[Model Answer] UPSC GSM1: Urban poor women living conditions more deplorable than rural counterparts

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Majid Hussain
  1. Mock Question for UPSC GSM1: Social Science
  2. Introduction (DATA)
    1. Body#1: Food & Health of Urban Poor Women
    2. Body#2: Residence & family life of Urban Poor Women
    3. Body#3: Occupation & Financial Well-being of Urban Poor Women
    4. Body#4: Political Voice of Urban Poor Women
  3. Conclusion: Finding- Yes, futuristic Note कुछ तो करना पड़ेगा
  4. Mistakes & Errors in the Answer

Mock Question for UPSC GSM1: Social Science

  • “The conditions of urban poor women are more deplorable than their rural counterparts.” Give your views.  (250 words, 15m)
  • शहेरी गरीब महिलाओ की परिस्थिति ग्रामीण गरीब महिलाओ से भी ज्यादा खेदजनक है. अपने विचार रखिये.
  • Relevance to Syllabus of GSM1: Issues related to women, population, urbanization.

Introduction (DATA)

While half of India population consists of women, but as per UNDP’s Gender Inequality Index (GII):

  • India’s Maternal mortality ratio: over 170 deaths/1 lakh live births
  • Adolescent birthrate: 25 / 1000 live births
  • Girls not receiving secondary education: More than 60%
  • Female Labour force participation rate is less than 30%
  • Women’s share in parliament: 12% seats.
  • <if you can’t remember data/numbers, then just write – India lags severely in above indicators>

These disturbing figures point towards the poor living conditions of the Indian women. And among them, the condition of urban poor women is even more deplorable than rural counterparts because :….. <BODY LISTICLE>

living conditions of urban poor women

Body#1: Food & Health of Urban Poor Women

  • Inflation of milk, vegetables, pulses directly affects nutrition security of urban poor woman and her children.
  • Since rural women engage in agriculture, fisheries and dairying; Government schemes for purchase of cattle, goat, hens- they’re slightly better off.

Body#2: Residence & family life of Urban Poor Women

  • Nuclear families in slums, usually without caste-community affiliations. Husband has less fear of relatives or elders of the community. Could be more abusive / domestic violence than rural.
  • Crime, Drugs, Liquor, Gambling, Juvenile Delinquency more prominent in urban slums than rural. When male members of a poor family engage in these evils, it has repercussion on the females of the house as well.
  • Urban areas have higher cost of living. So, Urban poor woman has to engage herself in petty-labour while looking after the household chores and childcare. Rural women might have the help of grandparents / family elders / in-laws to take care of raising the children and dividing the domestic chores. So, she may have slightly better peace of mind.
  • Urban slums have unhygienic conditions, and they are more prone to damage in urban floods = disease, financial distress. In Rural floods, Government relief and compensation packages are bigger and arrives more quickly due to the electoral politics.
  • Urban slums more prone to eviction during anti-encroachment drives compared to rural slums.

Body#3: Occupation & Financial Well-being of Urban Poor Women

  • Urban poor women face inequality in wages and job-opportunities. Salaried urban jobs require skill and documents- be it driver, electrician, plumber, nurse, receptionist, computer operator or teacher.
  • So, urban poor women due to lack of higher-education end up in rag-picking, construction and hazardous industries without social security= more prone to industrial / occupational disease, disability. Rural women don’t have social security either, but they’re less prone to occupational disease because pesticide spraying is usually done by males.
  • Urban poor women can hold only one type of job at a time (maid, ragpicker, selling toys or food at the beaches), whereas a rural poor woman can collect of minor forest produce in the morning, MNREGA/farm-labourer in the afternoon and rearing hen/goat in the evening or going to a self-help-group for soap / handicrafts. So, employment security for a rural poor women is slighter better than urban counterpart.
  • <MINOR POINT> post-demonetization -> real-estate slump -> new construction work slowed = NO MNREGA support in urban areas. Lack social security / family support-> prostitution. [Some students focus excessively in such minor points thinking it’ll get them more brownie points with the evaluator for their ‘uniqueness of thinking out of box’ but that’s not always the case. You’ve to first exhaust the major points before writing the minor points.]

Body#4: Political Voice of Urban Poor Women

  • Nature of municipal level delimitation and electoral politics is such that despite women-reservation in Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), limited opportunity for the poor women to express their voices, compared to Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs).

You may elaborate above statement in following way:

  • In the metropolitans, each municipal ward has population of 60,000 to 1.20 lakh. So, even after reservation for women, it’s difficult for an urban poor woman win against a women-candidates from well-off political families with money power.
  • Whereas in rural areas, given the smaller population, a poor woman has better chances of victory. If not, atleast she can voice her opinion as a member of the Gram Sabha.

Conclusion: Finding- Yes, futuristic Note कुछ तो करना पड़ेगा

The directive word was “EXAMINE”. And the statement was ‘COMPARAITIVE”. So you conclusion should be: Yes urban > rural. OR No, urban < rural.

  • Thus, due to aforementioned challenges, the condition of urban poor women more deplorable than their rural counterparts.
  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #5 requires India to empower all women & achieve gender equality. Therefore, we must become more sensitive to the problems faced by urban poor women.

Mistakes & Errors in the Answer

  • Poor introduction: Candidate quotes census urbanization figures (31-34%) to begin the answer. But, the target question keyword here is not ‘urban population’ but ‘urban poor women’.
  • Too lengthy introductions about general problems of women instead of comparing urban vs rural.
  • IF you begin introduction with economic survey, UNDP or some grand report like that- then good. But, avoid starting introduction like “According to a Yojana article….According to a newspaper report….”.  Avoid quoting lesser known reports: According to SARI (Social attitude research of India)’s survey, the women are facing discrimination at work.
  • Body: Candidates glorifying the rural life. Rivers of honey and milk flowing- it could be the case for Zamindar’s daughter, but not for rural poor women.
  • Poor Conclusion: “rural women are less deplorable”. True but that line of argument is not asked. We’ve to focus spotlight on urban women.
  • Wrong Conclusion: Both urban and rural women face equal hardships.
  • Poor choice of words: Candidate wrote: “Urban women juggling between “career” and family, they get unequal salary”. These words (career, salary) are associated for middle class women. Here asked about poor women who have casual labour (not CAREER) and receive unequal wages (NOT SALARIES). So, careful in the choice of words.

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