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6th November – Editorials/Opinions Analyses

Contents

  1. The forgotten fact of China-Occupied Kashmir
  2. A normalisation of WFH is unlikely to raise women’s participation in the labour force

The forgotten fact of China-Occupied Kashmir

Context:

On November 1, observed every year in Gilgit-Baltistan as “Independence Day”, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that his government would give the region “provisional provincial status”.

Relevance:

GS Paper 3: Border Areas (security challenges and management thereof); Security forces & agencies (mandate); Role of External State & Non-State actors in creating internal security challenges

Mains Questions

  1. Cross-border movement of insurgents is only one of the several security challenges facing the policing of the border in North-West India. Examine the various challenges currently emanating across the India-Pakistan border. Also, discuss the steps to counter the challenges. 15 marks
  2. The china Pakistan Economic Corridor passes through the Gilgit Baltistan region which undermines India’s territorial claim over Gilgit Baltistan region and PoK. Elaborate. 15 marks

Dimensions of the article

  • Geographical location of Gilgit-Baltistan region.
  • Historical background of Gilgit-Baltistan region.
  • Strategic importance of Gilgit-Baltistan
  • Challenges along the border with china and Pakistan
  • India’s initiatives to improve border management
  • Way forward

Geographical location of Gilgit-Baltistan Region

Gilgit-Baltistan borders Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to the west, a small portion of the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan to the north, China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to the northeast, the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir to the southeast, and the Pakistani-administered state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir to the south.

The region is home to some of the world’s highest mountain ranges. The main ranges are the Karakoram and the western Himalayas. The Pamir Mountains are to the north, and the Hindu Kush lies to the west. Amongst the highest mountains are K2 (Mount Godwin-Austen) and Nanga Parbat, the latter being one of the most feared mountains in the world.

Three of the world’s longest glaciers outside the polar regions are found in Gilgit-Baltistan: the Biafo Glacier, the Baltoro Glacier, and the Batura Glacier.

See the source image

Historical Background

The Soviet-British Great Game territory: The British wanted to protect their border from The Soviet’s invasion so they took Gilgit as a leased from Hari Singh in 1935. The British returned it in August 1947.

On November 1 1947, after J&K ruler Hari Singh had signed the Instrument of Accession with India, and the Indian Army had landed in the Valley to drive out tribal invaders from Pakistan, there was a rebellion against Hari Singh in Gilgit.

Pakistan did not accept Gilgit-Baltistan’s accession although it took administrative control of the territory. After India went to the UN and a series of resolutions were passed in the Security Council on the situation in Kashmir, Pakistan believed that neither Gilgit-Baltistan nor PoK should be annexed to Pakistan, as this could undermine the international case for a plebiscite in Kashmir.

Strategic importance of Gilgit-Baltistan

Gilgit-Baltistan is the northernmost territory administered by Pakistan, providing the country’s only territorial frontier, and thus a land route, with China, where it meets the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor has made the region vital for both countries. In a recent analysis by Andrew Small, this ambitious project is seen to have been going slow for a combination of reasons. But given the strategic interests of both countries, CPEC will continue.

China occupies 5,180 square kilometres in the Shaksgam Valley in addition to approximately 38,000 square kilometres in Aksai Chin. China and Pakistan have colluded to obfuscate these facts, even as they brazenly promote the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which runs through parts of Indian territory under their respective occupation.

Therefore, this region is strategically very important to India, moreover this region belongs to India as Instruments of accession.

Challenges along the border with china

  • Border dispute at Aksai Chin, Arunachal Pradesh, Doklam etc. with sporadic aggression.
  • Large scale smuggling of Chinese electronic and other consumer goods take place through these border points even after designated areas for border trade.
  • Inadequate infrastructure due to difficult terrain. However, China has undertaken a large-scale effort to upgrade air, roads and rail infrastructure, as well as surveillance capabilities near to the border.
  • Multiple forces along Indian border (for e.g.-ITBP, Assam rifles, Special frontier force) as opposed to single PLA commander on Chinese side.
  • Water-sharing issue as China is building dams on its side reducing water flows on our side.

