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26th October – Editorials/Opinions Analyses


  1. Mind the Gap
  2. When Every Minute Counts
  3. Reinventing Non Alignment

Mind the Gap

Context: The NSS report, ‘Time Use in India 2019’, whose findings were released , has been conducted for the first time in the country.


GS Paper 1: Role of women and women’s organisation;

Essay : Women Empowerment

Mains Questions:

  1. The 2019 time-use survey confirms that we continue to confine women to primarily shouldering a huge, debilitating burden of unpaid household maintenance and care work. Discuss 15 marks
  2. How does patriarchy impact the position of a middle class working woman in India? 15 marks
  3. What are the continued challenges for women in India against time and space? 15 marks


  1. Fulfilment of ‘new woman’ in India is a myth.  (Mains 2017). 125 marks

Dimensions of the topic

  • Status of women participation in labour force.
  • Constrains participation in labour force.
  • Measures to improve women’s participation in labour market.
  • Way forward

Status of women’s participation in labour force : National Statistics Office carried out Time Use in India 2019 survey, This survey reveals following observations:

  • It reveals that only about 26 per cent of men (six years and above) participate in either domestic maintenance or care work and a measly four per cent participate in both activities.
  • Only six per cent of men, as against 75 per cent of women, participate in food and meals management and preparation.
  • While 13 per cent of men participate in childcare and instruction, the proportion is paltry in caring the dependent adults at home.
  • Men spend, on average, 97 and 76 minutes, as against 299 and 134 minutes by women, in unpaid domestic and caregiving services for household members, respectively.
  • Over 80 per cent of women in India spend about five hours daily in unpaid domestic services for household members.
  • The gender gap in time spent is larger in domestic maintenance than employment related activities.
  • Though time spent by men in domestic maintenance constitutes only 32 per cent of time spent by women, the time spent by women in employment goes up to 73 per cent of time spent by men.
  • There is no perceptible gender gap in time allocation in other activities, including rest, personal care and socialisation.
  • The current female labour force participation LFPR is 23.7 per cent (26.7 per cent in rural areas and 16.2 per cent in urban areas). The declining trend is particularly strong in rural areas, where it has gone down from 49.7 per cent in 2004-05 to 26.7 per cent in 2015-16.
  • On average, 66 per cent of women’s work in India is unpaid, compared to 12 per cent of men’s.
Figure 32.2: Female labour force participation 
NIT' Aayog 
1999-2000 2004-2005 2009-2010 
—.—Rural Urban 
Source: Economic Survey


Causes of women participation in labour market:

  • Constraints of workplace distance, inflexibility in working hours, lack of availability of crèches, safety etc., deter women from participating in economic activities.
  • The absence of opportunities for part-time work and challenges surrounding re-entry into the workforce further worsen the situation.
  • Increased income of men: as men start to earn more, women tend to cut back their work to concentrate more on household activities.
  • Caste factor: in some upper castes, there is a stigma attached to women working outside the home.
  • Nature of eco growth: not been able to create large number of jobs in sectors that could readily absorb women, especially those in rural areas.
  • Safety issues and harassment at work place.
  • Patriarchal attitude of society hinders the participation of women in labour market.
Figure 32.1: Progress with respect to gender-related indicators 
Women aged 20- 
24 years married 
before 18 years 
Women having a 
bank or savings 
account that they 
use themselves 
Women whose 
Body Mass Index 
is below normal 
Women who are 
02005-06 2015-16 
Source: National Family Health Survey Rounds 3 and 4

Measure to improve the women’s participation in labour market:

1: Ensure gender-sensitive thinking for legislation and policies keeping in view the challenges faced by women including:

  • Different life stages (single women, married women, young mothers and women re-entering the workforce after a break).
  • Levels of education (illiterate, school educated, vocationally trained, college graduates, professionals).
  • geographic inequities (rural, urban, towns, peri-urban areas, remote locations) and marginalization (SC/ST, OBCs etc.)
  • Special need groups such as single mothers, widows, homeless women and women with disabilities, among others.

