Mains Paper 2: Governance| Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Basic knowledge of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY).
Mains level: The news-card analyses the success story of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), in a brief manner.
The astounding success of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) in distributing deposit-free LPG cylinder connections to women is the result of the political will and a well-meaning execution machinery.
It is rare to find a scheme that has so successfully involved stakeholders down to the level of panchayats and had a perfect programme governance.
It is learnt that the minister of petroleum and natural gas, the secretaries in the ministries and the chairpersons and managing directors of oil marketing companies personally supervised the work.
They visited at least one district to understand the issues on the ground coming in the way and provided solutions.
Success of the scheme
The scheme took the household coverage from about 56% to about 81% in just three years.
That was unimaginable a few years ago when, even for an urban consumer, getting a cylinder was a wait in frustration.
Almost everyone in the beneficiary segment and the industry is complementing the doers most deservedly.
Despite being a social scheme, the delivery was cost-effective with numbers indicating about ₹1,600 spend per beneficiary.
The Ujjwala scheme was possible only because of the robust foundation created by the subsidy payment scheme, direct benefits transfer (DBT), which was another significant achievement of the government.
The government plans to cover more women with additional budgetary provisions made in the interim budget of 2019.
Objective of PMUY
The objective of the scheme was to make the rural households climb the energy ladder and stop using agro-waste as fuel at homes.
The argument was that women face a health hazard, spend time of the day collecting agro-waste fuel, and are unduly held responsible for collecting fuel when men arguably are earning bread.
Challenges: necessity for the next wave of reforms
However, the excellent delivery of the Ujjwala scheme is inadequate to achieve the objectives. The next wave of reforms is necessary.
Agro-waste usage cannot be done away with yet because of unaffordability and often non-availability of refill, though cylinders are already at home.
The subsidy against that refill is credited to their bank accounts with no delay.
However, many newly enrolled consumers do not have the capacity to make upfront payment for the refill.
Many micro issues lead to the consumers not updating their phone numbers and a vast majority of them, in turn, cannot order a refill with ease.
Delivering low volumes, especially in sparsely populated, hilly and far flung areas, is not feasible and costly.
Also, strengthening supply chain in new areas will take time.
Efficiency of the private sector will make PMUY sustainable
The public sector has the strength to make these social schemes succeed.
The efficiency of the private sector will make it sustainable.
The size of the sector and the growth it promises makes it imperative to assess the possibility of courageously unbundling, decentralizing, and democratizing activities.
The scope is in the whole value chain from sourcing infrastructure to storage and transportation, and from bottling to distribution.
Issues and possible Solutions
Aggregation of demand from low-demand areas using technology, servicing them by vehicles that also carry other goods, and using private sector services may be a solution.
Tech-enabled, Aadhaar-based micro-financing may help bridge the finance gap for refill purchase.
The possibility of avoiding full payment, as subsidy follows immediately, can be explored in case of digital payments as the payer’s credentials are established while paying.
Refill bookings need to become easy and quicker by making the interface simpler, including possibly by voice.
Start-ups and tech companies have a potential to demonstrate their prowess here.
Other issues being put across by social analysts
If women had the freedom to come out of homes and indulge in recreation while gathering agro-waste, how can we ensure they find other avenues of recreation instead of being restricted to their homes as they are in some sections of society.
Also, the argument is that men benefit as much as women, as the indoor combustion of agro-waste is a health hazard for them as well.
In most households the economic benefits of subsidy are accruing to the earning members i.e. the men.
For success of any scheme, social reforms are necessary too.
The DBT and PMUY are all set to be followed by reforms which will be far reaching in meeting the objectives.
The success of PMUY is already a benchmark, with many countries reaching out to India to help them replicate it.
Mains Paper 3: Economic Development| Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Basic knowledge of India’s demographic dividend.
Mains level: The news-card analyses the issues of growing unemployment in India and why there’s a need for an industrial policy or employment strategy, in a brief manner.
India has no industrial policy or employment strategy to ride the wave of its demographic dividend
Job creation has slowed down
Job creation has slowed since 2011-12, the year of the last published National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) labour force survey.
Experts have used Labour Bureau annual survey (2015-16) data and Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy Pvt. Ltd. (CMIE) data (post-2016), which has a sample size larger than the NSSO labour force surveys, to reach this conclusion.
Both surveys cover rural and urban, and organised and unorganised sector employment.
