SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 11, 2016
This is a new feature. As feedback from our side on your answers is missing, we thought of providing detailed synopsis of important Secure questions on daily basis so that you could revise our synopsis and compare it with your answers. We intend to post synopsis of Secure questions every next day of posting questions on website.
You must write answers on your own and compare them with these synopses. If you depend on these synopses blindly, be sure of facing disaster in Mains. Until and unless you practice answer writing on your own, you will not improve in speed, content and writing skills. Keep separate notebooks for all GS papers and write your answers in them regularly. Now and then keep posting your answer on website too (Optional). Some people have the tendency of copying content from others answers and pasting them in a document for each and every question. This might help in revision, but if you do not write on your own, you can’t write a good answer in real exam. This is our experience at offline classes. We have seen many students who think they were regularly following Secure, yet fail to clear Mains. So, never give up writing.
Also never give up reviewing others answers. You should review others answers to know different perspectives put forth by them, especially to opinion based questions. This effort by us should not lead to dependency on these synopses. This effort should be treated as complimentary to your ongoing writing practice and answer reviewing process.
These synopses will be exhaustive – covering all the points demanded by question. We will not stick to word limit. You need to identify most important points and make sure these points are covered in your answer. Please remember that these are not ‘Model Answers’. These are just pointers for you to add extra points and to stick to demand of the question – which you might have missed while answering.
As you might be aware of, this exercise requires lots of time and energy (10 Hours), that to do it on daily basis! Your cooperation is needed to sustain this feature.
Please provide your valuable feedback in the comment section to improve and sustain this initiative successfully.
General Studies – 1;
Topic:Role of women; Social empowerment
1) A recent data released by the Global Media Monitoring Project report clearly shows that age-old discriminatory practices against women in the mainstream media are now being passed on to online media as well. Discuss the nature of this discrimination and measures needed to address it. (200 Words)
- Only 36% of news on the Internet is about women in India.
- Social networking platforms such as Twitter are male-dominated, with men taking up 64% of news space.
- However, when it comes to online reporters, India outnumbers most countries with 59% women, while neighbouring Bangladesh does not have a single woman involved in reporting news online.
Nature of discrimination:
- This discrimination in the media comes from the discrimination practised in our society.
- Lack of mobile access:
- most mobile users in a community or village are men, and not women.
- In rural areas, women, if they have access to a phone, usually get a second-hand instrument and often have to share it with other women in the household.
- 72% of women do not have access to mobiles in India.
- Forms of harassment can vary widely, from name-calling and trolling to persistent stalking and shaming to outright sexual and death threats.
- Loophole in legal provisions:
- The Telecommunications Act of 1996allowed operators of websites to avoid liability for what users post, although the limits of this continue to be tested in the courts and many aspects of the Communications Decency Act provision are not entirely settled.
- But it remains the case that the wide-open environment that enables creativity, innovation and vigorous debate online paradoxically also enables derogatory, anonymous speech for which there is often little legal recourse.
- Because of the volume of data and information they deal with, many Internet and social media companies struggle to articulate and enforce standards, even on more obvious issues such as the online messaging of violent extremists.
- It seems that the discrimination practised in our daily lives is gradually becoming a part of the digital medium. coverage of scheduled castes and adivasis, who constitute over a quarter of India’s population, has historically been inadequate in main stream media.
- Mostly, it appears only after heinous atrocities, when dalit children are burnt alive, when a panchayat orders a low-caste rape victim’s nose chopped off, or when an entire family is hacked to pieces
- Ignoring communities:
- Dalits, tribals, socially backward, financially weak, and communities that are geographically remote are always ignored over political news ,sports news, business news, celebrity gossip and even news about big brand/company names.
- Also, environment hardly ever makes it to the front page. Perhaps this is because mainstream media is gradually being taken over or controlled by corporate entities, making their neutrality and ethical responsibility questionable.
- See girls don’t dropout from schools.Like universal primary education universal girl education need to be promoted.
- Promote gender equality in schoolsand widen access to education for girls.-saksham,startup-women enterpreneurs,skill India need to be implemented
- Like Aakash laptop government can incentivise low cost mobile for women
- Strict action against people who troll people by the internet forums like facebook ,twitter etc..
