Essay Compilation(UPSC IAS Mains,Essay)



Modern India – Balyan Sir download (UPSC IAS Mains,GS 1)


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Auditing Fraud (GS 3,Corporate governanance)

The Serious Fraud Investigation Offi ce needs the government’s attention to fulfi l its mandate adequately.
Over the last 15 years, but more so since 2013, the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) has emerged as India’s premier corporate fraud investigation agency, investigating several high-profile cases. Why, then, is an organisation that is entrusted with uncovering corporate wrongdoing being left to function with inadequate personnel and is, therefore, being able to fulfil only a fraction of its potential?
Inadequate staffing is not new in government agencies, but the responsibilities of the SFIO have increased ever since it was granted statutory powers under the Companies Act, 2013. Data from parliamentary questions shows that about 447 company investigations were assigned to the SFIO between April 2014 and January 2018, accounting for 67% of the 667 total investigations assigned to it since its inception in 2003. The number of sanctioned positions, however, has remained stagnant at around 133 since 2014–15 and 69 positions lie vacant.
The SFIO, which comes under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), describes itself as a “multi-disciplinary” organisation that investigates and guides prosecution in white-collar fraud requiring expertise in forensic auditing, corporate law, information technology, capital markets, taxation, and other allied fields. It was established by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee–led National Democratic Alliance government on 2 July 2003, based on recommendations by the Naresh Chandra Committee on Corporate Audit and Governance. Although it received statutory powers under the Companies Act, 2013 during the tenure of the Manmohan Singh–led United Progressive Alliance government, the rules giving it the power to make arrests came into effect only in August 2017. Since its inception, the SFIO was understood to be a specialised organisation that would require a wide spectrum of expertise, and recruitment would be in large part deputation-based, drawing on expertise from various civil services cadres, and on consultants with the required expertise.
Cases are assigned to the SFIO based on the scale of financial misappropriation or extent of public interest that is at stake. The most recent high-profile corporate fraud by Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, who have allegedly defrauded Punjab National Bank, is also being investigated by the SFIO. Over the last 15 years, several such high-level cases of corporate fraud have been investigated by the SFIO, including the companies involved in the 2G spectrum allocations, the Kingfisher Airlines case, the Saradha chit fund scam, and the Satyam computers fraud, to name a few. In many of these cases, the SFIO has invariably found that much of the crime is perpetrated along with auditors who actively collude or look the other way. According to a 2015 SFIO report, a third of the top 500 companies in India were “managing” their accounts, including those in the top 100. In some cases, the SFIO advised the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India to investigate the role of errant accountants. This should not surprise us: the financial sector in the United States and the world boomed while corporations and pliant auditors colluded, and it all came tumbling down in what we know as the global financial crisis of 2007–08, when the audit reports of company after company were found to be worthless.
An independent well-functioning SFIO will keep corporate greed and colluding auditors in check, and will be one way of upholding the law, as well as the interests of the retail investor and the public at large. To do this, it needs to draw on experts who are capable of executing such investigations. One of the explanations for vacancies in the SFIO is the dearth of personnel with adequate experience and expertise for this kind of work. With the number of cases mounting, the SFIO will need to look beyond a deputation-based recruitment system, to one that recruits full-time, specially trained personnel. Drawing on the private sector may be fraught with its own difficulties (pay disparities are high since the private sector pays lavishly, conflicts of interest, continued loyalty to private employers, etc). That the SFIO should move away from the deputation system to having a permanent cadre of its own has been recognised early on, but remains unfulfilled. The Standing Committee on Finance, chaired by Veerappa Moily (33rd report, in December 2017; 59th report, in March 2018) “found that despite finalisation of the Recruitment Rules, there were still huge vacancies within the organisation which crippled its capability to swiftly dispose off cases.” There is a real need for the creation of a permanent cadre, which will eventually be a way to ensure that more of the sanctioned positions are filled.
Even as the recruitment systems will ensure that more positions are filled in the SFIO, there are other agencies that also suffer from understaffing. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), for instance, a much older organisation with a pool of specialised cadre is also lacking adequate trained personnel. As of March 2017, over 20% of 7,274 sanctioned positions in the CBI lay vacant.
Clearly, a part of the problem of staffing stems from deficient political will. For a government that claims to take financial fraud and corruption seriously, not enough is being done to ensure that the key investigation organisations, like the SFIO and CBI, are adequately staffed to perform their functions efficiently.


