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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 19 January 2021


  1. Supreme Court directive on quota in promotions
  2. U.K. invites PM Modi for G7 summit
  3. Experts to be assigned to review State labour laws



The Supreme Court asked Attorney General K.K. Venugopal to compile the various issues being raised by States with regard to the application of a Constitution Bench judgment of 2006 in M. Nagaraj case, which had upheld the application of creamy layer principle to members of the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe communities in promotions.


GS-II: Polity and Governance, Social Justice

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Constitutional Provisions about Reservation
  2. Is reservation in promotions a fundamental right?
  3. Need for “Quantifiable Data”
  4. Arguments for applying reservation in promotions
  5. Indra Sawhney case, 1992
  6. M. Nagaraj case, 2006
  7. Jarnail Singh vs Lachhmi Narain Gupta case, 2018
  8. The Latest view of Supreme Court

Constitutional Provisions about Reservation

  • Article 16(4) empowers the state to make any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the state, is not adequately represented in the services under the state.
  • By way of the 77th Amendment Act, a new clause (4A) was added to Article 16, empowering the state to make provisions for reservation in matters of promotion to Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe employees if the state feels they are not adequately represented in services.

Is reservation in promotions a fundamental right?

  • The scope for reservation for the Backward Classes is promised in Part III of the Constitution under Fundamental Rights.
  • Articles 16(4) and 16(4A) empowers the state to provide reservation for SCs and STs in public employment.
  • The right to equality is enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution.
  • Many see that the reservation is against Article 16 (Right to equality).
  • But there is an absence of equal opportunities for the Backward Classes due to historic injustice by virtue of birth entails them reservation.
  • Articles 16 (2) and 16(4) are neither contradictory nor mutually exclusive in nature, but are complementary to each other.

Need for “Quantifiable Data”

  • There is a question whether the quantifiable data for inadequate representation is a must for giving reservation in promotions.
  • This question has been addressed by Article 16(4) in the Constitution.
  • It reads that the State can make any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which in the State’s opinion, is not adequately represented in the State services.
  • Here, “in the State’s opinion” should not be construed as the discretion of the state to give the reservation or not.
  • On the contrary, it means if the state feels that SCs and STs are under-represented, it is in the domain of the state to provide reservation.
  • There is no mention in the Constitution about quantifiable data.
  • Even after 70 years of SC/ST reservation, their representation is as low as 3%.

Arguments for applying reservation in promotions

  • As there is a peculiar hierarchical arrangement of caste in India, it is obvious that SCs and STs are poorly represented in higher posts.
  • Denying application of reservation in promotions has kept SCs and STs largely confined to lower cadre jobs.
  • Hence, providing reservation for promotions is even more justified and appropriate to attain equality.
  • This judgment destabilises the very basis of reservation, when there is no direct recruitment in higher posts.
  • This delineation of the scope of reservation as at the entry level and in promotions will only lead to confusion in its implementation.
  • Now, by declaring that reservation cannot be claimed as a fundamental right is a dangerous precedent in the history of social justice.

Indra Sawhney case, 1992

  • In its landmark 1992 decision in Indra Sawhney vs Union of India, the Supreme Court had held that reservations under Article 16(4) could only be provided at the time of entry into government service but not in matters of promotion.
  • It added that the principle would operate only prospectively and not affect promotions already made and that reservation already provided in promotions shall continue in operation for a period of five years from the date of the judgment.
  • On June 17, 1995, Parliament, acting in its constituent capacity, adopted the seventy-seventh amendment by which clause (4A) was inserted into Article 16 to enable reservation to be made in promotion for SCs and STs.

M. Nagaraj case, 2006

The constitutional validity of Art 16(4A) was upheld by the Supreme Court in the M. Nagaraj v. Union of India 2006 case; however, State is not bound to make such reservations in promotions.

