CANDI 11 AUGUST 2021
The shaky foundation of the labour law reforms
GS 2 – Governance
The Central government enacted the Code on Wages in August 2019 and the other
three Codes- the Industrial Relations Code, the Occupational Safety, Health and
Working Conditions Code and Code on Social Security (CSS) in September 2020.
• It announced that the wage index’s base year would be shifted from 1965
to 2019 to use the revised wage index to determine minimum wages.
• The Government said the codes would extend universal minimum wages
and social security, enable enhanced industrial safety and the provision
of social security to gig workers, among other things.
• The Industrial Relations Code provides for recognition of trade union(s) by
employers, a labour right that eluded workers for seven decades.
• Non-inclusive nature : The Government has held only symbolic and
partial consultation with the central trade unions.
• Migrant workers’ conditions: Unorganised workers including migrant
workers continue to be deprived of their promised and extended
o In the meanwhile, the Supreme Court of India has exerted pressure on
both the central and the State governments to implement a ‘one
nation, one ration card’ (ONOR) scheme and register all the
unorganised workers under the National Database for Unorganized
Workers (NDUW), which was to have been done by July 31, 2021.
Government agencies are rushing to comply with both the directives.
o In ONOR, Aadhaar seeding and the universal availability of an
electronic point of sale (EPOS) system are necessary.
o Portability of benefits of migrant workers needs to be ensured. The
reforms do not provide a framework for this.
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• Poor implementations: Major States such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West
Bengal, Maharashtra, Haryana and Delhi have not issued the draft rules
under any codes.
o The central government has deferred the possible date of
implementation to October 1, 2021, again tentatively.
• Poor safety record: The incidence of major industrial accidents has
remained undiminished even during the COVID-19 period.
o For instance, IndustriAll reported that between May to June, 32
major industrial accidents occurred in India, killing 75 workers.
Industrial safety continues to be a grave concern even after the
enactment of the Occupational Safety, Health and Working
• Covid-19 impact: According to several research reports, COVID-19
intensified informality, led to the withdrawal of workers from the labour
market, reduced earnings, increased unemployment and widened
• The non-statutory floor level minimum wage remains a meagre ₹178 still
even as Wholesale Price Index-inflation rates have galloped to 12% in June
• The increase in the threshold for standing orders will affect the labour
rights and bargaining power for workers in small establishments having
less than 300 workers.
• Elongating the legally permissible time frame before the workers can go
on a legal strike, making a legal strike near impossible.
• The design and coverage of the social security fund is unclear.
• Given the temporary nature of workers in the , there are question marks
over social security for them.
India needs to score impressively on the ease of doing business exercise by any
agency including the World Bank by the execution and proper implementation of
labour reforms. It will create a health business environment.
CONNECTING DOTS FOR PRELIMS
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• Labour is a subject in the Concurrent List where both the Central
& State Governments are competent to enact legislation subject to
certain matters being reserved for the Centre.
• Article 23: Traffic in human beings and begar and other similar
forms of forced labour are prohibited
• Article 24: No child below the age of fourteen years shall be
employed to work in factories, mines and other hazardous
• Article 39 (d): “The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards
securing; that there is equal pay for equal work for both men and
• Article 43A directs the state to take steps to ensure workers
participation in management of industries.
Source: THE HINDU
Saudi Arabia, Iran and the possibilities of détente
GS 2 – International Relations
A geopolitical shift is more visibly evident in the Persian Gulf. The region’s
geopolitics revolve around local rivalries; fuelled by internal violence and amplified
by the conflicting interests of the great powers.
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• The Persian Gulf is a nearly 990 kilometre-long body of water that
separates Iran from the Arabian Peninsula.
• The Persian Gulf is an arm of the Arabian Sea between the
mountainous coast of southwestern Iran and the rather flat
coast of Arabian Peninsula.
• The inland sea is connected to the Gulf of Oman in the east by the
Strait of Hormuz.
• Persian Gulf Countries: Eight countries border the Persian Gulf,
Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates,
Oman (Musandam exclave) and Iran.
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• The gulf is fed by the Shatt al-Arab in the northwest, a major river
formed by the confluence of the Euphrates and the Tigris. Some
minor Iranian rivers such as the Mond River, the Zohreh and the
Helleh River, also empty into the Persian Gulf.
• The Persian Gulf is an important transportation route since antiquity
and therefore a contested region.
• Oil production in the Persian Gulf on industrial-scale began only in
• Today the Arab states of the Persian Gulf provide approximately 20%
of the world oil production.
