Mains Q & A 11 February 2023
Q1. Prejudice and violence against sex workers are common because of their criminalised status. Discuss. Give ways to fix this issue. (250 words)
Paper & Topic: GS I Women Empowerment
People who work in the sex business frequently encounter prejudice and abuse due to their criminal status and the pervasive link of sex work with trafficking. Over 12,000,000 sex workers are believed to be employed in India, according to official figures. The true figures, however, are far higher.
Sex workers in India have been calling for the decriminalisation of sex work as well as a set of guaranteed labour rights. The COVID-19 consequences have given us even another reason to consider this delayed request.
Problems that sex workers face:
Violence against sex workers occurs in India because of the perception that they are criminals rather than law-abiding people.
As a result, sex workers’ human rights, particularly their right to life, dignity, equality, and protection under the law, have been consistently violated on a large scale.
These workers encounter stigma and are frequently the focus of sexual abuse since they consent to performing sex work. They typically receive little respect, and both their family and the community reject them.
The Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Children Act was passed in 1956, despite resistance from the legal and civil rights movements.
The Act upholds the archaic and outmoded notion that sex labour is sinful.
It holds that the participants, especially the women, never consent voluntarily.
Lack of sensitivity in law enforcement: Police officers ignore reports of partner and family abuse and encourage women to stop having sex instead of mediating conflicts amicably because they are insensitive to the situations and elements that affect sex workers’ lives.
Raids and problems with human rights The most widespread human rights breaches appear to be a result of rescue and rehabilitation attempts.
G.: At 2012, during an operation that lasted three or four days in Mumbai’s Simplex building, a red-light district, about 200 women were “rescued” and transferred to “correction houses.”
Corrective measures needed in this case:
The Supreme Court ruled in Buddhadeb Karmaskar v. State of West Bengal (2011) that sex workers have a right to dignity.
It is necessary to move away from the “victim-rescue-rehabilitation” narrative, and Parliament should review the current laws.
Therefore, the country must reevaluate sex work from the perspective of labour and grant sex workers the most fundamental labour rights.
Sex employment should not be confused with trafficking, which is against the law. Trafficking in adults and trafficking in children should be treated by separate laws to avoid infantilizing willing subjects and to provide children justice.
Shut down the prisons and rehab centres that house sex workers. Offer sex workers voluntary, evidence-based community empowerment initiatives as an alternative.
Decriminalizing sex work is necessary in order to protect the physical and psychological integrity of sex workers, as well as their rights to life, freedom of employment, health, and reproductive and sexual rights. The uncertain legal status connected to their profession and identity further makes them “invisible” as citizens with accompanying rights and benefits. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to decriminalise sex work and restore their rights.
Q2. Although the impacts of liberalisation reduced poverty, they also increased inequality. Critical analysis (250 words)
Paper & Topic: GS III Indian Economy
After liberalisation, wealth and income gaps grew, making it clear that something needs to be done. The income of the bottom 50% of Indians made up nearly one fifth of the country’s total income between 1950 and 1991, according to the most current World Inequality Report. It started to fall after 1991, and by 2021 it was 13.1%.
The World Inequality Report’s data start in 1995. In 1995, the wealthiest 10% of people made up 54.4% of the total population. By 2021, this had risen to 64.6%.
From 8.4% to 5.9%, the percentage of the lowest 50% declined.
This might signify a lot of things. One of these advantages is that economic reforms have benefited the richest 10% of our population more than the entire population.
Wealth gaps perpetuate themselves because affluent people use their greater resources to improve their authority.
Because of their sway over politics and the advantages they bestow onto their offspring, such as access to better education, the gaps in values, politics, and opportunities between the wealthy “haves” and the underprivileged “have-nots” grow.
Openness to trade and poverty:
During the reform period, most Indian states had notable average growth rates in both real informal wages and real agricultural wages. This explains the decline in the poverty rate.
Declining urban poverty and increasing income inequality were both connected with growth in manufacturing exports and imports.
The export of highly skilled high-tech commodities increased significantly in the 1990s among manufacturing exports.
The development in income disparity may be explained by the change in the skill mix of Indian manufacturing exports throughout the course of the 1990s.
About 40% of manufacturing exports still consist of three unskilled labor-intensive manufacturing products: clothing, textiles, and leather.
Their growth boosted the salary for unskilled labour, as was to be expected, and thereby reduced urban poverty.
Growth in total output, which includes both per capita net state domestic product (PCNSDP) and gross domestic product, is another factor that correlates to lower urban poverty and higher wealth disparity (GDP).
Finding that exports contribute to GDP growth raises the possibility that the effects of trade’s growth on poverty and inequality may be more important than previously thought.
The expansion of high-tech exports looks to be a substantial contributor to this trade growth nexus.
Inequality since liberalisation has grown:
Following the economy’s liberalisation, ensuring investor confidence received more attention, which called for the fiscal deficit to be kept strictly within acceptable bounds and an atmosphere that was conducive to investment.
The socialist philosophy has traditionally been one of unplanned market support.
Karl Marx used this as an illustration of “Primitive Capital accumulation,” where the poor were evicted from their houses and lost the opportunity to advance past the inherited means of sustenance.
This is demonstrated by the fact that, throughout the period of rapid economic growth, job growth has only slightly risen, by 0.2%.
The fact that the inequality is more pronounced if we use the Gini index for consumption instead of income is another piece of evidence that backs up the aforementioned claim.
Because of this, inequality has significantly increased even while poverty has decreased in absolute terms but not fairly. India should start by closing the income divide.
How to Proceed:
Some suggest redistributing money and assets in favour of the poor by raising taxes on the wealthy in order to reduce inequality.
However, these might not be the best solutions. For the tax to GDP ratio to rise, a larger tax base is required.
By using economic measures like government spending on physical and social infrastructure, inequality can be reduced.
Redistributive policies are not preferred by the younger generation over equal opportunity.
Regardless of caste, class, or gender, everyone should have access to equal opportunities in education, health, employment, and entrepreneurship.
Opportunities for employment and economic growth are increased by education.
Higher standards for education across the board are desired by the younger generation.
Finally, approaches for delivering public services that are effective ought to be given more consideration.
Many believe that poor governance is the biggest barrier to achieving the goals of a new generation and reducing poverty and inequality.
A fundamental institutional challenge is the accountability of service providers, particularly in the public sector.
Additionally, recent writing has emphasised the importance of combating corruption in order to lessen inequality.
To reduce disparities, the reform agenda should cover issues including electoral reform, crony capitalism, election financing, and corruption.
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