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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 03 June 2024

  1. Trafficking of Babies in India
  2. Fewer Women are being Hired for Leadership Positions


Context:

Criminal activity is largely driven by a combination of socio-economic factors—poverty on one side and wealth on the other—along with unmet needs or desires. The recent interstate baby smuggling racket uncovered by the Telangana police should be viewed through this lens. While headlines occasionally highlight baby smuggling rackets, the exposure of this network has revealed a chilling, extensive operation across multiple states.

Relevance:

GS2- Issues Related to Children

Mains Question:

Discuss the causes that have led to rise in baby trafficking in India. What can be done to done to prevent such incidents of inter-state trafficking? (10 Marks, 150 Words).

Recent Incidents:

  • An interstate gang smuggled children from Delhi and Pune, selling them to prospective parents in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Over the past year, 11 people were arrested for smuggling approximately 50 babies.
  • Initial reports indicate that the gang ‘purchased’ babies from two individuals in Delhi and one in Pune, transported them to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, and sold them to the highest bidders among childless couples in these southern states.
  • The price for a baby ranged from ₹1.80 lakh to ₹5.50 lakh, with brokers earning between ₹50,000 and ₹1 lakh in commission.
  • Three women in the gang had reportedly been booked for the same offense previously.
  • Further investigation will uncover how the babies were procured, but this is not the first time such rackets have been exposed.

Underlying Reasons:

  • The underlying reasons are likely the same: the poverty of biological parents often drives them to sell their newborns for a small sum, and lax security in government hospitals facilitates the smuggling of newborns.
  • On the other side, couples eager to have children are frustrated with the long wait times to legally adopt a baby, which can range from two to four years for children under two.
  • While this lengthy process is meant to ensure the child’s best interests, the scarcity of babies available for adoption has led to desperate measures.

Adoption in India:

  • Adoption is a legal and emotional process that involves taking on the responsibility of raising a child who is not biologically related to the adoptive parents.
  • In India, the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), part of the Ministry of Women and Child Care, oversees and regulates the adoption process.
  • CARA is the main body for domestic adoptions and also handles inter-country adoptions as per the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, 1993, which India ratified in 2003.
  • Adoption in India is governed by two laws: the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 (HAMA), and the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. Each law has its own eligibility criteria for adoptive parents.
  • Under the JJ Act, applicants must register on CARA’s portal, after which a specialized adoption agency conducts a home study report.
  • If the applicant is deemed eligible, a child legally free for adoption is referred to them.
  • Under HAMA, adoption is finalized through a “dattaka hom” ceremony, an adoption deed, or a court order, and applies to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs.
  • Recent developments include the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act, 2021, which allows District Magistrates and Additional District Magistrates to issue adoption orders.
  • Previously, the JJ Act, 2015 required a civil court order to finalize an adoption. The Ministry of Women and Child Development introduced the Adoption Regulations-2022 to streamline the process further.
  • These regulations require District Magistrates and Child Welfare Committees to update adoption orders and case statuses in real time.
  • Since their implementation, 2,297 adoption orders have been issued nationwide, addressing many pending cases.

Conclusion:

Busting a gang may provide a short-term solution, but children should not be treated as commodities to be bought in a low-supply market. The government must take comprehensive steps to prevent such incidents, including effective poverty alleviation programs, employment opportunities for youth, raising awareness about adoption for both biological and adoptive parents, removing unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles in the adoption process, and ensuring effective policing to stop such schemes early.



Context:

While the representation of women in the workforce has increased over the years, LinkedIn’s Economic Graph data indicates that this progress stalled in 2022 and declined in 2024. Additionally, advancements in promoting women to senior and leadership roles have stagnated in recent years.

Relevance:

  • GS1- Role of Women, Women’s Organization
  • GS2- Issues Related to Women
  • GS3- Growth and Development

Mains Question:

What are the significant challenges encountered by women as they advance in their careers across various fields in India? What can be done to enhance women representation in leadership roles? (15 Marks, 250 Words).

Women in Senior Positions:

  • Most women in senior positions are concentrated in sectors such as healthcare, education, and administrative and support services.
  • However, the number of women employed across all positions remains low in industries like manufacturing, construction, and oil and gas.
  • LinkedIn’s findings are based on self-reported data from over 1 billion members, covering 41,000 skills, 68 million companies, and 135,000 schools worldwide.

