IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 17th November 2018
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
26-week maternity leave law
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Social issue; Women issue; Health Issue
- The Ministry of Labour and Employment is working on an incentive scheme whereby the government would bear the cost of maternity leave wages for seven weeks, subject to certain conditions.
- In a bid to encourage employers to implement the extended 26-week maternity leave law, the Labour Ministry plans to refund them for seven weeks’ worth of wages for women workers with a wage ceiling up to ₹15,000 a month. (incentive scheme)
- The financial implication to the Centre is estimated to be ₹400 crore, and the Ministry is in the process of obtaining budgetary approvals.
Do you know?
- In March 2017, the Centre amended the Maternity Benefit Act to increase paid maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks for all women employees in establishments employing 10 or more people.
- However, implementation was very poor with private sector or contract jobs.
- Some private entities didn’t encourage women employees because if they are employed, they may have to provide maternity benefit to them, particularly 26 weeks of paid holiday.
- Women employees were asked to quit or are retrenched on flimsy grounds before they go on maternity leave.
- Maternity Benefit Amendment Act, 2017, increases the paid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks and mandatory crèche facility.
- Amendments seek to improve infant mortality rate (34 per 1,000 live births) and maternal mortality rate (167 per 100,000 live births).
- To ensure that working women are not forced to discontinue breastfeeding.
- To make provision for just and humane conditions for work and maternity relief (Article 42).
Making employers solely liable is not a viable option:
- 2014 ILO report had specially cautioned against making employers solely liable for the cost of maternity benefits.
- Advocated that maternity benefits should be provided either through compulsory social insurance or public funds.
- Standing Committee on Labour in 2007 had suggested that the government should create a corpus fund to partially sponsor the costs to be incurred by the employer to provide maternity benefits.
Kilogram gets a new definition
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Science and Technology
- Scientists have changed the way the kilogram is defined.
- For more than a century, the kilogram had been defined as the mass of a cylinder of platinum-iridium alloy kept in a high-security vault in France.
- That artefact, nicknamed ‘Le Grand K’, had been the world’s sole true kilogram since 1889.
- But now, the kilogram will be defined in terms of a tiny but unchanging value called the ‘Planck constant’.
- The decision was made at the General Conference on Weights and Measures.
Do you know?
- The ‘Planck constant’, which derives from quantum physics, can be used along with a Kibble balance, an exquisitely accurate weighing machine, to calculate the mass of an object using a precisely measured electromagnetic force.
Why kill off the kilogram?
- Le Grand K has been at the forefront of the international system of measuring weights since 1889. Several close replicas were made and distributed around the globe.
- But the master kilogram and its copies were seen to change – ever so slightly – as they deteriorated.
- In a world where accurate measurement is now critical in many areas, such as in drug development, nanotechnology and precision engineering – those responsible for maintaining the international system had no option but to move beyond Le Grand K to a more robust definition.
How wrong is Le Grand K?
- The fluctuation is about 50 parts in a billion, less than the weight of a single eyelash. But although it is tiny, the change can have important consequences.
Person in news: N. Ram
- N. Ram, Chairman, THG Publishing Private Limited, The Hindu Group’s publishing company, was awarded the Raja Ram Mohan Roy Award by Mr. Jaitley for his lifetime contribution to journalism.
TOPIC:General studies 2
- Constitution; Separation of powers
- Judiciary and its functions
When judges legislate
In many recent judgments, the Supreme Court has become hyper-activist in making laws. But can judges legislate, remains a question to be discussed.
Can judges legislate?
- This question has been answered in the past by the court.
- In Ram Jawaya v. The State of Punjab (1955), the court observed that there should be a broad separation of powers in the Constitution of the three organs of the state, and that one organ should not encroach into the domain of another.
- If this happens, the delicate balance in the Constitution will be upset and there will be chaos.
- Similarly in Union of India v. Deoki Nandan Aggarwal (1991) court observed that the power to legislate has not been conferred on the courts.
- In Suresh Seth v. Commissioner, Indore Municipal Corporation (2005), the court observed: “Under our Constitutional scheme, Parliament and Legislative Assemblies exercise sovereign power to enact laws.”
Recent example of judicial legislation through judgments –
- Fixing timings for bursting Diwali fireworks and prohibiting the use of non-green fireworks
- Direction that no BS-4 vehicle should be sold after March 30, 2020, and that only BS-6 vehicles can be sold after that date
- Amendment to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
- Amending section 498A of the Indian Penal Code
- National Green Tribunal’s order that no 15-year-old petrol-driven or 10-year-old diesel-driven vehicle will ply in Delhi.
Do you know?
