9 PM Daily Brief – November 16, 2020

9 PM Brief

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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

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GS 2

Right of “free consent”.

GS 3

Labour law reforms and Trade unions

How to end pollution

Fertiliser Subsidies


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FACTLY


Right of “free consent”.

Source: Indian Express

Gs2: Fundamental Right

Context: Many state governments have announced that they are considering enacting an appropriate law to stop marriages which they term as “love jihad”.

What are the recent cases?

  • A Muslim girl by birth converted to the Hindu religion and just after a month, she married a Hindu man according to Hindu rites and rituals.
  • The Allahabad court directed the girl to appear before a magistrate to record her statements.
  • The purpose was to check whether the girl converted with her consent or not.
  • In another matter, a Hindu girl by birth converted to Islam and married a Muslim. The High Court recorded her statement and after its subjective satisfaction that she, being a major, had acted of her own volition.

What was the basis of observations?

  • Lily Thomas (2000) and Sarla Mudgal (1995): In both the cases, the issue was of Hindu married men committing bigamy to avail a second marriage, without dissolving the first just by converting from Hinduism to Islam.
  • Section 494 and second marriage: Both judgments concluded that the second marriage of a Hindu husband, after his conversion to Islam, would not be valid in view of Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code. The Court clarified that a marriage solemnised as a Hindu marriage cannot be terminated by one spouse converting to another religion.

What are the arguments against such laws?

  • No legal basis: The concept of “love jihad” has no legal or constitutional basis, it has been concocted for the last few years.
  • Fundamental right: The right to marry a person of one’s choice is a guarantee under Article 21. At the same time, freedom of conscience, the practice and propagation of a religion of one’s choice, including not following any religion, are guaranteed under Article 25.
  • Avoid mixing of issues: Polygamy, polyandry, kidnapping, coercion, etc. are separate issues covered under existing provisions of the IPC.
  • Fundamental freedoms: The right to marry a person of one’s choice flows from the freedom of individuality, naturally available to any individual.
  • Supreme court views: The view of the Supreme Court (1965) that a marriage is not approved unless the essential ceremonies required for its solemnisation are proved to have been performed can only be read if one partner denies the marriage.
  • Marriage is the very foundation of civilised society: the observation that “marriage is the very foundation of civilised society” and without which no civilised society can exist have become obsolete given the recent judgments by larger benches of the Supreme Court.
  • Sub-judice: The legality of legislation like the Citizenship Amendment Act, which excludes only one religion from its purview, criminalisation of pronouncements of triple talaq and taking away the special status of Jammu & Kashmir are pending consideration in the Supreme Court.

The Courts needs to examine if the individual concerned has exercised their right of “free consent”.

Labour law reforms and Trade unions

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

Context- The new labour codes clear attempt to diminish the role trade unions.

What are the new labour laws?

The current government has introduced new versions of three labour codes in Lok Sabha which are-

  1. Industrial Relations Code.
  2. Code on Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions Code.
  3. Social Security Code.
  4. Labour code on wages.

However,

  • Central government has excluded trade unions from pre-legislative consultations on drafting the new labour codes.
  • The new Labour codes ignore the recommendations of Parliamentary Standing committee.
  • And the labour reforms bills passed in the absence of the Opposition.

What are trade unions?

A trade union can be defined as an organized association of workers in a trade or profession, formed to further their rights and interests. In India, Trade Unions in India are registered under the Trade Union Act (1926).

Functions-

  1. Protect the interests of workers
  • Trade Unions protect the worker from wages hike, provide job security through peaceful measures.
  • They also help in providing financial and non-financial aid to the workers during lock out or strike or in medical need.
  1. Collective Bargaining– A process of negotiation between employers and a group of employees in respect to working condition. It is the foundation of the movement and it is interest of labour that statury recognition has been accorded to Trade Union.

What are the key objectives of Trade Union Act (TUA)?

  1. Right to registration– The law provided a mechanism for the registration of trade unions, from which they derived their rights, and a framework governing their functioning.
  • The TUA gave workers the right, through their registered trade union, to take steps to press their claims, and where necessary, as in the case of a malevolent employer, agitate for their claims and advance them before the government and the judiciary.
  1. Immunity from civil suit in certain cases- No suit or other legal proceeding shall be maintainable in any Civil Court against any registered Trade Union in respect of any act done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute.

What are the key concerns with new labour codes?

  1. In case of deregistration of trade union
  • The collective decision taken by its members and elected officers can be treated as illegal.
  • Vulnerable against charges of conspiracy– The trade union’s members and elected officers lose their immunity from prosecution for criminal conspiracy for collective decisions and actions.
  • It will lead employment dispute resolution outside the legal framework.
  • The Industrial Relations Code (IRC) widens the grounds under which a trade union may be deregistered.
  1. Against the Interests of Employees– The codes provide the liberty to industrial establishments to hire and fire their employees at will.
  • The new labour codes dilute workers’ rights in favour of employers’ rights.

Way forward-

A vibrant and responsible trade union environment is the requisite for inclusive growth to any economy. It checks growing inequality and falling living conditions of the working class.

