GS1 (World History)
The October Revolution of 1917 was characterized by high participation of workers and women resulting in establishment of USSR. In fact, preceding February revolution was initiated by women. They (working class and women) were expected to be the ruling class of Soviet Union. Some rights given to women and the working class were:
- Working Class was given orders by Bolsheviks and everyone was made to work.
- “Equal Pay for Equal work” was officially legislated.
- Bolsheviks understood the demands of women and created Women’s Bureau. They also launched movement for self-sustainability of women which came to be known as Zhenotdel.
- In 1918, Soviet Union liberalized abortion, divorce laws which further gave powers to the women.
However, over the period of time, working class and women were deprived of power and conservative values were again considered.
- During Joseph Stalin’s regime, workers lost right to participate in functioning of enterprise.
- Soviet Union practised direct appointments to political bodies and so real participation of working class was not present.
- Zhenotdel was disbanded around 1930.Family policy was made conservative and obtaining divorce was made difficult
- Traditional responsibility of motherhood was predominantly considered over work.
Many reasons contribute to this decline:
- Soviet Union’s practice of dictatorship over the Collective ownership.
- Working class lacked concrete leadership and State criticisms were crushed by KGB secret agency.
- Liberalized divorce and abortion laws gave Soviet women control over their fertility. This had led to decline in birthrate over a period of time. This was seen as a threat to strength of Red army in the near future. Hence Joseph Stalin reversed the liberal laws.
- Women’s traditional values were stressed.
Therefore, working class and women were devoid of political participation and representation in factories.
GS2 (Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population)
Placing conditions on access to food entitlements is not a marker of a welfare state. Comment on the statement with respect to the recent step of mandating the possession of an Aadhaar number for receiving benefits under the Mid-Day Meal Scheme.
A welfare state is one that is guided by the economic and societal wellbeing of its citizens. It aims at ensuring that its citizens are not deprived of their rights and therefore acts accordingly.
India has continuously striven to be a welfare state constitutionally as well through its own legislation. Food security has remained a perennial issue since Independence and India’s Targeted Public Distribution System scheme and National Food Security Mission have done relatively well in ensuring food security. However, hunger, poverty, malnutrition are still India’s problems and so the food security guarantee has its own shortcomings. Though these schemes had the noble intentions of ensuring Food for all, there have been leakages in these schemes. The mid-day meal scheme, which is a part of the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, under National Food Security Act, 2013, aimed at improving the nutritional uptake of the school going children that mandates intake of min 300 calories per day and 12 grams of protein by the children.
The recent step of mandating the possession of an Aadhaar card for receiving benefits under Mid-day Meal Scheme might be a step to track the success of this scheme but this might well prove to be detrimental. Denying anybody food on any ground cannot be a prerequisite of a welfare state. So irrespective of whether one holds an Aadhar card or not, the mid-day meal cannot be taken away. While the enrolment of Aadhaar has increased, it is still not 100 percent and therefore anybody missing out on his/her food because of not having Aadhaar is not justified.
While the intention behind mandating Aadhaar is definitely not malafide it should not be made the criterion for making food available. In order to track its reach and the quality of food, Government can partner with NGOs or PPPs and ensure regular monitoring of the disbursements under the scheme.
‘Food for All’ is one of the foundation stones of a welfare state. To limit it through possession of an identity proof is undermining the motive behind it. A person who is not able to avail food for himself won’t fancy getting an ID card first and then getting the food. Providing food and then enrolling for Aadhaar can be the other way around.
GS3 (Security challenges)
Aaadhar Scheme is a scheme under which the biometric details of the person is captured along with his basic details and stored in a database controlled and monitored by the government. The government, on many occasions, tried to portray Aadhaar as the proof of one’s citizenship. The SC, on the other hand, has made it very clear that Aadhaar cannot be considered as a proof of citizenship neither can it be made mandatory for availing the benefits of any government scheme.
The activists have often doubted the appropriateness of Aadhaar calling it an infringement of the privacy of the individuals. The consent required by the individuals to the UIDAI while enrolling for Aadhaar is contentious in a way that the scope of this consent has not been clearly defined under the scheme. The fact that the information about an individual would be stored in a database, which would be accessible by the government at any time, puts these activists against the use of Aadhaar.
However, the government’s stand on the use of Aadhaar is not ill conceived. The success of Direct Benefit Transfer, Jan Dhan Yojana, etc. through the use of Aadhaar, significantly tells us about the benefits associated with the possession of Aadhaar. This is because of the fact that the biometric details of two persons cannot be the same and duplicacy is ruled out. And it becomes easier for the government to track the beneficiaries of its schemes if the Aadhaar is linked to his/her bank account. The government has been regularly sensitising the banks to encourage linking of Aadhaar with the bank accounts of the customers to avoid any wrong payment.
GS4 (Ethics in public life)
Dataveillance, the practice of monitoring digital data relating to personal details or online activities, has been recently taken up by many governments nationwide. How ethical do you consider this practise?
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