NCERT Class 8 Civics Chapter 8 Law and Social Justice Notes (Free PDF)

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NCERT Class 8 Civics Chapter 8 Notes: Law and Social Justice

NCERT Class 8 Civics Chapter 8 Notes Law and Social Justice walks you through the Minimum Wages Act, Right Against Exploitation, Bhopal Gas Tragedy, and Right to Life. While cruising through each section, you will realise the significance of environmental laws and labour protection laws in a nation. With this knowledge, you can become a responsible citizen, which is quintessential to Indian democracy. Let us begin with the learning process!!

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Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7Chapter 8

Introduction to NCERT Class 8 Civics Chapter 8 Law and Social Justice Notes

NCERT Class 8 Civics Chapter 8 Law and Social Justice Notes describes exploitation in the market system. The chapter uses the example of a shirt to illustrate the many steps and people involved, highlighting potential exploitation at each stage. It generalises that markets can exploit people involved as workers, consumers, or producers. Also, it acknowledges the government’s role in creating laws to minimise unfair practices.

Minimum Wages Act

The Minimum Wages Act 1948 is a key piece of legislation in India that ensures workers receive fair compensation. Here’s a breakdown of the Act:

  • This law ensures that workers are paid a minimum wage, which is revised every few years to account for inflation.
  • It protects workers from unsafe working conditions.
  • Also, this law allows workers to organise themselves into unions to bargain collectively for better wages and working conditions.

Enforcement of the Minimum Wages Act

Central and State Governments have designated officials who conduct inspections to ensure compliance. Both Central and State Governments have the power to fix, revise, and review minimum wages. Penalties are imposed for non-payment or underpayment of minimum wages.

Why are these laws necessary?

Workers, especially those who are poor or have no bargaining power, can be exploited by their employers. These laws help to level the playing field and protect workers from unfair treatment.

Also Read: Important Acts in India For Competitive Exams

Right Against Exploitation to Protect Workers

The Right Against Exploitation is enshrined in two articles of the Indian Constitution- Article 23 and Article 24. 

Article 23

This is the main article and prohibits three key forms of exploitation:

  • Prohibition of human trafficking: This law prohibits human trafficking for any purpose, including slavery, forced labour, or organ removal.
  • Forcing anyone into beggary: This forbids the practice of forced labour for public or private purposes without payment.
  • Other Similar Forms of Forced Labour: This broadens the protection to encompass other situations where someone is compelled to work against their will.

Article 24

This article specifically protects children by prohibiting the employment of anyone below 14 years old in factories, mines, or any other hazardous work.

Protections for Factory Workers and Employers under Articles 23 and 24

Here are the protections available to factory workers and employers:

  • Factory Workers: The Right Against Exploitation safeguards factory workers from being forced to work, ensuring they are employed willingly and receive fair treatment. Child labour in hazardous environments is expressly prohibited.
  • Employers: The law prevents employers from exploiting workers through forced labour or employing underage children in hazardous jobs. This ensures a fair and ethical work environment.

Also Read: Essay on Human Rights: Samples in 500 and 1500

Bhopal Gas Tragedy

Bhopal Gas Tragedy occurred in Bhopal, India, on 2 December 1984. It is considered the world’s worst industrial disaster, it resulted from a gas leak at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in the city. This tragedy is a stark reminder of the devastating consequences of negligence in industrial safety and the ongoing struggle for justice and accountability. It underscores the need for stringent regulations and corporate accountability to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

People demand the prosecution of Union Carbide’s chairman and accountability for the disaster. This incident emphasises the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR), safety measures, and the need for justice and support for victims of industrial disasters.

Causes of the Tragedy

Lack of safety measures and negligence by Union Carbide were the primary causes of the Methyl-isocyanate (MIC) leak. Also, the company prioritised cost-cutting over safety, leading to the disaster.

Events of the Tragedy

  • At midnight of 2 December 2024, Methyl-isocyanate (MIC), a highly poisonous gas, leaked from the Union Carbide plant.
  • Thousands of people were affected, with reports of immediate deaths and long-term health issues. One of the victims Survivor Aziza Sultan recalls the terrifying experience of waking up to the gas leak, witnessing loved ones suffering from coughing and burning sensations. His account highlights the immediate impact on individuals and families.