2: Strengthen legal frameworks to eliminate discrimination against women and promote gender equity:

  • Craft legislations for women engaged in the unorganized sector to ensure at least a minimum set of gender-sensitive provisions such as access to privacy, minimum wages, maternity benefits, leave and grievance redressal.
  • Ensure mechanisms for implementation of mandatory laws like the Maternity Benefit Act and The Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, including for workers in the informal sector.
  • Reward villages/districts with an equal child sex ratio through information, education, and communication (IEC) campaigns.

3: Generate gender-disaggregated data and rank states on key indicators:

  • Improve data systems to generate gender disaggregated data through the use of technology, geo locating information and generating maps in real time.
  • Rank states on a set of reliable and comparable indicators that reflect changes in the status of women at the national and sub-national levels over time.

4: Encourage women’s participation in industry and enterprise:

  • Develop sector/industry specific targets for women’s employment and incentivize their implementation by firms.
  • Create policies and guidelines, on priority, to enhance access to credit by women entrepreneurs; provide facilitated credit access pathways for single women, women’s self-help groups/guilds/co-operatives, handicapped women, and SC/ST women.
  • Consider incentivizing sectors/companies that have over 30 per cent women workers by providing tax benefits.

5: Improve asset ownership and economic security:

  • Prioritize groups of women farmers seeking to lease land, water bodies, etc., at the village panchayat level.
  • Encourage joint registration with spouses/ sole registration of land in the name of the woman through registration fee and stamp duty concessions through special drives/awareness campaigns.

6: Create enabling conditions for women engaged in agriculture

  • Ensure 50 per cent membership of women farmers in Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs).
  • Specially focus on skill development among women, particularly for activities such as soil conservation, social forestry, dairy development, horticulture, organic farming, and livestock rearing (including animal husbandry, poultry, fisheries)

7: Enhance women’s skills and leveraging ability:

  • Consider extending the Post Graduate Indira Gandhi Scholarship for Single Girl Child scheme to families with two girl children.
  • Provide relatively higher financial incentives for girls’ education until Class XII to curb the higher dropout rate among girls and raise the average age at marriage by keeping girls in schools.
  • Use platforms like Digital India (i) to create apps for the guilds (ii) for marketing and branding purposes and (iii) to establish linkages with corporates, markets and consumers.

8: Ensure mobility, security and safety for all women:

  • Provide affordable housing, residential hostels and gender friendly facilities in upcoming towns and big cities.
  • Ensure gender-sensitive, rights-based and time-bound trials as well as disposal of cases pertaining to violence against women.
  • Introduce training (including refresher training) on women-specific issues and laws for all ranks and categories of police personnel, health practitioners, protection officers, legal service authorities, judicial authorities as well as other stakeholders who interact with survivors of violence, especially in remote areas.

Way forward:

The 2019 time-use survey confirms that we continue to confine women to primarily shouldering a huge, debilitating burden of unpaid household maintenance and care work. It is important that we seriously take note of and deliberate on the peculiar tenacity of the archaic, gendered constructs and divisions even today and their deep but differential impacts on women and men.


National Sample Survey Office (NSSO)

  • Worked under: Ministry of Statistic and Programme Implementation
  • The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) was set up in 1950, with the idea of having a permanent survey organization to collect data on various facets of the economy.

When Every Minute Counts

Context: The disease burden in India is changing. While communicable diseases remain a significant threat, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are fast becoming the country’s pre-eminent threat to public health and wellbeing.


GS Paper 2:  Social Sector & Social Services (health, education, human resources – issues in development, management);

Mains questions:

  1. Public health system has limitations in providing universal health coverage. Do you think that the private sector could help in bridging the gap? What other viable alternatives would you suggest? 15 marks
  2. Public health, the science of keeping communities healthy through the prevention of disease and promotion of health and wellness, has historically been a low priority in India. Critically Discuss
  3. Professor Amartya Sen has advocated important reforms in the realms of primary education and primary health care. What are your suggestions to improve their status and performance?


  • What is public health?
  • Types of diseases in India.
  • Current status of public health in India.
  • Constrains related to poor public health in India.
  • Measures to improve public health in India.
  • Way forward

What is Public Health?

Public health is the science of protecting and improving the health of people and their communities. This work is achieved by promoting healthy lifestyles, researching disease and injury prevention, and detecting, preventing and responding to infectious diseases.

