26th November 2019
TOPIC: State legislatures (Paper II)
Discuss the need to prevent political coalitions of convenience.
In Maharashtra, BJP turned the tables on its political rivals with the help of a faction of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) led by Ajit Pawar. These political maneuvers in the state raise several pertinent questions of law and propriety.
The Anti-Defection law:
- The anti-defection law seeks to recognize the need to place the proprieties of political and personal conduct above certain theoretical assumptions, which have fallen into a morass of personal and political degradation.
- A political party functions on the strength of shared beliefs. Any freedom of its members to vote as they please independently of the political party’s declared policies will not only embarrass its public image and popularity but also undermine public confidence”
Coalition as a unit:
- In a multiparty parliamentary arrangement like India, coalitions have become almost an inevitable reality.
- Apart from the formal institutional arrangements, pre-poll alliances function as a single consolidated unit.
- The partners do not contest elections against each other. Their cadres and volunteers work for the coalition and not just their individual parties.
- The voters vote for a set agenda and political ideology on whose premise the coalition rests.
- The coming together of two or more parties and the agenda set by them is considered before casting vote.
- Therefore, cases of the coalition should be covered under the anti-defection law. Otherwise, the real object and purpose of the 10th Schedule will not get accomplished.
- Law Commission of India, in the 170th report on ‘Reform of the electoral laws’, opined that a ‘pre-election front/coalition’ of political parties should be treated as a ‘political party’ for the purposes of the anti-defection law.
Demeaning to voters:
- The political maneuvering by parties in Maharashtra is demeaning to the aspirations of the State’s people.
- There is a need to check post-poll ‘alliances of convenience’. Here, parties with diametrically opposite election manifestos and promises come together to share power.
Need to take steps that prevent defection:
- Political parties and individual candidates can be made to disclose a list of ‘probable post-poll alliances’ under a legal framework drafted by the Election Commission.
- This might help the electorate to gauge the level of ideological and political commitment of the parties and candidates.
- The voters might be in a better position to understand the supposed rivalry among different parties.
- Situations like those in Maharashtra, Haryana and Karnataka post-election can possibly be avoided(biggest rivals become allies after polls)
- As noted by B.R. Ambedkar, “the working of a Constitution does not depend wholly upon the nature of the Constitution. The Constitution can provide only the organs of State… The factors on which the working of those organs of the State depend are the people and the political parties they will set up to carry out their wishes and their politics.”
- Democracy cannot be restricted to the mere casting of votes and the formation of the government. It is also about the trust among the voters of an electorate that the mandate given by them will be reflected in the government formed after elections.
26th November 2019
TOPIC: Indian economy. (Paper III)
Discuss the draft Labour Code on wages Act, 2019.
The rules to the Labour Code on Wages Act 2019 were proposed.
- It is expected that the draft rules to the Act would be a game-changer for the workers in the informal sector.
- Informal workers account for 93% of the total working population and contribute to over 60% of India’s GDP.
- The law proposes to increase income capacity and the purchasing power of the informal workers.
- Supreme Court of India’s judgment in the ‘Raptakos’ case (1991) advocated the concept and the right of a living wage.
- The proposed framework to determine wage will continue pushing ‘starvation wages’ in India.
- This would mean that “starvation wages” which currently guarantees just ₹178 per day, will continue to exist. Consumer Expenditure Survey shows the average family expenditure in rural areas to be ₹83 per day and in urban areas as ₹134.
- These figures show how workers will continue to live in exploitative and marginalised conditions.
- This is despite ‘Need-Based Minimum Wage’ being a Supreme Court jurisprudence.
Good case study
- The governments of Delhi and Kerala have managed to achieve a living wage jurisprudence in recent years.
- They have also set the highest living wage in India (₹14,842 a month in Delhi and ₹600 a day in Kerala).
Challenges with the new Reforms:
- The concept and intention of floor wage in the draft rules reiterate archaic principles echoed by the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court.
- Labour market preys on the excess availability of workers for whom living a precarious life is their permanent mode of existence.
- A floor-level wage would only encourage and exacerbate this archaic practice and promote forced labour.
- Another concern with the law is the provision of an arbitrary deduction of wages based on performance, damage or loss, advances, etc.In India, employers, due to their higher social status, continue to exploit labour with impunity.
- The draft rules propose another ad-hoc and unclear mechanism called the “inspection scheme”.
- The draft rules do not clarify the governance and institutional structure for the “labour inspection system” in the law.
- In the absence of clarity in the draft rules, workers will not be able to demand even basic work rights in the fear of wage deductions and will continue to be oppressed and marginalised.
The International Labour Organisation’s Labour Inspection Convention of 1947 (Convention C081) has been ratified by India. It provides for a well-resourced and independent inspectorate that allows thorough inspections and free access to workplaces. The Labour Code on Wages Act 2019 and the draft rules have failed the lives and aspirations of over 50 crore informal workers in India. Working people are a national asset; undermining their well-being should be considered the biggest anti-national act.