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Strategy for New India at 75:Inclusion- Gender

 

  • The purpose of this, ‘Strategy for New India @ 75’, is to define clear objectives for 2022-23 in a  diverse range of 41 areas that recognize the progress already made; and challenges that remain; identify binding constraints in specific sectors; and suggest the way forward for achieving the stated objectives. 
  • The Strategy document has disaggregated the 41 sectors under four sections: drivers, infrastructure,  inclusion, and governance. 
  • The first section on drivers focuses on the engines of economic performance – in macroeconomic terms with chapters on growth and employment.
  • The section also discusses strategies for the doubling of farmers’ incomes; boosting Make in India; upgrading the science, technology and innovation ecosystem; and promoting sunrise sectors like fintech and tourism.
  • An annual rate of growth of 9 percent by 2022-23 is essential for generating sufficient jobs and achieving prosperity for all. Four key steps, among others, have been spelled out for achieving this GDP growth rate. These are:

a. Increase the investment rate as measured by gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) from present 29 percent to 36 percent of GDP by 2022. About half of this increase must come from public investment which is slated to increase from 4 percent to 7 percent of GDP. Government savings have to move into positive territory. This sharp increase in the investment-to-GDP ratio will require significantly higher resource mobilization efforts as elaborated in the chapter on Growth.

b. In agriculture, emphasis must shift to converting farmers to ‘agripreneurs’ by further expanding e-National Agriculture Markets (e-NAMs) and replacing the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee  (APMC) Act with the Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (APLM) Act. The creation of a unified national market, a freer export regime and the abolition of the Essential Commodities Act are essential for boosting agricultural growth.

c. A strong push would be given to `Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) techniques that reduce costs,  improve land quality and increase farmers’ incomes. This is a tested method for putting environmental carbon back into the land. Therefore, ZBNF allows India to significantly contribute to reducing the global carbon footprint.

d. To ensure maximum employment creation, codification of labour laws must be completed and a massive effort must be made to upscale apprenticeships.

  • The second section on infrastructure deals with the physical foundations of growth. A lot of progress has been made across all infrastructure sectors. This is crucial to enhancing the competitiveness of Indian business as also ensuring the citizens’ ease of living. Three key steps, among others, are:

a. Expediting the establishment of the Rail Development Authority (RDA), which is already approved. RDA  will advise or make informed decisions on an integrated, transparent and dynamic pricing mechanism for the railways. Investment in railways will be ramped up, including by monetising existing railway assets.

b. The share of freight transported by coastal shipping and inland waterways will be doubled. Initially,  viability gap funding will be provided until the infrastructure is fully developed. An IT-enabled platform would be developed for integrating different modes of transport and promoting multi-modal and digitised mobility.

c. With the completion of the Bharat Net programme in 2019, all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats will be digitally connected. In the next phase, the last mile connectivity to the individual villages will be completed. The aim will be to deliver all government services at the state, district, and gram panchayat level digitally by  2022-23, thereby eliminating the digital divide.

  • The section on inclusion deals with the urgent task of investing in the capabilities of all of India’s citizens. The three themes in this section revolve around the various dimensions of health, education, and mainstreaming of traditionally marginalized sections of the population. While there are multiple dimensions and pathways  contained in the chapters in this section, four key steps, among others, are:

a. Successfully implementing the Ayushman Bharat programme including the establishment of 150,000  health and wellness centres across the country, and rolling out the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya  Abhiyaan.

b. Upgrading the quality of the school education system and skills, including the creation of a new innovation ecosystem at the ground level by establishing at least 10,000 Atal Tinkering Labs by 2020.

c. As already done in rural areas, affordable housing in urban areas will be given a huge push to improve workers’ living conditions and ensure equity while providing a strong impetus to economic growth.

d. Implementing strategies to achieve regional equity by focusing on the North-East region and successfully rolling out the Aspirational Districts Programme.

  • The final section on governance delves deep into how the tasks/business of government can be streamlined and reformed to achieve better outcomes. It involves a sharp focus on ensuring accountability and a shift to performance-based evaluation.
  • The government will revamp its data systems and analysis so that all policy interventions and decision-making are based on evidence and real-time data. This will yield efficient and

targeted delivery of services and justice to those who need them the most.