A Plastic Calamity (GS-3, Environment and Biodiversity, UPSC,IAS mains)

Banning single-use plastics is inadequate without enforcing the law and creating consumer awareness.
Edicts and pronouncements do not bring about change; they need to be backed by detailed, realistic, and implementable plans. Although Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement on 5 June, World Environment Day, that India would eliminate single-use plastics by 2022 is a dramatic statement of intent, it is not yet evident that the deadline is based on a considered plan to make this actually happen.
Discovered in 1898, polyethylene, or what we call plastic, became available for mass production only in 1939. Since then, the material has invaded our lives—from single-use plastic bags and packaging to many other utilitarian uses. It is cheap, light and flexible. Replacing it is not an easy task. It is also a symbol of a kind of economic development model, which we in India have imported and embraced from the older industrialised countries, that is premised on the principle of discard and replace. Nothing is supposed to last. Only then can the engines of industry continue to grow. Replacing this model now appears unthinkable. Yet, this is the source of our cavalier approach in accepting a throwaway culture that has led to what the United Nations Environment Programme calls a “plastic calamity.”
Today we have evidence that our oceans contain an estimated 150 million tonnes of plastic waste; sea life, birds and plants are literally choking because of it; vast tracts of land are overwhelmed with landfills that cannot biodegrade because of virtually indestructible plastic waste; and it is most worrying that micro-plastics from this waste are now making their way into water sources and the food chain. A recent study of tap water samples from several countries revealed that India was third after the United States and Lebanon in water contaminated by microplastics; 82.4% of the samples tested contained plastic. While the health impacts of ingesting plastic, either through water or food, are still being assessed, the very fact that plastic waste is affecting water supply is a cause for serious concern. Since the 1950s, 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced worldwide, but only around 20% of it has been recycled or incinerated. The rest is in the sea, on mountain slopes, in rivers and springs, in wells, in landfills, and in piles of garbage that are now the symbol of urban blight, especially in India. The challenge of dealing with this seems so enormous that it requires virtually the reverse engineering of our approach towards production and consumption.
The steps taken so far in India are essentially what could be termed “tail-end” solutions, much like the early efforts to deal with automobile pollution by making pollution checks mandatory for vehicles without addressing the quality of the fuel used. So far, 18 states have banned the use of single-use plastics in specific cities or demarcated areas. Nowhere has this been successful. The state that has achieved the most success in reducing the use of single-use plastics is Sikkim. Yet, despite a ban in 1998, till today it has not been successful in eliminating single-use plastic bags entirely. It has, however, managed to create awareness among its population of the environmental fallout of plastic waste and has tried to introduce cost-effective alternatives. On the other hand, in Delhi and Chandigarh, which along with Sikkim were part of a 2014 study by Toxics Link, “Toxics and the Environment,” a ban on plastic carry bags has failed to stop their use or to create consumer awareness. If this is the experience in small states of the size of Delhi and Chandigarh, what chance is there of such bans working in larger states like Maharashtra, which has recently notified a fairly drastic ban.
The problem, as the Toxics Link study emphasises, is twofold: first, the easy availability and cost-effectiveness of plastic carry bags for vendors, particularly those dealing with perishables like vegetables and meat; and, second, the low level of consumer awareness of the environmental problems created by plastic waste. Add to this the generally poor implementation of all manner of environmental regulations in India and you have, what the report calls, “the classic tragedy of the commons” where “individual consumers benefit from the use of plastic bags because of their convenience, while the whole society bears the collective cost of their disposal.”
While regulation, deterrence, and incentives can be one part of the solution, the larger challenge is stopping production of single-use plastics. In India, for instance, 85%–90% of plastic production is in the small and medium sector that remains largely unregulated. Yet, stopping single-use plastic carry bags is not enough. We should not forget that 48% of the plastic waste is the packaging of branded edible items and it is the bigger industries, including multinationals, that are responsible for this. Clearly, we need to enforce extended producer responsibility so that those using non-recyclable plastic in their packaging take responsibility and pay for its disposal. Furthermore, the alternatives to plastic bags, such as those made of biodegradable material, or of paper, jute, and cloth, need to be cost-effective. Finally, the consumer has to make a choice between convenience and an environmental disaster.


Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) Free Residential Coaching for IAS Exam (Pre-cum-Main) 2019

Online applications are invited for Free UPSC Coaching (With Hostel facility) 
for Civil Services Examination (Preliminary-Cum-Main) 2019.
Only applicable for Minorities, SC, ST and Women candidates.

