June 2018
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[op-ed snap] Why so few women work in India


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), Skill India initiative

Mains level: Reasons behind less number of women in workforce and schemes required to increase their participation


Labour force disparity

  1. India has far fewer women working or available for work compared to any other large economy in the world
  2. Women’s participation in the labour force declined sharply in the country precisely when the country’s economic engine was growing the fastest: between 2004-05 and 2011-12

Reasons behind fewer women in the workforce

  1. A big reason why women don’t work is that there is usually no one else to do the tasks that a patriarchal society assigns to them
  2. In rural India, this often means attending to onerous tasks such as fetching water or collecting firewood
  3. In urban India, this may mean childcare in an environment where help is not as easy to come by as in rural India
  4. Data from the two latest quinquennial employment surveys of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) show that this was driven by a rise in the share of women who listed ‘attending to domestic duties’ as their principal activity in the year preceding the surveys
  5. The force of patriarchy also manifests itself in socio-religious constraints, which restrict the mobility of women
  6. Across major states, the share of women attending to domestic duties is broadly correlated with the share of women citing social and religious constraints as the main reason for attending to domestic duties

Women interested in part-time work

  1. A majority of women attending to domestic duties are willing to work part-time if such work were made available at their household
  2. Tailoring work seems to be the most preferred option for such women, followed by dairy-related and poultry-related work
  3. Most women who want to take up such work emphasized the need for finance and training

Way Forward

  1. The data suggest that the Skill India initiative may have missed a trick by focusing largely on male candidates looking for full-time work
  2. Given the rising demand for training among homemakers looking for part-time work, they could benefit greatly from a skilling initiative that helps them get into part-time work, or to start their own enterprises
Women empowerment issues: Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] Countering China in the Indo-Pacific


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Shangri-La Dialogue, Malabar exercises, Rimpac (Rim of the Pacific) exercises, two-plus-two dialogue, Guam, Martabali port, Sonadia port, Trincomalee port, Malacca Straits, Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC)

Mains level: Indo Pacific cooperation and its importance for India


Shangri-La Dialogue

  1. At the recently concluded Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, PM Modi and the defense ministers of Japan, the US and Australia reiterated their shared commitment to the Indo-Pacific region
  2. It was closely followed by Japan-India-US Malabar exercises in Guam
  3. Japan, India, the US and Australia will also join Rimpac (Rim of the Pacific) exercises commencing on 27 June
  4. India and the US are planning to hold the first two-plus-two dialogue (between their foreign and defense ministers) in Washington

Turning cooperation into a “counter China strategy”

There are three possible ways

First, we should focus on the link between Indo-China border area and the East China Sea

  • If India cooperates with Japan and the US, it will not need to deal with all the Chinese fighter jets at once, because China is likely to keep some of its fighter jets to defend its eastern front.
  • Japan and the US are willing to support India’s efforts to modernize its defence in the Indo-China border area

Second, there is a high possibility that in the near future India will be the most influential sea power in the Indian Ocean Region

  • Japan, the US and Australia will then be able to deploy more military force in the East China Sea and the South China Sea to maintain the military balance against China
  • Therefore, these three countries should share the know-how related with anti-submarine capabilities and enhance India’s military preparedness
  • Developing infrastructure in countries of the region is useful, too
  • Bangladesh has already chosen Japan’s Martabali port project instead of China’s Sonadia port project
  • If the Trincomalee port project involving Japanese assistance in Sri Lanka succeeds, then the importance of China’s Hambantota port will decline
  • The Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), a result of Indo-Japanese cooperation, will also counter China’s growing influence in Africa

Third, Japan, India, the US and Australia can collaborate to support South-East Asian countries in the South China Sea

  • The South-East Asian countries need to beef up their military power
  • The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are strategically important
  • These islands are near the Malacca Straits, providing an excellent location for tracking China’s submarine activities
  • Japanese investment in India’s strategic road project in the latter’s North-East region will help increase India-South-East Asia trade
  • Growing India-South-East Asia trade could reduce China’s influence in South-East Asia

