have to decide whether to grant OBC status, it would no longer be possible for opposition parties to fuel agitations without bearing responsibility for the consequences.
  • The commission has powers to examine requests for inclusion of any community in the list of backward classes and hear complaints of over-inclusion or under-inclusion, following which it advises the Union government. In its new form, the constitutional authority could give it more teeth.

Concerns

  • As the nomenclature of new body suggests, there can be a change in the definition of OBCs that goes beyond its current confinement to social and educational criteria. Such a recklessly adventurist agenda could include the extension of reservation to not only dominant castes like Jats, Marathas or Patidars, but also “economically backward” upper castes.
  • This would entail introducing legislation to lift the ceiling on quotas beyond the 50 per cent level, and formalising economic criteria, both of which have been strongly resisted by the judiciary.

Way ahead

  • The solution of affirmative action and particularly the reservations, though try to bring social and economical justice but much more is needed in this regard. Government has to be more responsive in areas such as education, employment and skill development.
  • Moreover, politics associated with the caste movements should also be curtailed if a dream of an inclusive and equitable society is to be achieved.

Question: How the newly proposed Backward class commission can be instrumental to reform the fate of backward classes. What are the certain possible concerns in this regard?

 

3.The role of states in Foreign policy (Live Mint)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the role of state governments in bilateral relations with neighbour countries. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • Unfinished agendas such as Teesta water dispute and unresolved issues with Sri Lanka mainly on account of reservations from state government has led to a thinking as whether state governments should have say in foreign policy matters or not.
  • A new thinking is needed vis-à-vis role if states in diplomacy related matters

Certain example of state’s intrusion in foreign policy matters

  1. Bangladesh: Despite remarkable progress in bilateral relations with the finalization of the land and maritime boundary in the last three years, the unfinished Teesta business due to obstacles put by West Bengal has become the touchstone for the Indo-Bangladesh bilateral relationship.
  1. Sri Lanka: Political parties in Tamil Nadu, have also, influenced the previous government’s policies on Sri Lanka when the island country was being offered a number of sweetheart deals by China. 

Now, a question arises, as whether individual states have a veto in matters of foreign policy? 

Cooperative federalism as a culprit

  • India’s cooperative federalism has been blamed for the lack of progress on the water-sharing issue and other such issues.
  • It has been advocated that the principle of collaborative sub-regionalism should trump cooperative federalism.
  • Moreover, a reasonable argument can certainly be made that cooperative federalism is against India’s national interest as China is attracting India’s neighbours, including Bangladesh, with an open wallet. And this is not the first instance of a state coming in the way of national interest.
  • Moreover, in case of Sri Lanka, the government was not just forced to vote against Sri Lanka in the UN Commission on Human Rights but the Tamil Nadu parties effectively vetoed former PM’s plan to travel to Colombo for the November 2013 Commonwealth heads of government meeting.

Cooperative federalism as a remedy

  • To resolve the long pending issue, the need of the hour is not to curse the cooperative federalism rather it should be further enhanced.
  • For instance, if as a border state, West Bengal is given more autonomy over cross-border cooperation with Bangladesh, it is likely to generate incentives for state government to make some concessions for the neighbour country and may may yield better cooperation.
  • The idea is to tie West Bengal’s economy in deep and meaningful ways to Bangladesh’s economy. The Teesta agreement could then be sold as a quid-pro-quo for mutual benefits.

Hence, the need of the hour is constituent diplomacy

Constituent diplomacy

  • It denotes the “international activities of a foreign-policy character undertaken by the constituent governments and local governments (mostly municipalities) of federal countries and decentralized unitary states, as well as by citizen organizations and non-governmental organizations”.
  • It is also variously referred to as “paradiplomacy” or “sub-national diplomacy”. The practice of constituent diplomacy has been observed across Europe and North America but it has increasingly been adopted in the rest of the world as well.

