11 November 2020

  • Employment-finally an Election Issue Indian Economy
  • Dose of Optimism (Editorial) + India's m-RNA vaccine may be ready in March Science & Technology
  • Strengthening Public health Capacities in Disasters Disaster Management
  • PM Seeks respect for 'Territorial Integrity' International Relations
  • Answers for Self-Assessment Test and Question for the Day

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    UPSC Current Affairs: Employment-finally an Election Issue – Article |Page 7

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Economy | Mains: GS Paper III – Economy

    Sub Theme: | Issues related to Employment | Key Terms of Employment | UPSC       

    Key terms related to Employment   

    • Labour Force: It includes all the people who are presently employed or are searching for jobs.
    • Workforce: It includes all the people who are presently employed.
    • Unemployment Rate= (Labour Force - Work Force)/Labour Force * 100
    • Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) = (Labour Force/ Working Age Population) * 100
    • Employment-to-Population ratio (EPR): (Workforce/ Working Age Population) * 100
    • Worker Population Ratio (WPR): Number of persons employed per thousand persons.

    Approaches to measure Employment/ Unemployment

    In the labour force surveys, the activity status of a person is determined on the basis of the activities pursued by the person during certain specified reference period.

    Usual Status Approach: Reference period is last 365 days (1 year). Person is categorized as "Employed" if he/she is employed for the major part of the year.

    Current Weekly Status: Reference period is last 7 days ( 1 week). Person is categorized as "Employed" if he/she is employed for at least 1 hour on any day during the last week.

    Official Employment Statistics Reports

    Payroll Reporting

    • Published by National Statistical Office (NSO)
    • Measures employment related statistics in the formal sector using information on the number of subscribers who have joined social security schemes - Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) Scheme, the Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) Scheme and the National Pension Scheme (NPS).

    Quarterly Employment Survey Report

    • Published by Labour Bureau, Ministry of Labour and Employment
    • Measures employment situation in selected non-farm Industrial sectors
    • Covers 8 major sectors- Manufacturing, Construction, Trade, Transport, Education etc.

    Periodic Labour Force Survey(PLFS) Report

    • It is published by the National Statistical Office (NSO)
    • Replaced the earlier quinquennial (5-year) Employment-Unemployment Surveys (EUS) surveys in India
    • It involves quarterly employment survey in Urban areas and Annual Survey in the Rural Areas.

    Employment Situation in India

    Jobless Growth: - Stagnation in share of Manufacturing Sector to India's GDP at 17% since 1991 reforms, Dominance of small- sized firms, Complexity in the labor laws and land acquisition, lack of skill sets etc.

    Nature of Jobs: The Jobs created in the Indian Economy have been concentrated in low- paying, low-productivity informal sectors such as Construction, Small-sized enterprises. The Informal workers account for almost 90% of India's workforce. Hence, concerns have been raised over not just over the number of Jobs created, but also over the nature of Jobs.

    Growing Informalisation of Workforce:  The share of contractual workers increased from 12 per cent of all registered manufacturing workers in 1999 to over 25 per cent in 2010. The informal workers are paid almost 20 times less wages as compared to formal workers and lack social security benefits.

    Working Poors: The informal workers face number of vulnerabilities such as Poor wages, lack of access to social security benefits, poor skill sets, lack effective representation through trade Unions, lack of access to basic facilities such as housing, sanitation etc.

    Decline in Female LFPR: India exhibits a low and declining female labour force participation rate. The female labour force participation rate in India was 23.7 per cent in 2011-12 compared to 61 per cent in China, 56 per cent in the United States

    Protection and social security: A large number of workers that are engaged in the unorganized sector are not covered by labour regulations and social security.

    Skills-Set: According to the India Skill Report 2018, only 47 per cent of those coming out of higher educational institutions are employable

