QUESTION : Discuss the legal status of right to work in India and major challenges faced by workers in day to day life .
Topic- CAN THE RIGHT TO WORK BE MADE REAL IN INDIA ?
Status of Right to work
WHY IN NEWS ?
As economies around the world struggle to recover from the double whammy of a pandemic and a lockdown, unemployment is soaring. There is a growing demand for work as a right.
RIGHT TO WORK :
- It is the right to earn livelihood without any obstruction.
- The term ‘right to work’ is often used in the context of unemployment or lack of availability of work.
- Safeguarding employment: The state should generate its own employment. But at the same time, it’s also supposed to safeguard people’s employment. That includes everything, from ensuring that street vendors have vending zones, and fish workers are protected, to ensuring that farmers have viable incomes.
- All of this comes broadly under the right to livelihood or right to work.
LEGAL STATUS OF RTW :
- Internationally: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, both of which were acceded by India, recognise the right to work in an employment of one’s choice and the State’s responsibility to safeguard this right.
- In India, we don’t have a constitutional right to work but it is provided under DPSPs.
o Article 41 of the Constitution provides that “the State shall within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want.
- Under right to life: In Olga Tellis & Ors. v Bombay Municipal Corporation & Ors.- ‘right to work’ was recognised as a fundamental right inherent in the ‘right to life’.
- Statutory right: Under MGNREGA, a person can hold the state accountable for not fulfilling the right by demanding an unemployment allowance. But if the law is amended or withdrawn, the right vanishes.
RELEVANCE OF RTW :
- India has been seeing a declining jobs-to-GDP ratio, and mostly jobless growth, with labour also subject to the laws of the market. It is precisely under these circumstances that this right becomes important.
- There are questions about the responsibility of the state in a capitalist economy where welfare and employment are not a guaranteed by-product of private economic activity.
- Ignoring GDP per capita: For instance, GDP growth can come from both an increase in the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction as well as from the manufacture of medicines. We rarely discuss per capita GDP growth; from the vantage point of people’s welfare, the former matters more.
- Distribution issues: For a labour-abundant country like India, how much policy sense it makes to encourage capital-intensive methods of production. More and more automation in a country like India is likely to lead to jobless growth.
- Profound lack of public goods and assets: In MGNREGA, the asset creation part is often under-emphasised.
- Weak labour laws: The government has whittled down 44 labour laws into four labour codes that labour organisations have criticised as a dilution of workers’ rights.
India is a labour surplus economy. In the capital-labour bargaining process, labour is structurally weak in India.
WAY FORWARD :
- Decentralised Urban Employment and Training, or DUET: It is to create new employment opportunities so that those who are unemployed may be gainfully employed and earn a dignified living.
- Creating public goods:
It is the state’s responsibility to provide these public goods, and this imperative can be combined with an employment creation programme just like MGNREGA does in rural areas.
- Providing basic services: It is incumbent on the state to provide basic services such as health, education and housing, and in providing them, employment is generated.
- Better condition for workers: An effective employment guarantee programme can be an excellent solution to the structural weakness of labour.
- Right to leisure: If the state guarantees a good eight hours of work, then automatically one is guaranteed that the rest hours are for enjoying life
Topic- MEDIA REGULATION THAT IS QUITE OVER THE TOP
QUESTION : What is Over the Top (OTT) media services? Critically analyse the benefits and challenges offered by the OTT media services in India.
Issues with the regulation of digital media by government
WHY IN NEWS ?
Recent decision of the government to regulate digital media through the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and issues with it.
REGULATING THE PRESS :
- Recently, government put the online news and current affairs portals along with “films and audio-visual programmes made available by online content providers” under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
- Through the move, government is clubbing the only sector of the media which has pre-censorship, namely films with the news media which has so far, at least officially, not been subject to pre-censorship.
- The move hijacks matters before the Supreme Court of India relating to freedom of the press and freedom of expression to arm the executive with control over the free press, thereby essentially making it unfree.
- It also hijacks another public interest litigation in the Supreme Court relating to content on “Over The Top” (OTT) platforms not being subject to regulation or official oversight to bring that sector too under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
- The move creates an artificial distinction between the new-age digital media which is the media of the future, the media of the millennial generation — and the older print and TV news media.
