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Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (4th July)

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 bilateral limits of hype: on India-U.S. relations

  1. The postponement of the India-U.S. 2+2 dialogue between the Foreign and Defence Ministers of both countries, that had been scheduled for July 6 has to be seen with the personality of Mr. Trump
  2. Mr. Trump has set his eyes on spectacles that suit him
  3. His every move on the global stage enrages his domestic political opponents and the professional strategic community alike and he is happy, as this keeps his political base constantly on the boil
  4. North Korea, Syria, Afghanistan, trade deficit, and all global challenges before America are the faults of his predecessors, he repeatedly tells supporters

Impact of this policy on ties

  1. China today threatens the dominance of the U.S., but America’s security establishment and political elite are obsessed with Russia
  2. India gets caught in that internal American fight too
  3. An American law now requires the President to impose sanctions on any country that has significant security relations with Russia
  4. India and China are in the same basket for Mr. Trump on many issues that agitate him
  5. His administration considers India and China as violators of intellectual property laws, as countries that put barriers to trade and subsidise exports and use state power to control markets
  6. Amongst all adversaries, the Pentagon and the U.S. arms industry work in India’s favor

Way forward

  1. India-U.S. relations will be better off without hype and grand theories, often encouraged by the government
  2. The U.S. has overlapping interests with China, and India has overlapping interests with both
  3. Avoiding the hyperbole could help manage India’s troubles with Pakistan and China better

2. The marriage penalty on women in India

An exclusive focus on educating women or financial inclusiveness is unlikely to be effective in making women economically more empowered.

  1. The discourse on economic development has become increasingly gendered, in recognition of both the ethical construct of equality between men and women and the realization that women’s empowerment generates positive externalities.
  2. Despite the pronounced gendered approach to policy initiatives recently in India, the country slipped 21 places between 2016 and 2017 in The Global Gender Gap Report released by the World Economic Forum.
  3. India’s low rank on gender parity in labour force participation (LFP) fell further, by four points, to 139 (among 144 countries).

The biggest constraint

  1. The observed decline in female LFP has been the largest and most significant for rural married women.
  2. In urban areas, while there has been no decline in participation by married women over time, the figure has been stagnating.
  3. On the other hand, there has been no fall in the employment rate for men in the same demographic group.

Few facts underlining this phenomenon

  1. In 2011, around 50% of unmarried women in the 15-60 age brackets were in the labour force, while the proportion for married women was 20%.
  2. There has been a rise in LFP rates among urban unmarried women between 1999-2011, from 37% to 50%, but, for married women, it has been stagnant for 30 years.
  3. For married and unmarried men, the participation rates are high (around 95%) and constant over time.

Marriage and Childcare- the only barrier

  1. With marriage almost being universal in India, the different trajectories that single and married women have followed clearly hint at marriage and consequent childcare as one of the important barriers in access to employment.
  2. Against a rapid increase in the number of years women get an education, an increase in age for marriage and a reduction in fertility levels, these trends seem contradictory to the trend of labour force participation seen in India.

What NFHS data says?

  1. The latest figures from the National Family Health Survey show that the average age at first marriage in India is 18 for rural and 19.4 for urban women.
  2. Age at first birth is 20 for rural, and 21 for urban, women.

Two realities that young girls face in our country

  1. First, there is a small window of opportunity to be economically active after completion of education and before marriage.
  2. Second, with universal marriage and expected child-bearing, there is little space between marriage and first child.
  3. While the number of children born to a woman has come down (two in urban areas and 2.5 in rural areas in 2015), this may not necessarily increase women’s labour force attachment if households place greater importance on the quality of their progeny.

Re-entry post Maternity

  1. A look at participation numbers at the cohort level shows that there is an increase in participation proportion from 17% in the early 20s to 22% in the early 30s.
  2. Even for women with graduate and higher level of education, it increases from approximately 13% in the early 20s to 28% in the early 30s.
  3. Childcare is clearly a constraint for married women and continues to remain a roadblock from the employment perspective.

