NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.
Reference The Hindu
Data protection is the process of protecting data and involves the relationship between the collection and dissemination of data and technology. It aims to strike a balance between individual privacy rights while still allowing data to be used for myriad purposes. The sheer volume of people’s data on the internet and the advancements in technologies such as Artificial intelligence, Data mining and machine learning poses a threat of abuse and misuse of data.
Data protection is the Need of the hour
India has around 40 cr internet users and 25cr social media users who spend significant time online. The average cost for data breach in India has gone up to Rs. 11.9 crore, an increase of 7.9% from 2017. Moreover, in the KS Puttaswamy case, the Supreme Court has declared Data Privacy as a fundamental right under Article 21. Hence it becomes all the more significant to ensure data protection. The reasons are as follows
- Data Export : Most of the data storage companies are based abroad. Especially the e-commerce companies that have exabytes of data on Indians. They also export data to other jurisdiction making it difficult to apply Indian laws.
- Data Localization : Enforcing data localization has faced backlash from many private entities and their home governments. There hundreds of private players are involved in data dynamics which makes it difficult to apply uniform data protection framework.
- User Consent : Generally, the application using pre-ticked boxes on consent while asking users regarding the acceptance to the terms and conditions.
- Privacy Breach : It is usually difficult to trace the perpetrator invading the data privacy.
- Privacy laws : Currently, the usage and transfer of personal data of citizens is regulated by the Information Technology (IT) Rules, 2011, under the IT Act, 2000. However this are applicable only to private entities and not on government agency.
- Data ownership : As per TRAI guidelines, individuals own the data, while the collectors and data processors are mere custodians of data who are subject to regulations.
In lieu of this, the parliament has referred the Data Protection Bill 2019 to a joint parliamentary committee for further scrutiny. The Bill was in line with the recommendation of the BN SriKrishna Committee.
Data protection is essential to balance the growth of the digital economy and use of data as a means of communication between persons with a statutory regime that will protect the autonomy of individuals from encroachments by the state and private entities. India must adopt stringent law in the same lines as GDPR (General Data Protection Regime) enacted by the European Union.
2. The informal sector provides the vast majority of opportunities both for its youth and for people coming off the farm to earn incomes. In this context, what necessitates the reorientation of policies towards the informal sector? (250 words)
Reference : The Hindu
The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) released in 2019 showed the unemployment rate in the country in FY18 was at 5.3% in rural India and 7.8% in urban India, resulting in overall unemployment rate of 6.1%.
In India, which currently faces an unemployment problem, the informal sector provides the vast majority of opportunities both for its youth and for people coming off the farm to earn incomes. Hence, India’s policymakers need to look at the demerits of formalisation from the perspective of informal sector enterprises.
Importance of informal sector and its role
- According to ILO India Labour Market Update (2016) and NSSO data (2011-12), more than 90 percent of the employment in the agricultural sector and close to 70 percent in the non-agricultural sector falls under the informal category.
- Clearly, the informal sector is not the residual sector of the economy. In reality, it is the dominant sector
- The informal sector may not contribute much to the national income but its dominance in employment is likely to continue for some more time.
- Even while the organized sector has lagged behind, the informal sector has shown improvement in productivity, real wages, employment and capital accumulation.
- Empirical data underlines the fact that the informal sector has done better than its formal counterparts on economic parameters such as investment, job creation and accumulation of fixed assets, among others
- At present, only 10% of India’s over 470 million workforces is in the formal sector. In other words, 90% of India’s workers do not have the privileges—like social security and workplace benefits—enjoyed by their counterparts who are formally employed.
Necessity to reorient policies towards informal sector
- Transition to Developed phase : The development of an economy, from agriculture to the production of more complex products in industry, is a process of learning. Informal enterprises provide the transition space for people who have insufficient skills and assets to join the formal sector.
- Inclusive development : Merely making it easy for MNCs and large companies to invest will not increase growth of the economy if enterprises and incomes at the bottom of the pyramid do not grow.
- Increasing formalization is also detrimental : Voices of tiny entrepreneurs in the rural heartlands and on the fringes of Indian cities must be listened to while developing policies for ‘ease of doing business’.
- Low wages lead to a low savings rate, which is detrimental for the credit cycle and further lending, hampering development.
- Informal sector workers usually lack financial literacy, depriving them of access to institutional credit, thus reducing domestic consumption and harming development.
- Productivity of the economy decreases as a whole since companies lose the incentive to skill the employees, so that they can better reorient themselves to the demands of the economy.