They capture both the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation/National Pension Scheme (organised) as well as such employment as might be generated by MUDRA loans or platform economy jobs.
The latter two job sources are precisely what the government claims were not being captured by jobs data available.
However, government claims on absence of ‘good’ data on jobs are simply untenable.
A jump now
The leaked NSSO 2017-18 data have shown that while the open unemployment rate (which does not measure disguised unemployment and informal poor quality jobs that abound in the economy) by the usual status never went over 2.6% between 1977-78 and 2011-12, it has now jumped to 6.1% in 2017-18.
More young people have become educated
This was expected as in the last 10-12 years, more young people have become educated.
The tertiary education enrolment rate (for those in the 18-23 age group) rose from 11% in 2006 to 26% in 2016.
The gross secondary (classes 9-10) enrolment rate for those in the 15-16 age group shot up from 58% in 2010 to 90% in 2016.
The expectation of such youth is for a urban, regular job in either industry or services, not in agriculture.
If they have the financial wherewithal to obtain education up to such levels, they can also “afford” to remain unemployed.
Poor people, who are also much more poorly educated, have a much lower capacity to withstand open unemployment, and hence have lower open unemployment rates.
Unemployed have stopped looking for work
What NSSO 2017-18 also shows is that as open unemployment rates increased, more and more people got disheartened and fell out of the labour force.
In other words, they stopped looking for work.
The result is that labour force participation rates (LFPR, i.e. those looking for work) for all ages, fell sharply from 43% in 2004-5 to 39.5% in 2011-12, to 36.9% in 2017-18 (a reflection mainly though not only of the falling female LFPR).
Growing numbers of youth who are NEETs
This shows up in the growing numbers of youth who are NEETs: not in education, employment or training.
They are a potential source of both our demographic dividend but also what is looking to be a mounting demographic disaster.
Across education categories
A sharp increase in the unemployment rate of the educated should have worried the government.
It is estimated that the unemployment rate rose over 2011-12 to 2016 from 0.6% to 2.4% for those with middle education (class 8);
1.3% to 3.2% for those who had passed class 10;
2% to 4.4% for those who had passed class 12;
4.1% to 8.4% for graduates; and
5.3% to 8.5% for post-graduates.
Even more worrying, for those with technical education, the unemployment rate rose for graduates from 6.9% to 11%, for post-graduates from 5.7% to 7.7%, and for the vocationally trained from 4.9% to 7.9%.
Structural retrogression for Indian Economy
For an economy at India’s stage of development, an increase of workers in agriculture (of 20 million that took place over 1999-2004) is a structural retrogression, in a direction opposite to the desired one.
Between 2004-5 and 2011-12, the number of workers in agriculture fell sharply, which is good, for the first time in India’s economic history.
Similarly, the number of youth (15-29 years) employed in agriculture fell from 86.8 million to 60.9 million (or at the rate of 3 million per annum) between 2004-5 and 2011-12.
However, after 2012, as non-agricultural job growth slowed, the number of youth in agriculture actually increased to 84.8 million till 2015-16 and even more since then (as the CMIE data would attest).
These youth were better educated than the earlier cohort, but were forced to be in agriculture.
Drop in manufacturing jobs
Manufacturing jobs fell in absolute terms, from 58.9 million in 2011-12 to 48.3 million in 2015-16, a whopping 10.6 million over a four-year period.
This is consistent with slowing growth in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), which consists of manufacturing, mining, and electricity.
The IIP had sharply risen from 100 in 2004-5 to 172 by 2013-14 (in the 2004-5 series), but only rose from a base of 100 in 2011-12 in the later series to 107 in 2013-14, and to 125.3 in 2017-18.
This is also consistent with exports first falling after 2013, then barely recovering to levels still lower than 2013.
It is also consistent with investment-to-GDP ratio falling sharply since 2013, and still remaining well below 2013 levels.
This holds for both private and public investment.
“NEET”: A major concern
What is tragic is the growing number of educated youth (15-29 years) who are “NEET”.
This number (70 million in 2004-5) increased by 2 million per annum during 2004-5 and 2011-12, but grew by about 5 million per annum (2011-12 to 2015-16).
If that later trend continued it is estimated it would have increased to 115.6 million in 2017-18.
That is a 32 million increase in “NEETs” in our society over 2011-12 to 2017-18.
