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GS 1: Contributions of Ambedkar for unorganized labour.
GS 2: Religion and freedom: On India and communal violence
GS 2: Bank of Schemes, Ideas, Innovation & Research Portal on MSMEs
GS 2: DST launches programme on health & risk communication with focus on COVID-19
GS 3: Patent Pooling
GS 3: Economic revival via wage employment
GS 3: GI tag to Manipur black rice, Gorakhpur terracotta
GS 3: Green Recovery Plan
GS 1: Significant events, issues, personalities during the middle of the eighteenth century (the 1750s) until the present.
Source: Indian Express
Title: Contributions of Dr. B R Ambedkar
Context: The International Labour Day, let’s look at the contributions of B.R. Ambedkar in the fields of labor rights, welfare, and social security in India.
Born on April 14, 1891 in Madhya Pradesh, Dr. B.R Ambedkar, prominently known as Babasaheb was a multifaceted character-a political and social reformer, an educationist, a jurist and the Father of the Indian Constitution.
- Established Independent Labour Party (ILP): Ambedkar formed the ILP in 1936. It focussed at addressing the needs and grievances of the landless, poor tenants, agriculturists, and workers.
- Abolition of Khoti System: Khoti system was a discriminatory land tenure system in Konkan. Ambedkar moved a bill (“The Khoti Abolition Act”) against the Khoti system in 1937 during the Poona session of the Bombay Assembly.
- Welfare of Women Employees: Ambedkar framed many laws for women workers in India such as ‘Mines Maternity Benefit Act’, ‘Women Labour Welfare Fund’, ‘Women and Child Labour Protection Act’, ‘Maternity Benefit for Women Labour’, and ‘Restoration of Ban on Employment of Women on Underground Work in Coal Mines’.
- Welfare of Mine Workers: In 1944, Ambedkar put forward the Coal Mines Safety (Stowing) Amendment Bill for the benefit of the workers. In 1946, he introduced the ‘Mica Mines Labour Welfare Fund’ that sought to help workers with housing, water supply, education, etc.
- Tripartite Labour Council: It was set up in 1942 by Ambedkar. It functioned to safeguard social security measures for the workers and strengthened the labour movement.
- Trade Unions: In 1943, he introduced the Indian Trade Union (Amendment) Bill which compelled the employers to acknowledge trade unions.
- Ambedkar was appointed as the chairman of the constitution drafting committee on August 29, 1947. He is popularly known as the Father of Indian Constitution
- Ambedkar fought vehemently against untouchability and contributed towards upliftment of Dalits. In 1936, he wrote a speech titled “Annihilation of Caste”. He pioneered the introduction of the reservation system in independent India.
- Played important role in the foundation of the National Power Grid System, Central Water Irrigation, Navigation Commission, Damodar valley venture, Hirakud undertaking, Sone waterway venture and Employment Exchanges.
- As an educationist, he established the People’s Education Society in 1945 and built a number of schools and colleges.
- In 1925, he wrote a book titled “The Evolution of Provincial Finance in British India” which discussed the origin, development and mechanism of provincial finance. The book is cited as an important source by the Financial Commission of India.
- Ambedkar’s Canon of Public Expenditure: In 1945, he cited the functions of Comptroller and Auditor General of India and discussed how the government should spend public funds responsibly.
GS 2 : Indian Constitution : historical underpinnings, amendments, significant provisions etc
Source: The Hindu
Title: Religion and freedom: On India and communal violence
What has happened: The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its annual report has downgraded India’s position as a country of particular concern.
About USCIRF: It is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission which seeks to defend the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad. It classifies countries based on Tier 1 – Countries of particular concern and Tier 2 – Special watch list.
Reasons for downgrading of ranking:
- Citizenship Amendment Act – The act, as per USCIRF, discriminates against Muslims from neighbouring three countries in providing citizenship.
- Proposed National Register for Citizens – Is a nation wide bureaucratic exercise to legally ascertain legal citizenship. This is in line with the NRC in Assam, which has led to potential disenfranchisement of 19 lakh individuals.
- Anti-conversion laws – Many states have enacted anti conversion laws, which provides state concurrence via the district magistrate before conversion.
- Situation in Jammu and Kashmir – The revocation of Article 370 and Art 35A, has created fear of possible demographic change.
- The report states that many State governments have allowed nationwide campaigns of harassment and violence against religious minorities and engaged in and tolerated hate speech and incitement to violence against them.
Consequence of report:
- Sanctions: The U.S. government could act on its recommendation to impose targeted sanctions on Indian government agencies and officials. Ex- In 2005, Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was at the time the Chief Minister of Gujarat was censured by the USCIRF. The commission had recommended sanctions against Mr. Modi for the 2002 riots and the U.S. government had subsequently cancelled his visa.
