THE HINDU Daily Editorial Hunt-9th March 2020

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IASbhai Editorial Hunt

You cannot tailor-make the situations in life but you can tailor-make the attitudes to fit those situations.     -Zig Ziglar
Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020.

EDITORIAL 23:“No green shoots of a revival in sight as yet

       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL/EDITORIALS FOR UPSC CSE MAINS 2020

R. Nagaraj

      HEADLINES:

No green shoots of a revival in sight as yet

      CENTRAL THEME:

The latest GDP data show that there has been an undeniable decline in the growth rate over seven consecutive quarters

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3:Economy:GDP

      MAINS QUESTION:

GDP calculation has been a long time debatable issue. Critically Analyze production approach of calculating GDP.  -(GS 3)

      LEARNING: 

This article will clear all your doubts regarding GDP calculation and the relevant estimates. Drawbacks and the number factor has been mentioned clearly

      INTRODUCTION: 

On February 28, as per its release calendar, the National Statistical Office (NSO) put out the third quarter gross domestic product (GDP) estimates, that is, for October-December 2020.

It showed that domestic output grew at 4.7% at constant prices (that is, net of inflation), compared to the same period the previous year.

As the third quarter GDP was marginally higher than the second quarter (July-September 2020) figure of 4.5% (as reported in the earlier data released), experts in the media were quick to infer that the economy is turning around.

This was also in line with expectations of many forecasters. Hence, many concluded that the economic slowdown witnessed during the last six quarters has “bottomed out”; government spokespersons endorsed the view.

However, a closer reading reveals that the latest data release has revised the estimates of the first two quarters of the current year (2019-2020) upwards to 5.6% and 5.1%, from the earlier figures of 5% and 4.5%, respectively.

The upward revisions have, perhaps unwittingly, changed the interpretation of the current year’s Q3 estimate: the slowdown has continued, not bottomed out; hence, there is no economic revival in sight as of now.

      BODY: 

TRANSPERANCY

Thus, we have competing views of what the third quarter performance really means for the economy, giving rise to the suspicion of the integrity of the latest revision.

The corresponding figures for the previous year (2018-2019) got revised downwards.

Many viewed the revision of last year’s estimates as evidence of lack of credibility of the NSO’s revision process.

Such doubts are well taken, given the long-standing debate and unresolved disputes on the veracity of GDP figures put out since 2015, when the statistical office released the new series of National Accounts with 2011-2012 as base year.

CONSTANT REVISIONS

We will explain why the annual GDP estimates undergo revisions, and how quarterly output estimation is related to the annual figures.

GDP is a statistical construct — unlike the temperature on a thermometer — prepared using many bits of quantitative information on an economy’s production, consumption and incomes.

INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS OF CALCULATION:

Many statistical models and methods are used following standardised analytical procedures in line with the international guideline called the UN System of National Accounts (UNSNA).

The GDP revision followed the latest (2008) edition of UNSNA.

As there are lags and unanticipated delays in obtaining the primary data, the GDP estimates undergo several revisions everywhere (except in China).

GDP estimates are revised five times in India over nearly three years.

The initial two rounds, the advanced estimates, are prepared mainly using high-frequency proxy indicators (which probably contain more noise than information), followed by three rounds based on data obtained from various sectors.

MORE BASED ON PROJECTIONS

Since 1999, quarterly GDP estimates are being prepared, as per the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s data dissemination standards.

Their quality is sub par as the primary data needed quarterly are mostly lacking.

For example, nearly one-half of India’s GDP originates in the unorganised sector (including agriculture), whose output is not easily amenable to direct estimation every quarter, given the informal nature of production and employment. Hence, the estimates are obtained as ratios, proportions and projections of the annual GDP estimates.

The National Accounts Statistics (NAS)-Sources and Methods 2012, the official guide for national accounts estimation, states it as follows:

The production approach is used for compiling the QGDP estimates, in terms of gross value added (GVA) and is broadly based on the benchmark-indicator method. In this method, for each of the industry-groups… a key indicator or a set of key indicators for which data in volume or quantity terms is available on a quarterly basis are used to extrapolate the value of output/value-added estimates of the previous year.

