1. An essential pit stop in parliamentary business
2. The gender pay gap, hard truths and actions needed
3. Geopolitics without geoeconomics, a fool’s errand
1. An essential pit stop in parliamentary business.
Theme : Indian Constitution ; Parliament
Related Paper : GS - 2
TABLE OF CONTENT
- What are Parliamentary Committees and Types
- Departmental Standing Committees (DSCs) of Parliament
- Role of Standing Committees & Standing Committees- Members
- Relevant parliamentary data on the working of Parliament and its committees
- Road Ahead
The worry of the Government has been that so much time is lost in disruptions in Parliament that the legislative process becomes unduly delayed and therefore, referring the bills to the Standing Committees may be counterproductive, that could only add to the delay.
What are Parliamentary Committees ?
- The Parliamentary committees are established to study and deal with various matters that cannot be directly handled by the legislature due to their volume. They monitor the functioning of the executive branch and provide the legislature with various policy inputs, playing an important role in Indian democracy.
- They act as ‘Mini-Parliament’: smaller units of MPs from both Houses, across political parties, that function throughout the year. Parliamentary committees are not bound by the populistic demands that generally act as hindrance in the working of parliament.
- As committee meetings are ‘closed door’ and members are not bound by party whips, the parliamentary committee works on the ethos of debate and discussions. Moreover, they work away from the public glare, remain informal compared to the codes that govern parliamentary proceedings, and are great training schools for new and young members of the House.
Parliamentary committees are of two kinds—Standing Committees and Ad Hoc Committees.
Standing Committees : Permanent (constituted every year or periodically) and work on a continuous basis.
They can be categorized into following broad groups :
- Financial Committees
- Departmental Standing Committees (24)
- Committees to Inquire
- Committees to Scrutinize and Control
- Committees Relating to the Day-to-Day Business of the House
- House-Keeping Committees or Service Committees
Ad Hoc Committees: Temporary and cease to exist on completion of the task assigned.
Ad hoc committees can be divided into two categories, that is, Inquiry Committee and Advisory Committee.
Departmental Standing Committees (DSCs) of Parliament:
- Mandate: To examine various legislations referred to it, the budget proposals of different Ministries, and also to do policy thinking on the vision, mission and future direction of the Ministries concerned.
- Departmental Standing Committees are where a proposed law is discussed in detail.
- Parliament has 24 Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committees (DRSC), comprising members of the Parliament of both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha in the ratio 2:1, which are duly constituted by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, jointly.
Role of Standing Committees :
- The main role of the department-related standing committees is to ensure the accountability of government to the Parliament through more detailed consideration of measures in these committees, its intention is not to weaken or criticize the administration or government but to strengthen it by investing in it more Parliamentary support.
- Hence the main role of departmental standing committees is to secure more accountability of the executives i.e the Council of Ministers to the Parliament.
- These Departmental standing committees are working particularly while scrutinizing the Budget.
Standing Committees - Members:
- Each committee consists of 31 members, of which 21 are nominated by the Speaker of Lok Sabha from amongst its members and 10 are nominated by the Chairman of Rajya Sabha from amongst its members. The tenure of each of the members is for 1 year.
- A minister cannot hold the committee’s membership. If a member after assuming his membership becomes a minister, he ceases to be a member of the respective committee.
- There are 24 standing committees as 16 departmental standing committees in Lok Sabha and 8 departmental standing committees in Rajya Sabha.
Relevant parliamentary data on the working of Parliament and its committees:
- Working of the monsoon session of Parliament this year bears testimony to this fact: the Lok Sabha’s productivity was 47% and the Rajya Sabha only 42%.
- The percentage of Bills having been referred to the DRSCs during the tenures of the 14th (2004-2009), 15th (2009-2014) and 16th Lok Sabhas (2014-2019) has been 60%, 71% and 27%, respectively.
- Fall in this percentage during the 16th Lok Sabha was witnessed largely in the second half of its session, when the Government was in a hurry to push its big ticket reforms through and the Opposition was equally adamant to stall it in view of high stakes involved in the 2019 elections.
Road Ahead :
- To negate unruly influences the process of reference of Bills to the committees can be made a mandatory or an automatic process. Exemptions can be provided with the specific approval of the Speaker/Chairman after detailed reasoning.
- Efforts must be undertaken to ensure that all the discussions in the Parliamentary Standing Committee must be frank and free by making sure that no whip of the party would apply to them.
- The Parliamentary Standing Committee can be given a fixed timeline to put forth its recommendations and present its report and such timelines can be fixed by the Speaker/Chairman.
2. The gender pay gap, hard truths and actions needed.
Theme : Employment, Gender,Issues Related to Women,Indian Society
GS - 1
GS - 3
TABLE OF CONTENT
- Gender Gap & Gender Pay Gap
- Causes behind Inequality in Employment in India
- Discrimination,Impact of Pandemic and a Wider Pay Gap.
- International Efforts to address Gender Inequality
- Steps taken by India
There are asymmetries lurking in the India’s Labour Market.The Third International Equal Pay Day 2022 was observed on 18 SeptemberThe symbolic day aims at highlighting issues and raising worldwide awareness to put an end to the history of gender discrimination that women are generally subjected to by getting paid less than their male counterparts.
Gender Gap & Gender Pay Gap :
- Gender gap is the difference between women and men as reflected in social, political, intellectual, cultural, or economic attainments or attitudes.
- Gender pay gap is the difference between the amounts of money paid to women and men, often for doing the same work.
Causes behind Inequality in Employment in India :
- Lack of quality jobs and wage disparity are key reasons behind inequality in the Indian labor market.
- The burden of unpaid care work, and the continuing prevalence of other regressive social norms are also factors behind women’s low participation in the workforce.
