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The Hindu Analysis Free PDF Download

Date: 27 July 2021

NEWS

  • India’s first medal winner at Tokyo Olympics Mirabai Chanu gets hero’s welcome on her return to country

  • Lok Sabha passes Factoring Regulation Bill & National Institutes of Food Technology Bill
  • Govt to set up National Centre of Excellence for Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming & Comics
  • No proposal of privatization of Defence Public Sector Undertaking, Ordinance Factory Board: Govt
  • Centre accredits 236 academies across country under Khelo India Scheme
  • 22nd Anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas was celebrated across country yesterday
  • PM Modi to address nation on 29th July on completion of one year of transformational reforms under NEP
  • Over 43 crore 51 lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in country so far; National recovery rate reaches 97.35 per cent
  • RiseUp platform will bring together India-Bangladesh innovators and entrepreneurs: High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami
  • Prasar Bharati currently makes 239 AIR channels digitally available on its NewsOnAir App: MIB Anurag Thakur
  • Number of civilians killed, injured in escalating violence rises to record levels in first half of 2021: UN
  • Myanmar economy to shrink by 18 percent in 2020-21 World Bank
  • Typhoon In-fa disrupts life in Eastern China
  • Bangladesh reports highest COVID deaths, infections in a day
  • World Mangrove Day was celebrated yesterday

The big picture is of convergence | HT

  • Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will visit India
  • Washington and New Delhi have never been geopolitically closer than today.
  • Modi and Joe Biden —yet to meet face-to-face
  • The haste of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan,
  • Irritants in the trade and digital sphere,
  • Congressional lectures over Russian S-400 missiles,
  • The state of civil rights in the Narendra Modi government dominate headlines
  • The drivers behind this convergence...
  • President Biden’s attitude towards China
  • He now talks of a world where autocracies and democracies are in mortal combat for the future of the 21st century.
  • The apex struggle is the US versus China.
  • In Chinese lore, the greatest generals are not those who defeat their enemies in pitched battle, but who defeat them without fighting.
  • The racial and class divides tearing USA apart
  • From this flows the need to build coalitions of the willing around technology and innovation with one common characteristic — reducing dependence on China.
  • The administration has already issued a series of strategy papers on 5G, semiconductors, and more.
  • US is no longer a hegemon
  • The badge of globocop is at historical lows
  • The present US economic boom is overly dependent on foreign funds.
  • There is a renewed emphasis on allies and partners.
  • There is also a determination to end “forever wars” — unwinnable military commitments that leak blood, treasure, and public support but are no longer at the core of the US’s national interests.
  • New Delhi is a big fit with almost all of these foreign policy goals.
  • Reportedly, Washington believes India and the US will be the core of Quad for at least the next few years.
  • Not only India is the world’s third-largest carbon emitter at a tipping point but Modi is even more fervent about a green transition than Biden.
  • The Biden foreign policy has so far found its primary opponent to be Covid-19.
  • Quad members were busy riding out viral waves.
  • Biden administration has been creating new strategic groupings, proposing summits on climate and democracy, and issuing a flurry of documents and papers.

