The HINDU Notes – 11th July 2019 - VISION

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

The HINDU Notes – 11th July 2019

πŸ“° A demographic window of opportunity: on population and policy

In India, investing in the laggard States will ensure their role as being the greatest contributors of the future

•Last month, the United Nations released the 26th revision of World Population Prospects and forecast that India will overtake China as the most populous country by 2027. The only surprise associated with this forecast is the way it was covered by the media. Is this good news or bad news? Is it news at all?

•Is this news? Not really. We have known for a long time that India is destined to be the most populous country in the world. Population projections are developed using existing population and by adjusting for expected births, deaths and migration. For short-term projections, the biggest impact comes from an existing population, particularly women in childbearing ages. Having instituted a one-child policy in 1979, China’s female population in peak reproductive ages (between 15 and 39 years) is estimated at 235 million (2019) compared to 253 million for India. Thus, even if India could institute a policy that reduces its fertility rate to the Chinese level, India will overtake China as the most populous country.

•The element of surprise comes from the date by which this momentous event is expected. The UN revises its population projections every two years. In 2015, it was predicted that India would overtake China in 2022, but in the 2019 projections it is 2027. The UN has revised India’s expected population size in 2050 downward from 1,705 million in 2015 projections to 1,639 million in 2019 projections. This is due to faster than expected fertility decline, which is good news by all counts.

•Like it or not, India will reign as the most populous country throughout most of the 21st century. Whether we adjust to this demographic destiny in a way that contributes to the long-term welfare of the nation or not depends on how we deal with three critical issues.

Population control

•First, do we need to adopt stringent population control policies? History tells us that unless the Indian state can and chooses to act with the ruthlessness of China, the government has few weapons in its arsenal. Almost all weapons that can be used in a democratic nation, have already been deployed. These include restriction of maternity leave and other maternity benefits for first two births only and disqualification from panchayat elections for people with more than two children in some States along with minor incentives for sterilisation.

•As demographer Judith Blake noted, people have children, not birth rates and few incentives or disincentives are powerful enough to overcome the desire for children. Ground-level research by former Chief Secretary of Madhya Pradesh Nirmala Buch found that individuals who wanted larger families either circumvented the restrictions or went ahead regardless of the consequences. As one of her informants noted, “The sarpanch’s post is not going to support me during my old age, but my son will. It does not really matter if I lose the post of sarpanch.”

•Second, if punitive actions won’t work, we must encourage people to have smaller families voluntarily. There are sharp differences in fertility among different socio-economic groups. Total Fertility Rate (TFR) for the poorest women was 3.2 compared to only 1.5 for the richest quintile in 2015-16. To get to TFR of 1.5, a substantial proportion of the population among the top 40% must stop at one child.

•In western societies, low fertility is associated with the conflict that working women face between work and child rearing and the individual’s desire to enjoy a child-free life. Not so for Indian couples. In India, couples with one child do not consume more nor are women in these families more likely to work. My research with demographer Alaka Basu from Cornell University shows that it is a desire to invest in their children’s education and future prospects that seems to drive people to stop at one child. Richer individuals see greater potential for ensuring admission to good colleges and better jobs for their children, inspiring them to limit their family size. Thus, improving education and ensuring that access to good jobs is open to all may also spur even poorer households into having fewer children and investing their hopes in the success of their only daughter or son. Provision of safe and easily accessible contraceptive services will complete this virtuous cycle.

Population and policy

•Third, we must change our mindset about how population is incorporated in broader development policies.

•Population growth in the north and central parts of India is far greater than that in south India. What should we do about the old policies aimed at not rewarding States that fail to control population growth? These policies include using the 1971 population to allocate seats for the Lok Sabha and for Centre-State allocation under various Finance Commissions. In a departure from this practice, the 15th Finance Commission is expected to use the 2011 Census for making its recommendations. This has led to vociferous protests from the southern States as the feeling is that they are being penalised for better performance in reducing fertility.

•There is reason for their concern. Between the 1971 and 2011 Censuses, the population of Kerala grew by 56% compared to about 140% growth for Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. A move to use the 2011 Census for funds allocation will favour the north-central States compared to Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

•However, continuing to stay with a 1971 Census-based allocation would be a mistake. Cross-State subsidies come in many forms; Centre-State transfers is but one. Incomes generated by workers in one State may also provide the tax revenues that support residents in another State. The varying pace of onset and end of demographic transition creates intricate links between workers in Haryana today and retirees in Kerala and between future workers in Uttar Pradesh and children in Tamil Nadu.