1. Written test would comprise General Studies (objective type) on UPSC model and Essay writing in English/Hindi/Urdu to test candidate’s ability to express themselves in an organised and structured manner. The total duration of examination would be of three hours.
2. There would be negative marking for objective type questions in the test. One third of the marks will be deducted for a wrong answer.
3. The entrance test paper would be divided into two papers – Paper 1 and Paper 2. Paper 1 would consist of objective type questions. There would be 60 questions and the total marks for this section would be 60 (60×1=60). Paper 2 would consist of Essay writing for which the total allotted marks would be 60. Candidates would be required to write two essays (30×2=60) choosing one from each section-A & B. The total time allotted for both the Papers would be three hours. However the OMR sheet would be collected after one hour i.e. at 11 a.m. Time allotted for writing the essays will be 02
hours. The students may take the question papers with them.
4. The total marks for Interview/Personality test would be 30.
5. In case of tie, the higher marks in essay and there is a tie again the higher marks in interview would be taken as basis of selection. If there is still a tie the candidate who is younger (age wise) would get the seat.
6. Only those candidates who have already completed their Graduation need to apply.
7. Coaching will include (a) classes on General Studies, CSAT and selected optional papers (b) Test series, answer’s evaluation and Essay writing practice shall form part of the curriculum.
8. The Academy will also conduct Mock Interviews for those who qualify the main examination.
9. Test Series (Prelims cum Main) will be held during January – May 2019.
10. Test Series (Main) will be held during July – September 2019.
11. Library facility is provided (24×7)
12. Scholarship to 20% admitted students @ Rs. 2000/- per month will be provided on mean-cum-merit basis.
13. Total seats available: 150 (One hundred fifty seats). Hostel accommodation will be provided to all the admitted students. In case of shortage, hostel seats may be allotted in phased manner strictly on the basis of merit determined by the entrance test. However, RCA reserves the right to reduce the intake if sufficiently meritorious candidates are not found to be available.
14. Application has to be submitted online only ( ) with a fee of Rs. 500.00. + applicable bank charges.
15. Helpline Nos : 9836219994,9836289994,9836319994.

Important Dates:

Schedule for Civil Services (Preliminary-cum-Main) – 2018 Coaching Programme
Last date for submission of Application Form 1st July 2018 (Sunday)
Written Test – GS (objective type) and Essay 22nd July,2018 (Sunday) 10.00 am
to 01.00 pm.
Result of written test 27th August, 2018 (Monday), 05.00 pm.
Interview (Tentative) 04-07 & 10-14 September, 2018
Final Result (Tentative) 27th September, 2018 (Thursday), 05.00 pm.
Last date for completion of admission 4th October, 2018 (Thursday)
Registration for waiting list candidates 5th October, 2018 (Friday)
Admission for waiting list candidates 8th October, 2018 (Monday)
Classes (Orientation) 15th October, 2018 (Monday) 11.00 am.

Examination Fees:

Application has to be submitted online only ( with a fee of Rs.500.00. + applicable bank charges.
Only applicable for Minorities, SC, ST and Women candidates.

Click Here to Download Official Notification

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An unfair academic race (Education,GS 1,GS 2,UPSC IAS Mains)

How can the underprivileged succeed in tough entrance tests without access to quality training?
Recently, I had an encounter with a medical aspirant’s parent. He narrated his daughter’s story of how she prepared for the NEET and how the result spoilt her ambition of becoming a doctor. Consistent in her academic performance, the girl scored 492 out of 500 marks in her class X and 1092 out of 1200 in her class XII. She attended a one-month preparation course for the NEET in April 2018. Though the fee for the course was high and the course was not effective, she managed to get a score of 246 in the NEET. She knows that with her score she can’t get a seat in a government college as hundreds of students are ahead of her rank-wise. She can get a seat in a private medical college but her family is not in a position to spend ₹75 lakh to earn an MBBS degree. “It is unaffordable for us,” said her father. So, the idea of seeking admission in a private medical college is ruled out.

The medical aspirant wants to join a 10-month full-time residential coaching programme in a neighbouring state but the programme costs about ₹1,80,000. Her parents are reluctant again because they think that the fee is high and attending the course does not guarantee her a seat in a government medical college. “Is my daughter’s dream of becoming a doctor shattered?” asked the parent. There must be hundreds of such untold stories of academically brilliant students who cannot realise their aspirations. Who is responsible for scripting such stories? Education system? Parents? Students?

