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Answer the following questions in 150 words:
General Studies – 1
The Government of India Act was passed by the British Government in the year 1935. It was one of the lengthiest Acts at that time as it contained 321 sections and 10 schedules. The act was implemented and formed from the sources like the Simon Commission Report, the three roundtable conferences etc. which were earlier declined by the government.
Opposition to GOI Act 1935
- One was that the Governor General was head of federation and could exert special powers in the reserved subjects. All the ultimate control was in the hands of the governor general.
- The act appeared to grant real power to the people of India, but in reality, things were a little different. Provincial governor also had special powers in the two reserved areas.
- They had the authority to dismiss ministers and even the right to dismiss the whole administration and rule by proclamation during a period of emergency.
- However, the governors were asked to act upon the advice of Ministers, which seemed to be very beneficial. But this could also be surpassed.
- Another reason was that the part concerning the central Govt. was never introduced because the princes rejected the new arrangements.
- Although the act appeared to give the Indians a say in running their own country, there was a very limited franchise.
- The property qualification for voting meant that only 25% of Indians population was allowed to vote in the provincial elections.
- The act was opposed on all sides of India. The Congress, ML and even the princes of states disliked and resented this act. Nehru called it a “charter of slavery’ and said that it had so many safeguards that it was like ‘a machine with strong breaks but no engine’.
Resentment against inefficacy of Government of India Act 1935
- Nationalist response: The 1935 Act was condemned by nearly all sections and unanimously rejected by the Congress. The Congress demanded, instead, convening of a Constituent Assembly elected on the basis of adult franchise to frame a constitution for independent India.
- Everyone agreed that the 1935 Act was to be opposed root and branch but it was not clear how it was to be done in a period when a mass movement was not yet possible.
- In early 1937, elections to provincial assemblies were announced and there was agreement that the Congress should fight these elections on the basis of a detailed political and economic programme, thus deepening, the anti-imperialist consciousness of the people.
- Despite fighting these elections, it did not amount to office acceptance under 1935 Act.
- The leftists proposed entry into the councils with an aim to create deadlocks, thus making the working of the Act impossible (older Swarajist strategy).
- And, as a long-term strategy, they advocated an increased reliance on workers and peasants, integration of their class organisations into the Congress, thus imparting a socialist direction to resumption of a mass movement.
- Capture or rejection of office was not a matter of socialism but of strategy. They agreed that there was a danger of being sucked in by wrong tendencies, but the answer was to fight these tendencies and not to abandon offices.
- The administrative field should not be left open to pro-government reactionary forces. Despite limited powers, provincial ministries could be used to promote constructive work.
- The Congress manifesto reaffirmed total rejection of the 1935 Act, and promised release of prisoners, removal of disabilities on the basis of gender and caste, radical transformation of the agrarian system, substantial reduction of rent and revenue, scaling down of rural debts, cheap credit and right to form trade unions and to strike.
Gandhi advised Congressmen to hold these offices lightly and not tightly. The offices were to be seen as ‘crowns of thorns’ which had been accepted to see if they quickened the pace towards the nationalist goal. Gandhi advised that these offices should be used in a way not expected or intended by the British.
The Government of India Act was passed by the British Parliament in August 1935. Its main provisions were as follows.
- An All India Federation: It was to comprise all British Indian provinces, all chief commissioner’s provinces and Indian states. The federation’s formation was conditional on the fulfilment of two conditions:
- states with allotment of 52 seats in the proposed Council of States should agree to join the federation;
- aggregate population of states in the above category should be 50 per cent of the total population of all Indian states.
- Federal executive: Governor-general was the pivot of the entire Constitution. Subjects to be administered were divided into reserved and transferred subjects.
- Reserved subjects—foreign affairs, defence, tribal areas and ecclesiastical affairs—were to be exclusively administered by the governor-general on the advice of executive councillors.
- Executive councillors were not to be responsible to the Central Legislature
- Legislature: The bicameral legislature was to have an upper house (Council of States) and a lower house (Federal Assembly).
