‘The Hindu’ Analysis for 3rd August, 2021. (Current Affairs for UPSC/IAS)

‘The Hindu’ Analysis for 3rd August, 2021. (Current Affairs for UPSC/IAS)

hello and welcome to by jews ias let’s take up the analysis of today’s the hindu newspaper by looking at a column from page number six of the daily edition in this column the writer evaluates the labour market data that has been brought out by the third annual round of the periodic labor force survey which was conducted during the period july 2019 to june 2020 see the periodic labor force survey was launched in 2017 by the national statistical office under the ministry of statistics and program implementation in order to capture accurate data regarding the labor market and bring out accurate trends with regard to unemployment labor force participation monthly earnings etc this survey primarily captures three key indicators of the labour market this includes labor force participation rate or lfpr it is nothing but the proportion of the population working or seeking work next it also captures working population ratio or wpr this is nothing but the proportion of the population that is already working then it also captures the unemployment rate in the country which is nothing but the proportion of population in the labor force that is seeking work but unable to find work this survey also captures earnings data for different categories of workers so when put together it paints a complete picture of the labour market in the country and this data serves as a crucial input to the policy makers in the government to come out with appropriate labor policies these three indicators are measured by using two approaches known as usual status and current weekly status under the usual status approach the activity of an individual over a relatively long period of time is captured that is the individual’s employment status over the last 365 days whereas under the current weekly status the individual’s work activity is captured or the reference period of last 7 days so usual status data provides for a long-term picture and helps us understand the labor market and the employment situation over the last one year whereas current weekly status helps us understand these parameters over the last one week now according to the third round of the periodic labor force survey which captured data during the period july 2019 to june 2020 unemployment rate as per usual status in the country declined from 6.1 percent to 4.8 percent between the period 2017-18 to 2019-20 so the government has held the findings of this data as a measure of success of its economic policies and labor policies and has tried to project the declining unemployment rate as per the survey as a measure of economic success for the government but however this data is very curious and interesting because the unemployment data that it has captured is during the period when the indian economy was actually declining with regard to its gdp growth followed by the devastating impact of the national lockdown as the pandemic broke out throughout the survey period in question india’s economic growth was declining and it sharply fell into negative territory during the lockdown so it naturally leads one to question as to how unemployment rate declined when economic activities were actually coming to a standstill to understand this we need to look at other key indicators of the labour market such as labor force participation rate and worker population ratio during the same period when unemployment rate declined from 6.1 percent to 4.8 percent the labor force participation rate increased from 36.9 to 40.1 percent but during the same period the worker population ratio also increased from 34.7 percent to 38.2 percent in other words while there was an increase in the share of the population in the labor force as measured over the last three years there was an even higher increase in the share of those who were actually able to find work and hence the unemployment rate fell during this period while this is definitely a positive sign and definitely a measure of success for government policies it fails to take into account the category wise impact on laborers and workers during the period when gdp was consistently declining followed by the sudden disruption to economic activities caused by the lockdown to understand this category wise impact we need to look at the workforce composition as defined under the periodic labor force survey see under the survey the workforce is categorized into three main categories first we have the self-employed category which includes od account workers employers and unpaid helpers in family enterprises then under the second category we have regular wage workers and the salaried class then under the third category we have casual laborers see own account workers they run small businesses without hiring any labor but they do take help from their own family members so if you actually look at the survey data in depth you will find that amongst all the categories of workers only the proportion of unpaid family workers has gone up significantly it essentially means that more and more people were helping out their own family-run businesses and during the same time there was a drastic rise in the workforce in the agriculture sector this is primarily because the agriculture sector acts as a labor sink wherever there is a crisis in the economy most of the other category of workers especially regular wage workers the salaried class and casual labourers who tend to lose their jobs during this economic crisis they rush back to the agriculture sector in order to continue sustaining their livelihoods so during the period when unpaid family workers were rising significantly during the same period there was a significant rise in the agriculture workforce this essentially means that a number of self-employed people a number of regular wage workers and salaried class and a number of casual laborers and migrant workers they all lost their jobs during this phase of gdp decline followed by the pandemic induced lockdown period and the majority of them who had lost their jobs they either returned back to agriculture or they took up