Entrance tests

Students seeking undergraduate admissions to Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and National Institutes of Technology (NITs) take national-level entrance test, the Joint Entrance Examination Advanced (JEE Advanced). Those seeking admission to undergraduate medical (MBBS) and dental (BDS) courses take the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). Ever since the results of JEE Main, JEE Advanced and NEET were declared, there have been scores of full-page colourful advertisements with the photographs of toppers in leading newspapers across the country. Obviously, the purpose of the advertisers is to showcase their achievements of having produced toppers in the highly competitive exams. One coaching academy through its advertisement claims that it has produced 66 of top 100 rankers in JEE Advanced. Another coaching academy claims that its success rate is much higher than any other coaching institute in the country. The message conveyed indirectly is that without attending classes in top coaching academies it is not possible to secure ranks or even crack these exams.

Many advertisements carried testimonials of NEET and JEE Advanced toppers. According to the testimonials, some toppers prepared for the IIT JEE for 2 – 6 years. One of the toppers states that if he had not attended coaching classes at a particular institute he would not have secured a rank and he advises others IIT aspirants to join the institute.

Another student says that he was an average student but with the coaching he had at an institute for four years he was able to get a rank. Yet another student claims that it was because he started preparing for JEE from his class VIII he could come off with flying colours. Again the message implied by those testimonials was “If you don’t attend coaching, you won’t succeed”.

How much does the coaching cost? Some institutions charge over ₹2 lakh for a two-year preparation programme for JEE coaching. Besides attending schools 5-6 days a week, IIT aspirants spend one full day (Sunday) or two days (Saturday and Sunday) every week attending coaching classes and taking tests. Some elite schools in cities offer their students JEE and NEET coaching by having a tie-up with coaching institutions.

In such schools the average cost for each student is around ₹1,50,000. In April, various schools and coaching institutions offered 4-week NEET preparation courses and the fees varied between ₹15,000 and ₹60,000. Can academically brilliant but economically poor students afford such expensive coaching for these tough competitive exams? If the answer is “No”, is it fair to deny them admissions in top-notch institutions such as IITs, NITs and government medical colleges? Should the underprivileged be denied their right to become doctors?


Anand Kumar of Super30 has been successfully running a programme of preparing 30 underprivileged children for the JEE every year. In 2018, 26 students of the 30 selected cracked the JEE. The fact that Super 30 has successfully sent many underprivileged students to IITs proves that given an opportunity, economically backward but academically meritorious students can shine like other privileged ones.

In India where there is no uniform education system, JEE Main, JEE Advanced and NEET are unfair and unjust academic competitions. When the country fails to provide quality education and does not prepare the underprivileged students to compete with the privileged ones in such tough entrance tests, many brilliant minds will continue to be denied justice.


Topper’s Tips for UPSC Mains Answer Writing: Kirthi C, Rank – 14 – Third Attempt, General Studies Score – 417!

