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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 27 July 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. E-Shram Portal to register unorganised workers
  2. Report by ADB on businesses in Asia and the Pacific 2021
  3. Climate Crisis is a Child Rights Crisis report: UNICEF
  4. Maldives signs largest-ever infrastructure project with AFCONS

E-Shram Portal to register unorganised workers

Context:

The Union Labour and Employment Ministry launched a portal aiming to register 38 crore unorganised workers in the country, eventually to help in the implementation of social security schemes.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Issues related to Poverty, e-Governance, Government Policies and Initiatives), GS-III: Indian Economy (Employment, Human Resource)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the ‘Unorganised Sector’?
  2. Categories of Unorganised Labour Force
  3. SC’s observations on need of registration of unorganised workers in 2021
  4. About the E-Shram Portal
  5. Way Forwards to improve the condition of unorganised sector workers

What is the ‘Unorganised Sector’?

  • Unorganised sector is a sector which is generally not governed by the rules and regulations that are laid down by the Government regarding the condition of employment.
  • The term unorganised sector when used in the Indian contexts defined by National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector, in their Report on Conditions of Work and Promotion of Livelihoods in the Unorganised Sector as “… consisting of all unincorporated private enterprises owned by individuals or households engaged in the sale or production of goods and services operated on a proprietary or partnership basis and with less than ten total workers.”
  • The Characteristic features of Unorganised sector are:
    • Jobs in the unorganised sector are very low paid.
    • No paid leaves, provident fund, holidays and medical benefits are given to the employees.
    • Job security is absent as in the case of no work, the employee may be asked to leave at any time.
    • It is the employer who decides the rules and regulations of work. 

Categories of Unorganised Labour Force

The Ministry of Labour, Government of India, has categorised the unorganised labour force under four groups depending on occupation, nature of employment, specially distressed categories and service categories.

  1. Under Terms of Occupation: Small and marginal farmers, landless agricultural labourers, share croppers, fishermen, those engaged in animal husbandry, beedi rolling, labelling and packing, building and construction workers, leather workers, weavers, artisans, salt workers, workers in brick kilns and stone quarries, workers in saw mills, oil mills, etc. come under this category.
  2. Under Terms of Nature of Employment: Attached agricultural labourers, bonded labourers, migrant workers, contract and casual labourers come under this category.
  3. Under Terms of Specially Distressed Category: Toddy tappers, scavengers, carriers of head loads, drivers of animal driven vehicles, loaders and unloaders come under this category.
  4. Under Terms of Service Category: Midwives, domestic workers, fishermen and women, barbers, vegetable and fruit vendors, newspaper vendors, etc., belong to this category.

SC’s observations on need of registration of unorganised workers in 2021

  • The Supreme Court has asked states and Union territories to keep a record of the returning migrant labourers, including details about their skills, place of their earlier employment, etc so that the administration can extend necessary help to them.
  • The SC said that there should be a common national database for all organised workers situated in different states.
  • The SC highlighted that the process initiated by the Ministry of Labour and Employment for creating a National Database for Unorganised Workers should be completed with collaboration and coordination of the States. It may serve registration for extending different schemes by the States and Centre.
  • The SC also said that there should be a suitable mechanism to monitor and supervise whether the benefits of the welfare schemes reach the beneficiaries which may be from grass-root levels to higher authorities with names and places of beneficiaries.
  • In addition, the stranded migrant workers throughout the country should be provided dry ration under the AtmaNirbhar Bharat Scheme or any other scheme found suitable by the Centre and the states.

About the E-Shram Portal

  • With the help of the E-Shram Portal, the government aims to register 38 crore unorganized workers, such as construction labourers, migrant workforce, street vendors and domestic workers, among others.
  • The workers will be issued an e-Shram card containing a 12-digit unique number, which, going ahead, will help in including them in social security schemes.
  • The government had earlier missed deadlines for creating the database, inviting criticism from the Supreme Court.
  • Targeted identification of the unorganized workers was a much-needed step and the portal which will be the national database of our nation builders will help take welfare schemes to their doorstep, who are the builders of our Nation.
  • Targeted delivery and last mile delivery, has been a major focus of the schemes of government of India and the National Database of Unorganised workers (E-Shram portal) is another key step towards that.

Way Forwards to improve the condition of unorganised sector workers

  • Credit facilities to be made available to make initial investment and for further expansion for the informal workers.
  • The government should evolve a mechanism to listen to the grievances and the grievances should be redressed periodically to the informal labours.
  • More importance must be given to the female in the family also to improve the status of female agricultural labours.
  • Normally, women agricultural labourers receive lower wage than the men, even in doing identical jobs, although there is constitutional backing in the form of equal wage for equal work. The Government must effectively enforce an act as necessary for its implementation.
  • Co-operation of agricultural labourers in the local self-governing institution must be extended in order to provide representations to this section.
  • In order to eliminate these socio-economic and cultural barriers, female children and women should be educated through formal and non-formal channels. The voluntary agencies have also got a significant role to play in this regard.
  • Vending rights on space to the vendors ultimately increases his/her accountability on space and its surrounding environment. By this means they would maintain health and hygiene.

