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September 2020
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Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

Action plan for the success of Atmanirbhar Bharat project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Atmanirbhar Bharat Mission

Mains level : Paper 3- Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan and challenges

Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, well considered plan by the Central government seeks to transform the Indian economy. The article analyses its potential and suggests the ways to achieve the aims.

Vocal for local

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a call to fellow Indians to be “Vocal for Local” in May.
  • This includes not only to buy and use local products but to also take pride in promoting them.

Challenges

1) Imports from China

  • Serious challenge to Atmanirbhar mission is country’s $65 billion worth of imports from China alone.
  • Most of these imports are of essential items — raw materials, components and intermediates required in producing finished goods.
  • For example, the pharmaceuticals sector imports nearly 70 per cent of its raw material and drug intermediates.
  • It may not be feasible to replace all Chinese imports in the near future.
  • It may also be debatable if the end goal is to replace the entire chain of imports from a country.
  • Nevertheless, experts and industrialists do assert that the ANBA is an excellent initiative and gives India the opportunity to embark on the self-reliance drive.

2) Struggling MSMEs

  • A major part of the Vocal for Local mission rests on the MSMEs, which has been seen as struggling for survival.
  • But the reforms announced as part of the ANBA should put them on a stronger footing.
  • One immediate fallout of these measures will be creation of large scale employment opportunities for both the skilled and unskilled workforce.
  • A stronger manufacturing base will also lead to positive spinoffs related to the supply-purchase of local raw material and capacity building of allied manufacturing units.

Way forward

  • First, an umbrella action plan should be drawn by the Niti Aayog listing all targets under the ANBA and the Vocal for Local Mission.
  • A monitoring agency will review and suggest course correction to ensure that no delay is allowed to build.
  • Second, each state/UT will develop an action plan in consonance with the umbrella plan.
  • A separate organisation created by each state will be responsible for the implementation of the action plan
  • Such organisation should also conduct regular studies to identify local and global market trends and invite competitive solutions to meet market demands.
  • Third, each district (or a group of districts) will work out a more detailed action plan, and charter of responsibilities for ground level officers and departments.

Conclusion

The ANBA is a mission to empower the people of India. It will in all likelihood become a benchmark of how governments and their various organisations can work in a mission mode.

Agricultural Sector and Marketing Reforms – eNAM, Model APMC Act, Eco Survey Reco, etc.

Understanding the opposition of farmers to agriculture Bills

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Issues with the agriculture bill

The article analyses the issue of farmers opposition to the three agricultural bills.

Context

  • Farmers have been protesting against the three bills related to agriculture.
  • These three Bills are-
  • 1) The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020
  • 2) The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020.
  • 3) The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

What are the aims of the bills?

  • The Bills aim to do away with government interference in agricultural trade by creating trading areas outside the structure of Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs).
  • One of the bills aims at removing restrictions of private stockholding (under Essential Commodities Act 1955) of agricultural produce.
  • One of the bills deals with the regulation of contract farming.

Issues with the Bills

  • The government has failed to hold any discussion with the various stakeholders including farmers and middlemen.
  • The attempt to pass the Bills without proper consultation adds to the mistrust among various stakeholders including State governments.
  • Farmer organisations see these Bills as an attempt to weaken the APMCs and eventual withdrawal of the Minimum Support Prices (MSP).
  • Farmers in Punjab and Haryana have genuine concern about the continuance of the MSP-based public procurement given the large-scale procurement operations in these States.

Understanding the role of APMC

  • APMCs do play an important role of price discovery essential for agricultural trade and production choices.
  • The middlemen are a part of the larger ecosystem of agricultural trade, with deep links between farmers and traders.
  • The preference for corporate interests at the cost of farmers’ interests and a lack of regulation in these non-APMC mandis are cause for concern.
  • To understand the role of APMC, consider the example of Bihar.
  • After Bihar abolished APMCs in 2006, farmers in Bihar on average received lower prices compared to the MSP for most crops.
  • Despite the shortcomings and regional variations, farmers still see the APMC mandis as essential to ensuring the survival of MSP regime.

Conclusion

The protests by farmers are essentially a reflection of the mistrust between farmers and the stated objective of these reforms.

Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Roles, functions and limitations of Parliamentary Committees

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Parliamentary committees and its types

Mains level : Parliamentary committees and thier various functions

The government pushed through two crucial agriculture Bills in Rajya Sabha, rejecting Opposition demands to refer them to a Select Committee of Rajya Sabha.

