DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |24 Dec 2020| RaghukulCS

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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |24 Dec 2020| RaghukulCS

UPSC News Analysis

News

Context: Tamil Nadu govt. gives go ahead for jallikattu
Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Culture
About Jallikattu festival:
  • Jallikattu is a custom practiced where cattle stock is worshipped. 
  • Jallikattu is a popular bull taming sport. 
  • It is practiced during the Pongal festival. 
  • It is celebrated on Mattu Pongal, the third day of the harvest festival. 
  • The bull species called Bos indicus, or humped cattle, is specifically bred for Jallikatu. 
  • It is celebrated primarily in Tamil Nadu. 

News

Context: The maiden test of the Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM) for the Indian Army, being jointly developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Israel Aircraft
Industries (IAI), was successfully conducted on Wednesday.

Topic in PrelimsDefenceyllabus: 
About Medium Range Surface to Air Missile:
    • The Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MRSAM) was developed by India’s Defence Research and
      Development Organization (DRDO) in collaboration with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). It was
      handed over to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in August 2019. 
    • The missile is designed to provide the armed forces with air defence capability against a variety of
      aerial threats at medium ranges.
      The mobile launcher is used to transport, emplace and launch up to eight canisterised missiles in two
      stacks. It can fire the missiles in single or ripple firing modes from the vertical firing position. 
    • It identifies and tracks the threat using a tracking radar. 
    • The system calculates the distance between the target and the launcher and then determines if the
      identified target is a friend or a foe. The target information is then transmitted to the mobile launcher. 
    • MRSAM missile is equipped with an advanced active radar radio frequency (RF) seeker, advanced
      rotating phased array radar, and a bidirectional data link. 
    • The RF seeker, located in the front section of the missile, is used to detect moving targets in all weather
      conditions. 
    DRDO

    Examples related to Ethics (GS-4) in today’s newspaper

    • The Karnataka government has unveiled the Farmer Registration and Unified beneficiary Information System (FRUITS), an e-governance portal, to create a repository of farmland information and farm loan details on a single platform. All farmers will be registered and given an identification number on the portal. (Ideas for case study, Probity in Governance- Quality of Service Delivery) 
    • Rajkot Municipal corporation project “Fuel monitoring system” – It will monitor vehicle through GPS & CCTV to curb the misuse of vehicle by government officials. (Case study)

    Important news in short

    • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Wednesday approved changes to the post matric scholarship scheme for students from the Scheduled Castes, including a new funding pattern of 60-40 for the Centre and the States. 
    • The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in direct to home (DTH) services, extension of the licence period from 10 years to 20 and a reduced licence fee. 
    • The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the merger of four government run film and media units — the Films Division, the Directorate of Film Festivals, the National Film Archives of India and the autonomous body Children’s Film Society — with the National Film Development Corporation. 
    • The faster spreading coronavirus strain first detected in the U.K. is unlikely to make vaccines less effective as of now but the preventives may need to be appropriately altered if more mutations occur over time, say scientists. 
    • The government has introduced mandatory physical verification of business premises for the purposes of obtaining GST registration. The GST Council Secretariat said that the move, aimed at controlling the menace of GST fake invoice frauds, was recommended by the Council’s law committee. 

    Editorial Analysis

    [The Hindu & The Indian Express]

