THE INDIAN POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1.THE ROAD TO ROLLING OUT LABOUR CODES
THE CONTEXT:The Code on Wages (passed in Parliament in August 2019), the Industrial Relations Code, the Code on Social Security, and the Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions (all passed on September 22 and 23, 2020 in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha) have not yet been implemented.
- The Centre claims that the four codes are a major step in the process of labour reforms. The central trade unions (CTUs) have held three general strikes against the codes so far, alleging that the codes will result in taking away whatever little social and economic security is left in the employment sector.
- The farmers’ organisations had also supported the trade unions in their protests. The employers’ associations, too, had mixed feeling towards the codes, but had generally welcomed them.
Where does it stand?
- The government says the delay in implementation is due to the delay in framing rules by the States. As labour is a concurrent subject, both the States and the Centre will have to prepare rules for the codes. The Centre had also offered help to the States so that the codes can be implemented from July 1, 2022.
- Union Minister for Labour recently said that only a few States have not yet framed the rules. According to a recent report, 24 States have so far published draft rules to all four codes.
What is the process?
- The States are publishing draft rules and inviting comments from stakeholders on those draft rules. The Centre had also published draft rules for certain sections of the four codes. The trade unions have been asking the Centre to stop this piecemeal approach and release the complete rules of four codes.
- Since the four labour codes are an amalgamation of 29 Central laws and about 100 State laws that are similar to various Central laws, drafting, publishing and holding consultations with stakeholders is taking considerable time. There are also complaints by the Opposition-ruled States that the codes are “poorly drafted”.
- The Opposition had objected to the way the three codes were passed in Parliament in just two days without much discussion.
What lies ahead?
- The trade unions are warning about more protests if the codes are implemented. They say that the Centre will have to repeal it the way it repealed the three farm laws.
- The Centre, too, is worried about the political fallout of its implementation and thus, this could also be a possible reason for the delay. The employers are worried that further increase in the salary bill will hamper their profits in a recession-hit economy and they expect the government to hold more discussions.
About the labour codes:
- The new set of regulations consolidates 44 labour laws under 4 categories of Codes namely, Wage Code; Social Security Code; Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions Code; and the Industrial Relations Code.
- The Parliament has already passed all the four Codes and it has also received the President’s assent.
The 4 codes are:
- The Code on Wages, 2019, applying to all the employees in organized as well as unorganized sector, aims to regulate wage and bonus payments in all employments and aims at providing equal remuneration to employees performing work of a similar nature in every industry, trade, business, or manufacture.
- The Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions, 2020 seeks to regulate the health and safety conditions of workers in establishments with 10 or more workers, and in all mines and docks.
- The Code on Social Security, 2020 consolidates nine laws related to social security and maternity benefits.
- The Code on Industrial Relations, 2020 seeks to consolidate three labour laws namely, The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947: The Trade Unions Act, 1926 and The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946. The Code aims to improve the business environment in the country largely by reducing the labour compliance burden of industries.
2.NIRF RANKINGS 2022
THE CONTEXT:The Union Education Minister released the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) Rankings 2022.
NIRF India Ranking 2022 has been announced for 11 categories. This includes overall, university, management, college, pharmacy, medical, engineering, architecture, ARIIA (Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements), law and research institutions.
Assessment in five parameters:
- Teaching, Learning and Resources (TLR)
- Research and Professional Practice (RP)
- Graduation Outcomes (GO)
- Outreach and Inclusivity (OI)
- Peer Perception.
Key Highlights of India Rankings 2022
- Indian Institute of Technology Madras retains its 1st position in Overall Category for fourth consecutive year and in Engineering for seventh consecutive year.
- Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru tops the Universities Category for seventh consecutive year. It stood first in Research Institutions Category for second consecutive year.
- IIM Ahmedabad tops in Management subject retaining its first position for third consecutive year.
- All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi occupies the top slot in Medical for the fifth consecutive year. Moreover, AIIMS is ranked at 9th position in Overall category for the first time.
- Jamia Hamdard tops the ranking in Pharmacy for fourth consecutive year.
- Miranda House retains the 1st position amongst Colleges for the sixth consecutive year.
- IIT Roorkee stands at 1st position in Architecture subject for second consecutive year.
- National Law School of India University, Bengaluru retains its first position in Law for the fifth consecutive year.
