Gender as growth driver, Keeping the soil healthy is a challenge Current Affairs 28th July, 2017

Gender as growth driver, Keeping the soil healthy is a challenge Current Affairs 28th July, 2017

It can increase women’s contribution to productivity growth, job growth, and improve advancement practices that promote talented women into leadership and managerial roles.

Increasing female labour force participation:

National Sample Survey (NSS) data for India show that labour force participation rates of women aged 25-54 have stagnated at about 26-28% in urban areas, and fallen substantially from 57% to 44% in rural areas, between 1987 and 2011.

Improved access to land and bank loans:

Women disproportionately face financial access barriers that prevent them from participating in the economy and from improving their lives. Access to credit can open up economic opportunities for women, and bank accounts can be a gateway to the use of additional financial services. However, women entrepreneurs and employers face significantly greater challenges than men in gaining access to financial services.

Higher levels of political representation:

  • India ranks 20th from the bottom in terms of representation of women in Parliament, as per the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2012.
  • To remedy the low participation of women electors, India in 1994 established quotas (reservations) vide the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments to reserve 33 per cent of the seats in local governments for women.
  • The Women’s Reservation Bill (108th amendment) that seeks reserve 33 per cent of the Lok Sabha seats for women is yet to be passed.
  • Though increasing the number of women in national government may not guarantee an impact on governance, a critical mass of women in power can bring about transformation in leadership.


Empowering half of the potential workforce has significant growth benefits, that go beyond promoting just gender equality. While policy interactions can be country-specific, gender and growth are intimately linked. Policy and structural reforms to eliminate gender gap can be a powerful tool for accelerating growth. Simply put, empowering half of the potential workforce has significant economic benefits beyond promoting gender equality.

Connecting the dots:

  • Empowering half of the potential workforce has significant growth benefits, that go beyond promoting just gender equality. Analyze.

Keeping the soil healthy is a challenge

In news:

  • Government estimates an all-time high total foodgrain production of 273 million tonnes in 2016-17 (8.67% higher than the last year).


  • The agriculture ministry estimates show that production of key crops like rice, wheat and pulses will be at record levels during the year.

Factors that helped foodgrain production:

  • Good rainfall during monsoon 2016
  • Various policy initiatives taken by the government
  • Increasing penetration of agricultural inputs has helped Indian farmers achieve record food grain production year after year

However, this does not automatically imply that all is well on India’s agricultural front.

Major concern: Limited availability of agricultural land and declining soil fertility

  • India’s land area is about 2.5 per cent of the global land area. India supports more than 16 per cent of the total human population along with around 20 per cent of the global livestock population.
  • Clearly, the have in turn resulted in a persistent decline in soil fertility — a major challenge that Indian agriculture is currently facing.
  • Soil is the principal medium of plant growth for providing nutrients in adequate manner. At the dawn of the civilization, agriculture based sedentary civilizations have been grown up in fertile soil of the river. Over time, with the increase of population and food demand, methods of agriculture and stress on soil have been accelerated simultaneously because of mismanagement of soil fertility.
  • Over the years, increasing pressure on limited agricultural land in India has resulted in overuse of chemical fertilisers on soil, excessive tillage, jettisoning of age-old organic soil revival practices and lack of appropriate crop rotation. This has resulted in soil degradation and loss of fertility, which are emerging as major challenges for Indian farmers.
  • In several agricultural regions across the country, there has been observed a gap between nutrient demand and supply including decline in organic matter status, deficiencies of micronutrients in soil, soil acidity, salinisation and sodification.
  • Deterioration in chemical, physical and biological health of the soils.
  • Conventional practices followed by farmers such as leaving the land fallow for some time to allow it to regain its lost nutrition, and appropriate crop rotation have been junked in favour of continuous cropping which has led to a decline in Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) content to 0.3-0.4 per cent in the country when it should ideally be at 1 to 1.5 per cent.

Therefore, declining soil fertility has become a major threat in agricultural productivity and agro-economic scenario. India is under serious threat of losing its food surplus status in the near future. According to estimates, the demand for foodgrain is expected to increase from 192 million tonnes in 2000 to 355 million tonnes in 2030.

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