- Google’s help get women online initiative
- social media sites like Twitter and Facebook have mechanisms to report abuse.
- On receiving a complaint, Twitter probes and suspends the accountif it finds merit in the complaint.
- IDR noted that while Facebook advises complainants to block the abuser and claims to have removed the abusive content,
- Digital India is a positive move. Improve network quality,
- Government need to take strict measures against cyber bullying, cyber theft,cyber stalking etc.
- People need to shown worldwide best examples of empowered women like indra nooyi,chandha kochar etc
- Women transform campaign of NITI aayog
- Police advising the victim on how to conduct herself has permeated in the online realm, too. Mumbai police has uploadedfour YouTube videos on cyber security.
Topic: Effects of globalization on Indian society
- Populism is defined as a political doctrine that represents the interests of ordinary people, especially in a struggle against a privileged elite.
- It is a potent political catalyst harnessed by leaders to increase their circles of influence by channeling the broad support of a society’s population, often by blurring people’s perceptions of their own interests with the interests of the nation-state they identify with.
- This fusion of populism and nationalism is behind the creation of many contemporary far right movements in Europe, in East Asia, and in the United States.
- Populism can be read as a fever warning which signals that problems are not being dealt with effectively, or points to the malfunctioning of the linkages between citizens and governing elites
Globalisation is fuelling populism:-
- Populist parties are managing to enter the political centre stage. This is partly the result of the drift to the right in the European political discourse concerning issues of immigration, Islam and the concept of a multicultural society.
- The discourse of adaptation and competitive adjustment applied to the EU as a whole (vis-à-vis China and India), to the level of specific countries, or to companies and to individuals has a strong impact upon and bias against the low-skilled, the ‘ordinary people’, the lower middle class, and the non-academic professionals.
- This bias is the root cause for populist resentment and revolt. Policy and political elites are selling and producing insecurity and uncertainty, instead of showing security and stable leadership in a world of flux.
- European policy elites do not show welfare state pride stability in times of change and reform. This ambivalence about the very foundations of the European welfare state models is in itself producing populist unrest.
- The new right-wing populism that emerged in the last decade of the last century can be called populist because it claims to represent ‘the people’ and to be mobilising them against a domineering establishment. It can be classified as right-wing populist because it claims to be defending and shielding national, cultural or ethnic identity against ‘outsiders’ or external influences. In this sense there are connections to xenophobic, racist or far-right parties and political ideologies.
- Through election campaigns and permanent communication strategies (spin doctors) political leaders are trying to connect to a mass audience for vote maximisation and popular approval. In a way, modern democracies are doomed to be populistic in this sense.
- Like in india political parties use populist policies during elections targeting minorities as vote banks.
- the new populist revolt must be characterised as a revolt against the new world as conceived and promoted by the mainstream political, cultural and economic elites, the new global world, and as driven by the international forces of economic liberalism and cultural liberalism and is extending to great parts of the middle class electorate.
- By those parties that most successfully appeal to the interests and fears of the ’losers’ of globalisation to be the driving force of the current transformation
- The citizens who had an improve in the standard of living are winners of globalisation and others the losers of this process so the political parties target the losers especially the poor.
- that globalisation has fundamentally transformed economies, sending low-skill jobs to the developing world — a point that populist figures never tire of highlighting.
- Globalisation affected SME’s in an adverse way. Now to cater to the needs of the people government promises domestic production.
Not every populist measure is inspired from globalisation:-
- Political parties think that providing individual benefits is the surest way to win over voters, especially the poor.
- Indian politics is replete with numerous examples of political parties competing in promising individual benefits such as social welfare pensions, loan waivers, housing, Rs2 rice, free power, etc. This list is now expanding rapidly to include modern consumer durables such as television sets, cellphones and refrigerators.