•Demographic dividend provided by the increasing share of working age adults is a temporary phase during which child dependency ratio is falling and old-age dependency ratio is still low. But this opportunity only lasts for 20 to 30 years. For States such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu which experienced fertility decline early, this window of opportunity is already past.

•As the United Nations Population Fund estimates, over the next 20 years, the window of opportunity will be open for moderate achievers such as Karnataka, Haryana and Jammu & Kashmir. As the demographic window of opportunity closes for these States, it will open for Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other States that are the last to enter fertility transition. This suggests that workers of Bihar will be supporting the ageing population of Kerala in 20 years.

The focus areas

•In order to maximise the demographic dividend, we must invest in the education and health of the workforce, particularly in States whose demographic window of opportunity is still more than a decade away. Staying fixated on the notion that revising State allocation of Central resources based on current population rather than population from 1971 punishes States with successful population policies is shortsighted. This is because current laggards will be the greatest contributors of the future for everyone, particularly for ageing populations of early achievers. Enhancing their productivity will benefit everyone.

•It is time for India to accept the fact that being the most populous nation is its destiny. It must work towards enhancing the lives of its current and future citizens.

πŸ“° Deepening #MeToo

A year after an actor inspired women to speak up against harassment, it’s critical to assess the gains and challenges

•In the mid and late-1800s, social movements in Europe for equal rights for women threw up the word ‘feminism’, which traces its origins to French. The suffrage movement in Britain in the early part of the 20th century was another component of women’s fight for equality across the world.

•Over the years, this fight has gained momentum, often with varying goals depending on the cultural traditions and the degree of prevalence of patriarchy in different societies. Various instances have inspired women to collectively get together and assert their rights — to create a combined voice that strongly advocates the impending need to view them as equal to men.

•In the current world, there are strong stances that women are taking to support causes, such as the #MeToo movement that started in the U.S. and took down power-players like Harvey Weinstein and Roy Price and is now a force to reckon with in India.

Why it is needed

•The abuse of power by men in high offices has been an open secret. Many women across industries have been subject to lewd remarks, suggestive behaviour and assault — and have often been penalised for rejecting such advances.

•Tanushree Dutta’s decision, in September 2018, to speak out against her alleged exploiters from a decade ago gave courage to many women to be able to openly speak up against bullies who coerce them into compromising situations.

•Many other women have been empowered by the #MeToo platform to be able to take on powerful bullies. A big boon for feminism, #MeToo has also given women a tool against oppressors in influential positions. As sexual harassment is considered a serious offence when proven beyond reasonable doubt, the men stand to lose their sources of income as well as public reputation. Social media has, thus, been a huge platform in helping women to be able to express their ordeal as well as find solidarity and support.

•A corollary to the same is the apparent misuse of these tools by some for personal agendas.

•Many women are choosing to lash out at ex-lovers and blame them for harassment. Consent is imperative in every relationship; however, a mutual relationship (irrespective of the state of it) cannot be comparable to exploitation of women employees at workplaces by men in senior positions.

Settling personal scores

•Former Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, Sujata Manohar (who was part of the bench that penned the Vishakha guidelines against sexual harassment at workplaces), observed that many women were misusing the #MeToo movement to shame men on social media and to settle personal scores. Adding allegations of a personal nature dilutes the essence of a very powerful and necessary movement.

•Further, a lot of women anonymously share stories about their harassers but refuse to take further legal or police action. This raises questions on the ingenuity of their claims. In a recent example, an aspiring actor filed a complaint against a noted director, but then withdrew it.

•Such actions not only allow the men in question to go scot-free, but also cast a shadow on the veracity of the victims’ claims. If an untoward incident did occur, the sufferer must be willing to follow the proper channel to lodge a complaint and seek support for the same. It takes immense courage for a survivor to come out in public and relive her ordeal, and she must be believed and supported.

•In such an atmosphere, false claims by a few women cast a net of suspicion on all allegations. Using social media to name and shame an alleged perpetrator just to settle a personal score under the garb of #MeToo is a disservice to women who genuinely need the aid of the movement.

•To achieve a balance, it is important fairly assess each situation while taking a neutral approach in dealing with both the parties involved — the man and women.

•This article does not attempt to undermine the need for women to assert themselves. Neither does it aim to question the legitimacy of all the complainants rallying behind the #MeToo movement. It only aims to argue that as we propose to create a more equal society, we must not let the oppressed assume the role of the oppressors. While there are great tools at our disposal, they also come with great responsibility.

