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A lost opportunity – OPINION – The Hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/a-lost-opportunity/article17469395.ece

  • How the Maternity Benefit Bill fails to enable gender parity?

    • The Bill extends the period of paid maternity leave for women working in the organised sector to 26 weeks from the current 12 (Also read Editorial from March 13)

  • This is applicable to all organisations that employ 10 or more people

  • Although on the face of it this is a Bill that will benefit women employees, in its implementation it is likely to adversely impact women in the workplace.
  • The gender ratio in corporate India is already highly lopsided. In 2015, women accounted for only 21% of the jobs at the entry level to managerial position, according to a report, From Intention to Impact, published by Catalyst, a non-profit organisation.
  • They are wary about the added costs of hiring young, fertile women. This extension of maternity leave to six months will effectively double these costs and this is likely to result in much fewer women being employed in the corporate sector.
  • In progressive countries, at least a part of the maternity costs are borne by the government. In India, this is entirely passed on to companies.
  • There is both a direct as well as an indirect cost to long maternity leaves.
    • Direct cost includes cash benefits during maternity leave and cost of developing special infrastructure like creche in company.
    • Indirect cost includes workload of co workers due to an absentee labour and also rejoining probability of a maternity beneficiary is very low in country
    • The number of women who quit their jobs between junior and middle levels – is 50%, compared to the average of 29% in Asia. This also implies that the number of women who avail their maternity benefits and yet do not resume their jobs is rather high, adding to the cost concerns of their recruiters.
    • some of the other provisions in the Bill are encouraging and if implemented well, will help young mothers stay in the workplace.
      • organisations which employ more than 30 women (or 50 people, whichever is less) will now have to provide a crèche.
      • The mother is allowed to visit the crèche four times during the day. Also, mothers who adopt babies are entitled to 12 weeks of paid maternity leave.

  • Forgotten fathers

  • Where the Bill fails utterly though, is in its complete negligence of the roles of fathers.
  • Not only is this a lost opportunity to make some provisions for gender parity, it also works as a double whammy against women, by heaping all parental responsibilities exclusively on her.

Comparing budgets – OPINION – The Hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/comparing-budgets/article17469393.ece

    • This is a factual editorial for improving your answer 🙂

  • China’s arms spending versus that of the U.S. and India
  • What is new about the Chinese defence budget?

      • In the new budget With a rise of 7%, the official spending of CHINA on defence would be 1.044 trillion yuan ($151.43 billion, or about Rs. 10 lakh crore) in 2017

  • Is the figure reliable?

      • The officially announced figure may not fully reflect the Chinese spending in beefing up its military capabilities in both conventional and unconventional arenas
      • Most China observers believe that the total spending by the country is significantly more than the official budget.

  • It is well known that much of the Chinese spending on dual-use capabilities is not accounted as military spending.
  • Would it be instructive to compare China’s defence budget to that of the U.S.?

      • American President Donald Trump proposes a 10% increase in military spending, though the U.S. has wound up most of its major foreign operations
      • Pentagon’s budget, proposed in the last week of February, is $603 billion
      • While China inhabits a far more complex neighbourhood, it is nowhere near the U.S. in terms of military capabilities, expeditionary operations and strategic capabilities.

  • What about India?

    • For 2017-18, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has allocated Rs. 3,59,854 crore (roughly $53.5 billion) to the Ministry of Defence, which is a third of the Chinese defence budget.
    • Some part of the Indian budget would be spent in catching up with the modern infrastructure and military capabilities across the border.
    • much of New Delhi’s plans to counter China’s growing military strength is shelved already. India’s first Mountain Strike Corps, meant for China operations, is now scaled down, the IAF is struggling to meet the huge shortage of fighters, and the Navy does not even have enough capital budget to pay for committed liabilities.

Crimes of apartheid – OPINION – The Hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/crimes-of-apartheid/article17469384.ece

  • ISSUE: INDIA-ISRAEL

    • A new UN report should strengthen the global consensus against Israeli policy

  • In a report released on March 15 in Beirut, Lebanon, the UN has proclaimed that Israel ‘is guilty of the crime of apartheid’.

    • This is a very significant judgment, one with important ramifications for the UN, for the International Court of Justice and for the international community.
    • In 2015, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) was charged by its member-states to study whether Israel has established an apartheid regime.
    • The report that they have now produced makes the ‘grave charge’ that Israel is guilty of apartheid not only in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem — the Occupied Territory — but also within its own boundaries and against the Palestinian refugees.
    • In fact, as this report and others show, the two-state solution has been long vitiated. The Israeli government’s illegal Jewish settlement project in the West Bank and its virtual annexation of East Jerusalem makes it impossible to imagine the establishment of Palestine in that region. What exists is one state with an apartheid system, with Israeli Jews in a dominant position over the Palestinians.

  • A ‘demographic threat’

      • One reason why the Israeli government is unwilling to consider a one-state solution with equal rights for all Israelis and Palestinians is what they call a ‘demographic threat’.
      • If the 12 million Palestinians — exiles and refugees included — would be citizens of this one state, then they would dwarf the six million Jews in the country.

  • The UN report argues that Israel is a ‘racial regime’ because its institutions are premised on maintaining a Jewish nation by techniques of suppression and expulsion.

      • Palestinians who have Israeli citizenship (ezrahut) do not have the right to nationality (le’um), which means that they can only access inferior social services, face restrictive zoning laws, and find themselves unable to freely buy land.
      • All Palestinians — whether those who live in Haifa (Israel) or in Ain al-Hilweh (Lebanon) — suffer the consequences of Israeli apartheid.
    • Matters would be less grave if the Israeli political system allowed Palestinians rights to make their case against apartheid-like conditions. Article 7(a) of the Basic Law prohibits any political party from considering a challenge to the state’s Jewish character. Since this description of the Israeli state renders Palestinians as second-class citizens, their voting rights are reduced to merely an affirmation of their subordination.

  • Since most of the world’s states have signed the Convention Against Apartheid, they are now obliged to act to punish instances of apartheid.

  • Two recommendations from the report stand out.
    • First, the authors ask that the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigate the situation in Israel.
    • Second, the report asks that member states allow ‘criminal prosecutions of Israeli officials demonstrably connected with the practices of apartheid against the Palestinian people’.
  • If it is acknowledged that Israel is an apartheid state, then this is tantamount to war crime (in the 1977 Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions) and to a crime against humanity (in the 1973 Apartheid Convention and the 1998 Rome Statute of the ICC).