30 September, 2020
- Prelims Quiz
- Going beyond the Me Too movement Page 07 - (Social Issues)
- Why are Azerbaijan and Armenia fighting again 14 - (International Relations)
- 60 mn Indians may have been exposed to virus: ICMR survey 01 - (Social Issues)
- A wage code that is a hasty composition 06 - (Economy)
- UPSC Current Affairs: Going beyond the ‘Me Too’ movement |Page No. 07
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Polity and Governance | Mains: GS-Paper 2
Sub Theme: Me too Movement| Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013 | UPSC
- Recent allegations of sexual harassment against filmmaker Anurag Kashyap by actor Payal Ghosh have opened fresh debates on the ‘Me Too’ movement in India. Many have raised concerns over the veracity of the allegations. With Mr. Kashyap’s colleagues, ex-employees and former spouses coming out in his support, questions arise as to whether ‘believing the survivor’ is a slogan reserved only for certain women. While Ms. Ghosh has filed an FIR, Mr. Kashyap and other female actors named by her have initiated legal action at their ends. However, criminal law is unlikely to be able to maturely handle the complex elements of sexual harassment at the workplace.
Vishakha V State of Rajasthan & Ors AIR 1997 SC 3011
- Duty of the Employer or other responsible persons in work places and other institutions to prevent or deter the commission of acts of sexual harassment and to provide the procedures for the resolution, settlement or prosecution of acts of sexual harassment by taking all steps required.
- All employers or persons in charge of work place whether in the public or private sector should take appropriate steps to prevent sexual harassment including the following:
- Express prohibition of sexual harassment at the work place should be notified, published and circulated in appropriate ways.
- The Rules/Regulations of Government and Public Sector bodies relating to conduct and discipline should include rules/regulations prohibiting sexual harassment and provide for appropriate penalties in such rules against the offender.
- As regards private employers steps should be taken to include the aforesaid prohibitions in the standing orders under the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946.
Appropriate work conditions should be provided in respect of work. Leisure, health and hygiene to further ensure that there is no hostile environment towards women at work places and no employee woman should have reasonable grounds to believe that she is disadvantaged in connection with her employment.
Criminal Proceedings: Where such conduct amounts to a specific offence under the Indian Penal Code or under any other law, the employer shall initiate appropriate action in accordance with law by making a complaint with the appropriate authority. In particular, it should ensure that victims or witnesses are not victimized or discriminated against while dealing with complaints of sexual harassment. The victims of sexual harassment should have the option to seek transfer of the perpetrator or their own transfer.
Disciplinary Action: Where such conduct amounts to misconduct in employment as defined by the relevant service rules, appropriate disciplinary action should be initiated by the employer in accordance with those rules.
Complaint Mechanism: Whether or not such conduct constitutions an offence under law or a breach of the service rules, an appropriate complaint mechanism should be created in the employer is organization for redress of the complaint made by the victim. Such complaint mechanism should ensure time bound treatment of complaints.
Complaints Committee: The complaint mechanism, referred to in (6) above, should be adequate to provide, where necessary. Complaints Committee, a special counsellor or other support service, including the maintenance of confidentiality.
The Complaints Committee should be headed by a woman and not less than half of its member should be women. Further, to prevent the possibility of any undue pressure or influence from senior levels, such Complaints Committee should involve a third party, either NGO or other body who is familiar with the issue of sexual harassment.
Workers' Initiative: Employees should be allowed to raise issues sexual harassment at workers' meeting and in other appropriate forum and it should be affirmatively discussed in Employer – Employee Meetings.
Awareness: Awareness of the rights of female employees in this regard should be created in particular by prominently notifying the guidelines (and appropriate legislation when enacted on the subject) in a suitable manner.
Third Party Harassment: Where sexual harassment occurs as a result of an act or omission by any third party or outsider, the employer and person in charge will take all steps necessary and reasonable to assist the affected person in terms of support and preventive action.
The Central State Governments were requested to consider adopting suitable measures including legislation to ensure that the guidelines laid down by this order are also observed by the employers in Private Sector.
Apparel Export Promotion Council y. A.K. Chopra, AIR 1999 SC 625
The respondent was working as a Private Secretary to the Chairman of the Apparel Export Promotion Council. It was alleged that on 12.8. 1988, he tried to molest a woman employee of the Council Miss X (name withheld by us) who was at the relevant, time working as a Clerk-cum- Typist. She was not competent or trained to take dictations. The respondent tried to sit close to her and touch her despite her objections and repeated his overtures. Miss X told the respondent that she would "leave the place if he continued to behave like that". The respondent did not stop. Though he went out from the Business Centre for a while, he again came back and resumed his objectionable acts. The respondent had tried to molest her physically in the lift also while coming to the basement but she saved herself by pressing the emergency button, which made the door of the lift to open.