- Provincial autonomy replaced dyarchy.
Ghadar movement was started by leaders like Lal Hardayal, Sohan Singh, Kartar Singh & others on the foreign land in the year 1914. It started with the opposition against the discriminatory policies of host countries towards immigrant Indians and lack of support by British. Gradually, it took the shape of nationalism in the form of armed struggle. Despite its failure to achieve the stated objectives, in later years Ghadarites helped in foundation of secular national peasant movement in Punjab.
Ghadar movement failed to achieve its objectives:
- They completely underestimated the level of preparation needed – financially, organizational, ideological, which was needed before the launch of armed revolt.
- They underestimated the strength of British in India in terms of their armed and organizational might, using which Ghadar movement was suppressed.
- The movement was sustained more by the zeal and enthusiasm of the militants rather than any effective organization.
- There was also Leadership crisis, due to lack of consistent leadership. Once Lala Hardayal escaped, there was no one to lead the Ghadarites. In India after a continuous search, they found Ras Bihari Bose as their leader.
However, it cannot be completely termed as a failure:
- Contributions of Ghadar movement in further deepening nationalist consciousness and ideology, the economic critique, impact on revolutionary nationalists and spread of nationalism abroad was truly immense.
- It united the immigrant Indians for opposing and fighting against the British authorities. The Ghadar paper was published and distributed not only in USA and Canada, but it also reached to the Indians residing in Philippines, Singapore, Fiji, etc an acted as unifying factor.
- It helped in sustaining the freedom struggle post Swadeshi movement, when Congress was not much politically active. So, the flame of patriotism and nationalism was kept alive by Ghadar movement.
- The Ghadar paper was nationalist critique of colonialism and was a huge propaganda effort motivated and educated Indians.
- The movement set out secular consciousness as the leaders were from diverse religious background worked together with peace and cooperation. As, Lala har dayal was Hindu, Ras Bihari bose was Bengali, Barkatullah was Muslim.
- Leaders tried to give it democratic and egalitarian outlook, by incorporating people from diverse background like laborers, agriculture farmers and others. Their objective was to establish independent republic of India.
Success or failure of a movement will not always be measured by its achievement or by its objectives. But by the deepening of nationalist consciousness, testing new strategies, secularism, egalitarianism and time bound executions of activities had contributed their share to freedom struggle which motivated further struggles which took place.
Relevance of Ghadar Movement
- The Ghadar movement can be described as tale of extreme valour, hard-work, toil which has reached the heart of every Indian settled on distant lines.
- The powerful speeches by its leaders did shape the NRI opinion against the misrule of British in India.
- It truly qualifies for a major struggle which aroused the people internationally and sowed seeds for any other future course of action.
- The immediate results would have been different had the then leaders introduced proper organization and had given more time to study the general mood of the population.
3. Though puzzling for many, Gandhi’s strategy to keep the issue of salt issue as a core aspect of civil disobedience movement was well thought, carefully calibrated and its appeal was universal. Substantiate. (150 words, 10 marks)
Gandhiji had presented 11 demands in front of British based on mandate of Lahore congress session and gave an ultimatum of Jan 31st 1930 to accept them. With no positive response forthcoming from the Government on these demands, the Congress Working Committee invested Gandhi with full powers to launch the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) at a time and place of his choice. By February-end, Gandhi had decided to make, salt, the central formula for the CDM.
Salt issue as focus of protest:
- In every Indian household, salt was indispensable, yet people were forbidden from making salt even for domestic use, compelling them to buy it from shops at a high price.
- As Gandhi said, “There is no other article like salt, outside water, by taxing which the Government can reach the starving millions, the sick, the maimed and the utterly helpless”.
- It is the most inhuman poll tax the ingenuity of man can devise.
- Salt in a flash linked the ideal of swaraj with a most concrete and universal grievance of the rural poor and with no socially divisive implications like a no-rent campaign.
- Salt afforded a paltry but psychologically important income, like khadi, for the poor through self-help.