REASONS GIVEN BY THE GOVT AND ISSUES WITH IT :
- The explanation given is that the print media have the oversight of the Press Council of India and the TV media of the News Broadcasters Association (NBA).
- Therefore the digital media needed a regulatory framework — no less than that of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
- However, there is no comparison between the Press Council of India and the NBA as professional bodies on the one hand and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on the other.
- The fate of the digital media under the control of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting leaves little scope for hope.
WHAT ARE OTT MEDIA ?
- An over-the-top (OTT) media service is a streaming media service offered directly to viewers via the Internet.
- OTT bypasses cable, broadcast, and satellite television platforms, the companies that traditionally act as a controller or distributor of such content.
- The term is most synonymous with subscription-based video-on-demand (SVoD) services that offer access to film and television content.
- They are typically accessed via websites on personal computers, as well as via apps on mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablets), digital media players, or televisions with integrated Smart TV platforms
REGULATING OTT :
- Currently, there is no law or autonomous body governing digital content. The recent move will give the government control over OTT platforms, which were unregulated till now.
- From time to time, the government had indicated the necessity to monitor these platforms.
- In October 2019, the government had indicated that it will issue the “negative” list of don’ts for the video streaming services like Netflix and Hotstar.
- It also wanted the platforms to come up with a self-regulatory body on the lines of the News Broadcasting Standards Authority.
SELF-REGULATION IS NOT SUFFICIENT :
- Anticipating the government’s intervention, in January 2019, video streaming services had signed a self-regulatory code that laid down a set of guiding principles for content on these platforms.
- The code adopted by the OTTs prohibited five types of content:
- Content that deliberately and maliciously disrespects the national emblem or national flag,
- Any visual or storyline that promotes child pornography
- Any content that “maliciously” intends to outrage religious sentiments
- Content that “deliberately and maliciously” promotes or encourages terrorism and
- Any content that has been banned for exhibition or distribution by law or court
- The government had refused to support this code.
ISSUES INVOLVED IN THIS CASE OF REGULATING DIGITAL MEDIA :
- Constitutional Rights involved: The content of the episodes in question goes against and demeans the constitutional right of access to equality of employment
- Balancing contending interests: The court has to balance the right to freedom of speech versus right of dignity of a community and hate speech
- Public interest issue: Since the case deals on issues of “foreign funding” and “reservation”, there has to consultation with government before any order
- Role of Courts: Constitutional values, human dignity are needed to be protected but the court cannot “become the enforcers of programme code” (which falls under the domain of Executive)
- Extent of Courts Power: There is debate on whether the court could order a blanket injunction of a programme or should restrict itself to only those portions which hurt a community.
- Complex Nature of Hate Speech: Hate speech comes dressed as small nuggets of facts, and a lot depends on the tenor, tone and manner of their presentation. Thus any regulation of speech has to be on case-to-case basis.
- Sophisticated Nature of Media Space: The lines between the different platforms for media and journalism today are increasingly blurring. For example, Sudarshan TV also has a dedicated YouTube channel, where all of its programs are uploaded.
- Ineffective implementation of existing rules: The laws to tackle incendiary content and hate speech that fuels violence is already in place. What is seen lacking is a will to uniformly apply these rules, irrespective of political affiliations.
- Ability to survive legal scrutiny: Earlier attempts at imposing a high degree of liability on intermediaries (like Google & Facebook) for content posted on their platforms have not survived legal scrutiny, with Section 79(1) of the IT Act, 2000, giving them some immunity in this regard.
WAY FORWARD :
- Better regulation: Efforts must be made to enable regulations that would lower the barriers to media ownership and reduce concentration of media ownership.
- Legislation: Although India has the Press Council of India and specific regulations, the country needs more detailed law regarding the media
- Adherence to Media Ethics: It is important that the media stick to the core principles like truth and accuracy, transparency, independence, fairness and impartiality, responsibility and fair play.
- Tackling Fake News: Countering content manipulation and fake news to restore faith in the media without undermining its freedom will require public education, strengthening of regulations and effort of tech companies to make suitable algorithms for news curation
- There should be a Moral Code of Conduct for such contents.
The government regulations would be counterproductive for both the media practitioner and the media entrepreneur and for the start-ups that have been the new vibrant face of contemporary journalism.