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EDITORIAL 1 : “Tiruvalluvar is un-striped, un-coloured, un-ageing”


Gopalkrishna Gandhi

Tiruvalluvar is un-striped, un-coloured, un-ageing
He is beyond physical constructs to be appropriated; the saffron that has drifted to his image will not touch him

Saint Thiruvalluvar cannot be seen through the lenses of bigotry since his ideology revolves around various paradigms. Comment- GS-1

GS 1:Indian Culture
For MAINS the analysis covers some strong 10 points for GS 1
Thiruvalluvar, commonly known as Valluvar, was a celebrated Tamil poet and philosopher. He is best known as the author of Thirukkuṛaḷ, a collection of couplets on ethics, political and economical matters, and love. The text is considered an exceptional and widely cherished work of the Tamil literature.
There is negligible authentic information available about Thiruvalluvar’s life.In fact, neither his actual name nor the original title of his work can be determined with certainty
Who is Valluvar
Valluvar is a caste belonging to the Hindu community in the Tamil Nadu. They are the hereditary priests preaching and practicing Astrology, Astromomy and Medicine in Tamil Nadu.
Orthodox clothes:
  • No one owns Tiruvalluvar. No clan, no caste claims or can claim him. How can it? No one knows which home-row he was born into, lived in or — abandoned.
  • He slips through the silken constrictions of descent and, equally, through the foam of faked bondings.
  • The orthodox clothe him in the robes of sanctimony(the action or practice of acting as if one were morally superior to other people)., radicals in the garbs of rebellion.
  • To those who say in self-confidence that he was Vallabha, one must ask for evidence of that Brahminical status in his work.
  • To those who claim he was Dalit, one must ask if anything he has written reflects that underprivileged status, whether with a sigh of acceptance or a howl of protest.

Valluvar is label elusive:

  • he wrote un-ageing thoughts that were un-striped by caste, un-coloured by class, un-scented by any denominational unguent.
  • They were, simply, ideas, his ideas, stunning in their tight-bound form and un-tied, un-bound meaning.
  • Even as an ideator, in the zone of pure thought, Tiruvalluvar eludes capture, casking and commodification by idea-vendors.
  • Those who publish, re-publish, translate, re-translate his 1,330 mind-rinsing couplets have their task lightened by their ready-to-print perfection form.
  • His couplets come in the unvarying shape of four words in the first line and three in the second held together in a rhyme and metre format of repute.

Ideological war :

  • They cannot classify their “forever-in-demand” product. Is it political verse, is it philosophy? Is it a manual for aspiring statesmen, is it a primer for pining lovers? Is it a speculation on life’s verities at their summit or at their plainest sameness? Naturalists are sold on the keenness of Valluvar’s eye in describing life in the wild.
  • He is also unscientific at times ; he is after all a fallible human being. He has unquestioningly accepted the popular belief that the owl is blinded by daylight.
  • But his description of the behaviour of that commensal of man, the house crow is so sharp that the great ornithologist Salim Ali would have hailed him.
  • The book can be said to fall, after all, under “natural sciences”. Social scientists can be gripped by his word-pictures on customs, superstitions.
  • Some of these he seems, dismayingly, to subscribe to. Contrastively, he seems to be on the side of transformative ideas presaging momentous changes in human mores.
  • He glides through all these complications of human contriving to his nameless freedom.
  • The deft administrator in Rajagopalachari was so taken by Valluvar’s mastery of statecraft that he rendered it into a striking English version.
  • But the moralist in him could not reconcile to the third book, the Book of Love (Kamathuppaal) . So much so that he draws a veil over its very existence. That is Rajaji. But lest anyone think Valluvar is a Tamizh Vatsyayana, forbear.
  • Valluvar’s erotica is no lesson in pre-obstetric gynaecology. It is about love’s physicality, not the physiology of loving. Periyar, acknowledging with delight Valluvar’s extolling of that freedom, and yielding to none in admiration for the Tirukkural.
  • He neither patents, nor is he patented. The Tirukkural lives, levitates above its reprints, beyond the unceasing flow of its nth edition, way away from the torrent of its citings, recitings.

Above religion

  • HINDUISM:No religion holds him captive in its shrine or scripture. If a Hindu thinks he sees in a couplet here or a depiction there an image of Mahavishnu he should think again.
  • Valluvar has declined to name or suggest the impress on him of any deity — male, female or in any of the celebrated transpositions of that pantheon — half-human and half-animal.
  • JAINISM: Jaina scholars have given highly estimable reasons for thinking Valluvar was in fact a Jaina master, Kundakundacharya by name.
  • They maintain that when the Raj civilian F.W. Ellis translated the Kural’s Book of Virtue (Arathuppaal), he did so in the understanding that it was the work of a Jaina.
  • But does Valluvar’s passionate denunciation of meat-eating and of the quaffing of spirits make him a member of that ascetic faith? Before putting one’s stamp of acceptance on that view, one must reflect on the fact that Valluvar starts the Kural with an invoking of the Creator and ends it with a celebration of Eros — neither of which sit well with the tenets of the great Tirthankaras.
  • CHRISTIANITY:And as for the pious belief of the Reverend G.U. Pope, Valluvar’s famous English translator, that this likely resident of Chennai’s Mylapore’s seaside was deeply influenced by seaborne missionaries of the Sermon on the Mount, one can only smile.