    Reasons for Jobless Growth in India

    • Focus on Capital Intensive Industries
      • Accidental Impact of Government Policies: Both at the central and the state levels, there are fiscal and monetary incentives (e.g., capital investment subsidy, interest subsidy, export promotion capital goods scheme, credit-linked capital subsidy for technology upgrading of small scale industries, etc.) that provide support for capital to various Industries. An indirect effect of such measures has been to decrease cost of capital and enhance cost of labour. This has incentivised Industries to be more capital Intensive and less labour Intensive.
      • Nature of Demand: Since 1991 LPG reforms, the demand for the manufactured commodities has increased substantially. These manufactured commodities are more capital intensive and less labour intensive. And that, in turn, has implications for technology choice and employment generation
    • Presence of Dwarf Firms in MSME Sector: The Government provides a number of incentives so as to nurture Infant MSMEs to grow into large sized giants and ensure optimum utilization of factors of production, higher productivity and job creation. However, the Government policies as shown below create perverse incentives for firms to remain small rather than grow bigger.
    • Poor Implementation of Labour Reforms
    • Stagnation in the share of Manufacturing sector
    • Need for high skill sets in Services sector such as IT and BPM, Telecommunication etc.
    • Disguised unemployment in agriculture accompanied by poor skill sets hindering job creation.
    • Employment data. We currently lack timely and periodic estimates of the work force. This lack of data prevents us from rigorously monitoring the employment situation and assessing the impact of various interventions to create jobs.

    Strategies to Promote Job Creation

    • Focus on Labour Intensive Industries such as Textile and Leather
    • Exploring Tourism Potential: potential to create more than 40 million new jobs in the next 5 years.
    • Smart Farming: Smart Farming should be explored from inherent strengths in the agriculture sector to shift disguised unemployment from the traditional agriculture to the agro and food processing exports.
    • Focus on Assemble in India: By integrating “Assemble in India for the world” into Make in India, India would create about 4 crore well-paid jobs by 2025 and about 8 crore by 2030.
    • Incentivizing ‘infant’ MSME firms rather than dwarf firms: Provision of incentives to firms irrespective of their age has led to dwarf firms. Hence, incentives should be limited to initial 5-7 years only.
    • Change in Orientation of SEZs: SEZs to be renamed as 3 E's- Employment and Economic Enclaves. Today, SEZs are viewed as zones promoting only exporters with special privileges; change in nomenclature will bring together all the categories of Investors that enable economic activity and boost employment creation.
    • Effective Implementation of Labour Reforms, including promotion of Fixed term Employment.
    • Promotion of secondary Agriculture in the rural areas to boost non-farm employment.
    • Making investment subsidies conditional on realizing a targeted level of employment per unit of investment.
    • Enhance female labour force participation by ensuring the implementation of and employers’ adherence to the recently passed Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act. It is also important to ensure implementation of these legislations in the informal sector.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs:(i) Dose of Optimism (Editorial) (ii) India's m-RNA vaccine may be ready in March | Page 6/10

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: General Science | Mains – GS Paper III – Science & Technology    

    Sub Theme: RNA Vaccine |m-RNA Vaccine | UPSC    

    Context:

    • Multinational drug company Pfizer has announced promising results from its ongoing phase-3 trial of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. However, these early results, of the vaccine candidate being “90% protective” in the trial’s volunteers - nearly 40,000 are enrolled - is the only important detail that is public.
    • Also, India’s very own m-RNA (messenger-RNA) vaccine could be ready by March. The novel m-RNA vaccine candidate of the Pune-based Gennova Biopharmaceuticals was approved for funding as early as July by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).

    In this regard, we will understand few basic concepts regarding m-RNA Vaccine 

    How does RNA vaccines work?

    • First let us understand Conventional vaccines
      • They usually contain inactivated disease-causing organisms or proteins made by the pathogen (antigens), which work by mimicking the infectious agent. They stimulate the body’s immune response, so it is primed to respond more rapidly and effectively if exposed to the infectious agent in the future.
    • RNA vaccines use a different approach that takes advantage of the process that cells use to make proteins: cells use DNA as the template to make messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules, which are then translated to build proteins. An RNA vaccine consists of an mRNA strand that codes for a disease-specific antigen. Once the mRNA strand in the vaccine is inside the body’s cells, the cells use the genetic information to produce the antigen. This antigen is then displayed on the cell surface, where it is recognised by the immune system.
    • Unlike a normal vaccine, RNA vaccines work by introducing an mRNA sequence (the molecule which tells cells what to build) which is coded for a disease specific antigen, once produced within the body, the antigen is recognised by the immune system, preparing it to fight the real thing

    How are RNA vaccines produced and administered?

    • RNA vaccines can be delivered using a number of methods: via needle-syringe injections or needle-free into the skin; via injection into the blood, muscle, lymph node or directly into organs; or via a nasal spray. The optimal route for vaccine delivery is not yet known. The exact manufacturing and delivery process of RNA vaccines can vary depending on the type.

    How are they beneficial?

    • RNA vaccines are faster and cheaper to produce than traditional vaccines, and a RNA based vaccine is also safer for the patient, as they are not produced using infectious elements
    • A major advantage of RNA vaccines is that RNA can be produced in the laboratory from a DNA template using readily available materials, less expensively and faster than conventional vaccine production, which can require the use of chicken eggs or other mammalian cells. 