unpaid family work in order to help out their own family businesses so while the government is correct for claiming credit for bringing down the unemployment rate it should be mindful of the true impact of the gdp decline and the impact of the lockdown and how it has impacted the different categories of workers then it is also very important to understand that there exists a gender dimension in the labor market and during the period when economic activities were going down and when workers in the unpaid family segment was rising significantly a majority of them who reported to be carrying out unpaid family work were actually women this explains that a large majority of women who are engaged in domestic work to agriculture they largely took up petty unpaid work in order to help out their family businesses possibly in the hope of increasing family income during the distress period because the sustained decline in gdp and economic activities before the pandemic and the complete halt of economic activities during the lockdown had placed unprecedented financial stress on most of the families especially in families where people lost their jobs and their family income declined drastically so as the working class lost their jobs and they sought refuge in agriculture or in unpaid family work a majority of women who were carrying out domestic work in agriculture they rushed towards unpaid family work to help out family businesses in the hope of increasing family income desperately at a time when they were facing unprecedented financial distress that’s the reason why the writer is asking the government to not be blinded by just looking at the unemployment rate based on usual status as it paints the picture of the last one year he’s calling upon the government to go a little in depth and specifically look at the unemployment data for the april to june quarter of the financial year 2020-21 because this was the period of the lockdown which came immediately after sustained decline in india’s gdp this data paints a more accurate picture of the extent of unemployment in the country so if you look at this data you will find that unemployment rate as per current weekly status stood at a staggering 14 percent this is many times higher than the unemployment rate captured as per usual status which stood at just 4.8 percent then the unemployment rate in the urban areas shot up to a massive 20 which clearly was a direct impact of the lockdown so by choosing to ignore these specific findings of the lockdown period and by just highlighting the labor market data over the last one year the government is ignoring the plight of millions of workers who lost their jobs during the lockdown and during the preceding months of sustained gdp decline this assessment is further corroborated when you look at the massive decline in monthly earnings that has been captured by the periodic labor force survey this sudden decline in monthly earnings corresponds with the decline in consumer expenditure during the lockdown period as people lost their jobs and as their earnings declined their expenditure also went down and hence it’s very important to take a more comprehensive view of such key economic indicators so in short the writer concludes by stating that the plfs data when you look at it from the year-long perspective it actually underestimates the unemployment rate and the earning loss and hence he calls upon the government to plug the gaps in the survey in order to ensure that it captures more accurate data in fact there is an urgent need to strengthen the overall statistical system in the country as it serves as a key input for governance and policy making it should be noted that it’s highly unfortunate that there is no official data on poverty after 2011 2012. similarly there has been no official data on farm income after 2013 plus the government doesn’t have any official accurate data on migrant workers and their status so considering this it’s very important to plug the gaps in the plfs in order to get a better picture of the labour market so for this the writer suggests that the government should consider widening the questionnaire which is a part of the plfs survey so that through a wider set of questions more accurate data can be captured which will truly help in understanding the labor market and the unemployment status in the country now let’s take up a column from page number seven which deals with the tendency of the state to criminalize welfare issues see quite often the state including the government and the legislature they tend to criminalize welfare related issues such as begging triple talaq prostitution etc in the name of protecting the vulnerable victims the state often tends to criminalize these practices by conveniently ignoring the fact that these issues are essentially socio-economic welfare issues this important topic has come into news because recently the supreme court dealt with a petition which was seeking the court’s intervention to restrain beggars and as well as homeless people from begging at traffic junctions markets and temples in order to avoid the spread of the kobit 19 pandemic this petitioner was able to make such a request to the supreme court because in india the act of begging has been criminalized in several states see there is no central law in place that deals with begging and destitution but several states have criminalized the act of begging by adopting the bombay prevention of begging act of 1959 this law which has a deep colonial hangover criminalizes begging and it carries a penalty of detention of three to ten years in beggar homes so the response of the state in treating begging as a criminal offence is based upon an elitist view and the colonial mindset because see traditionally in india the act of seeking arms has been accepted as it represents a state of weakness on the part of the beggar and even in ancient and medieval india the act of begging was essentially seen as a social issue and it was seen as a failure of socio-economic welfare but during the colonial era the victorians and the elitists they began associating begging with laziness and they started seeing begging as a threat to