These youth (“NEET” and unemployed) together constitute the potential labour force, which can be utilised to realise the demographic dividend in India.
It is estimated that the number of new entrants into the labour force (currently at least 5 million per annum), and especially educated entrants into the labour force will go on increasing until 2030.
It will thereafter still increase, though at a decelerating pace.
By 2040 our demographic dividend — which comes but once in the lifetime of a nation — will be over.
China managed to reduce poverty sharply by designing an employment strategy (underpinned by an education and skills policy) aligned to its industrial strategy.
That is why it rode the wave of its demographic dividend.
It is time India should also devise and align its industrial policy and employment strategy to reap the benefits of its demographic dividend.
Mains Paper 3: Bio diversity and Environment| Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Basic knowledge of the importance of ‘Commons’.
Mains level: The news-card analyses the importance of ‘Commons’ and why there’s need to review how biodiversity and natural resources are governed, in a brief manner.
The 14th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was held at Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, last November.
Agenda of 14th CBD
When the 196 countries met for the 14th CBD, a key question on top of the agenda was how to govern biological resources (or biodiversity) at different levels for the world’s sustainable future.
The meeting had come at a significant time as it was the CBD’s 25th year of implementation.
Countries had approximately 350 days to meet global biodiversity targets.
There was also the backdrop of a damning report that humans have mismanaged biodiversity so badly that we have lost 60% of resources (which can never be recouped).
Finally, there was growing concern on how the Convention’s objectives of conservation, sustainable use and equitable sharing of benefits were being compromised, including by the parties themselves.
Protecting the ‘Commons’
For thousands of years, humans have considered natural resources and the environment as a global public good, with communities having diligently managed these resources using the principle of ‘Commons’.
In simple terms, these are a set of resources such as air, land, water and biodiversity that do not belong to one community or individual, but to humanity.
All developments we see in the establishment of civilisations across the world as well as agricultural development feeding the world today are a result of such ‘Commons’ being managed by communities for centuries.
Commons resource management principles are ignored in CBD
CBD is a multi-lateral environmental agreement that has provided legal certainty to countries through the principle of sovereign rights over biodiversity .
But it has also contributed to states now owning the resources, including their rights on use and management.
Today, states control and manage biodiversity with strict oversight of who can use what and how.
The intent of the CBD and having sovereign rights was to manage resources better.
But the results of such management have been questionable.
A key reason cited is that ‘Commons’ and common property resource management principles and approaches are ignored and compromised.
Why ‘Commons’ cannot be overlooked?
According to estimates, a third of the global population depends on ‘Commons’ for their survival.
65% of global land area is under ‘Commons’, in different forms.
At least 293,061 million metric tonnes of carbon (MtC) are stored in the collective forestlands of indigenous peoples and local communities.
This is 33 times the global energy emissions in 2017.
The significance of ‘Commons’ in supporting pollination (the cost estimated to be worth $224 billion annually at global levels) cannot be overlooked.
Significance of ‘Commons’ in India
In India, the extent of ‘Common’ land ranges between 48.69 million and 84.2 million hectares, constituting 15-25% of its total geographical area.
‘Common’-pool resources contribute $5 billion a year to the incomes of poor Indian households.
Around 77% of India’s livestock is kept in grazing-based or extensive systems and dependent on ‘Commons’ pool resources.
And 53% of India’s milk and 74% of its meat requirements are met from livestock kept in extensive ‘Common’ systems.
‘Commons’ have suffered continuous degradation
Despite their significance, ‘Commons’ in India have suffered continued decline and degradation.
National Sample Survey Office data show a 1.9% quinquennial rate of decline in the area of ‘Common’ lands.
Though microstudies show a much more rapid decline of 31-55% over 50 years, jeopardising the health of systemic drivers such as soil, moisture, nutrient, biomass and biodiversity.
This in turn aggravates food, fodder and water crises.
As of 2013, India’s annual cost of environmental degradation has been estimated to be ₹3.75 trillion per year, i.e. 5.7% of GDP according to the World Bank.
Why the concern?
‘Commons’ becoming uncommon is a major socio-political, economic and environmental problem.
While the state can have oversight over resource management, keeping people away from using and managing ‘Commons’ is against effective governance of ‘Commons’.
The sovereign rights provided for, legally, under the CBD should not be misunderstood by the state as a handle to do away with ‘Commons’-based approaches to managing biodiversity, land, water and other resources.