Without boundaries

  • Valluvar’s is an intangible intensity, an impalpable voltage, an indefinable actuality of ideas, depictions, advice, admonition, no one can pack into a bag to carry home.
  • People can be appropriated, not ideas. Ideas can be countered.  Valluvar’s portrait of a Good Nation is made of the tints of a Constitutional Preamble, no less. 
       IASbhai CONCLUSION:  
Valluvar has influenced a wide range of scholars down the ages since his time across the ethical, social, political, economical, religious, philosophical, and spiritual spheres.He has long been venerated as a great sage, and his literary works a classic of Tamil culture.

EDITORIAL 2 : “The broken promise of decent and fair wages”


Chandan Kumar & Raghunath Kuchik

The broken promise of decent and fair wages
The draft rules to the Wages Act, a law expected to provide economic and social justice, will only exploit workers further

ROTI KAPDA MAKAAN is still a dream for many. Fair wages rules have been mentioned in Labour Code.Analyse

GS 1:Social Justice and empowerment
For MAINS analysis let us unearth this editorial.
It was believed that informal workers — they account for 93% of the total working population and contribute to over 60% of India’s GDP — had finally been acknowledged for their contributions to the nation-building process.
Examine the rules to the labour Code on Wages Act 2019:
‘Starvation wages’ continue
  • Accordingly, it was expected that the draft rules to the Act would be a ‘game-changer’ to the status quo as far as the lives of workers in the informal sector are concerned.
  • But it was alleged that this would revive the crisis of the current economic slowdown, as the law proposes to increase income capacity and the purchasing power of the informal workers.
  • The proposed framework to determine wage will continue pushing ‘starvation wages’ in India.
  • It was expected that the rules would have considered the Supreme Court of India’s landmark jurisprudence in the ‘Raptakos’ case (1991) which advocated the concept and the right of a living wage.

The draft rules does not match this glorious picture and has in effect, by creating a façade of false promises, struck a blow against the aspirations of millions of workers in the informal sector. This has been done by proposing the concept of a “floor wage: in the draft rules.

  • In effect, this would mean that “starvation wages” which currently guarantees just ₹178 per day, will continue to exist and this government, like the ones preceding it will not go beyond “offering” “roti, kapda aur makaan (food, clothing and housing”).
  • One can imagine the plight of workers by just looking at the recently reported “Consumer Expenditure Survey” result; it shows the average family expenditure in rural areas to be ₹83 per day, and in urban areas as ₹134.
  • These figures show how workers will continue to live in exploitative and marginalised conditions, where their constitutional right to a fair wage will be infringed upon by employers and the state.
  • This despite ‘Need-Based Minimum Wage’ being a Supreme Court jurisprudence (covering nutrition, health care, education, housing and provisions for old age as well). Therefore, in the draft rules, it should have been treated as a fundamental constitutional right for every citizen of India.
  • On these lines, it is worth mentioning that the governments of Delhi and Kerala have not only managed to achieve a living wage jurisprudence in recent years but have also set the highest living wage in India (₹14,842 a month in Delhi and ₹600 a day in Kerala).

Archaic framework as reform

  • The concept and intention of floor wage in the draft rules only reiterate archaic principles which were echoed by the Constitutional Bench of Supreme Court in U. Unichoyi And Others vs. The State Of Kerala.
  • Here the court remarked, “In an underdeveloped country which faces the problem of unemployment on a very large scale, it is not unlikely that labour may offer to work even on starvation wages”.
  • Unfortunately, this situation still prevails in India where the labour market preys on the excess availability of workers for whom living a precarious life is their permanent mode of existence.
  • In such a situation, they continue to be lured to work at their will on less than minimum wages, and in exploitative conditions. 
  • A floor level wage would only encourage and exacerbate this archaic practice and promote forced labour. Another huge concern with the law is in its provision of an arbitrary deduction of wages (up to 50% of monthly wages) based on performance, damage or loss, advances, etc.
  • In a country such as India, where employers, due to their higher social status, continue to exploit labour with impunity, this provision will only continue to push workers further into exploitative conditions, stamping on their bargaining power and rights of association.
  • This will make the lives of workers worse as the draft rules do not clarify the governance and institutional structure for the “labour inspection system” in the law.
  • The International Labour Organisation’s Labour Inspection Convention of 1947 (Convention C081) — it has been ratified by India — provides for a well-resourced and independent inspectorate with provisions to allow thorough inspections and free access to workplaces.
  • Ignoring these provisions, the draft rules propose another ad-hoc and unclear mechanism called the “inspection scheme”. All of this implies that in the absence of clarity in the draft rules, workers will not be able to demand even basic work rights in the fear of wage deductions, and will continue to be oppressed and marginalised.
       IASbhai CONCLUSION:  
  • There was not much discussion in view of the everyday survival and livelihood issues faced by millions of workers in India, due to their underprivileged social status and caste in comparison to that of employers and the state.
  • Therefore, it is disheartening that a law which was expected to provide economic and social justice to most of the population, now has provisions which will exploit workers further.
  • There is no accountability from elected representatives on the broken promises of decent and fair wages. The Labour Code on Wages Act 2019 and the draft rules have failed the lives and the aspirations of over 50 crore informal workers in India.
  • Working people are a national asset; undermining their well-being should be considered the biggest anti-national act. 
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