1. AAP secures win with 134 seats in municipal polls, ends 15-year rule of BJP
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) recorded its maiden victory in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) election on Wednesday, winning 134 seats and ending the 15-year rule of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the helm of the civic body. However, with 104 seats in hand, the BJP suggested that it would still have a say in choosing the next Mayor of the Capital.
The results indicated a neck-and-neck contest between the two parties.
Early trends showed the BJP taking the lead, but the AAP soon edged past to clinch victory.
In vote share terms, only three percentage points separated the two parties, while the Congress was left far behind.
AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal promised to live up to the people’s mandate. “Today, Delhi has entrusted its son with the job of cleaning this city’s garbage, eradicating corruption from the municipality and putting all parks back in shape. I can’t ever pay back for this love but I will do whatever it takes to fulfil every single responsibility with utmost care,” Mr. Kejriwal said.
The high-stakes civic poll was the city’s first since three erstwhile municipal corporations were merged to constitute a unified MCD in May.
The number of municipal wards was also reduced from 272 to 250, as part of a delimitation exercise.
2. RBI goes slow on rates, limits increase to 35 bps
Worldwide slowdown can dent India’s growth to 6.8% from the 7% projected earlier, says central bank Governor Shaktikanta Das, but adds that the worst of inflation is over for the country
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday raised the policy repo rate by 35 basis points (bps) to 6.25%, downshifting gears from consecutive increases of 50 bps, and scaled down GDP growth hopes for the year to 6.8% from 7%, even as Governor Shaktikanta Das exuded confidence about the economy being resilient and asserted that “the worst of inflation” was behind us.
A 100 basis points equal one percentage point. The central bank retained its inflation projection for 2022-23 at 6.7%, noting that inflation will ease but stay well above the 6% upper tolerance limit set for the RBI.
Mr. Das vowed to keep an “Arjuna’s eye” on evolving inflation dynamics, even as cooling global prices for crude oil, commodities and other items extend hope of relief.
Having hovered well over RBI’s upper tolerance limit of 6% since January 2022, retail inflation eased slightly on a sequential basis to 6.8% in October, but Mr. Das noted that core inflation remains sticky and the medium-term outlook “is exposed to heightened uncertainties from geopolitical tensions, financial market volatility and the rising incidence of weather-related disruptions”.
RBI Deputy Governor Michael Patra said the moderation of inflation will be “very grudging, very uneven” so the central bank must first “shepherd inflation firmly into the tolerance band (below 6%) and then to the 4% target”.
The RBI now expects inflation to average 5.9% in the January to March 2023 quarter, drop to 5% in the first quarter (Q1) of 2023-24 and edge up to 5.4% between July and September 2023, assuming a normal monsoon.
The central bank believes that the economy is “resilient” with the Q2 of 2022-23 clocking 6.3% GDP growth, in line with its estimate, and economic activity gaining further strength in October bolstered by urban consumption and a recovery in discretionary spending. However, it expects GDP growth to wane to 4.4% in Q3 and 4.2% in Q4 owing to adverse spillovers from the global slowdown and its negative impact on India’s exports and overall economic activity.
“The biggest risks to the outlook continue to be the headwinds emanating from protracted geopolitical tensions, global slowdown and tightening of global financial conditions. Real GDP growth is projected at 7.1% for Q1 of 2023-24 and at 5.9% for Q2. Even after this revision in our growth projection for 2022-23, India will still be among the fastest-growing major economies in the world,” the statement said.
3 Editorial-1: The perils of undoing the framework of reservation
Early last month, the Supreme Court of India upheld the 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act, which had introduced 10% reservation for the economically weaker sections (EWS). The EWS quota and the Court judgment that followed have shifted the discussion on the legacy of affirmative action based on caste in India.
With this judgment, there seems to be an emergent consensus for a social policy framed on the universal basis of deprivation stemming from economic backwardness. The last two decades of jobless growth and increased economic insecurity have added credence to such demand. However, delegitimising caste as a basis for policy is a monumental mistake with real consequences, given the deepening of wealth inequality on caste lines.