EXTRAPOLATION:

Quarterly estimates of GDP are extrapolations of annual series of GDP.

The estimates of GVA by industry are compiled by extrapolating value of output or value-added with relevant indicators.”

The NSO continues to follow these practices.

So what can we make of the disagreements over the quarterly GDP growth estimates for 2019-2020?

The revisions were probably in line with the latest changes in the annual estimates (second advance estimates).

REVISION POLICY IS BASED ON :

“Quarterly estimates of the previous years along with the first and second quarterly estimates of 2019-20 released earlier have undergone revision in accordance with the revision policy of National Accounts.”

NOISE IN TREND :

True, there were considerable variations at the sectoral estimates after the revision, which probably contained more noise than information.

For now, there is little ground to question the revised estimates based on the publicly available information.

UNDENIABLE DECLINE

UNDENIABLE DECLINE :

However, if we accept the latest data, it is clear, though in an alarming way, that there has been an undeniable decline in the GDP growth rate over seven consecutive quarters, from 7.1% in Q1 of 2018-2019 to 4.7% in Q3 of 2019-2020.

PHYSICAL INDICATORS OF PRODUCTION:

Factors such as the official index of infrastructure output, or monthly automotive sales, continue to show an unambiguous deceleration, the economic slowdown has apparently not bottomed-out as the government would like to believe.

SLOWDOWN :  

The quarterly GDP deceleration comes over and above the annual GDP growth slowdown for four years now: from 8.3% in 2016-17 to 5% in 2019-20 (as per the second advance estimate).

OVER-ESTIMATION :  

Further, it bears repetition that many have questioned the entire GDP revision since 2015 to the new base-year for possible over-estimation of output growth.

Former Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian:The actual GDP growth rate during much of the 2010s may have been lower than the official annual estimates by 2-2.5 percentage points.

      IASbhai Windup: 

To conclude, India’s quarterly GDP estimates have limited primary information in them.

Their revisions are largely extrapolations and projections of the annual figures.

They are helpful to discern the broad trends in economic activity, which appear grave at the moment.

Economic growth continues to drift downwards, from a peak of 7.1% in the first quarter of 2018-19 to 4.7% in the third quarter of the current year.

It probably suggests more pain ahead, as the green shoots of economic revival seem nowhere in sight.

 

 

EDITORIAL 24:“Having an ear to Adivasi ground

       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL/EDITORIALS FOR UPSC CSE MAINS 2020

      HEADLINES:

Having an ear to Adivasi ground

      CENTRAL THEME:

Policy framers must recognise their wide diversity in order to address their different problems

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 1:3:Tribes:Forest Rights

      MAINS QUESTION:

The knowledge gap leads to democratic denial for the Adivasis. Substantiate -(GS 3)

      LEARNING: 

You will understand the hardship of Tribal people in India explained in most lucid manner.

      INTRODUCTION: 

In November 2018, the Adivasis of Jhargram, West Bengal, were overtaken by an event while preparing for the Bandhna festival; seven adults of the KhariaSavar community died within a span of just two weeks.

The opinion of the State authorities was this: “It was not undernourishment.

Despite the village’s proximity to several public offices such as the panchayat, block and district headquarters, being surrounded by other ethnic groups with better access to information, and even economically connected with relatively advantaged neighbours, the real reasons that caused the deaths hardly drew any public attention.

      BODY: 

Their lifespan is approximately 26 years less than the average Indian’s life expectancy.

Their lives are full of uncertainties, and death is considered the most normal of happenings.

The dead were cremated without any autopsy being performed, and thus the cause of the deaths could not be medically verified.

Other villagers were of the view that those who had passed away were suffering from tuberculosis.

ADMINISTRATIVE RESPONSE:

They died of tuberculosis and excessive drinking.” What is intriguing, however, is the factor of alienation that emerges from this.

Surveillance by the administrative authorities over the population in all other matters of their lives had failed to detect anything about the catastrophe until a few surviving inhabitants of the village made a plea to rescue them from hunger and diseases.