See the source image

Types of diseases: Diseases are two types:

  • Communicable diseases are those diseases, which can be transferred from one individual to another. Typically, it is caused by pathogens such as viruses, bacteria. For instance diseases such as AIDS, malaria, dengue etc.
  • Non communicable Diseases: these cannot be transmitted from one to another person. Allergies, heart diseases, diabetes
See the source image

Current status of Public Health in India:

  • The total current expenditure on health classified by healthcare functions, preventive care accounts for 6.7 per cent.
  • The money spent on curing people on the other hand is 51 per cent of the expenditure with the remaining money being spent on pharmaceuticals, other medical goods and patient transportation.
  • Although India accounted for only 18 per cent of the global population in 2016, we accounted for 34 per cent of the global tuberculosis burden and 26 per cent of the premature mortality due to diarrhoea, lower respiratory and other common infectious diseases.
  • Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including cardiovascular conditions, chronic obstructive respiratory diseases, diabetes, mental health conditions and cancers are now the leading cause of health loss, with 55 per cent morbidity and premature mortality attributable to these conditions.

Constrained related to public health in India:

  • In India Public health is centred around curative care rather than preventive care.
  • Disease transition: The disease burden is shifting from communicable to non communicable diseases however still the government focus on communicable diseases.
  • In most states, population health management positions are staffed by doctors, trained primarily in the provision of curative services, or by generalist civil servants.
  • Most states have limited public health training, which includes an understanding of the causes and linkages between risk factors and diseases as well as disciplines including epidemiology, biostatistics, social and behavioural sciences and management of health services.
  • The following preventable risk factors are causes for a major proportion of diseases in the country: maternal and child malnutrition, air pollution, high blood pressure unhealthy diets,, high blood glucose, tobacco consumption, unsafe water, and poor sanitary practices; of these, nutrition, environment, water and sanitation are outside the purview of the health ministry.
  • There is no single authority responsible for public health that is legally empowered to enforce compliance from other public authorities and citizens, even though several factors may require inter-sectoral action to achieve a measurable impact on population health.

Measures to improve the health status in India:

1: Mobilize public health action at multiple levels:

  • Public funding on health should be increased to at least 2.5 per cent of GDP as envisaged in the National Health Policy, 2017.
  • Create an environment, through appropriate policy measures, that encourages healthy choices and behaviours like Make the practice of yoga a regular activity in all schools through certified instructors.
  • Strengthen the Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition Day platform to cover a broader set of health issues across various population groups instead of only focusing on child health.
  • Make nutrition, water and sanitation part of the core functions of Panchayati raj institutions and municipalities.

2: Institute a public health and management cadre in states: Incentivize state governments to invest in creating a dedicated cadre for public health at the state, district and block levels:

  • Train officials in public health related disciplines including epidemiology, biostatistics, demography and social and behavioural sciences.
  • Allow mid-level providers responsible for managing health and wellness centres delivering comprehensive primary healthcare to rise to higher-level positions within the cadre. Similarly, allow public health functionaries at the block and district levels to enter the cadre.

3: Create a focal point for public health at the central level with state counterparts:

  • Create a counterpart Public Health Agency in each state, where they do not already exist.
  • Explore the need for a Public Health Act to legislatively empower and, if necessary, institutionalise the Public Health Agency discussed above

Way forward:

Epidemics such as COVID-19 starkly remind us that public health systems are core social institutions in any society. No amount of strategic purchasing or outsourcing to private actors can replace their irreducible role. At the end of the day, it is public health services which will stand by our side in times of epidemics, and we must give highest priority to strengthening them. We dare to ignore this message only at our collective peril.


1: National health policy 2017: important provisions

See the source image

2: Ayushman Bharat: important provisions:

See the source image
See the source image

Reinventing Non Alignment

Context: Delhi’s renewed engagement is based on the bet that NAM remains a critical forum for pursuing India’s global interests.