Welfare entitlement and the realities
The new consensus, ostensibly rooted in universalism, comes with a claim that every individual, regardless of caste and ethnicity, should get her due in welfare entitlement. While the claim is understandable, it needs to be scrutinised with ground realities. The collective disadvantage experienced by certain groups is unique to each of them, and their specific deprivations require specific resolutions. Contemporary inequalities are not produced in one’s lifetime. The group-based differences in economic and social outcome are not due to differential ambition, ability, and effort. They are inheritances. These inherited inequalities — economic, cultural and social capital — are passed on to successive generations. One such site of intergenerational inequality is wealth. Caste mediates transfers of wealth over generations in India. The latest survey, the All India Debt & Investment Survey (AIDIS-2019) released in 2021 shows the trend of deepening caste inequality in wealth in India. AIDIS collects information on physical assets such as land, livestock, buildings, agricultural machinery, and transport equipment, as well as financial assets such as shares, deposits and amount receivable by the household. Wealth is a better measure of economic status than income and consumption. Wealth is a stock variable that takes time to change while income/consumption is a flow variable that alters frequently.
Inequality is broadly found to have risen in India between 1990 and 2020, particularly in the early 2000s. Such a rise has been varied based on the dimension and method one adopts. This is more severe in the case of wealth, followed by income and consumption inequality. The gini index of wealth inequality has gone up from 0.62 in 1992, 0.63 in 2002 and 0.67 in 2012 to 0.68 in 2019. Contrast this with the available consumption figure of 0.37 or income which stands 0.54 in 2012 and you get a better picture.
The average per capita of wealth among the upper castes was ₹8,03,977 in 2019 as against ₹4,09,792 for OBCs, ₹2,28,388 for Dalits and ₹2,32,349 for tribals. In other words, on average, the upper castes own wealth more than three times of Dalits and twice that of OBCs. They control about 45% of the total wealth in the country followed by OBCs holding 40%, Dalits 10% and Adivasis 5%. The upper castes not only own a larger share of wealth but are also disproportionately concentrated in the top quintile. About 55% wealth in the top quintile is controlled by the upper castes followed by 36% for OBCs, 5% for SCs and 3% for tribals. Contrary to popular perception, it is not income or saving behaviours of individuals that have generated alarming wealth inequality, but it is a product of the long history of institutional exclusion of certain caste groups.
The source of the wealth gap is historical and inherited. If we disaggregate wealth, land and building constitute a large part of it — 60% and 22%. respectively, followed by 7% of financial assets. These two components — land and buildings — are largely inherited. The land inequality in particular has a longer history going all the way back to the British colonial era. Colonial intervention which assigned land ownership to some castes at the expense of others continued in post-colonial India. India’s truncated land reform did not alter this legacy. The real estate boom post the 1990s further helped those owning land and buildings consolidate their wealth, thanks to increased land value due to speculation. The ratio of private wealth to national income increased from 290% in 1980 to 555% in 2020, estimated to be the fastest increase in the world by the World Inequality Report 2022. This is not surprising as India has zero taxation of wealth and inheritance.
How do we then craft our public policy in this context of such deepening wealth inequality? Can caste-neutral policy arrest this wealth gap? Those who argue for caste-blind policy seem to inadvertently rationalise this inequality. Caste-neutral policies cannot address the historical legacies of inequalities.. They are insufficient to arrest the magnitude of the caste gap in wealth. It is unfortunate that reservations became the singular policy instrument to address caste-based inequality in India. Despite modest achievements in improving access to education, jobs and enhanced earnings, it failed to address structural inequalities.
The caste wealth gap is not just a product of differences in education, jobs, and income but rather an inequality passed from one generation to the next. Hence, an improvement in education and access to jobs alone will not arrest this gap. Undoing the existing framework of reservation — by substituting caste by economic criteria — will not only reverse the modest gains made so far but also deepen structural inequality.
Anxieties over loss of social and cultural status among the middle classes are gaining ground in many countries particularly where some form of affirmative action is in place. In the United States, for instance, the gains brought about by affirmative action for Black Americans received ‘White backlash’ or ‘White rage’; similar has been the anti-reservation vitriol that culminated in introducing the EWS quota in India. Notwithstanding the differences in histories of caste and race, both continue to be durable institutions of inequality. While the legacies of these institutions are incommensurable to each other, the call for colour-blind policies has striking similarities with the debate on caste-neutral policy making in India. More recently, with Donald Trump coming to power, the U.S. has attempted to put a hold on affirmative action. The new government led by Joe Biden has not altered such reversals either.
The degree of inequality in any society is a political choice. Focusing on the past two centuries, Thomas Piketty argues “history of the distribution of wealth has always been deeply political, and it cannot be reduced to purely economic mechanisms”. A just society requires creating a level-playing field, altering the enduring legacy of inherited wealth and caste that block opportunities and life choices.