My UPSC Journey
I’m Kirthi Chekuri. I am fortunate enough to have cleared UPSC with 14th rank in my third attempt (CSE-2015). My ranks in previous attempts were 440 in CSE-2013 and 512 in CSE-2014. I was preparing for the exam this time while undergoing the training in academy.
I would try to tell what worked and what didn’t work for me. I hope at least someone would benefit from lessons of mistakes that I’ve committed and how I rectified them. These inputs I’m putting across were the ones I gathered over the course of 4 years from many friends and seniors in services. Thanks to all of them 🙂
I am a consistently low performer in Essay. I got 100 marks in CSE-2013 and 86 marks in CSE-2014. I lost in my second attempt due to essay. The mistakes I committed in these attempts were not to practice essays, over looking the importance of essay, thinking content in essay would automatically give marks and ignorance of what to be and what not be included in essay.
This year I got 125 which is again not a great score but it didn’t pull my rank and my chances down drastically as it happened last year. I brainstormed on many essay topics(introductions/conclusions and flow of ideas)and discussed it with my friends and asked for criticisms.
  • We should clearly mention our stand in the essay initially after the introduction
  • The essay should cover as many dimensions as possible and should have one dominant idea per paragraph
  • The thought in the essay should be as simple as possible. Kids must be able to understand your essay. I used to make essays complicated which never gave good marks
  • Choose the essay topic you’re most comfortable with. Don’t select the essay based on the perception of most written or least written topic. All that matters is how well are you able to do justice to the topic you’ve chosen
  • Your essay should have justifications supporting your stand, also include some criticisms against your stand and end in a positive/hopeful way on how things can be bettered etc.
All of us tend to overestimate our potential and tend to neglect prelims thinking Prelims marks wouldn’t count for the exam. Neglecting prelims can prove to be a very costly mistake. Many toppers in the list cleared prelims with a margin of 1-3 marks. One can understand that 1-2 questions in Prelims can make or break your dreams.
I cleared the Prelims in CSE-2013 by 4 marks. It was a close margin. I got very lucky. In CSE-2014 I cleared prelims with a comfortable margin. My reason for low performance in Prelims 2013 was minimal practice in Quant and playing safe in Paper-1. I knew 45 questions comfortably in paper-1 and I just guessed 10 more there by attempting just 55 questions. Luckily I cleared Prelims that year but after speaking to many successful people in Prelims, I realized it was a very dangerous strategy. In prelims, one should mark the questions in which one is 100% percent sure in the first round. In the second round, one should also try to attempt those questions in which one can eliminate two options. With this strategy, I comfortably cleared prelims in CSE 2014, but in this CSE 2015, I cleared prelims only by 3 marks (110)
In my first two attempts, my mains marks were marginally above the cut-off(10 marks) I cleared both the attempts only because of my interview. However this attempt, there is a drastic improvement in my mains marks. Here are the few changes I made in my Mains answer writing approach and I think they helped me enormously.
  • Diagrams: I drew a lot of diagrams. India and World Maps for geography or International Relations. Also I prepared diagrams for Geo from NCERT books which I thought I would replicate in case Geo questions come in Paper-1.
  • Side headings: In my first two attempts, my answer was just a flow of paragraphs/points or a mix of both. I realized the importance of side headings for an answer in this attempt. I included side headings in almost all the answers for paper-1,2 and 3 of GS. In paper-2 and paper-3, I used Way Forward as the last side heading for some of the answers.
  • Flow Charts: I drew flow charts in Paper-3. I got 113 marks in Paper-3 and I think flow charts have a role to play along with side headings. People who got good marks in paper-1 drew flowcharts for society questions
  • Breadth instead of Depth: Cover as many dimensions as possible in an answer rather than covering the issue in depth with quality analysis. UPSC prefers the no. of dimensions in an answer and I guess it penalizes an in-depth scholarly answer
  • Introduction: Take the key words of the question and explain them. That becomes the introduction. Eg: An introduction for a question on Cooperative Federalism would mean explaining it
Though I gathered some of these points here and there in my previous attempts, I didn’t internalize them in my preparation. I didn’t integrate them while preparing for a particular topic. This time whenever I read a topic or whenever I read a question from InsightsonIndia (I have been following answer writing challenges regularly), I give more importance to the above mentioned points- what are the side-headings I can give, how can I draw flow chart for this question, maximizing the dimensions etc. This way, I internalized this way of answer writing during my preparation for GS or Current Affairs, so I didn’t have to think afresh on the day of exam. Due to training myself well before hand, I didn’t take much time on the day of exam to draw diagrams, flow charts, side-headings etc.
One should try to attempt as many questions as you can in the GS. Unless you are absolutely clueless and can’t make an intelligent guess about what’s asked, you should not leave questions.
Please go through the question paper in first 2-3 minutes and select the questions you are good at(around 10) and attempt them first. Only then go for the other questions on which you’ll have little idea where you have to guess. In the last attempt, I started attempting questions from the beginning without going through the whole question paper and I realized I was left with all the well-known International Relations Questions in the last minute to which I couldn’t do enough justice. Do some test exams and if you’re not able to finish paper in time, you’ll have to improve speed through giving more and more tests and practicing with time limits. Ethics paper was very lengthy and many were not able to finish the paper.