- Judicial review: Power of judiciary to examine the constitutional validity of legislative enactments and executive orders of the government.
- Judicial activism: Proactive role played by the judiciary in protection of rights of citizen and promotion of justice in society. It amounts to the assertive role by judiciary where it forces the other two organs to discharge their constitutional duties.
- Judicial restraint: Role of judges should be limited to only interpretation of law and should leave the law making business to the legislature and the executive. As it is against the constitutional principle of separation of powers and since judiciary is a non -elective body, it does not enjoy popular will to make laws.
- Article 50 of the Indian Constitution – Separation of judiciary from the executive – The state shall take steps to separate the judiciary from the executive in the public services of the State.
- Making laws is the function of the legislature.
- If judges are free to make laws of their choices, not only would that go against the principle of separation of powers, it could also lead to uncertainty in the law and chaos as every judge will start drafting his own laws according to his whims and fancies.
Connecting the dots:
- What is judicial legislation? Explain briefly the separation of powers between various organs of the state.
TOPIC:General studies 2
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
Searching for an elusive peace: The Moscow format on consultation on Afghanistan
- Russia hosted a regional conference on Afghanistan – ‘Moscow Format’ to nudge the reconciliation process between the Taliban and the Afghan authorities.
- Representatives from Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, the U.S. and India were also present at the meeting, making it the first time that all stakeholders were present in the same room.
- The Taliban considers the Afghan government as illegitimate and therefore had opposed the Moscow format being co-led by the Afghan government.
- The Afghan government did not send representative but had Afghanistan represented by the High Peace Council (HPC), which is supported but not part of the Afghan government.
- India sent two former diplomats as participants as being “non-official”, since India did not want to share the same stage with the Taliban.
- The U.S. was represented by its Moscow embassy officials wherein it kept an observer status in the meet.
- The Moscow Format is being led by Russia and has been criticised for not adhering to the ‘Afghan led, Afghan owned’ principle.
Need for Taliban
- Taliban has now been controlling the major portions of Afghanistan, and has thereby been considered as being legitimate inclusion in ‘Afghan led, Afghan owned’ principle.
- The Afghan government under Ashraf Ghani has also invited Taliban for direct talks and in addition, the US has also shown inclination of engaging in talks with the Taliban thereby improving Taliban’s legitimacy.
- The US led forces had on times engaged with the Taliban on local level during the post-War period in Afghanistan.
- Pakistan continues to maintain support to Afghan Taliban to maintain a stronghold in Afghanistan and ensure Taliban’s cooperation in Pak.-Afghan border areas.
- An initiative (Quadrilateral Coordination Group), involving the U.S., China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, was launched in January 2016, however it failed in controlling the growth of Taliban.
- There is emergence of Islamic State (IS) in Afghanistan which is in conflict with the Taliban and therefore the Taliban is required by Western allies to combat] the rise of IS in Afghanistan.
- The conflict with the Taliban has consuming resources of the US and the Afghan government wherein it can be utilised for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, therefore engaging Taliban in peace talks is a better alternative.
Way forward for India
- The Moscow format has the ability to attain the reconciliation process between the Taliban and the Afghan authorities, in consensus of the other stakeholders.
- India has supported the Moscow Format during the recent visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin and therefore should continue its commitment to the Moscow Format.
- India has supported an ‘Afghan-led and Afghan-owned’ peace process where in it should continue to maintain presence in all international peace processes on Afghanistan.
- India doesn’t have the leverage to play spoiler but its presence is recognition that its economic cooperation programmes make it the most widely accepted development partner.
Connecting the dots:
- What is “Moscow Format”? Do you think it is in line with India’s ambitions of ‘Afghan-led and Afghan-owned’ peace process? Critically analyse.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Consider the following statements about Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)
- It is a Maternity Benefit Programme
- It is in accordance with the provision of the National Food Security Act, 2013
- Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers (PW& LM) who are in regular employment with the Central Government or the State Governments are excluded
Select the correct statements
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 1 and 3
- All of the above
Q.2) What is the value of universal Planck constant?
- 6.626176 x 10-34 joule-seconds
- 6.67408 × 10-11 m3 kg-1 s-2
- 8.314 J / mol. K.
- 4.184 joule-seconds
Q.3) Scientists have changed the way the kilogram is defined. Consider the following statements with regard to it:
- For more than a century, the kilogram had been defined using ‘Planck constant’.
- But now, the kilogram will be defined in terms of a tiny but unchanging value called the ‘Le Grand K’.
Select the correct statements
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Getting the economy back on track
Unnecessary, destabilising and expensive
‘Purchased’ and abandoned in Haryana
Coming full circle
Don’t Talk, Listen
Skill India is ailing