E-commerce | HT

  • In yet another attempt to regulate and rein in digital platforms and e-commerce companies, the department of consumer affairs has proposed changes to the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Act, 2019.
  • Though the focus has been on the impact of these laws on e-commerce retail firms, such as Amazon and Flipkart, the scope of the law is significantly broader and covers “all goods and services bought or sold over digital or electronic network”.
  • The first issue to analyse is that of overlapping jurisdiction, which can create ambiguity and policy uncertainty.
  • Many elements of the rules meant for consumer protection either have little relevance to consumers or are covered under different laws or even harm consumer interests, in some cases.
  • For instance, there is a clause stating that “No e-commerce entity which holds a dominant position in any market shall be allowed to abuse its position”, which falls under the ambit of the rules drafted under Competition Act, 2002, and under the purview of the Competition Commission of India.
  • Similarly, there are rules about the use of consumer information, which should be covered under a data protection and privacy Act.
  • Then, there are rules regarding vertical integration and the inventory model, which have previously been addressed by the commerce ministry and even foreign direct investment (FDI) rules.
  • The proposed amendments prohibit e-commerce entities from holding “flash sales”, which refer to sales at “significantly reduced prices, high discounts or any other such promotions or attractive offers for a predetermined period of time…”.
  • More importantly, it is hard to imagine how prohibiting high discounts and attractive offers is supposed to protect consumer interests.
  • E-commerce entities are directed to identify goods based on their country-of-origin and provide a filter mechanism for consumers to presumably search for only Indian goods.
  • The complex nature of integrated global value chains makes the country of origin a contentious issue that has led to tedious international trade disputes.
  • The new rules also mandate e-commerce companies to provide a domestic alternative for any imported goods or services offered for sale.
  • Consumer protection rules imposed on e-commerce firms should not be used for the atmanirbhar and swadeshi drive.
  • Perhaps the most contentious rule, is the “fallback liability” clause.
  • Registering with the department for promotion of industry and internal trade
  • Mandatory partnering with the National Consumer Helpline
  • The appointment of compliance officers. Every e-commerce platform must appoint a chief compliance officer (who will be liable for third party information on the platform)
  • Nodal contact person (to coordinate with law enforcement)
  • A grievance officer
  • Smaller e-commerce platforms and new entrants would be disproportionately affected by these rules, thereby reducing competition and harming consumers again.
  • An aggrieved customer still has the option to approach a consumer court, which the government can strive to strengthen and make it more accessible to consumers.

Wounded mountains | TH

  • The tragic death of nine tourists in a landslip in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh is another pointer to the fragility of the ecology of the Himalayan States.
  • Extraordinarily heavy rain pummelled the State recently, leaving the hill slopes unstable and causing floods in built-up areas including Dharamshala.

  • The descending boulders from destabilised terrain, which crushed a bridge like a matchstick, are a source of worry even for cautious local residents, and for unwary visitors, such as the tourists travelling in a van, they can turn into sudden disaster.
  • Himachal is famed for its scenic vistas and welcoming summer climate, and drew a few hundred thousand tourists in June this year as States began relaxing the controls for COVID-19.
  • Unfortunately, there was not enough vigil against travel to risky areas, in the wake of a disastrous year for tourism, resulting in the mishap in Kinnaur’s Basteri area.
  • What should worry Himachal, and neighbouring Uttarakhand, is that the States may be entering a phase of irreversible decline because of losses to their ecology; frequent landslides may become inevitable.
  • Bootstrapping an incompatible model of development in the hills, represented by big hydroelectric projects and large-scale construction activity involving destruction of forests and damming of rivers, is an invitation to harm.
  • Mega hydropower, which Himachal Pradesh is working to tap as a significant source of “green” power that substitutes energy from fossil fuels, could alter several aspects of ecology, rendering it vulnerable to the effects of extreme events such as cloudbursts, flash floods, landslides and earthquakes.
  • The parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy during 2018-19 noted that the State could more than double its existing harnessed hydropower potential of 10,547 MW.
  • Kinnaur is a focus point for such development, centred around the potential of the glacially-fed Sutlej valley, but one scientific estimate warns that avaricious tapping of the river through all planned projects would impound nearly a quarter of its waters in dams, and divert a staggering 72% through tunnels.
  • Evidently, it is impossible to assign a real value to the costs to people and communities, together with the loss of pristine forests that weak afforestation programmes cannot replace.
  • As catastrophic weather events inflict frequent, heavy losses, Himachal Pradesh and other Himalayan States can only watch their ecological base erode.

