Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (18th to 25th July, 2019)
(Info graphic Summary at the end)
Topic in Syllabus: Indian Society
The Supreme Court on Monday admitted a writ petition seeking to decriminalise abortion and allowing women the right to exercise their reproductive choice.
About the Current Provisions regarding Abortion
- Abortion is allowed if pregnancy is under 20 weeks. However, it is subject to several conditions and ability to get an abortion will depend on the opinion of the doctor.
- The law requires the doctor to assess if these conditions are fulfilled – only then are they legally allowed to perform an abortion. Conducting an abortion without fulfilling the conditions is considered a crime.
- Under the law (section 3 of The medical termination of pregnancy Act 1971), the doctor can perform an abortion in the following situations:
- if the pregnancy would be harmful to your life or physical or mental health. The doctor will need to consider your circumstances to figure out if the pregnancy will harm your mental health. They also need to look at your future (as a reasonable person would) to figure out the effects of the pregnancy.
- if there is good chance that the child would suffer from physical or mental abnormalities which would leave him or her seriously handicapped.
- If the pregnancy has not exceeded 12 weeks (first trimester), only one doctor needs to be satisfied that the conditions have been fulfilled.
- If the pregnancy has exceeded 12 weeks and is below 20 weeks (first trimester), two doctors need to be satisfied that the conditions have been fulfilled.
- The gestation period does not matter if doctor feels that an immediate abortion must be conducted to save your life.
- The doctor who determines if it is necessary to perform an abortion and performs it needs to be a ‘registered medical practitioner’ under the law.
- For a married person, abortion is allowed if contraceptives did not work or the person did not want to have more children. The doctor has a legal duty to assume in such cases that the pregnancy affects your mental health gravely. The same legal duty does not unfortunately apply to unmarried women. Unmarried women can only abort if the doctor forms an opinion that your mental health will suffer if the pregnancy continues
Details of the writ petition
- The petition said abortion, as per the 1971 Act, is not permissible after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This is excessive and harsh.
- The right to exercise reproductive choice is the right to choose whether to conceive and carry pregnancy to its full term or to terminate is it at the core of one’s privacy, dignity, personal autonomy, bodily integrity, self determination and right to health recognised by Article 21 of the Constitution
- The petition points out that the law adversely affects the sexual autonomy of single women. While it protects married woman by allowing them to terminate an “unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, the same is not extended to single women”. “There is no rationale for not affording the same protection to an unmarried woman. On the contrary an unwanted and unplanned pregnancy will invariably in the case of an unmarried woman ensue more grave consequences. The provision treats equals unequally
- The petition pointed out how the Act does not allow abortion of pregnancy in the case of minors or mentally ill persons without the consent of the guardian.
Abortion stick used in criminal abortion causes abortion by the mechanism of
a) Uterine contraction
b) Stimulation of uterine nerves
c) Uterine infection & necrosis
d) Placental separation
Correct answer : a) Uterine contraction
Topic in Syllabus: International Affairs
In a major verdict that accepted India’s plea that former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav’s trial under espionage and terror charges in Pakistan violated international law, the International Court of Justice ruled that Pakistan should “review and reconsider” his conviction and death sentence.
Background of the case
- Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested by the Pakistani government for ‘spying’ and allegedly plotting terror acts in Balochistan, and India had made several appeals to Pakistan for access to Mr. Jadhav
- Subsequently, Pakistan held a secret trial of Mr. Jadhav in a military court, where evidence and processes were not made public. On May 8, 2017, after the Pakistani court convicted and sentenced Mr. Jadhav, India went to the ICJ as a last resort of appeal.
About the Verdict
- All 16 judges on the UN judicial organ’s panel ruled unanimously that the ICJ’s jurisdiction held over the case.
- On six other contentions, including on the comprehensive violation of the Vienna Convention by Pakistan, the immediate granting of consular access to Mr. Jadhav, an “effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence”, and a continued stay of execution, the ICJ panel ruled 15-1 in India’s favour. Pakistani Judge, Justice Jillani, was the lone dissenter on those rulings.
