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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 2nd September, 2016

  • September 2, 2016
  • 4
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Sep 2016, International, National, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 2nd September, 2016

 

INTERNATIONAL

 

TOPIC: General Studies 3

  • India and its neighborhood – relations
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests, Indian diaspora
  • Important international institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate

 

In India it’s time for Africa

Both the countries together

  • Cover about a quarter of the world’s land area
  • Support over a third of world’s population
  • Share an important asset in their (demographic dividend) young populations, about half of which is below 25 years of age and
  • Aspires to have the knowledge and technical skills to participate in their economic growth

India and Africa: History

Influence of Indian freedom fighters shaped India’s Africa policy

  • Evolved over time, India’s Africa policy owes a lot to Mahatma Gandhi, who became a beacon for Africa and to Jawaharlal Nehru, who left an indelible imprint on India-Africa relations.
  • At the root of Nehru‘s belief was that India’s independence would be incomplete without Africa’s freedom.
  • As a visionary, he also foresaw and strengthened Afro-Asian unity that led to the Bandung Conference and the birth of non-alignment.
  • On international fora, India played a leading role in assisting and expediting Africa’s de-colonization process. The help it extended to the African countries in gaining independence and to South Africa in its struggle against apartheid was recognized widely and often.

Political relations have since been marked by mutual understanding and support.

India Africa cooperation (East Africa)

  1. Geographical proximity and Economic opportunities:
  • India’s proximity to East Africa offers a potential for cooperative infrastructure projects that bridge the Western Indian Ocean.
  • Little more than 3,000 miles separate Zanzibar from Mumbai, there are multiple opportunities for India’s private sector to explore.
  • On the economic front, India’s model of penetration driven mainly by private sector interests has its own advantages. Indian firms pursue strategies that result in greater integration with domestic markets.
  • However the Indian government has also focused on the softer sectors of education and human development and has extended assistance by giving African students access to higher education, mainly under the auspices of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, and in offering technical cooperation under Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) and related programmes.
  1. Security cooperation:
  • East African coastal states look up to New Delhi as a privileged partner who can help develop their coast guard and naval capabilities, from the Gulf of Aden to the Mozambique Channel. (as shown in figure below)

DNA_2nd Sep pic iasbaba

Figure:  http://s2.thingpic.com/images/21/gQNbEiDs1oQtNytNzY1y.jpeg

 

India has taken a lead in three key initiatives:

  1. the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, which includes thirteen states in the East African littoral sub-group
  2. the Indian Ocean Rim Association, which includes South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, as well as Madagascar and Mauritius
  3. The IBSA trilateral (India, Brazil, South Africa), which hosted four roundsof joint naval exercises in Southern Africa’s Indo-Atlantic link waters.
  • India can build on its wide experience in contributing to security and stability on the continent.
  • By 2008 India’s military had emerged as the largest contributorto U.N.-mandated peacekeeping and other operations in Africa.
  • To date, New Delhi has also trained over 100 military officials from more than 20 African countries at the regional Center for United Nations Peacekeepingin New Delhi.

 

  1. Diaspora:
  • The Indian diaspora in Africa, estimated at more than 1 million people, integrated socio-economically. According to a 2007 World Bank surveyon international firms operating in Africa, 48 percent of company owners of Indian origin held African nationality.
  • Being substantially more integrated into the business community in Africa, overseas Indians are also able to better assist New Delhi’s efforts to develop local partnerships.
  1. Health research and partnership:
  • Africa and India together harbour about half of its disease burden.
  • Infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, HIV/AIDS, childhood diarrhoea and respiratory infections remain big challenges and are witnessing a shift towards non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, mental illness, etc. India has sufficient and contemporary experience in tackling health-care issues in the context of a developing country.
  • India has clear strengths in its generic pharmaceuticals industry, and due to early development of its higher education sector, it has a large human resource in the health sector as well. These can be leveraged for capacity building in Africa.
  1. Regional and Multilateral cooperation:
  • There is also a wide scope for India to foster regional integration and multilateral cooperation in Africa.
  • The Africa-India Summit, organized in partnership with the African Union, Partnership for Africa’s Development, and the continent’s eight regional economic communities.
  • The India Africa Health Sciences Meet (IAHSM) {is a follow-up of the India-Africa Summit in October 2015, at which Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India’s intent to partner Africa.}

Way Ahead

  • Our Africa policy has laid emphasis, especially in recent years, on expansion and diversification of trade, investment and economic relations.
  • We have been on the right track, but we need to recognise that the unfolding change in Africa is complex, that its pace is rapid and inconsistent, and that competition for Africa’s affection and attention has become increasingly severe given the competition with China.
  • India’s ‘Look Africa’ policy can be a game changer if it also becomes an engine for knowledge generation and innovation.
  • A powerful triad of the Government of India, India Inc., and civil society can take the India-Africa relationship to a new level of strength and vitality.

Connecting the dots:

  • Increasing interest of India in Africa has its pros and cons. Critically examine.
  • What are the salient features of the political and economic relationship between India and South Africa?
  • How does India see its place in the economic space of rising natural resource rich Africa? Also discuss the recent developments between India and East African countries.