- Skill Development and training : Government must speed up the process of learning within informal enterprises by developing their ‘soft’ skills. Large schemes to provide enterprises with hard resources such as money and buildings, which the government finds easier to organize, are necessary but inadequate for the growth of small enterprises.
- Push factor : Networks and clusters of small enterprises must be strengthened. They improve the efficiency of small firms by enabling sharing of resources; they give them more clout to improve the terms of trade in their favour within supply chains; and they reduce the ‘last mile costs’ for agencies and providers of finance and other inputs to reach scattered and tiny enterprises.
- Labour reforms: Social security architecture to be provided by the government for informal sector workers. Health insurance and availability of health services must be improved, and disability benefits and old-age pensions must be enhanced.
What the informal sector needs is less of regulation and more of support as against the government policy of more regulation and no support. It is time to use the opportunity that the informal sector provides to strengthen and support it. This is not only essential for economic growth but the only way for growth with jobs
3. There is a need of more innovative reforms to ensure internal democracy, financial accountability in political parties. In the light of the above statement, critically analyse the steps taken by the government on electoral reforms. (250 words)
Reference Insights On India
A free, fair and unbiased electoral process along with greater citizen participation is fundamental to safeguarding the values of a democracy. Unfortunately, Indian electoral system is grappling with certain issues which have eroded the trust of many people in the country such as role of black money, issues related to power of Election commission of India (ECI), criminality in politics etc.
Need for reforms
- No Financial accountability
- Opacity in donations: Political parties receive majority of their funds through anonymous donations (approximately 70%) through unknown sources as per ADR.
- With Electoral Bonds Ordinary citizens are not able to know who is donating how much money to which political party, and the bonds increase the anonymity of political donations.
- Also, parties are exempted from showing donations about 20,000 as electoral bonds are out of the purview of this rule, which provides a channel for black money hoarders.
- Lack of action against bribes: The EC sought insertion of a new section, 58B, to RPA, 1951 to enable it to take action if parties bribe voters of a constituency, which has not come to light.
- Unlimited corporate donations: The maximum limit of 7.5% on the proportion of the profits a company can donate to a political party has been lifted under electoral bonds, thus opening up the possibility of shell companies being set up specifically to fund parties.
- Allowing foreign funding: Amendment of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) has opened the floodgates of foreign funding to political parties, which can lead to eventual interference in governance.
- Lack of transparency: Despite provisions under section 29 of RPA, 1951, parties do not submit their annual audit reports to the Election Commission. Parties have also defied that they come under the ambit of RTI act. EC does not have the power to deregister a party for financial misgivings.
- Opacity in donations: Political parties receive majority of their funds through anonymous donations (approximately 70%) through unknown sources as per ADR.
- Lack of Internal Democracy
- Though India in a multiparty democracy, where citizens elect their leaders, the political parties are ridden with dynastic politics. There is no inner party democracy and party works in a top-down manner.
- There can be no doubt that parties, which function as the elementary units in a competitive democracy, must themselves be democratic in how they function, from choosing their leaders to formulating strategy, in order for democracy to be substantive.
- Regional parties that are built around a towering leader do not even have any pretense of democratic decision making: their leader’s whim or fancy is the party’s policy.
- The left parties call their idea of inner party functioning ‘democratic centralism,’ but the stress is clearly on centralism
Steps taken by the government
- Model Code of Conduct : In 2019 central elections, Super court rebuked ECI for not taking action against violations of MCC. Post his ECI banned political actors from campaigning for a given duration under its powers given by Article 324. ECI also postponed the elections in Vellore constituency to curb electoral corruption under.
- Provision of None of the Above (NoTA): Supreme Court in the People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India case, 2013 paved the way for the introduction of NOTA.
- De-criminalization of Politics– Under various judicial pronouncements (Lily Thomas case), various measures including declaration of criminal records, disqualification from contesting elections etc.
- Menace of paid news– ECI has taken various steps to scrutinize, identify and report cases of Paid News.
- Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines to cross-check EVM results through a paper audit, completing another layer of accountability to the indigenously produced machines. The SC mandated that 5 VVPATS will be counted in each constituency.
- Candidate information: In Lok Prahari case, SC has asked the Centre to amend the rules as well as the disclosure form filed by candidates along with their nomination papers, to include the sources of their income, and those of their spouses and dependants. Non-disclosure of assets and their sources would amount to a “corrupt practice” under Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
Are these enough?
- Weak Response: ECI came under heavy criticism for it’s delayed action against the ruling party candidates on account of violation of MCC such as use of Indian Army in political rallies.