Details of the Verdict on specific arguments
On Pakistan’s failure to provide consular access
- The Court is of the view that the alleged failure by India to cooperate in the investigation process in Pakistan does not relieve Pakistan of its obligation to grant consular access under Article 36, paragraph 1, of the Convention, and does not justify Pakistan’s denial of access to Mr Jadhav by consular officers of India.
On exception to granting consular access in cases of espionage
- The Court thus concludes that, when interpreted in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the Vienna Convention in their context and in the light of its object and purpose, the Convention does not exclude from its scope certain categories of persons, such as those suspected of espionage.
On Pakistan not informing Jadhav of his rights
- Pakistan consistently maintained that the Convention does not apply to an individual suspected of espionage. The Court infers from this position of Pakistan that it did not inform Mr Jadhav of his rights under Article 36, paragraph 1 (b), of the Vienna Convention, and thus concludes that Pakistan breached its obligation to inform Mr Jadhav of his rights under that provision
On delay by Pakistan in informing India about Jadhav’s arrest and detention
- Pakistan claims that at the time of his arrest on 3 March, 2016, Mr Jadhav was in possession of an Indian passport bearing the name “Hussein Mubarak Patel”. In the circumstances of the present case, the Court considers that there were sufficient grounds at the time of the arrest on 3 March, 2016 or shortly thereafter for Pakistan to conclude that the person was, or was likely to be, an Indian national, thus triggering its obligation to inform India of his arrest.
- There was a delay of some three weeks between Mr Jadhav’s arrest on 3 March, 2016 and the notification made to India on 25 March, 2016. The Court recalls that “neither the terms of the (Vienna) Convention as normally understood, nor its object and purpose, suggest that ‘without delay’ is to be understood as ‘immediately upon arrest and before interrogation’.”
“Rule of Law Index” is released by which of the following ?
a. Amnesty International
b. International Court of Justice
c. The Office of UN Commissioner for Human Rights
d. World Justice Project
Topic in Syllabus: Indian Society – Health Issues
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued an order prohibiting the manufacture, sale and distribution of colistin and its formulations for food-producing animals, poultry, aqua farming and animal feed supplements.
- According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Colistin is a “reserve” antibiotic, which means it is supposed to be considered a “last-resort” option in treatment and used only in the most severe circumstances, when all other alternatives have failed.
- Colistin has been “highly misused” in India’s livestock industry to prevent diseases and as promote growth of such animals
- One of the reasons for anti microbial resistance in India is due to unwanted use of Colistin in the poultry industry,
About the recent govt order
- The order directed manufacturers of colistin and its formulations (since it is also used to treat humans) to affix a label on the container reading thus: Not to be used in food producing animals, poultry, aqua farming and animal feed supplements: on the package, insert and promotional literature.
- Cutting the use of colistin in the food industry, particularly as growth supplements used in animals, poultry, aqua farms, and limiting it to therapeutic usage only would likely reduce the antimicrobial resistance within the country.
a. antibiotic that saves lives in critical care units
b. used as a growth promoter drug
c. both a and b
Topic in Syllabus: Science & Technology
- It is the India’s lightest and cheapest ‘bullet-proof jacket’ for the CRPF and the Ministry of Home Affairs personnel.
- It is indigenously developed by the Ordnance Factories Board, a public sector undertaking MIDHANI along with BARC.
- It is named after nuclear physicist Dr.Homi J. Bhabha.
- The jacket weighs just 6.6 kg in comparison to the 17-kg jackets in use.
- It can shield from AK-47 (7.62 mm hard steel bullets), SLR and INSAS (5.56 mm) weaponry.
- It is made using extremely hard boron carbide ceramics, carbon nano-tubes and composite polymer.
- It is available in 3 variants as per the requirement of the armed forces.
- BARC has transferred the technology to Mishra Dhatu Nigam, Hyderabad, for its large-scale production.
Bhabha Kavach is the lightest and a better jacket now available for Indian Defense forces which will be a great piece of equipment for India’s paramilitary forces and state police forces operating in Naxalite areas. Right from development stage, the developers received immense response from armed forces for Bhabha Kavach
Which of the following about the role of Indian Coast Guard is/are correct?