- Colleges in Delhi dominate ranking of colleges with five colleges out of first 10 colleges from Delhi.
- The Saveetha Institute of Medical and Technical Sciences takes the top slot for the first time in Dental Subject displacing Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Manipal.
Increase in Number of Applicants for India Rankings from 2016 to 2022
- A total number of 4,786 unique institutions offered themselves for ranking under “Overall”, category-specific and / or domain-specific rankings for India Rankings 2022. In all, 7,254 applications for ranking were made by these 4,786 unique institutions under various categories / domains including 1,876 in Overall Category, 1,249 in Engineering, and 2,270 in General Degree Colleges.
- A noticeable increase in institutional participation in the rankings exercise this year indicates its recognition amongst institutions of higher education in India as a fair and transparent ranking exercise.
Increase in Number of Institutions Ranked in India Rankings from 2016 to 2022
- While 100 institutions are ranked in Overall, Universities and Colleges categories, number of institutions that are being ranked in Engineering has been increased to 200 from 2019 onwards. Moreover, number of institutions ranked in Management and Pharmacy are being increased from 75 to100 each from this year onwards.
- However, number of institutions ranked are restricted between 30 and 50 in subject domains namely Architecture, Law, Medical, Dental as well as in Research Institutions. Additional rankings are suitably bunched in Rank Bands of 101-150 and 151-200 in case of Overall, Universities and Colleges, 201-250 and 251-300 in case of Engineering and 101-125 in case of Pharmacy and Management.
- Institutes of Eminence: It is a government’s scheme to provide the regulatory architecture for setting up or upgrading 20 Institutions (10 from the public sector and 10 from the private sector) as world-class teaching and research institutions called ‘Institutions of Eminence’.
- Impacting Research Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT): It is a first-of-its-kind Pan-IIT and IISc joint initiative to develop a new education policy and a roadmap for research to solve major engineering and technology challenges that India must address and champion to enable, empower and embolden the nation for inclusive growth and self-reliance.
- Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana (UAY): It was announced to promote innovation of a higher order that directly impacts the needs of the Industry and thereby improves the competitive edge of Indian manufacturing.
THE HEALTH ISSUES
3.NEW RESEARCH: PLAYING WIND INSTRUMENTS CAN SPREAD RESPIRATORY PARTICLES
THE CONTEXT:According to a study from Colorado State University (CSU), Just like coughing, sneezing, talking and singing, playing wind instruments — particularly brass ones — can spread respiratory particles that may carry the virus that causes Covid-19.
- Early in the pandemic, CSU engineers teamed up with musicians and performers to try and quantify respiratory particle emissions from various activities like singing and music-playing.
- The researchers have now published the results of their measurements of particle emissions from wind instrument-playing, including brass and woodwinds, in the journal Scientific Reports.
- They used a cutting-edge aerosol measurement chamber and recruited volunteers to perform in the chamber while aerosol emissions from themselves — or their instruments — were analysed. For the instruments study, they had 81 volunteer performers who played wind instruments including the bassoon, clarinet, French horn, oboe, piccolo, saxophone, trombone, trumpet and tuba.
- Brass instruments, on average, produced 191 per cent more aerosols than woodwinds, according to the report. Being male was associated with a 70 per cent increase in emissions from instrument-playing, probably due to lung size and capacity, the researchers think. Louder playing of brass instruments was associated with higher particle counts, but louder playing of woodwinds didn’t increase emissions.
- The researchers also took measurements with performers using bell covers in an attempt to mitigate the particle spread, which seemed to work. The use of bell covers reduced emissions from trombone, tuba and trumpet players, with average reductions of 53-73 per cent, but not for oboe or clarinet.
- A single-exit instrument like a trumpet is easier to control with protective measures.
- According to the release, the study reconfirms that at the start of the pandemic, shutting down performing arts in the name of safety likely saved lives.
According to the Centre for disease control and Prevention,the principal mode by which people are infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is through exposure to respiratory fluids carrying infectious virus. Exposure occurs in three principal ways:
- inhalation of very fine respiratory droplets and aerosol particles,
- deposition of respiratory droplets and particles on exposed mucous membranes in the mouth, nose, or eye by direct splashes and sprays, and
- touching mucous membranes with hands that have been soiled either directly by virus-containing respiratory fluids or indirectly by touching surfaces with virus on them.