Casualties and Aftermath

Within three days, over 8,000 people died, and hundreds of thousands were injured. Many survivors suffered from severe respiratory disorders, eye problems, and other health issues. The majority of victims were from poor, working-class families.

Despite evidence implicating Union Carbide, the company refused to accept responsibility. Thus, the government represented victims in a civil case against Union Carbide, resulting in a settlement of USD 470 million, much lower than the initial claim of USD 3 billion.

Ongoing Challenges

  • Toxic chemicals left behind by Union Carbide continue to contaminate the environment.
  • Dow Chemical, the plant’s current owner, refuses to take responsibility for cleanup.
  • Survivors continue to fight for justice, including access to safe drinking water, healthcare facilities, and job opportunities.

Also Read: Essay on Disaster Management in 500 Words

Worker’s Worth and Safety Standards in Context of Bhopal Gas Tragedy

The Bhopal disaster highlights the urgent need for stronger regulations and enforcement to ensure worker safety. Thus it is essential to understand the dynamics of labour exploitation, cost-cutting, and safety standards are crucial in preventing future industrial disasters like Bhopal. The fateful incident emphasises the importance of valuing human life over profit margins and holding companies accountable for their actions.

Here are some key takeaways from the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, crucial in understanding a worker’s worth:

  • Foreign corporations seek cheap labour: Companies like Union Carbide are attracted to developing countries like India due to lower wages and lax regulations.
  • Cost-cutting through safety neglect: To maximise profits, Union Carbide implemented dangerous measures like reducing staff, training, and safety equipment at the Bhopal plant.
  • Double standard in safety: Compared to their plants in developed countries, Union Carbide displayed a shocking disregard for safety protocols in Bhopal.
  • Exploiting worker vulnerability: High unemployment in India forced workers to accept unsafe working conditions for low wages.

Also Read: World Day for Safety and Health at Work 

Government Failures in the Bhopal Gas Tragedy

The Indian government’s negligent safety regulations and enforcement contributed significantly to the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. Here is how the government of India is responsible for this dreadful disaster:

  • Weak safety laws: Existing safety laws in India were inadequate to deal with hazardous materials like MIC.
  • Ignoring safety violations: Government officials failed to recognise the Bhopal plant’s dangers and allowed its construction near populated areas.
  • Prioritising jobs over safety: The government prioritised attracting foreign investment and jobs over enforcing safety standards, even after repeated leaks.
  • Ineffective inspections: Government inspectors approved unsafe practices despite clear indications of trouble at the plant.

Consequences of Government’s Failure

The government’s actions violated the citizens’ Constitutional Right to Life (Article 21) as it is responsible for implementing safety laws to protect citizens’ rights, including the Right to Life.

Call to Action After Bhopal Gas Tragedy

With an increasing number of industries in India, the country needs stronger worker safety regulations to prevent future tragedies. Also, the government realised that effective enforcement of existing and future safety laws is crucial.

Also Read: Speech on Disaster Management for School Students

Bhopal Gas Tragedy and Environmental Awakening in India

Bhopal gas tragedy highlighted the severe consequences of industrial accidents on the environment and public health. People realised the ineffectiveness of existing laws that only covered individual workers, not the broader community affected by pollution. Owing to these reasons, companies like Union Carbide could operate without considering environmental cleanup.

Environmental Situation Pre-Bhopal Disaster

Here are some inadequacies in laws and regulations that benefitted corporates:

  • In 1984, India had few environmental protection laws.
  • Industries were allowed to pollute air and water without restrictions, leading to widespread environmental degradation.

Introduction of New Environmental Laws After Bhopal Gas Tragedy

In response to pressure from environmental activists and public outcry after the Bhopal disaster, the Indian government introduced new environmental laws. Also, the tragedy catalysed significant legal reforms in environmental protection in India. Here are some key developments:

  • Polluters were now held accountable for environmental damage caused by their activities.
  • Courts recognised the right to a healthy environment as intrinsic to the Fundamental Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Landmark judgments like Subhash Kumar vs. State of Bihar (1991) emphasised the ‘Right to Enjoy Pollution-Free Water and Air’ for a fulfilling life.