NITI Aayog sees India headed for an aqua-calypse

India is suffering the worst water crisis in its history and millions of lives and livelihoods are under threat, according to the composite water management index released by Niti Aayog. Reflecting on the severity of the issue, the Niti Aayog said, “Currently, 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress and about two lakh people die every year due to inadequate access to safe water. The crisis is only going to get worse. By 2030, the country’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people and an eventual 6 per cent loss in the country’s GDP.”
“Water management is the country’s largest problem at hand. This report has reflected that those states which managed water properly have shown a higher agricultural growth rate. Madhya Pradesh has a 22-23 per cent growth rate, while Gujarat has an 18 per cent growth rate. This means that rural and agricultural economies have developed better, lessening migration and lowering the stress on urban infrastructure.”
The report on the state-wise performance on parameters of water management ranks Gujarat at number one in reference year 2016-2017, followed by Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. The worst performing states are Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Jharkhand.
According to the report of the National Commission for Integrated Water Resource Development of MoWR, the water requirement by 2050 in a high-use scenario is likely to be a milder 1,180 BCM, whereas the present-day availability is 695 BCM. The total availability of water possible in the country is still lower than this projected demand, at 1,137 BCM. “There is an imminent need to deepen our understanding of our water resources and usage and put in place interventions that make our water use efficient and sustainable,” the Niti Aayog said.
In terms of incremental change in index (over 2015-16 level), Rajasthan holds number one position in general states and Tripura ranks first amongst the North-Eastern and Himalayan states. The Aayog has proposed to publish these ranks on an annual basis in future, an official statement said.
The index comprises nine broad sectors with 28 different indicators, covering various aspects of ground water, restoration of water bodies, irrigation, farm practices, drinking water, policy and governance. For the purposes of analysis, the reporting states were divided into two special groups – ‘North-Eastern and Himalayan states’ and ‘Other States’, to account for the different hydrological conditions across these groups.


Development Will Not Cure Gender Inequality, Policy Will: Examining the Economic Survey 2017-18 (GS paper 1 GS paper 2 ,UPSC Mains IAS))

The arguments and analyses in the Economic Survey 2017–2018 leave a lot to be desired, especially in terms of recommending policies that the government can take up in order to reduce gender inequality.

It was with great hope that I started reading the separate chapter on gender in the recently released economic survey 2017–2018 (ES or referred to as the survey). Finally, the abysmally low status of women in India would get some recognition by the finance ministry. However, what followed was only disappointment upon knowing that the typical stereotypes on gender were still prevalent among policymakers at the highest level (and the use of pink colour to recognise the women’s movement!), and the low quality of analyses in the chapter. Apart from the data and analyses on son preference, the chapter is misleading and flawed. In this article, I will point out some areas of concern in the analyses and discuss what the ES could have focused on with the aim of reducing gender inequality.

Development Time vs Chronological Time
The ES refers to what it calls a “pervasive problem afflicting assessments relating to gender and other social issues of conflating ‘development time’ and ‘chronological time’” (Economic Survey 2018: 103). The survey argues that gender outcomes are linked to development and hence cross-sectional comparisons in chronological time could be misleading as they do not take into account the development levels of countries.

This argument is deeply flawed on at least three fronts:

Narrow definition: In the survey, development has been defined as either wealth of the households in the country (wealth factor score of the household derived from the a country-specific principal component analysis of asset ownership by the household)[1] or the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country. However, it has been recognised since at least 1990s when the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released the first Human Development Index (HDI) that development is multi-dimensional and cannot be measured by narrow measures of ends like wealth or (GDP) (Sen and Anand 1994; Stiglitz et al 2010).

Development and gender: For comparison in development time to be valid, one has to assume a strong relationship between development and gender equality. However, there is overwhelming evidence that the impact of economic growth on gender inequality is weak and inconsistent (Kabeer 2016; Duflo 2012). In fact, the survey itself shows this when it compares Indian states. There does not seem to be any systematic relationship between levels of per capita income and gender norms (north-eastern states that are not the richest do well while Delhi, Haryana and others that are among the richest perform worse).

Development as an antidote: By arguing that one should compare in development time, the survey is implicitly saying: If a country is doing well in development time, then the onus on government and society for policy action is less as gender inequality would resolve automatically, with development as the antidote. The argument suggests that it is acceptable for generations of women to suffer and wait for development to solve their problems, when policy action can help mitigate the inequality as shown by several countries and even by Indian states.

Even if one were to use development time, India performs poorly compared to its peers as documented by the survey. On several of the key indicators[2] that the ES uses, India’s performance is way worse than it should have been, based on the level of development.

