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15th June Current Affairs

OBC stir for 12% separate quota continues

(GS-II: Constitutional bodies, government policies and interventions)

In News:

People from five OBC communities continued to block the Jaipur-Agra Highway at Aroda village in Rajasthan Bharatpur district, demanding a separate 12% quota in jobs and higher education institutions.

OBC Reservation:

The Kalelkar Commission, set up in 1953, was the first to identify backward classes other than the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) at the national level.

The Mandal Commission Report, 1980 estimated the OBC population at 52% and classified 1,257 communities as backward.

It recommended increasing the existing quotas, which were only for SC/ST, from 22.5% to 49.5% to include the OBCs.

The central government reserved 27% of seats in union civil posts and services for OBCs [Article 16(4)].

The quotas were subsequently enforced in central government educational institutions [Article 15 (4)].

In 2008, the Supreme Court directed the central government to exclude the creamy layer (advanced sections) among the OBC

The 102nd Constitution Amendment Act, 2018 provided constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), which was previously a statutory body under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

NCBC has the authority to examine complaints and welfare measures regarding socially and educationally backward classes.

Article 340 of the Indian Constitution:

The President may by order appoint a Commission consisting of such persons as he thinks fit to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes within the territory of India and the difficulties under which they labour and to make recommendations as to the steps that should be taken by the Union or any State to remove such difficulties.

A Commission so appointed shall investigate the matters referred to them and present to the President a report setting out the facts as found by them and making such recommendations as they think proper.

The President shall cause a copy of the report so presented together with a memorandum explaining the action taken thereon to be laid before each House of Parliament.

Unemployment has decreased, says Labour Survey

(GS-III: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilisation of resources, growth, development and employment)

In News:

As per the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) for 2020-21 released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, the unemployment rate saw a decrease of 0.6% and fell to 4.2% in 2020-21, compared with 4.8% in 2019-20.

What does the survey say:

Unemployment rate: Data show the rate of joblessness fell to 4.2% in 2020-21, compared with 4.8% earlier

Rural areas recorded an unemployment rate of 3% and urban areas recorded an unemployment rate of 6.7%.

The Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR)e., the percentage of persons in the labour force (that is, working or seeking work or available for work) in the population was 41.6% during 2020-21 (higher than 40.1% in 2019-20).

All-India female labour force participation rate (LFPR) in usual status has increased from 2.3% in 2021 to 25.1% as compared to 22.8% a year ago

Worker Population Ratio (the number of employed people per thousand people) was 39.8% (an increase from 38.2% of the previous year)

Migration rate: The migration rate, according to the survey, is 28.9%. The migration rate among women was 48% and 47.8% in rural and urban areas, respectively.

Migrants are defined as a household members whose last usual place of residence, at any time in the past, was different from the present place of enumeration.

Employment-related migration: 4.4% of migration happened due to employment, which is a drastic reduction from the 10% in 2011

Reverse migration: During the pandemic, reverse migration led to a higher rate of unemployment agglomeration in rural areas, which caused rural distress. However, the annual report on the unemployment rate shows a contradiction.

How does NSO collect sample?

The National Statistical Office (NSO) uses “rotational panel sampling design” in urban areas to assess the Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR), Worker Population Ratio (WPR) and the unemployment rate, and visits selected households in urban areas four times. There was, however, no revisit for the rural samples.

What does report indicate?

Overall, the report suggests shifting the government’s policy directions as it has become more rural-centric. Creation of rural jobs other than in the agricultural sector and MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) could be priorities for the government at the Union and State levels.

Issues with the survey: Experts point out that a second visit to the households in rural areas could have provided a bigger and larger picture of unemployment, which did not happen in the survey.

Measuring unemployment:

Usual Status Approach: It records only those persons as being unemployed who had no gainful work for a major time during the 365 days preceding the date of the survey and are actively seeking work.

Weekly Status Approach: A person is considered to be employed if he or she pursues any one or more of the gainful activities for at least one hour on any day of the reference week.

The individual who may be employed on a usual status approach may however become intermittently unemployed during some seasons or parts of the year. Therefore, unlike the usual status approach, the weekly status approach can measure not only open chronic unemployment but also seasonal unemployment.