public health and public order this colonial approach lacks empathy and does not take into account that people are pushed to take a begging as a result of poverty and as a result of failure of the state the colonial approach of looking at begging as a criminal offence absolves the state of any responsibility for failing to provide its citizens basic welfare including minimum requirements such as food housing education health etc so back in 2018 the delhi high court had struck down a similar law which had been adopted by the delhi legislature the delhi high court had declared that criminalizing begging violates fundamental rights of the individual as the act of begging should not be a criminal offence but instead it should be seen as a failure of the state and the society itself so in the latest petition as well the supreme court has refused to take an elitist view and it has correctly pointed out that begging in the society represents a failure of the state and the society itself hence it has called upon the government to look at begging as a socio-economic welfare issue where the state and the society have failed to provide basic welfare measures and instead of treating beggars as criminals it has called upon the state to work towards their rehabilitation while working to resolve the structural factors which contribute to endemic poverty in the society in the context of this observation the supreme court it’s very important to talk about the tendency of the state and the legislature to criminalize such welfare related issues quite often it has been noticed that several laws are brought out by the legislature and the government where they conveniently try to resolve social issues and welfare issues by treating them as criminal issues take for example the practice of triple talaq there is no doubt that the practice of instant triple talaq in islam violates the rights of women but however seeking to criminalize a civil issue will not lead to the upliftment of muslim women but it simply absorbs the state of its responsibility towards working for the promotion of gender equality the practice of triple talaq is a reflection of the gender inequality in our society and if the state is truly looking to protect women from such injustice and exploitation within marriages then it should be looking to work towards resolving the structural issues that are affecting the status of women in the society instead of blindly criminalizing these practices the state should work towards the overall empowerment of women and the upliftment of women which promotes gender equality in the society the same can be seen with regard to prostitution and sex work as well yes the laws that deal with prostitution should hold the pimps the traffickers and the brothel owners criminally liable for their actions and for their exploitation of innocent women but however the law should also respect the fact that several women might opt for sex work on their own as they find this to be the least worst option to sustain their livelihood but generally laws that deal with prostitution are drafted based on moral grounds and based on the assumption of rescuing women these laws criminalize prostitution itself thereby affecting the livelihoods of sex workers and upon this such criminalization will actually lead to their greater exploitation by the police and the law enforcement as well instead if the state is truly interested in pulling women away from sex work then it should address the core economic issues at hand and look at this as a socio-economic challenge and a failure of the state if the state is able to arrange alternative livelihood opportunities and work towards rehabilitation of sex workers and if it is able to promote their socio-economic welfare by creating a social security net and if it is able to provide for employment opportunities to them which provides for their material well-being that definitely sex workers would like to move away from the profession as their material welfare would be guaranteed in this approach but instead the laws blindly criminalize the act or the conduct itself and thus leads to the further exploitation of sex workers so in short those who are often exploited in the society and those who resort to questionable acts and conducts such as begging prostitution etc they usually come from the vulnerable sections of the society and they often belong to marginalized discriminated sections such as gender minorities caste minorities class minorities etc so in such situation what they truly need is state support in the form of socio-economic welfare which will truly alleviate their problems and not laws and legislations which criminalizes the act in the conduct itself this position has been repeatedly upheld by the high courts and the supreme court as well because for example in the suhail rashid bhatt case of 2019 the jammu and kashmir high court observed that begging is also in fact evidence of the failure of the government and as well as the failure of the society at large to protect its citizens from the effects of extreme poverty and it also represents a failure of the state to ensure basic necessities such as food clothing shelter health education etc these basic minimum requirements are a part of article 21 under right to life and hence the jnk high court had observed that begging represents a failure of the state and hence the issue should be approached from a socio-economic perspective then even the supreme court in the harsh mandar case of 2018 had noted that criminalization of beggary served only to invisible beggars without doing anything to address the structural deprivations that are driving people to beg so this leads the writer to question the criminalization response of the state and hence calls upon the government and the legislatures to question and review the laws that they are enacting now let’s look at this article from page number eight lok sabha passes bill to amend insurance act see the lok sabha has passed the general insurance business nationalization amendment bill 2021 this bill seeks to amend the general insurance business nationalization act of 1972. this act had nationalized all private insurance