DAILY MAINS NEWSLETTER FOR UPSC | 20 MAY 2021|RaghukulCS

Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

20 May 2021

Index

Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name

Source

1

A collage of laws that leaves the worker out in the Cold

The Hindu

2

Bengal wants Upper House back: how states have Councils

Indian Express

Mains Value Addition

Centre asks WhatsApp to withdraw privacy policy update

Syllabus– GS 2: Government Policy

Analysis: –

  • The Centre has sent a notice to WhatsApp asking it to withdraw a controversial update to its privacy policy and has sought a response within seven days.
  • The government has also warned the Facebook-owned firm that failure of a satisfactory response may result in steps “in consonance with law”.
  • The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), in the notice dated May 18, has told WhatsApp that deferring the May 15 implementation deadline does not absolve it from “respecting the values of informational privacy, data security and user choice for Indian users”, a Ministry source said.
  • The notice directs WhatsApp to withdraw its Privacy Policy 2021, as the changes and the manner of introducing them “undermine the sacrosanct values of informational privacy, data security and user choice for Indian users and harm the rights and interests of Indian citizens”.
  • The source added that the Ministry has also highlighted how WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy is a violation of several provisions of existing Indian laws and rules.
  • “In fulfilment of its sovereign responsibility to protect the rights and interests of Indian citizens, the Government of India will consider various options available to it under laws in India.
  • The government has given seven days’ time to WhatsApp to respond to this notice and if no satisfactory response is received, necessary steps in consonance with law will be taken,” the source said.
  • The government had earlier this year wrote to Will Cathcart, CEO of the instant messaging firm, asking that the proposed changes to the privacy policy be withdrawn, expressing “grave concerns” over the implications of the choice and the autonomy of Indian citizens.

Doordarshan plans to launch DD International to present ‘India story’

Syllabus -GS 2: Government Policy

Analysis: –

  • State broadcaster Doordarshan is planning to set up a new channel DD International to “project India’s point of view” to the world.
  • Doordarshan floated an Expression of Interest (EOI) seeking applications for consultancy service to provide a detailed project report for establishing the channel.
  • As per the EOI document, the idea is to “build a global presence for Doordarshan and to establish an international voice for India”.This comes against the backdrop of growing criticism in the international media about the Narendra Modi government’’s handling of the pandemic.
  • The EOI says the channel will present India’s point of view on contemporary issues of both global and domestic significance.
  • Officials said it was felt that India’s perspective was getting lost in the noise. The EOI also mentions that the channel will specifically tell “the India story to a global audience”.
  • Doordarshan’s global outreach is primarily through bilateral distribution arrangement with select broadcasters in other countries apart from live streaming through Prasar Bharati’s global digital platform.

6 UNESCO heritage sites added in India

Syllabus -GS 1: Culture

Analysis: –

  • Six sites, including the Ganga ghats in Varanasi, temples of Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu and the Satpura Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, have been added to India’s tentative list of UNESCO world heritage sites, Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel said on Wednesday.
  • Patel said six of the nine sites submitted by the Archaeological Survey of India had been accepted by UNESCO for inclusion in the tentative list, which is a requirement before the final nomination of any site.
  • The recently-included proposals are the Maratha military architecture in Maharashtra, the Hire Bengal megalithic site in Karnataka and Bhedaghat-Lametaghat of Narmada Valley in Madhya Pradesh.
  • The six proposals were included in the list on April 13, taking the total number of proposals from India to 48, according to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
  • A Culture Ministry official said the final nomination for a site could be submitted after the proposal had been on the tentative list for a year, so the time would be used to prepare the dossier.

Mains Analysis

A collage of laws that leaves the worker out in the Cold

Why in News?

COVID-19 left the informal workers (which constitute 91 percent of workforce) into deeper poverty as they are without social security nets. The author brings to light the issue of gaps in the social security code enacted by govt.

Syllabus–GS 1/2: Social empowerment and Vulnerable Section

What’s the issue?

  • Due to lack of social security like free basic curative care in public clinics and hospitals, the elderly had old age pensions, the dying had death/disability insurance or life insurance the poorest section became more vulnerable to poverty.
  • Without a minimum income guarantee, they have fallen into debt; and it’s currently exploding among the poor as their incomes collapsed.