- Lack of capacity: The Election Commission is vested with absolute powers under Article 324, but still has to act according to laws made by Parliament and it cannot transgress the same. E.g. Despite being the registering authority for political parties under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, it has no power to de-register them even for the gravest of violations. Money power needs to be curbed.
- Increasing criminalization: In the current Loksabha, nearly 44% legislators have criminal cases against them. Law breakers cannot become law makers.
- NOTA in India does not provide for a ‘right to reject’. Election Commission currently has no plenary power to call a fresh election even if NOTA secures highest votes.
- Digital Content: Most of the [election-related] information flow does not happen via the IT cells of political parties, but through third-party contracts. Even though, the ECI has evolved a self-regulatory social media code for major players, still many platforms such as Telegram and WeChat are becoming increasingly relevant for political mobilization.
- Women’s representation is tantamount to ensure democracy is inclusive. Currently there are 78 women legislators in Loksabha while it was 66 in 2014.
There is a need for political will to bring in reforms, so that democracy in India is not only procedural but also substantive in nature. From a flawed democracy India must become a thriving democracy. Free and fair elections cannot happen if political outcomes are determined by the money and muscle of candidates or by class, caste and gender distinctions. This discourages genuine candidates from contesting, and winning elections. Election Commission must be strengthened and it’s role must be enhanced to achieve the objective of free and fair elections.
4. “ Achieving the target of 30% electric mobility by 2030 looks challenging, and investment, innovation, research and development (R&D) across the right technologies will be key to achieve it ”. Discuss critically. (250 words)
Reference Live mint
FAME India Phase II has been launched, with effect from 1 April 2019, with a total outlay of 10,000 Crore over the period of three years. Emphasis in this phase is on electrification of public transportation. The centre has sanctioned ₹8,596 crore for incentives, of which ₹1,000 crore has been earmarked for setting up charging stations for electric vehicles in India.
EVs hold enormous potential for India not only because it is environment friendly but also because India can emerge as a hub of manufacturing of EVs generating employment and growth opportunities. India has the capabilities to become the “Detriot of EV’s”, as given by Economic Survey 2019.
Indian consumer sentiment when it comes to EVs is improving, however, achieving 15% EVs within 5 years and 30% by 2030 is still faced by several challenges.
Challenges in achieving 30% electric mobility
- The Economic survey 2019 noted that in India, the limited availability of charging infrastructure seems to be a major impediment to increased adoption of EVs.
- Another major impediment is that of time taken for completely charging EVs, compared to conventional vehicles. Even fast chargers can take around half an hour to charge an electric car while slow chargers could take even 8 hours.
- It is equally important to provide information on public chargers to the users of EVs through online maps and other means such as physical signage.
- Range anxiety continues to be a major deterrent in EV adoption along with the challenge in achieving the convenience and the ease of use offered by traditional fossil-fuel-based vehicles.
- High initial cost, unavailability of an electricity grid system capable of meeting the demands of charging multiple EVs at the same time, as well as a limited public awareness regarding the benefits of e-mobility may hinder the widespread adoption of this technology.
Key to achieving the target
- Electrification of the public & shared transport: Government under FAME-ll has planned to support 10 Lakhs e-2W (electric – 2 Wheeler), 5 Lakhs e-3W, 55000 4Ws and 7000 Buses.
- Demand incentives on operational expenditure mode for electric buses will be delivered through State/city transport corporation (STUs)
- Incentives will be given to 3-wheeler/4 wheeler vehicles used for public transport or registered for commercial purposes. In e-2Ws segment, the focus will be on the private vehicles
- Establishment of charging infrastructure
- About 2700 charging stations will be established in metros, million plus cities, smart cities and cities of hilly states across the country.
- The need is to set up at least one charging station in a grid of 3km x 3km in the cities; and on both sides of highways connecting major city clusters at every 25km.
- Lithium : India must invest in extraction of Lithium reserves by collaborating with Lithium triangle nations (Bolivia, Chile, Argentina). This will reduce the battery cost significantly.
- Innovation and R&D
- Fast Chargers : are the need of the hour, especially if public transports are run on EV’s for long distance.
- New energy vehicle (NEV) credit: India must set a minimum requirement regarding the production of new energy vehicles (PHEVs, BEVs and FCEVs), with some flexibility offered through a credit trading mechanism in the car industry (ES 2019). For eg, in China every manufacturer is required to earn minimum NEV credits either through producing or importing NEVs or through the purchase of NEV credits from other manufacturers who have excess credit.
