2018-CGS-20: Mains Revision-7: Protection of Vulnerable Sections

Giving Construction Workers Their Due

Construction workers form the country’s third largest employee base and fall in the unorganised or informal sector. India’s 45 million construction workers are evidently large in numbers, mostly migrant and almost totally ignored by the system at large.

Measures taken to protect the interest of the construction workers
  • The parliament has passed the Building and Other Construction Workers’ (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act of 1996.
  • In 2012 amendments were proposed to the 1996 Act and the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act of 1996 in order to streamline the process of registration of construction workers.
  • The major source of funds to the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board is the collection of cess at the rate of 1% of the construction cost incurred by the employer under the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act.
  • The fund has to be utilised for the welfare of construction workers.
Poor condition of construction workers
  • The Supreme Court pulled up the government for failing to implement the Building and Other Construction Workers’ (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act of 1996.
  • The slow progress in the implementation of the 1996 act is a cause of concern. The 1996 act is meant to regulate the employment and conditions of service of building and other construction workers and to provide for their safety, health and welfare.
  • Even though the government collected over Rs 35,000 crore in cess for the welfare of construction workers employed in the high-risk and hazardous construction industry it was not spent on that purpose.
  • The SC came down heavily and said that it was “ridiculous” that this money was going to “some babus”.
Lacunas of the act
  • Workers can only be registered if they are employed for 90 days at a stretch but some casual laborers are employed on an hourly basis, which automatically excludes them from the system.
  • Contractors have to pay the cess when they register their workers, and that is a financial disincentive for them. Many contractors do not want to pay the cess and end up not registering their workers.
  • The beneficiaries were not coming forward to claim their rights because most of them belonged to other states and went back to their native places once the work was complete.

The failure of the welfare boards seems to be on 2 levels – non-registration of workers and under-utilisation of funds. This only goes to show, no matter how well-planned a scheme is, if the machinery to execute is not functioning properly, it will not yield the desired results. [The Hindu]

Practice of Female Genital Mutilation

Female gentile mutilation (FGM) is the removal of part or whole of external female genitalia. The practice is rooted in gender inequality and attempts to control women’s sexuality. The practice is driven by ideas of purity, modesty and beauty. It is usually initiated and carried out by women, who see it as a source of honor, and who fear that failing to have their daughters and granddaughters FGM will expose the girls to social exclusion.

FGM in India
  • Female genital mutilation (FGM) is also known as khatna or khafz in the Muslim Bohra community, where it is practiced in India since India does not have any laws banning it.
  • India is now becoming a hub for FGM because of the recent legal action taken against FGM among Bohras in Australia and USA.
FGM is a violation of human rights

FGM is violation of Human rights because FGM discriminates women based on sex and Human rights emphasises on non-discrimination. The following rights are violated due to FGM

Right to health

The problems associated with the procedure of FGM often have brutal consequences for a woman’s physical and mental health. All types of FGC have health complications related to the procedure often being performed outside health care facilities by non-professionals using unsterile cutting instruments

Right of the child

Victims of FGM are infants, little girls.  FGM violates the rights of child because it is usually performed on girls when they are as young as few months after birth to 17 years. Thus it is a crime committed on minors. There cannot be an informed consent from minors.

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