- Strategic fallout: The U.S. has used arguments of freedom, democracy, tolerance, and transparency as tools in its strategic pursuits, but there is no proof of any uniform or predictable pattern of enforcement of such moral attributes.
- International Image: Such reports contribute to the construction of an image of a country. This can be used by adversaries in information warfare.
- Global aspirations: India advertises itself as a multi-religious democracy and as an adherent to global norms of rule of law. It also aspires to be on the table of global rule making, hence requires acceptance at the global level based on democratic values.
- Bad Company: The other countries in the CPC category in the 2020 report are China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Russia, Syria, Vietnam, Eritrea, Iran, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan – all of these are not known for democratic values and freedoms.
Freedom of religion in India
The right to freedom of religion is a fundamental right mentioned under Article 25 to 28 in the indian constitution.
Important Cases with respect to freedom of religion in India
Article 25 : The protects those practices which are integral parts of a religion. It is the duty of the court to decide whether a practice is an essential practice or not depending on the evidence formulated by the conscience of the community and the tenets of the religion.
- Some of the religious practices which were held essential by the Court:
- Mohd. Hanif Quareshi Case: In Hinduism, worshipping of an image or idol.
- Sarwar Husain v. Addl. Judge: Muslims offering prayers at a public mosque.
- Some of the religious practices which were held not-essential by the Court:
- Sarup Singh Sardar v. State of Punjab: The right to elect only Sikh members to a committee for the administration of a Gurudwara property.
- In Lily Thomas v. Union of India: A Hindu male marrying a second wife after conversion.
Article 26 : While defining religious institutions, In SP Mittal v. Union of India, the apex court laid down three conditions that need to be fulfilled by a religious denomination:
- Collection of Individuals having a common faith.
- A common organization.
- Designation by a distinctive name.
Ismail Faruqui v. Union of India : The apex court held that the mosque is not an essential practice of Islam and a Muslim can offer namaz (prayer) anywhere even in the open.
Sabarimala Case: In Indian Young Lawyers Association, the supreme court adjudicated the conflict of individual right of menstruating women to pray and the collective right of the trust in prohibiting entry into the Sabarimala Temple. The court ruled that the practice was unconstitutional and uplifted the ban on entry of women stating that followers of Ayyappa do not form a separate religious denomination but are Hindus only and, such a ban is not an essential practice of the religion.
Shirur Mutt case: The test of Essential Religious Practices A 7-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court held that what constitutes the essential part of a religion is primarily to be ascertained with reference to the doctrines of that religion itself.
GS 2: Important aspects of governance, transparency, and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential;
Title: Bank of Schemes, Ideas, Innovation & Research Portal on MSMEs
Context: Bank of Schemes, Ideas, Innovation & Research Portal on MSMEs has been launched.
- Launched by:Ministry of Micro,Small & Medium Enterprises
- Gives access to all Schemes of Union, State and UT Governments.
- Provision for uploading Ideas, Innovations & Researches in the MSME sector.
- Features of crowdsourcing of Ideas, evaluation and rating the ideas by crowdsourcing.
- Benefit the potential entrepreneurs as One stop compendium of Ideas, innovation and research ready for commercialization.
- Facilitate inflow of venture capital, foreign collaboration.
GS 2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
Title : DST launches programme on health & risk communication with focus on COVID-19
Context:‘Year of Awareness on Science & Health (YASH)’ programme has been launched.
- It is a comprehensive science and health awareness programme. It emphasises on Covid-19.
- Launched by: National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC), Department of Science & Technology (DST).
- Aim: To minimize risks at all levels with the help of public communication and outreach activities, promote public understanding of community care and health safety measures.
- Development of science, health, and risk communication software
- Development of publications, audio-visual, digital platforms, folk performances, trained communicators, especially in regional languages.
GS 3: Science and Technology: Issues relating to intellectual property rights
Source: The Hindu
Title : Patent Pooling
What has happened: Costa Rica recently urged the World Health Organization to set up a voluntary system for companies to “pool” patents and other intellectual property.
What are patents? A patent is a form of intellectual property right. It gives its owner the right to exclude others from making, selling and importing an invention for a limited period of time.
Indian Patent System:
- An invention relating to a product or a process that is new, involving an inventive step and capable of industrial application can be patented in India.
- The patents are governed by the Patents Act, 1970. The Act was amended in 2005 wherein product patent was extended to all fields of technology including food, drugs, chemicals and microorganisms. The term of every patent in India is twenty years.
- The Patents Act is implemented and administered by the Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks (CGPDTM). The CGPDTM reports to the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- Patent applications are filed and processed at Indian Patent Office, an office under CGPDTM. The Indian patent office is headquartered at Kolkata with branches in Chennai, New Delhi and Mumbai.
