Policy Briefs

The Impact of Increase in Maternity Leave on working Women

India has been receiving a lot of flak for the dismal percentage of participation of females in the labour force. The Gender InequalityIndex (Human Development Report 2015) ranks India at 130 among a total of 155 countries, which is at a considerably lower end ofthe table. This index takes into consideration three vital parameters- reproductive health, economic activity, empowerment- and Indiahas fared poorly in all three sections. India’s rank is telling of how much disparity there is between the two genders in the countrywhen it comes to their employment.This gender disparity in India continues to prevail at a time when the views of so many other countries have moved far beyond it. Theglobally appreciated retort of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau- “Because it is 2015”, in reply to a reporter’s question askingwhy it was important to him to have a gender balanced cabinet, is an excellent example of how succinctly powerful the idea of genderparity is starting to become in the world.India’s GDP crossed the $2 trillion mark in 2014 and it is the fastest growing major economy at 7.4 percent (Raghavan 2015) and yetthese benefits have not reached the female labour force. They still continue their struggle to be part of the work force. This is evidentfrom the female workforce participation rate which has plummeted from 35 percent in 1990 to 27 percent in 2012 (GlobalEmployment Trends 2012). Women still spend a large amount of their time in undertaking unpaid work which involves householdduties and care giving.

The Deadlock in Paris- Implications for India

The latest draft agreement agreed upon at the Paris negotiations has been whittled down from 43 to 29 pages. With still a100 or so bracketed uncertainties and dropping of critical provisions agreed upon the previous draft, the gridlock at Parisis no closer to being resolved. Even as the latest draft was released, key sticking points, except for the issue of adaptation,continue to divide the developed and the developing countries.These included: differentiation of responsibilities between developed and developing countries for the former’s historiccarbon emissions, climate financing for the developing and vulnerable countries, technology transfer to developingcountries without the barriers of intellectual property rights, and paying for loss and damage to the vulnerable and leastdeveloped countries for the rising climate-related natural disasters.

Constitutional Crisis in Nepal

Background:  Amidst violent protests against the new Nepali Constitution ,especially in Terai region of Nepal, the National assembly finally passed the new constitution on the 20th of September 2015. The then president Mr. Ram Baran Yadav promulgated the charter of constitution intended to build a democratic Nepal. On this occasion Mr. Yadav said, ―Our country is multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural ... this new document will safeguard the rights of all Nepali brothers and sisters1.‖ It took around seven years for Nepal‘s political representatives to finalize the long awaited document that seeks to construct a modern democratic Nepal. The new constitution will replace the interim constitution which had been adopted by Nepal in 2007 post the abolition of monarchy in April 2006. After putting an interim constitution in place, the constituent assembly of the country was elected in 2008 to come up with a final draft of the constitution. This constituent assembly could not finalize its draft in the given time for various reasons. However, in 2013, a new constituent assembly was elected and finally the new constitution was drafted. An overwhelming majority of 507 out of 598 members of the Constituent Assembly has adopted the constitution. However, after promulgation of the constitution, agitating groups have intensified their protest against the new constitution and have been protesting for more than three months.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2015

ISSUEThe Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2015, adopted by the Lok Sabha in May, 2015, is tobe considered by the Rajya Sabha in December, 2015 as a replacement for the Juvenile Justice (Care andProtection of Children) Act, 2000.The most contentious issue in the Bill is the proposal that the minimum age for a child to be placed in the adultcriminal justice system be lowered from the current 18 years to 16 years for certain crimes.Under current law, children below 18 years are subject to criminal action ONLY in a specially trained andequipped juvenile justice system geared to seeking the reintegration of children in conflict with law asproductive members of society so as to prevent them falling into a black-hole of lifelong criminality if theywere put in the adult criminal justice system and exposed to the influence of hardened criminals and gangs inadult lock ups and prisons.

Child Labour Bill 2012

Background and Context:The magnitude of child labour in India is grave. According to an estimate, every 17th working child in the world is in India. Using 2011 Census data, Child Right and You (CRY) calculated that one in eleven children (5-18 years) is working in India and hence deprived from their childhood (CRY, 2015). Despite, this persisting cruelty India has been reluctant to implement the ILO conventions on child labour. The two ILO conventions- numbers 138 (Minimum Age Convention, 1973) and 182 (Worst Form of Child Labour Convention, 1999) set some international standards in order to gradually abolish employment of children in all sectors. India has signed both of these conventions and assured the international community that it will incorporate all required progressive changes in its domestic child labour law. India has the largest share of world child labourers, however it has not yet implemented the long pending internationally agreed international standards of child labour. The current legislation regulating child labour in India namely ‘Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 (CLPR Act, 1986) is not in line with both of the ILO conventions mentioned earlier. The UPA government in 2010 initiated a process of amending this law in order to make it in line with the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 and ILO convention numbers 138 and 182. Accordingly, the ‘Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012’ (CLPR Amendment Bill, 2012) was introduced in Rajya Sabha on 21 December 2012, which was then referred to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour by the house for further deliberation.