Way Forward

  1. Further security cooperation among Japan, India, the US and Australia is increasingly plausible
  2. The time has come to proactively further this cooperation to ensure prosperity and stability in the whole of Indo-Pacific
Foreign Policy Watch: India-APEC

[op-ed snap] Parched or polluted: on India’s water crisis


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Composite Water Management Index, NITI Aayog

Mains level: Water crisis faced by India and how it can be toned down


India’s impending water crisis

  1. According to the Composite Water Management Index developed by Niti Aayog, 70% of the water resources are identified as polluted
  2. If the water accessible to millions is contaminated, the problem is infinitely worse than that of availability
  3. The trends that the data reflect of high to extreme stress faced by 600 million people call for speedy reforms

Focus Areas

Two areas that need urgent measures are

  1. Augmentation of watersheds that can store more good water, for use in agriculture
  2. Strict pollution control enforcement

Mihir Shah Committee recommendations

  1. The Committee on Restructuring the Central Water Commission and the Central Ground Water Board, chaired by Mihir Shah, has called for a user-centric approach to water management, especially in agriculture
  2. It advocates decentralisation of irrigation commands, offering higher financial flows to well-performing States through a National Irrigation Management Fund

Way forward

  1. Groundwater extraction patterns need to be better understood through robust data collection
  2. Steady urbanization calls for a new management paradigm, augmenting sources of clean drinking water supply and treatment technologies that will encourage reuse
  3. Pollution can be curbed by levying suitable costs
  4. A legal mandate will work better than just competition and cooperation as it would make governments accountable
Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

[op-ed snap] Demonetisation failed to make India a ‘less cash’ society


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Measures of Money Supply (M0, M1, M2, M3, M4)

Mains level: Lessons from demonetisation


Evaluationg impact of demonetization

  1. On 8 November 2016, PM announced the “demonetization” of high-value currency notes.
  2. Now that sufficient time has elapsed since demonetisation, it is possible to bring data to bear on the specific question: Has demonetisation succeeded in making India a “less cash” society?
  3. Numerous commentators argued that one such goal would be to push the economy towards greater formalisation, and, relatedly, to push the financial sector towards greater digitisation and a reduced reliance on cash.
  4. But Demonetisation did not trigger any long-lasting behavioural change in the preference for currency, thus striking off one possible long-run gain induced by the short-run pain of the cash crunch.

Look at the chart

  1. The Chart plots currency in circulation (CIC) as a share of broad money (M3) —henceforth, CIC/M3. All data are sourced from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  2. The demonetisation shock in November 2016 saw CIC/M3 plunge to as low as about 0.08 within a month, not surprising when fully 86% of the currency stock was invalidated.
  3. It is not hard to see the trend: CIC/M3 is clearly converging back to its pre-demonetisation level—indeed, it is just about already back to that earlier level.

The Way Forward

  1. It should be added that the failure of demonetisation to make India a less-cash society does not necessarily imply a complete failure of the larger digitization drive.
  2. Data suggest that some components of digital payments are up after November 2016, although it is not clear if this is merely a continuation of pre-demonetisation trends or an effect wrought by demonetisation.
  3. Nor can one conclude, on the basis of the analysis, that demonetisation has failed, although such data as shown have question remain open to contestation and interpretation.


Measures of Money Supply

As we move from M1 to M4, Liquidity of the money goes on decreasing

  • Reserve Money (M0): Currency in Circulation + Bankers deposit with RBI + Other deposits with RBI
  • Narrow Money (M1): Currency with Public + Demand Deposits with banking System + Other deposits with RBI
  • M2: M1 + Savings Deposit with Post Office
  • Broad Money (M3): M1 + Time Deposits with Banking System
  • M4 : M3 + total post office deposits* (Excluding National Savings Certificate)
Cashless Society – Digital Payments, Demonetization, etc.