 

NATIONAL

 

TOPIC:

General Studies 1

  • Social empowerment

General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

General Studies 3

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development.
  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

 

Minimum Wage and labour issues

In news: Fourth all India strike by Trade Unions.

This article deals with minimum wages- its reasons, method of calculation and related issues.

Increasing the minimum wage

  • The government recently announced a 42% increase in minimum wages for unskilled non-agricultural workers in central public sector units.
  • The increase was from Rs. 246 a day to Rs. 350 a day — or Rs. 9,100 for a month of 26 working days for category ‘C’ employees.
  • The government also formed a committee to look into extending benefits under the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation Act to unorganised sectors, including anganwadi, mid-day meal and Asha volunteers.
  • However, the trade unions have not been satisfied with government’s move.

Demand of the Trade Unions

  • A statutory minimum wage for all workers of not less than Rs 18,000 per month.
  • An amendment in the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, to provide for universal coverage for minimum wages for both permanent and contract workers.
  • To stop contractualisation of labour for perennial work.
  • Universal social security for all.

Industry opines

  • Small scale industries will not be able to afford such high salary as they operate on thin margins.
  • It will shift employment to big cities where minimum wages are at par with Rs.10,000 per month. This will have adverse effect on employment in smaller states.

Labour facts

NSSO 2011-12 data

  • Total strength of workforce: 472.9 million
  • 87% of India’s workforce was in the unorganised sector and only 13% were in the organised sector.
  • 8% in the organised sector were informal workers.
  • 4% in unorganised sector were informal workers.

Study by VV Giri National Labour Institute:

  • There are estimated 6 crore contract labourers in the country.
  • However, out of them, only 60 lakh contract workers were covered under the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970.
  • 30% of all workers in private sector and around 32% in the public sector are employed through contractors.

Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Central Rules, 1971 states that:

  • The wages of the contract labour shall be according to the minimum wage prescribed under Minimum Wages Act, 1948
  • In case where the contract worker perform the same kind of work as the regular worker, the minimum wages should be at par.

National Floor Level Minimum Wage

  • Computed: To have a uniform wage structure across the country
  • In 1996, it was fixed at Rs 35 per day. Today it is Rs. 160 per day, i.e. close to Rs. 4800 per month.
  • However, in comparison to official minimum wages, some parts in India have wages as low as Rs.1,650 a month (Puducherry, agriculture, 2013).

Reason for enacting the Minimum Wage Act, 1948

  • To establish peace on behalf of a national bourgeoisie that had to manage a working class which was more militant in days immediate after independence.
  • India had surplus of labour that was majorly poor. And there were too many jobs where labour did not have the bargaining power to demand a wage sufficient to survive.
  • Fair wages would prevent employers from getting away with paying low wages to workers which could generate several social costs, such as poverty, malnutrition, endemic debt leading to bonded labour, and child labour.

At present, the minimum wage act provides for employers to give the fixed minimum wages to workers employed in 45 economic activities like stone mines, construction, non-coal mines etc.

Minimum wage is the minimum amount of compensation an employee must receive for performing labour.

How is minimum wage fixed?

The Indian Labour Conference in 1957 recommended five norms to determine minimum wage which should be need based and should ensure the minimum human needs of the industrial worker.

  1. The wage must support three consumption units (individuals).
  2. Food requirement of 2,700 calories a day.
  3. Clothing requirement of 72 yards per worker’s family.
  4. Rent for housing area similar to that provided under the subsidised housing scheme.
  5. Fuel, lighting and miscellaneous items of expenditure to constitute 20 per cent of the minimum wage.
  6. In 2011, SC called for to add another 25% for children’s education, medical requirements, etc.

The calculations based on these parameters estimates minimum wage at Rs.26,000 per month. This is amount is demanded by Central government employee unions from the Seventh Pay Commission, which had fixed their minimum wage at Rs.18,000.

Need for minimum wage?

Yes

The trade union strikes that began in 2010 has seen greater proportion of unorganised/informal workers participation as:

  • There has not been much growth in organised sector employment.
  • Contract employment in the unorganised and organised sectors has been growing.

No

  • In an era of liberalisation, the market and not the government should determine the prices to preserve efficiency and competitiveness.
  • It contradicts ‘Make in India’ initiative where to attract FDI in India, Indian labour has to remain cheaper than Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian and Bangladeshi labour.
  • Neither industry bodies nor the state nor unions can claim that the Minimum Wages Act (MWA) is seriously implemented. Also, India has yet not ratified the United Nations’ Convention No. 131 (adopted in 1970) on Minimum Wage Fixing.

However, no government will ever scrap MWA despite being not taken seriously.

Conclusion

No industry lobby in post liberalisation period can openly say that contract workers should be paid less than permanent workers for the same work. Discussions with trade unions and industry representatives will aid the government to prepare consensus based labour laws. Labour reforms have to be pro-labour to widen their acceptance and reduce labour unrests.

Connecting the dots:

  • What is minimum wage rate and how is it calculated? Critically analyse the importance of wage rate and its need.

 

Related articles:

Waging a minimum wage battle in the labour market

Labour law reforms

Labour Reforms and Challenges involved

The India Labour and Employment Report 2016

Labour in the 21st century

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