Mitras Analysis of News : 6-6-2017

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1.Why India needs more women entrepreneurs (Live Mint)

2.Double burden of malnourishment (Live Mint)

3.Maha farm crisis (The Hindu)

 

1.Why India needs more women entrepreneurs (Live Mint)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the possible solution to address the issue of women empowerment in India.(GS paper III)

Overview

  • India has reached to the much-discussed “demographic dividend” as a long-term structural factor, which should propel growth in the coming decades.
  • However, for India to continue to reap the benefits of an ongoing demographic transition, it’s vital that young people are able to find gainful employment. Labour force participation of women remains woefully low in India, and this could be a major hindrance, not just on the empowerment of women but on the India growth story as well.

Employment patterns among women

  • Studies suggest the demographic transition has been a big part of the growth miracle in the east-Asian economies and has been important for India since the advent of liberalisation in 1991.
  • There is an important and little-discussed gender element to this story. Labour force participation of women remains woefully low in India, and this could be a chief drag.
  • While male participation is high, female labour force participation (FLFP) has been dropping at an alarming rate. According to data from National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), FLFP fell from a high point above 40 per cent in the early-to-mid 1990s to 29.4 per cent in 2004-05, 23.3 per cent in 2009-10 and 22.5 per cent in 2011-12.
  • Using different data, a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) found that by 2009-10, India’s FLFP was ranked 11th from the bottom out of 131 countries.

Gender segmentation

  • Indian women are not only staying out of the workforce, they are doing so in increasing numbers across the board. The World Bank’s latest development update for India reiterates these trends but also draws attention to an interesting insight: Women employers tend to hire a significantly greater number of women.
  • This is partly the result of the kind of businesses that women set up in what is already a heavily gendered labour force. For example, a beauty salon or a small tailoring unit owned by a woman can be expected to mostly hire other women. Also, many of these women-owned firms have only a single worker, which also skews the picture. But the trend holds true even in medium-sized firms.
  • This lends credence to the idea that a targeted focus on women’s entrepreneurship might be the tool needed to improve the labour force’s gender balance.
  • Gender segmentation is a double-edged sword in the sense that just like female-owned or female-led firms tend to hire more female workers, male owners and employers have the same tendencies. In the long run, such extreme levels of gender segmentation are obviously undesirable and inefficient. But in the short term, it may help to view this trend as a catalysing opportunity that will bring more women into the workforce.

Missing women’s jobs

  • It is worth considering why the labour force participation rate (LFPR) for working-age women (15 years and older) is so abysmally low in India at about 27%, it performs only slightly better than Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
  • One reason for this is the lack of jobs overall, paired with men taking the lion’s share. Another reason is the quality of jobs. Women want jobs that are well-paying, close to their homes, and have flexible working hours, according to World Bank research, and these are hard to come by.
  • There are many jobs to which women’s access is restricted by law, such as those in mines and hazardous industries. Resolving this mess will, of course, require a multifaceted response from regulatory changes to public awareness campaigns to improving law and order so that women feel secure outside their homes.

Women entrepreneurship: a hidden key

  • Encouraging entrepreneurship in women can be a good starting point: Women will be creating jobs and opportunities for themselves, and bringing other women on board. India currently ranks 70 out of 77 nations on the Female Entrepreneurship Index, but moving up that index might not be as difficult as it seems.
  • Certainly, long-term, structural reforms are needed but in the short term there are a few examples from around the world that indicate how targeted policy measures can deliver specific goals even when the rest of the infrastructure (such as ease of doing business, access to credit facilities and affordable childcare) may not be in place.
  • A good example here is Bangladesh, where the export-oriented garment industry has brought a large section of women into the workforce. Even though Bangladesh fares poorly in terms of its ‘women’s advancement outcomes’, ‘knowledge assets’, ‘financial access’ and ‘supporting entrepreneurial conditions’, it ranks sixth among 54 countries on ‘women business ownership’, while India is at the bottom of the pile along with Iran, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Way ahead

  • It is important to keep in mind that improving female LFPR is not just a women’s issue, or only about ensuring gender justice and equality though they are worthy goals in themselves.
  • When women have productive, paying jobs, they have greater agency and that has a positive impact on their men and children, which reflects in higher human development indices. In economic terms, a low LFPR slows down growth, while bringing women into the fold is known to increase GDP.

 Question: What type of growth model should be adopted by India to encourage women entrepreneurship in India? 

 

2.Double burden of malnourishment (Live Mint)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the impending challenges of malnourishment and possible impacts on India. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • In the context of a changing global nutrition landscape, influenced by economic and income growth, urbanization, demographic change and globalization, diet-related epidemiology has seen a significant shift in recent decades.
  • India is also facing a constant threat of double burden of malnourishment. It can pose a grave danger to India’s working population.

What is double burden of malnourishment?

  • The double burden of malnutrition is characterised by the coexistence of undernutrition along with overweight and obesity, or diet-related non-communicable diseases, within individuals, households and populations, and across the life course.
  • This double burden of malnutrition can exist at the individual level for example obesity with deficiency of one or various vitamins and minerals, or overweight in an adult who was stunted during childhood at the household level when a mother may be overweight or anaemic and a child or grandparent is underweight and at the population level where there is a prevalence of both under nutrition and overweight in the same community, nation or region.
  • Hunger and inadequate nutrition contribute to early deaths for mothers, infants and young children, and impaired physical and brain development in the young. At the same time, growing rates of overweight and obesity worldwide are linked to a rise in chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes – conditions that are life-threatening and very difficult to treat in places with limited resources and already overburdened health systems.