    What are the challenges in floating out this vaccine in India?

    • There are still no commercially available m-RNA based vaccines.
    • They also reportedly need to be refrigerated to nearly minus 70°C and India, with its limited cold chain infrastructure, lacks efficient vaccine storage capacity.

    Vaccination is one of the major success stories of modern medicine, greatly reducing the incidence of infectious diseases such as measles, and eradicating others, such as smallpox.

    Conventional vaccine approaches have not been as effective against rapidly evolving pathogens like influenza or emerging disease threats such as the Ebola or Zika viruses. RNA based vaccines could have an impact in these areas due to their shorter manufacturing times and greater effectiveness. Beyond infectious diseases, RNA vaccines have potential as novel therapeutic options for major diseases such as cancer. 

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: Strengthening Public health Capacities in Disasters | Page 6

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Polity & Governance | Mains: GS Paper-II – Governance, Social Issues - health

    Sub Theme: Linking Primary Health Care with Disaster Management | UPSC

    Context:

    This article highlights that there is a need to integrate primary health care services with disaster management so that in cases of medical disasters, the approach of the government changes from being reactionary to that of prevention, mitigation and effective response.

    Lack of Emotional Response on the Second COVID Wave in India

    • For this, the article uses the term ‘desensitisation’ as despite news of increasing COVID cases, the government is not taking any harsh steps.
    • The author says that this lack of empathy or lack of emotional response is characteristic of India’s disaster management framework especially addressing public health issues.

    India’s Approach to Handle Public Disaster is More Reactionary

    • With the coming of Disaster Management Act, the idea was to replace reactive and ad-hoc response with a systematic scheme or plan for prevention, mitigation and response to all kinds of disasters.
    • Disaster management considerations were also to be incorporated into every aspect of developmental activities in different sectors, including health. 
    • Now some progress has been made but significant gaps still remain particularly in terms of medical preparedness for disasters. 
    • India’s Reactionary Approach can be gauged from the fact that all prohibitory orders was issued by Home Ministry and not by Ministry of Health.
    • MHA issued all kinds of prohibitions under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 including lockdown measures and travel restrictions.

    Problems with Private Sector to Handle Medical Response

    • Overcharging by hospitals specially during medical disaster despite capping of price by government.
    • Lack of affordability for poor and vulnerable sections.
    • Not every individual has health insurance.
    • Weak Regulation and Poor organisation of health facilities in private hospitals.
    • Not possible to penalise private health care service providers even if they flout rules during medical disasters like COVID.
    • Lack of infrastructure in most private hospitals across urban, semi-urban and rural areas.
    • Expensive hospitals generally take insurance clients so unsuitable during medical disaster for general public.

    Need for Strong Public Health Care at Ground Level

    • Considering the above obstacles, strong public sector capacities are therefore imperative to deal with disasters.
    • While the Disaster Management Act does require States and hospitals to have emergency plans, but medical preparedness is de facto a matter of policy.
    • Thus, medical preparedness to tackle disaster as a pro-active measure needs to be institutionalised in law by making it a part of Disaster Management Act.
    • Accordingly Public Sector Capacities needs to be strengthened via disaster legislation, including relevant facets such as capacity-building of staff at primary level. This will not only help during disasters but also in normal times to tackle cases at ground level.

    Need to Integrate Primary Health Care with Disaster Management Act

    • Medical Disaster as a term needs to be revisited and must not only include extreme cases like COVID or MERS but must also include such disease which is very much prevalent in India such as Malaria, Dengue, TB etc.
    • There is also scope for greater integration of disaster management with primary care. Primary care stands for things such as multi-sectoral action, community engagement, disease surveillance, and essential health-care provision, all of which are central to disaster management. 
    • Synergies with the National Health Mission, the flagship primary-care programme which began as the ‘National Rural Health Mission’ concurrently with the Disaster Management Act in 2005, can be worth exploring.
    • National Health Mission espouses a greater role for the community and local bodies. This aspect is missing in Disaster Management Act.
    • So, making primary health care central to disaster management can be a significant step towards building health system and community resilience to disasters.

     

    2nd ARC on ‘Disaster Management’ as part of Concurrent List

     

    ·         The Second Administrtative Reform Commission in its Report on Crisis Management has specifically mentioned that the subject of disaster management does not find mention in any of the three lists in the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

    ·         A subject not specifically mentioned in any of these lists comes under the Residuary Powers of the Union under entry 97 of the Union List. According to one view, Parliament therefore has the competence to legislate on this subject. However, by practice and convention the primary responsibility for managing disasters rests with the State Governments.