•For #MeToo to retain its moral clarity, it is important that we now look at ways to strengthen the processes at workplaces and the legal framework in general, so that cases of sexual harassment are speedily settled, and not left to a ‘she-said-he-said’ aftermath that extends the trauma of the innocent women and, sometimes, the men concerned.

πŸ“° India can repeal Article 370 at will: Centre

Minister says U.N. or any country has no say

•The government has informed Parliament that “no foreign government or organisation has any locus standi” in repealing Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir as matters relating to the Constitution of India are internal and only for the Indian Parliament to deal with.

•Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy said in a written response in the Rajya Sabha that Jammu and Kashmir “is an integral part of India.”

•While responding to a question on whether repeal of Articles 370 and 35A will in any way violate any United Nations regulation or any international obligation of the country, Mr. Reddy said, “Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. Matters relating to the Constitution of India are internal and entirely for the Indian Parliament to deal with. No foreign government or organisation has any locus standi in the matter.”

•Home Minister Amit Shah had told the Lok Sabha that Article 370 was a “temporary provision.”

•The two provisions let the J&K legislature decide the “permanent residents” of the State, prohibits a non-J&K resident from buying property in the State and ensures job reservation for its residents.

•Replying to a separate question, Mr. Reddy said that after the Pulwama terror attack, 93 terrorists have been killed in Jammu and Kashmir.

•On February 14, 40 CRPF personnel were killed when a car-borne bomber of Jaish-e-Mohammad rammed a CRPF bus in Pulwama.

πŸ“° Cabinet clears Bill for single tribunal to hear water disputes

The Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill also proposes to resolve such conflicts within 18 months

•The Union Cabinet has approved the Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019 that will help adjudicate disputes relating to waters of inter-State rivers and river valleys. A version of this bill was first introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2017 but subsequently lapsed.

•The Bill seeks to amend the Inter State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 to streamline the adjudication of inter-state river water disputes. A key feature of the bill is the constitution of a single tribunal with different Benches, and the setting of strict timelines for adjudication.

•“When any request under the Act is received from any State Government in respect of any water dispute on the inter-State rivers and the Central government is of the opinion that the water dispute cannot be settled by negotiations, the Central Government constitutes a Water Disputes Tribunal for the adjudication of the water dispute,” said a press note.

•There are about a dozen tribunals that now exist to resolve disputes among States on sharing water from rivers common to them. The standalone tribunal so envisaged will have a permanent establishment and permanent office space and infrastructure so as to obviate with the need to set up a separate Tribunal for each water dispute, a time consuming process.

•The Bill also proposes a Dispute Resolution Committee set up by the Central Government for amicably resolving inter-State water disputes within 18 months. Any dispute that cannot be settled by negotiations would be referred to the tribunal for its adjudication. The dispute so referred to the tribunal shall be assigned by the chairperson of the tribunal to a Bench of the tribunal for adjudication. The Bill can also affect the composition of the members of various tribunals, and has a provision to have a technical expert as the head of the tribunal. Currently all tribunals are staffed by members of the judiciary, nominated by the Chief Justice.

πŸ“° Lok Sabha gives nod to arbitration Bill

•The Lok Sabha on Wednesday cleared the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Bill, 2019. The Bill, which replaces an Ordinance promulgated in March this year, provides for the incorporation of the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) for creating an autonomous regime for institutionalised arbitration.

•The Bill, moved by Union Law Minister Ravi Shanker Prasad, has a provision to declare the NDIAC as an Institution of National Importance.“The Bill provides for the establishment of the NDIAC to conduct arbitration, mediation and conciliation proceedings,” said the Minister, speaking in the Lower House. The Minister said the Centre will be headed by a chairperson, who has been a judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court or an eminent person having special knowledge and experience in the administration of arbitration.

•Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, speaking in the House on the Bill, noted: “The state of fast track judiciary system is dismal in India and appropriate infrastructure is required before making India an arbitration destination.”

•He added that while the NDIAC Bill is commendable in its intention, it is ambitious in terms of execution.

•Biju Janata Dal MP Pinaki Misra said that unless the Indian law and the arbitration process is amended, the endless litigation cycle will continue. Strict amendments to the Arbitration Act have to be made for arbitration to be become easier, he said.

πŸ“° Cabinet approves transgender bill

•The Union Cabinet approved the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019, a previous version of which had lapsed when the Lok Sabha was dissolved in May.

•The Bill aims at the social, economic and educational empowerment of transgender persons, a statement said. Sending the Bill to Parliament again was on the first 100-day agenda of Narendra Modi government’s second term.

