China has been a dominant player in the market when it comes to technology, especially software and apps. According to Statista, Chinese companies had a hold of over 32% of worldwide consumer spending on mobile apps created by them. China even crossed the US in this regard as there is a striking difference of around 10% against its counterparts in the US.
The Indian government on June 29, 2020, laid down a list of 59 Chinese apps to be banned in India. Consequently, these apps were removed from the Play Store on June 30, 2020, by Google. The reason cited by the government behind taking such a drastic step was concerns relating to the National Security of the country, its integrity, and sovereignty. The Information Technology Ministry (MeitY) stated that there had been complaints against these Chinese apps to be secretly using and transmitting the user’s private data without any authentication or authorization. Thus under S. 69A of the Information Technology Act, the government put a ban over the Chinese apps.
Many apps like TikTok, CamScanner, ShareIt, UC Browser, Shein, Club Factory, Wiebo, Parallel Space to name a few have been banned by the government and have already been taken down from the Play Store and App Store medium. This has been an opportunity in disguise for the Indian companies as all the consumer base would now shift to the Indian developed apps and software.
The year 2020 so far has witnessed a lot of rough situations and time. On top of that, is the exponential increase of Chinese apps taking over domestic apps market. As part of an initiative started by the Prime Minister of India which promotes “Atmanirbhar Bharat”, many people have started boycotting Chinese products to be self-reliant and boost the country’s economy. On this note, even the tech industry has come up with alternatives to the Chinese apps.
TikTok has been by far the most downloaded Chinese app which has gained huge popularity in India. However, this app has its own share of privacy-related issues. It is a social video platform that allows creating byte videos. An Indian alternative to this would be “ShareChat”. It more or less works in a similar fashion along with some added advantages and features. This app has been readily accepted, which is visible through the number of downloads to this app.
SHAREit is a very convenient app as it allows the sharing and transfer of files and applications. The app faces similar issues of privacy and security without having a proper authentication mechanism in place. A good alternative to this app is the “ShareALL” app which is created by Indian developers. It provides a similar sharing of files between devices without needing an internet connection. This app is free to access and has no size restrictions.
Another such Chinese app to be banned is CamScanner which is developed by Instig, a Chinese company. This app is very popular with students as it allows scanning and sharing of documents, files, and images very easily. An alternative to the same is Adobe Scan which is an Indian counterpart. The only issue which users face in Adobe Scan is that the document scanned directly gets uploaded on the cloud without asking the user and also UI is not many users friendly.
In the apparel section apps like Shein and Club Factory have also been banned. In the Gaming sector no app is there that can beat PUBG. However, being a Chinese gaming app, it has also been banned. Android platform based alternatives to the same, though not that popular, would include “Firing Squad Battleground” and “Rules of Survival” to name a few.
Similarly, the list goes on and on including a total of 59 apps that have been banned and removed from the Android and Apple platforms. As pointed before, this ban would be an opportunity for the Indian app developers to come out and take over the domestic app market which was previously dominated by the Chinese app developing companies. This would also provide the required boost to the domestic economy to sustain the ongoing economic crisis amidst the COVID-19 scenario.
Labour Law scenario during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic
The world at large has been struck by COVID-19 pandemic and it has led to a very bad industry situation. As the COVID positive cases are rising on a daily basis, the Indian commercial sector has taken a turn for the worse. The worst-hit has been taken by the labour-intensive industries. Labour being a matter of the concurrent list, in order to revive these industries, state governments have been working diligently on reforming and amending the labor laws to suit the current crisis situation. Many relaxations have also been made in this regard.
States of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have been pioneers in this regard. Other than these states, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Kerela, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, and Haryana have also shown efforts towards the cause. These governments had come up with notifications and ordinances detailing the exemption and compliance of certain laws and regulations. These amendments were made to ensure the flexibility of commercial operations and to give them a boost in such times.
Madhya Pradesh was the first state to take steps in this direction. Through an official notification dated May 05, 2020; the MP government made amendments to Madhya Pradesh Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1961, and Madhya Pradesh Shram Kalyan Nidhi Adhiniyam, 1982. Amendments have been made with respect to retrenchment conditions, closure of the establishment, and the penalties pertaining to the same. These steps have been taken with respect to the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. An exemption of a thousand days has been allowed until the time the adequate provisions can be enacted. The exemption is also allowed under the Factories act, 1948 except for provisions pertaining to hazardous processes involved, safety measures to be adopted, pay for extra work, the prohibition of children working in factories notices served and annual paid leave amongst others.
Through the “Uttar Pradesh Temporary Exemption from Certain Labour Laws Ordinance” released by the government on May 8, 2020; the UP government has provided an exemption from all labor laws for a period of 3 years. However, there are restrictions to this exemption which include the provisions governing the job security and safety of the employees. The exemption comes with some pre-defined criteria or conditions. Employers need to provide minimum wages to the employees and adhere to the payment timeline. To avoid contact, such payments need to be directly credited to the employee’s account. Health and safety provisions need to be implemented. Employment of women and children related provisions would be carried on as it is. Compensation in times of accident has to be provided as per the provisions of the Employee compensation act, 1923.
Gujarat government has allowed exemption from the provisions of the Factories act, 1948 pertaining to the working culture involving hours of work both on a weekly and daily basis, resting intervals, and other related provisions. This was done through an official notification dated April 17, 2020, which came to effect on April 20, 2020. It was also declared that such exemptions would remain in place till July 19, 2020. The working hours limit has been increased both on a daily and weekly basis with resting intervals every 6 hours. However, compliance with minimum wage provisions and safety and security provisions is still intact.
The government of Rajasthan released required amendments and exemptions as per official notification dated April 11, 2020. It also talks about an increase in the working hours of employees. Overtime payment has to be allotted to the employees for the extra hours put in aside from the daily working hours. An employee would be investing 6 days a week and 24 hours of overtime duty. Work from home would be encouraged to practice social distancing.
Thus, the state governments are working on the same lines, and more or less have the same exemptions in place. The main reason behind enacting these exemptions was to boost the commercial sector by way of inducing investments. This was also done keeping in mind that it would protect the jobs of the people currently employed as well as provide opportunities to those who have migrated amidst COVID-19. Since the economy has already suffered a great deal owing to the complete lockdown for a period of about 2 months, this step was a necessity to bring the economy and industries back on track.
However, these relaxations have their own share of issues involved. The main criticism is drawn towards suspending the provisions of the Minimum wage act leading to exploitation of the employees. It would lead to a restructuring of the formal and informal work sectors. It would lead to reducing the demand in the economy as opposed to what purpose it holds. Reduced salaries would lead to less purchasing power in the hands of the people, which would ultimately lead to a reduction in consumer demand. These amendments and relaxations have been created in the spur of the moment. It is understood that the steps were necessary for economic development. Therefore any further extension of these relaxations has to be approved as per the proper legislative procedure.