-Source: The Hindu


Report by ADB on businesses in Asia and the Pacific 2021

Context:

A report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), titled Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2021 demonstrated that the region made substantial progress in the last two decades with respect to several development targets.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (Employment, Human Resource, Important International Institutions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights of the ADB report
  2. About Asian Development Bank (ADB)

Highlights of the ADB report

Impact of the Pandemic

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed around 75-80 million people in the developing Asia-Pacific into extreme poverty in 2020.
  • More than 5% (more than 200 million) of developing Asia’s population lived in extreme poverty as of 2017, and this 5% would have declined to an estimated 2.6% in 2020 if the pandemic had not occurred. 
  • A significant number of households engaged in business were severely affected by the pandemic. Among households engaged in agriculture or relying on wages and salary, more than half reported an increase in income, no change or a decrease of less than 26%.
  • As unemployment rates increased by at least 20% in 2020 due to the pandemic across the globe, the Asia-Pacific region lost an estimated 8% of working hours. As businesses were disrupted, many workers lost their jobs, leading to higher unemployment and underemployment rates.

Other Highlights 

  • Asia and the Pacific’s economy has grown at a robust pace in recent years and contributed as much as 35% to global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in current US dollars in 2019. However, Covid-19 has arrested this growth.
  • From 2019 to 2020, labour force participation rates among women, on average, declined by 1.4%, while labour force participation rates among men declined by 0.8%.
  • 71% of Asia-Pacific’s workforce is now in non-agricultural employment. From 2000-2019, the region’s non-agricultural employment rate grew to 71% from 52%, one of the fastest growth rates worldwide.

About Asian Development Bank (ADB)

  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank established on 19 December 1966 to promote social and economic development in Asia.
  • It is headquartered in the city of Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines.
  • The ADB was modeled closely on the World Bank and an official United Nations Observer.
  • Japan holds the largest proportion of shares in ADB followed by the USA, and it has a weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with members’ capital subscriptions (just like the World Bank).
  • The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East or ECAFE) and non-regional developed countries.
  • ADB defines itself as a social development organization that is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration.
  • ADB aids in reducing poverty through investments in the form of loans, grants and information sharing (in infrastructure, health care services, financial and public administration systems), helping nations prepare for the impact of climate change or better manage their natural resources, as well as other areas.
  • ADB is an official United Nations Observer.
  • India was a founding member of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 1966 and is now the bank’s fourth largest shareholder and top borrower.

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine


Climate Crisis is a Child Rights Crisis report: UNICEF

Context:

Recently, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with Fridays for Future launched a report named ‘The Climate Crisis Is a Child Rights Crisis: Introducing the Children’s Climate Risk Index’.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Environmental Degradation and its Impact, Environmental Impact Assessment), GS-II: Social Justice (Issues related to Children)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. ‘The Climate Crisis Is a Child Rights Crisis: Introducing the Children’s Climate Risk Index’
  2. Way Forwards/Recommendations in the UNICEF report

‘The Climate Crisis Is a Child Rights Crisis: Introducing the Children’s Climate Risk Index’

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) released a report called ‘The Climate Crisis Is a Child Rights Crisis: Introducing the Children’s Climate Risk Index’ which is the first comprehensive analysis of climate risk from a child’s perspective.

Highlights of the Children’s Climate Risk Index report

  • The Children’s Climate Risk Index ranks countries based on children’s exposure to climate and environmental shocks, such as Cyclones and Heatwaves, as well as their vulnerability to those shocks, based on their access to essential services.
  • Pakistan (14th), Bangladesh (15th), Afghanistan (25th) and India (26th) are among four South Asian countries where children are at extremely high risk of the impacts of the climate crisis.
  • Young people living in the Central African Republic, Chad, Nigeria, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau are the most at risk of the impacts of climate change. These children face a deadly combination of exposure to multiple climate and environmental shocks with a high vulnerability due to inadequate essential services, such as water and sanitation, healthcare and education.
  • Nearly every child around the world is at risk from at least one of the climate and environmental hazards which are Coastal Flooding, Riverine Flooding, Cyclones, Vector Borne Diseases, Lead Pollution, Heatwaves and Water Scarcity. An estimated 850 million children – 1 in 3 worldwide – live in areas where at least four of these climate and environmental shocks overlap.
  • There is a disconnect between where GreenHouse gas (GHG) Emissions are generated, and where children are enduring the most significant climate-driven impacts. 
  • Climate change is deeply inequitable. While no child is responsible for rising global temperatures, they will pay the highest costs.
  • Compared to adults, children require more food and water per unit of their body weight, are less able to survive extreme weather events, and are more susceptible to toxic chemicals, temperature changes and diseases, among other factors.
  • The majority of the carbon emission reduction pledges for 2030 that 184 countries made under the Paris Agreement aren’t nearly enough to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius.
  • Some countries won’t achieve their pledges, and some of the world’s largest carbon emitters will continue to increase their emissions.