Relevant Statistics:

  • Chart 1 illustrates the representation of women in the overall workforce and in senior positions over the years.
  • Women’s participation in the workforce rose from 23.9% in 2016 to 27.3% in 2022, remained steady in 2023, and then declined to 26.8% in 2024. The 2024 data reflect women’s positions as of January.
  • A similar trend is observed in the representation of women in senior leadership roles, where progress has been very slow.
  • It took four years (2016 to 2019) for the percentage of women in senior positions to increase by one point, and another four years (2019 to 2022) for it to rise by another point.
  • If the decline noted in January 2024 continues throughout the year, even this slow progress will halt.
  • The stagnation in the proportion of women in senior positions and the decline observed in January this year can be attributed to the slowdown in hiring women for leadership roles, according to the data. The share increased from 18.8% in 2016 to 25.2% in 2021, then declined.
  • “LinkedIn Economic Graph data shows that despite progress, women still face obstacles in reaching leadership roles due to bias, societal norms, and structural barriers.
  • An industry-wide analysis of the share of women in senior leadership positions reveals that even the gradual increase was confined to specific sectors.
  • Women’s entry and career progression were lowest in the oil, gas, and mining; construction; utilities; wholesale; manufacturing; transportation; and real estate sectors (Chart 2).
  • In these sectors, only 11%-14% of leadership roles were held by women. The oil industry had the lowest share, with just around 11% of top positions occupied by women.
  • In accommodation and food services, financial services, retail, technology, and media, the representation of women in senior roles ranged between 15% and 20% (Chart 3).
  • In administrative and support services, healthcare and hospitals, consumer services, government administration, and education, the share of women was between 22% and 30% (Chart 4).
  • The highest representation of women in senior positions was in the education sector, at 30%.
  • The data presented in the report indicate that regulations like the Companies Act, 2013, which require the inclusion of women directors on company boards, are not being rigorously adhered to.
  • From April 2018 to December 2023, 507 companies faced fines for violating this requirement. Notably, 90% of these companies were listed entities.
  • A closer look at the numbers reveals that only 8% of CEOs in Indian organizations are women. Additionally, a troubling statistic shows that 31% of women lack female peers in senior leadership positions within their companies.

Initiatives Taken:

  • Government initiatives are crucial in fostering an environment that empowers women and promotes leadership.
  • Programs such as the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ scheme, which focuses on girl-child education, lay the groundwork for future female leaders.
  • ‘MUDRA Loans’ provide credit specifically for women entrepreneurs, and the ‘Stand-Up India’ scheme offers easy access to financing.
  • Additionally, the ‘Mahila Vikas Yojana’ targets rural and semi-urban areas.
  • The Mission for Self-Employment (MSEI) offers incubation and skill development modules, complementing the efforts of the Skill Development Initiative (SDI) and the Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP), all aimed at enhancing employability and entrepreneurial skills.
  • There is a clear and concerted effort from both the government and organizations to empower women leaders and increase diversity within India Inc.
  • Recognizing the significant potential and benefits of gender diversity, numerous initiatives have been implemented to create an inclusive and supportive work environment that fosters leadership opportunities for women.

Way Forward:

  • Empowering more women to pursue leadership roles is essential for fostering innovation, driving organizational success, and promoting gender equality.
  • To accomplish this, businesses need to adopt a comprehensive approach that includes mentorship, networking opportunities, and skill development programs.
  • Mentorship programs offer guidance, support, and inspiration to women in leadership roles. Networking opportunities enable women to establish professional connections, exchange ideas, and gain exposure to diverse perspectives.
  • Skill development programs provide women with the necessary tools to excel in leadership positions.

Conclusion:

The figures above highlight the significant challenges women encounter as they advance in their careers, underscoring the urgent need to address gender disparities at the highest levels of leadership. Implementing organizational changes such as simplified and secure recruitment processes, fostering an inclusive environment, and facilitating smooth reintegration of women into the workforce after career breaks due to personal caregiving responsibilities, without penalizing their career advancement, can contribute significantly to reducing the gender gap in leadership positions.


June 2024
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