Time to shift focus from land to water productivity in farming, says NABARD


Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country

From UPSC perspectives, following things are important:

Prelims level: NABARD, Particulars of the report

Mains level: The newscard highlights need for effective management of water for irrigation purpose based on stats from study.


The report calls for a shift in policy focus from land productivity to an efficiency of water use

  1. Indian agriculture needs to stop being “obsessed” with the land productivity and instead start worrying about water productivity, says a report released by the NABARD this week based on study of 10 states.
  2. Titled Water Productivity Mapping of Major Indian Crops, the report is part of a research project with ICRIER, mapping a water atlas for ten major crops — rice, wheat, maize, red gram or tur, chickpea or chana, sugarcane, cotton, groundnut, rapeseed-mustard and potato.
  3. Given that Indian agriculture uses almost 80% of all the country’s water resources, which are increasingly under stress, changing the objective of agriculture development to increasing productivity per unit of water, especially irrigation water, is crucial, says the report.


  1. Most differences between land and water productivity are seen in rice and sugarcane cultivation, the report says.
  2. Punjab reports the highest land productivity for rice, producing four tonnes per hectare. However, it only produces 0.22 kg of rice for every meter cube of irrigation water.
  3. Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, on the other hand, produce 0.75 and 0.68 kg for the same amount of water.
  4. However, low irrigation coverage results in low land productivity in these States. Jharkhand has only 3% of its land under irrigation.
  5. For sugarcane, another water-guzzling crop, Tamil Nadu reports the highest land productivity, producing 105 tonnes per hectare. Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh also have high rates of land productivity.
  6. In fact, an average of 40 rounds of irrigation are needed in Tamil Nadu. In the Gangetic Plain States of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, on the other hand, need five and eight rounds of irrigation respectively.

Key Recommendations

  1. The report recommends that cropping patterns be re-aligned to water availability, using both demand and supply-side interventions.
  2. With water and power subsidies skewing cropping patterns, it also recommends reform in these areas, with a shift from the price policy approach of heavily subsidizing inputs to an income policy approach of directly giving money farmers on per hectare basis.
  3. Prices will then be determined by market forces.
Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

India’s proposed Assumption Island deal stands cancelled


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Assumption Island, SAGAR Programme, a Map-based study of Indian Ocean Region (IOR)

Mains level: India’s counter arrangements in IOR against rising Chinese presence


India’s plan to build a military base in Seychelles now stands CANCELLED

  1. The deal was to include a 20-year access to the base, as well as permission to station some military personnel on the ground with facilities on the island funded by India, owned by Seychelles and jointly managed by both sides.
  2. The deal to build a military base at Assumption Islands was struck in principle in 2015 during PM Modi’s visit to Seychelles

Another Security setback after the Maldives

  1. The decision by the Seychelles President to drop the deal in the face of protests over a perceived loss of sovereignty is a blow to the government’s “SAGAR” (Security and Growth for All in the Region) programme.
  2. It also comes amid India’s troubles with another IOR country, the Maldives, where the government has demanded that India withdraw two helicopters, pilots and personnel from its atolls that had been sent there to help with maritime patrols.

Attempts futile

  1. In an attempt to engage with the Opposition in the Seychelles that had led protests against the agreement, India had raised the issue with Leader of the Opposition of Seychelles.
  2. Naval officials pointed out that India’s defense maritime cooperation with Seychelles is long-standing and some of the upgrade work on Assumption Island was already underway.
  3. India has resurfaced the old airstrip on the island as part of the infrastructure development project worth over $500 million.
  4. The cancellation of the agreement in a strategically important island could have far-reaching implications.


SAGAR Programme (Security and Growth for All in the Region)

  1. SAGAR is a term coined by PM Modi in 2015 during his Mauritius visit with a focus on blue economy.
  2. It is a maritime initiative which gives priority to Indian Ocean region for ensuring peace, stability and prosperity of India in Indian Ocean region.
  3. The goal is to seek a climate of trust and transparency; respect for international maritime rules and norms by all countries; sensitivity to each other`s interests; peaceful resolution of maritime issues; and increase in maritime cooperation.
  4. It is in line with the principles of Indian Ocean Rim Association.

IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association)

  1. Established in 1997 in Ebene Cyber City, Mauritius
  2. First established as Indian Ocean Rim Initiative in Mauritius on March 1995 and formally launched in 1997 by the conclusion of a multilateral treaty known as the Charter of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation.
  3. It is based on the principles of Open Regionalism for strengthening Economic Cooperation particularly on Trade Facilitation and Investment, Promotion as well as Social Development of the region.
Indian Ocean Power Competition

New health scheme flawed: IMA


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Ayushman Bharat Scheme

Mains level: The newscard highlights very important bottleneck in the implementation of the very ambitious health care initiative, which cannot be ruled out.


Limitations of Insurance Driven Healthcare

  1. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has demanded a review of the Centre’s ambitious National Health Protection Scheme, saying it has “conceptual deficits and operational flaws”.
  2. It said current policy change in India will only end up strengthening the insurance business.
  3. In addition to non-creation of new public sector hospitals, the government will lose around ₹400 crore to private health insurance companies which will manage the scheme.

Issues highlighted by IMA

  1. The IMA demanded that the costing undertaken be transparent and be in public domain.
  2. The doctor’s body said the money allotted for the Ayushman Bharat — National Health Protection Scheme (AB-NHPS) would have better served the country if every district hospital is strengthened with an infrastructure of ₹2 crores each.
  3. The same money invested in our public hospitals would have brought secondary and tertiary care closer to poor in our government hospitals.
  4. The doctors body said the rates quoted by the government for various procedures are abysmal and impractical and most of them do not cover even 30% of the cost of the procedure.
  5. In the garb of cost-cutting, the government is exposing the people to danger in the hospitals.

Example: Caesarean sections underwritten for ₹9,000 cannot ensure the safety of the mother and the child

Key Suggestions

  1. IMA has suggested to the Union government that NHPS should be modeled as healthcare purchase directly from the provider hospitals removing the insurance companies and third-party administrators.
  2. These intermediaries siphon off 40% of the budgeted money and are breeders of corruption and unethical practices.
  3. The IMA said the way forward for the country is to invest in our government hospitals for better health infrastructure and manpower.


Indian Medical Association

  1. The IMA is a national voluntary organization of Doctors of Modern Scientific System of Medicine in India, which looks after the interest of doctors as well as the well being of the community at large.
  2. It was established in 1928 as the All India Medical Association, renamed “Indian Medical Association” in 1930 and is headquartered in New Delhi.
  3. It is a society registered under The Societies Act of India, 1860.
  4. It delegates its powers to a Working Committee (A representative body of all state Branches) for implementation of programmes and activities.
  5. The Indian Medical Association is a founder member of the World Medical Association.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Panel identifies 6,000 Mhz spectrum for 5G services


Mains Paper 2: Science and Technology | Developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Frequency Spectrum

Mains level: 5G communication in India


5G in India

  1. The 5G committee of the Telecom Ministry has said that about 6,000 Mhz of spectrum can be made available without delay for the next generation mobile service.
  2. The expert panel’s recommendation, if accepted, can be India’s largest-ever spectrum allocation for a service
  3. The Department of Telecom (DoT) is taking a strong initiative to make spectrum available for the new service.

Eleven bands

  1. At present, mobile phone signals in the country are transmitted in 800 Mhz to 2,600 Mhz bands.
  2. Now, the panel has spotted spectrum for 5G service across 11 bands of which four bands — premium 700 Mhz band, 3.5 gigahertz (GHz), 24 GHz and 28 GHz band — can be made immediately available for the service.
  3. The panel estimates that 5,250 megahertz of the spectrum can be made available for 5G services in higher frequency bands
Telecom and Postal Sector – Spectrum Allocation, Call Drops, Predatory Pricing, etc