DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 13th MAY 2020

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  • May 13, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 13th May 2020



Increase in the the tiger count in the Sundarbans 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Environment

In News:

  • As per the latest census conducted by the West Bengal Forest Department, the tiger count in the Sundarbans for 2019-20 has increased from 88 to 96.
  • It is the highest annual jump reported from the Sundarbans.
  • Estimation of the number of tigers in the Sunderbans has always been a challenge because of the difficult terrain that comprises dense mangrove forests, with creeks and rivulets, and floods twice a day during the high tides.

Important value additions:


  • It is a vast mangrove forest ecosystem in the coastal region of Bay of Bengal. 
  • It is spread over India and Bangladesh on the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers.
  • It is the only mangrove forest in the world inhabited by tigers.
  • Indian Sundarbans has been recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. 
  • It also comes under ‘Wetland of International Importance’ under the Ramsar Convention
  • It is home to rare and globally threatened species, such as the Northern River Terrapin, Royal Bengal Tiger, Irrawaddy Dolphin, and the Fishing Cat.

LG Polymers liable under Principle of ‘Strict Liability’ for Vizag gas leak: NGT

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health & GS-III – Industries; Environment

In News:

  • The National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) order in the Visakhapatnam gas tragedy found LG Polymers liable under Principle of “strict liability”. 
  • It was sacked in India by the Supreme Court in 1986.
  • However, lawyers say the term “absolute liability” should have been used.

Important value additions:

Strict liability principle

  • Under this principle, a party is not liable and need not pay compensation if a hazardous substance escapes his premises by accident or by an “act of God’” among other circumstances.
  • It was evolved in an 1868 English case which provided companies with several exemptions from assuming liability.

Absolute Liability Principle

  • The Supreme Court, while deciding the Oleum gas leak case of Delhi in 1986, found strict liability inadequate to protect citizens’ rights and replaced it with the ‘absolute liability principle’.
  • Under this principle, a company in a hazardous industry cannot claim any exemption.
  • It has to mandatorily pay compensation, whether or not the disaster was caused by its negligence. 
  • It is part of Article 21 (right to life). 

National Green Tribunal 

  • It is an Act of the Parliament of India which enables creation of a special tribunal to handle the cases pertaining to environmental issues. 
  • It draws inspiration from the Article 21 – Protection of life and personal liberty – which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment.
  • India became the third country in the world to set up a specialised environmental tribunal, only after Australia and New Zealand, and the first developing country to do so.
  • NGT is mandated to make disposal of applications or appeals within 6 months of filing. 
  • The NGT has five places of sittings
    • New Delhi and Bhopal (Principal place)
    • Pune
    • Kolkata
    • Chennai
  • The Tribunal has jurisdiction over all civil cases. 

The Visakhapatnam gas leak

  • It was an industrial accident that occurred at the LG Polymers chemical plant on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India, on 7 May 2020.
  • Preliminary investigations concluded that the accident was likely the result of improper maintenance of units storing the styrene monomer, improper storage and operation errors. 

Safeguards against chemical disasters in India 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health & GS-III – Disaster Management

In News:

  • The law in India provides protection to victims of chemical disasters such as the one which recently occurred in Visakhapatnam. 

Important value additions:

Here’s a look at some of these provisions:

Bhopal Gas Leak (Processing of Claims) Act, 1985: Gives powers to the central government to secure the claims arising out of or connected with the Bhopal gas tragedy.

The Environment Protection Act, 1986: Gives powers to the central government to undertake measures for improving the environment and set standards and inspect industrial units.

The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991: It is an insurance meant to provide relief to persons affected by accidents that occur while handling hazardous substances.

National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997: Under this act, the National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA) can hear appeals regarding the restriction of areas in which any industries shall not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to certain safeguards under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

National Green Tribunal Act, 2010: Provides for the establishment of a Tribunal for disposal of cases related to environmental protection and conservation of forests

GI tag for Jharkhand’s Sohrai Khovar painting and Telangana’s Telia Rumal 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Intellectual Property Rights

In News:

  • Jharkhand’s Sohrai Khovar painting and Telangana’s Telia Rumal were given the GI tag recently by Geographical Indications Registry. 