Women’s Labour Force Participation
India ranks 136th among 144 countries in women’s labour force participation rate and the situation is worsening over time. Even here, the ES misinterprets the issue. The percentage of women who work has declined from 36% in 2005-06 to 24% in 2015–16 according to National Family Health Survey (NFHS). According to National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) Employment rounds, paid female labour force participation rate (FLFPR) among women in the 25–59 age group has steadily declined since 1987–88. The ES suggests that it could be such with development, FLFPR would naturally increase as suggested by Goldin (1995). However, recent literature has shown that the U-shaped hypothesis that FLFPR decreases initially with development and then increases does not hold as shown by Gaddis and Klasen (2014).

In the Indian context, Lahoti and Swaminathan (2016) tested the U-shaped hypothesis over Indian states and showed that it does not hold. Indian states with a higher level of domestic product do not necessarily have higher levels of FLFPR. Lahoti and Swaminathan find that it is not economic growth but rather the composition of growth that is relevant for women.

One of the reasons the U-shaped hypothesis does not hold is because India did not follow the typical trajectory of development of transitioning from agriculture to manufacturing to services, but rather moved directlt from being an economy dependent on agriculture to an economy dependent on services, without any increase in labour-intensive manufacturing.

The government can play a key role in investing in sectors that are intensive in using the female workforce as shown by Bangladesh. Bangladesh witnessed an increase in FLFPR from 14% in 1990 to 36% in 2010, the decades when it experienced fast GDP growth rates, debunking the myth that growth initially leads to lower FLFPR. This was partly due to the labour-intensive export sector that played a big role in Bangladesh’s growth (Rehman and Islam 2013).

‘Convergence’ Effect?
The ES claims that the improvement in most gender indicators for a unit increase in wealth is higher in India than in other countries. The survey concludes that “even if India is lagging in development time, it can expect to catch up with other countries as household wealth increases” (Economic Survey 2018: 109), but this does not stand upon deeper scrutiny. If the increase in the level of household wealth really reduces gender inequality then one would expect that richer states that have higher average household wealth would be more gender-equal than poorer states. But there does such a relationship is not shown in the survey itself. Richer states like Delhi and Haryana perform worse than poorer states. So, it is clearly not the case that increase in levels of household wealth leads to gender equality. The finding of “convergence” might be driven by interaction between wealth inequality and gender status. Gender status among the richer deciles might be lower but an increase in the levels of income without a change in the relative position might not impact gender status. An absolute increase might not be driving improvement in gender equality, like the survey claims to observe.

Missing Out
The Economic Survey and the union budget need to be reviewed not only for what they say but also what they leave out, and on this front both come out way short on what they could have done.

Policy responses: The survey does not suggest any policy responses for the rampant gender inequality it documents, but blames it mostly on the society (social norms). It is a way of holding everyone responsible but at the same time holding no one in particular responsible.

If the ES was really concerned about gender inequality, it could have recommended policy changes that the government can undertake easily. But it did not do that and the budget rejected several basic demands and reduced allocations for important programmes.

Setting fair rules: Feminist economists define assets (broadly defined to include financial, physical and human capital), rules (laws mostly defined by the state), norms and preferences as structural factors (all of which are partly endogenous) that play a key role in determining gender relations in the society. The state can play a key role in setting rules that govern a society and provide incentives to make assets, norms and preferences less discriminatory for women. The rules include various laws, such as rules on how marital property is divided upon dissolution of marriage, rules on who can apply for divorce, rules on inheritance of property by daughters and wives, rules against discrimination in hiring and wages in the market. Such rules will help improve the bargaining power of women, not just within the household but also in the marketplace. The Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010 (Kakkar 2013) did away with the requirement of mutual consent for divorce and also introduced provisions for sharing of movable and immovable property upon marriage. Overall, it would have improved the bargaining power of women. But this bill was allowed to lapse by the current government, when the ES could have recommended that this bill be passed.

Equal pay for equal work: The state can influence asset distribution through rules as well as by setting an example on how it pays female employees it hires. The requirement of equal pay for men and women working in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) for the same amount of work, the gender pay gap in rural works has declined and women participate in higher proportion in MGNREGA than men. But the government undervalues and exploits more than 7,00,000 women working as Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) across the country. ASHA are the backbone of the National Health Mission and responsible for a range of activities that includes: home-visits, antenatal and neonatal care, delivery escort services, advice on contraception, breastfeeding and immunisation, drug provision for tuberculosis, caring of children with diarrhea or pneumonia, and organising village meetings for health action. However, most are paid a paltry sum as an honorarium, ranging between Rs 1,000-1,500 per month and even that is not paid on time. ASHA workers have been demanding increase in wages to at least match minimum wages, allowances for travel, conversion of ASHAs working over 10 years to permanent employees, mostly reasonable demands if we are to treat them as human beings with rights and value the critical care they provide (Mathew 2018). Ideally, the ES should have recommended this, but it failed to mention it.