Challenges along the border with Pakistan

  • Border dispute at Sir Creek and Kashmir.
  • River water sharing issue at Indus river.
  • Infiltration and Cross-border terrorism targeted to destabilise India. Recently BSF detected a fifth (since 2012) cross border tunnel in the forest area of Jammu.
  • Diverse terrain including desert, marshes, snow-capped mountain and plains makes border guarding difficult. · Time & cost overruns in infrastructure projects due to unforeseen circumstances& natural calamities.
  • Other issues include drug smuggling, fake currency, arms trafficking.

India’s initiatives to improve border management

  • Creating infrastructure: India is also constructing some critical bridges to cut down time for troop movement such as Dhola-Sadiya bridge.
  • India has joined hands with Japan to aggressively develop infrastructure projects in North east to contain China.
  • Army infrastructure projects within 100Km of LAC have been exempted from forest clearance.
  • To expedite border road construction, Ministry of Defence has decided to delegate administrative and financial powers to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO)
  • MHA sanctioned the implementation of Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) to establish an integrated security system at borders providing all-round security even in adverse climatic conditions.
  • The centre has decided to deploy Indian special forces unit National Security Guard (NSG) commandos in J&K to fortify counter terror operations by training J&K police and other paramilitary forces in room intervention, anti-terror skills, overseeing anti-hijack operations etc.

Way forward

  • Dispute resolution– Government should resolve pending border disputes with the neighbouring countries, as they later become matters of national-security threat.
  • No diversion of security forces– The border-guarding force should not be distracted from its principal task and deployed for other internal security duties. For e.g.-ITBP, a force specifically trained for India China border should not be used in the Naxalite-infested areas.
  • Involvement of army – It is felt that the responsibility for unsettled and disputed borders, such as the LoC in J&K and the LAC on the Indo-Tibetan border, should be that of the Indian Army while the BSF should be responsible for all settled borders.
  • Follow one-force-one-border principle to effectively manage borders as divided responsibilities never result in effective control.
  • Developing Infrastructure-accelerated development of infrastructure along the border, especially to wean the border population from illegal activities.
  • Use of advanced technology – The advances in surveillance technology, particularly satellite and aerial imagery, can help to maintain a constant vigil along the LAC and make it possible to reduce physical deployment.
  • Up-gradation of intelligence network and co-ordination with sister agencies, conduct of special operations along the border.
  • Raising the issues of infiltration from across the border during various meeting with counterpart countries.

A normalisation of WFH is unlikely to raise women’s participation in the labour force

Context:

A recent report from LinkedIn suggested that Indian women increased their participation in paid work between April and July because the new normal of “work from home” (WFH) allowed them to combine their domestic and employment responsibilities.

Relevance:

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

GS Paper 3:  Indian Economy (issues re: planning, mobilisation of resources, growth, development, employment);

Mains questions

  1. Work from home, without lessening domestic burden and an increase in paid work, is unlikely to draw more women into the labour force. Discuss. 15 marks

Dimensions of the article

  • What is labour force?
  • Status of employment in India.
  • Formalisation of jobs
  • Gender dimensions of employment
  • Steps taken by the governments
  • Way forward

What is labour force?

Labour force refers to those who are either engaged in any economic activities or are willing to pursue an economic activity in a reference period. It includes both (i) those who are in workforce; and (ii) unemployed.

Workforce refers to the population who are actively engaged in any economic activities and producing goods and services in a reference period while unemployed refers to all those who are seeking and available for work but had not worked in a reference year due to lack of work.

Labour force participation rate (LFPR) can be defined as the proportion of population in the labour force to the total population.

Worker population ratio (WPR) can be defined as the proportion of employed persons to the total population.

Status of employment in India

As per Periodic Labour Force Survey estimates, between 2011-12 and 2017-18:

  • The share of regular wage/salaried employees has increased by 5 % points in rural and urban areas. Under it, the proportion of women workers have increased by 8 % points.
  • In absolute terms, there was a significant jump of around 2.62 crore new jobs in the above category with 1.21 crore in rural areas and 1.39 crore in urban areas with addition of 0.71 crore new jobs for female workers.
  • Among the self-employed category (consists of employers, own account workers and unpaid family labour), while the proportion of own account workers and employers increased, the proportion of unpaid family labour (helper) has declined, especially for females. The proportion of total self-employed workers however remained unchanged at 52 per cent.
  • The distribution of workers in casual labour category decreased by 5% in rural areas.
See the source image

Formalisation of jobs

Formalisation of labour is critical to ensure wage and social protection for some 39 crore informal workers in the country, and the sectors that can trigger a shift towards the formalisation include the medium, small and micro enterprises (MSMEs), manufacturing, construction, goods and transport. According to Economic Survey 2019-20, the formalization of jobs in India has increased.

