Daily Editorial Analysis for 17th March 2020

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  5. Daily Editorial Analysis for 17th March 2020

Declining women participation

Paper: II

For Mains: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

Context of News:

  • As India celebrates National Science Day on February 28 every year to mark C.V. Raman’s discovery of the scattering of light. This gives us an opportunity to relook in to our self-centered policy of providing an equal opportunity to women. For the last 33 years, on this day, research institutes and other academic centers in the country have been holding public outreach programmes or conducting meetings on select topics.
  • This year, the theme was Women in Science. This is a timely and relevant theme, but it is also rather ironic given that, India’s Utopian idea of Women in science is not producing result at ground level.

Understand Declining Women’s work Participation through Facts and Figures:

  • India is one of the few countries in the world where women’s work participation rates have fallen sharply from 29 per cent in 2004-5 to 22 per cent in 2011-12 and to 17 per cent in 2017-18.
  • The anatomy of the decline in women’s work participation rates shows that it is driven by rural women. In the prime working age group (25-59), urban women’s worker to population ratios (WPR) fell from 28 per cent to 25 per cent between 2004-5 and 2011-12, stagnating at 24 per cent in 2017-18. However, compared to these modest changes, rural women’s WPR declined sharply from 58 per cent to 48 per cent and to 32 per cent over the same period?

Is the decline in women’s labour force participation real or employment data is mismatched?

  • Concerns have been raised pertaining to data collection methodology and authenticity of data. Economic statistics have begun to emerge in such diverse areas as GDP data and consumption expenditure; perhaps it is time to reconsider data collection mythology.
  • The questions have been raised the way National Statistical Office (NSO) collects employment data, which has not been changed, but the statistical workforce has, and the surveys that performed reasonably well in the hands of seasoned interviewers are too complex for poorly trained contract data collectors.
  • The National Sample Surveys (NSS) do not have a script that the interviewer reads out. They have schedules that must be completed. The interviewer is trained in concepts to be investigated and then left to fill the schedules to the best of his or her ability. An experienced, well-trained investigator may know how to probe. However, with shortage of funds and trained personnel, the NSS increasingly relies on contract investigators hired for short periods, who lack these skills.

Gender Gap in Science:

  • Education is a family decision:
  • Educational decisions in our country are generally family decisions and not individual choices, as education involves investment of collective family resources with collective impacts. Decisions are primarily based on projected impact on the collective family welfare. For parents, daughter’s education involves family resources, status, marriage considerations and these become too important to leave choices in the hands of individual students. Family and social consequences become more significant in case of a girl child rather than her interest and will.
  • Economic factors:
  • These play a major role in academic decisions and are major constraints for women in pursuing science. Even for families with greater resources, economic considerations affect the pursuit of science degree as a science or engineering degree is generally a more expensive option than an arts or a commerce degree.
  • Gender stereotypes and gender roles:
  • Gendered family responsibilities and emphasis on homely traits for daughters makes the situation less favourable to study science. Widespread Indian cultural model of a family is patriarchal in which gender roles are differentiated and all household responsibilities lie with female members of a family. Individual women’s goals and interests get merged for collective family welfare and smooth functioning of household activities.
  • Lack of role models:
  • It is much easier for girls to pursue science and imagine a career there when they see more successful women examples. Lack of role models continues to hinder career choices of girls away from STEM subjects.

Way Forward:

  • In recent times, India government has made a lot of progress in filling the gender gap in various sectors .This progress is positive, but there’s still a long way to go to close the gender gap for good
  • Create the right working environment:
  • Gender equality starts with the right working culture. Does the corporate culture promote and support equal opportunities? Is there a fair representation of both men and women in leadership positions? And if not, why? Is the business actively encouraging both men and women to climb up the ranks – and are they provided with the right tools and training to do so? These are all important questions to ask when building an inclusive culture.
  • Equal opportunity for men and women to excel:
  • Taking about in Indian perspective, women’s presence is too low in Parliament; women’s representation in higher post field is very low and rare.
  • We know that women still have limited presence on boards of directors around the world, even though this gender gap can undermine a company’s potential value and growth. Having higher diversity across the board can improve business performance by broadening access to information and encouraging different viewpoints.
  • However, just because a business or industry may have a higher ratio of females, doesn’t mean it’s doing all it can to help women succeed. In the creative industries, for example, there are a large proportion of female employees yet, they only represent a small proportion of director level roles.
  • Create the right balance of personal and professional life:
  • Various Researches found that 90 percent of employees believe taking extended family leave will hurt their career, which is deeply concerning. Modern businesses need to find ways to accommodate these life events, whether that means promoting flexible working or providing paid time-off to look after dependents. Businesses should also be actively encouraging both men and women to take parental leave.
  • We have made great progress in closing the gender pay gap, but as competition heats up, businesses need to put the right strategy in place to build an inclusive culture. Not only will this allow an equal playing field, but it will also enable businesses to improve performance.
  • Change Data Collection Methodology:
  • It may be also time for us to return to the recommendations of ‘Shramshakti: Report of National Commission on Self Employed Women and Women in the Informal Sector’ and develop our data collection processes from the lived experiences of women and count women’s work rather than women workers. Without this, we run the risks of developing misguided policy responses.