- Indian Coast Guard has been entrusted with the offshore security coordination authority
- Lead intelligence agency for coastal and sea border
- Coastal security in territorial waters
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
a. 1 and 3 only
b. 1, 2 and 3
c. 1 and 2 only
d. 3 only
Topic in Syllabus: Indian Polity
- Land and its management falls under the List-II (State List) in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
- In so far as land related issues are concerned, the Ministry of Rural Development acts as the nodal Ministry at the Centre.
- It plays a monitoring role in the field of land reforms.
Constitutional and legal provisions to protect and safeguard the land rights of STs are,
- The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA) states that
- no member of STs or Other Traditional Forest dweller shall be evicted from the forest Land till the recognition and verification procedure is complete.
- Gram Sabha is empowered to regulate community forest resources and stop any activity which adversely affects the biodiversity.
- The ‘Right to fair compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (RFCTLARR) states,
- To ensure, in consultation with Gram Sabhas, a participative, informed and transparent process for land acquisition.
- A National Level Monitoring Committee for Rehabilitation and Resettlement has been constituted Under RFCTLARR Act, to review and to monitor the implementation of rehabilitation schemes related to land acquisition.
- As per RFCTLARR Act, 2013, acquisition of land shall be made in the Scheduled Areas only as last resort.
- In case of acquisition or alternation of any land in Scheduled Areas, the prior consent of the concerned Gram Sabha or the autonomous district councils shall be obtained.
- The Act also lays down procedure and manner of rehabilitation and resettlement.
- The Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Area) Act, 1996, PESA, also provides that the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats shall be consulted before making the acquisition of land.
- The Governor of the State, which has scheduled Areas is empowered to prohibit or regulate transfer of land from tribals.
- The Scheduled castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 has been introduced to prevent the commission of offences of atrocities against members of the SCs and the STs.
- Apart from this, Supreme Court in its judgement also held that forest approval cannot be granted for a development project without the informed consent of the Gram Sabhas.
- The ‘Ministry of Mines’ adviced all the states, regarding imposing of conditions in the lease deed in regard to FRA.
- The ‘Ministry of Environment and Forests’ has informed all the states, regarding diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes to consult Gram Sabha before giving approval.
- The State Governments/UTs have been issued advisories by Ministry of Tribal Affairs from time to time to carry out the strict and speedy implementation of provisions of the FRA 2006.
In which part of the Indian Constitution, special provisions have been made for National Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and Anglo Indians?
a. Part XVI
b. Part XI
c. Part XXI
d. Part XIII
Explanation: Special provisions have been in Part XVI of the Indian constitution for the betterment of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and Anglo Indians. These provisions have the reservation of the jobs, legislatures, etc. for the SCs, STc and OBCs.
Topic in Syllabus: Indian Governance
Amid a looming trust vote in the Karnataka Assembly, former chief minister Siddaramaiah appealed to postpone the motion of confidence as the Supreme Court’s decision did not shed light on his rights to issue a whip.
What is a whip?
- A whip in parliamentary parlance is a written order that party members be present for an important vote, or that they vote only in a particular way.
- The term is derived from the old British practice of “whipping in” lawmakers to follow the party line.
- In India all parties can issue a whip to their members.
- Parties appoint a senior member from among their House contingents to issue whips — this member is called a Chief Whip, and he/she is assisted by additional Whips.
Kinds of whips
A whip can be classified into three types, based on the number of times it has been underlined.
- A one-line whip, which is underlined once, is issued by the party to inform its members of an important vote in the pipeline, so that a quorum can be established. (A quorum is the minimum number of legislators that need to be present do that a vote can be held.)
- A one-line whip allows the legislators to abstain from voting if they decide to go against the party line. However, they cannot, under any circumstance, vote against the party.
- A two-line whip, which is underlined twice, demands that party members be present in the House at the time of voting.
- Abstention from voting, in this case, invites more scrutiny from party’s high command as compared to a one-line whip.
- A three-line whip, which is underlined thrice, is the gravest of the whips.
