Q.1) What are the causes and consequences of India’s falling sex ratio? Discuss the shortcomings in implementation of Prenatal Conception and Prenatal Determination Act (PC-PNDT).
Why this question?
- One in three girls missing globally due to sex selection, both pre- and post-natal, is from India which equals to 46 million out of the total 142 million, according to the UNFPA’s State of the World Population 2020 report: Against my will.
Introduction to the answer:
- Sex ratio measures the number of females born for every 1,000 males.
- India’s data: The Sample Registration System report, published by India’s Ministry of Home Affairs in 2018, had said that sex ratio at birth in India for children born between 2016 and 2018 was just 899.
- Govt. initiative: About Prenatal Conception and Prenatal Determination Act (PC-PNDT).
Reasons behind: Gender-biased sex selection tends to be higher among wealthy families, but percolates down to lower-income families over time, as sex selection technologies become more accessible and affordable.
- Girls being seens as economic burden
- Culture of son preference
Consequences of poor sex ratio:
- There are concerns that skewed sex ratios lead to more violence against both men and women, as well as human-trafficking.
- “Marriage squeeze” : The skewed ratio causes the number of prospective grooms to outnumber prospective brides, which further results in human trafficking for marriage as well as child marriages.
- This is often accompanied by the exploitation of these brides.
Concerns: Between 1994 and 2014, 2,266 cases of infanticide were registered in India, against 2,021 cases of abortion under the PC-PNDT, even though abortions outnumber infanticides today.
- In all, 17 out of 29 States had either not registered any case, or had zero convictions.
- Major gaps in the training of personnel implementing PC-PNDT.
Conclusion: India must implement the PC-PNDT more stringently, but must also dedicate more resources to fighting the preference for boys. The ultrasound machines should be included in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, so that their import is regulated.
Q.2) Indian forex reserves have crossed an unprecedented mark. In this context, discuss the need of forex reserves and the issues involved.
Why in news:
- Indian forex reserves have crossed an unprecedented mark — over half trillion US dollars, placing India only behind China and Japan in Asia.
- Define forex reserves.
- External assets in the form gold,
- SDRs (special drawing rights of the IMF)
- It is an international reserve asset comprising the dollar, euro, yen, sterling and yuan, and allocated to IMF members according to their quota.
- Foreign currency assets
- (capital inflows to the capital markets, FDI and external commercial borrowings) accumulated by India and controlled by the Reserve Bank of India.
Significance of rising forex reserves:
- Help in managing external and internal financial issues: The rising forex reserves give a lot of comfort to the government and the Reserve Bank of India in managing India’s external and internal financial issues at a time when the economic growth is set to contract by 1.5 per cent in 2020-21.
- A big cushion: In the event of any crisis on the economic front and also are enough to cover the import bill of the country for a year.
- Helps rupee to strengthen: The rising reserves have also helped the rupee to strengthen against the dollar.
- Provide level of confidence to markets: The foreign exchange reserves to GDP ratio is around 15 per cent. Reserves will provide a level of confidence to markets that
- a country can meet its external obligations,
- demonstrate the backing of domestic currency by external assets,
- assist the government in meeting its foreign exchange needs and external debt obligations and
- maintain a reserve for national disasters or emergencies.
Issues with forex reserves in India:
- There was a demand from some quarters that forex reserves should be used for infrastructure development in the country. However, the RBI had opposed the plan.
- Several analysts argue for giving greater weightage to return on forex assets than on liquidity thus reducing net costs (if any) of holding reserves.
- Another issue is the high ratio of volatile flows (portfolio flows and short-term debt) to reserves which is around 80 per cent. This money can exit at a fast pace.
- Conclude with the utility of forex during pandemic
Q.3)Infusing life in SAARC through the process of South Asian economic integration with India acquiring the central role, would also serve India’s strategic interests. Elucidate (250 words)
Why this question?
According to a Brookings India study, most South Asian nations are now largely dependent on China for imports despite geographical proximity to India.
- Mention India-China border tensions
- The need to reinvigorate SAARC
- Present status of SAARC
- Strained India-Pakistan relations
- India’s focus on other groupings etc
- Infusing life in SAARC through the process of South Asian economic integration
- Least integrated region
- How India can take the lead?
- Working with its neighbors to slash the tariff and non-tariff barriers.
- Negotiations on a SAARC investment treaty etc
- Dents in India’s soft power of being a liberal and secular democracy
- Unclear economic vision of India
Mention India’s strategic dealing with China has to begin with South Asia and SAARC in particular.
Q.4) As India looks to recovery efforts, clean energy and mobility systems can make a more resilient India by bolstering manufacturing, enhancing the reliability of electricity, avoiding costly oil imports, and cleaning the air. Comment (15 marks - 250 words)
Why this question? - NITI Aayog and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) released Towards a Clean Energy Economy: Post-Covid-19 Opportunities for India’s Energy and Mobility Sectors report.
Intro - Highlight the importance of India’s transport and energy(power) sectors.
Body - Mention the role these two sectors have to play in the post-Covid economic recovery - Discuss in the context of bolstering manufacturing, enhancing the reliability of electricity, avoiding costly oil imports, and cleaning the air.
Way ahead - Tell India needs to identify strategic opportunities in these sectors - Mention the opportunities.
Conclusion - India must leverage domestic innovation ecosystems to bring value to the country and industry in this new normal.
Q.5) Discuss the utility of MGNREGA amidst the pandemic. 15 marks (250 words)
Why this question:
- With unemployment figures at a 45-year high, and with the added economic destruction caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, MGNREGA numbers are set to rise.
- Introduce with MGNREGA and its objectives
- Then write how MGNREGA is helping in revival of rural economy - Livelihood creation, infrastructure development etc.
- Highlight the issues with MGNREGA - Funds, Time, Coverage, Conflict with other schemes etc.
- Steps to improve situation - Timely Fund disposal, Expanding coverage, Compliment with other schemes etc.
It is a sine qua non in addressing current and future unemployment challenges.