Current Affairs – 25th November, 2016

GOVERNANCE AND ETHICS

 

TOPIC:

General Studies 3

  • 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

General Studies 4

  • Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions
  • Ethical issues in international relations and funding n laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance.

 

Refugees in India –Challenges and Strategy

 

Who is a Refugee?

A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

 

Refugees in India – History and Trends

India hosts refugees who have been victims of civil strife and war in nations such as Tibet, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Myanmar.

  • In 1962, approximately 40,000 Chakma tribal people who had lost their homes and farmland due to flooding as a result of building of Kaptai dam by Pakistan came to India as refugees.
  • The Rohingyas are an ethnic group from the Rakhine state in Myanmar. Over 13,000 Rohingya refugees are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in India.
  • Tibetan refugees arrived in India between 1959 and 1962 and were given adequate refuge in over 38 settlements and essential privileges available to an Indian citizen.
  • The Afghan refugees fled the civil war in the 1980s and now inhabit parts of Delhi.
  • In 1990s, Bhutan expelled lakhs of Nepali-speaking population present in their country and a large percentage of these stayed in India as refugees while on their way to Nepal.

 

Rising Refugees as per World Bank – Trends

As per World Bank data there has been a significant rise in the number of refugees in India in the past decade. The graphic representation of the data has been shown below.

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Problems faced by Refugees in India

India remains the only significant democracy without adequate legislation specifically for refugees. As a result, they face a lot of problems such as:

  • They live in poor quality accommodation made of plastic tarps and straw roofs.
  • They have no or inadequate access to safe water or sanitation.
  • Waste management is very poor in areas of refuges habitation and open defecation is rife as sanitation is also inadequate.
  • The children of refugee families miss out on quality education due to lack of requisite documentation.
  • Most men serve as daily wage labourers.
  • They usually do not have any legal status or formal documents which rob them of opportunity to work or establish businesses in India.
  • Ethnic clashes between refugees and the local population are a common occurrence due to issues over land distribution and assistance provided to refugees.
  • State governments have not provided supportive environment to refugees and they face forcible eviction, economic blockading and violence.

 

Where is India Lacking?

  • India remains a non-signatory to 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol, which help define the legal obligation of states to protect refugees.
  • From a policy perspective also we are lacking because we do not have a national asylum policy.
  • Existing policy instruments have become obsolete.
  • India is the only significant democracy without a specific legislation for refugees.
  • The Foreigners Act (1946) and the Registration of Foreigners Act (1939) currently govern the entry and exit of all refugees. Both these legislations treat refugees as foreigners without due consideration of their special circumstances.
  • Lack of proper database which leads to misrepresentation of numbers and faulty reporting by media.

 

Way Forward for India

Policy and Legislations:

  • A refugee to whom asylum has been granted should be given a formal recognition of his/her asylum status along with an identity document and a travel document.
  • Policies should be framed in a manner which allows them to apply for residence permits and choose their place of residence across India.
  • Their documents must also enable them to seek employment in the private sector.
  • In terms of social indicators, they should be offered primary education free of cost in government schools and primary healthcare services should be provided at par with the Indian citizens.
  • A well-defined asylum law should be made which will help in establishing a formal refuge granting process.
  • Measures should be taken under the government welfare programmes and biometric initiatives like Aadhaar to ensure preparation of adequate database.

Social Sensitisation and Attitude Change:

  • Social sensitisation is highly important. Institutions should be encouraged to recognise UNHCR-issued refugee cards, foreign degrees or diplomas.
  • Local municipal corporations should be asked to sensitise neighbourhood associations and Resident Welfare Associations (RWA) to accept refugees who can pay rents and necessary charges.
  • Integration workshops for youth and women empowerment initiatives should be encouraged.

Conclusion

For a country that gained independence with a mass exchange of populations due to the partition, it needs to work more on its policies and laws to integrate refugee welfare in them.  While the security interests of India must remain paramount, taking care of refugees in India is a moral duty for the state.

The duty of a democratic nation is not to announce policies only. India fails on various issues associated with resettlement and rehabilitation, with many refugees remaining unregistered. India needs a system that enables the management of refugees with greater transparency and accountability. There has to be a shift from an arbitrary decision-making approach to safeguard interests of this vulnerable, victimised section of the population.

Connecting the dots

  • Highlight the flaws in India’s approach in dealing with refugees. Suggest necessary changes to be made in this concern.
  • Owing to the refugee crisis around the world, there has been a lot of debate on the approach of various nations towards refugees. In light of this matter give your opinion on which human value, empathy or sympathy, is of greater importance in dealing with the refugees.