4 Editorial-1: BIMSTEC as key to a new South Asian regional order
December 8 is commemorated as SAARC Charter Day. It was on this day, 37 years ago, that the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), an intergovernmental organisation, was established by Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to promote economic growth in South Asia. Afghanistan acceded to SAARC later. However, SAARC has failed abjectly in accomplishing most of its objectives. South Asia continues to be an extremely poor and least integrated region in the world. The intraregional trade and investment in South Asia are very low when compared to other regions such as the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Pakistan has adopted an obstructionist attitude within SAARC by repeatedly blocking several vital initiatives such as the motor vehicles agreement, aimed at bolstering regional connectivity. Deepening hostility between India and Pakistan has made matters worse. Since 2014, no SAARC summit has taken place leaving the organisation rudderless, and practically dead.
Significance of regionalism
But why bother about SAARC? Because South Asia, that is India’s neighbourhood, is important for India’s national interests. This is best captured in the current government’s ‘neighbourhood first’ policy. SAARC is the only intergovernmental organisation with a pan-South Asia reach. India can judiciously employ it to serve its interests in the entire region. But India, in the last few years, has been looking at SAARC through the lens of Pakistan. Consequently, the deterioration in India-Pakistan relations has coincided with the incapacitation of SAARC, much to the delight of Pakistan. A weakened SAARC also means heightened instability in other promising regional institutions such as the South Asian University (SAU), which is critical to buttressing India’s soft power in the region.
A new narrative is that in South Asia, India can successfully use the instrument of bilateralism over regionalism to pursue its interests. While bilateralism is undoubtedly important, it can at best complement, not substitute, regional or multilateral efforts. Regionalism has brought immense success in other parts such as East Asia and Africa. Looking at ASEAN’s spectacular success in regional integration, international lawyers Julien Chaisse and Pasha L. Hsieh have developed the concept of a new regional economic order — a process through which developing countries search for a trade-development model, based on incrementalism and flexibility; this is different from the neoliberal model laid down by the Washington Consensus. Regionalism can deliver prosperity in the South Asian region too, especially because multilateralism is weakening.
The BIMSTEC promise
Since South Asia cannot repudiate regionalism, reviving SAARC by infusing political energy into it and updating its dated Charter will be an ideal way forward. However, in the current scenario, this is too idealistic. So, the next best scenario is to look at other regional instruments such as the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral, Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), an intergovernmental organisation established in 1997. BIMSTEC comprises five South Asian nations (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka) and two ASEAN countries (Myanmar and Thailand). Importantly, Pakistan is not a BIMSTEC member. In recent years, India seems to have moved its diplomatic energy away from SAARC to BIMSTEC. This resulted in BIMSTEC, after 25 years, finally adopting its Charter earlier this year. The BIMSTEC Charter is significantly better than the SAARC Charter. For instance, unlike the SAARC Charter, Article 6 of the BIMSTEC Charter talks about the ‘Admission of new members’ to the group. This paves the way for the admission of countries such as the Maldives.
Notwithstanding the improvements, the BIMSTEC Charter, to boost economic integration, does not contain the flexible participation scheme of the kind present in the ASEAN Charter. This flexible scheme, also known as the ‘ASEAN Minus X’ formula, allows two or more ASEAN members to initiate negotiations for economic commitments. Thus, no country enjoys veto power to thwart economic integration between willing countries. Given the experience of SAARC, where Pakistan routinely vetoes several regional integration initiatives, it is surprising that BIMSTEC does not contain such a flexible participation scheme. A flexible ‘BIMSTEC Minus X’ formula might have allowed India and Bangladesh or India and Thailand to conduct their ongoing bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations under the broader BIMSTEC umbrella. This would have eventually strengthened BIMSTEC by enabling the gradual and incremental expansion of these binding commitments to other members. India should press for this amendment in the BIMSTEC Charter.
Some steps to take
BIMSTEC should not end up as another SAARC. For this, its member countries should raise the stakes. A high-quality FTA offering deep economic integration — something that Prime Minister Narendra Modi also advocated at the last BIMSTEC ministerial meeting — would be an ideal step. Likewise, India should explore legal ways to move successful SAARC institutions such as SAU to BIMSTEC. These steps will give stronger roots to BIMSTEC and enable erecting a new South Asian regional order based on incrementalism and flexibility, ushering in prosperity and peace in the region.