  • Three key steps, among others, are:

a. Implementing the recommendations of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission as a prelude to appointing a successor for designing reforms in the changing context of emerging technologies and the growing complexity of the economy.

b. A new autonomous body, viz., the Arbitration Council of India, may be set up to grade arbitral institutions and accredit arbitrators to make the arbitration process cost-effective and speedy, and to pre-empt the need for court intervention.

c. The scope of the Swachh Bharat Mission may be expanded to cover initiatives for landfills, plastic waste and municipal waste and generating wealth from waste.

  • To achieve the goals of New India in 2022-23, it is important for the private sector, civil society and even individuals to draw up their own strategies to complement and supplement the steps the government intends to take. With the available tools of 21st-century technology, it should be possible to truly create a mass movement for development. With the Sankalp of all Indians, India will have Siddhi.

Check out our previous blogs on the Strategy for New India at 75:

Objective

  • To create an enabling environment, sans institutional and structural barriers.
  • To enhance the female labour force participation rate to at least 30 percent by 2022-23.

Current Situation

  • As highlighted in the Economic Survey 2018, a number of indicators that reflect the position of women in Indian society have moved in the right direction. Out of 17 indicators pertaining to women’s agency, attitudes and outcomes, 14 have improved over time. On seven of them, the improvement is at least on par with countries at similar levels of development as India.
  • However, a declining female labour force participation rate (LFPR) despite increasing levels of education and declining fertility rates has emerged as a worrying trend. The current female LFPR is 23.7 per cent (26.7 per cent in rural areas and 16.2 percent 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 percent in 2015-16 At the all-India level, women are confined mainly to the large, informal sector. It is estimated that if women did as much formal work as men, India would experience an additional 1.4 percent GDP growth.
  • On average, 66 per cent of women’s work in India is unpaid, compared to 12 percent of men’s.
  • The government has taken some important initiatives to promote gender equality and welfare. These include the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign, the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, POSHAN Abhiyaan and the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.

Constraints

  • 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.
  • Women’s work comprises mostly of invisible/ unpaid work.

Way Forward

  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.
  1. Strengthen legal frameworks to eliminate discrimination against women and promote gender equity
  • Craft legislation 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.
  • Create liberal laws/guidelines that encourage women to re-enter the workforce after a break.
  • Develop and implement Equal Opportunity
  • Policies:

O Establish a set of norms (for job advertisements and selection guidelines, availability of crèche at workplace, grievance redressal, flexi hours, part-time work, maternity benefits etc.) for both the government and private sectors.

o  Persuade the private sector, autonomous organizations and others to voluntarily inscribe a statement in job advertisements to the effect: ‘We are an equal opportunity organization and are fully committed to women’s inclusion in our workforce’, pending a formal policy. This can be accomplished in partnership with organisations like the Confederation of Indian Industry that has developed equal opportunity guidelines.

  • Reward villages/districts with an equal child sex ratio through information, education, and communication (IEC) campaigns.
  1. Generate gender-disaggregated data and rank states on key indicators
  • Establish a dedicated unit within the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

O The unit should focus on data gathering, conducting regular reviews with other ministries on explicitly defined gender targets (e.g. under the POSHAN Abhiyaan, reduce anaemia rates among adolescent girls and women in the 15-49 years age group by at least one-third by 2022-23), ensuring optimum budgetary resources for women’s welfare and evaluating the effectiveness of gender-based budgeting.

O In setting up this unit, lessons could be leveraged from similar institutional arrangements in countries like Rwanda (Gender Monitoring Office) and Finland (Gender Equality Unit). State government should establish similar units at the state level.

  • 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.
  1. 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 percent women workers by providing tax benefits.
  1. 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.
  • Recognize and secure women’s rights over common property resources like irrigation systems, fishing grounds, forests, and water.
  1. Create enabling conditions for women engaged in agriculture
  • Ensure 50 per cent membership of women farmers in Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs).
  • Consider creating a separate budget to bear the registration/processing fee for the registration of women 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).
  • Target agricultural extension services to women farmers as well, not just males.
  1. 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.
  • Promote skill development among women in non-traditional work such as electronic technicians, electricians, plumbers, taxi drivers etc.
  • Organize women into professional groups/ guilds to improve their bargaining power.
  • 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.
  1. Ensure mobility, security and safety for all women
  • Provide affordable housing, residential hostels, and gender-friendly facilities in upcoming towns and big cities.
  • Improve rural connectivity and public transport systems.
  • Ensure gender-sensitive, rights-based and time-bound trials as well as disposal of cases pertaining to violence against women.
  • Strengthen the standard operating protocols for tackling crimes against women, including new forms of violence such as cybercrimes.
  • 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.