- Salt also offered to the urban adherents the opportunity of a symbolic identification with mass suffering.
- The British used to destroy salt collected from the villagers from the sea which led to an increase in national expenditure.
- The state monopoly over salt was deeply unpopular; by making it his target, Gandhiji hoped to mobilise a wider discontent against British rule.
- Salt had no divisive elements in terms of caste, religion or class thus was a silent ingredient of “Unity in Diversity”.
- Salt was chosen to symbolize the start of civil disobedience movement because salt was deemed as something on which every Indian had the basic right.
- Gandhiji declared resistance to British salt policies to be the unifying theme for the civil disobedience movement and thus started Dandi March.
The Salt March got national and international recognition and shook the Britishers with its non-violent nature. It got massive press coverage and drew the world’s attention towards the Indian Independence Movement. Even today, non-violent peaceful protest is a potent tool against oppressive practices of the government.
Significance of Dandi March in Indian National Movement
- The historic march, marking, the launch of the Civil Disobedience Movement, began on March 12, and Gandhi broke the salt law by picking up a handful of salt at Dandi on April 6.
- The violation of the law was seen as a symbol of the Indian people’s resolve not to live under British- made laws and therefore under British rule.
- The march, its progress and its impact on the people was well covered by newspapers. In Gujarat, 300 village officials resigned in answer to Gandhi’s appeal.
- Participation of women: For Indian women, the movement was the most liberating experience and can truly be said to have marked their entry into the public sphere.
- Reduced British Authority: The hegemony of the Government was eroded, as they faced the classic dilemma of ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t—if force was applied, the Congress cried ‘repression’, and if little was done, the Congress cried ‘victory’.
- Mass involvement: Massive participation of peasants and business groups compensated for decline of other features. The number of those imprisoned was about three times more this time. The Congress was organisationally stronger.
General Studies – 2
WHO defines Biofortification as the process by which the nutritional quality of food crops is improved through agronomic practices, conventional plant breeding, or modern biotechnology. Biofortification differs from conventional fortification in that biofortification aims to increase nutrient levels in crops during plant growth rather than through manual means during processing of the crops. Biofortification may therefore present a way to reach populations where supplementation and conventional fortification activities may be difficult to implement and/or limited.
Need for Biofortification in India:
- India faces a development paradox—of being one of the fastest-growing global economies in the world and contrast—of having an estimated 189.2 million people i.e., 14% of the population as undernourished.
- Further, the percentage of children under the age of five who are stunted, wasted and are underweight are 38.4, 21.0 and 42.5 respectively.
- Also, 53.1% of women of reproductive age between 15 to 49 years are anemic.
- These metrics highlight the prevalence of chronic malnourishment of women, girls and children in India.
Potential of Biofortification with respect to India:
- Biofortification, an agriculture-based approach to the development and dissemination of micronutrient-rich crops, offers a viable option to mitigate malnutrition and hidden hunger.
- The solution majorly targets poor and rural people who grow and consume staple crops significantly and supply their surplus produce majorly within their community.
- The method enriches staple crops with required micronutrients that reduces people’s nutritional vulnerability because, during economic shocks, the poor tend to reduce their consumption of higher-value food commodities that are naturally rich in micronutrients.
- With a one-time research and development investment, biofortified seeds can spread through the existing seed distribution systems in the country.
- Farmers, even with limited resources and market access, can grow biofortified crops since they do not need repeated purchases of seeds year after year—they can use a part of their produce as the seeds for the next year.
- Moreover, an increase in the adoption of seeds through efficient seed distribution channels will ensure it is economically remunerative for the growers.
- For consumers, awareness has to be created about subsequent health benefits while ensuring easy access and affordability of the produce.
- Currently, there is sufficient evidence available to say that biofortification can improve nutritional outcomes
- g., improvement in hemoglobin and total body iron in Rwanda women after consumption of biofortified iron bean, enhancement in serum ferritin and total body iron observed in iron-deficient adolescent boys and girls in Maharashtra, India after consuming biofortified pearl millet flatbread twice daily for four months etc.