πŸ“° A case for nutrition counselling

It is a low-cost measure that offers lifelong benefits

•The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme is one of the world’s largest programmes for early childhood care and development. Now, a new study suggests that nutrition and health counselling delivered under the programme’s auspices is one of the best possible investments that can be made by any government.

•This timely, non-partisan report is by India Consensus, a partnership between Tata Trusts and Copenhagen Consensus, which has undertaken a first-of-its-kind analysis of 100 government programmes. These were identified by NITI Aayog for their role in supporting India’s efforts to achieve the Global Goals.

•The Global Goals have a dizzying array of 169 targets, such a long list that no country on Earth can achieve all of them. That’s why the unique India Consensus economic analysis approach is vital: it adds new knowledge about costs and benefits. This way, it can be clearer which programmes achieve the most good for every rupee spent.

•Researchers have identified twelve programmes that have phenomenal benefits for every rupee spent. Among the top programmes is nutrition and health counselling.

Empowering the mother

•As a behavioural change intervention, nutrition and health counselling is relatively low cost for every person that is reached. It’s important to note that this programme does not provide food, but instead provides information to the mother, making it more likely that the child will receive more and better food. And that in turn leads to lifelong benefits.

•Many studies have now demonstrated that these benefits can be large. Improving the nutrition and health outcomes of the children of mothers reached makes this a highly cost-effective intervention.

•Two analyses were undertaken in Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, looking at a six-year campaign of nutrition counselling and hand-washing. The average cost of counselling sessions for each woman was estimated at ₹1,177 and ₹1,250 for Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan respectively. Based on previous studies, it is estimated that counselling leads to a 12% reduction in stunting. This leads to better cognitive skills.

Quantifying the benefits

•Quantifying the increase in earnings shows that the per unit benefit for Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan comes to ₹71,500 and ₹54,000.

•What these figures mean is that the investment generates returns to society worth ₹61 and ₹43, respectively, for every rupee spent. While the analysis will differ for other States, these results show that nutritional counselling is a phenomenal investment. It’s relevant to note that these figures take into account the challenges of nutrition counselling: it’s a relatively difficult intervention to implement and ensure that every person is reached. But even if India’s implementation problems were worse than other countries studied by researchers, it is unlikely to make the investment less impressive. The takeaway point is that, among all the ways that the Indian government is spending money to achieve Global Goals targets, adding additional resources to nutrition counselling would be a phenomenal investment.

•The preliminary results of this analysis show that there are many policies that can achieve amazing outcomes. If India were to spend ₹50,000 crore more on achieving the Global Goals, focussing on the most phenomenal programmes identified so far by India Consensus would create extra benefits for India worth ₹20 lakh crore — more than the entire Indian public consumption.

•With returns like this at stake, there are compelling reasons to look favourably at approaches including nutrition counselling.

πŸ“° Caution needed: on Supreme Court decision on Rohingya’s status

Supreme Court decision on the Rohingya’s status must protect those fleeing persecution

•The Supreme Court’s decision to examine the question whether illegal immigrants are entitled to refugee status needs to be welcomed, but with caution. It is debatable whether the Centre is right in claiming that this has emerged as a substantial question of law in the context of the Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar. For, it is fairly obvious that those escaping persecution in their home country are invariably undocumented. It logically follows that those fleeing conditions of war or conflict will have to be treated as refugees first before their cases can be examined in detail, and deemed fit for deportation as illegal entrants. It will be strange if any court holds that no illegal immigrant is entitled to refugee status. That would amount to a perverse denial of the very existence of refugees as a class. What the government is perhaps looking for is a decision holding that it can choose the class of illegal immigrants it wishes to treat as refugees; and that it can deny that status to any section it deems a threat to national security or is likely to strain local resources. The court’s decision to go into the issue, therefore, offers an opportunity to clarify India’s approach to the refugee question, which has generally been favourable to vulnerable entrants, but is stridently hostile to the Rohingya.