companies that were undertaking general insurance business in the country now this amendment bill is being introduced to provide for greater private participation in the public sector insurance companies which are regulated under the 1972 act see through this nationalization law in 1972 the government had set up the gic or the general insurance corporation of india the businesses of the insurance companies that were nationalized under this act they were restructured into four subsidiary companies of the gic this includes national insurance new india assurance oriented insurance and united india insurance the act was later amended in 2002 to transfer the control of these four subsidiary companies from the gic back to the central government therefore these subsidiaries became independent companies and since 2000 the gic exclusively undertook only reinsurance business so in these four general insurance companies the government continued to have a majority stake because under the 1972 law the government was mandated to maintain a majority stake with a minimum shareholding of 51 percent in these general insurance companies but through this amendment the government is seeking to reduce its shareholding in order to allow greater participation of the private sector the earlier act required the government to have a minimum shareholding of 51 in these companies but the amendment bill removes these provisions apart from that it provides for a minor change in the definition of general insurance business with regard to technical terminologies such as capital redemption insurance and under annuity certain insurance the amendment will provide for transfer of control from the government through which the central government will relinquish its control of the insurer through this transfer of control the government will be relinquishing its powers with regard to appointment of a majority of directors and as well as with regard to the management decisions or the policy decisions of these companies the earlier act empowered the central government to notify the terms and conditions of service of the employees of these companies but now the amendment bill provides for the transferring of these powers from the central government to the board of directors then it also limits the liabilities of the directors only to few specific acts thereby reducing the overall control of the government over these insurance companies the government has also stated that it will be diluting its shareholding in one of these four companies but however the name of this company is yet to be finalized but since the amendment is pushing towards greater privatization of the insurance sector it has raised strong opposition within the lok sabha and several opposition mps have questioned the privatization of these insurance companies and the relinquishing of government’s control over these companies next according to this article on page number nine former australian prime minister tony abbott is on a visit to india as the special trade envoy of current australian prime minister scott morrison his mandate is to take forward the trade negotiations that were going on between india and australia under the proposed comprehensive economic cooperation agreement or the ceca the negotiations related to this free trade agreement came to a halt in 2015 and they have been suspended since then as the negotiations ran into trouble over the question of market access for australian agricultural dairy products and the tariff barriers of these products by india india has always sought to protect its domestic agriculture sector and has offered limited market access to dominant countries like australia which are very strong in agriculture and dairy products in such areas india has created trade barriers by imposing higher terrors and over these issues the trade negotiations had been suspended earlier but now australia is looking to take this deal forward with india as australia has concerns about the china-led rcep which is going to come into force very soon rcep or the regional comprehensive economic partnership is labeled to be the world’s largest fta and since it is largely led by china it is even being referred to as the trade arm of china’s belt and road initiative earlier even india was a part of these rcep negotiations but in 2019 india decided to quit the rcep in order to protect its domestic markets and domestic manufacturers but as geopolitical rivalry between australia and china has increased australia is probably seeking a counterbalance to the rcep trade deal by trying to push forward a parallel trade deal with india next on page number one we have an article related to section 66a of the it act and according to the article the supreme court has questioned state governments as to how this provision continues to remain in operation even though the supreme court had declared it to be unconstitutional back in 2015 in the historic shreya single case we have discussed this topic in detail on the 6th of july so i would request you to go back and watch this video and then go through this article then on page number 7 we have an article related to the pegasus scandal that has brought up the debate between national security and human rights and right to privacy this again has been explained in our previous sessions and we also have a separate explained video for this topic so please go back and watch these videos and then go through the column once now let’s look at the mains practice questions the first question discuss the findings of the third annual round of the periodic labor force survey the second question the criminalization of begging is a result of colonial elitist view instead it should be viewed as a socio-economic welfare problem critically analyzed in the light of the recent observations of the supreme court kindly write your answers on the portal for which the link shall be shared in the description box below so this concludes our discussion for today thanks for watching
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\'The Hindu\' Analysis for 3rd August, 2021. (Current Affairs for UPSC/IAS)

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