Typing Test


Providing benefits for women and children is a societal responsibility which can be funded in a large country through a combination of general taxation and contributory payments from those who have the means. Health care should be treated as a right and deliveries handled without cost to women; the income guarantees during the 26 week period can be ensured through a universal social insurance system. Such a policy would harmonise the varying maternity benefit provisions found in different laws that govern labour at present. There would also be no discrimination against women in recruitment by employers who currently have to factor in benefit payments. Conversely, women would not suffer loss of income simply because they cannot remain in employment after childbirth. Beneficiaries covered by the latest amendment must be protected from discrimination through clear provisions. Mandating creche facilities to help women workers under the changed law is a forward looking move, but it will work well only with a good oversight mechanism. Women's empowerment can be achieved through universal initiatives, not by imposing conditionalities to avail benefits. Access to welfare support has become even more critical as workers migrate frequently due to economic changes. The twin imperatives are, therefore, to create more jobs for women in a diversified economy, and to provide social opportunity through maternal and child welfare measures. Five Assembly elections in five different States cannot possibly have one running national theme. But when one of them is in Uttar Pradesh, with the largest electorate in the country by far, the debate inevitably moves to the possible pointers for the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Even if the Bharatiya Janata Party's victory in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand was expected, the more than three fourths majority was a surprise to supporters and detractors alike. Nearly three years after the Lok Sabha election, nothing much seems to have changed on the electoral ground. The biggest takeaway is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains the pan Indian face of the BJP, and the combination of the promise of economic development and the propagation of a muscular nationalism is hard to beat. Those who thought that Mr. Modi's popularity had peaked in 2014 were probably right, but instead of a sharp decline from then on, his acceptance among voters seems to have reached a comfortable plateau. In both U.P. and Uttarakhand, the BJP's vote share dipped only marginally, from 43.6% (together with smaller allies) in 2014 to 41.4% in the former, and from 55.9% to 46.5% in Uttarakhand. In the absence of a united opposition, as in Bihar in 2015, the elections in both States were a stroll in the park. Any gains the Samajwadi Party and the Congress made through an alliance were lost because of the infighting in the SP, and owing to a slightly improved performance by the Bahujan Samaj Party, which at 22.2% polled 2.4% more of the total votes in 2017 over 2014 despite finishing a poor third. The SP leader and outgoing Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav, did try to shed some of the anti incumbency baggage by distancing himself from the old guard in the party, but in the process his party came across as a divided house. Voters quite rightly refused to buy into the narrative that the failures on the law and order front and the shortcomings in governance were entirely on account of an earlier generation of leaders. If he was attempting to appeal to the youth, projecting himself and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi as the face of the campaign, he did not quite succeed in it. A grand alliance of the kind that saw the BJP lose in Bihar would have had to include the BSP, unthinkable though it is given the caste dynamics at play. But BSP