Inclusive Growth and Citizen Centric Governance (Part3)

Farmers

  • The term farmer refers to operational holders, cultivators, agricultural labourers, sharecroppers and persons engaged in various farming related occupations, among others.
  • The share of agriculture and allied sectors in the Gross Value Added (GVA) of the country at current prices has declined from 18.2 per cent in 2014-15 to 16.5 per cent in 2019-20.
  • In rural areas, 55 percent of male workers and 73.2 percent of female workers were engaged in the agricultural sector while 37.8 percent and 12.1 percent of households cited their major source of income as self-employment in agriculture and casual labour in agriculture, respectively.
  • Climate change, productivity issues and extreme weather-related factors associated with farming make this group vulnerable.

Challenges

  • Climate change, extreme weather conditions, deteriorating water availability, deforestation, deteriorating soil health due to excessive usage of fertilizers and pesticides, and market volatility were identified as major challenges.
  • Responding to these challenges with adaptive and compatible policies required disaggregated data on the status of various categories of farmers. 
  • There are major challenges associated with women farmers due to lack of land titles and a patriarchal agrarian system.

Recommendations

  • Contextualized policy interventions, which address the specific issues pertaining to rain-fed, tenant, landless, livestock and adivasi farmers and pastoralists, are recommended.
  • Promoting agroecology practices, natural farming and innovative technology to optimise resource use hold the key to mitigating the impact of climate change.
  • Linking production to processing, promotion of producers’ alliances and value chains are some key areas for action.

Elderly

  • India is home to over 103.9 million people aged 60 and above who constitute 8.6 per cent of the total population.
  • By 2026, this population segment is expected to increase to 173.2 million or 12.4 percent of the population, with consequent increase in the dependency ratio.
  • The literacy rate among elderly females and males is 28.5 percent and 59 percent, respectively.
  • Locomotor disability and visual disability are most prevalent among the elderly.
  • Higher morbidity and greater burden of ailments makes this group vulnerable to health shocks as seen during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Challenges

  • Health and nutrition surveys in the country focus on children, adolescents and on adult men and women below 60 years of age.
  • Awareness among the elderly about government schemes on geriatric care, pension and access to aids and assistive living devices remains a challenge, and is compounded by low levels of literacy.
  • Addressing issues of mental health along with those of higher morbidity is another major challenge for this population group.

Recommendations

  • There is a need to expand the definition of geriatric care, maintenance and welfare; remove the celling on the maintenance amount; make registration of care homes and service agencies mandatory; and set minimum standards for care homes.
  • Assignment of dedicated law enforcement personnel is especially important to safeguard the interests of elderly women who are more vulnerable.
  • Constructing an index can be useful to determine the status of the elderly, their extent and quality of access to various services and benefits and benchmarking state performance at the national and subnational levels.

Scheduled Castes

  • Scheduled Castes (SCs) comprise 16.6 per cent of the total population of the country, of which over 154 million reside in rural areas and 48 million in urban areas.
  • The Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) developed by OPHI and UNDP, which is constructed taking deprivations in education, health and standard of living into account, pegged the incidence of multidimensional poverty among SCs at 32.9 per cent.
  • While the incidence decreased from 65 per cent to 32.9 percent between 2005 and 2016 for SCs, it overall decreased from 54.7 percent to 27.5 per cent at the country level.
  • The vulnerabilities associated with SCs are recognised through various Constitutional provisions to protect their interests through affirmative action.

Challenges

  • Schemes pertaining to student scholarships, hostels and national fellowships for pursuing higher education have been operationalized to facilitate access to education. Challenges pertaining to affirmative action-based vacancies in employment in the public sector and universities, access to credit and opportunities for entrepreneurship need to be accelerated. 
  • Availability of data on sub-groups in present statistical frameworks posed an impediment to a comprehensive evaluation of the status of Scheduled Castes, especially women, in domains such as education, employment, nutrition, disability and credit access among others.

Recommendations

  • Focused interventions to support Scheduled Caste women and their access to education, employment and justice; and effective utilisation of SC sub plan component of the budget are crucial for meeting the intended objectives of the programmes.
  • Implementation of sensitisation and awareness programme modules, which leverage technology, in various domains such as education, employment, health and public life are of relevance.

Way Forward

  • The VNR stakeholder consultations with CSOs, NGOs and community networks, provided a platform for engagement and feedback on India’s progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • This platform was widely acknowledged among the participants as a conduit for institutionalised dialogue in the future. We live in a world where public policy and governance challenges are dynamic.
  • This has been further reaffirmed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • For state and market action to keep up with the myriad manifestations of these challenges, the nature of engagement with policy making will have to be adaptive, iterative and based on feedback, which institutionalised dialogue can provide.
  • Additionally, for policy to be evidence-based, addressing data gaps pertaining to these groups will be of paramount importance.
  • With the decade of action upon us, leveraging technology for policy scoping and interventions will be instrumental in ensuring that no one is left behind. 

This blog on Inclusive Growth and Citizen Centric Governance (Part3) pertains to UPSC paper GS3 inclusive growth and issues arising from it. Don’t forget to subscribe so that you never miss out on such important and interesting topics. Check out our previous blogs on various topics here.


Blog Post written by:
Anurag Trivedi
UPSC Mentor