- Biological fortification of food has proven to be simple, cost-effective and sustainable.
- Thus, bio-fortified crops can be directly fed into India’s ambitious POSHAN Abhiyaan targeting over 10 crore people with the aim to reduce stunting, undernutrition, anemia, and low birth weight.
- Focus on mother’s education
- There is a direct correlation between mother’s education and the wellbeing of children.
- Targeted programmesfor improving the educational status of girls and reducing the school dropout rates need to be promoted.
- The Global Nutrition Report (2014)estimates that every dollar invested in a proven nutrition programme offers benefits worth 16 dollars.
- Scale-up innovation in biofortified food by supporting policies
- Innovations in biofortified food can alleviate malnutrition only when they are scaled up with supporting policies.
- This would require increasing expenditure on agri-R&D and incentivising farmers by linking their produce to lucrative marketsthrough sustainable value chains and distribution channels.
- The government can also rope in the private sector to create a market segment for premium-quality biofortified foods.
- For instance, trusts run by the TATA group are supporting different states to initiatefortification of milk with Vitamin A and D.
- National awareness drive
- A national awareness drive on the lines of the “Salt Iodisation Programme” launched by the government in 1962 can play an important role at the individual and community levels to achieve the desired goals of poshan for all.
- Branding, awareness campaigns, social and behavioural change initiatives, can promote consumption of locally-available, nutrient-dense affordable foods among the poor and children.
The emphasis on bio-fortification is a step forward for India’s transition from food availability and access to nutrition security and eradicating hidden hunger. Leveraging science to attack the complex challenge of malnutrition, particularly for low-income and vulnerable sections of society, can be a good intervention.
Examples of biofortification projects include:
- iron-biofortification of rice, beans, sweet potato, cassava and legumes;
- zinc-biofortification of wheat, rice, beans, sweet potato and maize;
- provitamin A carotenoid-biofortification of sweet potato, maize and cassava; and
- amino acid and protein-biofortification of sorghum and cassava.
Case study: Madhuban Gajar
- Madhuban Gajar, a biofortified carrot variety with high β-carotene and iron content developed by Shri Vallabhhai Marvaniya, a farmer scientist from Junagadh district, Gujarat is benefitting more than 150 local farmers in the area.
- It is being planted in an area of over 200 hectares in Junagadh, and the average yield, which is 40-50 t/ha, has become the main source of income to the local farmers.
- The variety is being cultivated in more than 1000 hectares of land in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh during the last three years.
- The Madhuvan Gajar is a highly nutritious carrot variety developed through the selection method with higher βcarotene content (277.75 mg/kg) and iron content (276.7 mg/kg) dry basis and is used for various value-added products like carrot chips, juices, and pickles.
- Among all the varieties tested, beta-carotene and iron content were found to be superior.
Biofortification initiatives in India:
- The Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) has developed 21 varieties of biofortified staplesincluding wheat, rice, maize, millets, mustard, groundnut by 2019-20 which are not genetically modified.
- These biofortified crops have 5 to 3 times higher levels of protein, vitamins, minerals and amino acids compared to the traditional varieties.
- A research team at the National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute in Mohali has also developed biofortified coloured wheat (black, blue, purple) that is rich in zinc and anthocyanins.
- The HarvestPlus programme of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) have been working closely with ICAR, to improve the access of the poor in India to iron-rich pearl millet and zinc-rich wheat.
A social stock exchange (SSE) is a platform on which social enterprises, volunteer groups and welfare organizations will be listed so that they can raise capital. It will bring together social enterprises and impact investors on a common platform. Finance Minister announced that the government plans to create a social stock exchange (SSE) in the budget 2019.The SSE in India will be under the ambit of SEBI.
- In this context, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) constituted a 15-member working group on a social stock exchange (SSE) in September 2019.
- India has at least 3.1 million non-profit organizations (NPOs), more than double the number of schools and 250 times the number of government hospitals, according to an estimate in a June 2020 report by Sebi’s SSE working group.