Also Read: Speech on Environmental Awareness for Students in English

Environment as a Public Facility

Environmental protection laws and processes must consider the impact on workers’ livelihoods while ensuring a safe and healthy environment for all.

Challenges to Environmental Protection

Here are some challenges associated with environmental protection:

  • Strict environmental regulations can cause job losses and economic hardship for some. Middle-class concerns for a clean environment sometimes come at the expense of the poor.
  • In addition, moving polluting industries can create new environmental problems elsewhere. For instance, polluting industries are moved to the outskirts, which affects marginalised communities living in those areas.
  • Also, focusing on environmental issues can overlook worker safety concerns.

Need for Inclusive Solutions

To address the aforementioned challenges, individuals and organisations must adopt inclusive environmental solutions at micro and macro levels. Here are some key features of inclusive environmental solutions:

  • Solutions should prioritise the well-being of both workers and communities affected by pollution.
  • Furthermore, a gradual transition to cleaner technologies and processes in factories is essential to mitigate environmental harm while protecting livelihoods.
  • Also, the government should support industries to adopt cleaner practices and penalise polluters.
  • Also, governments must strike a balance between economic development and environmental conservation.
  • Besides, policies should aim to protect both workers’ livelihoods and the environment, ensuring equitable and sustainable growth.

Also Read: Famous Environmental Movements in India

Right to Life: Article 21

The Constitution of India guarantees the Right to Life to all citizens of the country under Article 21. It is a Fundamental Right that has been interpreted broadly by courts to include various aspects beyond just physical existence. 

The Right to Life is not just about staying alive but also living with dignity. Here are the following rights included under Article 21:

  • Right to Health (Hakim Sheikh case)
  • Right to Livelihood (Mumbai slum dwellers case)
  • Right to Clean Air and Water
  • Right to Education
  • Right to Shelter

These expansions happened through citizen action in courts seeking justice for violated rights. The Constitution’s flexibility allows for new interpretations based on evolving ideas of dignity and justice. This makes the Constitution a “living document” that adapts to changing times, in which ordinary citizens play a crucial role. Thus, the Constitution is a dynamic document that can be used to address contemporary issues.

Also Read: What are the Fundamental Rights and Duties?

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Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7Chapter 8

Important Definitions in NCERT Class 8 Civics Chapter 8 Law and Social Justice Notes

Lastly, in NCERT Class 8 Civics Chapter 8 Law and Social Justice Notes, our subject experts have incorporated key definitions in the chapter:

  • Consumer: A person who buys things to use themselves, not to sell again.
  • Producer: Someone or a company that makes things to be sold, although sometimes they might keep some for themselves (like a farmer who eats their own vegetables).
  • Investment: Spending money on things like new machines, buildings, or training to make production better or more modern in the future.
  • Workers’ Unions: A group of workers who join together. These groups are common in factories and offices, but can also be found in other jobs (like housecleaners having a union). The leaders of the union talk to the employer for the workers about things like pay, work rules, how people are hired, fired, or promoted benefits, and safety in the workplace.
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Q1. What caused Bhopal Gas Tragedy as per NCERT Class 8 Civics Chapter 8 Law and Social Justice Notes?

Ans: The leak of MIC due to negligence of the government and Union Carbide owners caused this tragedy. 

Q2. How many people died in Bhopal gas?

Ans: The official number stood at 3,928. However, unofficially it is estimated that nearly 16,000 people lost their lives to MIC leak at Union Carbide. 

Q3. What is workers worth Class 8 notes?

Ans: The value of a worker is determined by the industry they are employed in. The government must enforce safety regulations to ensure the protection of workers. Additionally, the government has a responsibility to uphold Article 21 of the Constitution, which safeguards the right to life, to prevent any violations.

Q4. Where can I download NCERT Class 8 Civics chapters?

Ans: You can download NCERT chapters from the official website of NCERT

Follow Leverage Edu for complete study material on CBSE Notes of Class 8 Civics.

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