The Hindu Editorial Summary

Topic-1 : Impact of Climate Change on Labour 

GS-2 Mains Exam  : Health

Revision Notes

Question : Examine the key impacts of climate change on the labour force in India, focusing on sectors such as agriculture, MSMEs, and construction.

Source: International Labour Organization’s (ILO) report, ‘Ensuring safety and health at work in a changing climate’

Key Impacts of Climate Change on Labour

  • Excessive heat
  • Solar ultraviolet radiation
  • Extreme weather events
  • Workplace air pollution
  • Vector-borne diseases
  • Agrochemicals

Most Affected Sectors in India (and Workforce Size)

  • Agriculture (80% of 600 million workforce): Informal farm laborers with little to no protection from heat.
  • Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) (123 million workers): Highly informal sector with limited oversight by Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) departments.
  • Construction (Urban-Centric): Workers face urban heat island effect, prone to physical injuries and air pollution related health hazards.

Additional Notes

  • Gig workers (1.5% of workforce in 2023, projected to grow to 4.5% by 2030) are also highly susceptible to heat stress.
  • Many Indian cities are among the most polluted globally, further endangering construction workers.

Existing Laws on Workplace Safety in India

  • Over 13 Central Laws regulate work conditions across sectors. Examples include:
    • Factories Act, 1948
    • Workmen Compensation Act, 1923
    • Building and Other Construction Workers Act, 1996
    • These were consolidated into the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 (OSH Code, 2020).
  • Enforcement Issues
    • OSH Code, 2020 not yet officially enforced.
    • Unions critical of the OSH Code for potentially weakening safety standards.
    • Majority of MSMEs (over 64 million) not registered under the law, escaping inspections.
  • Heat Stress
    • Factories Act offers vague guidelines on ventilation and temperature.
    • Needs amendments to address rising heat stress.
  • Occupational Illness
    • Potential rise in silicosis cases due to:
      • Increased coal production (highest ever in 2023-24)
      • More mines opening
      • Exposure to silica dust

Side Notes

  • Silicosis is an occupational lung disease caused by inhaling crystalline silica dust. Over time, exposure to silica particles causes permanent lung scarring, called pulmonary fibrosis.
  • Silicosis is a serious and potentially fatal disease. There is no cure for silicosis, but there are treatments that can help ease symptoms and improve quality of life. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to slow the progression of the disease.
  • Silicosis is most common in workers in the following industries:
  • Sandblasting
  • Mining
  • Foundry work
  • Stone cutting
  • Construction
  • Pottery making

Conclusion

  • Focus on climate resilience often overlooks worker health and productivity. The need for universally accepted regulations to protect workers from climate impacts is crucial.

Additional Notes

The International Labour Organization (ILO)

Structure

  • The ILO accomplishes its work through three main bodies:
    • International Labour Conference (ILC):
      • Sets international labour standards and broad ILO policies.
      • Meets annually in Geneva.
      • Functions as an “International Parliament of Labour”.
    • Governing Body:
      • Executive council of the ILO.
      • Meets three times a year in Geneva.
      • Makes policy decisions and establishes program and budget.
      • Supported by tripartite committees and committees of experts.
    • International Labour Office (ILO):
      • Permanent secretariat of the ILO.
      • Focal point for overall activities under Governing Body and Director-General.
      • Regional meetings are held periodically.

Functions

  • Create coordinated policies and programs for social and labour issues.
  • Adopt international labour standards (conventions and recommendations) and oversee implementation.
  • Assist member states with social and labour problems.
  • Protect human rights related to work.
  • Conduct research and publish works on social and labour issues.

Objectives

  • Promote and realize standards and fundamental principles and rights at work.
  • Create greater opportunities for decent employment for all.
  • Enhance social protection coverage and effectiveness.
  • Strengthen tripartism and social dialogue.

Key Concepts

  • International Labour Standards:
    • Set by ILO through conventions (ratified by member states) and recommendations (non-binding).
    • Conventions are adopted by the ILC and become legally binding instruments upon ratification.
  • Decent Work Agenda:
    • Aims to achieve decent work for all through social dialogue, social protection, job creation, and respect for labour standards.
    • ILO provides technical support to over 100 countries with development partners.

 

 

The Hindu Editorial Summary

Topic-2 : Strengthening Animal Protection Laws in India: A Pressing Need

GS-2 Mains Exam  : Health

Revision Notes

 

Question : Evaluate the weaknesses of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, in addressing animal cruelty in India. Suggest reforms to strengthen the Act.

  • India’s primary law for animal protection is the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960. This Act criminalizes various forms of cruelty against animals.

Global Trend: Stronger Animal Cruelty Laws

  • Many countries are reforming animal cruelty legislation (e.g., Croatia’s stricter penalties for pet abandonment).

Weaknesses of the PCA Act (1960)

  • Misalignment with Punishment Theories: The Act fails to achieve:
    • Retribution: Most offences are bailable/non-cognizable, hindering punishment.
    • Deterrence: Meagre fines (as low as ₹10) haven’t been revised in over 130 years, offering weak deterrence.
    • Rehabilitation: No provisions for community service or offender rehabilitation programs.
  • Loopholes and Weak Enforcement:
    • Judicial Discretion: Courts can choose between imprisonment and fines, allowing perpetrators to escape harsh punishments.
    • Lack of “Community Service”: The Act doesn’t consider alternative punishments like animal shelter volunteering.

Consequences of a Flawed Legal Framework

  • Insignificant penalties and weak enforcement mechanisms embolden perpetrators and discourage reporting of animal abuse.

Importance of Stronger Laws

  • Stronger animal protection laws are needed to:
    • Discourage animal cruelty through stricter penalties.
    • Encourage reporting of animal abuse.
    • Provide for rehabilitation of offenders to prevent future cruelty.

India’s Moral Obligation: Upholding Ahimsa

  • India, a nation known for ahimsa (non-violence), has a moral duty to strengthen animal protection laws.

A Call to Action: Prioritizing Animal Welfare Legislation

  • The new government forming in June 2024 should prioritize passing amendments to the PCA Act (1960).
  • A revised Act with stricter penalties, improved enforcement, and rehabilitation measures is crucial.

Moving Forward: A Global Leader in Animal Protection

  • By taking decisive action, India can fulfill its moral responsibility and become a leader in animal protection legislation.

 

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