An emigration Bill that does not go far enough | TH

  • In early June 2021, the Ministry of External Affairs invited public inputs to the Emigration Bill 2021 (https://bit.ly/2VerwzX and https://bit.ly/2ULrNdS).
  • The Bill could be introduced in Parliament soon and presents a long overdue opportunity to reform the recruitment process for nationals seeking employment abroad.
  • For years, independent investigations into migrant worker conditions have underlined serious exploitative practices which include large recruitment charges, contract substitution, deception, retention of passports, non-payment or underpayment of wages, poor living conditions, discrimination and other forms of ill-treatment.
  • In recent months, media reports have highlighted how the majority of migrant worker deaths in the Arab Gulf States/West Asia are attributed to heart attacks and respiratory failures, whose causes are unexplained and poorly understood.
  • Labour migration is governed by the Emigration Act, 1983 (https://bit.ly/3i4gfvd and https://bit.ly/2VcJm6s) which sets up a mechanism for hiring through government-certified recruiting agents — individuals or public or private agencies.
  • It outlines obligations for agents to conduct due diligence of prospective employers, sets up a cap on service fees, and establishes a government review of worker travel and employment documents (known as emigration clearances) to 18 countries mainly in West Asian states and South-East Asian countries (https://bit.ly/2WmmfHp).
  • The Emigration Bill 2021 is an improvement over the 1983 Act.
  • It launches a new emigration policy division, establishes help desks and welfare committees, requires manpower agencies to conduct pre-departure briefings for migrants, and increases accountability of brokers and other intermediaries who are also involved in labour hiring.
  • But the Bill does not go far enough.
  • First, the 2021 Bill’s purpose “to consolidate and amend the law relating to emigration of citizens of India”, lacks a human rights framework aimed at securing the rights of migrants and their families. Progressive labour regimes do so.
  • For example, in a country such as the Philippines, it explicitly recognises the contributions of Filipino workers and “the dignity and fundamental human rights and freedoms of the Filipino citizens”.
  • Another significant drawback is that the Bill permits manpower agencies to charge workers’ service fees, and even allows agents to set their own limits.
  • International labour standards such as International Labour Organization (ILO) Private Employment Agencies Convention No. 181 and the ILO general principles and operational guidelines for fair recruitment recognises that it is employers, not workers who should bear recruitment payments including the costs of their visas, air travel, medical exams, and service charges to recruiters.
  • Large-scale surveys by the ILO and the World Bank show that Indian workers pay exorbitant charges for their jobs and that poorer workers pay progressively larger fees — Indians in Saudi Arabia paid on average $1,507 in recruitment charges; their counterparts in Qatar paid $1,156.
  • To some, recruitment charges might appear like a justified service fee, but the tens of thousands of rupees that workers pay far exceed the real cost of recruitment.
  • When low wage migrants pick up the tab it makes them vulnerable to indebtedness and exploitation.
  • Worker-paid recruitment fees eat into their savings, force them to take high-interest loans, live on shoe-string budgets, and in the worst cases of abuse, leave workers in situations of debt bondage — a form of forced labour.
  • But perhaps the Bill’s most glaring inclusion is that it permits government authorities to punish workers by cancelling or suspending their passports and imposing fines up to ₹50,000 for violating any of the Bill’s provisions.
  • When enforced, it can be used as a tool to crackdown on workers who migrate through unregistered brokers or via irregular arrangements such as on tourist visas.
  • Criminalising the choices migrant workers make either because they are unaware of the law, under the influence of their recruiters, or simply desperate to find a decent job is deplorable, runs contradictory to the purpose of protecting migrants and their families, and violates international human rights standards.
  • Migrants in an irregular situation who fear that they could be fined or have their passports revoked, are also less likely to make complaints or pursue remedies for abuses faced.
  • This Bill does not also adequately reflect the gender dimensions of labour migration where women have limited agency in recruitment compared to their counterparts and are more likely to be employed in marginalised and informal sectors and/or isolated occupations in which labour, physical, psychological, and sexual abuse are common.
  • To ensure that labour recruitment works for the tens of thousands of Indian women and men who migrate outside our borders each year, the Ministry of External Affairs must start at the top, and draft a clearer purpose which explicitly recognises the contributions of Indian workers, the unique challenges they face, and uphold the dignity and human rights of migrants and their families.
  • Then it must address the specific provisions that diverge from this purpose.

ANS

Q.)Mirabai Chanu won a silver medal in the 49 kg weightlifting category at the Tokyo Olympics. Who won the gold?

  1. Hou Zhihui
  2. Aisah Windy Cantika
  3. Fang Wan-Ling
  4. Sterckx Nina

Q.) Name the 82 year old who trained to be an astronaut in the 1960s but never got a chance to fly to space until now and accompanied Jeff Bezos on Blue Origin’s maiden travel to space.

  1. Mark Bezos
  2. Oliver Deamen
  3. Wally Funk
  4. Brad Stone