Important value additions:

Sohrai Khovar 

  • It is a traditional and ritualistic mural art. 
  • It is practised by local tribal women during local harvest and marriage seasons. 
  • Local, naturally available soils of different colours are used. 
  • It is mainly practiced in Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand

Image source: Sohrai Khovar 

Telia Rumal 

  • This cloth involves intricate handmade work with cotton loom displaying a variety of designs and motifs in three particular colours — red, black and white. 

Image source: Telia Rumal 

Geographical Indication (GI) tag 

  • It is an indication which is definite to a geographical territory.
  • It is used for agricultural, natural and manufactured goods.
  • The goods need to be produced or processed or prepared in that region. 
  • The product must have a special quality or reputation.
  • The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 provides registration and also protection of GI goods in India.
  • The Geographical Indications Registry for India is located in Chennai.
  • A registered GI tag prohibits a third party to use such products. 
  • GI is a collective intellectual property right and is thus owned by all the producers within the defined GI territory. 
  • Patents and trademarks are owned by an individual or a business entity.



Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Fundamental Rights and Human Rights
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
  • Governance issues

Changes to Labour laws bane for the most vulnerable 


  • Due to the lockdown amidst COVID-19 pandemic, Indian economy has suffered losses across sectors. 
  • In order to incentivise economic activity, some of the state governments have made significant changes in the labour laws.
  • However, the changes may affect the rights and interests of labourers, who are one of the most vulnerable sections that have been impacted by the pandemic.

The editorial throws light on the following points:

  1. States that have brought changes to the labour laws 
  2. Issues related to changed labour laws
  3. What steps can be taken to to overcome the issues

Which states have changed labour laws? 

  • Madhya Pradesh has allowed business and industries to run without many of the requirements of the Factories Act.
  • Uttar Pradesh has cleared an ordinance which exempts businesses and industries from labour laws, except for a few, for 3 years.
  • Several other states may pursue similar measures in the coming future. 
  • You can read more about these amendments here

Issues related to changed Labour Laws

  1. Exploitation risk
    • These reforms will strip the labour of its basic rights
    • Wages might decrease too. 
    • Suspending most of the provisions under the Factories Act, 1948 and the Industrial Disputes Act,1947 would deny workers of basic working facilities such as cleanliness, drinking water, etc. 
  2. From formal to informal
    • This move will turn the existing formal workers into informal workers as they won’t be any social security.
    • They won’t be able to seek grievance redressal.
    • Fall in wages will further reduce the  demand in the economy. 
  3. Rise of forced Labour
    • Bargaining power of labour and their right to negotiate will reduce and may turn them into Forced Labour.

What steps can be taken to protect the labourers? 

  • The government should partner with the industry and a percentage of the GDP must be allocated for sharing the wage burden and ensuring the health of the labourers.
  • The labour codes proposed by the government should be passed by the parliament as soon as possible.
  • These labour codes are:
    • Labour Codes on Wages
    • Labour Code on Industrial relations
    • Labour Code on Occupational safety, health and working conditions
    • Labour Code on Social Security and Welfare 
  • Labour laws which are applicable to the formal sector should be modified so that an optimum combination of flexibility and security can be ensured. 
  • The compliance of working conditions and regulations should be made more effective and transparent.


There is a need for comprehensive labour laws reforms, so that Indian industries grow sustainably. 

Then only firms will be able to expand and interests of labourers will also be intact. 

Connecting the dots:

  • Do you think the recent amendments brought by State governments to labour laws will boost the Indian economy? 
  • Ordinance in labour laws will cause more harm than good to the labour sector. Critically analyse? 


Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Fundamental Rights and Human Rights
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
  • Governance issues

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar insights on Labour Rights


Some state governments have recently decided to relax the application of labour laws in order to restart economic activity stalled by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, such a move, even if it delivers results in the short-term, is myopic and grossly unconstitutional in nature.