Held that sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination projected through unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favours and other verbal or physical conduct with sexual overtones, whether directly or by implication, particularly when submission to or rejection of such a conduct by the female employee was capable of being used for effecting the employment of the female employee and unreasonably interfering with her work performance and had the effect of creating an intimidating or hostile working environment for her.
The Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013
- The Act defines sexual harassment at the workplace and creates a mechanism for redressal of complaints. It also provides safeguards against false or malicious charges.
- Every employer is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee at each office or branch with 10 or more employees.
- The Complaints Committees have the powers of civil courts for gathering evidence.
- The Complaints Committees are required to provide for conciliation before initiating an inquiry if requested by the complainant.
- Penalties have been prescribed for employers. Non-compliance with the provisions of the Act shall be punishable with a fine.
- Repeated violations may lead to higher penalties and cancellation of license or registration to conduct business.
- The State Government will notify the District Officer in every district, who will constitute a Local Complaints Committee (LCC) so as to enable women in the unorganised sector or small establishments to work in an environment free of sexual harassment
- In the international context, employer policies against sexual harassment tend to be gender-neutral, affording protection to both men and women. However, the law in India extends protection from sexual harassment only to women, though the perpetrator could either be male or female.
- UPSC Current Affairs: Why are Azerbaijan and Armenia fighting again?|Page No. 13
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: International Relations
Sub Theme: Conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia MSF | Nagorno-Karabakh | UPSC
- Fresh clashes erupted on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border on Sunday, threatening to push the former Soviet republics back to war 26 years after a ceasefire was reached. Dozens have been killed so far as the violence is entering the third day.
Roots of the conflict (In Soviet Era)
- The largely mountainous and forested Nagorno-Karabakh, home for some 150,000 people, is at the centre of the conflict.
- Nagorno-Karabakh is located within Azerbaijan but is populated, mostly, by those of Armenian ethnicity. The conflict can be traced back to the pre-Soviet era when the region was at the meeting point of Ottoman, Russian and the Persian empires.
- Once Azerbaijan and Armenia became Soviet Republics in 1921, Moscow gave Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan but offered autonomy to the contested region.
- In the 1980s, when the Soviet power was receding, separatist currents picked up in Nagorno-Karabakh. In 1988, the national assembly voted to dissolve the region’s autonomous status and join Armenia. When Armenia and Azerbaijan became independent after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the clashes led to an open war in which tens of thousands were killed. The war lasted till 1994 when both sides reached a ceasefire.
Current status-> Independent but unrecognized
- By that time, Armenia had taken control of Nagorno-Karabakh and handed it to Armenian rebels. The rebels have declared independence, but have not won recognition from any country.
- The region is still treated as a part of Azerbaijan by the international community, and Baku wants to take it back.
- Despite the ceasefire, there were occasional flare-ups on the border. In July this year, at least 16 people were killed in clashes. After Sunday’s violence, Azerbaijan and Armenia blamed each other. Baku said it was forced to respond after Armenian attacks killed and wounded Azeris. Armenia, on the other side, blamed Azerbaijan for launching the “large-scale” attack targeting peaceful settlements.
- The energy-rich Azerbaijan has built several gas and oil pipelines across the Caucasus to Turkey and Europe. This includes the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the Western Route Export oil pipeline, the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline and the South Caucasus gas pipeline. Some of these pipelines pass close to the conflict zone. In an open war between the two countries, the pipelines could be targeted, which would impact energy supplies.
- Turkey has historically supported Azerbaijan and has had a troublesome relationship with Armenia. In the 1990s, during the war, Turkey closed its border with Armenia and it has no diplomatic relations with the country.
- On the other end, the Azeris and Turks share strong cultural and historical links. Azerbaijanis are a Turkic ethnic group and their language is from the Turkic family. After Azerbaijan became independent, Turkey established strong relations with the country, which has been ruled by a dynastic dictatorship. In July, after the border clashes, Turkey held a joint military exercise with Azerbaijan. On September 28, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed Armenia for the most recent clashes and offered support to Azerbaijan. There were reports that Turkey was recruiting mercenaries from West Asia to fight for Azerbaijan in the Caucasus. This fits well into Ankara’s aggressive foreign policy, which seeks to expand Turkish interests to the former Ottoman territories.
- Moscow sees the Caucasus and Central Asian region as its backyard. But the current clashes put President Vladimir Putin in a difficult spot. Russia enjoys good ties with both Azerbaijan and Armenia and supplies weapons to both. But Armenia is more dependent on Russia than the energy-rich, ambitious Azerbaijan. Russia also has a military base in Armenia. But Moscow, at least publicly, is trying to strike a balance between the two. Like in the 1990s, its best interest would be in mediating a ceasefire between the warring sides.