- Hybrid models : An HEV has a conventional internal combustion engine propulsion system plus an electric propulsion system consisting of a battery and a motor. This makes HEVs heavy and expensive. There is a need for better and inexpensive models in this segment.
- Lithium ion batteries: The battery management system plays a critical role in ensuring high battery performance while at the same time ensuring that the battery degradation is minimal, thus ensuring a long life for the battery. More R&D in this field will give India an edge in battery component manufacturing.
- Fuel Cell Research Effort in India – R&D in Fuel Cells – Fuel cells represent an emerging and exciting energy storage technology, both for stationary electricity storage as well as for electric vehicles. In India, a number of academic research efforts are ongoing in the fuel cell domain.
According to NITI Aayog (2019), if India reaches an EV sales penetration of 30 per cent for private cars, 70 per cent for commercial cars, 40 per cent for buses, and 80 per cent for 2 and 3 wheelers by 2030, a saving of 846 million tons of net CO2 emissions and oil savings of 474 MTOE can be achieved. It also provides us an opportunity to grow as a manufacturing hub for EVs, provided policies are supportive. While various incentives have been provided by the government and new policies are being implemented, it is important that these policies not only focus on reducing the upfront costs of owning an EV but also reduce the overall lifetime costs of ownership.
5. “On several occasions, the Speaker’s role has been questioned on the allegation of bias and the office has been criticized for being an agent of pernicious partisan politics”. Critically comment. (250 words)
Reference The Hindu
The speaker of Loksabha, is the chief parliamentary officer of the lower house of the parliament and same is the case in state legislative assemblies. Article 93 provides speaker as the presiding officer at the Loksabha while Article 178 for state legislatures.
Role of the Speaker
- The Speaker presides over the meetings in the Lower House. In other words, the Speaker conducts business in Lok Sabha by ensuring discipline and decorum among members.
- Speaker is the guardian of the powers and privileges of the members, it’s committees and the House as a whole.
- He or she is the sole arbiter in interpreting the provisions of Constitution, Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the house.
- A Speaker uses his/her power to vote, in order to resolve a deadlock.
- The Speaker presides over the joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament.
- The Speaker has under his or her jurisdiction, a number of Parliamentary Committees such as the Rules Committee, the Business Advisory Committee and the General Purposes Committee. The Speaker nominates the various Chairmen to the other Committees while monitoring the committees’ workings as well.
- Speaker has the sole discretion to admit or reject a resolution/motion.
- Speaker’s stamp whether a bill is a money bill is final.
- The speaker enjoys a wide power to disqualify members under anti-defection (10th schedule)
Hence the neutrality of speaker is tantamount. However, this has not been the case and speaker’s role has been questioned on several occasions for allegation of bias and partisan politics.
Criticism of Speaker’s role
- Partisan Politics: Unlike the British model, speaker in India does not resign from the party on whose ticket he or she is elected. A sense of affiliation may still exist to the party.
- Appointment and tenure: The structural issues regarding the manner in which the Speaker is appointed and his tenure in office. Usually the speaker is from the ruling party and this makes it a more of a political liability on speaker to favour his party.
- Time limit on deciding anti-defection cases was set as three months by the Supreme Court. The speaker in acting as tribunal under 10th schedule is bound to disqualify within a reasonable period. Eg : An MLA in Manipur switched parties and became a minister under the party government. A dozen dis-qualification pleas were presented, but Speaker sat over them.
- Duration of Disqualification : In 2019 in Karnataka, the speaker disqualified 17 MLA’s for a term of 5 years while rejecting their resignations. It had led to the downfall of the coalition government. The supreme court observed that speaker cannot decide the term of resignation, as it is outside the ambit of his powers.
- Referral to select committees: The Speaker is also empowered to refer the Bill to a Standing Committee. As per prevailing practice house members or speaker usually refers all important bills to the concerned Departmentally Related Standing Committees for examination and report. But in recent time speaker has used his or her discretionary power to pass many important bills without scrutiny. Often the route of guillotine has been used.
The founding fathers of our Constitution had recognized the importance of this office in our democratic set- up and it was this recognition that guided them in establishing this office as one of the prominent and dignified ones in the scheme of governance of the country. The speaker must thus rise above party politics and ensure that the true spirit of the constitution is upheld.
A nation is essentially a large association of people held together simply by the continuing will of their members. In other words, a nation is built on the virtues of it’s people. It also has a sense of collective belonging and an identity. A nation also gives it’s members certain values that it stands for. Considering these factors, it follows that a nations morals are the combined collective morals of it’s people. It was Plato that said, “state is individual writ large”. Thus decaying morals are like decaying teeth; the more worse it gets, the more it hurts the ethos of the nation.
