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The article talks about the three big challenges in front of India hampering India’s growth and productivity.
- The generation of more jobs, the creation of a national identity, and improvement of the total factor productivity of the Indian economy are three big challenges for the Indian government.
- The imperative to generate more jobs much faster, and the remarkable sluggishness of the Indian economy in generating jobs in spite of high gross domestic product growth, have been widely noted in the past few months.
- The question of a national identity, and whether it should be shaped around a history of a Hindu India, as forces around the present government are advocating, is causing great strains within the country.
- The challenge of improving the total factor productivity of the economy is connected with the other two.
- The total factor productivity of a system can be increased by improving the productivity of the most constrained resource in the system, and/or obtaining more of the scarcest resource.
- People (labour) are not the most constrained resource in the Indian economy. On the contrary, more labour should be put to use to provide incomes for people.
- Therefore, productivity of the Indian economy, and enterprises in India, at this stage of growth should not be measured by the output produced per unit of labour.
- Rather, it should be measured by the output produced per unit of the scarcest resources.
- Resources that are more constrained in the Indian economy than labour are capital and time. (Water is becoming another scarce resource too).
- Another big problem is slowness in implementation. Tardiness in implementation not only reduces returns on capital, it also reduces availability of capital because investors won’t risk more money if timely returns cannot be foreseen.
- India’s energetic democracy is often blamed for the Indian state’s inability to get things done faster. Some even say that India would have grown much faster if dictatorship had preceded democracy.
- Though dictatorships have not always produced well-run states, efficient institutions of the state are functioning in many Western democracies.
- Political scientists point out that the formation of strong states has often been enabled by the forging of a strong national identity, which has frequently been based on ethnicity or religion. Germany, Japan, Korea, Singapore, France after the revolution, and even Israel, are some examples.
- Therefore, it is tempting to conclude that Indians must be rallied around a shared national identity to enable the building of a strong state that can impose order and get things done.
- However, a special challenge that India has if it follows this route, is that there is no ethnicity or religion that can rally all Indians into one nation.
- Aryan culture cannot be India’s identity. Dravidians in the south have made it clear that they were settled on India’s land before the Aryans came, and they are proud of their ancient, well-evolved culture and languages.
- To the east, other ethnic groups resent being treated as second-class Indian citizens. Nor can religion unify all Indians. India proudly has almost all the religions in the world.
- The religion of the majority, Hinduism, with its caste system, has been unable to contain everyone equally even within itself.
- Moreover, the beauty of Hinduism is that it accepts that people can have many beliefs and many ways to their gods. The imposition of any singular version of Hinduism may even divide Hindus rather than unite the country.
- The conclusion is, a strong Indian state must be formed around a vision of the future, as the US was, and not around a religion and a selective history of the past.
- India’s prime minister rightly says that the Constitution is his god. For all Indians too, their Constitution must be the guide to the conduct of the state, as it is for citizens of the US.
- Foreigners will invest more, as will Indians, if the Indian state functions more effectively.
- An effective state will also deliver better public services—healthcare, education, sanitation and public utilities, as well as law and order.
- Moreover, reforms of policies and their implementation will become easier when citizens trust the state. Fostered by a better functioning state, the growth of competitive enterprises, with higher total factor productivity, will generate more jobs.
Indians should not waste energy and time on rewriting the history, an exercise that will divide them. They should unite around a vision of the future. In the light of this statement, examine the divisive factors in our society.
- Divisive factors.
- How to tackle them.
- A uniform civil code will mean a set of common personal laws for all citizens. Currently, for example, there are different personal laws for Hindus and Muslims. Personal law covers property, marriage and divorce, inheritance and succession.
- Uniform Civil code is enshrined as article 44, as part of the Directive Principles of States policy, in the Indian Constitution. It makes the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code as a duty of the state
- Personal Laws in India were first framed in India during British Rule. The British feared opposition from community leaders and refrained from further interfering within this domestic sphere. The demand for a uniform civil code was first put forward by women activists in the beginning of the twentieth century, with the objective of women's rights, equality and secularism.
- After independence, the Indian Government under Jawaharlal Nehru wanted to bring out a uniform civil code. However, after heated debates and oppositions, 4 bills relating to personal laws of Hindus (Hindu Marriage Act, Succession Act, Minority and Guardianship Act and Adoptions and Maintenance Act) could only be passed.
- The uniform civil code became a flashpoint in Indian politics in 1985 during the Shah Bano case. The Supreme Court had held that Bano, a Muslim woman, should get alimony from her former spouse. In the context of that judgement, the court had said uniform civil code should apply for personal law. The Rajiv Gandhi government had controversially piloted a law in Parliament to overturn the Supreme Court ruling.
Debate on uniform civil code
- The uniform civil code has always been a subject of intense debate. An examination of the various stands pro and against the same follows:
- • Arguments Pro uniform civil code-
- As per Article 44 enshrined in the Constitution, it is a duty of the State to move towards establishing a uniform civil code
- It means Uniform laws for all engendering equality among all citizens; Inconsistency in personal laws runs contrary to Right to Equality
- True spirit of secularism- Uniform Civil code is true spirit of secularism as religion is a personal matter so laws should be common for all religions
- Needed to protect vulnerable sections of the society from abuses associated with unequal, derogatory and in human personal laws; For eg anti- women laws
- Article 25 empowers state to regulate “secular activity which may be associated with religious practices”
- The establishment of a Uniform Civil code would pave way for greater unity among Indians. The animosity due to different treatment of different sections under different laws will be removed.
- Human right violations and exploitations due to social institutiona and norms such as Khap dictates and honour killings can be checked effectively.
- Uniformity of laws will reduce the burden on judiciary in context of pronouncing judgements on personal laws
- Views against Uniform Civil Code:
- Accommodation of various ideas/beliefs and consensus building should be the key rather than legal enforcement of a uniform set of norms. The society must be slowed reformed and no manner of coercion must be exercised.
- The fears among the minority community of majority domination must be adequately allayed and all apprehensions addressed.
- In the views of some experts, the idea of uniform civil code is against secularism ideals as it involves the state interfering in religious matters.
- SC has been considering a suo motu PIL on gender discrimination faced by Muslim women owing to arbitrary divorce and second marriage of their husbands during the currency of their first marriage
- Recently, the Government has asked the law commission to examine the issue implementing the Uniform Civil Code. This is the first time a government has asked the commission, which has a crucial advisory role on legal reform, to look into the politically controversial issue of a uniform civil code.
- Clearly, the concept of uniform civil code is fraught with numerous differences in opinions and has multiple challenges on-road to its implementation by the Indian state.
- Challenges in the way of implementation of Uniform Civil Code
- Building a consensus over Uniform laws in personal matters among various communities in India is a humongous task itself.
- India has a long history of personal laws which people are familiar with. Hence, abrupt changes in these laws will be difficult to adapt for the people and may even cause confusion.
- Further, no draft of uniform code has been prepared yet. Also questions regarding the nature of a uniform civil code if implemented in future should it be a blend of personal laws of various religious communities in India or have completely different provisions based on the Constitution of India.
- Way out
- There needs to a massive consensus building campaign. The state authorities and informed members of civil society must work together to convince communities about need for genuine reform in their personal laws and the benefits of enforcing a uniform civil code. Further, allaying minority fears over the code is the need of the hour.
- Further, a piecemeal approach can also be adopted to start reform in areas/sections where communities are most comfortable with reform thereby gradually starting the process of transformation.