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21st August 2018 The Hindu Editorial Analysis under 10 mins series
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History of rupee devaluation; Swatch bharat abiyans reinforcing scavenger stigma; Climate change initiatives as a part of CSR

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  1. 21st Aug 2018 THE HINDU Editorial Analysis ha ii


  2. A brief history of the rupee e Political freedom did not automatically result in India's monetary independence in 1947. The rupee's association with Britain was prolonged by factors beyond India's control. On a sterling standard 1931 onwards, the rupee, linked to a depreciating currency, depreciated along with the sterling Britain (and France) declared war on Germany in 1939. In preparation, India's economy was geared up by the colonial government towards the war effort through imposition of controls. The first was the exchange control. Completely convertible into any currency until then, the rupee was made inconvertible aip equi . Transferring money outside the sterlin


  3. ..rules that were laid down in London. The maze of controls grew as the war went on. Dollar securities held by private individuals were compulsorily acquired, and compensation was in rupees at the market price on an arbitrary date, resulting in losses to many The Bank of England (BoE) sold the securities so acquired, adding the dollars to its coffers. Dollars for the war were also raised by selling silver bullion (gold or silver blocks] from India's reserves to governments outside the sterling area Dollars could be spent on imports of essential consumables, not capital goods. What was essential was defined by the war requirements until 1946, when civilian requirements were in goods imports continued because the Bo India's sterling balances The restrictions on capital ocked what were called had biOc


  4. . By the end of World War II, India had accumulated a sizeable sterling balance of 1,300 million India's earnings in foreign currency on its exports for the war, deposited in the BoE in the form of sterling to the credit of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) account. The balance had grown with import controls limiting forex outflows. The corresponding increase in rupee circulation stoked war inflation in lIndia After the war ended, the transfer of the sterling balances was negotiated between India and Britain. Winston Churchill had been threatening to write off the sterling balances. In the first round of negotiations, in 1946, by which time Churchill was out of power, the British delegation sought a considerable scaling-down of the sterling balances India sought assurance that the sterling overvalued-would not be deval ed hat ad become much ors refused. The sterling to..


  5. ....them was still the premium currency against which other currencies were valued rm currency agoinst which other currencies . The next sterling balances negotiations were held in London in July 1947 against the backdrop of the Government of India having been thrown into chaos by the advancement of the date Independence/Partition to August 15, 1947, from June 30, 1948 After August 15, India and Pakistan would have had no forex other tha the sterling balances to pay for imports. The urgency of reaching an agreement increased. The impossibility of a write-off was accepted. But limits were placed on their use by the two countries as unrestricted spending would have run the British bal consequently its economy, to the groun once ef payments, and


  6. Under this interim agreement, India could spend from the balances in dollars, as Britain had agreed to make the pound convertible under the terms of a loan from the U.S. But Britain soon refused the convertibility clause, in turn altering the character of the agreement entered into with India Pound convertibility was ruled out by the sorry state of British production after the war years. Bundled up demand for consumer goods could on be met with imports from the U.S. Pound convertibility would have exhausted British forex reserves A delegation was sent back to London to renegotiate the convertible portion of the sterling balances. It retur negotiations were concluded in the sum of the bhtor separation of Indian and Polisani finances (Tl0 Joly 1, 1948,. pty-handed. The er of 949, after the completion


  7. ...the RBI continued as the central banker for the Government of Pakistan. India nationalised the RBl on January 1, 1949.) . The Indian side, led by Finance Minister John Mathai, agreed to two types of deductions from the sterling balances. First, towards the pensions of former British members of the ICS. Second, the value of military equipment, regardless of the condition and worth, the British forces had left behind. The subtractions added to 100 million. Although limits we placed on how much could be drawn in a given period from the balances The British side gave credible warnings of an imminent sterling devaluation. India failed to capitalise on them. The telegram, 'For (Jawaharlal) Nehru from Attlee, receive announcing a devaluation from $4.03 to took India completely by surpris ptember 21, 1949 e pou d to $2.8 to the pound


  8. It effectively wrote off a third of the sterling balances. B.K. Nehru noted that Churchill's threat was partially achieved by Stafford Cripps, then Chancellor of the Exchequer. India devalued the rupee proportionally: from R3.309 to a dollar to R4.762 o The sterling was floated against the major international currencies in the early 1970s, the rupee as late as 1993-1994. The two currencies were delinked in 1975


  9. What Swachh Bharat Abhiyan ignores The current government announced its resolve to accomplish the vision of a clean India by 2019, on the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) was an unprecedented nationwide initiative aimed to inspire the public to voluntarily clean public spaces as a service to the nation Concurrently, municipalities began to employ more contractual labourers mostly scavengers forced into the profession by their caste- to remove waste . The West introduced technologies to systematically remove


  10. ...waste. For example, when Londoners experienced the 'Great Stink' in 1858, the government realised that it would need a holistic sewerage plan, which would become part of the London water infrastructure, to remove filth and treat waste from the river Thames in a sustainable way. Soon, the construction of toilets in households and shops became mandatory The Swachh Bharat campaign hardly addresses a reworking of the underground sewerage system. This is a cause for grave concern, since many labourers have died recently while cleaning jammed manholes that open into the sewerage system e Most disturbingly, these deaths have a cas te pattern. According to a reply by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to the Lok Sabha in December 2017, over 300 cases of deaths due to manual scavenging, mostly from particular caste groups, were reported that year


  11. ...areas . Thereafter, members from the households bring unsegregated garbage, workers collect those in a sack, and store garbage in a designated place from where it is taken to the composting yard. The workers, as per the campaign, have to go to the yard to segregate the waste. Manually segregating the waste at the landfill compromises their hygiene and health o The door-to-door service has darker undertones. Until they were banned in 1993, dry latrines were emptied through a similar door-to-door service. On arrival, the municipal servant would blow a whistle and the respective houses would move away from their toilet bowl or pots, which she would come to empty through an exclusive entrance o As much as the waste itself, it is the presence of the body of the 'scavenger


  12. Even the Delhi Metro did not include toilets in all the stations in its original plan. It was only after a PIL that the Delhi High Court directed the Metro authorities to construct toilets and provide other facilities in all stations. This 'oversight is only compounded by the location of the toilets o The SBA enables a disjunction between the cleaning and disposing of waste, where the cleaning is a voluntary 'service' which caste Hindus are called upon to undertake, while collecting and disposing waste is a duty' relegated to municipal workers from particular castes Any tangible achievement of a clean India is possible only if the stigma attached to sanitary labour, place and waste are critically addressed by caste-neutralising these professions and through adoption of technologies


  13. At present, climate change does not find specific mention in Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013. However, if it were to be articulated and specified as an activity for corporate social responsibility (CSR), rather than be implied in the umbrella term of environmental sustainability, organisations may be encouraged to view it with increased importance and clarity Schedule VIl would then need to be amended from "ensuring environmental sustainability, ecological balance, protection of flora and fauna, animal welfare, agroforestry, conservation of natural resources and maintaining quality of soil, air and water" to include climate change as an area for investment The National CSR Data Portal reports corporate spends on environment, animal welfare and conservation of resources to be Rs. 801 crore in....


  14. ...2014-15 and Rs. 912 crore in 2015-16. Clearly, business organisations are willing to invest their money in issues related to the environment o Given the startling forecasts about the impact of climate change, it is the need of the hour to educate and equip both rural and urban communities to build resilience