- This places the party members under an obligation to toe the party line and is usually employed when critical bills are tabled in the House or during a motion of no-confidence.
What happens if a legislator does not follow the whip?
- Defying a three-line whip can not only lead to expulsion of the member from the party, but also risk his/her membership in the House.
- Under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India, the Speaker of the House can disqualify a member who goes against the party line under the anti-defection law.
- The only exception is when more than one-third members decide to vote against the directive.
Functions of Whip
- The whip plays a crucial role in ensuring the smooth and efficient conduct of business on the floor of the House.
- He is charged with the responsibility of ensuring the attendance of his party members in large numbers and securing their support in favour of or against a particular issue.
- He ensures discipline among party members in the House.
- He identifies the signs of discontent among MPs and informs the respective leaders of their party.
- He or she acts as a binding force in the party and responsible for maintaining the internal party organisation in the Parliament and.
Violation of whip:
- If an MP violates his party’s whip, he faces expulsion from the House under the Anti Defection Act.
- The only exception is when more than a third of legislators vote against a directive, effectively splitting the party.
The office of the ‘Whip’ is mentioned in:
a. Constitution of India.
b. Rules of the house.
c. In a separate Parliamentary Statute.
Topic in Syllabus: Science & Technology
- India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle(GSLVMkIII-M1), successfully launched the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into the earth orbit.
- The chandrayaan-2 is now revolving round the earth with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 169.7 km and an apogee(farthest point to Earth) of 45,475 km.
- Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second mission (after Chandrayaan-1) to the moon and comprises a fully indigenous Orbiter, Lander (Vikram) and Rover (Pragyan).
The Rover Pragyan is housed inside Vikram lander.
aims to expand our knowledge and understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon through a detailed study of its topography, mineralogy, surface chemical composition, thermo-physical characteristics and atmosphere.
After Chandrayaan-2, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has planned the launch of its solar mission, Aditya-L1,in the first half of 2020 to study the Sun’s corona.
The satellite will be launched during 2019 – 2020 timeframe by PSLV-XL from Sriharikota.
Aditya L-1 is a follow on mission to Aditya 1 (that was meant to observe only the solar corona). It will provide observations of the sun’s photosphere (soft and hard X-ray), chromosphere (Ultra Violet ) and corona (Visible and Near infrared rays).
With reference to India’s satellite launch vehicles, consider the following statements:
- PSLVs launch the satellites useful for Earth resources monitoring whereas GSLVs are designed mainly to launch communication satellites.
- Satellites launched by PSLV appear to remain permanently fixed in the same position in the sky, as viewed from a particular location on Earth.
- GSLV Mk III is a four-staged launch l vehicle with the first and third stages l using solid rocket motors; and the second and fourth stages using liquid rocket engines.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct.?
a. 1 only
b. 2 and 3
c. 1 and 2
d. 3 only
Topic in Syllabus: Science & Technology
A special session was held to discuss India’s Research and Development (R&D) expenditure eco-systemduring the Global launch of Global Innovation Index (GII) – 2019
Details of the Report
- Investments in R&D are key inputs in economic growth. The impact of this is proven on productivity, exports, employment and capital formation.
- India’s investment in R&D has shown a consistent increasing trend over the years. However, it is a fraction of India’s GDP, it has remained constant at around 0.6% to 0.7% of India’s GDP. This is below the expenditure of countries like the US (2.8), China (2.1), Israel (4.3) and Korea (4.2).
- Government expenditure, almost entirely the Central Government, is the driving force of R&D in India which is in contrast to the advanced countries where private sector is the dominant and driving force of R&D spend.
- The report has been compiled by PMEAC and inputs for the report have been taken from various stakeholders including industry, academia and government.
- There is a need for greater participation of State Governments and private sector in overall R&D spending in India especially in application oriented research and technology development.
The objectives of the report are:
- To address the data gaps in compiling R&D data so that up to date data on R&D is available in order to reflect India’s true rank globally.
- The second objective is to examine expenditure trends in various sectors and their shortcomings.