Virus and the migrant

Paper: II

For Mains: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

Context of News:

  • With more than 100 countries across the world have reported coronavirus cases and this virus becoming pandemic, India has cancelled various countries citizens’ arrival of European countries because of the pandemic.
  • The outbreak has affected people’s mobility, both within nations as well as travel across borders. Almost all countries in the Persian Gulf have stopped accepting migrants from India. Nearly 600 fishermen from India are stuck on the coronavirus-hit Kish Island in Iran, which has requested the government of India to repatriate them.

Indian Migrant workers Facing Problem in Backdrop of Covid-19:

  • Indian migrant appears to be facing the heat of Covid-19 in view of the travel restrictions imposed by several West Asian countries. For instance, the Kuwait General Administration of Civil Aviation has suspended all flights to and from India for two weeks. Qatar and Saudi Arabia have imposed temporary travel bans on passengers from India. Indians who want to return to the countries where they work, after the end of the ban period, will require medical certificates from authorised hospitals.
  • Passengers travelling to India are facing difficulties after their arrival as there is little information about the self-reporting form that must be filled by international passengers. They sometimes have to wait long hours in the airport to acquire this form, fill it and clear immigration. Moreover, there is very little information about the counters in international airports in India that offer this service before passenger’s proceeds to immigration clearance.
  • Central China’s Hubei Province, hit hard by the novel coronavirus outbreak, has started sending out workers after new infections petered out in most of its cities.
  • Migrant workers aren’t especially susceptible to coronavirus, but their living conditions during the growing season trailers and rooms that house many workers could put them at greater risk of catching the virus, which spreads through droplets, close contact and surfaces.

Why Migrants working in Gulf Important for India?

  • Source of Forex Reserve:
  • These migrants working in Gulf region, serves as an important source of income for India through the transfer of remittances whilst also playing an important role in the economic development of the Gulf States.
  • Remittances are considered to be one of the important sources of income in many developing economies including India. This is because remittances contribute significantly in foreign exchange earnings, GDP growth of nations and improved conditions of the migrants’ families. India is the world’s largest remittance recipient country in last two years.
  • Cultural Ties:
  • India’s foreign policy is primarily based on its cultural legacy, historical linkages, geopolitical and economic considerations. Its deeper relationship with the Arab countries is civilizational, as its roots could be traced for many centuries old.
  • The Gulf is one of the strategically important regions where more than 8 million Indian diaspora community lives. It is clear that more than one-fourth of the total Indian diaspora lives in this region.
  • Diaspora is considered as a soft power in the foreign policy strategy which germinates from India’s moral and political philosophy shaped by Indian thinkers like Tagore, Gandhi and Nehru. It is also considered as a catalyst for economic development in India and host countries. It is thus important to develop a more cordial and stronger relationship with this region.
  • Playing Role of Global Player:
  • India can be instrumental in promoting stability in the region, which also helps its own energy and security requirements, and workforce employment.
  • The West Asian countries have fully realized the economic and diplomatic potentials of India. They are willing to widen their ties with India in strategic fields. Working together would enable them to meet the challenges of contemporary times.

Way Forward:

  • The India-Gulf region is the second largest migration corridor in the world. It is imperative that governments in the region take measures to ensure that travel restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak do not affect livelihoods of people and hinder mobility in the long-run.
  • Despite playing an important role in building their economies, the issue of immigrant rights has been largely ignored by the GCC. Currently, migrants enjoy few, if any, of the civil, political, or social rights associated with citizenship i.e. are offered no integration possibilities. This new emerging deadly virus is providing us an opportunity to look into, what has been missing; i.e attention towards these migrants.
  • It would be in our own interests to further develop economic, diplomatic and cultural relations with these Gulf countries. Emphasis should be given to diversify relations beyond trade and energy and focus on human resources. We must develop a sound bilateral labour policy that addresses the issues concerning the Indian labour working in the region for our mutual benefits.

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