•India is not a signatory to the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees, 1951, and a Protocol adopted in 1967 on the subject. However, since Independence it has by and large adhered to the larger humanitarian principles underlying these instruments. In this backdrop, it is astonishing that the present regime is determined to deport the Rohingya, in utter disregard of the danger to their lives in Myanmar, and in violation of the principle of non-refoulement, the norm that prohibits states from forcibly returning refugees to conditions that caused them to flee their homes in the first place. It will be amoral and unjust if this most vulnerable group from Myanmar’s Rakhine state, numbering about 40,000 in India now, is denied refugee status. With the Centre taking a stand against treating them as refugees, a positive ruling is needed from the apex court to prevent their forcible deportation. The government’s keenness to deport the Rohingya is rooted in the technicalities of its citizenship law. It defines “illegal immigrant” as any foreigner entering India without valid travel documents, or overstays a permitted period of stay. It rules out giving citizenship by registration to such illegal immigrants. The amendments it proposes to the Citizenship Act do not cover Muslim immigrants and are limited to persecuted Afghan, Bangladeshi and Pakistani minorities. India should work with the world community on the voluntary repatriation of the Rohingya and not besmirch its fine record of humane treatment of refugees by pursuing the deportation option without relent.

πŸ“° Turning down the heat: on forest restoration

There is enormous potential in mitigating climate change through forest restoration

•During the run-up to the Paris climate change meeting in 2015 (COP-21) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, each country decided the level and kind of effort it would undertake to solve the global problem of climate change. These actions were later referred to as nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

•India made a number of promises that would lead to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, or mitigation, and actions to adapt to living in a warmer world, or adaptation. Many of its described programmes and plans were intended to enable India to move to a climate-friendly sustainable development pathway. Primarily, by 2030, there will be reductions in the emissions intensity of the GDP by about a third and a total of 40% of the installed capacity for electricity will be from non-fossil fuel sources. India also promised an additional carbon sink — a means to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere — of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by the year 2030. Trees and other vegetation fix carbon as part of photosynthesis and soil too holds organic carbon from plants and animals. The amount of soil carbon varies with land management practices, farming methods, soil nutrition and temperature.

Enhancing green cover

•India has yet to determine how its carbon sink objectives can be met. In a recent study, the Forest Survey of India (FSI) has estimated, along with the costs involved, the opportunities and potential actions for additional forest and tree cover to meet the NDC target. Given that forest and green cover already show a gradual increase in recent years, one might use this increase as part of the contribution towards the NDC. Or one might think of the additional 2.5-3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent sink as having to be above the background or business-as-usual increase.

•The additional increase in carbon sinks, as recommended in this report, is to be achieved by the following ways: restoring impaired and open forests; afforesting wastelands; agro-forestry; through green corridors, plantations along railways, canals, other roads, on railway sidings and rivers; and via urban green spaces. Close to three quarters of the increase (72.3 %) will be by restoring forests and afforestation on wastelands, with a modest rise in total green cover.

•The FSI study has three scenarios, representing different levels of increase in forest and tree cover. For example, 50%, 60% or 70% of impaired forests could be restored. The total increase in the carbon sink in these scenarios could be 1.63, 2.51 or 3.39 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2030, at costs varying from about ₹1.14 to ₹2.46 lakh crore. These figures show that the policy has to be at least at a medium level of increase to attain the stated NDC targets.

Natural forests

•A recent study in Nature by Simon Lewis and colleagues provides insights into what works well with regard to green cover. Locking up the carbon from the atmosphere in trees, ground vegetation and soils is one of the safest ways with which to remove carbon. If done correctly, the green cover increase will provide many other benefits: it will improve water quality, store water in wetlands, prevent soil erosion, protect biodiversity, and potentially provide new jobs. The authors estimate that allowing land to be converted into forests naturally will sequester 42 times the carbon compared to land converted to plantation, or six times for land converted to agroforestry.

•Another study in Science by Jean-FranΓ§ois Bastin and colleagues estimates that it is possible to add 0.9 billion hectares of canopy cover worldwide, potentially mitigating up to two-thirds of historical greenhouse gas emissions. This would then prevent or delay the worst impacts from climate change.

Restoration type is key

•Taken together, these studies indicate that while there is enormous potential in mitigating climate change through forest restoration, the amount of carbon stored depends on the type of forest restoration carried out. The most effective way is through natural forest regeneration with appropriate institutions to facilitate the process. Vast monocultures of plantations are being proposed in some countries, including in India, but these hold very little carbon; when they are harvested, carbon is released as the wood is burned.

•Besides, some of the trees selected for the plantations may rely on aquifers whose water becomes more and more precious with greater warming. Such forms of green cover, therefore, do not mitigate climate change and also do not improve biodiversity or provide related benefits. India, therefore, needs first to ensure that deforestation is curtailed to the maximum extent. Second, the area allocated to the restoration of impaired and open forests and wastelands in the FSI report should be focussed entirely on natural forests and agroforestry.