- The final objective is to lay down the road map for achieving the desired target of R&D spend by the year 2022, i.e 2% of the GDP.
Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister
Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) is a non-constitutional, non-statutory, independent body constituted to give advice on economic and related issues to the Government of India, specifically to the Prime Minister.
The terms of reference of EAC-PM are:
- Analyzing any issue, economic or otherwise, referred to it by the Prime Minister and advising him thereon,
- Addressing issues of macroeconomic importance and presenting views thereon to the Prime Minister.
- These could be either suo-motu or on reference from the Prime Minister or anyone else.
- It also includes attending to any other task as may be desired by the Prime Minister from time to time.
- The growth in research and development (R&D) expenditure should be commensurate with the economy’s growth and should be targeted to reach at least 2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2022.
- The line ministries at the Centre could be mandated toallocate a certain percentage of their budget for research and innovation for developing and deploying technologies as per the priorities of the respective ministries.
- To stimulate private sector’s investment in R&D from current 0.35% of GDP,it is suggested that a minimum percentage of turn-over of the company may be invested in R&D by medium and large enterprises registered in India.
- To help and keep the industry enthused to invest in R&D, the weighted deduction provisions on R&D investment should continue.
- The states can partner Centreto jointly fund research and innovation programmes through socially designed Central Sponsored Schemes (CSS).
- The report also pitched for creating 30 dedicated R&D Exports Huband a corpus of Rs 5,000 crore for funding mega projects with cross cutting themes which are of national interest.
Functions of Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister are
a. Suo moto addressing issues of macroeconomic importance and presenting views thereon to the Prime Minister.
b. Addressing issues of macroeconomic importance refered by the Prime Minister.
c. Both a and b
Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment
Assam has added to India’s botanical wealth a plant that yields dragon’s blood — a bright red resin used since ancient times as medicine, body oil, varnish, incense and dye.
About the Findings
- Researchers has discovered Dracaena cambodiana, a dragon tree species in the DongkaSarpo area of West KarbiAnglong.
- This is for the first time that a dragon tree species has been reported from India.
- Dragon tree species sap turns bright red after coming in contact with air
- In India, the Dracaena genus belonging to the family Asparagaceae is represented by nine species and two varieties in the Himalayan region, the northeast and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. But Dracaena cambodiana is the only true dragon tree species
About Dracaena cambodiana
- Dracaena cambodiana is an important medicinal plant as well as an ornamental tree. it is a major source of dragon’s blood, a precious traditional medicine in China. Several antifungal and antibacterial compounds, antioxidants, flavonoids, etc., have been extracted from various parts of the plant.
- “Recent overexploitation to meet the increasing demand for dragon’s blood has resulted in rapid depletion of the plant. For this reason, the species is already listed in the inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants of China
- The habitat of the plant is severely fragmented due to open excavation of a stone quarry and there is continuing decrease in its area of occupancy and number of mature individuals,” he said.
- The Dracaena seeds are usually dispersed by birds. But due to the large fruit size, only a few species of birds are able to swallow the fruits, thus limiting the scope of its natural conservation.
- It is a plant that yields dragon’s blood— a bright red resin (a precious traditional medicine in China) used since ancient times as medicine, body oil, varnish, incense and dye.
- Several antifungal and antibacterial compounds,antioxidants, flavonoids, etc.have been extracted from various parts of the plant.
- In India, the Dracaena genus belonging to the family Asparagaceaeis represented by nine species and two varieties in the Himalayan region, the northeast and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. But Dracaena cambodiana is the only true dragon tree species, the study said.
- Recent overexploitationto meet the increasing demand for dragon’s blood has resulted in rapid depletion of the plant. For this reason, the species is already listed in the inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants of China.
- The population size of the dragon tree species in Assam was estimated to be fewer than 50 mature individuals.The habitat of the plant is severely fragmented due to open excavation of a stone quarry and there is continuing decrease in its area of occupancy and number of mature individuals.
- The Dracaena seeds are usually dispersed by birds.But due to the large fruit size, only a few species of birds are able to swallow the fruits, thus limiting the scope of its natural conservation.
