Topic outline

    • Law and Social Justice

      Q24. Write a short note on Child Labour Prevention Act.

      Ans. According to the 2001 census, over 12 million children in India aged between 5 and 14 work in various occupations including hazardous ones. In October 2006, the government amended the Child Labour Prevention Act, banning children under 14 years of age from working as domestic servants or as workers in dhabas, restaurants, tea shops etc. It made employing these children a punishable offence. Anyone found violating the ban must be penalised with a punishment ranging from a jail term of three months to two years and/or fine of Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000.


      Q25. Write a brief note on Bhopal gas tragedy.

      Ans. The world’s worst industrial tragedy took place in Bhopal 24 years ago. Union Carbide (UC) an American company had a factory in the city in which it produced pesticides. At midnight on 2 December 1984 methyl-isocyanite (MIC) - a highly poisonous gas - started leaking from this UC plant. Within three days, more than 8,000 people were dead. Hundreds of thousands were maimed. Most of those exposed to the poison gas came from poor, working-class families, of which nearly 50,000 people are today too sick to work. Among those who survived, many developed severe respiratory disorders, eye problems and other disorders.

      Q26. What are the advantages to foreign companies in setting up production in India?
      Why did Union Carbide set up its plant in India?

      Ans. Advantages to foreign companies in setting up production in India are:

      Cheap Labour - India provides cheap labour compare to some other countries.  Wages that the companies pay to workers, say in the U.S.A., are far higher than what they have to pay to workers in poorer countries like India. For lower pay, companies can get longer hours of work. Additional expenses such as for housing facilities for workers are also fewer. Thus, companies can save costs and earn higher profits.

      Cost Cutting - Cost cutting can also be done by other more dangerous means. Lower working conditions including lower safety measures are used as ways of cutting costs.


      Q27. In what ways was the government responsible for the Bhopal tragedy?
      What was the government doing when there were such blatant violations of safety standards in the UC plant?

      Ans. First, the safety laws were lax in India. Second, even these weak safety laws were not enforced.

      Government officials refused to recognise the plant as hazardous and allowed it to come up in a populated locality. When some municipal officials in Bhopal objected that the installation of an MIC production unit in 1978 was a safety violation, the position of the government was that the state needs the continued investment of the Bhopal plant, which provides jobs. Government inspectors continued to approve the procedures in the plant, even when repeated incidents of leaks from the plant made it obvious to everybody that things were seriously wrong.

      Q28. How was environment treated earlier? What has been the change in perception? Discuss.

      Ans. There were very few laws protecting the environment in India, and the there was hardly any enforcement of these laws. The environment was treated as a ‘free’ entity and any industry could pollute the air and water without any restrictions. Whether it was our rivers, air, groundwater - the environment was being polluted and the health of people disregarded. Now there has been the change in perception. Indian government introduced new laws on the environment. Henceforth, the polluter was to be held accountable for the damage done to environment. The courts also gave a number of judgments upholding the right to a healthy environment as intrinsic to the Fundamental Right to Life.


      Q29. What do we mean when we speak of law enforcement? Who is responsible for enforcement? Why is enforcement so important?

      Ans. Law enforcement is any system by which some members of society act in an organized manner to enforce the law by discovering, deterring, rehabilitating, or punishing people who violate the rules and norms governing that society. The government is responsible for the enforcement of law. Enforcement is so important because merely making laws is not enough. The government has to ensure that these laws are implemented. Enforcement becomes even more important when the law seeks to protect the weak from the strong. For instance, to ensure that every worker gets fair wages, the government has to regularly inspect work sites and punish those who violate the law.

      Q30. Write a paragraph on the various roles of the government that you have read about in this unit.

      Ans. The government plays a large number of roles in any state. This includes providing public facilities like water supply, healthcare and sanitation and ensuring that these amenities are not overtaken by private enterprises; the government also plays a pivotal role in law enforcement, which is of utmost importance in the economic sector. The government makes laws to protect workers in production factories- laws on minimum wages, controlling working conditions and safety measures. It also makes laws for markets that protect consumers against over-pricing and sub-standard products. The government has a law against child labour and it also punishes organizations that do not follow policies put in place to protect the environment against pollution.


      Q31. What do you think the famous cartoonist R.K. Laxman is trying to convey in this cartoon? How does it relate to the 2006 law that you read about on page 125?

      Ans. The famous cartoonist R.K. Laxman, in this cartoon, is trying to convey an ironical perception of the double standards and hypocrisy some of us follow. A mother is complaining about the heavy bags that children are made to carry to school, but she hires another “child” servant to do the same without a wee bit of sympathy for the less fortunate child who has to work and earn a living.

      This relates to the 2006 Child Labour Prevention Act that banned children under the age of 14 years from work, making it a punishable offence for those who employed these children. Unfortunately, 74% of child domestic labour today is under the age of 16. R.K. Laxman, in his cartoon, is pointing towards this very glitch and how the government has not taken adequate action to enforce this law.

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