Try this PYQ:

With reference to the Parliament of India which of the following Parliamentary Committees scrutinizes and reports to the House whether the powers to make regulations, rules, sub-rules, bylaws, etc. conferred by the Constitution or delegated by the Parliament are being properly exercised by the Executive within the scope of such delegation?(CSP 2018)

(a) Committee on Government Assurances

(b) Committee on Subordinate Legislation

(c) Rules Committee

(d) Business Advisory Committee

What is a Parliamentary Committee?

  • It means a Committee which is appointed or elected by the House or nominated by the Speaker and which works under the direction of the Speaker and presents its report to the House or to the Speaker and the Secretariat for which is provided by the Lok Sabha Secretariat.

By their nature, Parliamentary Committees are of two kinds: Standing Committees and Ad hoc Committees.

  1. Standing Committees are permanent and regular committees which are constituted from time to time in pursuance of the provisions of an Act of Parliament or Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha. The work of these Committees is of continuous nature. The Financial Committees, DRSCs and some other Committees come under the category of Standing Committees.
  2. Ad hoc Committees are appointed for a specific purpose and they cease to exist when they finish the task assigned to them and submit a report. The principal Ad hoc Committees are the Select and Joint Committees on Bills. Railway Convention Committee, Joint Committee on Food Management in Parliament House Complex etc also come under the category of ad hoc Committees.

Why need Parliamentary Committee?

  • Parliament scrutinizes legislative proposals (Bills) in two ways. The first is by discussing it on the floor of the two Houses.
  • This is a legislative requirement; all Bills have to be taken up for debate.
  • The time spent debating the bills can vary. They can be passed in a matter of minutes, or debate and voting on them can run late into the night.
  • Since Parliament meets for 70 to 80 days in a year, there is not enough time to discuss every Bill in detail on the floor of the House.

Its role in the passage of a Bill

  • The debate in the house is mostly political and does not go into the technical details of a legislative proposal.
  • The second mechanism is by referring a Bill to a parliamentary committee. It takes care of the legislative infirmity of debate on the floor of the House.
  • However, referring to Bills to parliamentary committees is not mandatory.

And what is a Select Committee?

  • India’s Parliament has multiple types of committees.
  • They can be differentiated on the basis of their work, their membership and the length of their tenure. First are committees that examine bills, budgets and policies of ministries.
  • These are called departmentally related Standing Committees. There are 24 such committees and between them, they focus on the working of different ministries.
  • Each committee has 31 MPs, 21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha.
  • The main purpose is to ensure the accountability of Government to Parliament through a more detailed consideration of measures in these committees.
  • The purpose is not to weaken or criticize the administration but to strengthen by investing in with more meaningful parliamentary support.

When does a committee examine a Bill?

  • Bills are not automatically sent to committees for examination. There are three broad paths by which a Bill can reach a committee.
  • The first is when the minister piloting the Bill recommends to the House that his Bill be examined by a Select Committee of the House or a joint committee of both Houses.
  • Last year Electronics and IT Minister moved a motion in Lok Sabha referring the Personal Data Protection Bill to a Joint Committee.
  • If the minister makes no such motion, it is up to the presiding officer of the House to decide whether to send a Bill to a departmentally related Standing Committee.

What happens when a bill goes to a Committee?

  • Sending a Bill to any committee results in two things.
  • First, the committee undertakes a detailed examination of the Bill. It invites comments and suggestions from experts, stakeholders and citizens.
  • The government also appears before the committee to present its viewpoint.
  • All this results in a report that makes suggestions for strengthening the Bill. While the committee is deliberating on a Bill, there is a pause in its legislative journey.
  • It can only progress in Parliament after the committee has submitted its report. Usually, parliamentary committees are supposed to submit their reports in three months, but sometimes it can take longer.

What happens after the report?

  • The report of the committee is of a recommendatory nature. The government can choose to accept or reject its recommendations.
  • Very often the government incorporates suggestions made by committees. Select Committees and JPCs have an added advantage.
  • In their report, they can also include their version of the Bill. If they do so, the minister in charge of that particular Bill can move for the committee’s version of the Bill to be discussed and passed in the House.

Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

New versions of labour codes – key proposals and concerns

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Labour reforms

The government has introduced new versions of three labour codes – Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2020, Code on Social Security Bill, 2020 and Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code Bill, 2020.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Disguised unemployment generally means:

(a) A large number of people remain unemployed

(b) Alternative employment is not available

(c) Marginal productivity of labour is zero

(d) Productivity of workers is low

What are the key proposals?