Concerns with respect to India

  • Malnutrition in India has always been synonymous with under-nutrition. Data from the latest round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) shows that obesity among adults is nearly as big a problem in the country as under-nutrition. Even as under-nutrition continues to remain extraordinarily high in the poorer parts of the country, obesity has reached endemic levels in some of the richer parts of the country, the survey of over 6 lakh households conducted in 2015-16 shows
  • The latest survey shows that the proportion of overweight women in India at 20.7% is only 2 percentage points lower than the proportion of underweight women. The trend among men is similar, with nearly one in five men overweight today.
  • While the proportion of underweight adults has fallen over the past decade, the proportion of overweight adults has shot up sharply. Individuals who have a body mass index, or BMI, of 25 or more are considered overweight while those with a BMI less than 18.5 are considered underweight. Women seem to be affected more by both forms of malnutrition compared to men.
  • The twin problem of high malnutrition and growing obesity may have a common cause: a high proportion of low birth weight babies in India. According to one hypothesis, under-nutrition in the pre-natal stage programmes the foetal tissues to utilize food efficiently, making it difficult for low birth weight babies to deal with an abundance of food in later life.
  • This double malnutrition trap can be particularly dangerous for Asian economies such as India, where urban populations are rising, and where people increasingly face a sedentary lifestyle.
  • The link between malnutrition and sanitation is even stronger. Districts with low levels of toilet access have high levels of under nutrition and low levels of obesity. The converse is true for districts with high levels of access to toilets.

Way ahead

  • This double burden of malnutrition offers a unique and important opportunity for integrated action on malnutrition in all its forms. Addressing the double burden of malnutrition will be key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (in particular Goal 2 and Target 3.4) and the Commitments of the Rome Declaration on Nutrition, within the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition.

Question: What are the dangers of double burden of malnourishment on Make in India campaign. Outline the government strategy to deal such a situation.

 

3.Maha farm crisis (The Hindu)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the ongoing issue of the farmer’s crisis in the country. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • Agriculture is one of the most important pillars of the Indian economy. More than half of the Indian population is dependent on agriculture for its subsistence. But the Indian farmers are facing one of the worst economic conditions experienced in last few years. Over the years, Government has declared a lot of help, but the fact is that the help doesn’t reach at all. Even if it does then only a fraction of it, and that too not in time.
  • Despite the fact that agriculture growth for the entire country shot up to a five-year high of 4.9%, and the Maharashtra state witnessed a record food harvest, but still the profits fail to reach to the farmers. Farmers have long been susceptible to political, economic and climatic conditions of the country, which has resulted into their loss of lives.

Background

  • In Maharashtra Puntamba village’s Gram Sabha had passed a resolution to go on a farmers’ strike back on April 3, as the farmers are hit by a debt burden and falling prices.
  • The resolution had sought a total loan waiver and a law to implement minimum support price, among various demands. This was followed by some 200 neighbouring villages passing similar resolutions and threatening a strike. The movement grew; a number of farmers allege they withstood efforts to break it.
  • Beginning from 1st June, farmers from at least seven districts in Maharashtra took to the streets, shut down wholesale markets and vandalized trucks carrying vegetables. They spilt gallons of milk on the road, and sent vegetable prices soaring in major cities.
  • The strike entered its 5th day, disrupting supplies to major urban centres and highlighting a divide among the agitating units. Some farmer groups agreed to call off their strike after Chief Minister promised that his government would waive farm loans of small and marginal farmers worth about ₹30,000crore, increase power subsidies, hike the price for milk procurement, and also set up a State commission to look into the matter of raising the MSP for crops. He also promised that buying agricultural produce below their MSP would soon be made a criminal offence.
  • When the withdrawal was announced, villagers of Puntamba in Ahmednagar, western Maharashtra (This region has the highest number of small and marginal farmers over 18 lakh as per the Agriculture Census) were upset that they had not been consulted, while farmers in other regions alleged that the waiver would help only those of western Maharashtra.
  • It is notable that the protests have come soon after the Uttar Pradesh government waived farm loans earlier this year, setting off similar demands in other States.
  • Recently Tamil Nadu farmers also protested, in Tamil Nadu more than 40% of the people make a living from farming, lack of water due to poor rainfall, low crop prices, and dwindling access to formal credit has created what is possibly the state’s worst agrarian crisis in decades.

 Root of the crisis

  • The current crisis in Indian agriculture is a consequence of many factors such as- low rise in farm productivity, non remunerative prices for cultivators, price fluctuations, erratic weather conditions affecting harvests, small landholdings, overdependence on subsidies for power and fertilizer, unfavorable trade policies, constrained markets for their products, restricted access to capital and farm inputs such as fertilizers or seeds ,insecure land ownership limiting farmers’ propensity to invest ,poor food storage facilities resulting in high levels of wastage.
  • Irrespective of price fluctuations, MSPs are supposed to enable farmers to sell their produce at remunerative prices. But procurement of crops at MSP by the government has traditionally been low for most crops, except a few staples such as rice and wheat. This has forced distressed farmers to sell their produce at much lower prices, adding to their debt burden.

Way ahead

  • It required attention in the form of realistic policy measures such as timely availability of formal credit and other inputs to the farmers, creating the awareness about policies and programs of the government meant for educating the farmers through different media platforms, corporate sector should be encouraged to help the farmers in cluster & cooperative farming including establishing agro based industries is the need of hour on the part of the Indian government.

Question: What are the possible solutions to mitigate farm crisis? Why it is important in context to double farm incomes till 2022?

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