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CURRENT AFFAIRS 16-05-2018

Women In The Renewable Energy Sector

Relevancy

  • G.S. Paper 2,3

Why in news?

  • A study by the McKinsey Global Institute had stated that India can increase its GDP by up to 60% by 2025 by enabling more women to participate in its workforce.

What is the issue?

  • Government has committed to installing 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022.
  • This provides an immense opportunity for employing women and reducing poverty in rural areas.

What is the present state of women workforce in India?

  • More than 270 million Indians live in poverty (World Bank Report) and India also ranks very poorly on female labour force participation.
  • Constraints – Some estimates hold that India can increase its GDP by up to 60% by 2025 by enabling more women to participate in its workforce.
  • But social and cultural constraints can prevent this from becoming a reality.
  • Many women who work outside home still have primary household and parenting responsibilities that need to be balanced with their work life.
  • Opportunity – The government has committed to installing 175 GW of Renewable Energy (RE) by 2022.
  • This provides an immense opportunity for women and the rural poor.
  • Notably, as many as 3.3 lakh jobs are expected to be created in the wind and solar energy sectors alone.

What is the status in the Renewable sector?

  • India’s RE industry presently has low participation of women, and even the few women engaged are mostly daily wage labourers.
  • Moreover, the working conditions on many sites are not always suitable for women as they are devoid of safety and support systems.
  • In the current situation, jobs requiring some skilling are completely closed for women as formal education and training largely continues to elude them.
  • One has to pass 12th grade to get into technical training institutions and these institutions are largely concentrated in urban and semi-urban centres.
  • These are significant entry barriers for rural women workforce participation, and this hurdle only enhances with the burden of household responsibilities.
  • Consequently, there are very few women in production, facilities, and operations and maintenance roles in the RE sector.

What makes Renewable Energy sector significant for women empowerment?

  • A recent study has stated that some tweaks in the system might enable the RE sector to impact poverty by opening up opportunities for the poor.
  • Particularly with the growth of the decentralised RE and off-grid energy sector, there is significant potential to include local women in the workforce.
  • Hence, the government, enterprises, training institutes and civil society should work together to tap the potential of rural women for RE projects.
  • Importantly, for such interventions to be successful, it needs to be designed with women at the centre and not as an afterthought.

What are the specifics needed?

  • Training institutes could reduce the bar on entry, allowing for less formally educated women to learn new skills and receive training.
  • Training should be customised to respect specific needs like location, hours of engagement, safety, sanitation and women specific needs.
  • Mobile training modules that can cater to small groups of women in remote areas can be developed.
  • Training institutes and civil society organisations should collaborate with enterprises to help trained women secure employment.
  • Such efforts will enable India’s transition to clean energy to also brighten the prospect of empowering our women and addressing poverty.

 

The Draft Scheme on Cauvery Water

Relevancy

  • G.S. Paper 2

Why in news?

  • The union government presented the draft scheme for sharing Cauvery Waters to the Supreme Court.
  • It is now for the Cauvery basin States to quickly embrace the scheme to avoid further bickering and rioting.

About the Scheme:-

  • The draft scheme is for the distribution of Cauvery waters among the riparian States.
  • Though the centre has not given a name to the scheme, it derives largely from the pronouncement of the 2007 Cauvery Tribunal’s.
  • The scheme will be a two-tier structure, with an apex body charged with the power to ensure compliance, and a regulation committee that will monitor the flows.
  • The powers and functions of the authority are fairly comprehensive and its decisions are intended to be final and binding.
  • However, if any States is not cooperative, the authority has to seek the Centre’s help, and the Centre’s decision will be final in such a scenario.
  • The authority’s powers include apportionment, supervision of operations of reservoirs and regulation of water releases.

What are the concerns?

  • The clause involving the central government’s envisioned role in case of non-compliance by any state is tricky.
  • While this has been envisioned to solve the problem, there is the possibility of the centre taking a partisan stand in the future due to political considerations.
  • Rather, strict compliance with the court’s allocated share of water at all times would be better, instead of leaving situations to the centre’s discretion.
  • There are a few differences between the Cauvery Management Board envisaged by the Tribunal and the authority proposed in the scheme.
  • The Tribunal favored the chairperson being an irrigation engineer with not less than 20 years of experience in water resources management.
  • But the present scheme envisions a senior engineer in water resources management or an officer in the rank of “Secretary” at the union level.
  • Similarly, the representatives from the four States would be administrators rather than engineers as proposed by the Tribunal.

What is the way forward?

  • The Cauvery dispute has dragged on for several decades, and it would be unfortunate if the final decision isn’t implemented in letter and spirit.
  • All States should agree to the broad contours of this scheme and comply with the authority’s decisions.
  • If the proposed draft is implemented, then an issue concerning the livelihood of millions will be taken out of the sensationalist political domain.

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