Today’s Current Affairs November 26 (from The Hindu and The Economist)

November 25, 2019

(News gathered from The Hindu, The Economist, TIME)

Front page

Supreme Court wants to see the two letters Fadnavis and Governor exchanged

Deliberating over the Maharashtra issue, the Apex Court has asked the Solicitor General to produce the two letters Fadnavis and the Governor exchanged. Now, it has emerged that 46 NCP MLAs have asserted their allegiance to Sharad Pawar, taking the wind out of BJP’s sail.

Despite this, Fadnavis has exuded confidence that his party BJP will have no difficulty in proving its majority in the floor of the Assembly.

Good words and phrases used .. To take wind out of one’s sail, Exude

Halimavu Lake breach leaves 800 homes inundated

When a part of the bund of the Hulimavu Lake gave way late Sunday afternoon, water gushed out to sweep away cars, motorcycles etc. Inmates of 800 homes had to be evacuated to safer places.

Good words and phrases used .. Give way, Gush out

National

Interlinking of Ken-Betwa rivers

The Center is actively persuading the state governments of U.P and M.P to move ahead with the interlinking project that is slated to cost Rs.18,000 crorres. For years, the two states have wrangled over the matter causing long delay. Environmental issues have also created hurdles for the project. When completed, it would facilitate 3.64 lakh hectors of the parched Bundelkhand area that straddles both the states.

Good words and phrases used … Slate as verb, Wrangle, Parched, Straddle

Sabrimala still off limits for women devotees of all age groups ..

The state government has demurred to provide police protection to women devotees trying to venture inside the shrine. On their way, the women pilgrims have to   brave the physical threats from devout male devotees.

Good words and phrases used .. Demur, Brave as verb, Devout

Ayodhya dispute heading for a quiet closure.

Prime minister Modi has expressed his satisfaction at the way the Muslims and Hindus have desisted from acrimonious behavior after the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Babri demolition matter came out. In another related development, Mr. Rizvi, Chief of the Minorities Panel has expressed his view that going for a review would do more harm than good for the Muslims. Both sides should bury the hatchet, accept the verdict gracefully, and move on.   

Good words and phrases used .. Bury the hatchet

Merger of Assam Rifles with ITBP may not be a good idea

The Assam Rifles is a very old para-military force with its long heritage and traditions. It was created way back in 1836 by the British colonial administration. It comes under the army, so its administrative control remains with the Defence Ministry. On the other hand, ITBP is a much younger force crated in the aftermath of the Chinese invasion in 1962. It is a central armed police force coming under the Home Ministry. The present proposal to merge the two and bring the new entity under the Home Ministry has created great unease in the Assam Rifles, who clearly are averse to losing their unique identity.

Good words used .. Averse to

International 

Hong Kong local election results disappoint the hard-core China supporters.

In 17 out of 18 local councils, the pro-democracy candidates have trounced their pro-Chinese rivals. These councils do not wield much power, as they oversee local transport services, garbage collection etc. However, the election results clearly show in which direction the wind blows in Hong Kong now. More importantly, local councils elect 117 out of the 1200 members body that elects the head administrator of Hong Kong. This victory will ensure that no China sympathizer gets included in the 117 group. The results have demonstrated that the people of Hong Kong resent Chinese attempts to creep into the local government.

Good words and phrases used .. Trounce, Wield, Wind blowing in certain election, Creep into

Boris Johnson unveils impressive pre-election manifesto

Britain is going to polls on December 12 to elect a new government that would decide the way Britain will /will not exit the EU. Boris Johnson heads a minority Conservative government, and has suffered parliamentary rebuffs in his attempt to rush his Brexit plans. In the coming election, he hopes to win a convincing majority, so that he could confidently set Britain on a course to leave the EU, with or without a deal. The people can then forget the imbroglio that had bedeviled Britain for so long, and ready themselves for rejoicing during the Christmas of 2019.  In his manifesto, he has promised massive tax cuts amounting to 23.4 billion pounds, and a sharp increase in public spending.

Good words and phrases used .. Unveil, Rebuff, Imbroglio, Rebuff, Bedevil

Netanyahu faces trial by fire on his way to the coming general elections

Political uncertainties stare Israel in its face, as the results of the last election threw up a miserably splintered verdict. Benjamin Netanyahu faces police action for his involvement in corrupt and fraudulent practices, but he is only leader who has any chance of steering the Likud Party to power. Netanyahu has brazened out the charges against him and resisted calls to gracefully withdraw and face the law. However, he remains unfazed. The chances of his win depend upon his party standing behind him solidly. If the party wavers, he is doomed.

Good words and phrases used .. Stare someone in one’s face, Splintered, Brazen out, Unfazed, Waver

Pakistan needs to re-imagine itself for its long term survival

A panel from the United Kingdom has expressed the view that Pakistan must shed its image as a country that fosters terrorists and uses violence as a tool of statecraft. Such a negative image impedes its effort to re-build itself. By proactively moving to re-brand itself, it can join the mainstream international political system.

Good words used .. Foster, Impede, Statecraft

Editorial and opinion 

The elusive justice for the un-organized labor

In India, just 7% of the total labor force work in the organized sector enjoying the benefits and job security. A whopping 93% of the labor force work in the organized sector. This large but neglected army of labor contributes to 60% of the country’s GDP. They do not get fair wages, and have no job security, nor any welfare benefit. This egregious injustice has continued for ages, and has pushed large sections of the laborers to perennial deprivation.

With much fanfare, the Code on Wages Act, 2019 was passed by the parliament with not much scrutiny. It merged four different laws relating to labor such as their recruitment, wages, retrenchment and trade union rights.  It was expected that the new legislation will ensure a fair wage for the workers in the un-organized sector. The Supreme Court has clarified the ambiguity around minimum wage by clarifying that wages paid should meet the needs for their food, shelter, medical expenses, and a small saving for the old age. The government is now framing rules for the implementation of the Code on Wages Act, 2019. Sadly though, the rules seem to bring no succor to the workers who live with ‘starvation wage’ – a pittance that enables them to buy just enough food to stave off hunger. Over-supply of labor enables the employers to force the workers to accept such wage, and the exploitative practice continues.

The Wages Act pegs the minimum wage at Rs.178 a day. The reality presents a far more dismal picture. During the recent NSO surveys done to assess household consumption, it was found that the amount spent per family per day is Rs 83 in rural areas, and Rs.134 in urban centers. From this, one can conclude how low wages ravage the unorganized workers live in villages and towns.

More disturbingly, the rules of the Wages Act empower  employers to reduce wages for low productivity, damages and losses, and for advance taken earlier. Thus, the hapless lone worker, with no bargaining power, remains at the mercy of the employer. If they dare to demand the legally binding minimum wages, their wage can be cut citing rules. It’s a threat that bends the worker to the point of submission. Sadly, no inspection mechanism is in place to intervene in favor of the aggrieved worker.

Two states, however, have done some good work in this regard. Delhi has fixed the minimum wage at Rs.14,800, and Kerala at Rs.600 a day.

Some argue that in the present period of economic slow-down, increasing the minimum wage or strictly ensuring its payment might aggravate the economic woes, but, if we allow the malaise to continue, we would be perpetuating poverty and its attendant ills like impoverishment, disease, and stunted growth.

Good words and phrases used ..Elusive, Whopping, Egregious, Perennial, Deprivation, Fanfare, Succor, Pittance, Stave off, Exploitative, Peg as verb, Dismal, Ravage, Malaise, Hapless, Impoverishment

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