On Saturday, Delhi High Court struck down a Delhi government notification, issued last year, that had hiked minimum wages for various categories of workers. The court held the notification unconstitutional and said the decision was taken without consultations with employees or workers. The notification of March 3, 2017, had hiked minimum daily wages to Rs 513, Rs 565 and Rs 622 for unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled workers respectively, up from Rs 374, Rs 414 and Rs 455 announced in 2016.
Either of these two sets of wages would have made Delhi’s minimum the highest in the country, as of October 1, 2017. A Labour Ministry reply to a question in Lok Sabha last year showed that as of that date, Chandigarh, Haryana and J&K were among the states/UTs that followed Delhi in wages paid to workers in these three categories. The categories are defined on the basis of specialisation, qualifications or experience, and vary from one field of work to the other. For example, a 2015 Labour Bureau report on wages paid to beedi workers in Madhya Pradesh had defined loading and unloading as unskilled occupations; wrapping labelling and bundle making as semi-skilled occupations; and driving among skilled occupations.
This Word Means: Thermal battery
Plant opened in Andhra. What is this new tech?
ON MONDAY, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu inaugurated a thermal battery plant owned by Bharat Energy Storage Technology Private Ltd (BEST) in Amravati. Said to be the world’s first such plant, it will be a source of energy for electrical grids, transport and telecom services. How does the technology work? Unlike a conventional battery, in which electric charges are transferred between electrodes, a thermal battery uses the energy created by temperature differences. Heat travels from a hot part of the battery (source) to a cool zone (sink). Both these areas consist of “phase-changing materials” (PCMs), whose state of matter can change with a physical/chemical reaction. When the sink receives heat, it transforms physically or chemically, thereby storing energy. During operation, the sink is cooled down, so it releases the stored energy, while the source heats up. Depending on the nature of the battery, the system can derive heat from any source. For power transmission, thermal batteries will be able to function as long as there is a heat source. This could help solve power issues in remote areas, and address rising energy requirements. The transformation will mean reduced dependence on fossil fuels. At the initial stage of commercial operations, set for May 2019, BEST plans to create a battery capacity of 1000MW. This is expected to be upgraded to 10GW by 2025. —Express News Service
Tip for Reading List: Putin & Trump election, Blow by Blow
Towards the end of 2016, media began to report that Russia had interfered in the US presidential election that year, with intelligence officials allegedly hacking into emails of the Democratic Party and subsequently distributing that information to hurt Hillary Clinton’s prospects against Donald Trump. This was apparently because the Russian leadership under Vladimir Putin preferred Trump over Clinton. Veteran political journalists Michael Isikoff and David Corn have come out with an account of how the alleged interference took place. Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump claims that Moscow trained its best hackers and trolls on US political targets and exploited WikiLeaks to disseminate information that could affect the election. Reviews of the book have been mixed. Charles Kaiser writes in The Guardian that Russian Roulette leaves the reader nearly overwhelmed by evidence that Trump and Putin have been striving to collaborate for years, referring to instances such as Trump tweeting in 2013 that he wanted to be Putin’s “best friend”. The book “makes many important contributions to this extraordinary story — a saga which I believe is destined to bring an abrupt end to the Trump presidency,” Kaiser writes. The New York Times, on the other hand, refers to the subtitle that promises to reveal “the inside story”, and concludes: “Alas, it does not — at least so far as offering foolproof evidence of Putin’s involvement, or his motives.”