02 November, 2020
- The shifting trajectory of India foreign policy I.R
- A secure future for platform workers Economy
- Baroda bypoll: a battle of prestige Polity
- More ups than downs in India ties I.R
- Question for the day (Economy)
UPSC Current Affairs: The shifting trajectory of India’s foreign policy – Lead Article | Page 6
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Current events of international importance | Mains – GS Paper II – International Relations
Sub Theme: India’s US Relations |UPSC
Context: With the signing of Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) India has signed all the foundational defence agreement with the United States of America. This has made India effectively a part of the US's Security Architecture. In this context author analyses the foreign policy implications of India aligning with the US.
Why is India tilting towards the US?
- According to author the obvious reason why India and US are coming closer is because of growing concern both share about the rise of China.
Importance of Signing BECA
- With the signing of BECA, India is now a signatory to all U.S.-related foundational military agreements.
- India had signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), in 2016, and the Communications, Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), in 2018.
- By signing BECA, India is in a position to specifically receive sensitive geo-spatial intelligence.
- Together these foundational military pacts effectively tie India to the wider U.S. strategic architecture in the region.
- Previous governments had resisted attempts to get India to sign these agreements on the ground that it would compromise India’s security and independence in military matters.
- The present dispensation argues that there are enough India-specific safeguards built into the pacts, and there is no reason for concern.
Implications of India aligning with wider U.S. strategic architecture
- It has been argued that Such alignment stands contrary to India's stated principle of exercising Strategic Autonomy.
- India will now be seen as part of a wider alliance that stands to counter China.
- Although It is being argued that such a move has been taken based on Pragmatic considerations, It seriously impacts the previous policy of neutrality, and of maintaining its equi-distance from power blocs.
Impact on India- China relations
- Initially India had distanced itself from the QUAD so as to avoid being seen as a part of anti China grouping.
- However now Quad has become more anti China in its orientation. Further India has invited Australia to join the Malabar Naval Exercise which now has the same members as the Quad.
- So the author argues that at this point being seen as close to USA might not be in the long term interest of India.
- As far as China is concerned the author says that in the past India has pursued the Policy of avoidance of conflicts with China. For Example even After the DoklamStand off, India tried to mend ties with China through the Wuhan and the Mamallapuram bonhomie.
- And now India's alignment with US would indicate that India made its choice which, can only exacerbate already deteriorating China-India relations.
Impact on regional ties
- Rather than forging alliance against China, India should focus on offsetting the loss of influence and momentum in its immediate neighbourhood (in South Asia), and in its extended neighbourhood (in West Asia)
- Further both China and USA are enlarging their influence in India's neighbourhood which is traditionally seen to be under India's sphere of influence.
- The Maldives has chosen to enter into a military pact with the U.S. to counter Chinese expansionism in the Indian Ocean region.
- India also needs to make sure that UAE-Israel linkage does not adversely impact India’s interests in the region.
- India also needs to devote greater attention to try and restore India-Iran ties which have impacted because of US sanctions.
- Further India's stand on Afghanistan has been wavering since US has decided on peace deal with Taliban.
- India also needs to balance its membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation SCO in the light of its new relationship with USA.
- With China and Russia as the founding members of SCO it was conceived as an anti-NATO entity.
- India has also distanced itself from the African and the Latin American countries owing to its distancing from the NAM.
Impact on India Russia Relations -
- Finally such closeness with US can adversely impact India-Russia relations
- Russia has been an all weather friend for India for the past decades.
- India-Russia relations are also being impacted because of expanding Russia-China relations.
- Thus India will need to handle its relations with Russia with skill and dexterity, as it would be a tragedy if India-Russia relations were to deteriorate at a time when the world is in a state of disorder.
India US foundational agreements –
- India and the United States signed theBasic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), the last of four so-called foundational agreements for sharing sensitive information, sales of advanced military hardware and geospatial cooperation, during the 2+2 ministerial dialogue.
- With this India has signed all the four Foundational Defense agreements the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) , the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) and the theBasic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).