 

ECONOMY

 

TOPIC: General Studies 3

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

 

Improving India’s job creation ranking

In past few months, several international institutions have assessed, compared and ranked the performance of countries on different indicators on issues like

  • Competitiveness
  • Ease of doing business
  • Hunger
  • Youth development
  • Gender gap
  • Press freedom
  • Consumer confidence

However, there was no place for indicator that specifically measures job creation which is the key to economic growth, especially of developing countries.

India’s performance

  • In some, it has exceeded expectations while in some, the performance has been not so well.
  • The World Economic Forum ranked India at 39th position on the Global Competitiveness Index. This is an impressive jump of 16 places since last year.
  • However, despite such jump, WEF has cautioned that India’s performance is low by global standards, and huge challenges lie ahead on the path to prosperity.
  • This is due to existence of high average tariff on imports, low level of factor accumulation, and relatively high incremental capital-output ratio.
  • Also, there is less than optimal domestic regulatory environment and near absence of regulatory harmonization.
  • These are the reasons why India could move only one place up in World Bank’s recent ease of doing business ranking. On a positive front, the World Bank has recognised the government’s efforts towards a better business growth environment and hopes for more stimulating business environment.
  • On the other hand, India’s performance on social, education and health-related indices has been abysmal.
  • The WEF report on global gender gap reveals that India is third last on the indicator of women’s health. On the Global Hunger Index, India lies among the bottom group of countries, even below neighbours like Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Job creation opportunities in India- Where does it stand?

  • India is facing one of the most critical challenges in terms of job creation. The number of jobs created in 2015 is less in comparison with what was created few years ago.
  • The reason is fast pace of the mechanization of agriculture and manufacturing and more skill oriented service sector.
  • Due to increased use of technology, less innovation in areas requiring human assistance, disguised employment situation among others, fewer jobs are being created which can match the existing skill level of the vast majority.
  • It is no doubt that India’s GDP is growing but such growth is becoming increasingly exclusionary. Much of India’s growth is originating from services, and taking place in sectors which require middle- to high-level skills.
  • Enough jobs are not being created for people who either unskilled or semi-skilled and mostly part of unroganised sector. Even for the poor, who have problems in making their ends meet in these inflationary times, not many efforts are being seen to be put by the government.
  • Today, India’s poor which has been traditionally been dependent on agriculture and manufacturing, which have ceased to offer large-scale employment opportunities.
  • Adding to the woes, lack of quality and affordable healthcare and education has robbed the poor of opportunity to compete with their well-off counterparts in the job market.
  • As a result, the poor get stuck in unproductive agricultural activities and are under-employed in the informal sector.
  • All these challenges have resulted in India remaining a low middle-income country over the last couple of decades. For India to improve its status first to high middle-income and then a high-income country, it has to overcome these challenges of the middle-income trap.

Way forward

  • Indian economy should now focus on two important components- productive agriculture and mass manufacturing.
  • Improvement in manufacturing numbers will help India get fixed into global production networks and productive agriculture environment will provide a continuous push towards the growth of domestic aggregate demand accompanied by socio-political stability.
  • For this, emphasis on micro, small and medium enterprises is inevitable. Reforms have to be introduced in markets of factors of production- land, labour, capital and attracting investment in those labour-intensive sectors which are expected to be vacated by East and South-East Asian countries as they move up the production value chain.
  • India is a labour surplus economy and hence, it has to become more competitive and offer productive employment to its population.
  • On a brighter side on external front, there is sluggishness in international trade negotiations and thus India can undertake appropriate reforms. This will make Indian economy more competitive and create productive employment opportunities and also create opportunities for India to become a major actor on the global economic proscenium.

IASbaba’s views

The key to increase India’s job creation opportunities lies in structural reforms in its factor markets, rather than short-term cyclical reforms. Along with it, there should be continuous regulatory harmonisation so that there are no conflictory rules which undermine the development process.

On this, the centre and the states have to demarcate their agenda items through executive orders and legislative changes wherever needed. Phased implementation strategy setting out short-, medium- and long-term targets with continuous stakeholder engagement and awareness generation will enable India to improve its opportunities in job creation.

Connecting the dots:

  • India is witnessing ‘jobless growth’ which is detrimental to the future holistic development of society. Do you agree? Examine.
  • How can job opportunities be created in India? Substantiate.