Patent pooling : It can be defined as an agreement between two or more patent holders to aggregate some or all of their patents for the purpose of cross-licensing i.e. they license their patents to one another or to third parties. The main aim of patent pools is to facilitate the sharing and transfer of intellectual property. This facilitates innovation with a minimum of disturbance from IP-related legal issues.
Example: In 1998, Sony, Pioneer and Philips formed a patent pool for DVDs
|Reduces litigation||Difficult to form|
|Reduces transaction costs||Expensive to administer|
|Establishment of industry standards||Distortion of competition|
|Helps in faster development of technology Efficiency in production||Anti-competitive licensing practices may arise|
|Clears Blocking patents- when patents are mutually blocking or one patent infringes the other||Potential forum for price-fixing|
Patent Pooling in the Biomedical Sector: In 2010, UNITAID created the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP). MPP’s aim was to aggregate patents, clinical trials data and other IP relating to HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Hepatitis-C medications. This was done to make them available at low cost to manufacturers that commit to produce and sell these to developing nations and low-income countries.
Earlier, patent pooling was advocated during various disease outbreaks that grippled the world. For example, patent pooling was considered in response to the SARS outbreak of 2002-03, the H5N1 influenza outbreak of 2005, and the H1N1 influenza pandemic of 2009. However, they were never formed.
Importance of Patent Pooling in Public Health
WHO Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation, and Intellectual Property: (GSPOA) recognized that patent pools can facilitate innovation and promote access to new health products.
The Doha Declaration on Public Health (2001) which is a part of the TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement also advocated patent pooling. The Declaration says that TRIPS member states can circumvent patents to protect public health and promote access to medicines.
The importance of patent pooling in public health is four-fold:
- Patent pooling is based on cooperation and shared knowledge. It helps curb the monopolization of life-saving health products and technologies.
- The patent pools could improve access to affordable health technologies and products, particularly in poor countries.
- It can facilitate follow-on innovation to obtain access to the necessary IP to undertake further research and development.
- It helps in faster production and thus ensures quick availability of drugs and vaccines. This is because the creation of a pool and immediate licensing ensures that there are hundreds of manufacturers across the world.
Coronavirus Pandemic and Patent Pooling- What is the way forward?
At a time when the world is grippled under a pandemic, it is important to fasten the development of vaccines and medicines to fight COVID-19. It is important to make medicines and vaccines available at an affordable cost. Any impediments in form of multiple patents, licensing issues could prove disastrous to humanity. At the same time, it is important to acknowledge and protect the sanctity of the patent system and innovation.
A global patent pool for COVID-19 should have a four-fold approach-
- Global pool of COVID-19-related innovations should be created. It should be managed by a responsible international organization.
- There should be cooperation from countries and international organisations, researchers, innovators, companies and universities for the patent pool
- Public-private partnerships (PPP) need to be scaled up. A ‘PPP-pandemic patent pool’ at a global level, to pool all innovations should be created.
- The very idea of profit making amidst a pandemic should be kept aside and focus should be on saving human lives.
GS 3: Economy: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilisation of resources, growth, development and employment.
Title: An open-ended, expanded employment guarantee at minimum wages should be its centrepiece
Context: As the world celebrates labour day today, the pandemic situation has magnified the economic hardship for the migrant workers and daily wage earners. Therefore, the government needs to ensure all Indians a measure of livelihood and income security.
Steps to be taken by the government:
- An Expanded employment guarantee scheme which should aim to provide work to all job-seeking persons at least at minimum wage.
- Cash-Transfer is perceived as a dole where an expanded employment guarantee scheme entails work and dignity.
- Providing a part of wages in the form of subsidized food grain would be beneficial for 94% of the workforce in the informal sector.
- MGNREGA should be revamped to cater to the needs of rural employment demand which would be enhanced due to the migration of workers.
- MGNREGA should be made open-ended i.e beyond 100 days during the pandemic.
- Home-based activities should be permitted as ‘work from home’ for certain groups of workers. Ex- making masks,soaps etc
- Panchayats and municipalities can be very effective in dealing with COVID-19 epidemic, as showcased by Kerala.
- The recovery package should contain a set of dedicated taxes for adding a special ‘Disaster Management Employment Guarantee Programme’. For example, a wealth tax of 1-2% would also address socio-economic justice.
Minimum Wage Act, 1948:
- The parliamentary act provides jurisdiction in fixing wage rates to both the Union government and the state governments.
- Payment of wages below the minimum wage rate amounts to forced labour.
