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4th March 2024 (14 Topics)

4th March 2024

QUIZ - 4th March 2024

5 Questions

5 Minutes

Editorials

Context

The discussion on women's empowerment and reducing gender gaps, particularly in employment, has gained momentum as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. This article highlights the need for targeted initiatives to increase urban women's participation in the workforce.

Current Challenges in Urban Women's Employment

  • Disparities in Employment Rates: Urban women face barriers such as social norms, safety concerns, and limited transportation options, resulting in a low employment rate of 22.9% according to the Periodic Labour Force Survey.
  • Unmet Demand for Employment: Despite higher education levels and willingness to work, urban women experience high unemployment rates compared to rural areas, indicating significant untapped potential and a need for tailored employment initiatives.
  • Need for Targeted Urban Employment Programs: Some states have initiated urban employment programs, but there is a need for a national-level initiative, such as the proposed Women's Urban Employment Guarantee Act (WUEGA), to address urban women's employment challenges comprehensively.

Proposal for Women's Urban Employment Guarantee Act (WUEGA)

  • Key Features of WUEGA: The proposed act aims to ensure gender parity in employment opportunities by mandating women's representation in program management and providing essential facilities like childcare at worksites.
  • Inclusive Approach: WUEGA would offer various work opportunities within a 5-km radius, free public transportation for women, and incentives like automatic inclusion in welfare boards to empower and support women in the workforce.
  • Skill Development Initiatives: To address skill gaps and facilitate the transition from school to work, the act proposes apprenticeships, information facilitation centers, and capacity-building initiatives tailored to women's needs.

Implementation and Potential Impact

  • Women-Led Initiatives: Examples like women-led waste management initiatives in Karnataka demonstrate the feasibility and success of women-centric programs, highlighting the potential for similar initiatives under WUEGA.
  • Cost and Benefits Analysis: Despite fiscal concerns, implementing WUEGA is feasible, with estimated costs of around 2% of GDP, offering substantial benefits in terms of women's empowerment, economic growth, and social inclusion.
  • Phased Rollout and Future Prospects: The phased rollout of WUEGA, coupled with periodic assessments and adjustments, can pave the way for broader urban employment programs, ensuring income assurance and empowerment for women.
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Editorials

Context

The National Statistical Office (NSO) released the latest national income data, revealing significant differences between official estimates and economists' projections. While the markets reacted positively to the robust GDP growth estimates, some economists have raised concerns about the discrepancies.

Official GDP Growth Estimates

  • Robust GDP Growth Estimate: NSO's estimate shows a strong 8.4% year-on-year growth in real GDP for the October-December quarter, surpassing economists' projections.
  • Revised Growth Figures: The release also revises GDP growth figures for the first and second quarters of the current fiscal, indicating faster growth rates than previously estimated.
  • Full-Year Forecast: NSO forecasts a full-year real GDP growth of 7.6%, which is higher than earlier estimates, attributing it to revisions in data for previous fiscal years.

Factors Behind Upgraded Estimates

  • Revisions to Previous Data: NSO's revisions to data for 2021-22 and 2022-23 have led to adjustments in GDP growth figures, with significant changes observed in both years.
  • Impact of Base Effect: Revisions to previous years' data affect year-on-year growth rates, emphasizing the importance of considering the base effect while interpreting GDP growth numbers.
  • Real Sector Performance: Despite the positive GDP growth estimates, third-quarter gross value added (GVA) growth slowed in key sectors, reflecting challenges in the real productive sectors of the economy.

Challenges and Implications

  • GVA Growth Rate vs. GDP Growth: GVA growth rate, which presents a truer picture of the economy's health, lags behind GDP growth primarily due to significant surge in net indirect taxes in the last quarter.
  • Weakness in Consumption Spending: Data on private and government consumption spending in the third quarter indicate lack of traction, with private spending growing marginally and government spending contracting.
  • Election Context: With the upcoming general election, the NSO data serves as a significant talking point, but there is a need for a sober analysis of the real state of the economy.

 

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Editorials

Context:

Plastic pollution in the Indian Himalayan Region has become a significant concern due to rapid urbanization, changing production patterns, and increasing tourist footfalls, leading to adverse impacts on biodiversity and freshwater sources.

Impact of Plastic Pollution

  • Ubiquitous Presence of Plastic: Plastic pollution is widespread, affecting diverse ecosystems from mountains to oceans, and even inside human bodies like lungs and placenta.
  • Environmental Degradation: Improper disposal of plastic waste in the Indian Himalayan Region is causing soil and water pollution, threatening biodiversity and freshwater sources vital for downstream communities.
  • Challenges from Tourism: Increasing tourist footfalls exacerbate the plastic waste crisis, with reports of towns drowning in plastic waste and fragile ecosystems like Ramsar sites affected.

Regulatory Framework and Challenges

  • Legal Mandates: Solid Waste Management Rules (SWM) 2016, Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules 2016, and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) 2022 constitute the regulatory framework, but specific needs of hill areas are often overlooked.
  • State Initiatives: Some states like Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and Mizoram have enacted laws to curb plastic use, but challenges persist in enforcement and infrastructure development.
  • Waste Management Gap: Despite legal mandates, waste segregation and scientific disposal remain inadequate, with overflowing landfills contributing to soil, water, and air pollution.

Solutions and Policy Recommendations

  • Resource Allocation and Support: Adequate resource allocation, infrastructure development, and empowerment of local bodies are crucial for effective waste management, considering the region's ecological sensitivity.
  • Public Participation and Education: Public engagement through sustained education campaigns and waste segregation initiatives is essential to address the plastic waste crisis.
  • Convergence of Schemes: Convergence of existing schemes like Swachh Bharat Mission, Finance Commission grants, and corporate social responsibility funds can enhance resources for waste management infrastructure and operations.
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