Business Standard

Here's why Economic Survey 2017-18 is pink


ANI New Delhi [India]
During the presentation of the Economic Survey 2017-18, Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian had pointed out that this year's document is in pink colour.
The reason for this, as he stated, was to extend the committee's support to the growing worldwide movement to end violence against women.
Subramanian, while addressing a press conference here, shed light on the need for gender-specific measures highlighted in the survey, particularly in the agriculture sector, due to 'feminisation' of this segment.
"Women play a significant and crucial role in agricultural development and allied fields. This is a fact long taken for granted. There is feminisation of agriculture sector because of growing migration of men from rural to urban areas. Gender-specific interventions are therefore required to support them," the survey read.
Taking into account the inherent gender equality, assessments were made based on three specific dimensions of gender- Agency (relates to women's ability to make decisions on reproduction, spending on themselves, spending on their households and their own mobility and health), Attitudes (relate to attitudes about violence against women/wives, and the ideal number of daughters preferred relative to the ideal number of sons) and Outcomes (relate to 'son preference' measured by sex ratio of last child, female employment, choice of contraception, education level, age at marriage, age at first birth and physical or sexual violence experienced by women).
According to the survey, over the last 10-15 years, India's performance improved on 14 out of 17 indicators of women's agency, attitudes, and outcomes. On seven of them, the improvement has been such that India's situation is comparable to that of a cohort of countries after accounting for levels of development.
The survey also noted that gender outcomes exhibit a convergence pattern, improving with wealth to a greater extent in India than in similar countries so that even where it is lagging, it can expect to catch up over time. It, however, cautioned that on several other indicators, notably employment, use of reversible contraception, and son preference, India has some distance to traverse because development has not proved to be an antidote.
Hailing the North-Eastern states as a model for the rest of the country, the survey noted that it is consistently out-performing others and not because they are richer; hinterland states are lagging behind but the surprise is that some southern states do less well than their development levels would suggest.
In a bid to reduce the existing gender gap, the survey recommended that India must confront the societal preference, even meta-preference for a son, which appears inoculated to development. The skewed sex ratio in favor of males led to the identification of "missing" women. But there may be a meta-preference manifesting itself in fertility stopping rules contingent on the sex of the last child, which notionally creates "unwanted" girls, estimated at about 21 million, adds the Survey. Consigning these odious categories to history soon should be society's objective, the survey opined.
The survey also acknowledged the government's Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao and Sukanya Samridhi Yojana schemes, and mandatory maternity leave rules, adding that they were all steps in the right direction.
"Just as India has committed to moving up the ranks in Ease of Doing Business indicators, a similar commitment should be endeavored on the gender front," the survey suggested.

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First Published: Jan 29 2018 | 6:15 PM IST

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