- There is no single uniform minimum wage rate across the country. For example, the highest minimum wage rate as updated in 2012 was Rs. 322/day in Andaman and Nicobar and the lowest was Rs. 38/day in Tripura.
- Wage boards are set up to review the industry’s capacity to pay and fix minimum wages
Article 43 in the Constitution Of India: The state should make legislation to guarantee Work, a Living wage, a decent standard of living, social and cultural opportunities, full enjoyment of leisure for all workers including agricultural and industrial.
The state should promote cottage industries on an individual or co-operative basis in rural areas.
National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005
- MGNREGA guarantees the ‘right to work’ as it aims to provide at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
- The centrally sponsored scheme is monitored by the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD).
- The gram sabha, particularly the gram panchayat is tasked with determining the priority of works, execution, and monitoring of the works within the panchayat area
- Wage employment should be provided to any applicant within 15 days of submitting the application or from the day work is demanded.
- The applicant must be part of a local household which implies, the application must be made with local Gram Panchayat
- The applicant has the Right to get an unemployment allowance in case employment is not provided within fifteen days of submitting the application or from the date when work is sought.
- Social Audit of MGNREGA works is mandatory.
GS 3 : Issues relating to intellectual property rights
Source: The Hindu
Title: GI tag to Manipur black rice, Gorakhpur terracotta
News:Geographical Indication Registry of India has accorded Geographical Indication(GI) tag to Manipur Black Rice and Gorakhpur Terracotta.
Manipur Black Rice:
- Black rice locally known as chakhao is grown in the plains and hills of Manipur. It owes its color to natural black pigments called anthocyanins.
- It is normally eaten during community feasts and is served as ChakHao kheer.
- The rice is a source of iron, vitamin E, and antioxidants and is used as traditional medicine.
- The terracotta work of Gorakhpur is a centuries old traditional art form, where the potters make various animal figures like, horses, elephants, camel, goat and ox with hand applied ornamentation.
- Terracotta: It is a type of ceramic craft. It is made by baking terracotta clay and is often used for making pipes, bricks, and sculptures.
Geographical Indication Tag:
- It is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
- The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act,1999 provides registration and also protection of GI goods in India.
- The act is administered by the Controller General of Patents, Designs, and trademarks under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Recent GI Tags: Green and White Tea- Darjeeling, Srivilliputhur palkova – Tamil Nadu, Dindigul lock- Tamil Nadu, Kandangi saree- Tamil Nadu Tirur Vettila- Kerala, Tawlhlohpuan – Mizoram, Mizo Puanchei – Mizoram, Palani panchamirtham- Tamil Nadu, Kandhamal Haldi – Odisha among others.
GS 3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
Title: Recovery Plan After Covid-19
Context: The pandemic has raised questions on the healthcare infrastructure of all countries, their ability to mobilize resources, and social capital to cope up with the social, economic, and political challenges.
The recovery model of the past crisis gives us an understanding of how to model our recovery from the present crisis without going into a recession.
Developed countries response to two World Wars and a Great Depression: The world wars accelerated technological innovations in energy, manufacturing and vastly improved the labour pool. In the US, the labour productivity grew at 2.82% per year which meant that productivity doubled every 25 years thanks to better machines driven by electricity and internal combustion.
Japan: Emerged as a developed nation even after being affected by war by augmenting trade and exports. Efforts to strengthen human capital by promoting R&D and skilling activities.
China: The 2008–09 Chinese economic stimulus plan pumped in $586 billion to manage the economic slowdown, with investments upgrading selected industrial sectors to firm up its presence in the global value chains (GVC). Catalyzed by plans like “Ten Cities, Thousand Vehicles and “Thousand Talents Program (TTP)” and China became a global leader in e-vehicles.
Economic growth and sustainable development are not mutually exclusive. Ex- European Commission announced that every euro into the recovery plan will be linked to green recovery.
Green Recovery Model: Sustainable recovery – three-pronged approach.
- Ambitious investment in catalyzing futuristic green economic activities in selected sectors. Ex- solar power plants, battery technology, and even demand for sustainable textile technologies. e-VTOLs (intra-city electric aerial mobility) as an emerging sector.
- Solving on ground legacy issues: Incentivize entrepreneurship based wealth creation(Economic survey) by reforming factors of production through competitive and cooperative federalism.
- Instituting an omnichannel skilling architecture. Ex- adequate online-offline training courses,big-ticket vocational programmes, specially directed at informal sector, A strategic skill committee may be empowered to dynamically identify key skills all of which should be under a single Green Development Program of Ministry of Environment.
The way forward: To conclude, the current pandemic calls for deep-set forces and scientific concepts of development for building a dynamic and modern economy. Green growth is one such concept that will add a new dimension to the economic dynamism of the sub-continent helping it serve the aspirations of its citizens.