India Economic Survey 2018: The Economic Survey 2017-18, which was released in Parliament on Monday ahead of the Union Budget 2018, had women-centric issues at its core. In a departure from tradition, the Economic Survey was tabled in pink and lays special emphasis on Gender and Son meta-preference, while providing an assessment of India‘s performance on gender outcomes relative to other economies. In Volume 1 of the Economic Survey, an entire chapter titled, “Gender and Son Meta-Preference: Is Development Itself an Antidote?” pointed out that on several indicators such as employment, use of reversible contraception, and son preference, India has some distance to traverse despite the country’s economic progress. “Just as India has committed to moving up the ranks in the ease of doing business indicators, it should perhaps do so on gender outcomes as well,” the survey said. We take a look at four key gender issues highlighted in Economic Survey 2018.
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Preference for male child
The economic survey highlighted that the while the preference for male child has led to a skewed sex ratio in India, the issue is much deeper. The Economic Survey highlighted that the skewed sex ratio in favor of males led to 63 million “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. Consigning these odious categories to history soon should be society’s objective,” the survey said.
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India behind its peers on gender front
The economic survey noted that despite the country’s overall economic progress, India needs to catch up on the gender front. “On 10 of 17 indicators, India has some distance to traverse to catch up with its cohort of countries. For example, women’s employment has declined over chronological time, and to a much greater extent, in development time. Another such area is in the use of female contraception: nearly 47 percent of women do not use any contraception, and of those who do, less than a third use female controlled reversible contraception,” the survey said.
More women centric reforms needed
The economic survey 2018 acknowledged that government‘s Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao and Sukanya Samridhi Yojana schemes, and mandatory maternity leave rules, saying that these are are all steps in the right direction. However, it states that much needs to be done. The Survey states that 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.
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Feminisation of agriculture
The economic survey points to an interesting trend in Indian agriculture, and explores women’s role in the same. The economic survey says that with growing rural to urban migration by men, there is ‘feminisation of agriculture sector’, with increasing number of women in multiple roles as cultivators, entrepreneurs, and labourers. Further, the economic survey points out that many measures have been taken to ensure mainstreaming of women in agriculture sector, including earmarking at least 30% of the budget allocation for women beneficiaries in all ongoing schemes/programmes and development activities; initiating women centric activities to ensure benefits of various beneficiary-oriented programs/schemes reach them and focusing on women self-help group (SHG) to connect them to micro-credit through capacity building activities and to provide information and ensuring their representation in different decision-making bodies.