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Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (22nd June)

Dear aspirants, following are the links of various articles taken from various newspapers. Click the link to read further. To get notification, follow the blog. Thank you

1. The cost of the missing women in Indian politics

Socio-economic disadvantages and poor female political participation create a vicious cycle that needs to be broken.

  1. B.R. Ambedkar once said that “political power is the key to all social progress”
  2. In India, women suffer substantially greater socio-economic disadvantages than Western democracies
  3. A concentration of political power tends to lead to extractive economic institutions
  4. Inclusive economic institutions and growth—both necessary for and dependent on social empowerment—require inclusive political institutions

Effects of political representation of disadvantaged groups

  1. Observing a member of their own group in charge of a public office changes attitudes and infuses confidence in the minority group
  2. This may be referred to as the reporting channel
  3. The second effect is an increase in the responsiveness of the official towards the pleas of disadvantaged groups
  4. This is termed as the recording effect
  5. The knock-on economic effects are apparent as well
  6. There is a strong connection between the implementation of political reservations and small-scale entrepreneurship among women

Status of women representation

  1. The proportion of women in the Lok Sabha has seen only a paltry increase since independence—from 4.5% in the first Lok Sabha to the current 12% in the 16th Lok Sabha
  2. The 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution in 1993 made it mandatory to earmark 33% of all positions in Panchayati raj institutions for women

What limits women representation?

  1. Political parties in India tend not to follow provisions in their constitutions reserving seats for women in different committees
  2. The second barrier is the lack of education and leadership training
  3. Additionally, since women are not integrated in any local political process initially, and, unlike men, are not part of the relevant social and power networks, women leaders are prone to inefficiencies

Way forward

  1. Socio-economic disadvantages lead to reduced opportunities for women to participate in the political process, leading to a weakened representation
  2. There is a pressing need for education and leadership training to familiarize them with the local government functioning and instill in them a sense of agency

2. A Bill that is causing worry

  • The Bill’s objective is to remove the tag of ‘illegal migrants’ from members of minority communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Christians and Parsis — from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who have entered the country without legal documentation or whose documents have expired. ‘
  • The idea is to make them eligible to apply for Indian citizenship.

Features of the Proposed Bill

  • If the Bill is passed, these individuals will be eligible for citizenship by naturalisation.
  • Under the present law, citizenship by naturalisation requires applicants to have stayed in the country for 11 years of the previous 14 years, and throughout the last 12 months.
  • The proposed amendment reduces the residency requirement to six years, besides the last 12 months. The amendment will not cover Muslims, who form the majority in these three countries.
  • The Bill’s statement of objects and reasons argues that the aim is to help persons of Indian origin, including those from these minority communities in the three countries, who are unable to produce proof of their Indian origin while applying for citizenship by registration.
  • As naturalisation is their only means of acquiring citizenship, the government wants to reduce the residency requirement from 12 to seven years. The long waiting period in the present law would deny them “opportunities and advantages” that accrue to citizens, even though they are likely to stay in India permanently.
  • Another feature of the proposed amendment is that it enables cancellation of the registration of any Overseas Citizen of India cardholder for violation of Indian law.

 

Issues about the Proposed Bill

  • Opposition to the Bill is strong in Assam, where there is fear that non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh will become Indian citizens. There is also an apprehension that this would be in conflict with the ongoing exercise to update the National Register of Citizens in Assam, for which the cut-off date is March 24, 1971.
  • The Bill is also seen as discriminatory in some quarters as it does not cover Muslim sects fleeing persecution from dominant sections in these countries.

3. World’s hungry population on the rise again, says UN report

World’s hungry population on the rise again, says UN report

Causes

  • According to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2018 report, conflict is now one of the main drivers of food insecurity in 18 countries.
  • After a prolonged decline, world hunger appears to be on the rise again.
  • Conflict, drought and disasters linked to climate change are among the key factors causing this reversal in progress.
  • Violent conflicts also led to the forced displacement of a record high 68.5 million in 2017.

Economic losses

  • Noting the increasing impact of extreme events related to a changing climate, the report said economic losses attributed to disasters were estimated at over $300 billion in 2017.
  • This is among the highest losses in recent years, owing to three major hurricanes affecting the United States of America and several countries across the Caribbean.

South Asia

  • South Asia, which includes India, has seen child marriage rates plunge, with a girl’s risk of getting married in childhood dropping by 40% from 2000 to 2017.
  • On the other hand, water stress levels for many countries in the region are above 70%, indicating fast-approaching water scarcity.
  • More than nine out of 10 people living in urban areas around the world are breathing polluted air, with southern Asia scoring the worst in this area.
  • While electricity and sanitation deficits in south Asia are still poor, the report noted efforts are being made to close the gap.

Sense of urgency

  • While there is little country-specific data in the report, it does examine the performance of various regions in meeting the 17 SDGs, which were adopted by UN member nations in 2015. The deadline to meet them is 2030.
  • Achieving the 2030 Agenda requires immediate and accelerated actions by countries along with collaborative partnerships among governments and stakeholders at all levels.