Implications of Social Stock Exchanges on civil society:
- The proposal has attracted much attention, and social entrepreneurs, among others, have said that the move can have a revolutionary effect on how they tap investors for capital.
- The exchange would help social and voluntary organisations which work for social causes to raise capital as equity, debt or a unit of mutual fund.
- It’s good for the government to put in some resources in the creation of what should be viewed as a facilitating institution
- With the government distrustful of foreign donations to nonprofits, the exchange might help the sector generate more capital
- The proposal would be a radical experiment in a country characterised by stark inequality and rapid economic growth.
- If created, the exchange could provide new and cheaper sources of financing for social welfare projects, while showcasing India’s independence from foreign aid as it seeks to enhance its position on the world stage.
- SSEs exist in several countries in various forms but there is no clarity about the Indian version yet on trading, tax benefit transferability and accountability of third parties
Factors to be considered to make this novel concept a success in India:
- Non-profit organizations (NPOs) NPOs would have to establish “primacy of social impact” as well as demonstrate the measurability of their efforts.
- It appears that any organization “in corporate form, partnership or sole-proprietorship firm” that creates a social impact as part of its business can be considered an for-profit social enterprises (FPEs). This is a grey area and could be potentially misused, even possibly reduce the flow of funds to NPOs.
- The SSE seeks to give the NPO sector transparency by mandating increased financial, social and governance reporting. While this in itself is a good aim, mechanisms that are dependent on information risk leaving out smaller NPOs from the SSE’s ambit.
- It also risks alienating organizations whose effort and/or impact may not be amenable to adequate data-capture. For instance, NPOs involved in environmental justice, digital rights or other areas where the existing systems and processes are stacked against them.
- While the SSE technical group lays down protocols for social auditors, the worry is that middlemen agencies might emerge.
- Such agencies may gain unchecked influence over the SSE-NPO-donor ecosystem, given the proposals’ inadequacy of regulatory checks and balances. This could go against the spirit of the idea.
- The tightrope between regulating NPOs to restrain misuse of the flexibility they are given and allowing for a wider set of fund-raisers that go beyond a narrow set of quickly measurable outcomes is a tough one, and needs a fair amount of work as the plan rolls out.
- The first thing the government needs to decide is how to distinguish between a social enterprise and a normal enterprise.
- It would be innovative if corporate social responsibility funds could be routed to social enterprises through the exchange
- This can help reduce misuse of CSR funds and help companies route funds through a more viable route
- Social Stock Exchange is a worthy idea, but still needs deliberation and consultations with all stakeholders.
- Its realization and eventual value to these stakeholders, especially to NPOs, will depend on some of these critical choices made at the onset.
- The Social stock exchange is a step in the right direction to help the cash starved social startups. This will further the cause of socio-economic development with much transparency and accountability.
- The idea of a social stock exchange (SSE) for listing of social enterprise and voluntary organisations was mooted by Finance Minister while presenting the Union Budget 2019-20.
- A working group constituted by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on social stock exchanges has submitted its recommendations.
- The panel was set up by Sebi in September 2019 under the Chairmanship of Ishaat Hussain to suggest possible structures and regulations for creating SSE to facilitate listing and fund-raising by social enterprises as well as voluntary organisations.
Key recommendations of the panel:
- Allow direct listing of non-profit organisations through the issuance of bonds and a range of funding mechanisms.
- Funding mechanisms suggested include some of the existing mechanisms such as Social Venture Funds (SVFs) under the Alternative Investment Funds.
- A new minimum reporting standard has also been proposed for organisations which would raise funds under social stock exchanges (SSE).
- Profit social enterprises can also list on SSE with enhanced reporting requirement. To encourage, giving culture some tax incentives have also been suggested.
Need for Social Stock Exchanges:
- Social enterprises are playing a very significant role in solving real problems in education, healthcare and financial inclusion.