GS Paper 2: Important International institutions, agencies, for a (structure, mandate); Bilateral, Regional, Global groupings & Agreements (involving and/or affecting India)

Mains questions:

  1.  India should live up to its independent non-aligned credentials and play a constructive role in evolving a more inclusive, multipolar and just world order. Comment 15 marks
  2.  India pursuing an independent foreign policy is not only essential for the country or the South Asian region, it can have a bearing on deprived populations of the world. Elaborate 15 marks


  • What is Non Alignment Movement ( NAM)?
  • What are the goal of Non Alignment Movement:
  • What are the objectives of NAM?
  • Why is it important in contemporary time?
  • Way forward

What is Non Alignment Movement?

The Non-Aligned Movement was formed during the Cold War as an organization of States that did not seek to formally align themselves with either the United States or the Soviet Union, but sought to remain independent or neutral. The basic concept for the group originated in 1955 during discussions that took place at the Asia-Africa Bandung Conference held in Indonesia.

Goals of Non Alignment Movement:

  • The country should have adopted an independent policy based on the coexistence of States with different political and social systems and on non-alignment or should be showing a trend in favour of such a policy.
  • The country should not be a member of a multilateral military alliance concluded in the context of Great Power conflicts.
  • If a country has a bilateral military agreement with a Great Power, or is a member of a regional defence pact, the agreement or pact should not be one deliberately concluded in the context of Great Power conflicts.
  • If it has conceded military bases to a Foreign Power the concession should not have been made in the context of Great Power conflicts.

Objectives of NAM:

  • NAM has sought to “create an independent path in world politics that would not result in member States becoming pawns in the struggles between the major powers.”
  • It identifies the right of independent judgment, the struggle against imperialism and neo-colonialism, and the use of moderation in relations with all big powers as the three basic elements that have influenced its approach.
  • At present, an addition goal is facilitating a restructuring of the international economic order.
See the source image

NAM in cold War Era:

  • Against Apartheid: The evil of apartheid was massively prevalent in African countries like South Africa, its was on the agenda of NAM right from first conference.
  • Disarmament: The Non-aligned Movement repeatedly comes out for maintenance of peace, ‘the cessation of arms race and the peaceful coexistence of all States. 
  • UNSC reforms: Right from its inception NAM was in the favour of UNSC reforms, it was against the domination of US and USSR.
  • Failed to resolve regional tensions: In the era of cold war the tension in South Asia escalated due to regional conflict between India- China and India-Pakistan. NAM failed to avoid tensions in the region, that further led to the nuclearization of the region.

Relevance of NAM in contemporary time: NAM continues to hold relevance as a platform and due to its principles.

  • World peace – NAM has played an active role in preserving world peace. It still stands by its founding principles, idea and purpose i.e. to establish the peaceful and prosperous world. It prohibited invasion of any country, promoted disarmament and a sovereign world order.
  • Territorial integrity and sovereignty – NAM stands with this principle and proved its repeated relevance with the idea of preserving the independence of every nation.
  • Third World nations – Third world countries fighting against socio-economic problems since they have been exploited for a long time by other developed nations, NAM acted as a protector for these small countries against the western hegemony.
  • Support of UN – NAM’s total strength compromises of 118 developing countries and most of them being a member of UN General Assembly. It represents two third members of general assembly, hence NAM members act as important vote blocking group in UN.
  • Equitable world order – NAM promotes equitable world order. It can act as a bridge between the political and ideological differences existing in the international environment.
  • Interest of developing countries – If disputes arise between developed and developing nation at any point of a concerned topic for example WTO, then NAM act as a platform which negotiates and conclude disputes peacefully securing the favourable decisions for each member nation.
  • Cultural diversity and human rights – In the environment of gross human right violation, it can provide a platform to raise such issues and resolve the same through its principles.
  • Sustainable development – NAM supported the concept of sustainable development and can lead the world toward sustainability. Can be used as larger platform to make consensus on global burning issues like climate change, migration and global terrorism.

Way forward:

China’s wedge strategy and its efforts to tie Afro-Asian states through the Belt and Road Initiative have limited the choices of many developing countries. However, despite the constraints, many have been able to keep China off militarily by refusing base facilities and also smartly bargaining with India and Japan for additional economic support. Thus  as a nation seeking to become an independent pole in global affairs, India could do more with forums like the NAM in mobilising support on issues of interest to Delhi.

June 2024