Current discussions under the United Nations should focus on how and why ‘Commons’ have been negatively impacted by progressive pronouncements to save the earth and people.
Changing socio-political impact of migration on ‘Commons’
Another key concern is the changing socio-political impact of migration.
Gone are the days when we can consider ‘Commons’ as resources relevant only for rural communities.
‘Commons’ are now a major provider of livelihood options for both urban and peri-urban populations.
The relevance of ‘Commons’ impacting urban dwellers cannot be overlooked with more urbanisation happening.
Way Forward: Approaches for the future
There needs to be a review of current governance of biodiversity and natural resources.
After 18 years of action to reduce the rate of loss of biodiversity, it is very likely that the same 196 countries will meet in 2020 to apologise to the world for having failed to meet the objectives of the convention.
In addition to seeking more money, time and capacities to deal with biodiversity and natural resource management, we need to focus on three specific approaches:
to re-introduce more strongly, the management and governance principles of ‘Commons’ approaches into decision-making and implementation of conservation, use and benefit sharing action;
to use Joseph Schumpeter’s approach of creative destruction to put resource management in the hands of the people; and
to re-look at Elinor Ostrom’s Nobel Prize winning principles of dealing with ‘Commons’.
Convention on Biological Diversity
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), known informally as the Biodiversity Convention, is a multilateral treaty.
The Convention has three main goals including: the conservation of biological diversity (or biodiversity); the sustainable use of its components; and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.
Its objective is to develop national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.
The Convention was opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro on 5 June 1992 and entered into force on 29 December 1993.
CBD has two supplementary agreements – Cartagena Protocol and Nagoya Protocol.
Mains level: Governance of broadcasts and creative industries in India
The union government has introduced a bill in the Rajya Sabha to amend the Cinematograph Act and impose strict penalty to combat the menace of film piracy.
Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019
The Bill seeks to amend provisions of Cinematograph Act, 1952, in order to tackle film piracy by including penal provisions for unauthorized camcording and duplication of films
It aims to check piracy, particularly the release of pirated versions of films on the internet that causes huge losses to the film industry and the exchequer.
The bill proposes to make film piracy offences punishable with imprisonment of up to three years and fines that may extend to ₹10 lakh or both.
The proposed amendment states that any person, who without the written authorisation of the copyright owner, uses any recording device to make or transmit a copy of a film, or attempts to do so, or abet the making or transmission of such a copy, will be liable for such a punishment.
The film industry has been demanding for a long time that the government consider amendments to the law preventing camcording and piracy.
The proposed amendments would increase industry revenues, boost job creation, fulfil important objectives of India’s National Intellectual Property policy.
It will give relief against piracy and infringing content online.
Mains Paper 3: Economy | Issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Circular Economy, NPC
Mains level: Read the attached story
National Productivity Council (NPC) is celebrating its 61st Foundation Day on 12th February with the theme “Circular Economy for Productivity & Sustainability”.
NPC observes foundation day as Productivity Day and the National Productivity Week.
A circular economy is an economic system aimed at minimising waste and making the most of resources.
This regenerative approach is in contrast to the traditional linear economy, which has a ‘take, make, dispose’ model of production.
In a circular system resource input and waste, emission, and energy leakage are minimized by slowing, closing, and narrowing energy and material loops.
This can be achieved through long-lasting design, maintenance, repair, reuse, remanufacturing, refurbishing, recycling, and upcycling.
The circular economy follows the principle of preservation and enhancement of natural capital by controlling finite stocks and balancing renewable resource flows.
Why circular economy?
Circular economy has the potential to increase productivity and create jobs, whilst reducing carbon emissions and preserving valuable raw materials.
It works by extending product life span through improved design and servicing and relocating waste from the end of the supply chain to the beginning – in effect, using resources more efficiently by using them over and over.
The challenge lies in building circular economy knowledge and capacity.
About National Productivity Council
National Productivity Council (NPC) is an autonomous registered society under DPIIT, Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
It is national level organization to promote productivity culture in India.
Established by the Ministry of Industry, Government of India in 1958, it is an autonomous, multipartite, non-profit organization with equal representation from employers’ & workers’ organizations and Government.
NPC is a constituent of the Tokyo-based Asian Productivity Organisation (APO), an Inter Governmental Body, of which the Government of India is a founder member.