    Editorial

    Title: 
    1. Rapid expansion, random wage cuts: behind the Wistron violence. 
    2. Preference for fixed-term employees can improve industry relations. 
    3. The tightrope between production, industrial peace.
    Topic in syllabus: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment. (GS-3)
    Analysis about: These editorials talks about Wistron violence, issues associated with labour force in India & their solutions.
    Why the violence erupted at a new factory of Wistron Infocomm Manufacturing India Pvt Ltd?
    • Wistron, which makes devices and peripheral systems for major global tech companies, has manufacturing facilities and R&D centres at two dozen locations around the world. The company started a small pilot plant in Bengaluru in 2017 to make the iPhone and, in 2018, decided to make a large investment in Karnataka for a full-fledged plant. 
    • According to investigations by police, trade unions, and the state government, a pressure-cooker situation had built up in the factory due to anomalies in the wage payment system after Wistron rapidly scaled up its contractual employee strength from around 3,000 to nearly 8,500 between September 2020 and December 2020. 
    • “They scaled up very fast. This facility became operational only in August. Before August, the plant was not in existence. All the recruitment has happened in the last three or four months. They sought initial permission for 5,000 people, and then went to 9,000 at their level. Maybe there was more demand. This was when they moved from eight-hour to 12-hour shifts,” said Gaurav Gupta, principal secretary of the commerce and industries department in Karnataka. 
    • The contract employees were hired and paid through six manpower supply contractors, but their work was supervised and managed by Wistron officials. “In two months, we provided 2,300 workers to the firm; nearly 1,600 were young people from Kolar itself,” said A N Srinivas, a recruiter for Creative Engineers, a local labour contractor. 
    • Initial police investigations have revealed that the contractors were not paying the workers their full wages as per their contracts, or for overtime work. “The factory was being operated like a sweatshop,” police sources said. While wages were slashed from Rs 22,000 to Rs 8,000 in some cases, wages for November were not paid until December 12, contract employees have said. 
    • Workers were working in two compulsory 12-hour shifts. With no employee grievance redressal system in place at the firm or a union, workers were constantly asking company officials for their dues, the All India Central Council of Trade Unions has said in a report.
      Lack of global efforts during pandemic:
      • COVID-19 has been a global emergency, recognising no national or regional boundaries but it has been dealt with almost entirely within national confines. 
      • International cooperation in either developing an effective vaccine or responding to its health impacts has been minimal. 
      • The pre-existing trend towards nationalist urgings, the weakening of international institutions and multilateral processes has been reinforced. 
      • Even in the distribution of vaccines, we are witnessing a cornering of supplies by a handful of rich nations. 
      • Help for the poorer nations of the world is a low priority.
      Issues associated with workers:
      • Many of the suppliers subcontracting in the high-end electronics sector including those for Apple, have been involved in wilful violations of labour standards and practices. 
      • Evasion of responsibility by big brands by either shifting the onus to the subcontracting firms or keeping things in silent mode. 
      • The prevailing norms of work arrangements practised by the suppliers themselves downstream, was through hired labour from multiple subcontractors/ third party work supply firms.
        Such third-party contracts which entail a division of responsibilities wherein the contractor is responsible for the payment of wages and the principal employer is responsible for welfare facilities deserve scrutiny. 
      • This process creates ambiguity in identifying the primary employer and thereby, seriously constrains the workers from getting effective redress of their grievances. 
      • As Apple and other brands churn out ‘smart’ devices at increased speeds, and with tight timelines 24×7, the burden falls literally on the shoulders of the workers employed in the supplier factories, forcing them to work under harsh conditions, doing overtime, long tiring shifts without much breaks, and under constant disciplinary monitoring by supervisors. 
      • The regimented work practices on the assembly line are matched by low pay and little or no social security, leading to strain and traumatic experiences, both physical and mental. 
      • Another prevalent phenomenon is that of unpaid, forced student internships to fill shortages in labour supply and offset costs; students from vocational educational institutions are compulsorily employed, and subjected to the same exploitative conditions as the workers. Since they are not legally classified as workers, there are no obligations to offer social protections. 
      What are the benefits for employer of providing fixed term employment instead of contractual employment? 
      • Fixed-term employees can be directly hired by employers without mediation by a middleman. 
      • They are ensured of the same work hours, wages, allowances and statutory benefits that permanent workers in the establishment are entitled to. 
      • However, fixed-term employees are not entitled to any termination notice or payment in lieu of services terminated as a result of non-renewal of the contract of employment. 
      • Employers are not required to provide retrenchment benefits. 
      • This imparts flexibility to the enterprises to adjust their workforce as per their requirements and at the same time, offers workers some amount of job security. 
      Despite the introduction of fixed-term employment, firms continue to rely on contract workers. Why? 
      • One possible explanation is that the cost of hiring contract workers continues to remain lower than the cost of hiring fixed-term employees, who are required to be paid pro-rata wages and social security including gratuity. 
      • In addition to the fact that hiring contract workers is cheaper than fixed-term workers, in the case of the former, the monitoring, legal compliance and litigation costs are shifted onto the contractor, thereby reducing the transaction costs of recruitment to firms. 
      • Conclusion: 
      • Following pressure from the consumers’ side and also being highly conscious of its brand image, Apple has provided a ‘Code of Conduct’ to all its suppliers, seeking to monitor and audit compliance of labour standards and safeguards. However, as demonstrated through the latest incident, there has been no strict adherence to this effect, thereby pointing to the tough balance that needs to be maintained between fulfilling production targets and ensuring industrial peace. 
      • To encourage a shift away from contract workers to fixed-term employees, the government should have completely prohibited the use of contract labour in core activities, that is, those activities for which the establishment is set up and includes any activity which is essential or necessary to the core activity, but does not include services such as security, catering and sanitation. 

      Explained

      Topic in syllabus:  Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment. (GS-3)
      Introduction: 
      • The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague has ruled that the Indian government was wrong in applying retrospective tax on Cairn. 
      • In its ruling, the international arbitration court said that Indian government must pay roughly Rs 8,000 crore in damages to Cairn. 
      What is the dispute all about?
      • Like Vodafone, this dispute between the Indian government and Cairn also relates to retrospective taxation. In 2006-07, as a part of internal rearrangement, Cairn UK transferred shares of Cairn India Holdings to Cairn India. 
      • The Income Tax authorities then contented that Cairn UK had made capital gains and slapped it with a tax demand of Rs 24,500 crore. 
      • Owing to different interpretations of capital gains, the company refused to pay the tax, which prompted cases being filed at the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) and the High Court. While Cairn had lost
        the case at ITAT. 
      • In 2011, Cairn Energy sold majority of its India business, Cairn India, to mining conglomerate Vedanta. Cairn UK was however not allowed to sell a minor stake of about 10 per cent by the income tax authorities. 
      What has the arbitration court said? 
      • In its judgment, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague said Cairn Tax Issue was not just a tax related issue but an investment related dispute, and therefore under the jurisdiction of the international arbitration court. 
      • Akin to the ruling in the Vodafone arbitration case, the PCA at The Hague has once again ruled that the Indian government’s retrospective demand was “in breach of the guarantee of fair and equitable treatment”.
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