The racism against the Africans Americans in USA is a fine example. Even today the people of colour are oppressed, like the police killing unarmed Black Americans. Women of color are hired less when compared to white women. These instances are not isolated instances. It’s a deeply ingrained bias that has it’s roots in racial supremacy. This decaying moral, hurts the ability of the nation to develop. It hinders inclusive development. There will always be a huge divide between two sets of people. Just like how a decaying tooth hurts a person so badly, these moral downfall will ultimately lead to a nation’s downfall.
Like how a corrupt institution will lead to it’s eventual collapse, in a similar way vices of the people cannot lead to a strong nation. Gandhi said that “one cannot expect the fruits of rose by sowing the seeds of Babool tree”. For instance, Pakistan tops in the gender bias against women as per the UN Gender Social Norms Index. It’s minority population has suffered unspeakable offences. The atrocities waged on it’s own people, is a telling tale of decaying morals of that country. And hence the human development indicators here speaks for itself. It is today branded as a safe haven nation for terrorists. There has been a wide condemnation of Pakistan’s policy regarding aiding and abetting terror activities.
One must also note that, immoral deeds may have been done for certain gains in the above scenarios. Yet, immorality pays a heavy price. In the above example, state sponsored terrorism in Pakistan has caused more casualties amongst it’s own citizens. In a racially divided America, there is no affinity or consensus amongst the people regarding respecting individual rights.
Finally, like how even a single decaying tooth can cause much pain; Similarly, as in the case of the authoritarian North Korea, people have been unable to express their opinions as they have not been given the liberty. Like JS Mill said, “A state which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands even for beneficial purposes–will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished “
Thus transgressing the moral boundaries can prove to be slippery slope. Like Tagore said, “where words come out from the depth of truths” and “where the clear stream of reason has not lost it’s way into dreary desert sands of dead habit”; “Into that heaven of freedom, my father let my country awake”. It is this adherence to morality, that leads to nation building.
Ethics forms the foundation of moral principles that a person is expected to exhibit when living in a society which has evolved as it is today. This is the idea that ethics is connected with character, and it is sort of a high standard approach to what it means to act in a particularly cogent and courageous way, as well as to demonstrate personal integrity. So a man without ethics is a wild beast, in the sense that he or she cannot differentiate between good and bad or right and wrong.
What makes us different from the nature of an animal is that, we live in a world where there are laws and code of conduct. There is a sense of right and wrong; of virtue and honor; of social obligation and duty. All of this raises a human being above the nature of an animal.
For instance, it is universally accepted that ethics is a key character trait of leadership. Without it how can he or she be trusted? Gandhiji was a firm believer of “Right means lead to right ends” and the fact that ‘he that soweth vice does not reap virtue’. His means were the two weapons of non-violence and truth. It were for this firmness of thought, that the call for freedom struggle resonated with millions of Indians. Gandhiji become immortal in the minds of the people for his ethical considerations, even when tough decisions needed to be taken(Post Chauri Chaura incident).
Contrast to this, Hitler’s ideology of Aryan supremacy and the fascist ruthlessness and anti-Semitism that was imposed on the people shows how a man without ethics can become as barbaric as a wild beast. The consequences in this case were catastrophic.
In another context, ethics and moral principles (can be community/culture specific) also determine the group behavior and our social roles in the network of relations that a man is situated. Without the personal ethos, men can rob the other’s of their rights. They may not fulfill their social obligation to their communities. It may be respecting human dignity, or ensuring justice and fair treatment for all. Every human activity today, has a direct consequence on others. Without moral consideration, he or she is like an unconstrained wild animal plundering and harming the peaceful order of human society.
Finally, Immanuel Kant once said “In law a man is guilty when he violates the rights of others. In ethics he is guilty if he only thinks of doing so.” Even in thoughts, if we lack an ethical judgement, it leads to immoral acts and thus violation of rights of other. For example, If a person sees a stray glass object that thinks its not his job to remove it, he is endangering an unsuspecting pedestrian into being harmed. Like Gandhi said, wishing harm for someone is also a form of violence. Thus Ethics forms the core of our existence and is the one factor that makes human “humane”.
It is thus ethics that enables us to function in a civilized manner and live in harmony with others. It tells man to respect the rights of other people and in turn our rights will be protected. An unethical man spells a doom on others and leads them into oppression.