Benefits and incentives: Maternity benefits became a legal entitlement under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in 2013, but it has not been implemented fully yet. Under the law, all pregnant and lactating mothers are entitled to at least Rs 6,000 per child as benefits. This is meant to provide income to mothers in the unorganised sector, while they take care of new-borns and increase their bargaining power. Even though this law has been in place since 2013, promised by the Narendra Modi government over a year ago (Sen 2017), and 60 economists wrote a letter to the finance minister to request him to provide the legal entitlement (Scroll 2017), the ES does not mention or recommend it and the budget has not made the necessary allocations to fulfil this legal requirement. In fact, the budget reduced the allocation for maternal benefits by Rs 300 crore.

Better data collection: In 2016, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), India recorded 106 rapes a day, 2,167 gang rapes, a conviction rate of only 9% in cases of crime against women. Sexual harassment outside the house is rampant in India, though there is very little data collected on it. The ES could have referred to the existing data or asked for better data collection or pulled the government up on non-usage of funds under the Nirbhaya Fund, but it chose to do none of these. The survey, despite opting for the pink colour in support of women, remains silent on the issue of safety of women and sexual harassment.

There are several other things, such as, an increase in allocation of widow and old age pension, stricter implementation of the requirements for crèches at workplaces, disclosure regulations about the gender composition of workforce and average wages by gender at different levels in public and private sector, support for paternity leave legislation pending in parliament (PTI 2017) that could have been suggested as policy changes by the ES, but none of these are addressed.

The budget does take some steps such as a decrease in Provident Fund (PF) employee contribution for new women employees to 8% from 12%, an increase in target of Ujjwala scheme from Rs 5 to 8 crore (though not all funds were spent last year), and a promise of increase in micro-credit loans for women. However, these are “peanuts” compared to what could have been achieved, had they taken the aforementioned into account.

Welcome Development But More Can Be Done
A separate chapter delving into the status of women in the ES is a welcome development, and one that should be a regular feature of the survey. The arguments and analyses done in the survey leave a lot to be desired. The survey could go further than just talking about taking collective responsibility, but also recommending policies that the government can take up in order to reduce gender inequality. Perhaps it is time to move away from what Maithili Sharan Gupt expresses is the reality for most women in India: “Woman, this is your life story, Mothering your role, sadness your destiny.”


Globalization – India's Response (GS 3,GS 2,UPSC IAS mains )

What is the issue?
  • The increasing protectionism in the West is leaving way for arguments against the relevance of globalization at present.
  • It is essential that India evaluates its policies and approaches at this transitioning juncture.
What results has globalization created?
  • Flows from private sector in the form of FDI and FII have become more important than flows from World Bank Group and ADB.
  • Globalization has made the world more inclusive.
  • The big gainers have been Asian countries, led by China, but India is also in this group.
  • These countries have grown faster than the industrialized countries, and increased their share in global GDP.
  • Also, there is a huge reduction in global poverty and inter-country inequality, even if inequality within countries has increased.
What are the recent anti-globalisation signs?
  • The US administration is restricting H-1B visas, turning back Mexican migrants, and making work visas for foreign students more difficult.
  • There is opposition to non-European immigration in many European countries .
  • Brexit is an example of turning down a treaty in order to restrict European immigration.
  • Many countries introduced protectionist measures after the 2008 financial crisis.
  • The US, once the flagbearer of trade liberalization, is withdrawing from trade agreements agreed earlier.
  • This include the Trans-Pacific Partnership, North American Free Trade Agreement, and the free trade agreement with South Korea.
  • What lies before India?
  • Globalization is not outdated yet.
  • It only seems to need reformation and reset.
  • India should therefore push to build support for a new inclusive second phase of globalization.
  • It has to address the problems with the changing nature of globalization.
  • This includes problems such as land acquisition, forest clearances, environmental impact clearances, etc.
  • Working in these fronts is essential to attract the private capital market to finance infrastructure projects.
  • India needs to remain committed to maintaining an open trade policy and not be distracted by the increasing protectionism in the West.
  • Industrial policy should go beyond tariff reduction and focus on providing infrastructure and a supportive policy environment.