Discrimination,Impact of Pandemic and a Wider Pay Gap
The Gender-based discriminatory practices include the following:
Lower wages paid to women for work of equal value
Undervaluation of women’s work in highly feminized occupations and enterprises,
Motherhood pay gap, i.e. lower wages for mothers compared to non-mothers.
While the full impact of the pandemic is yet to be known, it is clear that its impact has been uneven, with women being among the worst affected in terms of their income security.This is partly due to their representation in sectors hard hit by COVID-19, combined with the gendered division of family responsibilities.
The International Labor Organization’s (ILO) “Global Wage Report 2020–21” suggests that Covid-19 crisis inflicted massive downward pressure on wages.The COVID-19 pandemic had a disproportionate effect on women workers in terms of job and income losses which indicates that the pre-existing gender pay gap has widened.
International Efforts to address Gender Inequality :
The United Nations has put the challenge of closing various forms of gender inequality at the heart of its actions.
The ILO has enshrined ‘equal pay for work of equal value’ in its Constitution
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) provides an international legal framework for realising gender equality and addressing the intersecting forms of discrimination and vulnerabilities among women and girls.
Sustainable Development Goals: One of the targets of the UN SDG 8 is “achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities and equal pay for work of equal value” by 2030.
In support of this Goal, the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) was launched in 2017 as a multi-stakeholder initiative led by the ILO, UN Women and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that seeks to achieve equal pay for women and men everywhere.
Steps taken by India :
Legislative Steps : To close the gender pay gap, especially at the low-end of the wage distribution, India was one of the pioneering countries to enact the Minimum Wages Act in 1948 followed by adoption of the Equal Remuneration Act in 1976.In 2019, India carried out comprehensive reforms in both the above legislations and enacted the Code on Wages.
Policy initiatives: As per evidence, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in 2005 benefited rural women workers and helped reduce the gender pay gap, both directly and indirectly.
Directly by raising the pay levels of women workers who participated in the programme
Indirectly benefits accrued to women involved in agricultural occupations through higher earnings, as MGNREGA contributed to the rapid rise in overall rural and agricultural wages in the country.
Government Schemes: The efforts are being made through the Skill India Mission to equip women with market-relevant skills to bridge the learning-to-livelihood gap and the gender pay gap.
Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act: In 2017, the Government amended the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961, which increased the ‘maternity leave with pay protection’ from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for the first two children for all women working in establishments employing 10 or more workers.
This is expected to reduce the motherhood pay gap among mothers in the median and high-end wage earners working in the formal economy.
3. Geopolitics without geoeconomics, a fool’s errand.
Theme : International Relations
Related Paper : GS-2
TABLE OF CONTENT
- Indo-Pacific Region & Its Significance to India
- Presence of Chinese Threat
- Pointers India need to Ponder
- Road Ahead
India has managed to emerge as a major pivot of the global Indo-Pacific grand strategic imagination and tried to strike a balance between the QUAD and ASEAN Nations. India has ensured that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) states do not feel uneasy by the ever-increasing balance of power dynamic.
Indo-Pacific Region & Its Significance to India :
The term ‘Indo-Pacific’ has gained currency as a new construct in recent times. The Indo-Pacific provides a geographic and strategic expanse, with the two oceans being linked together by the ten ASEAN countries.
- Strategic significance: Indio-Pacific is a multipolar region, contributing more than half of the world’s GDP and population. A stable, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific Region is an important pillar of India’s strategic partnership with the other countries, especially USA.
- Mineral Resources: Maritime territories have also emerged as depositories of vital resources ranging from fish stocks to minerals and offshore oil and gas.48 The South China Sea, for instance, is estimated to hold some 10 percent of the global catch of fish as well as 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas.
- Economic Growth: According to a report of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), countries in the Indo-Pacific produce over 60% of global GDP, making the region the largest single contributor to global growth.
- Commerce: The region consists of many of the world’s vital choke points for global commerce, including the Straits of Malacca which is very critical for the growth of the world economy. The Indo-Pacific region also stands at the intersection of international trade, with around 32.2 million barrels of crude oil pass through annually and 40% of global exports come from the region.
- Maritime Trade: Pacific islands are strategically significant from New Delhi’s point of view as they sit astride important sea lines of communication through which important maritime trade is conducted.
Presence of Chinese Threat :
- The Chinese regime claims that it has historical ownership over nearly the entire region, which gives it the right to manufacture islands, declare defensive perimeters around its artificial islands, and to chase ships from other nations out of the South China Sea. The International Court of Arbitration at Hague rejected this claim in 2016 but China rejected the authority of PCA, Hague.
- China’s increasingly active presence in the Indian Ocean region as well as its efforts to expand geopolitical reach in Asia and beyond by the use of trade and military Demand rule based order to secure India’s interests and free trade. In the present time, the control of sea lanes and ports would be the game.
Pointers India need to Ponder :
- India's move to stay out of IPEF, the U.S.-sponsored soft trade arrangement at best, comes two years after India walked out of the negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which came into effect earlier this year. Both the agreements lay at the heart of the Indo-Pacific and could potentially shape the economic character of the broader Indo-Pacific region.
- India concluded an FTA with the United Arab Emirates earlier this year, signed Early Harvest Agreements with Australia and the United Kingdom, and several more agreements are being negotiated. However, by not becoming a part of the IPEF and RCEP, and signing FTAs with individual states, India has made it clear that it favors bilateral agreements, and is not keen on multilateral, plurilateral and even soft agreements such as the IPEF.
Road Ahead :
- India should also proactively lobby to become a part of the Minerals Security Partnership, the U.S.-led 11-member grouping to secure supply chains of critical minerals.
- India should also rethink its decision not to join the RCEP and seek to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) from which the U.S. walked out and China is seeking to join.