- Such individual-centric promises are a natural progression from the well-documented practice of purchasing votes by allurements of liquor and cash. The result is an increasing trend towards competitive populism, targeted at the individual voter
- Populism means expenditure programmes aimed at subsidising a large, preferably majority, of the voting population. In many countries, populism would be social expenditures targeted at the middle class. In India, these schemes would be those targeted at the absolute poor.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
3) According to the World Bank’s World Development report of 2016, despite being the second largest exporter of information and communication technology goods, India has the largest offline population in the world. It highlights the challenges that the government faces in providing Internet access to all Indians at a reasonable cost. Discuss these challenges. (200 Words)
- Almost all internet connections in India are served with poor infrastructure.
- According to International Telecommunication Union, a UN body, India is among the poorest countries in terms of ICT Development Index.
- Women as journalists around the world is extremely rare unlike India.
- The growth in average internet speed, especially for wired connections, is non existent. The price of bandwidth on fixed internet connection has remained more or less same for the majority of consumers in the last 10 years. The price of bandwidth on 3G connections too has remained very high.
- TRAI says that it is 512kbps, which is almost 50 times slower than what a person in the US gets.
- there are no performance standards that are being enforced by TRAI, acts like a body that protects the interests of telecom operators instead of consumers.
- Unfair (and possibly illegal) anti-consumer policies like Fair Use Policy go unchecked.
- Even on wired connections, internet speed often dips below 512kbps and yet TRAI rarely takes note of it and seeks explanations from service providers.
- Telecom service providers:
- Telecom service providers (TSPs) and internet service providers (ISPs) bemoan the lack of a viable business model in the rural areas
- the government complains about the lack of interest from the market players for all their efforts and initiative in creating hard infrastructure
- Governmental issues :
- The government still doesn’t have a coherent plan on how it’s going to pipe in high-speed internet broadband connectivity to every single house
- Government has allowed telecom operators in India to monopolise different regions and markets. And these telecom operators are just not interested in serving the retail market of internet. They are busy selling bandwidth to companies and organisations at high prices.
- while the regulators and government cannot seem to agree on fundamental policy issues from norms on speed and pricing to spectrum regulatory frameworks.
- English is the predominant lingua franca of the internet, just about 10 percent of Indians speak the
- It is in this context that the government needs
- to look at some of the alternative technologies on offer, not only from the likes of Microsoft, Facebook and Google — companies with a clear-cut profit motive
- also from institutions as diverse as the Indian Institutes of Technology to C-DAC that have the potential to resolve the seemingly untractable last-mile challenge
- The most promising alternative technology both in terms of practicality and operational possibility is White-Fi. If the ongoing experiments succeed, India would cover a long way in bringing internet closer to its billion plus population even as the existing service providers continue to weigh pros and cons of investing in rural areas.
Topic: Responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies
Importance of rising voter turnout in elections :-
- A high turnout is generally seen as evidence of the legitimacy of the current system.
- Assuming that low turnout is a reflection of disenchantment or indifference, a poll with very low turnout may not be an accurate reflection of the will of the people.
- Still, low turnouts can lead to unequal representation among various parts of the population. .
- Higher turnout may lead to policies that somewhat better reflect the views of poor and middle-class
- This perhaps indicates greater participation by middle and upper class voters in cities.
- Making an effort to make the voters aware about the importance of their vote in a democracy. Literacy is also important factor to force the voters to cast their votes.
Reasons for this increasing turnout :-
- keen to express their support for a particular candidate or party
- more and more people vote for development interests rather than merely to support the party that projects their ethnic or caste identity.
- The efforts by EC– namely the cleaning up of electoral rolls and the voter enrolment and awareness drives undertaken by the Election Commission
- Research revealed that the act of voting itself holds enormous significance for people because on election days the most important actors are not the politicians but the voters.
- While politicians seemingly dominate campaigns, people point out the irony of even the most arrogant heads being bowed to beg for votes thereby conceding that it is ordinary people who hold power at least during elections.
- Many noted that it is also the only time they see the administration doing their work free from political interference, thanks to the Model Code of Conduct imposed on the political establishment. It is the world they crave for
- They point out that as long as they have the secret ballot they can ultimately vote for whom they like as the vote is their weapon.