- An extension to the GSOMIA, the Industrial Security Annex (ISA), was signed at the last 2+2 dialogue
About the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA)
- The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) is essentially an agreement proposed between the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency of the US department of defence and the defence ministry that will allow India and the US to share military information which includes maps, nautical and aeronautical charts, commercial and other unclassified imagery, geodetic, geophysical, geomagnetic and gravity data.
- Most of the information that will be shared will be that of the unclassified category but there is a provision of sharing classified information as well with proper safeguards in place to ensure that the information is not shared with any third party.
What will India gain from the agreement?
- The agreement will allow US armed forces to provide advanced financial navigational aids and geospatial intelligence which will improve the military’s accuracy of automated hardware systems and weapons like cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and drones.
- BECA will also help India and US counter the growing Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region thereby strengthening the Quad.
- The agreement will also help India at a time of standoff with the Chinese army in Ladakh.
UPSC Current Affairs:A secure future for platform workers – Article| Page 7
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Indian Economy | Mains – GS Paper III – Indian Economy
Sub Theme: Gig Workers |UPSC
Recently, the Indian Parliament has passed the 3 Labour Codes in order to consolidate the multiple labour laws, reduce the compliance burden on the Industries and boost employment creation. One of these 3 labour Codes i.e. the Code on Social Security, 2020 has for the first time sought to legally acknowledge the presence of Gig Workers and Platform workers. It seeks to register all such workers and provide them with social security benefits. A number of Governments across the world such as Canada, California etc. have already sought to give due recognition to these workers and ensure their rights. Hence, the move of the Indian Government is a step in the right direction. However, this article here discusses various constraints and challenges with respect to the provisions incorporated for the benefit of Platform workers.
In this regard, we will focus on the following dimensions:
- Growth of Gig Economy
- Difference between Normal Employees and Gig/Platform workers
- Problems in the implementation of welfare measures for the Platform workers
It refers to the form of economy in which the organizations employ contractual, non-permanent employees instead of permanent employees. The Gig-economy workers range across the spectrum of professions, from the highly paid to below-minimum-wage. This trend is very strong in advanced economies like the US wherein a large number of firms hire contractual workers on a short-term basis.
Gig Economy in India
According to the recent estimates, 13 lakh Indians have joined the Gig Economy in the last half of 2018-19, registering 30% growth compared to the first half of the financial year. Further, it is estimated that out of 21 lakh jobs that will be created in the metros in 2019-20, 14 lakh jobs will be created in Gig Economy. Food and e-commerce companies would account for the major share of job creation in the Gig Economy.
Note: Gig workers as workers outside the traditional employer-employee relationship. On the other hand, Platform workers are defined as those who access organisations or individuals through an online platform and provide services or solve specific problems. Hence, there is a considerable amount of overlapping between the Gig workers and Platform workers. For example, Ola Cab Driver can be considered to be belonging to both these categories of workers.
Difference between Normal Employees and Gig/Platform workers
In the case of an ordinary employer-employee relationship, the employer dictates when, where, and how the work is carried out. Whereas Gig/Platform workers have complete control over those aspects subject to the terms of the contract. They are only responsible for ensuring that the expected result is met.
Reasons for the development of Gig Economy
- Rapid growth of the digital communication wherein the workforce is highly mobile and work can be done from anywhere without any geographical barriers.
- Adoption of Gig Economy reduces the operating costs of the firms since the companies would not be liable to pay pension and other social security benefits.
- Flexibility to the workers wherein they can switch jobs frequently and choose work which suits their area of interest.
- Recent slowdown in the formal employment creation has also boosted the development of Gig Economy.
Protection provided to Gig/Platform Workers under Social Security Code 2020
The Code on Social Security, 2020 provides for the registration of all the Gig workers and Platform workers. It calls upon the Central and State Governments to formulate schemes to ensure social security benefits such as Insurance for the Gig workers. It also empowers the Government to set up Social Security Funds for their benefit. The contribution to these funds may be funded from contributions of Centre, State and aggregator platforms such as Uber, Zomato etc.
Concerns raised in the article
- Lack of Labour Rights: Platform workers often have limited control over their work (for instance, in some cases they cannot set prices, they are required to wear uniforms, they cannot choose the order of their tasks, etc.). This in turn makes them prone to the exploitation of the platform-based companies.