India’s first Dragon blood-oozing Tree ‘Dracaena Cambodia’ discovered in
Topic in Syllabus: Indian Polity
|Sl.No.||Provisions under original Act||Amendments proposed|
|1.||Under the current Act, the chairperson of the NHRC is a person who has been a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.||The Bill seeks to provide that a person who has been Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, or a Judge of the Supreme Court will be the chairperson of the NHRC.|
|2.||The Act provides for two persons having knowledge of human rights to be appointed as members of the NHRC.||The Bill seeks to allow three members to be appointed, of which at least one will be a woman.|
|3.||Under the Act, chairpersons of various commissions such as the National Commission for Scheduled Castes(NCSC), National Commission for Scheduled Tribes(NCST), and National Commission for Women(NCW) are members of the NHRC.||The Bill provides for including also the chairpersons of the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities as members of the NHRC.|
|4.||The Act states that the chairperson and members of the NHRC and SHRC will hold office for five years or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier.||The Bill reduces the term of office to three years or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier.|
- NHRC is established under the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993.
- The act defines Human Rights as the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.
The Chairperson and members of the NHRC are appointed by the President of India, on the recommendation of a committee consisting of:
- The Prime Minister (Chairperson)
- The Home Minister
- The Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha (Lower House)
- The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House)
- The Speaker of the Lok Sabha (Lower House)
- The Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House)
With reference to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), consider the following statements :
1. Only a retired Chief Justice of India can become chairman of NHRC.
2. The chairman can be reappointed.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct ?
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
Answer: a) 1 only.
Only a retired Chief Justice of India can become chairman of NHRC. After their tenure, the chairman and members of NHRC are not eligible for further employment under the Central or a state government
Topic in Syllabus: Indian Economy
The Centre’s pension scheme for small traders named ‘Pradhan Mantri LaghuVyapariMaandhan Yojana’ 2019 has been notified and is being introduced on a trial basis.
About the Pradhan Mantri LaghuVyapariMaan-dhan Yojana:
- The scheme gives the subscribers ₹3,000 a month after they turn 60, once they have contributed to the scheme every month from the time of enrolment and till that age.
- The Central Government will make matching contribution (same amount as subscriber contribution) i.e. equal amount as subsidy into subscriber’s pension account every month.
- For example, an 18-year-old would have to pay ₹55 a month, while a 40-year-old would need to pay ₹200 a month.
- The scheme is based on self-declaration as no documents are required except bank account and Aadhaar Card.
- Small traders between 18 and 40 years of age, having an annual turnover of less than ₹1.5 crore would qualify to apply for the scheme.
- Applicants should not be covered under the National Pension Scheme, Employees’ State Insurance Scheme and the Employees’ Provident Fund or be an Income Tax assessee.
The Code on Wages Bill, 2019 Introduced in Lok Sabha
The Minister of State (I/C) for Labour and Employment introduced The Code on Wages Bill, 2019 in Lok Sabha to amend and consolidate the laws relating to wages and bonus and matters connected therewith.
Highlights of Code on Wages 2019:
- The Code on Wages, 2019 seeks to regulate wage and bonus payments in all employmentswhere any industry, trade, business, or manufacture is carried out.
- The Code replaces the following four laws: (i) the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, (ii) the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, (iii) the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and (iv) the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.
- The Code will apply to all employees. The central government will make wage-related decisions for employments such as railways, mines, and oil fields, among others. State governments will make decisions for all other employments.
- The central government will fix a floor wage, taking into account living standards of workers. Further, it may set different floor wages for different geographical areas.
Fixing the minimum wage:
- The Code prohibits employers from paying wages less than the minimum wages. Minimum wages will be notified by the central or state governments.
- The minimum wages will be reviewed at an interval of not more than five years. While fixing minimum wages, the central or state governments may take into account factors such as: (i) skill of workers, and (ii) difficulty of work.
- The central or state government may fix the number of hours that constitute a normal working day.
- In case employees work in excess of a normal working day, they will be entitled to overtime wage which must be at least twice the normal rate of wages.