- Being able to vote gives people self-respect and dignity. For the vast majority of the impoverished and ostracised population of India, being able to cast a vote freely is an affirmation of their status as human above all and as equal citizens of India.
- A polling station in India is the only public space of its kind where there is genuine social diversity, where women are unafraid, where VIPs cannot be ushered to the front of the queue and where people are forced to stand shoulder-to-shoulder regardless of caste, class, skin colour
- The procedure inside the polling booth reinforces the dignity of the voter further where she is treated politely and efficiently by officials, has her name called out without mention of her father or husband, sees her name on an official record, proving she is an individual in her own right.
- Each of these actions reaffirms the identity of ordinary people as equal citizens of India, each of whom counts and is worthy of respect — and this alone for many was a good reason to vote.
- In fulfilling their duty to vote, people noted they had claimed their most fundamental right as citizens.
- It should not surprise us therefore that people proudly display their inked fingers after voting, for it is a material manifestation of a bundle of emotions that entering the polling booth brings with it.
- By exercising their franchise, voters are able to reacquaint themselves with the values that democracy promises — equality, dignity and civility — values that sadly only manifest themselves on election days
- Statistics show a steady rise in the turnout figures over the last three decades in several parts of India. The gap between women and men voters has also steadily reduced and in some States female voters outnumbered males.
- Evidence from the ongoing Assembly elections shows that turnouts are above 80 per cent
General Studies – 3
Topic: Economic growth – employment
5) In India, rural labourers constitute one of the most vulnerable sections of the society. Are their real wages growing? Examine the trend in recent years and suggest what government can do to improve their wages. (200 Words)
No, their real wages are not growing:-
- Minimum support prices have increased very modestly
- the drought has affected demand for agricultural labour
- A large part of the blame must be shouldered by the government for not only ignoring the warning signs but also aggravating an already fragile situation in rural areas.
- The worst cutbacks were reserved for agriculture and rural areas, with reduced spending on some crucial interventions such as
- the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana
- the winding up of the Backward Regions Grant Fund
- This was accompanied by reduced expenditure on irrigation schemes, such as the Integrated Watershed Management Programme and Accelerated Irrigation Benefits and Flood Management Programme.
- the central government has only grudgingly accepted the MGNREGS.
- But it has also been aggravated by lack of demand from the non-agricultural sector
Trend in recent years:-
- Real wages of rural labourers, probably the poorest of the poor, have been shrinking in the past two years.
- In December 2015, average real rural wages (wages adjusted for inflation) were down 1% from a year ago.
- As the chart shows, real rural wages grew rapidly in 2011 and rose substantially in 2012.
- The deceleration started in 2013, when inflation shot through the roof, but the reversal started in the second half of 2014, when growth in real rural wages slipped into a negative territory.
- the fall in real wages has occurred despite inflation coming down.
What can government do to increase their wages?
- While an increase in financial spending will certainly be required to revive sagging rural demand
- the situation also requires political commitment to make growth inclusive
- MGNREGA also has enormous potential to boost agricultural growth.
- It has allowed the people in rural areas to undertake activities like desilting, pond excavation, etc in their own villages and on their own land, to increase water availability, soil fertility and develop land.
- MGNREGA also has a positive impact in creating sustainable livelihoods for individual beneficiary households.
- Evidently, both MGNREGA and agricultural growth have a significant role to play in increasing agricultural wages and in rural development.
- Better targeting of subsidies via direct benefit transfer and increase infrastructure spending which in turn should drive construction activity thereby creating jobs in rural India and boosting rural wages
- restructuring of manufacturing sector
- government schemes like Pradhan Mantri Sinchayee Yojana,Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bhima Yojana ,soil health card need to be implemented properly
- buffer stocks and FCI need to be enhanced.
- credit availability under MUDRA and financial inclusion is needed.
Topic: Prevention of money laundering
Impact on Indian economy:-
- Amendment to the 1983 India-Mauritius treaty, which will come into force on 1 April 2017, will also apply to the India-Singapore treaty, shutting two lucrative investment routes preferred by foreign investors
- India will get the right to tax capital gains on investments channelled through Mauritius under an amended tax treaty it signed
- In addition, the amended India-Mauritius double taxation avoidance treaty has also provided for a limitation of benefit clause that will ensure that only genuine Mauritius-based companies get the benefit of the bilateral tax treaty.