• At its narrowest point, in the Strait of Hormuz, it is only 54 km wide
and the main shipping channels that pass through it are 30km-35
km wide and 8km-12 km wide.
• The Strait of Hormuz is situated between Qeshm Island and the
Iranian coast in the north and the Musandam Peninsula of the
Arabian Peninsula in the south.
o The strait is recognized as an international trade route. It links
the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman.
o The waterway is of strategic and economic significance, all
ocean transport to and from the oil-rich countries must pass
through the strait. About one-fifth of the world’s seaborne oil
is transported via the Strait of Hormuz.
Brief history of Persian Gulf:
• For over a century till the early 1970s, the Persian Gulf was a British lake.
• The imperial withdrawal propelled the United States to step in as the
guarantor of the sub-region with its Twin-Pillars (Iran-Saudi Arabia)
• The Iranian Revolution of 1978-79 disturbed the strategic balance in the
region and put an end to efforts to develop a regional consensus on security
• The formation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in 1981 was part of
the effort to reassure the Gulf sheikhdoms.
• Subsequent developments in the region relating to Syria and the
Hezbollah on the one side and the Saudi intervention in the Yemen on the
other conflict pushed back, even reversed, peace initiatives.
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• The Egyptian Revolution (1952) and Gamal Abdel Nasser’s ‘intoxicating
blend of nationalism and radicalism’ set the region alight.
• It led to the Yemeni coup of 1962, the Egyptian military intervention in
Yemen and the souring of Saudi-Egyptian relations that lasted till the ArabIsraeli war of 1967.
• USA’s interventions: This suited the interests of the United States; military
assistance programmes and the stationing of U.S. troops during the Kuwait
war of 1990 followed.
• Iraq war (2003) US negligence of its role and the bullying of its allies in the
Gulf, a resulting loss in confidence from its regional allies, and the counterproductive handling of Iraq since 2003 reflects a broader strategic shift in
behaviour of US allies in favour of a greater Chinese role in the Persian
• ISIS: The United States’ precipitous departure from Iraq in 2011, for
example, paved the way for the rise of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS)
and the expansion of Iran’s regional footprint.
• The Trump era and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action witnessed a
qualitative strengthening of ties between them.
The key issues
• Changing geopolitics: The Middle East is no longer a top priority for the
o The U.S. withdrawal from the broader region is evident in the
departure of troops from Afghanistan and reductions in U.S. military
commitments to Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, alongside a
heightened focus on China and Russia.
o Iran-Saudi Arabia talks: Iran confirmed publicly for the first time that
it is in talks with its regional arch rival Saudi Arabia, saying it would
do what it could to resolve issues between them.
o Saudi Arabia close to abandoning its war in Yemen while the UAE,
a major rival of Tehran in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC),
surprisingly leads the medical support for Iran.
• Covid-9 impact on oil prices: Most States have been affected adversely by
the historically low oil prices and by COVID-19. The GCC has become
inoperative with the focus on the boycott of Qatar that is now being reversed.
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• The Abraham Accords between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain have
qualitatively influenced the Arab-Israelirelations in the Persian Gulf States
and in the wider Arab world.
• The U.S.’s decision to withdraw forces from Afghanistan and reduce
commitments in Iraq: The Saudi failure to subdue the Houthis and to close
the Yemen conflict on their terms has become a source of concern. The U.S.’s
inability to subdue Iran on its terms has also become evident.
• Security of persian gulf: The impact of these recent developments on Saudi
Arabia-Iran relations needs to be assessed in this context.
o Their primary concern is security in the Gulf littoral and the security
of the waterway for the transportation of their hydrocarbon exports.
• Improving Iran-Saudi Arabia ties: Washington must find a way to pair
reductions in military commitments with gains in regional stability. One of
the best opportunities for achieving those gains lies in emerging talks
between the region’s two most consequential antagonists: Iran and Saudi
• The essential ingredients of the roadmap would need to be:
o freedom of access to, and outlet from, Gulf waters through the Strait
o freedom of commercial shipping in international waters in the Persian
o prevention of conflict that may impinge on the freedom of trade and
o freedom to all States of the Gulf littoral to exploit their hydrocarbons
and other natural resources and export them;
o ensure conditions of peace and stability in the individual littoral
o ensure that regional or extra-regional conditions do not impinge on
any of these considerations.
The recent pronouncements from Riyadh and Tehran do tend to suggest an
inclination to be supportive of some of these suggestions. This is to be welcomed
since from an Indian viewpoint the requirement is and will continue to be stability
in the littoral States, freedom of navigation and safety of sea lanes.
Source: THE HINDU