- UPSC Current Affairs: 60 mn Indians may have been exposed to virus: ICMR survey |Pg 01
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Science & Technology
Sub Theme: Serological Survey and its importance| UPSC
- Around 7% of India’s adult population may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus till the last fortnight of August, according to the second national sero-survey by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).This is roughly a 10-fold jump in numbers from the first sero-survey conducted by the Council across 70 districts in 21 States that sought to estimate the likely number of infected until early May. The people tested in the second survey were drawn from the same villages and clusters as the first, in which the scientists said that 0.73% of adults — or about 6.4 million — across the country were likely infected.
What is a Serological survey?
- Sero-surveys are conducted by drawing blood samples and checking for a specific class of antibodies called IgG that appear within two weeks of an infection.
- Because it is yet unclear how long antibodies detectably persist in the body, their presence only indicates past exposure to — and not presence of — the virus.
- UPSC Current Affairs: A wage code that is a hasty composition |Pg 06
UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper-III– Indian Economy
Sub Theme: Concerns and challenges with Code on Wages 2019 | UPSC
The labour laws are considered as one of the biggest hindrances for the success of "Make in India". Hence, in order to reduce the complexity of the labour laws and reduce their compliance burden, the Government had introduced 4 labour codes in the Parliament last year. These 4 Labour Codes were- Code on Wages, Industrial Relations Code bill, Code on Social Security, Occupational health, safety and working conditions. Out of these 4 labour codes, the Code on wages has already been passed by the Indian Parliament last year. However, the Government has recently reintroduced the remaining 3 labour codes with substantial modifications in comparison to bills introduced last year.
In our DNS dated 22nd September, we had discussed in detail about the various aspects of Labour Reforms such as:
- Problems and Challenges related to Labour Laws
- How Code on Wages 2019 is an improvement over the erstwhile Minimum wages act, 1948.
- Provisions of Code on Wages 2019.
- Critical analysis of the newly introduced labour Codes- Industrial Relations Code bill, Code on Social Security, Occupational health, safety and working conditions.
This particular article is a critique of the Code on Wages 2019, which is yet to be notified by the Government. This article highlights that the Code on Wages 2019 has neither succeeded in consolidation of laws nor would it achieve the claims made by the Government. In this regard, let us look at the concerns raised with respect to Code on Wages 2019 as highlighted in the article.
Concerns with Code on Wages 2019
Poor Consolidation of Labour Laws: The Code on Wages, 2019 seeks to consolidate and simplify four laws- Payment of Wages Act, 1936, Minimum Wages Act, 1948, Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 and Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 into a single code based upon the recommendations of the Second National Commission on Labour. While the previous four pieces of legislation had a total of 119 sections, the new Code has 69 sections. However, the reduction in the number of sections is not on account of synergistic consolidation, but rather on account of Delegated legislation. Earlier, the number of provisions were incorporated in the act itself, but now under the Code on wages 2019, these provisions have been converted into rules to be formulated by the Government. Hence, if we combine the Code of wages 2019 along with the rules formulated under it, it would be much bulkier and more complex as compared to previous 4 laws.
Poor Design of Minimum Wages: The Code on wages 2019 has come out with the dual wage rate structure- National level floor wage to be fixed by the Centre and Minimum wage to be fixed by the States. The Centre would fix the National level floor wage depending upon the standard of living and this could be different for different regions/states. The States would then be required to fix minimum wages that should not be lower than the National level floor wage.
The article argues that such a wage rate structure is flawed. The Government should be adopted binding minimum wage and not dual wage rates- binding National level floor wage and non-binding minimum wages.
Violation of Article 50: Code of Wages 2019 provides that an officer (not below the rank of an under-secretary to the government) will be notified with power to impose a penalty in the place of a judicial magistrate. This is in clear violation of Article 50 of the Indian Constitution, which calls for separation of Executive from the Judiciary.
Provisions on Penalty: The penalties/fines imposed under the Code on wages, 2019 are quite meagre and hence may not be sufficient enough to dissuade the firms from violation of the law. Further, the violations under the law are considered to be compoundable offences and not non-compoundable. (Compoundable offences are usually non-serious in nature and hence can be compromised between the two parties. However, non-compoundable offences cannot be compromised). Hence, the law can be considered to be mere paper tiger.
Exemptions from Violation of Provisions: The Code exempts employers from penal provisions if they were able “to prove that they had used due diligence in enforcing the execution of the code and it was the other person who had committed the offence without his knowledge or consent.