- The government said the amendment has been designed to curb treaty abuse, tax evasion and round-tripping of funds
- The changes will have an impact on foreign investors who route their investments from these two countries to avoid paying capital gains tax in India.
- changes in the tax treaty will complement the government’s efforts to plug tax evasion and tax avoidance and its fight against black money—untaxed, unaccounted wealth hidden away by Indians.
- In a relief to existing investors, shares acquired before 1 April 2017 will not be taxed by Indian authorities.
- The amended treaty has also provided a two-year transitionary phase wherein the capital gains will be taxed at 50% of the existing tax rate; the full domestic tax rate will be applicable from 2019-20, provided the limitation of benefit clauses have been adhered to.
- Under the amended treaty, only those Mauritius-based companies that have a total expenditure of more than Rs.27 lakh in the preceding 12 months will be able to benefit from the tax treaty.
- curb revenue loss, prevent double non-taxation, streamline the flow of investment and stimulate the flow of exchange of information between India and Mauritius
- With the Singapore treaty co-joined with Mauritius treaty, those funds that are purely Indian-centric will not have any incentive to route their funds through Mauritius and Singapore. This will impact private equity funds who invest in unlisted securities.
- Portfolio investors investing in Indian stocks will also be impacted if they sell in less than 12 months as it will attract the short term capital gains tax.
- The amended treaty also seeks to subject interest arising in India to Mauritian resident banks to a withholding tax of 7.5% in India for debt claims or loans made from 1 April 2017.
- The grandfathering date of April 2017 and a 50% concessional rate upto April 2019 augers well and lends certainty to investors on the applicability of the treaty as investors have been nervous on the future of the Mauritius treaty.
- It would push tax costs for investors but there is certainty and clarity for investors. In the medium to long term, it will contribute to attracting investments.
- It is a move in line with the government’s initiatives to curb black money in the system, money laundering and tax avoidance. prevent double non-taxation, streamline the flow of investment, and stimulate the flow of exchange of information between India and Mauritius.
- It is also expected to discourage speculators and non-serious investors, and thereby reduce volatility in the market.
- In this situation, the impact of the amendment in the Mauritius DTAA on the Singapore DTAA becomes critical — and it is expected that the amended tax regime for Mauritius will be applicable to capital gains for Singapore tax residents too
- Since investments until March 31, 2017 have been exempted from capital gains tax, there is no risk of an immediate outflow of funds.
- However, the protocol will impact all prospective investments with effect from April 1, 2017.
- Experts feel that while some investors who are bullish on India may advance their plans and invest before April 1, 2017 in order to save tax
- Experts say the Netherlands may emerge as an alternative for FPIs following the changes to the Mauritius treaty. The India-Netherlands treaty is a smart treaty, and it can emerge as a preferred alternative for FIIs especially those in Europe.
- Impact on debt securities
- Based on the information available at this stage, income from transfer of debt securities may continue to be exempt under the provisions of the amended India-Mauritius tax treaty as it appears that the amendment is only with respect to the transfer of shares.
- The imposition of capital gains tax on the acquisition of shares of Indian companies after March 31, 2017 could, however, result in a slowing of the flow of investments.
- there would be no change for P-notes as of now. P-notes is a separate decision, it is not linked to the treaty.
Topic: Economic growth – employment; Effects of liberalization on the economy
7) “For jobs to grow, consumer demand has to improve consistently. This can only happen with an industrial policy, which India has not had since 1991.” In the light of slow growth rate of jobs in India, discuss the statement. (200 Words)
What can be the form and the objectives of the industry policy to create consumer demand?
- Ease of doing business improvement and infrastructure investment increases should improve the economic environment.They can assist an industrial policy, which has been lacking in India ever since economic reforms began in 1991
- One of the most important sources of increased consumer demand since the turn of the century was the increase in infrastructure investment.
- With the Golden Quadrilateral Highway network in 2001, infrastructure investment picked up.