China’s model of constituent diplomacy

  • Chinese provinces have their own foreign affairs offices (FAOs) and foreign trade and economic cooperation commissions (FTECCs) to deal with international partners.
  • Many Chinese cities have opened overseas offices to attract investments and promote trade. Provincial governments play a big part in setting the agenda of the sub-regional initiatives in which China is a part.
  • The role played by the border province of Yunnan, for instance, has been highly instrumental in the success of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), which includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • It is largely due to provincial autonomy that China has been able to extract much more from its sub-regional initiatives (the GMS, Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation) compared to India’s takeaways from the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation, Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), and the forum on regional cooperation among Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM).

Way ahead

  • Government’s new sub-regional initiative involving Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal (BBIN) will meet the same fate if the provinces do not enjoy greater space in shaping the agenda of regional cooperation.
  • The geographical expanse of India mandates a role for border states greater than New Delhi in matters of sub-regional cooperation. West Bengal and all the North-Eastern states become crucial in this regard. Hence, the government needs to give the state governments greater freedom to pursue cross-border economic partnerships.

Question: What should be the approach of union government vis-à-vis state government in the matters of diplomacy and foreign affairs? 

 

4.Pivot to the Indo-Pacific (THE Hindu) 

Synoptic line: It throws light on the importance of India as a regional power, to offer better and liberal economy to other countries. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • India is emerging as the guarantor of the liberal economic and security order in Asia, it is also ready to demonstrate it keenness to share its economic growth with its regional partners.
  • While there has been derailment of India Pakistan talks, but the recent concluded visits of Bangladesh Prime Minister and Australian Prime Minister to India is underscoring India’s foreign policy and exemplifying not only the country’s rising global profile but also its growing stakes in the larger Indo-Pacific.

Delhi- Dhaka pact

  • There have been suspicions about India’s intentions among South Asia. But by reciprocating its neighbour’s grievances, there are better chances to mitigate these tensions. Recently visit by Bangladesh’ s prime minister has been also a step forward:
  • India is playing role as a security provider, Delhi-Dhaka joint statement has stressed the need for greater military-to-military training and exchanges, and complimented the armed forces for their professional conduct during joint search and rescue operations in the Bay of Bengal leading to the rescue of a large number of fishermen from both sides.
  • Defence relationship was the highlight of visit, as it included a memorandum of understanding on a defence framework, and for the largest LoC India has extended to any country so far, agreement of $500 million line of credit (LoC) for defence procurement by the Bangladesh military forces has been signed.
  • India is also extending a $4.5 billion line of credit to Bangladesh, over and above the existing $2.8 billion line, to fund around 17 infrastructure projects which include port upgradation (work at the Mongla, Chittagong and Payra ports). 
  • For enhancing connectivity in South Asia, India is pushing for early implementation of the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement, aimed at facilitating seamless transport of goods over land customs stations. There are also plans to revive inland waterway channels, Bus and train services between Kolkata and Khulna have been started.
  • Both countries are also working towards mitigating differences on the critical Teesta water sharing pact.
  • However, the Bangladesh’s prime minister faced a lot of opposition at home. Soon after signing 22 pacts in key sectors, Bangladesh’s Opposition leader accused its prime minister of “selling out” the country to India to translate into reality her “dream of staying in power for life”. 

“India needs to enhance its engagements in the larger Indo-Pacific, thereby getting out of the straitjacket of being a “mere” South Asian power.” 

Indo-Australia

  • There has been growing demand in the region for a larger Indian role and presence with India’s success in engaging countries such as Japan, Australia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia in recent years.
  • Recent visit of Australia’s prime minister to Delhi, once again showed that India is now widely perceived to be a strong and credible regional force. The two countries pledged to enhance maritime cooperation as they underlined “the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce, as well as resolving maritime disputes by peaceful means, in accordance with international law, including UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea)”.
  • For better Defence cooperation, both countries have decided to hold a bilateral maritime exercise (AUSINDEX) in 2018.

Way ahead

  • For India to emerge as a credible regional interlocutor, it needs to maintain its position as a credible and responsible power in the region. Moreover, India being a democracy, can leverage its liberalism to be a regional role model.

Question: What should be the India’s strategy in Indian Ocean region to ensure an era of ASIAN CENTURY?

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