Indian Scenario

  • India is among four South Asian countries where children are most at risk of the impacts of climate change threatening their health, education, and protection.
  • It is estimated that more than 600 million Indians will face ‘acute water shortages’ in the coming years, while at the same time Flash Flooding is to increase significantly in the majority of India’s urban areas once the global temperature increase rises above 2 Celsius. 
  • Twenty-one of the world’s 30 cities with the most polluted air in 2020 were in India.

Way Forwards/Recommendations in the UNICEF report

  • Increase investment in climate adaptation and resilience in key services for children.
  • Countries must cut their emissions by at least 45% (compared to 2010 levels) by 2030 to keep warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • Provide children with climate education and greens skills, critical for their adaptation to and preparation for the effects of climate change.
  • Include young people in all national, regional and international climate negotiations and decisions, including at COP (Conference of the Parties- A climate Convention) 26 (It will be held in Glasgow, UK in November 2021).
  • Ensure the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic is green, low-carbon and inclusive, so that the capacity of future generations to address and respond to the climate crisis is not compromised.

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine


Maldives signs largest-ever infrastructure project with AFCONS

Context:

The contract for the largest-ever infrastructure project – The Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP) – in the Maldives was signed recently involving AFCONS Infrastructure Ltd. 

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbours, India’s Foreign Policies), Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Greater Malé Connectivity Project
  2. India–Maldives relations

About the Greater Malé Connectivity Project

  • The Greater Malé Connectivity Project is the largest-ever Infrastructure project by India in the Maldives, which involves construction of a 6+ Km bridge and causeway link.
  • The seeds of the project were planted during the External Affairs Minister’s visit to Malé in September 2019.
  • The GMCP is not only the biggest project India is doing in the Maldives but also the biggest infrastructure project in the Maldives overall.
  • This project is significant because it facilitates inter-island connectivity in the country
  • Transport is a major challenge for residents who have to take boats or seaplanes to distant islands.
  • It becomes even more difficult during the monsoons when the seas are rough.
  • This bridge that would connect Malé with the three neighboring islands would ease the process.

Why are these Islands picked?

  • On the island of Gulhifalhu, a port , is at present being built under the Indian line of credit.
  • Located some 6 kilometers from Malé, since 2016, the island has been promoted as a strategic location for manufacturing, warehousing and distribution facilities due to its proximity to the capital city.
  • Located 7 km from the capital, the artificial island of Thilafushi was created and designated as a landfill in the early 1990s, to receive garbage created mostly in Malé.
  • The Maldives has plans of expanding industrial work on Thilafushi, making this bridge’s connectivity to the capital indispensable for the transport of employees and other services.

India–Maldives relations

  • India and Maldives are neighbors sharing a maritime border and relations between the two countries have been friendly and close in strategic, economic and military cooperation.
  • Maldives is located south of India’s Lakshadweep Islands in the Indian Ocean.
  • Both nations established diplomatic relations after the independence of Maldives from British rule in 1966.
  • India has supported Maldives’ policy of keeping regional issues and struggles away from itself, and the latter has seen friendship with India as a source of aid as well as a counterbalance to Sri Lanka, which is in proximity to the island nation and its largest trading partner.

Cooperation Between India & Maldives

  • Through the decades, India has rushed emergency assistance to the Maldives, whenever sought.
  • In 1988, when armed mercenaries attempted a coup against President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, India sent paratroopers and Navy vessels and restored the legitimate leadership under Operation Cactus.
  • Further, joint naval exercises have been conducted in the Indian ocean and India still contributes to the security of the maritime island.
  • The 2004 tsunami and the drinking water crisis in Male a decade later were other occasions when India rushed assistance.
  • At the peak of the continuing COVID-19 disruption, the Maldives has been the biggest beneficiary of the Covid-19 assistance given by India among its all of India’s neighbouring countries.
  • When the world supply chains were blocked because of the pandemic, India continued to provide crucial commodities to the Maldives under Mission SAGAR.
  • Recently, in 2021, India extended its support to the Maldives’ Foreign Minister at the election for the President of the General Assembly (PGA) in the United Nations.

Irritants in India – Maldives relations

  • In the past decade or so, the number of Maldivians drawn towards terrorist groups like the Islamic State (IS) and Pakistan-based madrassas and jihadist groups has been increasing. Political instability and socio-economic uncertainty are the main drivers fuelling the rise of Islamist radicalism in the island nation.
  • China’s strategic footprint in Maldives and the rest of India’s neighbourhood has increased. The Maldives has emerged as an important ‘pearl’ in China’s “String of Pearls” construct in South Asia.
  • One of India’s major concerns has been the impact of political instability in the neighbourhood on its security and development. The February 2015 arrest of opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed on terrorism charges and the consequent political crisis have posed a real diplomatic test for India’s neighbourhood policy.

-Source: The Hindu

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