- To decrease the spread of COVID-19, it is important to investigate the transmission routes of SARS-CoV-2. Although SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in the stool specimen of patients, faecal–oral transmission of the virus has not been confirmed. Currently, SARS-CoV-2 is considered to be mainly transmitted via respiratory droplets.
- Generally, respiratory droplets are defined as large respiratory particles that are >5–10 μm in diameter. SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted via droplets when people are in close contact (within one meter) or owing to fomite transmission in the immediate environment.
THE INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
4.INDIA GETS ELECTED TO THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL COMMITTEE OF UNESCO’S 2003 CONVENTION
THE CONTEXT:India has been elected as a member of the Intergovernmental Committee of UNESCO’s 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage for the 2022-2026 cycle.
- The Intergovernmental Committee of the 2003 Convention consists of 24 members and is elected in the General Assembly of the Convention according to the principles of equitable geographical representation and rotation. States Members to the Committee are elected for a term of four years.
- Some of the core functions of the Intergovernmental Committee include promoting the objectives of the Convention, providing guidance on best practices, and making recommendations on measures for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. The Committee also examines requests submitted by States Parties for the inscription of intangible heritage on the Lists as well as proposals for programmes and projects.
- In the past, India has served two terms as a member of the Intergovernmental Committee of this Convention. For its 2022-2026 term, India has formulated a clear vision for the protection and promotion of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity. Some of the priority areas that India will focus upon include fostering community participation, strengthening international cooperation through intangible heritage, promoting academic research on intangible cultural heritage, and aligning the work of the Convention with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
- India ratified the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in September 2005. As one of the earliest State Parties to ratify the Convention, India has shown great commitment towards matters related to intangible heritage and has actively encouraged other State Parties to ratify it. With 14 inscriptions on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, India also ranks high in the listing of intangible cultural heritage. After the inscription of Durga Puja in 2021, India submitted the nomination for Garba of Gujarat to be discussed in 2023.
Being a member:
- As a member of the intergovernmental committee, India will have the opportunity to closely monitor the implementation of the 2003 Convention. With the aim of strengthening the scope and impact of the Convention, India seeks to mobilize the capacity of different actors worldwide in order to effectively safeguard intangible heritage.
- Also noting the imbalance in the inscriptions on the three lists of the Convention, i.e., Urgent Safeguarding List, Representative List and Register of Good Safeguarding Practices, India shall endeavour to encourage international dialogue within the State Parties to the Convention in order to better showcase the diversity and importance of living heritage.
UNESCO: (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)
- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was born on 16 November 1945.UNESCO has 195 Members and 8 Associate Members and is governed by the General Conference and the Executive Board. The Secretariat, headed by the Director-General, implements the decisions of these two bodies. The Organization has more th 50 field offices around the world and its headquarters are located in Paris.
- UNESCO’s mission is to contribute to the building of a culture of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.
UNESCO focuses on a set of objectives in the global priority areas “Africa” and “Gender Equality”
And on a number of overarching objectives:
- Attaining quality education for all and lifelong learning
- Mobilizing science knowledge and policy for sustainable development
- Addressing emerging social and ethical challenges
- Fostering cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and a culture of peace
- Building inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication
THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS
5.CENTRE EXTENDS RoSCTL SCHEME
THE CONTEXT:The government has approved the continuation of the Scheme for Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (RoSCTL) with the same rates as notified by the Ministry of Textiles for exports of apparel/garments and made ups till March 31, 2024, with a view to boost exports and job creation in the textile sector.
- According to experts “RoSCTL is a forward-looking and growth-oriented scheme which has provided a stable and predictable policy regime, helping boost exports and employment. The scheme helped improve cost efficiency and the export competitiveness in the international market. It has also promoted incubation of start-ups & entrepreneurs in the domain and also led to the large number of MSMEs joining the apparel export business.”
- The RoSL (Rebate of State Levies) initiative was superseded by the new RoSCTL (Rebate of State and Central Taxes Levies) scheme in March 2019 following the implementation of GST in 2017. An initiative called the Rebate of State and Central Levies and Taxes (RoSCTL) Scheme aims to reimburse all embedded State and Central Taxes/Levies for exports of manufactured goods and garments. Importer-Exporter Codes (IECs) are necessary in order to apply for the RoSCTL programme. To enhance the productivity of the garment and made-up sectors, it has been established as a successor for the old “Rebate of State Levies (RoSL) Scheme” to rebate all embedded State and Central Taxes and Levies.