4. India notifies higher tariffs on U.S. imports

  • India’s move comes close on the heels of escalating trade tensions, with the U.S. and China both imposing hefty tariffs on each other, and even the European Union joining the fray.
  • The row began in March, when U.S. President Donald Trump signed an order imposing a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminium imports, causing concern among its trading partners and members of the WTO.

Consequences

  • Recently, International Monetary Fund also highlighted the detrimental effects of such a trade environment and that the prospect of trade restrictions and counter-restrictions threatens to undermine confidence and derail growth prematurely.
  • It means that the costs at both the ends would go up, for Indian consumers as well as for U.S. consumers.
  • Imposing tariffs basically means either you look for other sources, or you import at higher prices.

Room for talks

  • The notification, however, says these higher tariffs would come into effect from August 4, leaving room for further discussions between the U.S. and India before the new rates are implemented.
  • It follows the government’s notification to the World Trade Organization last week that it was imposing tariffs, amounting to $240 million, in retaliation for the U.S. duty on steel and aluminium.
  • The notification does not mention a tariff hike on 800 cc (or more) motorcycles, which would affect Harley Davidson imports, already a sore point.

India-US 2+2 Dialogue

  • The inaugural U.S.-India 2+2 Dialogue will take place on July 6, both countries announced.
  • It will focus on strengthening strategic, security, and defense cooperation as the United States and India jointly confront global challenges.
  • The new dialogue format was agreed to between the two sides during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington D.C. in June, 2017.
  • The two sides are expected to share perspectives on strengthening their strategic and security ties and exchange views on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.

Hurdles

  • The meeting takes place amid considerable divergence between the two countries on several strategic and trade issues.
  • The U.S is pressing India to scale down its defence cooperation with Russia.
  • The Donald Trump administration has been reassuring Indian interlocutors that it will shield India from anti-Russia third party sanctions required by a U.S. law.
  • How this will be achieved remains unclear, and this issue will be top of the agenda in the dialogue.
  • Negotiations on India’s proposed purchase of Guardian Avenger armed drones from the U.S. is dependent on the progress of talks on the Communications, Compatibility, Security Agreement (COMCASA) between the two countries.
  • Both countries are exchanging notes on an India-specific agreement.
  • India has found the text of the standard agreement that the U.S. signs with many countries too intrusive.

5. Tighter is better

Loose fiscal and monetary policies pushed India to brink of crisis in 2013. Wiser policy could avert it in 2018.

  1. Since April, emerging markets (EMs) have been rudely shocked by the sudden reversal of capital flows without any apparent change in economic fundamentals
  2. Financial buffers in EM are much stronger today than they were before the 2013 taper tantrum

Which economies are under pressure?

  1. The ones with large current account deficits and, in turn, high foreign borrowing
  2. Why? There has been a steady decline in policy space because of loose fiscal and, in some cases, monetary policy
  3. Without adequate policy space, the buffers have turned ineffective

Factors influencing Capital inflows

  1. The growth differential with developed markets (DM)
  2. The strength of the US dollar
  • Higher EM-DM growth differential increases inflow, a stronger US dollar lowers it
  • Why? Investing in EM is riskier, higher growth will compensate the risk
  • A stronger dollar raises the cost of funding and therefore investors scale back investment

What happened in April 2018?

  1. Incoming data from the Euro Area and Japan pointed to growth disappointment, but above par growth in the US
  2. The altered dynamics forced the market to reprice US interest rates and the dollar
  3. The consequent tightening of global financial conditions caught investors off guard
  4. Capital outflows from EM ensued and their currencies depreciated

Why are economies struggling even after having buffers?

  1. Along with buffers, Foreign exchange liabilities have also risen and there are limits to the use of reserves
  2. In several, if not all, vulnerable economies, the current account deficit is rising because of growing fiscal and quasi-fiscal deficits
  3. Fiscal profligacy is restraining the space for the economies to grow without increasing foreign borrowing

What needs to be done?

  1. If an EM economy is to maintain or widen the growth differential with DM, it needs to grow faster, requiring more funding
  2. If the government does not reduce its deficit to provide the additional funds, the private sector is forced to borrow more externally, that is, the current account deficit has to widen
  3. The way out is to tighten fiscal policy, even when it might not have been part of the problem so that the private sector has the domestic space to grow

Risks for India

  1. India’s overall fiscal deficit (Centre plus state) has remained virtually constant, around 7 percent of GDP since 2013-14
  2. This year also, both the Centre and state deficits are likely to be under pressure with GST collections running below the budgeted run rate
  3. A continued decline in private investment in last 4 years provided the excess domestic savings needed to keep the current account deficit (foreign borrowing) contained at around 1 percent
  4. With the higher budgeted fiscal deficit, even the hint of a recovery in private investment is raising fears of the current account deficit rising sharply

Way forward

  1. Loose fiscal and monetary policies pushed India to the brink of crisis in 2013
  2. If India doesn’t tighten fiscal and monetary policies early and sufficiently, then it too could be heading down the path of its peers

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