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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Modi government to put labor reforms on hold after repealing farm laws?

If reports are to be believed then the Modi government is all set to put labor reforms on hold until assembly elections next year. This news comes on the heels of the recent announcement by PM Modi of repealing the three farm laws.

As per a report in The Print:

…The federal government has missed several deadlines to formally enact four labour codes — the latest being October — and no new target has been set, the people said, asking not to be identified given rules on speaking to the media. Parliament passed the bills aimed at attracting investment, which would make it easier to hire and fire workers, in 2019 and 2020.

About 10 trade unions have demanded the scrapping of the labor codes alongside the repeal of the farm laws…

…Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party is not willing to risk another popularity hit ahead of polls next year in five states, the people said. While the federal government has finalised rules related to industrial relations, wages, social security and workplace safety, only 10 states have framed their own labor regulations according to that guidance.

This move suggests that important reforms are being put on the back-burner with elections in view. Farm reforms were much needed, in the works for the last 10-15 years, demanded by most major political parties at some time or the other in that period, and welcomed by agricultural experts when they were finally passed by Parliament last year. They were designed to provide more choices for farmers to sell their produce, take up the option of contract farming to reduce their risk, and would have attracted private players to develop agricultural infrastructure like cold-chain, warehouses, etc.

Similarly, judicial reforms that were essential have been blocked by the judiciary that is increasingly seen to be interfering in the domain of the executive. We’ve also seen that despite CAA being passed, persecuted Dharmics from the neighboring Islamic nations are still awaiting framing of CAA rules. Essentially, there has been no forward movement in the direction thereby causing hardships to Hindu and Sikh refugees living in Bharat causing many to even head back to the countries they fled from.

It was expected that the Modi government would toughen its stance and bring in all essential reforms in its second term. However, with electoral and political considerations trumping policy reforms are taking a backseat.

Such self-inflicted policy paralysis despite a massive mandate shows how skewed our political economy has become due to a fractious multi-party democracy and lack of national consciousness. It surely doesn’t augur well for the development of the country if lumpens and status quoists keep winning time and again.

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