5. Need for an effective tourist police
Crimes against tourists and other foreign nationals appear to be on the rise in India. Consider several recent cases, and the lessons they suggest. A few days ago, a Kerala session court sentenced two men to life imprisonment for the rape and murder of a Latvian tourist in 2018. A 12-year-old Russian girl was raped in a hotel in Goa on April 6 this year. The rapist was an employee of the hotel in which the girl was staying with her mother.
An Iraqi couple staying at a hotel in Gurugram for the treatment of the husband in the Medanta hospital was accosted by two miscreants posing as policemen on October 23. They accused the couple of carrying drugs and on the pretext of checking their wallets, fled with $15,000 the couple had saved for the treatment.
On September 2, a British woman lawyer lodged a complaint of sexual misconduct against a cab driver who was ferrying her from the airport to her hotel in South Delhi. The incident traumatised her to the extent that she left for the U.K. within two days of her arrival.
These are just a few incidents of foreigners falling victim to crimes in our country. Women are more prone to sexual attacks by criminals on the prowl in tourist destinations. For every crime committed against foreigners, there would be several others that go unreported for multifarious reasons, with one of them being the fear instilled in them by the threats of these criminals. In the South Delhi incident, the British national was reluctant to lodge a formal complaint out of fear.
Crimes against foreigners
According to data of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Delhi recorded 27 cases of crime against foreigners last year, a drastic decline from 62 cases reported in 2020 and 123 in 2019. Rajasthan has shown a sharp reduction in registration of crimes from 16 in 2019 to just 4 in 2020 and two cases last year, which could be attributed to the sharp decline in tourist arrivals due to COVID-19.
As many as 29 foreigners were murdered in the last three years. While 14 foreigners fell victim to rape last year, 16 were raped in 2020 and 12 in 2019. As many as 15 cases of assault to outraging modesty of foreign women were registered last year across the country, apart from 14 complaints of cheating. While 142 cases of theft were lodged by foreigners in 2019, it declined to 52 in 2020 and further dipped to 23 in 2021.
Crime against foreigners not only dents our image globally but could also adversely affect the inflow of foreign tourists, which is a vital source of income for our country. Tourism happens to be one of the biggest foreign exchange earners for India and constant effort needs to be made to raise earnings. While India’s earnings through tourism was $30.06 billion in 2019, it declined to $6.958 billion in 2020 due to COVID-19 and the resultant restrictions in foreign tourists entering the country. A marginal increase of $8.797 billion was recorded last year.
With optimistic predictions of about 13.34 million foreign tourists arriving by 2024, there is a pressing need to upgrade our security systems specially to provide a flawless security blanket cover to foreign tourists. Safety assumes utmost importance to draw tourists in hordes. .
In order to provide a safe environment for tourists, the Ministry of Tourism, in collaboration with the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), organised a conference in New Delhi on October 19, 2022. It was organised with a view to “sensitise the specific requirements of the tourists for effective implementation of Uniform Tourist Police Scheme at pan-India level”.
Though the concept of ‘tourist police’ has been in vogue for the past few years, it has not been given the kind of attention it deserves. The States that have tourist police are Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Goa, Rajasthan and Kerala.
In view of the forthcoming G20 Summit, the Delhi police is gearing up its tourist police wing, which was hitherto in a neglected state and so are other States which will see a huge influx of foreigners.
The tourist police scheme
The BPRD has brought out a booklet on the tourist police scheme detailing the mode of setting up of tourist police stations and control rooms, outposts, uniforms, recruitment, qualifications, training and logistics requirements for tourist police stations. As many as 25 popular tourist spots have been identified in the country where the tourist police necessarily need to be deployed to help foreigners. As an incentive, 30% deputation allowance has been recommended for the police personnel who joins the tourist police on deputation.
While the setting up of tourist police stations is a commendable step to provide safety to foreigners, much needs to be done to instil a sense of security in them even before they leave their countries for India. With theft being the most common crime committed against foreigners, all criminals in and around tourist spots need to be identified and kept under constant surveillance.
Since foreigners come for short durations, the cases cannot be allowed to linger on in courts for long. Fast track courts should be set up immediately to try cases of crime against foreigners and the culprits punished speedily. It may be recalled that a rape convict, Bitihotra Mohanty, was tried for raping a German national in Alwar (Rajasthan) on March 21, 2006 and he was sentenced to seven years imprisonment on April 12, that is, within 22 days.
Such speedy disposal of cases of crime against foreigners can be replicated if we have the will.