If the states seek to make reservation in promotions, then it must collect quantifiable data on three parameters:

  1. The backwardness of the class
  2. The inadequacy of the representation of that class in public employment;
  3. The general efficiency of service would not be affected

Jarnail Singh vs Lachhmi Narain Gupta case, 2018

  • In Jarnail Singh vs Lachhmi Narain Gupta case of 2018, the Supreme Court held that reservation in promotions does not require the state to collect quantifiable data on the backwardness of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
  • The court upheld the argument that once various caste groups were listed as SC/ST, this automatically implied they were backward.
  • That judgment had, while modifying the part of the Nagaraj verdict which required States to show quantifiable data to prove the ‘backwardness’ of a Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe community to provide quota in promotion in public employment, rejected the Centre’s argument that Nagaraj misread the creamy layer concept by applying it to SC/ST.

The Latest view of Supreme Court

  • A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice said the issues raised by States are not common.
  • The case is based on a plea by the Centre to refer to a seven-judge Bench the question whether creamy layer should apply or not to the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe community while providing them reservation in government promotions.

-Source: The Hindu



The United Kingdom has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the G7 summit.

Apart from India, Australia and South Korea are also invited to participate in the proceedings of the summit as “guest countries”.


GS-II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Group of Seven (G7)
  2. Similar groupings such as G-7
  3. Recently in news: Expansion of G7
  4. India at the G7 Summit

Group of Seven (G7)

The Group of Seven (G7) is an international intergovernmental economic organization consisting of the seven largest developed economies (International Monetary Fund IMF- advanced economies) in the world.

G-7 Countries are:

  1. Canada,
  2. France,
  3. Germany,
  4. Italy,
  5. Japan,
  6. The United Kingdom and
  7. The United States.

The European Union is sometimes considered an eighth member of the G-7, since it holds all the rights and responsibilities of full members except to chair or host the meeting.

G-7 (MAP) 
G7 members
  • G7 Summit is an event conducted annually where world leaders from seven powerful economies of the world come together to discuss burning issues happening around the globe.
  • The major purpose of the G-7 is to discuss and deliberate on international economic issues.
  • G7 is capable of setting the global agenda because decisions taken by these major economic powers have a real impact. Thus, decisions taken at the G7 are not legally binding, but exert strong political influence.
  • It sometimes acts in concert to help resolve other global problems, with a special focus on economic issues.
G7 in 
2014 R.-Wa

Similar groupings such as G-7

  • Amongst the G-7 France, West Germany, the U.S, Great Britain, and Japan form the G-5 Group of Five.
  • Following the 1994 G7 meeting in Naples, Russian President held meetings with G-7 member countries, in what became known as the P-8 (Political 8).
  • In 1998, after urging from leaders including U.S. President, Russia was added to the G-7 group as a full-time member, creating a formal G-8.
  • G-20 was founded in 1999 after the Asian financial crisis in 1997-1998, it initially started off as a meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors.

Recently in news: Expansion of G7

  • The proposed expansion has suggested inclusion of India, Australia, South Korea and Russia in the grouping of the largest advanced economies.
  • The existing G7 group has been called an outdated group of countries as it does not include emerging economies of the world and thus it is believed that the group does not follow the current world order.
  • It is unclear that the proposed expansion will be permanent or temporary.

Viewing it as an attempt to Unite Allies Against China

  • China is not a member of G7 despite being the world’s biggest population and second-biggest economy. But, China has relatively low levels of wealth per head of population. Thus, it is not considered as an advanced economy like other G7 members.
  • The expansion of G7 has been believed to be a plan to unite all traditional allies to deal with assertive diplomacy of China.
  • The proposal comes amid ongoing issues between the US and China which includes Hong Kong’s autonomy to Taiwan, the origins of Covid-19, South China Sea tensions and trade issues.

India at the G7 Summit

  1. India had attended the G7 summit of 2019 at Biarritz in France as a special guest of French President.
  2. India has attended the G8 five times as special guests by various hosts of the G8 Summit in the past.