Policy Initiatives – a glimmer of hope

  1. Adoption of technologies that potentially reduce the burden of housework—for instance, the Ujjwala programme’s subsidization of cooking gas, which can induce a shift towards cleaner fuel that also reduces cooking time–is one small but important step in the right direction.
  2. Under the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act (2016), provision of a crèche facility has become mandatory for establishments employing at least 50 individuals.
  3. But the Rajiv Gandhi National Crèche Scheme for the Children of Working Mothers, started by the government for low-income families, has been marred by poor infrastructure and limited benefits due to its flawed design.

Way Forward

  1. There is no silver bullet that works best in empowering women economically in our country.
  2. But the heart of the matter is that to get more women to work, we have to get them out of their homes.
  3. Hence, an exclusive focus on educating and skilling women or financial inclusiveness is unlikely to be effective unless policy measures address the constraints of childcare faced by married women.
  4. With patriarchal norms underlying the traditional role of men and women in households and non-marketization of childcare, coupled with a shift towards nuclear families, the burden of domestic work lies on women.
  5. At the same time, the absence of flexible work hours and easier physical access to work have been compounded by the persistent gender gap in wages.

3. Jaitley slams action against bankers

  • The statement was in reference to the recent arrest of Bank of Maharashtra officials made by the Pune police.
  • Bankers have been complaining about harassment by investigative agencies for decisions made several years ago. After the Bank of Maharashtra incident, the Indian Banks’ Association has appealed to the government against such practices.
  • There has been a number of cases of bankers been named by investigative agencies long after their retirement.

Concerns

  • POCA was a pre-1991 piece of legislation and it was one of the most badly drafted laws.
  • It creates a legislative system where even bona fide decisions — in a post-mortem done after 10 years — are found to be erroneous and people are held accountable.
  • It is important to amend the POCA with the suggested amendments of the standing committee and bring it in tune with the modern decision-making.
  • Jaitley warned that the threat to federalism came from the States, and such events could paralyse the decision-making process.
  • Jaitley questioned whether State government police should investigate the decisions taken by Central government agencies as it would completely upset the federal balance.

POCA

  • The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to combat corruption in government agencies and public-sector businesses in India.
  • This law defines who a public servant is and punishes public servants involved in corruption or bribery.
  • It also punishes anyone who helps him or her commit the crime corruption or bribery.

Scope of the law

  • When a public servant accepts money or gifts over and above their salary, in return for favoring a person in their official duty.
  • When a public servant accepts gifts from a person with whom they have a business or official relationship without paying them.
  • When a public servant is guilty of criminal misconduct such as regularly accepting bribes to favor people during their official duty.
  • If any person accepts money or gifts in return for influencing the public servant by using his personal connection or through illegal or corrupt methods, this person can also be punished.
  • Any person helping the public servant commit these crimes can also be punished.

4. A good beginning: on the Cauvery Water Management Authority

  • The centre recently constituted the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) in compliance with a Supreme Court order to address the water dispute involving the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

Composition of CWMA

  • The Cauvery management authority would comprise a chairman, eight members besides a secretary. Out of eight members, two each will be full-time and part-time members, while the rest four would be part-time members from states.
  • The chairman of the Cauvery management authority should either be a “senior and eminent engineer” with an experience of water resource management and handling of inter-state water dispute or an IAS officer with an experience in water resources management and handling the inter-state dispute

Functions of CWMA

  • Exercise power and discharge such duty for “sufficient and expedient for securing compliance and implementation” of the Supreme Court order in relation to “storage, apportionment, regulation and control of Cauvery waters”.
  • Supervise operation of reservoirs and with the regulation of water releases there from with the assistance of the regulation committee
  • The authority at the beginning of the water year (June 1 each year) would determine the total residual storage in the specified reservoirs.
  • The Cauvery Management authority has also been tasked to advise the states to take suitable measures to improve water use efficiency, by way of promoting micro-irrigation (drip and sprinkler), change in cropping pattern, improved agronomic practices, system deficiency correction and command area development.