6. Ukraine-Russia war rages on as refugees pile up
More than 15.8 million Ukrainians have been externally displaced, with majority of them being women
Over 285 days have passed since Russia invaded Ukraine and escalations continue unabated. On December 6, drones struck inside Russia’s border with Ukraine exposing the vulnerability of some of Moscow’s most important military sites. The Ukrainian officials did not formally confirm carrying out drone strikes inside Russia, and they have maintained ambiguity over previous high-profile attacks.
A fire broke out at an airport in Russia’s southern Kursk region that borders Ukraine after a drone hit the facility, the region’s governor said on Tuesday. In a second incident, an industrial plant 80 km from the Ukrainian border was targeted by drones, which missed a fuel depot at the site.
Moscow blamed Kyiv for attacks on two air bases deep inside Russia on December 5. The attacks on the Engels base in the Saratov region on the Volga River and the Dyagilevo base in the Ryazan region in western Russia were some of the most brazen inside Russia during the war. The Engels base hosts Tu-95 and Tu-160 nuclear-capable strategic bombers that have been involved in strikes on Ukraine. Dyagilevo houses tanker aircraft used for mid-air refueling.
In the aftermath, Russian troops carried out another wave of missile strikes on Ukrainian territory, struck homes and killed civilians, compounding damage done to power and other infrastructure over weeks of missile attacks. On the night of December 5, Russia shelled towns near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant that left over 9,000 homes without running water. The towns lie across the Dnieper River from the nuclear plant, which was seized by the Russian forces in the early stages of the war. Russia and Ukraine have, for months, accused each other of shelling at the plant.
Meanwhile, President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday visited the frontline region of Donetsk in east Ukraine, describing fighting in the area as “difficult” with Russian forces pushing to capture the industrial city of Bakhmut.
Map 1 depicts the situation as of day 286 of the war. The regions controlled by Russia currently and before February 24, 2022, are highlighted. Cities such as Mariupol and Melitopol, large sections of Luhansk and Kherson Oblasts are still under the control of Russia.
As of November 29, more than 15.8 million Ukrainians have been externally displaced. About 7.9 million of them took refuge in European nations as shown in Map 2. More than 10 lakh refugees from Ukraine have crossed to Germany and Poland, while about 3 to 5 lakh have moved to France, Spain and the Czech Republic.
A majority of the refugees were women and 78% have been separated from their immediate family members. Chart 3 shows the reasons behind such separations. The primary reason was military conscription, wherein men were mandatorily enrolled for service in Ukraine’s armed forces. Other separations were due to some family members refusing to leave the country or could not leave due to restrictions on movement. The results are based on a survey conducted by the UNHCR between May and September 2022
About 46% of the refugees had received university-level education, while almost 30% were vocationally trained. Above 70% of them were employed before being forced to leave. Chart 4 shows the educational levels of the displaced refugees and their employment status before leaving Ukraine.
With the war showing no signs of abating, more than 60% of the refugees intend to continue as refugees, with only 13% wanting to move back to Ukraine. Chart 5 shows the near future intentions of Ukrainian refugees.
7. SC directs Centre, RBI to submit records behind demonetisation decision
The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Union government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to place on record the “relevant records” of the 2016 demonetisation policy.
Representing the Centre before a Constitution Bench led by Justice S. Abdul Nazeer, Attorney General R. Venkataramani said the documents would be handed over to the court in a sealed cover.
The Bench, also comprising Justice B.R. Gavai, A.S. Bopanna, V. Ramasubramanian and B.V. Nagarathna, reserved the case for judgment.
The court had said it would not remain a mute spectator without judicially reviewing the procedure or manner in which ₹500 and ₹1,000 currency notes were withdrawn as legal tender in November 2016.
“Just because it is an economic policy, the court cannot fold its hands and sit… The court will go into the manner in which the decision was taken,” Justice Nagarathna had addressed the government and the RBI.
Senior advocate P. Chidambaram, for the petitioners, had submitted that the RBI had “meekly submitted to the government’s recommendation to withdraw 80% of the currency in the market after a deliberation of just one hour in one day”.
He had said finding the objectives of the 2016 demonetisation exercise was like looking for a “black cat in a dark room”. He had submitted that the government cannot “frighten” the court to not judicially review the policy by saying that judges were not experts in economic policy.