MISPLACED VIEWS

The uncertainty of Adivasi life has a strong connection with the ‘mainstream’ viewabout them.

In popular discourse, the socio-economic disadvantages of the Adivasis as compared with the rest of the population are often seen through a lens of benevolence.

The views about the ‘underdevelopment’ of the Adivasis typically subscribes to this section of the population being the ‘takers/receivers’ of governmental benefits.

Policies and practices rooted in this approach, fail, in most cases, to accommodate the question of the participation of the Adivasis in the ongoing processes of the nation as co-citizens.

This in turn not only deprives the Adivasis of the socioeconomic progress they are capable of but also results in a loss to the rest of the nation.

The rich moral, cultural and social values, and linguistic and other practice-acquired developments that the Adivasis have been nurturing throughout history could have added immensely toward strengthening our democracy.

Mutual co-operation, decision making through discussion, peaceful co-habitation with others and with nature, age-old and time-tested practices of environmental protection, and other such high civic qualities observed by them could have added to the country’s “democratic curriculum”.

However, the politics of dominance, economics of immediate gain, and a social outlook of separateness have charted a very different path for the Adivasis.

STUDY FINDS A KNOWLEDGE GAP

We were part of a study conducted by the Asiatic Society and the Pratichi Institute among 1,000 households across West Bengal (“Living World of the Adivasis of West Bengal:An Ethnographic Exploration” .

STUDY ANALYSIS:

The study found that there exists, both in the public and academic domains, a wide gap in knowledge about this selectively forgotten and pragmatically remembered population.

Who they are, where they live, what they do, what their socio-economic status is, what their cultural and linguistic practices are, are all questions to which the prevailing answers are fragmented and vague.

For example, in West Bengal, there are 40 Adivasi groups notified by the government as Scheduled Tribes (STs), but most people use the terms Adivasi and Santal interchangeably.

Santalin fact, is but one of the 40 notified tribes forming 47% of the total ST population.

SOCIO ECONOMIC FACTORS:

The imposed superiority of the outside worldhas resulted in the Adivasis considering themselves as inferior, primitive and even taking a fatalistic view of their subjugated life.

This pushes them to the margins, even making them abandon some of their socially unifying customs and cultural practices — particularly democratic norms and human values that have evolved through a protracted journey of collective living and struggles for existence.

One outcome of this is the erosion of their great linguistic heritage (in some sections).

However, Adivasi acceptance of the ‘imposed modern’ does not guarantee their inclusion in the apparent mainstream.

Rather, the opposite happens. They are often reminded of their primitive roots and kept alienated.

ALIENATION:

Again, pushed to the side by exploitation and oppression, marginalisation and subjugation, Adivasis, in many cases, cling to oppressive behaviours such as witchcraft which only make the label of them being primitive even more indelible.

The vicious cycle of political-economic deprivation and social alienationcontinues to keep them subjugated to the ruling modern.

A situation where they are a source of cheap labourand live lives where they are half-fed with no opportunities to flourish and develop their human capabilities seems unalterable.

POLICY FRAMEWORK:

It is important to go beyond the administrative convention of bracketing Adivasis into a single category.

Rather, policy framing requires mandatory recognition of their wide diversity so as to address the different problems faced by different groups — by community as well as by region.

The possibility of fair implementation of public programmes, however, is contingent to an agentic involvement of the communities concerned.

It is also important to abide by the general constitutional rules which are often violated by the state. In other words, the very common instances of violations of the Forest Rights Act, the Right to Education Act, and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act which affect them — have to be eliminated.

      IASbhai Windup: 

Instead of being considered to be mere passive recipients, Adivasis must be respected as active agents of change and involved in all spheres of policy, from planning to implementation.

It is imperative that the entire outlook on the Adivasi question is reversed.

Instead of considering Adivasis to be a problem, the entire country can benefit a great deal by considering them as co-citizens and sharing their historically constructed cultural values which often manifest the best forms of democracy and uphold the notions of higher levels of justice, fairness, and equality — better than those prevalent in seemingly mainstream societies.

By ensuring their right to live their own lives, the country can in fact guarantee itself a flourishing democracy.


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