-Source: The Hindu



The Union Labour and Employment Ministry is likely to appoint legal consultants to look at whether States’ labour laws are in consonance with the Centre’s four new labour codes.


GS-II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Background: What are the Labour laws implemented by some States that are being considered for consonance?
  2. What is written in the Indian constitution Regarding labour?
  3. New Central Labour codes that could be implemented by mid-2021

Background: What are the Labour laws implemented by some States that are being considered for consonance?

  • The Uttar Pradesh government in May 2020 passed a notification diluting provisions of the Factories Act of 1948 and increased work timings by providing certain exemptions to factories.
  • Uttar Pradesh passed laws eliminating nearly all worker protection laws, include basic guidelines on occupational safety and minimum standards for working conditions, for a period of three years.
  • States such as Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujrat had scrapped Labour laws During the First weeks of May 2020 as a move to bring about reforms to attract new investors who are looking to exit from China.
  • Madhya Pradesh government announced some startling labour law exemptions to new investors for the next 1,000 days. Labour inspectors—the bane of industry managers—were to now be replaced with a third-party certification.
  • In M.P. for new units, firing workers would become much simpler and trade unions would not be allowed to raise issues and bargain with the management. Except for the Building and Other Construction Workers Act, Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, and Section 5 of the Payment of Wages Act (which gives workers the right to receive timely wages), all other laws were deleted for the next three years for all firms.
  • Gujarat granted labour law exemptions for 1,200 days.
  • Assam government has also announced a provision for fixed-term employment of workers, and it has also been proposed that factories will now be allowed to increase working hours from the existing eight hours to a new 12-hour shift.

What is written in the Indian constitution Regarding labour?

  • Article 246 Labour being in concurrent list, many states and even centre have enacted laws. It led to confusion and chaos
  • Article 43A (42nd amendment) – directing state to take steps to ensure workers participation in management of industries.
  • Article 23 forbids forced labor, Article 24 forbids child labor (in factories, mines and other hazardous occupations) below age of 14 years.

New Central Labour codes that could be implemented by mid-2021

Click here to read about the New Labour Codes: Consolidations of the existing labour laws

What are Indian labour laws?

  • Estimates vary but there are over 200 state laws and close to 50 central laws. And yet there is no set definition of “labour laws” in the country.
  • The main objectives of the Factories Act, for instance, are to ensure safety measures on factory premises, and promote health and welfare of workers.
  • The Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, on the other hand, aims to regulate hours of work, payment, overtime, weekly day off with pay, other holidays with pay, annual leave, employment of children and young persons, and employment of women.
  • The Minimum Wages Act covers more workers than any other labour legislation.
  • The most contentious labour law, however, is the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 as it relates to terms of service such as layoff, retrenchment, and closure of industrial enterprises and strikes and lockouts.

Challenges with Indian Labour laws

  • Organised sector is stringently regulated while the unorganized sector is virtually free from any outside control and regulation with little or no job security.
  • Wages are ‘too high’ in the organised sector and ‘too low’, even below the subsistence level in the unorganised sector. This dualistic set up sug­gests how far the Indian labour market is seg­mented.
  • Social security to organised labour force in India is provided through a variety of legisla­tive measures.
  • Work­ers of small unorganised sector as well as in­formal sectors remain outside the purview of these arrangements.
  • Multiplicity of Archaic Labour Laws: Labour is a concurrent subject and more than 40 Central laws more than 100 state laws govern the subject.
  • Trade Union Act, 1926 provide that any seven employees could form a union.
  • Multiplicity of trade unions hamper dispute resolution.
  • In­ter-union rivalry and political rivalries are con­sidered to be the major impediments to have a sound industrial relation system in India.
  • Rigid Laws: Job security in India is so rigid that workers of large private sector employing over 100 work­ers cannot be fired without government’s per­mission.
  • 71% of men above 15 years are a part of the workforce as compared to just 22 percent women- Gender Inequality
  • Due to unskilled labour force, employer resort to contract employment to fire them if they are not good.

-Source: The Hindu

February 2024