The government had countered that demonetisation was a “transformational economic policy step” which led to a phenomenal growth in digital transactions while choking the evils of black money, terror funding and counterfeiting. It claimed that demonetisation was a “critical” part of a policy push to “expand formal economy” and thin the ranks of the informal cash-based sector.
The central bank, represented by senior advocate Jaideep Gupta, said demonetisation was done on the recommendation of the RBI.
8. India will not tolerate any unilateral attempts to change LAC: Jaishankar
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar informed the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that it has been made clear to China diplomatically that any attempts to unilaterally change the Line of Actual Control would not be tolerated.
He was responding to a clarification sought by the Congress’s Pramod Tewari and Nasir Hussain on the border situation. They asked whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raised the issue of the June 2020 killing of 20 Indian soldiers in Ladakh’s Galwan region when he met Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit in Indonesia last month.
“Diplomatically, we have been clear with the Chinese that we will not tolerate any attempt to unilaterally change the LAC… So long as they continue to seek to do that, if they have built up forces, in our minds it constitutes a serious issue, then our relation is not normal and the abnormality of that has been witnessed in the past two years. The military commanders of the two countries are talking and it should be left to them,” Mr. Jaishankar said.
Responding to a statement by John Brittas of the CPI(M) that India was acting under pressure of the West after the Russia-Ukraine war, Mr. Jaishankar said the government did not ask oil companies to buy Russian oil. They simply went for the best option available. “It depends on what the market gives us. It’s not that we buy oil from only one country. It is sensible to go for the best deal. Our concern is on stability and affordability of the energy market,” the Minister said.
On India’s abstention in the UN vote on the Sri Lankan human rights issue, he said this has been a longstanding position of India.
9. Big industries don’t observe uniform labour standards in India, says BMS at ILO meet
Big industry do not follow labour standards in India, representatives of worker unions said at the ongoing Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting of the International Labour Organization (APRM of ILO) on Wednesday.
The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), representing workers, and the All India Organisation of Employers (AIOE), an allied body of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), representing employers, presented their views a day after international trade unions attacked the Centre’s labour policies at the meeting.
BMS national president Hiranmay Pandya said giant industries and multinational corporations did not observe uniform labour standards in the country. “During the pandemic, contractual workers in the organised and government sectors faced difficulties with wages too,” he said. In his intervention during a discussion on the report presented by ILO Director-General Gilbert F. Houngbo, Mr. Pandya stated that the mass migration of labour from one country to other and within the country was a key labour issue. “Workers in the informal and formal sectors need to be provided health protection,” he demanded.
In his intervention, AIOE vice-president Alok B. Shriram said that during the pandemic, the Indian government came forward with stimulus packages to provide immediate relief to vulnerable sections of society by ensuring provision of foodgrains at the doorstep. He said prudent steps by the Finance Ministry also helped the MSMEs during the crisis.
He said by introducing four labour codes, India had successfully completed the task of simplification, rationalisation and codification of labour laws in the country.
Earlier, participating in a discussion on “Institutional framework to support transition towards formality and decent work”, Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) leader Sonia George said the informal economy was challenging the existing norms of employment relations. “In most cases, employers will be absent or invisible and there are no ways to locate the employers. This legitimises the need for alternate forms of employment relationships. The role of the state as an employer is very important in many livelihood mechanisms.”
Owen Tudor, deputy general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, said the unbalanced growth in the Asia Pacific region fails to equitably share the fruits of productivity with the workers.
10. RBI tweak to UPI will help in e-com, share purchases: Das
A customer can create a payment mandate against a merchant by blocking funds in bank account, which can be debited when needed, says RBI Governor; central bank also expands ambit of BBPS
The RBI on Wednesday said it would add a feature in the UPI platform to aid payments where delivery of goods and services happens later, like with e-commerce purchases, hotel bookings or investments.
“It has… been decided to introduce a single-block-and-multiple-debits functionality in UPI, which will significantly enhance the ease of making payments in e-commerce space and towards investments in securities,” RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said after announcing the bi-monthly policy review. A customer could create a payment mandate against a merchant by blocking funds in his/her bank account, which can be debited when needed, he said.
Such a facility will build greater trust in transactions as merchants will be assured of timely payments, while the funds remain in the customer’s account till actual delivery of goods or services, the Governor added.
Mr. Das also announced that the Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) will now include all payments and collections.
The BBPS currently does not allow non-recurring payments, or collections even if they are recurring in nature, he said.
So, professional service fees, education fees, tax payments, rent collections fall outside the ambit of the platform, he added.