 Gaps in the code

  • India’s Parliament in September 2020 passed a Social Security Code and author highlights that a miniscule percent of health budget (1 percent of GDP) has left the vulnerable section helpless.
  • It is also argued that although health budget in FY 2021-22 is higher than last yeat but a larger chunk of it is devoted to vaccines thus leaving out the other sectors.
  • The SS Code 2020 merges existing social security laws and attempts to include informal workers within the ambit of social security administration. Author argues universalisation of social security remains an unfulfilled aspiration.
  • The SS Code 2020 amalgamates and rationalises the provisions of eight existing central labour laws. Of these acts, employees provident fund, employees state insurance (ESI), maternity benefit, gratuity are entirely for organised sector workers.
  • For employees’ state insurance, the existing employee threshold has been withdrawn and now the government can extend ESI benefits to any organisation irrespective of the number of workers employed therein.

Hurdles for informal workers

  • It proposes that both the central and State governments will formulate schemes for unorganised workers.
  • To avail social security, an informal worker must register herself on the specified online portal to be developed by the central government.
  • The absence of definite and unambiguous provisions in the present code would further complicate achievement of universal registration.
  • There is lack of awareness among informal workers regarding social security schemes. Online registration places a further challenge as most informal workers lack digital literacy and connectivity.
  • It is difficult for informal workers to furnish all documentary papers required as part of the registration process.
  • As most of them are footloose casual workers (26% of all workers) and self-employed (46% of all). Because of constant movement furnishing proof of livelihood and income details is very difficult.
  • Such requirements deter informal workers from completing the registration and they continue to remain outside the social security ambit.

 Inter-State cooperation must

  • The code does not provide for interstate cooperation.
  • Without formulation of a basic structure by central govt., implications of this code would be too varied across States to be administered.
  • Effectiveness of social security code is something lost in the Centre-State labyrinth and jurisdictional or institutional overlap.
  • This identity should be primal and all unorganised workers should have basic social security coverage, irrespective of labour market classifications.

Key benefits

MATERNITY BENEFIT

  • Under the SS Code, the provision of maternity benefit has not been made universal. It is presently applicable for establishments employing 10 workers or more. The definition of ‘Establishment’ did not include the unorganised sector.
  • Thus women engaged in the unorganised sector would remain outside the purview of maternity benefit.

EMPLOYEES PRVIDENT FUND

  • It remains applicable, to every establishment in which 20 or more employees are employed. Thus, for informal sector workers, access to employees’ provident fund remains unfulfilled too in the new code.

PAYMENT OF GARTUITY

  • Gratuity shall be payable to eligible employees by every shop or establishment in which 10 or more employees are employed, or were employed, on any day of the preceding 12 months.
  • But due to such provisions it still remains inaccessible for a vast majority of informal workers.

Lost opportunity

  • The provision of social security could be used to formalise the workforce to a certain extent.
  • The state has a responsibility but the primary responsibility still lies with employers since they are taking advantage of workers’ productivity.
  • The code also faces financial constraints but the onus is left on state govt.
  • This code remains a collage of existing pieces of legislation without that interweaving thread of integration. It has promise but cannot meet those expectations.

 

Way Forward: –

  • At a time when India chairs a BRICS meeting in Delhi (preparatory to a Summit) that is focused on issues of labour, especially informality, it is an opportunity for India to work on the loopholes of the SS Code,2020.
  • This will provide ample social security to the demographic dividend of the young workforce that could support the ageing which ends in 15 years.
  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) in its report titled ‘ILO Monitor 2nd edition: COVID-19 and the world of work’, describes coronavirus pandemic as “the worst global crisis since World War II“.
  • “Workers and businesses are facing catastrophe, in both developed and developing economies. We have to move fast, decisively, and together. The right, urgent, measures, could make the difference between survival and collapse,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said on Tuesday.
  • Worldwide, two billion people work in the informal sector (mostly in emerging and developing economies) and are particularly at risk, the report said, adding that the COVID-19 crisis is already affecting tens of millions of informal workers.
  • “In India, Nigeria and Brazil, the number of workers in the informal economy affected by the lockdown and other containment measures is substantial,” ILO said.

 

  • “In India, with a share of almost 90% of people working in the informal economy, about 400 million workers in the informal economy are at risk of falling deeper into poverty during the crisis.

 

  • Current lockdown measures in India, which are at the high end of the University of Oxford’s COVID-19 Government Response Stringency Index, have impacted these workers significantly, forcing many of them to return to rural areas,” it said.

