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Labour Laws in Tea Estates

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Why in the news?

  • A report by Oxfam, a confederation of independent charitable organisations focussing on the alleviation of global poverty, has flagged violation of labour rights in the tea estates of Assam.
  • The report attributed the condition of plantation workers to the “relentless squeeze by supermarkets and brands on the share of the end-consumer price for tea”. The researchers found that despite working for over 13 hours a day, workers earn between ₹137-167 while tea brands and supermarkets “typically capture over two-thirds of the price paid by consumers for Assam tea in India — with just 7% remaining for workers on tea estates”.
  • Oxfam asked consumers, supermarkets and brands to support the Assam government’s move to provide living wages to workers and to ensuring more of the price paid by the consumers trickle down to them.


What is a living wage?

  • Living wage is a wage sufficient to ensure the workman food, shelter, clothing, frugal comfort, provision for evil days etc. as regard for the skill of an artisan, if he is one. According to Fair Wages Committee Report: “The living wage should enable the male earner to provide himself and his family not merely the basic essentials of food, clothing and shelter but a measure of frugal comfort including education for the children, protection against ill-health, requirement of essential social needs and measures of insurance against old age.” Thus living wages means the provision for the bare necessities plus certain amenities considered necessary for the wellbeing of the workers in terms of his social status.
  • Its difference from the minimum wage can be seen as follows. The minimum wage may be defined as the lowest wage necessary to maintain a worker and his family at the minimum level of subsistence, which includes food, clothing and shelter. When the government fixes minimum wage in a particular trade, the main objective is not to control or determine wages in general but to prevent the employment of workers at a wage below an amount necessary to maintain the worker at the minimum level of subsistence.



Status of Renewable Energy

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Why in the news?

By the end of September 2019, India has installed more than 82,580 MW of renewable energy capacity with around 31,150 MW of capacity under various stages of installation. Thus, by the first quarter of 2021, India would have installed more than 1,13,000 MWof renewable power capacity. This would constitute nearly 65 per cent of the targeted capacity.Besides this, around 39,000 MW of renewable power capacity is at various stages of bidding which would be installed by September 2021, taking the percentage of installed capacity to over 87 percent of the targeted capacity. With only 23,000 MW of renewable power capacity left to bid, India is confident that the target of installing 1,75,000 MW of renewable power capacity will not only be met but exceeded.

What is the current status of India’s renewable energy?

  • Since March 2014, India’s renewable power capacity has increased from 34000 MW to 82,580 MW recording 138 percent growth. 
  • Globally, India stands 5th in solar power, 4th in wind power, and 4th in total renewable power installed capacity. 
  • If large hydro included, India stands 3rd in renewable power capacity globally. 
  • India’s renewable energy programme is much beyond production of electricity and covers a basket of applications including the use of solar thermal energy for cooling, heating, drying and other industrial applications. Renewable energy has emerged as a true multi-benefit system, combining ecological necessities with domestic priorities, economic and job creation opportunities.
  • The wind power tariff has fallen from Rs4.18 per unit in 2016 to Rs.2.43 per unit during the last year and even today it remains below Rs 2.75 per unit. Similarly the solar tariffs have fallen from Rs 4.43 per unit (with VGF) to Rs.2.44per unit.

What schemes have been launched to support India’s renewable energy sector?

  • The first is the Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSU) Scheme Phase-ll for setting up 12,000 MW grid-connected SPV Power Projects, by the Government Producers with Viability Gap Funding (VGF) support of Rs. 8,580 crore for self-use or use by Government or Government entities, both Central and State Governments. The Scheme mandates use of both SPVcells and modules manufactured domestically as per specifications and testing requirements. 
  • The second is PM-KUSUM (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthan Mahabhiyan) scheme to be implemented over the next four years for de-dieselization of the farm sector and increasing farmers’ energy independence and income. Under the scheme, India has plans to provide 1.75 million stand-alone solar agriculture pumps and carry out solarisation of 1 million grid connected agriculture pumps by the year 2022. Under the same scheme, Government is also encouraging farmers to set up small solar plants of the size of 500 KW to 2 MW on barren lands for their additional income. Three components combined, the scheme aims to add a solar capacity of 25,750 MW by 2022. The total central financial support provided under the scheme would be Rs. 34,422 crore. 
  • The third is Roof Top Solar Phase-II programme SRISTI (Sustainable Rooftop Implementation for Solar Transfiguration of India) scheme for accelerated deployment of solar roof top systems in the country. Under this scheme Central Financial Assistance for 4000 MW of small roof top capacity and incentives to Distribution Companies for 18,000 MW capacity by 2022 have been provided. 
  • These schemes will also act as catalyst for adding solar cell and module manufacturing capacity in India. Further, the Tariff Policy is being revised to ensure timely adoption of tariffs.


Prelims Specific

  • ‘Surakshit Matritva Aashwasan(SUMAN)’ was launched for Zero Preventable Maternal and Newborn Deaths alongwith its website and the grievance redressal portal. Under the scheme, the beneficiaries visiting public health facilities are entitled to several free services. These include at least four antenatal check-ups that also includes one checkup during the 1st trimester, at least one checkup under Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan, Iron Folic Acid supplementation, Tetanus diphtheria injection and other components of comprehensive ANC package and six home-based newborn care visits. There will be zero expense access to identification and management of complications during and after the pregnancy. The government will also provide free transport from home to health institutions.