India drops plan for orange passports amidst protests

Tamil Nadu Transport Workers end strike after High Court intervenes

8 January 2018: 17 unions representing workers of Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) went on an indefinite strike from 4 January 2018, after 16 months of negotiation since the 13th wage agreement talks, between unions and the state government remained inconclusive. The unions have been demanding that the wages of the workers be made at par with drivers in other state government corporations and the unpaid pensioners’ gratuity for several years and social security deductions from workers’ wages totaling in excess of Rs.7500 crores be credited to the respective accounts. The transport corporation has retaliated by imposing wage cut for the seven-day strike period and has issued charge memos, including transfer orders to workers who participated in the strike.

The strike was called off after Madras High Court appointed its former judge E. Padmanabhan as an arbitrator to adjudicate the dispute between the government and workers over the quantum of wage revision and directed the workers to resume work.

Honorarium Workers organise all India strike

18 January 2018: Over 2 million honorarium workers protested all across India on 17 January 2018 demanding the implementation of the 45th Indian Labour Conference (ILC) recommendations of recognising them as workers, ensuring a minimum wage of Rs.18,000, and social security benefits. The workers also demanded sufficient financial allocation in the Union Budget (2018-19), to ensure rise in wages for the workers and to stop privatization of the schemes by the government.

Economic Survey 2017-18 tabled in Parliament

29 January 2018: The Economic Survey was tabled in Parliament today by the Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley. Some of the key highlights of the survey are:

Growth

  • GDP growth rate at constant market prices for the current year is placed at 7.1 per cent.
  • Service sector has been estimated to have grown at 8.9 per cent and Industrial growth rate at 5.2 per cent, lower than 7.4 per cent in 2015/16
  • Priority to social infrastructure like education, health to promote inclusive growth

Universal basic income

  • Universal Basic Income (UBI) proposal a powerful idea, but not ready for implementation
  • UBI an alternative to plethora of state subsidies for poverty alleviation but would cost between 4 and 5 per cent of GDP

Ease of Doing Business

  • The next frontier for making business easier should be to address delayed justice.
  • The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code is reducing legal uncertainty.

Labour

  • Urban migration leading to feminisation of farm sector
  • Technology should be used for better enforcement of labour laws
  • Farmers’ losses attributed to climate change but no solutions proposed.

ONGC to buy governments 51.11% stake in HPCL for Rs. 36,915 crore

20 January 2018: The acquisition of 51.11% of government’s stakes in Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd (HPCL) by Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd (ONGC) will help the government comfortably achieve its divestment target for this fiscal. The transaction is expected to close by the end of this month.

The deal is exempt from a public offer as both the entities are related parties.

India drops plan for orange passports amidst protests

31 January 2018: The Indian government has dropped plans to issue orange passports to unskilled workers which, it had proposed, would have prevented exploitation of vulnerable workers when they were employed overseas.

Opponents said the two different passports would result in greater discrimination as they would be treated as ‘second class citizens’ of the country.

India sends an estimated 17 million migrant workers to the world who remitted almost $70 billion in 2015, according to the World Bank.

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