Questions: –

About 400 million people working in the informal economy in India are at risk of falling deeper into poverty due to the coronavirus crisis which is having “catastrophic consequences”. Discuss.

Bengal wants Upper House back: how states have Councils

Why in News?

Recently West Bengal govt approved the setting up of a legislative council in the state which was abolished 50 years ago by a coalition govt of the left.

Syllabus–GS2: State Legislature.

Currently, only 6 states have a Legislative Council- Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana & UP.

West Bengal’s Council

  • The West Bengal Legislative Council remained in existence till 1969. But it was events in the second chamber two years prior that led to its abolition.
  • The fourth general elections held in 1967 led to the Congress losing power in multiple states.
  • In West Bengal, the United Front, a coalition of 14 parties, formed the government with Congress in the Opposition. Chief Minister Ajoy Kumar Mukherjee led the government with Jyoti Basu as the Deputy CM. But the coalition did not last long, and Governor Dharam Vira dismissed the government after eight months.
  • P C Ghosh, an independent MLA who had earlier been Chief Minister, once again assumed the post with the support of the Congress.
  • Different scenes played out in the two Houses of the West Bengal legislature. In the Assembly, the Speaker called the Governor’s actions unconstitutional. But the Congress-dominated council passed a resolution expressing confidence in the Ghosh-led government.
  • This resolution sounded the death knell for the Legislative Council.

Origin of Legislative Councils:

  • It has a long history that started with the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms which led to the formation of the Council of States at the national level in 1919.
  • The GOI Act 1935 set up bicameral legislation in Indian provinces.
  • That paved way for the functioning of the Legislative Council in Bengal in 1937.
  • The Constitution framers initially provided legislative councils for Bihar, Bombay, Madras Punjab, the United Province & West Bengal & gave the power to abolish the second chamber.
  • It also gave Legislative Assembly the power to override the Council in case of disagreement.
  • It also capped Council membership to 1/3rd of the Legislative Assembly (Article 171(1)).

Constitutional Provision:

  • Article 168 empowers the Legislative Assembly to create or abolish a Legislative Council by passing a resolution with 2/3rd majority of the Assembly members.
  • Then the bill to this effect has to be passed by parliament.

 

Arguments against Legislative Council:

  • During Constitutional debates, there was disagreement on having the 2nd chamber in states.
  • The arguments that support in case of Rajyasabha did not cut ice with many members when it came to the Legislative Council.
  • Prof K T Shah said that the Legislative Council involve considerable outlay on the account of salaries & allowances of Members.
  • They only aid party leaders to distribute more patronage & only help in obstructing or delaying the necessary legislation.
  • Powers of the Legislative Councils are limited and hardly impose any effective check on the Assemblies. Whether a Bill is approved by the Council or not, the assembly can still go ahead after four months.
  • It serves only as a stronghold of vested interests of people, who are not interested in legislation. Instead, they may block such legislation initiated by popularly elected Legislative Assembly.
  • Legislative Council can be utilized to accommodate discredited party-men who may not be returned to the Assemblies.

Arguments in Favour: Important tool of checks and balances.

  • Legislative Council prevents the Legislative Assembly from exercising too much legislation or executive authority.
  • Legislative Council provides a platform for diverse representation that acts as a forum for academicians and intellectuals, who are arguably not suited for the rough and tumble of electoral politics.
  • The Councils also had a track record of sincere work, relevant amendments brought, non-confrontational attitude vis-à-vis legislative assembly, decorum and restraint in proceedings and drawing the attention of both government and public to matters of public interest.

Way Forward: –

  • Garner had rightly opined that to counterbalance the undue preponderance of the popular element “a conservative force to curb the radicalism of the popular chamber” is essential.
  • The State Legislative Councils were established to serve such a purpose. It was expected that the Upper House consisting of graduates, teachers, outstanding persons in the fields of art, literature, science, and social service, would check-mate the radicalism of the lower House.
  • They were supposed to serve as a “check upon democratic outbursts” and provide an element of sobriety and second thought.
  • However, the second chambers in our States have proved to be ornamental superfluities which a poor country like India can ill afford.

Questions: –

A bicameral legislature provides an opportunity for proper deliberations on important laws and budgets which require careful drafting and sufficient time. Comment.

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