Current Daily Status Approach: Accordingly, a person having no gainful work even for 1 hour a day is described as unemployed for a full day. It is beneficial in sectors like farming and non-farming households where employment often fluctuates over a small period within a week.

Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS): PLFS was launched by National Statistical Office (NSO) in 2017 and is India’s first computer-based survey. It was constituted based on the recommendation of the Amitabh Kundu committee.

Liquor bottle buyback scheme, partial success in the Nilgiris

(GS-IV: Environmental Ethics)

In News:

A month since a scheme for buying back used liquor bottles was launched at TASMAC shops across the Nilgiris, it has scored some success. But some teething issues have also emerged.

Issues: There was an increasing rise in liquor bottle waste which was discarded in forest areas and posed threats to the wildlife.

How it works: The Tamil Nadu government directed Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation Limited (TASMAC) to implement the scheme aimed at eliminating the dumping of used liquor bottles in forest areas and negating the threats they posed to the wildlife. At the time of purchase, people returning used bottles were to be refunded ₹10 a bottle collected in deposit at TASMAC shops across the district.

Effect: There was a drastic reduction in open dumping across the district. However, the district administration and the TASMAC face another problem — what to do with the bottles that have piled up at TASMAC shops across the Nilgiris.

What is the Agnipath scheme?

(GS-III: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandates)

In News:

The government unveiled its new Agnipath scheme for recruiting soldiers across the three services.

What is the Agnipath scheme?

Under the new scheme, around 45,000 to 50,000 soldiers (will be called ‘Agniveers’) will be recruited annually (for a short period, and most will leave the service in just four years. Of the total annual recruits, only 25 per cent will be allowed to continue for another 15 years under permanent commission.

Format of the scheme:

Eligibility: Aspirants between the ages of 17.5 years and 21 years will be eligible to apply. The scheme is only applicable to personnel below officer ranks.

Recruitment:

Twice a year through rallies.

The recruitment will be done on “all India, all class” recruitment to the services (from any caste, region, class or religious background). Currently, recruitment is based on ‘regiment system’ based on region and caste bases.

Training period: 6 months + deployment for three and a half years.

Salary and Benefits:

Recruits will get starting salary of Rs 30,000, along with additional benefits which will go up to Rs 40,000 by the end of the four-year service.

During this period, 30 per cent of their salary will be set aside under a Seva Nidhi programme, and the government will contribute an equal amount every month, and it will also accrue interest. At the end of the four-year period, each soldier will get Rs 11.71 lakh as a lump sum amount, which will be tax-free.

For 25% of soldiers, who are re-selected, the initial four-year period will not be considered for retirement benefits.

Benefits:

Make the armed forces much leaner and younger: For India’s over 13-lakh strong armed forces, the current average age profile is 32 years. It is envisaged it will come down by about 4-5 years by implementation of this scheme.

Reduce the defence pension bill: The government has either allocated or paid more than Rs. 3.3 lakh crore in defence pension since 2020.

As per Army calculations, the savings for the government in this ‘Tour of Duty model’ of recruitment from just one sepoy would be around 11.5 cr (the army initially proposed a 3-year service model).

Create “future-ready” soldiers: A youthful armed forces will allow them to be easily trained for new technologies.

Increased employment opportunities and higher skilled workforce: Apart from job opportunities in the army, recruits because of the skills and experience acquired during the four-year service such soldiers will get employment in various fields.

The central government will likely give preference to Agniveers in regular employment after their four years stint.

Concerns regarding the scheme:

Present benefits and security of jobs will be lost: Recruits will not get permanent jobs or promised pension and health benefits even after retirement.

Doubt about training: 6 months of short training may not be enough to trust them with the same kind of tasks that current troops can be trusted with.

Erosion of loyalty: “All India, all class” recruitment to the services may lead to the erosion of the loyalty that a soldier has for his regiment.

Similar schemes in other countries:

Voluntary tour of duty: In the USA tours are 6-9 or even 12 months’ deploymentdepending upon the needs of the military and branch of service.

Mandatory tour of duty (called conscription): Countries that follow the practice of conscription include Israel, Norway, North Korea, and Sweden.