Important current affairs from The Hindu, PIB and Indian express.
Context: Three organisations representing the Bru community displaced from Mizoram have rejected the resettlement sites proposed by the Joint Movement Committee (JMC) – an umbrella group of non-Brus in Tripura.
Background: The JMC comprising the Bengali, Mizo, Buddhist Barua and other communities had submitted a memorandum to the Tripura Government specifying six places in Kanchanpur and Panisagar subdivisions of North Tripura district for the resettlement of the Brus who fled ethnic violence in Mizoram since 1997.
Bru Tribe: Bru (or Reang) tribals inhabit parts of Northeastern states of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura. In Mizoram, they are largely restricted to Mamit and Kolasib. Background: In 1995, following a clash between Mizos and Brus, the Young Mizo Association and Mizo Students’ Association demanded that Brus be removed from the state’s electoral rolls, contending that the tribe was not indigenous to Mizoram. This led to an armed movement led by the militant outfit Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF), and a political one by the Bru National Union (BNU). Many Bru villages were burnt down and scores allegedly raped and killed, which led to the displacement of 40,000 Bru people. A large number of Bru families fled to North Tripura. The first phase of repatriation started in November 2010, when 1,622 Bru families with 8,573 members were resettled in Mizoram. The process was stalled in 2011, 2012 and 2015 amid protests by Mizo NGOs. Brus settled in Tripura also expressed fears for their security in Mizoram.
To tide over a crisis-like situation created by severe seawater incursion into paddy fields in vast areas of the Sundarbans after cyclone Amphan hit West Bengal, farmers are experimenting on the pokkali variety of rice from Kerala.
Pokkali Rice The pokkali variety is known for its saltwater tolerance. It is endemic to central Kerala. It is grown in coastal Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts. It has been granted the Geographical Indication (GI) tag. Pokkali is an ancient farming practice. One season of rice farming is alternated with another season of prawn culture. When the salinity is high, prawn farming takes over. The rice crop doesn’t require other fertilizer or manure as the tidal flows make the fields highly fertile and it draws nutrients from the prawns’ excrement and other remnants. Details: The rice variety’s remarkable tolerance to salinity and floods makes it unique. About 80% of the rice paddies in the Sundarbans face the problem of saltwater incursion. If the pokkali experiment succeeds, it would be a good step to turn around the fortunes of the farmers.
Context: The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) decided against closing down operations of the LG Polymers plant in Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. Background: A gas leak in Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh had claimed at least 11 lives and affected thousands of residents in five villages. The source of the leak was a styrene plant owned by South Korean electronics giant LG.
Qualified institutional placements (QIPS) are a way to issue shares to the public without going through standard regulatory compliance. It follows a looser set of regulations; however, the allottees are highly regulated. Qualified institutional buyers (QIBs) are the only entities allowed to purchase QIPs. A qualified institutional placement (QIP) is, at its core, a way for listed companies to raise capital without having to submit legal paperwork to market regulators. SEBI created the rule to avoid the dependence of companies on foreign capital resources.
Context The pandemic has enforced changes in the labour market which have not only enhanced unemployment but has also led to the erosion of workers’ rights. The article analyses the impact of the pandemic on various sectors, especially on manufacturing. Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on labour market: The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown has impacted the labour market in a very harsh manner, such as the decline or complete loss of livelihoods, which have led to a severe impact on migrant workers and the working poor.
Workers providing essential services: There has been a large increase in the workloads and working schedules of other workers such as health workers and those providing essential services.
Workers in the service sector: Service sector experienced huge lay-offs and retrenchments due to the pandemic, but this has also been an agent for transforming the workplace. Technically qualified employees have been able to continue their work from home through remote working arrangements. This has led to a change in their work-life balance and resulted in indeterminate net effects on productivity. Most of the employees have been involuntarily forced into working remotely, often under stressful conditions because of the pandemic, which could lead to diminished motivation and concentration as well. However, these longer working hours have not been counterbalanced by the wages prevalent before the outbreak of the crisis. It can be clearly said that the pandemic has directly disrupted the lives of millions of workers in countries across the globe by resulting in a significant reduction in wages, reduction in working hours and layoffs.
ILO report on employment amid pandemic Increase in job loss: It is expected that 6.7% of working hours equivalent to 195 million full-time workers will get eroded in the second quarter of 2020. This will result in large scale unemployment worldwide and a higher proportion of it will be from the Arab nations, Europe, Asia and the Pacific regions. The sectors which will be badly affected are accommodation and food services, manufacturing, retail, and business and administrative activities. Declining labour productivity A decade long significant reduction in the productivity of labour, since the global financial crisis of 2007-09, is being faced by the world economy. It is evident from various studies that the pandemic has caused severe effects on the productivity of labour. A study conducted by the World Bank on 35 advanced and 129 emerging markets and developing economies concluded that the four pandemics that occurred during the period 2008-18 led to severe impacts on the productivity of labour via a decline in investments resulting due to a growing sense of uncertainty. Furthermore, the increased sense of uncertainty about the ongoing pandemic and its duration could also lead to disruption in trade and foreign direct investment (FDI). Although the pandemic has resulted in changed behaviour, it was expected that this changed behaviour would escalate the take-up of new technologies, encourage greater efficiency and speed up scientific innovation among businesses. The analysis of Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) data clearly demonstrates that the productivity of labour in the organized manufacturing sector has declined in a significant manner over the past eight years. The productivity of labour was also lower than the neighbouring country China. Indian economy amid the pandemic Many emerging and developing economies were facing much weaker growth before the onset of the pandemic. Accompanied by the structural features of the slowdown, this would aggravate the long-term impacts of deep recessions associated with the COVID-19 crisis. A deep slowdown has been witnessed by the Indian economy prior to the occurrence of this pandemic. There has been a decline in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for nine consecutive quarters. Given the risk aversion at the global level, the possibility of a revival in private and corporate investment is supposed to be fallen behind. Changing nature of manufacturing amid the pandemic According to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, in order to alleviate the shortage of workers during the pandemic, the manufacturing sector could also seek the mass adoptions of latest technologies, such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and big data. This in turn would lead to a reduction in 10-20% existing jobs specifically in labour-intensive industries. In a labour surplus country like India, the replacement of labour with new technologies will cause severe effects on the generation of employment. Nevertheless, new jobs that would be created are supposed to provide room for 5-10% of jobs for highly skilled workers. Erosion of workers’ right amid the pandemic Although the labour laws of India are blamed for this reduction in productivity. Recently, some states such as Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat have declared a slew of labour laws suspension in order to avail the benefits from the disrupted global supply chains because of conflicts in trade, to invite foreign investments for international firms seeking to move production out of China and provide support to the businesses in recovering from the losses of the pandemic. These policy changes have led to undermining worker rights and dismantling of decades-old protective measures that were framed to abide by ILO conventions and constitutional obligations.
Conclusion: Adoption of labour-displacing technologies and dilution of labour rights in the wake of the pandemic and associated events have made the labourers pay a heavy price. Sadly, other alternatives to expand public investment in the economy have not been explored. Measures such as wealth tax can be introduced by the government to finance public investment. The government needs to focus on stimulating aggregate demand and increasing purchasing power to revive the economy