  • It was observed that the proportion of workers in organized sector increased from 17.3 per cent in 2011- 12 to 19.2 per cent in 2017-18 with total 9.05 crore workers in the organized sector.
  • Total formal employment in the economy also increased from 8 per cent in 2011- 12 to 9.98 per cent in 2017-18 with total 4.7 crore workers in formal employment in 2017-18.

Gender Dimension of Employment

Gender equality in labour market is considered to be smart economics to achieve faster economic growth and wealth creation. In an era of globalization, no country can develop and achieve its full potential if half of its population is locked in non-remunerative, less productive and non-economic activities. However,

  • According to NSO-EUS and PLFS estimates, female labour force participation rate (LFPR) for productive age-group (15- 59 years) declined by 7.8 % from 33.1 % in 2011-12 to 25.3 % in 2017-18 and rate of decline is sharper in rural areas as compared to urban areas. As a result of this, gender disparity in India’s labour market has increased.
  • Female Worker Population Ratio (WPR) also declined to 23.8 % in 2017-18 as compared to 32.3 % in 2011-12.

Factors Influencing Female Labour Force Participation

The arguments advanced in support of the declining and low female LFPR are from both supply and demand side.

On the supply side:

  • More women in rural areas are now pursuing higher education has delayed their entry into the labour market.
  • The household incomes have risen in rural areas on account of higher wage levels.
  • Cultural factors, social constraints and patriarchal norms restricting mobility and freedom of women.
  • Relatively higher responsibilities of unpaid work and unpaid care work . About 60 per cent of working age females are attending to domestic duties only and this proportion has increased over the last two decades.

On the demand side:

  • Absence of job opportunities and quality jobs and significant gender wage gap.
  • Lack of attainment of appropriate education level/skill set.
  • A fall in international demand for products of labour-intensive industries in urban areas.
  • Low female wages in agriculture sector
  • The fall in employment in agriculture has not shown concomitant increase in opportunities for women in the manufacturing sector where most women with middle to secondary levels of education and from middle income groups are likely to look for employment.
  • Structural shift away from agricultural employment, and increased mechanization of agriculture along with decline in animal husbandry in rural areas.
  • Withdrawal of men from agriculture and shift to the construction sector in urban areas, led to loss of jobs for rural women who were engaged as unpaid labour along with the men.

Steps taken by the government

Various steps are being taken for generating employment in the country like encouraging private sector of economy, fast-tracking various projects involving substantial investment and increasing public expenditure on schemes such as

  • Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP).
  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
  • Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY).
  • Deendayal Antodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM).

Steps Taken Towards Formalisation of the Labour Market:

  • EPFO launched a “Universal Account Number” service for portability of Provident Fund accounts,
  • The Code on Wages Act, 2019 to ensure minimum wages to all and timely payment of wages to all employees irrespective of the sector of employment without any wage ceiling, except MGNREGA. 
  • MUDRA and STAND-UP India for creating formal credit to businesses.
  • Mandatory wage ceiling of subscription to EPS increased from Rs 6,500 to Rs 15,000 per month and Rate of ESI contribution reduced from 6.5 per cent to 4 per cent.
  • National Career Service (NCS) Project launched in 2015, provides a host of career-related services such as dynamic job matching, career counselling, job notifications and information on skill development courses and rich career content on a digital platform.

Initiatives to Improve Female Work Participation:

  • Safety of Women at Workplace: The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 covers all women, irrespective of their age or employment status and protects them against sexual harassment at all workplaces both in public and private sector, whether organized or unorganized.
  • Mahila Shakti Kendra Scheme to empower rural women through community participation.
  • Female Entrepreneurship: To promote female entrepreneurship, the Government has initiated schemes like: MUDRA, Stand Up India and Mahila e-Haat.
  • Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) provides access to institutional finance to micro/small business units upto Rs 10 lakh.

Way forward

Considering India’s demographic advantage of a large young population in the productive age group, improvements in the social sectors like education, health care, water supply and sanitation leaves a profound impact on the quality of life of the people as well as productivity of the economy. India’s march towards achieving SDGs is firmly anchored in investing in human capital and inclusive growth.

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