(1) Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2020

  • In this, the government has proposed to introduce more conditions restricting the rights of workers to strike, alongside an increase in the threshold relating to layoffs and retrenchment.
  • The Code has raised the threshold for the requirement of a standing order — rules of conduct for workmen employed in industrial establishments — to over 300 workers.
  • This implies industrial establishments with up to 300 workers will not be required to furnish a standing order, a move which experts say would enable companies to introduce arbitrary service conditions for workers.
  • These steps are likely to provide more flexibility to employers for hiring and firing workers without government permission.

(2) Social Security Code

  • It proposes a National Social Security Board which shall recommend to the central government for formulating suitable schemes for different sections of unorganised workers, gig workers and platform workers.
  • Also, aggregators employing gig workers will have to contribute 1-2 per cent of their annual turnover for social security, with the total contribution not exceeding 5 per.

(3) Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code

  • This code has defined inter-state migrant workers as the worker who has come on his own from one state and obtained employment in another state, earning up to Rs 18,000 a month.
  • The proposed definition makes a distinction from the present definition of only contractual employment.
  • The Code, however, has dropped the earlier provision for temporary accommodation for workers near the worksites.
  • It has though proposed a journey allowance — a lump sum amount of fare to be paid by the employer for to and fro journey of the worker to his/her native place from the place of his/her employment.

What are the other proposals for workers?

  • The IR Code Bill has also proposed a worker re-skilling fund.
  • The contributions for the fund are only detailed from the employer of an industrial establishment amounting to fifteen days wages last drawn by the worker immediately before the retrenchment along with the contribution from such other sources.
  • The mention of ‘other sources’ for funding the re-skilling fund is vague.

What are the concerns raised over the new labour codes?

  • Analysts say the increase in the threshold for standing orders will water down the labour rights for workers in small establishments having less than 300 workers.
  • The increase is uncalled for and shows the government is very keen to give tremendous amounts of flexibility to the employers in terms of hiring and firing.
  • Dismissal for alleged misconduct and retrenchment for economic reasons will be completely possible for all the industrial establishments employing less than 300 workers.
  • The Industrial Relations Code also introduces new conditions for carrying out a legal strike.
  • The time period for arbitration proceedings has been included in the conditions for workers before going on a legal strike as against only the time for conciliation at present.

Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Brucellosis: A bacterial disease

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Brucellosis

Mains level : NA

As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues, the health commission has announced this week that a leak in a biopharmaceutical company last year caused an outbreak of brucellosis disease.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following kinds of organisms:

  1. Bacteria
  2. Fungi
  3. Flowering plants

Some species of which of the above kinds of organisms are employed as bio-pesticides?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

What is Brucellosis?

  • Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that mainly infects cattle, swine, goats, sheep and dogs.
  • Humans can get infected if they come in direct contact with infected animals or by eating or drinking contaminated animal products or by inhaling airborne agents.
  • According to the WHO, most cases of the disease are caused by ingesting unpasteurized milk or cheese from infected goats or sheep.
  • Symptoms of the disease include fever, sweats, malaise, anorexia, and headache and muscle pain.
  • While some signs and symptoms can last for long periods of time, others may never go away. Human to human transmission of the virus is rare.
  • These include recurrent fevers, arthritis, swelling of the testicles and scrotum area, swelling of the heart, neurologic symptoms, chronic fatigue, depression and swelling of the liver or spleen.

Panchayati Raj Institutions: Issues and Challenges

[pib] E-Gram Swaraj Portal

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : e-Gram SWARAJ

Mains level : E-governance of PRIs

A unified tool e-Gram SWARAJ portal has been developed by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj for effective monitoring and evaluation of works taken up in the Gram Panchayats.

e-Gram SWARAJ

  • It unifies the planning, accounting and monitoring functions of Gram Panchayats.
  • Its combination with the Area Profiler application, Local Government Directory (LGD) and the Public Financial Management System (PFMS) renders easier reporting and tracking of Gram Panchayat’s activities.
  • It provides a single-window for capturing Panchayat information with the complete Profile of the Panchayat, details of Panchayat finances, asset details, activities taken up through Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) etc.

Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

[pib] SPICe+ Portal

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SPICe+ Portal

Mains level : Not Much

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has notified and deployed a web-form namely ‘SPICe+’ as a part of Govt of India’s Ease of Doing Business (EODB) initiatives.

Try this MCQ:

Q.The SPICe+ Portal sometimes seen in news is related to which of the following Ministry?