- Under the Code, an employee’s wages may be deducted on certain grounds including fines, absence from duty etc. which should not exceed 50% of the employee’s total wage.
Determination of bonus:
- All employees whose wages do not exceed a specific monthly amount will be entitled to an annual bonus.
- The bonus will be at least: (i) 8.33% of his wages, or (ii) Rs 100, whichever is higher.
- The Code prohibits gender discriminationin matters related to wages and recruitment of employees for the same work or work of similar nature.
- The central and state governments will constitute advisory boards. One-third of the total members on both the Boards will be women.
- The Boards will advise the respective governments on various issues including: (i) fixation of minimum wages, and (ii) increasing employment opportunities for women.
- The Code specifies penalties for offences committed by an employer, such as (i) paying less than the due wages, or (ii) for contravening any provision of the Code, with the maximum penalty being imprisonment for three months along with a fine of up to one lakh rupees.
- In India, labour is included in the concurrent listwhich implies that both the central government and state governments can make laws regarding this subject.
- Currently, there are over 40 state and central laws regulating various aspects of laboursuch as resolution of industrial disputes, working conditions in factories, and wage and bonus payments.
- The Second National Commission on Labour (2002)had recommended that existing labour laws should be classified into broader groups for easier compliance, such as (i) industrial relations, (ii) wages, (iii) social security, (iv) safety, and (v) welfare and working conditions. This would also allow for uniformity in the coverage of various labour laws that are in force.
- In this context, the Code on Wages, 2017was introduced in Lok Sabha in 2017 which seeks to regulate wage and bonus payments in all employments where any industry, trade, business or manufacturing is carried on.
Significance of Code on Wage 2019:
- It universalizes the provisions of minimum wages and timely payment of wagesto all employees irrespective of the sector and wage ceiling.
- It simplifies the definition of wages.
- It seeks to increase the legislative protection of minimum wage to 100 per cent of the workforce.
- At present, many States have multiple minimum wages. The Code fixes the minimum wages by doing away with ‘type of employment’as a criterion. Rather, the minimum wage will be fixed primarily based on geography and skills.
Key Issues and Analysis:
- Central government may set a national minimum wage. Further, it may set separate national minimum wages for different states or regions. In this context, two questions arise: (i) the rationale for a national minimum wage, and (ii) whether the central government should set one or multiple national minimum wages.
- States have to ensure that minimum wages set by them are not lower than the national minimum wage. If existing minimum wages set by states are higher than the national minimum wage, they cannot reduce the minimum wages. This may affect the ability of states to reduce their minimum wages if the national minimum wage is lowered.
- The time period for revising minimum wages will be set at five years. Currently, state governments have flexibility in revising minimum wages, as long as it is not more than five years. It is unclear why this flexibility has been removed, and five years has been set for revision.
- The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, prohibits employers from discriminating in wage payments as well as recruitment of employees based on gender. While the Code prohibits gender discrimination on wage-related matters, it does not include provisions regarding discrimination during recruitment.
- It de-links the process of fixing the minimum wage from a scientific calorie-based formulaand allows the Centre to ‘arbitrarily’ fix the wage.
- Without the complain of ‘appropriate authority’as described in bill, no court can take cognisance of any offence under the proposed legislation. The government ignored suggestions of the Standing Committee with regard to strengthening this enforcement mechanism.
- The use of the term ‘Facilitator’ instead of ‘Inspector’in the Code restricts the inspection which is the lifeline of enforcement. The word ‘Facilitator’ should be substituted by ‘Inspector’. However, the bill used the term ‘Inspector-cum-facilitator’.
- The Code lacked consistency in its use of both ‘worker’ and ‘employee’terms and underlined that since minimum wage is a matter of right for every working person, a common definition of the employee/worker needs to be given in the Code. However, in the Bill retained the definition as it is.
Who among the following can join the National Pension System (NPS)?
(a) Resident Indian citizens only
(b) Persons of age from 21 to 55 only
(c) All State Government employees joining the services after the date of notification by the respective State Governments
(d) All Central Government employees including those of Armed Forces joining the services on or after 1st April, 2004