•While using a carbon lens to view forests has potential dangers, involving local people and planting indigenous tree varieties would also reduce likely difficulties. Instead of plantations, growing food forests managed by local communities would have additional co-benefits. Once natural forests are established, they need to be protected. Protecting and nurturing public lands while preventing their private enclosure is therefore paramount. Active forest management by local people has a long history in India and needs to expand to meet climate, environment and social justice goals.

πŸ“° IAF to adopt ASRAAM missile across its fighter fleet

ASRAAM is widely used as a Within Visual Range (WVR) air dominance missile with a range of over 25km.

•The Indian Air Force (IAF) is looking to adopt a new European visual range air to air missile across its fighter fleet.

•The Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) of European missile-maker MBDA has been approved for fitting on Jaguar jets and the IAF was looking to integrating it on the Su-30MKIs and the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) as well, defence sources said.

•“The ASRAAM has been chosen for the Jaguar and is currently undergoing integration. First firing is expected by year-end,” a defence source said. It would be the first over the wing launched missile in the IAF inventory. All missiles are now fired from under the wing.

•The missile was shortlisted through a tender and MBDA was working with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) on the integration. After the initial trials, further modifications on the Jaguar would be done by HAL. “HAL is in talks with MDBA for integrating the missile on the LCA and the Su-30MKI as well. It will be taken up after the Jaguar integration,” the source added.

•ASRAAM is widely used as a Within Visual Range (WVR) air dominance missile with a range of over 25km.

•HAL had built about 145 Jaguars for the IAF, of which around 120 are in service, and 80 jets will continue till 2025-30. A plan to get a new more powerful engine has been long delayed.

πŸ“° Worker safety code Bill gets Cabinet approval

It seeks to merge 13 labour laws

•A Bill that seeks to merge 13 labour laws into one code on occupational safety, health and working conditions that would apply to all establishments with 10 or more workers was approved by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday, paving the way for its introduction in Parliament.

•The Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Bill, 2019, which would impact “40 crore unorganised workers”, was approved at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said.

•The Bill was the second of four proposed codes that aim to merge 44 labour laws, with the Code on Wages Bill, 2019 that was approved on July 3 being the first, Labour and Employment Minister of State (independent charge) Santosh Kumar Gangwar said. He added that the Wages Bill, which covers minimum wages and other wage issues, would be introduced in Parliament in “two or three days.”

•“The decision will enhance the coverage of the safety, health and working conditions provisions manifold,” a government statement said.

•While the code will be applicable to all trades, including IT establishments and service sector, where more than 10 workers are employed, it will be applicable to mines and docks that employ even one worker.

•The code makes it mandatory for employers to provide free annual medical check-ups and issue appointment letters to all employees. The multiple committees under five labour Acts would be replaced by the National Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Board, the statement said.

•The code also framed rules for women workers working night shifts.

•“Women permitted to work beyond 7 p.m. and before 6 a.m. subject to the safety, holidays, working hours or any other condition as prescribed by appropriate government in respect of prescribed establishments. However, only after taking their consent for night work (sic),” the statement said.

πŸ“° CSO must rethink informal sector estimates: Chief Statistician of India Pronab Sen

Current method no longer accurate due to greater automation: Pronab Sen

•The Central Statistics Office (CSO) needs to rethink how it estimates the growth of the informal sector as the current method is no longer accurate, former Chief Statistician of India Pronab Sen said on Wednesday.

•“Using the corporate sector data to estimate the activity in the non-corporate sector, as is being done, works only as long as the technologies being used in both sectors are reasonably similar,” Dr. Sen said while speaking at a session on GDP data organised by the National Council of Applied Economic Research.

•“However, this is no longer the case,” he added. “Indian corporates, especially the large ones, have seen greater technology being used and this is not the case for the non-corporate sector. The CSO needs to rethink this.”

•Dr. Sen further said that the data for the last few years showed that there was an increasing trend of companies using technology instead of labour.

•“The data implies that there are many companies that are replacing many low-skilled workers with a few highly-skilled, highly paid workers,” Dr. Sen explained. “This is because they are using technology instead. All those people who are concerned about the future use of automation and its impact on labour, well, the automation is already happening.”

•One way in which the CSO could better estimate the informal sector activity is to use employment data, he added.

•Former Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian again highlighted his misgivings with the GDP growth data for the period 2011-12 to 2016-17.

•He also said that India was well placed now to incorporate Goods and Services Tax data to arrive at an expenditure side estimate of GDP growth, something that has never been done in India.