Analysis

  • We are having more than 80 per cent of Indian rivers are inter-state rivers. There are more than 100 inter-state water agreements in India. Many of these agreements are more than 100 years old and had been executed without seriously considering socio-economic, political and geographical factors.
  • These treaties have now become permanent sources of problems for many states. Continuous redrawing of state boundaries during the British regime and after Independence have kept the disputes alive.
  • The CWMA has been formed by the Centre to implement the water-sharing award of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal as modified by the Supreme Court earlier this year.
  • For the Authority to successfully perform its role, it needs the cooperation of the States in gathering data on rainfall, inflows and outflows, cropping patterns and periodic withdrawals from reservoirs.
  • The CWMA is expected to meet once every 10 days during the monsoon months. The south-west monsoon has been active for nearly a month, and is forecast to be normal this year.
  • Therefore, the CWMA may not face any major problem in overseeing the release of water to Tamil Nadu.
  • As long as the inflows into Karnataka’s major reservoirs are substantial, it has had no problem releasing its surplus water into the lower riparian areas of the basin. It is only in a distress year that the CWMA will face a significant challenge, as determining the extent of distress, and dividing the shortfall among the States on a pro rata basis can be tricky exercises.
  • Karnataka is planning to challenge in the Supreme Court about the Centre’s notification constituting the Authority. It will be unfortunate if this dispute gets into another round of litigation.
  • The provisions of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956, make it clear that it is the Centre’s duty to notify a scheme to implement the award of a Tribunal. Parliament has the power to modify the scheme, or leave it as it stands, but Karnataka’s claim that the scheme requires parliamentary approval before it is implemented is questionable.

Way Forward

  • Now that the CWMA has become functional, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry should approach the issue of sharing the waters of the inter-State river in a spirit of cooperation and help the Authority in implementing the verdict.
  • The parties concerned should leave behind the era of litigation. There is now a non-political mechanism available to make sound professional decisions on water availability and sharing of distress, if any, after discussing the issues threadbare. After having been locked in a contentious legal dispute for so long, all parties concerned must embark on a new era of mutually beneficial water-sharing.
  • In the longer term, experts will have to devise a sustainable agricultural solution for the Cauvery basin, as the river does not seem to have the potential to meet the farming requirements of both sides.
  • In a world of depleting water resources, fewer crop seasons and lower acreages, a resort to less water-intensive crops and better water management hold the key.
  • It is time that water issues are de-politicised and political parties learn to see reason and respect the rule of law without getting carried away by electoral considerations. The Central government has got a golden opportunity on Cauvery to set a new, healthy trend.

5. Consult UPSC for selecting police chiefs, SC tells States

Consult UPSC for selecting police chiefs, SC tells States

  • The Supreme Court restrained the State governments from appointing Directors-General of Police without first consulting the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

New rules

  • The State government concerned has to send to the service commission the names of the probables three months before the incumbent DGP is to retire.
  • The UPSC will prepare a list of three officers fit to be DGP and send it back.
  • It shall, as far as practicable, choose the people who have got a clear two years of service and must give due weightage to merit and seniority.
  • The State, in turn, shall immediately appoint one of the persons shortlisted by the commission.
  • States may make an endeavour to allow the DGP appointed to continue in office despite his or her date of superannuation, this extension of tenure should be only for a reasonable period.
  • On the practice of States appointing ‘Acting DGPs’, the court ordered that States shall not ever conceive of the idea of such appointments. There is no concept of Acting DGPs.

Background

  • A Bench, led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, passed the directions on an application by the Centre for modification of a September, 2006 judgment on a petition filed by former DGPs Prakash Singh and N.K. Singh for reforms in the police forces.
  • In 2006, the court passed seven directives, primarily to ensure that State governments do not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police.
  • Secondly, the court directed the States to ensure that the DGP is appointed through a merit-based transparent process and secure a minimum tenure of two years.
  • The Home Ministry filed an application in 2017 to modify the original judgment. The application itself was spurred by the decisions of the Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal governments to appoint police chiefs on their convenience.

Concerns

  • The Centre, represented by Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, submitted that of 29 States only five — Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana and Rajasthan — have implemented the Supreme Court direction of 2006 to consult the UPSC on the appointment of DGPs.
  • Venugopal submitted that some State governments have even gone to the extent of appointing their favourite officers as DGP on the very date of their retirement so that they would continue to serve for another two years till the age of 62.
  • Distortion and aberrations have crept into the procedure regarding the appointment of DGPs and the manner in which it is being manipulated by political masters with the connivance of the bureaucracy.

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