- As a result, the number of workers in construction rose from 17 million in 1999-2000 to 26 million in 2004-2005.
- Investment in infrastructure rose strongly thereafter.The result was that employment in construction jumped from 26 to 51 million in 2011-12, trebling from the turn of the century.
- Unlike in the five years preceding 2004, real wages increased significantly until 2012.
- The combined effect of non-agricultural job growth plus real wage growth was a consumer demand booming in both rural and urban areas.
- The combined demand and supply effects of investment plus job growth resulted in sustained economic growth at a rate unprecedented in India’s economic history.
- While the share of organised sector jobs is increasing, most of the job increases are still taking place in the unorganised segment of industry and services, and in informal jobs.So the focus of the policy has to be on increasing organised sector jobs.
- Agriculture related industries like food processing need to be given more focus to avoid this kind of situation.Since 2004-2005, for the first time in Indian history, 5 million agricultural workers have been leaving agriculture per annum.
- Because of the lack of structured industrial policy despite secondary gross enrolment ratio increased from 62 to 79 per cent between 2010 and 2014,The educated youth are unlikely to join agriculture and will look for non-agricultural jobs in urban areas. The revolution in rising expectations is already causing social movements (the Patel and Jat agitations in Gujarat and Haryana, for instance).
- This raises the question whether government efforts to revive growth and create jobs add up. Certainly the revival of infrastructure investment will create more construction jobs to absorb those leaving agriculture (more than 5 million per annum).but that alone is not sufficient
- Government’s efforts have definitely triggered the consumer demand
- First, the Ministry of Labour is finalising the scheme to offer to pay 8.33 per cent of the salary as contribution for a pension scheme for new employees getting formal sector jobs. The scheme will be applicable to those with salary up to Rs.15,000 per month.
- Second, the Ministry of Commerce is customising incentives for labour-intensive export sectors.It has already initiated an Interest Equalisation Scheme and the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme to support declining exports.
- In the Budget, the government also announced that 100 per cent FDI in food retail will be permitted on the condition that the goods have to be manufactured in India.
- under the Stand Up India scheme, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and women entrepreneurs will get support such as free pre-loan training and facilitating loan and marketing. There will be a Rs.10,000 crore refinance window to the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI). SIDBI will engage with the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other institutions to take the scheme forward.
Government schemes rarely create many jobs. International evidence is that when consumer demand grows consistently, whether from domestic or international markets, that is when jobs grow. That requires an industrial policy.
Topic: Awareness in S&T
8) What is the difference between GIS and Geospatial? Examine the uses of geospatial maps. Recently government released a draft bill which seeks to regulate geospatial mapping. What are its implications? (200 Words)
GIS vs Geospatial:
- GIS refers to a system where geographic information is stored in layers and integrated with geographic software programs so that spatial information can be created, stored, manipulated, analyzed, and visualized (mapped)
- GIS refers more narrowly to the traditional definition of using layers of geographic data to produce spatial analysis and derivative maps.
- used to define the collective data and associated technology has a geographic or locational component.
- This means that the records in a dataset have locational information tied to them such as geographic data in the form of coordinates, address, city, or ZIP code. GIS data is a form of geospatial data.
- Geospatial technology refers to all of the technology used to acquire, manipulate, and store geographic information. GPS, remote sensing, and geofencingare other examples of geospatial technology.
- Geospatial is more broadly use to refer to all technologies and applications of geographic data.
- For example, popular social media sites such as Foursquare and Facebook use “check-ins” that allow their users the ability to geographically tag their statuses. While those applications are considered to be geospatial, they don’t fall underneath the stricter definition of what makes up a geographic information system
Uses of geospatial maps:
- Geospatial maps reflect how our neighbourhoods are mutating in real time.
- They allow us to capture the extent and nature of air pollutants around us
- plot the unsustainable plundering of our groundwater
- gauge the spread of a new flu outbreak to confirm if official estimates of, say, a malaria outbreak are understated
- simply plot restaurant options in a neighbourhood.
- Geo-spatial maps contemporary usage in industries such as taxi services, Google map, and other location based updates could be added.