The New Economy Labour

The New Economy Labour Technology and convenience have come together to create a new marketplace which has created a whole new dynamic between buyers and sellers and has transcended the old demand and supply equation. The new age ecommerce business models of sale are run on the basis of competitive marketing strategies undertaken by ‘aggregators’. By exploiting the convenience of technology available to almost everyone via smart phones, the ‘aggregation’ based business model is able to fill in the gap of supply of services to the consumers.An ‘aggregator’ is defined as a person/entity that owns and manages a web based software application (app) and through the help of an app is able to connect people who provide certain kinds of services to the people who are in need of that service.i Proponents of service disbursement modelled on aggregation policies have entered into our everyday life in the form of easy cab rides through Uber, Ola; convenient shopping through Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, Groffers; renting hotel rooms through Oyo; curated restaurants by Zomato, Foodpanda and many more. All of these companies provide a platform to individual service providers in order to connect with the consumer thereby improving their accessibility and have given rise to a new kind of ‘platform economy’.

The Absent Female Workforce in India

The Absent Female Workforce in IndiaSince the past decade the percentage of female labour participation in India’s workforce has been abysmalwhich has placed us on the bottom of global rankings. Even though studies show that a number of youngwomen are entering as well as looking to enter workforce they end up working in the informal economy withlow wages and no job security. More shockingly highly educated urban woman keen on working are not able todo so because of the limited job opportunities in the urban areas.1 A large chunk of female population is still nota part of the labour market. India’s urban female work-force participation rate (WPR), which includes womenwho are employed as well as those who are looking for work, is one of the world’s lowest at 15%. This placesus at the eleventh rank from the bottom among 131 countries.2 As is clearly depicted from figure 1, India is oneof the regions with the lowest amount of female labour force participation rate.Countries like China and Japan have already realised the worth of incorporating educated women into theirlabour force. Japan has aggressively pursued involvement of the women in workforce, who now form 43% ofthe labour force, with the government’s pro-women policies.3 Similarly China has realised the value of highlyeducated women’s participation in the labour force. As China capitalises on this human capital, 53% of thehighly educated Chinese women have been able to find a ‘good job’ as compared to only 17% of the highlyeducated Indian women.4 Further it is most shocking to note that the participation of women during primeworking age is 32% as compared to 75% in China and 65 % in Brazil.5

Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are due to be signed in September 2015 inaugurate the onsetof a new and potentially more ambitious policy framework in the international development discourse. Buildingon the broad success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which expire in 2015, the SDGs werenegotiated at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), also referred to as the Rio+20, held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, and involving large participation of the private sector, civil society actorsand governments. Resulting in an outcome document appropriately titled the ‘The Future We Want’1, the SDGsfocus on international developmental outcomes hinging on three pillars viz. economic, social andenvironmental 2 . They are integrated and indivisible and balance the three dimensions of sustainabledevelopment: the economic, social and environmental.

The Vyapam Scam

On July 7th, 2013, the Indore Crime Branch, Madhya Pradesh arrested 20 impersonators for appearing on behalfof actual candidates for a Pre-Medical Test conducted by the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Boardin 20091. This seemingly innocuous incident in a country used to far more brazen (and well documented)attempts at cheating by desperate students eventually went on to blow the lid off one of the largest cases ofinstitutional corruption in the country.Exactly two years to the day, and approximately 502 (other figures claim as many as 1563) suspicious deathslater, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, finally buckled under immense pressureand on July 7th, 2015 called for a probe into the matter by the Central Bureau of Investigation, claiming "a wishto honour public sentiment"4. This was seen by some, however, as nothing but the Chief Minister simplyyielding to the inevitable, since the Supreme Court had decided to hear petitions asking for the Vyapam probeto be entrusted to the CBI two days later on July 9th. As expected, it ordered the investigations to be transferredfrom the state’s Special Task Force (STF) to the CBI on that day itself5. Moreover, the bench criticised theMadhya Pradesh High Court for failing to rule on whether to transfer the Vyapam investigation to the CBI onthe grounds that the matter was pending before the Supreme Court. "Instead of taking a decision, the MadhyaPradesh High Court washed its hands off (the case) and put the ball in our court," the Court said. Mr. Chouhansaid, "There was a burden in my heart. I am relieved that the CBI will probe and get to the truth."6

The Naga Accord : Skimming Over Autonomy and Cooperative Federalism?

OVERVIEWThe Naga nationalist movement is the oldest insurgency in India and has sustained itself in a strategically important geography for close to seven decades. The BJP-led NDA Government has announced a supposedly “historic” agreement with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) (IM), the largest armed outfit claiming to represent the interests of the Naga nationalist movement. However, it has done so without consulting several stakeholders whose lands graphically overlap with the Nagas. The deal is shrouded in secrecy and its details have not been shared even with other Chief Ministers in the region. This document provides a brief overview of the possible contours and consequences of the accord and argues that greater autonomy of tribal communities based on a system of cooperative federalism with the Centre and State Governments is a possible democratic solution that would respect the distinct doctrines and ways of life of the Naga people. This document is a living document as the details of the accord have not been revealed yet and new developments on the issue are emerging on a daily basis.