The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019: Dodged Prerogatives or Short Sighted Policies?

Introduced in July 2019 in the Lok Sabha as one of the four Codes aimed at labour reforms, the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code embodies an amalgam of provisions relating to safety, health, welfare and working conditions of workers by a merger of thirteen major Central laws. Abiding by the constitutional guarantees under Articles 24, 39 (e & f) and 42 and in the wake of the fatalities caused by industrial accidents and inhumane work conditions, this Code assumes great significance in laying down duties and rights of employees and their employers.  (more…)

The Direct Tax Vivad Se Vishwas Act, 2020: Is Tax Recovery an Alternative for Tax Policy Reforms?

On 5th February 2020 the Finance Minister introduced “The Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Bill, 2020” in the Lok Sabha. The primary objective of this Bill was to provide a solution for income tax disputes which are pending. Thereafter, some official amendments were proposed by the key stakeholders. After the amended Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, it finally received the President’s assent on 17th March 2020 and thus the Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Act, 2020 came into being. (more…)

India’s Tourism Industry in times of COVID-19: Policies for a Prospective Revival

It has been over six months since the first case of coronavirus was detected in India, and almost four months since it was declared as a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation. A virus classified as ‘quite deadly’ stands to affect close to 50 thousand Indians, with above 10 thousand cases of recovered patients and over 2000 deaths. This is the largest pandemic to hit the globe in a century and that is why its impact is not solely concentrated on the health sector and its response but is most certainly going to involve a large toll on major sectors of economy including tourism. (more…)

North East Gas Grid Project: Can we Promote Natural Gas as a Sustainable Fuel?

On January 8th, 2020, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved funding of INR 5,559 Crore for the North-East Gas Grid project. The proposed length of the gas grid pipeline is 1,656 km. The Project will connect Guwahati in Assam to major cities in the North-East Region– Itanagar, Dimapur, Kohima, Gangtok, and Numaligarh to name a few. The original budget for the project was INR 9,262 Crore. The lack of anchor customers makes the Project less economically viable, hence, the government has provided a viability gap funding of 60%, and the association in charge of the Project has stated that the remainder of the funding will be raised through equity and debt. (more…)

National Health Policy, 2017: A Favorable Development with Room for Change

The Constitution of India makes every State responsible for “raising the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties”. But the healthcare system in India exhibits numerous challenges in its access, affordability, quality and coverage in urban and rural areas. To tackle the challenges of the healthcare system, the government of India has introduced numerous schemes and brought about changes in its existing policies. One of these changes was the introduction of National Health Policy (NHP) in 2017. Fourteen years after the NHP of 2002, the new health policy was introduced in the context of rise in non-communicable diseases, enhanced fiscal capacity, emergence of a robust health care industry and increasing healthcare expenditure by people. Through the National Health Policy of 2017, the perspective of health has changed from cure to prevention to lay the foundations of a proactive approach in the health sector. (more…)

Energy Access in India: Is the Disadvantaged Strata Excluded?

Around 940  billion people in the world do not have access to electricity and more than 3 billion people suffer because of lack of access to clean cooking fuels. Since independence, India has made substantial progress, however, it has a huge population, deprived of access to energy, chiefly amongst the vulnerable sections of its population. The Census of 2011 highlights that only 30% households have access to clean fuels out of which only 12% is constituted by the rural population. A research states that tribal populations and people of lower caste have 10-30% less access to clean cooking fuel and electricity majorly due to the caste system and rigid hierarchies in the society. (more…)

The Hour of the Basic Income

The spread of COVID-19 has exposed the inadequacy of measures nations claimed they had, to deal with a crisis. A microorganism succeeded in locking down nations, disrupting markets, and exposing loopholes in the existing policies and welfare systems.  As India wades through the stormy seas of averting a health crisis, millions are left bereft of livelihoods and safety nets. The plight of migrant workers has brought to light the true state of our social infrastructure as they were denied basic services to even get back home. 

Thomas More in his 16th century book titled Utopia wrote …provide everyone with some means of livelihood, so that nobody’s under the frightful necessity of becoming, first a thief, and then a corpse’. Since then, several humanist thinkers, politicians, billionaires and social activists have lent their support to Universal Basic Income (UBI). The Economic Survey of 2016-17 had designated UBI as a powerful idea to be deliberated upon but not yet ripe for implementation. As the Coronavirus pandemic lingers and experts are left in a dilemma in predicting a definite last date to the war against the virus, there can be no better opportunity than now to analyze the idea of UBI and evolve an appropriate mechanism. (more…)

Housing Migrant Workers: The Biggest Ambiguity in Labour Policies Framework?

According to the 2011 Census, India has 5.6 crore inter-state migrants, which is 33% less than the number that was observed in the previous census conducted in 2001. This population is mainly employed by the unorganised/informal sector and plays a significant role in the accelerated growth story of India’s urban infrastructure. The current policies have not been successful in equipping the migrant labour workforce with crucial amenities like housing in the cities they have migrated to, which added to their quandary during the COVID pandemic. Provision for habitation for the migrant workforce has only now been brought to the forefront for discussion, which reflects the failure of the government and detachment from the transformative constitutionalism mechanism. (more…)