If trade union is deregistered then the workers effectively lose their fundamental right to freedom of association.

How to end pollution

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-3- Environment

Context: An independent Environmental Protection Agency is required to build scientific and technical capacity for controlling pollution.

What are the sources of pollution?

  • Sources:
  • Seasonal sources: crop-burning and fireworks grab attention at this time of year.
  • According to a study by Chandra Venkataraman of IIT-Mumbai and other scientists, the biggest sources nationally are cooking fires, coal-fired power plants, various industries, crop residue burning, and construction and road dust.
  • Cooking fires: Since particles diffuse with the air and are carried by winds, they do not stay in kitchens; they contribute to pollution throughout the country.

What are the challenges in handling pollution?

  • Investment not profitable in technological changes: Although it is hugely beneficial for the country as a whole but is not privately profitable at present.
  • The judiciary: It does not have even the few scientific and technical staff available to our under-funded pollution control boards;
    • it has no capacity to conduct pollution monitoring or scientific studies or even evaluate the results.

What are the steps needed to be taken?

  • Deal with pollution firmly and gradually: If this is done, it can be brought down to developed-country levels within a few years.
  • Reason: there are many sources of pollution and it would be ridiculously costly to stop them or even significantly reduce them all at once.
  • Replacement of existing technologies: Smoky firewood, dung and crop residues that are burnt in kitchens all over rural India and some urban slums must be replaced with LPG, induction stoves, and other electric cooking appliances.
  • Old coal power plants must be closed and replaced with wind and solar power and batteries or other forms of energy storage, while newer plants must install new pollution control equipment.
  • Other industries that use coal will have to gradually switch over to cleaner fuel sources such as gas or hydrogen.
  • Farmers will have to switch crops or adopt alternative methods of residue management.
  • Diesel and petrol vehicles must gradually be replaced by electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles running on power generated from renewables.
  • Tax and subsidies: It is easy for governments to make clean investments more profitable and dirty investments less profitable.
    • All that needs to be done is to tax polluting activities and subsidise clean investments.
  • Environmental Protection Agency: The EPA can announce that they will raise the pollution fees by a certain percentage every year. This gives businesses time to adjust; they will then find it profitable to make new investments in non-polluting technologies.
  • For example, a fee on plastic production at refineries, since it is very costly to monitor small producers and retailers of plastic bags; a fee on fly ash or sulphur dioxide emitted by coal power plants, and a fee on coal use, a fee on diesel at refineries, etc.
  • The EPA has to be given some independence:
  • A head appointed for a five-year term removable only by impeachment.
  • A guaranteed budget funded by a small percentage tax on all industries.
  • Autonomy to hire staff.
  • Set pollution fees after justification through scientific studies.
  • The PM Ujjwala Yojna that increased LPG access has made a big difference to the pollution from cooking fires.
  • The BS-VI regulations will reduce vehicular pollution over the next decade.

Way forward

  • We need the scientific and technical capacity that only a securely funded independent EPA can bring to shrink pollution down to nothing.

Fertiliser Subsidies

Source: Indian Express

Gs3: Issues related to Direct and Indirect Farm Subsidies

Context: In a step to clear dues of fertiliser companies the government has allotted an additional Rs 65,000 crore towards fertiliser subsidy for 2020-21, over and above the already-budgeted Rs 71,309 crore.

Why clearing the arrears in fertiliser subsidy is important?

  • To build faith on government schemes: Fertiliser firms have to sell their products below production cost. If the government does not pay the difference as subsidy in full and on time, it leads to erosion of trust.
  • Production-linked incentive scheme: It seeks to attract manufacturing investments by offering cash incentives to the tune of Rs 200,000 crore over five years on incremental sales. Its success rests on the government’s credibility in repaying subsidies.

What are steps to be taken to improve the use of fertiliser in India?

  • Neem coating of urea: To Check illegal diversion of subsidised material.
  • Conditional transfers: Releasing payments to companies only after sales to farmers being registered against biometric authentication or even capping the number of bags.
  • Nutrient-based subsidy (NBS): introduced more than a decade ago, provides subsidy on any fertiliser based on the underlying nutrient content be it nitrogen, phosphorus and potash or Sulphur, zinc and boron.

Why NBS scheme has failed?

  • NBS has failed simply because urea has been kept out of NBS scheme. The government still fixes the maximum retail price (MRP) for urea.
  • The price of urea has been raised by hardly 11 per cent since April 2010, while the rates of other decontrolled fertilisers have increased 150-300 per cent.
  • This has actually worsened the soil nutrient imbalance resulting from over-application of urea.

Way forward

  • The government should bring urea under NBS. This would mean increasing its MRP from Rs 5,360 to Rs 9,000 per tonne.
  • This can be done by hiking the NBS rates for other nutrients, thereby reducing the MRPs of non-urea fertilisers and encouraging their consumption.
  • Subsidy should be to facilitate innovations to bring in new nutrient solutions that are crop-, soil- or even plant stage-specific.

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