- Once a tool that was affordable only to the largest organizations, geospatial systems have become a cost-effective option for even the smallest organizations.
- problems in the environmental and life sciences, in particular ecology, geology and epidemiology.
- It has extended to almost all industries including defense, intelligence, utilities, Natural Resources (i.e. Oil and Gas, Forestry … etc.), social sciences, medicine andPublic Safety (i.e. emergency management and criminology), disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM), and climate change adaptation (CCA)
Draft Geospational bill 2016:
- the possibility of harassment for possession of widely prevalent cartographic imagery at odds with the official boundary and the implications for a host of applications, commercial or in the public interest, that need real-time updates.
- The time lag the proposed process would impose, as well as the possibility of updates being rejected have worrying, disruptive implications.
- The draft Bill says that the government will vet geospatial information to preserve the “security, sovereignty and integrity” of the country — a broad objective that could be misused by the authorities to prevent any inconvenient information from being tracked, besides creating an avenue for rent-seeking.
- all information that can be represented on geographical maps will have to be necessarily vetted by a special authority before being publicised gives a lot of power to the authority.
- This is ironic considering that the Centre has a data-sharing policy in place since 2012 that exhorts departments to make their data on health statistics, forests, weather, and so on, more accessible to the public and in machine-readable formats.
- According to experts, the proposed law will bring into its ambit not just companies or agencies using maps for professional reasons but anybody with a smartphone that is GPS enabled
- This adds to the challenges already facing the adventure tourism industry as the current law denies access to physical maps of mountainous regions, forcing them to rely on digital maps by Google
- One of the biggest ironies is that India has so many users of Android phones and smartphones who are knowingly or unknowingly sharing their location real time through GPS.
- They may be sharing their location via WhatsApp with friends, or on a delivery app or while engaging in running or walking. If the bill becomes law, it prohibits all this
- It might be highly impractical for each smartphone user to get a license
- the bill would render illegal all businesses dependent on real-time navigation and location intelligence.
- The government will respond within three months of a licence application, but given the dynamic nature of maps, the spatial data may get obsolete in that period
- the legislation was “anti-national” and went against some of government’s most ambitious projects, including Smart Cities.
- Monitoring the digital space will also make government officials very powerfuland in a position to demand bribes from unaware or ignorant violators. If implemented in its present form, the proposed Bill could have severe consequences of these service providers
- The proposed Bill does not cover Indian government agencies such as ISRO, which is also another reason for protests emanating from various stakeholders.
- The success of ‘Digital India’ lies in more service operators coming out with wider range of services and greater number of users accessing these services. If the proposed Bill acts as a deterrent to the spread of similar services,then it will end up as a case of the government meaning well but ending up shooting itself in the foot.
- There can be no debate that the country’s territorial integrity needs to be maintained, physically and in the digital world, and therefore, a stringent law against violators seems imperative.
- Moreover, geospatial information easily available from services like Google Earth, Google Maps etc, has been reportedly used by terror groups against India. In the run up to the Mumbai terror attacks, Lashkar jihadis were reportedly shown images of vital locations in Mumbai.
- Wrong depiction of the map of India could land the violators in jail with a maximum term of seven years and fine upto Rs 100 crore. This measure has been envisaged by the government against the backdrop of instances where certain social networking sites showed Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as part of Pakistan and China respectively
- The proposed law applies not just to primary data providers such as Google and Apple, but to down-the-line service providers like Cab aggregators such as Uber and Ola, restaurant aggregators and last-mile delivery services like Swiggy, or even real estate information service providers like MagicBricks, 99 Acres, etc, all of whom draw upon geospatial data and images to offer efficient services to their end user.This law will make them accountable.
- The government is proposing to set up a regulatory body that will comprise of digitally aware senior bureaucrats along with subject matter experts who will oversee the digital space for violations. Hopefully, this body will successfully fulfill its responsibility while ensuring a level-playing ground for all.
- It is hoped that the government will be able to mitigate all stakeholder concerns before putting it up for final passage in Parliament.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Tolerance and compassion towards the weaker-sections