(a) Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change

(b) Ministry of Commerce and Industry

(c) Ministry of Corporate Affairs

(d) Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare

SPICe+ Portal

  • It offers 10 services by three Central Government Ministries and Departments (Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Labour & Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance), one State Government (Maharashtra) and various Banks.
  • Thus it saves the procedure, time and cost for Starting a Business in India.
  • These 10 services are:-
  1. Name reservation
  2. Incorporation
  3. DIN allotment
  4. Mandatory issue of PAN
  5. Mandatory issue of TAN
  6. Mandatory issue of EPFO registration
  7. Mandatory issue of ESIC registration
  8. Mandatory issue of Profession Tax registration (Maharashtra)
  9. Mandatory Opening of Bank Account for the Company and
  10. Allotment of GSTIN (if so applied for)

Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

Labour law Reforms

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various labour laws

Mains level : Labour reforms in India

This session of Lok Sabha has passed 3 Historic and path-breaking Labour Codes.

UPSC may ask the major laws subsumed under these Labour Codes.

What are the 3 bills?

The 3 bills which were passed are

  1. Industrial Relations Code, 2020
  2. Code on Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions Code, 2020 &
  3. Social Security Code, 2020

All the labour laws (29 in number) being amalgamated into 4 labour codes are :

Name of the Code 

Amalgamated laws

Wage Code

 

4 laws –

  1. The Payment of Wages Act, 1936
  2. The Minimum Wages Act, 1948
  3. The Payment of Bonus Act, 1965
  4. The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
IR Code

 

3 laws –

  1. The Trade Unions Act, 1926
  2. The Industrial Employment (Standing orders) Act, 1946
  3. The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947
OSH Code

 

13 laws –

  1. The Factories Act, 1948
  2. The Plantations Labour Act, 1951
  3. The Mines Act, 1952
  4. The Working Journalists and other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955
  5. The Working Journalists (Fixation of Rates of Wages) Act, 1958
  6. The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961
  7. The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966
  8. The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970
  9. The Sales Promotion Employees (Conditions of Service) Act, 1976
  10. The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979
  11. The Cine-Workers and Cinema Theatre Workers (Regulation of Employment) Act, 1981
  12. The Dock Workers (Safety, Health and Welfare) Act, 1986
  13. The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996
Social Security Code

 

9 laws –

  1. The Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923
  2. The Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948
  3. The Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952
  4. The Employment Exchanges (Compulsory Notification of Vacancies) Act, 1959
  5. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961
  6. The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972
  7. The Cine Workers Welfare Fund Act, 1981
  8. The Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996
  9. The Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008

 

Here are the key features of these bills:

 (A) Social Security Code, 2020

  • The facility of ESIC would now be provided in all 740 districts. At present, this facility is being given in 566 districts only.
  • EPFO’s coverage would be applicable on all establishments having 20 workers. At present, it was applicable only on establishments included in the Schedule.
  • Provision has been made to formulate various schemes for providing comprehensive social security to workers in the unorganised sector.
  • A “Social Security Fund” will be created on the financial side in order to implement these schemes.
  • Work to bring newer forms of employment created with the changing technology like “platform worker or gig worker” into the ambit of social security has been done in the Social Security Code.
  • Provision for Gratuity has been made for Fixed Term Employee and there would not be any condition for minimum service period for this.
  • With the aim of making a national database for unorganised sector workers, registration of all these workers would be done on an online portal and this registration would be done on the basis of Self Certification through a simple procedure.

 (B) Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions Code, 2020

  • Free health checkup once a year by the employer for workers which are more than a certain age.
  • A legal right for getting Appointment Letter given to workers for the first time.
  • Cine Workers have been designated as Audio Visual Worker so that more and more workers get covered under the OSH code. Earlier, this security was being given to artists working in films only.

(C)  Industrial Relations Code, 2020

Efforts made by the Government for quickly resolving disputes of the workers include:

  • Compulsory facility for Helpline for redressal of problems of migrant workers.
  • Making a national database of migrant workers.
  • Provision for the accumulation of one day leave for every 20 days worked when work has been done for 180 days instead of 240 days.
  • Equality for women in every sphere: Women have to be permitted to work in every sector at night, but it has to be ensured that provision for their security is made by the employer and consent of women is taken before they work at night.
  • In the event of the death of a worker or injury to a worker due to an accident at his workplace, atleast 50 % share of the penalty would be given. This amount would be in addition to Employees Compensation.
  • Provision of “Social Security Fund” for 40 Crore unorganized workers alongwith GIG and platform workers and will help Universal Social Security coverage
  • Occupational Safety & Health Code to also can now over cover workers from IT and Service Sector.
  • 14 days notice for Strike so that in this period amicable solution comes out.