- Greater control by Employees: It is being said that the Gig/Platform workers enjoy higher level of freedom and flexibility in their work. However, these advantages get over-shadowed by their higher dependence on the platforms. Take for instance, if a person wants to work a cab driver or food delivery agent, he needs to own vehicle. Since, poor people do not have access to loans, they come to be dependent on the platforms for the loans provided by them. This in turn reduces the flexibility associated with the Gig Economy. The Workers would have to work according to the needs and requirements of the Platform companies.
- No Guaranteed Benefits: The Industrial workers are automatically guaranteed social security benefits such as Provident Funds, Insurance, Maternity benefits etc. However, such benefits are not automatically extended to Gig Workers. The Central and State Governments are required to come up with schemes to provide these benefits. So, the social security benefits for the Gig Workers depend upon the political will of the Government.
- No Guaranteed Contribution by Aggregator Platforms: The Code on Social security mandates the Industries employing workers above a certain threshold level to compulsorily contribute towards social security benefits such as Provident Fund and Insurance. However, as far as Gig Workers is concerned, the language in the code does not provide for compulsory contribution by the aggregator platforms. Hence, it is left open to the Government whether to seek contribution from the aggregator platforms or not.
- No legal Rights for Gig Workers: The Industrial workers are given legal rights over the various aspects of work such as Payment of Minimum wages, safe working conditions, right to strike, right to form trade Unions etc. However, such rights have not been recognised in case of Gig workers.
UPSC Current Affairs: Baroda bypoll: a battle of prestige | Page 4
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Polity & Governance | Mains: GS Paper-II – Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: Bypolls | UPSC
- Fundamentally, bye-elections are elections, which are held to fill previously elected offices that have fallen vacant, before the ceasure of such elected offices’ tenure. The main motive behind conducting bye-elections in India is also for serving the above said purpose.
- Bye-elections (also known as By-elections or Special elections) are commonly referred to in India by the name Bypolls. The legitimacy of bypolls in India springs from the Representation of Peoples Act, 1956.
- The word Bye-election finds its mention in the provisions of the Act. In fact, it would be right to say that the Election Commission of India (abbreviated as ECI) procures its source of authority from Sections 147, 149, 150, 151 and 151(A) of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1956 (abbreviated as RPA, 1956). Sections 147, 149, 150 and 151, which speaks about bye-election could be consolidated as follows:
When the seat of a member elected to
Council of States (or) b. House of People (or) c. State Legislative Assembly (or) d. State Legislative Council
becomes - a. vacant (or) b. declared vacant (or) c. the member’s election to any of such bodies is in itself declared to be void
before the expiration of term of office, then the ECI shall by notification in official gazette call upon
Members of Legislative Assemblies or electoral-college concerned (or)
Assembly constituency (or)
Parliamentary constituency (or)
Council constituency or Members of the State Legislative Assembly respectively
for the purpose of filling up the vacancies, so caused,
before the date specified in such notification.
Provided, the provisions of this Act and the rules made thereunder shall apply in relation to the election of members to fill such vacancy.
This consolidated form of Sections 147, 149, 150 and 151 is necessary for the easy understanding of what is a bye-election. From this one could say that, an election which is conducted by the ECI for filling vacancies caused before the normal term of expiration in the seats of either House of Parliament or either House of State Legislature, in order to frictionlessly continue the Democratic process, without waiting for the next General Election to commence, is called bye-election in India. The member elected by a bye-election will have a term of office equal to the remaining tenure of preceding member.
When is a bye-election conducted?
- By vacancy or declaration of vacancy of a member’s seat in either House of Parliament or that of State Legislature:
- The death of any sitting member will naturally create a vacancy in his or her seat.
- The Chairman or Speaker, as the case may be, may accept the resignation of any sitting member of either house of Parliament or that of State Legislature, which is voluntary and genuine and this will have an effect of his or her seat becoming vacant. This has been stated in articles 101 and 190 of the Indian Constitution.