Note: Below editorial covers the following important dimensions –

  1. How Labour Laws emerged in India?
  2. Concerns with current labour laws in India
  3. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar insights on Labour Rights

Labour laws in India

  • Labour laws arose out of a long period of struggle. 
  • Pre-Independence labour movements, 1931 Karachi Declaration and Bill of Rights –  expressly placed labour rights on a par with ordinary civil rights such as the freedom of speech and expression.
  • Preamble of 1931 Karachi Declaration and Bill of Rights declared that “political freedom must include… real economic freedom of the… millions”. 
  • Dr. B. R. Ambedkar was a long-time advocate for the rights of labour. He was instrumental in the passage of an eight-hour working day law.
  • Role of Supreme Court – In a landmark judgment, PUDR vs. Union of India , the Supreme Court had held that the right against forced labour included the right to a minimum wage.

All the above principles and laws eventually found their way into the Indian Constitution in the form of “Directive Principles of State Policy” and “fundamental rights.” (Example, Article 23 – guarantees right against forced labour.)


India’s labour law structure has been criticised on multiple counts.

  1. It is argued that there is a structural inequality that enables the capitalists to “make the rules” for the labour. (which amounts to a form of “private government”)
  2. Of late, with the rise of the platform or gig economy, this inequality of power has only grown starker.
  3. It is argued that it sets up a labour bureaucracy that is prone to corruption.
  4. Adjudicatory mechanisms are inefficient.
  5. Majority of the workforce, engaged in contract labour or informal employment, has very few rights.
  6. Labour laws doesn’t represent the interests of the employees. 
  7. Many prominent labour unions prefer to arrive at an accommodation with the management, rather than represent the interests of their constituents.

All these problems calls for a debate on the future of labour rights, especially in a world where the nature of work is changing rapidly. 

This debate can be guided by B.R. Ambedkar’s insights that remain relevant even today, the Constitutional guarantee against forced labour.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar ideas on Labour Rights

  • Dr. B.R. Ambedkar observed that the purpose of Constitutions has been to limit state power, in order to preserve the freedom of the individual.
  • Ambedkar argued that fundamental rights must “eliminate the possibility of the more powerful having the power to impose arbitrary restraints on the less powerful by withdrawing from the control he has over the economic life of the people”.
  • The purpose of labour laws should be to mitigate the imbalance of power between capitalists and labour. It should aim to secure the “rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, in both the public and the private spheres.


However, the recent decisions by several state governments are grossly unconstitutional as the economic power exercised by capital will be left unchecked. 

An increase in working hours and a removal of minimum wages are two proposals strongly under discussion.

This would be nothing other than the freedom to “increase hours of work and reduce rates of wages”. 

According to Ambedkar’s words, the Constitution provides for equal freedom and that must be the yardstick from which the proposed legal changes in the shadow of COVID-19 should be measured.

Connecting the dots:

  • Bring out the significance of labour reforms for sustained economic growt and employment generation.
  • Was labour the obstacle to the growth of the Indian economy all this while?
  • What are the labour laws in the country, and how can such changes impact firms, their workers, and the economy?


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)


  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers. 
  • Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding Sundarbans: 

  1. It is the only mangrove forest in the world inhabited by tigers. 
  2. It is covered under the Ramsar convention.

Which of the above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.2 Consider the following statements: 

  1. Under strict liability principle, a company has to pay compensation in case of accident involving hazardous substances. 
  2. Under absolute liability principle, a company does not have to pay compensation

Which of the above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.3 With regards to the safeguards against chemical disasters in India, consider the following: 

  1. Appeals regarding the restriction of areas in which any industries shall not be carried out are heard through National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997
  2. Disposal of cases related to conservation of forests takes place under National Green Tribunal Act, 2010.

Which of the above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.4 Consider the following statements:

  1. Sohrai Khovar mural art is practiced in Chhattisgarh. 
  2. Telia Rumal is manufactured in Jharkhand. 

Which of the above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.5 With regard to GI tag, consider the following statements: 

  1. Geographical indications registry is located in Chennai. 
  2. GI tag is an intellectual property right owned by individuals.

Which of the above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2


1 B
2 A
3 A
4 C

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