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GS Paper II –International Relations

Why is the World Bank keen on resolving Indus divide?

What’s Happening-
World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva reiterated that the Bank was keen on resolving the disagreements between the two nations over the interpretation of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) following the construction by India of two hydroelectric power plants.

Background-
Two nations have had no fresh conflict over the sharing of river waters for more than five decades, differences cropped up after Pakistan opposed the construction of the Kishenganga (330 MW) and Ratle (850 MW) power plants by India on the Jhelum and Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir, over which Pakistan has unrestricted rights under the treaty.
Why did the Bank intervene?
Even before Partition, the Indus had created problems among the states of British India.
The problems became international after the creation of two nations as the political boundary was drawn right across the Indus basin.
The World Bank (then IBRD), under the presidency of Eugene Black, helped in 1952 to settle the dispute between the two nations on the sharing of the Indus river basin waters.
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and President Ayub Khan signed the IWT on September 19, 1960. The Bank is also a signatory to the treaty which led to known as the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC).
Has there been any violation?
According to the IWT, India has control over three eastern rivers of the Indus basin — the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej — and Pakistan has control over the three western rivers — the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum.
All six rivers flow from India to Pakistan.
Among other uses, India is permitted to construct power facilities on these rivers subject to regulations laid down in the treaty.
India had asked the bank for appointment of a neutral expert following Pakistan’s objections to two projects, while Pakistan demanded the formation of a court of arbitration, alleging that India had violated the treaty.
In December 2016, the Bank announced a ‘pause’ and asked both parties to resolve the issue amicably by the end of January 2017.
Why is the Bank playing a role again?
India and Pakistan are important partners and clients of the Bank. In South Asia, Pakistan ($2,280 million) received the highest lending from the Bank after India ($3,845 million) during the fiscal 2016.
The Bank maintained its aid could be effectively used if both nations kept the peace and ensured better management of the waters, on which lakhs of farmers depend.
As both nations have failed to resolve the dispute amicably, the Bank CEO has initiated a dialogue.
Changing its stance, India has agreed to attend a meeting of the commission in Lahore.
Like in the 1950s, Bank officials are again playing the role of mediator.

GS Paper II  Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Labour code to provide social security cover to all workers

What’s Happening-
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has proposed a labour code which will provide social security cover to the entire workforce in the country, including self-employed and agricultural workers.

Key Points discussed were:

  • Even households employing domestic help will also have contribute towards schemes including provident fund and gratuity for the worker, according to a ‘draft code on Social Security and Welfare’ proposed by the Labour Ministry.
  • Factories employing even a single worker will have to contribute towards social security benefits, as per the proposal.
  • Every working person in the country will be covered under the social security code whether she belongs to the organised sector or the unorganised sector.
  • For the first time, govt intend to cover agricultural workers along with self-employed people and target to provide social security benefits to 45 crore workers.
  • The proposed code seeks to cover “any factory, any mine, any plantation, any shop, charitable organisations” and all establishments or households employing casual, part-time, fixed-term, informal, apprentice, domestic and home-based workers.
  • All such establishments or factories will be liable to pay compensation if they fail to contribute towards the social security schemes of the workers.
  • The total contribution to be made by employers towards Employees’ Provident Fund and Employees’ State Insurance Scheme is proposed to be capped at 30% of the workers’ income. At present, employers contribute 31.5% of the workers’ income towards these schemes.
  • According to the proposed code, self-employed workers will contribute 20% of their monthly income towards provident fund, pension and other related schemes.
  • Self-employed workers will also include “a person who takes land on share cropping or any other form of rent, and tills the same using his own or family members’ labour.”
  • All the entities – whether factories or households – will have to register their workers through an Aadhaar-based registration system, according to another proposal, and self-employer workers will be required to register themselves.

Background-
National Social Security Council:
A National Social Security Council, chaired by the Prime Minister, has been proposed to streamline and make policy on social security schemes related to all the Ministries.
Other members would include: Finance Minister, Labour Minister, Health and Family Welfare Minister along with employer and employees’ representatives.
The council will co-ordinate between central and State governments, monitor the implementation of social security schemes, regulate funds collected under various social security schemes, among others, according to the proposed labour law.