    ·         National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRCW) recommended including ‘Management of Disasters and Emergencies, natural or man-made’in the Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

    ·         Thus, the 2nd ARC in its Report on Crisis Management has suggested including a new entryin the Concurrent List of the Constitution of India“Management of Disasters and Emergencies, natural or manmade”.         

     

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: PM Seeks respect for 'Territorial Integrity |Page 1

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: International Relations| Mains: GS Paper-II - International Relations

    Sub Theme: Shanghai Cooperation Organisation |Promoting Regional Security | Sary-Arka-Antiterror 2019 | UPSC            

    About Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

    • SCO is an 8-member Eurasian economic and security bloc led by China.
    • It was founded in 2001 with China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as its founding members.
    • India and Pakistan became full time members in 2017 in the backdrop of Astana summit of SCO in Kazakhstan. (Russia had been pushing for India’s leadership since 2009)
    • 2 permanent bodies of SCO include Secretariat: Beijing and Executive Committee of RATS (Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure): Tashkent
    • SCO has 4 observers and 6 dialogue partners.
    • 4 observer states include Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia. 6 dialogue partners include Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey and Sri Lanka

    Significance of SCO

    • SCO is the largest inter-governmental organization covering 40% of the global population and more than the 22% of the world GDP.
    • It is commonly seen as an eastern counter balance to NATO.
    • SCO is the culmination of the geopolitical centre of gravity shifting to Asia and consequent need for an alternate democratic world order.
    • Most important objectives of SCO include
    • Promoting regional security
    • South and Central Asia faces common challenges of terrorism, extremism, and separatism. 
    • In order to tackle the common challenge of terrorism, the Regional Anti-Terror Structure was established as a permanent organ in 2004.
    • In the backdrop of Qingdao Summit 2018, India floated the idea of ‘SECURE’ which stands for ‘S’ for security for citizens, ‘E’ for economic development, ‘C’ for connectivity in the region, ‘U’ for unity, ‘R’ for respect of sovereignty, ‘E’ for environmental protection
    • Under RATS, a number of joint military exercises have been held including one in 2018 in Russia and ‘Sary-Arka-Antiterror 2019'in Kazakhstan.
    • Resolving Border Issues
    • SCO has been emphasizing on political and diplomatic settlement of border disputes among the member-states.
    • Promoting Connectivity
    • In order to promote connectivity through people-to-people contact, India has emphasized on promotion of tourism.
    • Accordingly SCO has declared 8 important sites as 8 wonders of SCO under which Statue of Unity on the banks river Narmada was declared as one of the 8 wonders of SCO.
    • The Eight Wonders of the SCO are:
    1. India — the Statue of Unity
    2. Kazakhstan — the Archaeological Landscape of Tamgaly
    3. China — The Daming imperial palace complex
    4. Kyrgyzstan — Lake Issyk-Kul
    5. Pakistan — The Great Mughals’ heritage at Lahore
    6. Russia — The Golden Ring cities
    7. Tajikistan — The Palace of Nowruz
    8. Uzbekistan — the Poi Kalon complex
    • Economic Integration
    • Given the size of the region which is home to 40% of world population and more than 20% of world GDP, SCO is seen as an alternative to current global financial mechanisms.
    • Accordingly a number of proposals, including the creation of the Council for the Development of Digital Economy and setting up of SCO Development Bank (SDB) and SCO Development Fund (SDF) are being floated by the members.

    Importance for India

    India’s security, geopolitical, strategic and economic interests are closely intertwined with developments in the Central Asian region.

    Energy Security

    • The Central Asian region is richly endowed with energy resources which India is trying to gain access to through the Chabahar port construction in Iran and construction of the International North-South Transport Corridor.

    Security Cooperation

    • RATS is increasingly viewed by India as a solution to regional security cooperation.
    • SCO is increasingly being active in finding a solution to Afghan problem which is important for security of the sub-continent.

    Gateway to Eurasia

    • India’s membership in the SCO is an opportunity for India to engage the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) thereby Eurasian market.

    Forum for bilateral cooperation

    • The SCO membership offers a platform for India to engage Pakistan in anti-terrorism cooperation and provide a platform to resolve their differences.
    • India has repeatedly opposed the Belt and Road Initiative of China in the SCO forum citing sovereignty issues arising out of CPEC.
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