- According to sources, “All exporters of garments/Apparels and made-ups manufactured in India are eligible to take benefit under this scheme except entities/ IECs under the Denied Entity List of the DGFT. Further RoSCTL benefit is available subject to the facts that the exporter has not claimed RoDTEP benefits. Such exporter may either be the merchant or manufacturer exporter. However, such goods should have been directly exported by such person.
Aim of the RoSCTL scheme
RoSCTL Scheme was launched with the aim of reimbursing all embedded State and Central Taxes or Levies for exports of manufactured goods and garments. Importer-Exporter Codes (IECs) are required to apply for RoSCTL programme. It also seeks to enhance productivity in garment and made-up sectors as it rebates all the embedded State and Central Taxes & Levies. It further aims to compensate State and Central Taxes and Levies apart from the Duty Drawback Scheme on export of apparel or garments and Made-ups.
Rebate of State Taxes and Levies
Rebate of State Taxes and Levies comprises of:
- VAT on fuel used in transportation
- Captive power
- Farm sector
- Mandi tax
- Duty of electricity
- Stamp duty on export documents
- Embedded SGST which are paid on pesticides, fertilizers etc.
THE ENVIRONMENT, ECOLOGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE
6.FOREST ACT: CENTRE TO DECRIMINALISE MINOR OFFENCES
THE CONTEXT:Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has issued a public notice for decriminalisation of Indian Forest Act, 1927.
The Ministry is undertaking a review of the Act to decriminalise minor sections of the law, including:
- Carrying timber into the forest,
- Trespassing by cattle,
- Felling a tree,
- Felling or damaging a tree reserved under a special provision of the law,
- Kindling a fire or carrying fire in forest areas.
Indian Forest Act (IFA), 1927:
- It provides a legal framework for protection and management of forests, transit of forest produce and timber, and duty that can be levied on forest produce and timber.
- IFA is an umbrella act which provides the basic architecture for the management of forests in the country.
- It also includes providing mechanisms to ensure notification of reserved, protected and village forests, protection of forest resources, forest biodiversity and wildlife of the country
The exercise is focused on:
- Decriminalisation of relatively minor violations of law,
- Expeditious resolution through compounding of relatively smaller offences,
- Reducing compliance burden on citizens,
- Rationalisation of penalties and
- Preventing harassment of citizens
The ministry seeks to replace the provision of imprisonment for six months and fine, with a fine of 500.
- The penalties will be collected under an environmental relief fund.
Power of Union Government:
- The Union does not have the jurisprudence to carry out amendments in the Act, as it does not fall under the Central government, having been enacted before Parliament was established.
- Instead, the Act is adopted by states as they feel fit.
- Only Haryana, Punjab, MP, Bengal and Bihar actually follow the Act.
- Other states have their own forest Acts.
- This is being done to ease the difficulties faced in differentiating between major and minor offences, and their punishments be made distinct.
- This will deter habitual offenders from committing more crimes, as at present there is the same level of punishment for both first-time and repeat offenders.
- It might go on incentivising offences, especially that of felling trees which is extremely dangerous.
- The proposed amendment further does not clarify or promotes ambiguity whether the Rs 500 fine is the cost of felling one tree, or an entire forest can be felled and considered a single offence.
- The Centre’s move is actually an infringement on the rights of the states.
THE PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Q.With Reference to the “United Nations Credentials Committee”, consider the following statements: (2022)
- It is a committee set up by the UN Security Council and works under its supervision.
- It traditionally meets in March, June and September every year.
- It assesses the credentials of all UN members before submitting a report to the General Assembly for approval.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
a) 3 only
b) 1 and 3
c) 2 and 3
d) 1 and 2
ANSWER FOR 15TH JULY 2022
Both the statements are correct.
- A zoonotic disease is a disease or infection that can be transmitted naturally from vertebrate animals to humans or from humans to vertebrate animals. More than 60% of human pathogens are zoonotic in origin. This includes a wide variety of bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, parasites, and other pathogens.