- The seat of a member of either House of Parliament or that of State Legislature will be declared vacant if the member is absent for a period of 60 days without the permission of the House.
- Bye-elections are more common to occur due to the vacancy arising from contesting in an election from more than one constituency. Candidates are misusing certain provisions of law under RPA, 1956 that provides for multiple elections, for their own self interests rather than that of the society.
- Article 101(2) of Indian Constitution says that a person’s seat in Parliament will become vacant if the person who is chosen a member of both Parliament and of a house of State Legislature has not resigned any of those seats.
- Similarly, article 190(2) of Indian Constitution says that a person’s seats in Legislatures of all states would become vacant if he did not resign all seats except one within the stipulated time.
- Vacancy may emerge on grounds of defection under schedule 10 of the Constitution.
- Vacancy of seats may transpire also due to ineligibilities or disqualifications of the members, as prescribed by law.
- By declaring as void the election through which the member was earlier elected to either House of Parliament or either House of State Legislature - There exist instances where bye-elections were called, because of voting irregularities and other like reasons.
The ECI is bound to hold bye-elections within six months from the date of arising of vacancy in either house of the Parliament or that of the State Legislature, under Section 151-A of the RPA, 1956. But there are exceptions to this basic rule set out by Section 151-A of RPA, 1956.They are as follows:
- When the remaining tenure of the member in relation to vacancy is less than 1 year.
- When the ECI, in consultation with the Central Government certifies that it is difficult to hold bye-elections within that time constraint.
UPSC Current Affairs: More ups than downs in India ties |Page 7
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Current events of international importance | Mains – GS Paper II – International Relations
Sub Theme: India-US Relations – Trump’s Re-election prospect | UPSC
With the first term of Trump's presidency coming to an end, the article analysis the manner in which India-US relations have played in the last few years.
India had expected the win of Hillary Clinton in the last US elections. However the win of Donald trump came as a surprise and India had the challenge of aligning its diplomacy with the trump administration.
Initial years of Trump's presidency -
- In the initial days the Trump administration delivered a few blows to India’s expectations from the U.S.
- These blows included - VISA restrictions imposed by the US, Trump had called India as the “tariff king” and he had clubbed India and China both on trade and on receiving an unfair advantage on climate change. This eventually led to the US moving out of the Paris Deal.
Things Changed After 2017
- PM Modi was invited to the White House. It was at this time the US administration changed its stance of the South Asia Policy which included decisions like - revival of the Quad and renaming of its Pacific Command as the ‘Indo-Pacific’ Command, had all set into motion a more positive foreign policy framework for India.
- In 2018 things improved further and India was categorised under the Strategic Trade Authorisation (STA)- 1, the first 2+2 dialogue; the signing of the COMCASA in a shape acceptable to us; the approval by Congress for a general waiver provision in the CAATSA; a (temporary) waiver for India on Iran oil purchases and Chabahar.
- It was in this year the US president had wowed to end aid to Pakistan that had given the U.S. “nothing but lies and deceit” and “safe haven to terrorists”.
- Subsequently, the U.S. suspended its military assistance payments, military sales and led the way on Pakistan’s grey-listing at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to designate more terrorists at the UN Security Council, including those that targeted India.
- The U.S. offered India moral and military support to counter Chinese aggression, led its own attack on China’s Belt and Road Initiative and its 5G telecom push and vowed (not yet realised) a counter to China’s loans to countries in the Indo-Pacific region
- Trump administration started talks with Taliban for Afghan peace process.
- It provided concessions to Pakistan in Afghanistan and
- Announced the withdrawal of Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) status for Indian exporters.
- He had relayed private conversations with PM Modi publicly.
- This included details of a conversation he had with the Mr. Modi over China’s transgressions at the LAC this year (which the MEA denied),
- Details of conversation on tariffs on Harley Davidson Motorcycles,
- Threat to India over its ban on exports of the drug Hydro chloroquine, and
- The claim that PM Modi had asked him to “mediate” between Pakistan and India on Kashmir
However some positives were that -
- Mr. Trump has not raised objections to the Modi government’s decision on Article 370,
- The arrest of leaders and telecom ban in Kashmir, or on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).