- The Electronic Fundraising Platform acknowledges the problem of investment fundraising for such organizations
- It sends a positive signal that the government is bothered about the sector.
- It will help companies to have greater visibility and raise capital. For instance, if an entrepreneur can go to a single platform which he knows will be touched by a hundred investors, it becomes easier for him
- Listing on an exchange can be a viable alternative for impact startups to raise funding
- In India, the social impact startups are growing at 20 per cent annual rate while there are more than 400 such startups
- UK: The Social Stock Exchange in London functions more as a directory connecting social enterprises and potential investors. Launched in 2013, it only accepts companies that pass its independent assessment on social impact.
- Kenya: The Kenya Social Investment Exchange, launched in 2011, connects vetted social enterprises with impact investors, both foreign and domestic. A listed social enterprise has to demonstrate social impact as well as financial sustainability beyond the funding period.
- Canada: Backed by the Ontario government, the SVX is an online platform that allows investments in Canadian companies and funds that have “a positive social or environmental impact”. Retail investors are also allowed to participate.
- Singapore: The Impact Investment Exchange runs a social stock exchange in partnership with the Stock Exchange of Mauritius, which is open to limited accredited investors who want to invest.
- In a survey of Indian social enterprises by Brookings India, 57% identified access to debt or equity as a barrier to growth and sustainability.
- Lack of clarity of Social Enterprise in India.
- There is less clarity about how a stock exchange will help raise capital for “voluntary organisations”.
- Social startups possibly lack the flexibility in raising capital from angel or venture capital investors, unlike a regular technology startup.
India has a system where certain posts, both at the Centre and in states, are reserved for certain services by declaring them as cadre posts. This has resulted in exclusionary behaviour by all services to keep members of other services away. The recent case in the Supreme Court between CAPF officers and IPS officers is but one such example.
Drawbacks of reserving cadre posts for certain services
- First, it acts as a glass ceiling for all the members of a service, whatever the skill set possessed by an individual member and hence, acts as a de-motivator.
- Second, since officers from a particular service have to be posted to a particular post, less than optimal choices often have to be made with the full knowledge that a net cast wider may be better from a national perspective.
- Third, it creates strange anomalies where batchmates from the same examination are promoted slower or faster just because they belong to different services, not because they are less or more competent.
- Fourth and most importantly, it prevents the government from optimally utilising the talent it possesses, especially when the government feels that there is a talent gap that it seeks to fill by hiring from the private sector.
- Finally, it makes all the services top-heavy because, in the absence of lateral movement, all members remain within the core functional area and hence need to be promoted periodically, mostly simultaneously.
- Every service has a core role for which it has been trained. For example, a customs officer is trained differently than a police or income tax officer. However, some people outgrow their core functional areas and pick up new skills along the way.
- However, the system of cadre posts ensures that they cannot fully express the skills that they may have developed. And the nation does not benefit from the skills possessed by these officers, which are acquired at the tax payer’s cost.
- By declaring all senior positions as cadre posts, we seem to have killed the fluidity and nimbleness needed to face the challenges of a fast-changing world.
- It also gives the different services a handle to keep others away from their turf through legal challenges.
- We need to examine whether the concept of cadre posts has benefitted the nation or has been counter-productive.
- On the face of it, it does not seem to be a good human resource management practice as it reduces the universe of available choices.
- It may not be advisable to completely do away with the concept as we need specialised and trained departmental officers to man the bottom and middle of the administrative pyramid.
- Beyond that level, we may like to either make posts cadre-neutral or at the least make multiple services with relevant experience eligible for the post — a way of widening the talent pool available for the cadre post.
- Objective criteria rooted in domain knowledge can go a long way in making the selection process more meaningful in either of the two models.
- The concept of cadre posts is just one example of archaic ideas that create entry barriers, thwart competition and impact our administrative efficiency.
- Many of them have outlived their utility but continue because they help the services protect their turf.
It is high time we identify similar limiting concepts in our administrative dogma and seriously review them in the light of enlightened HRM practices. We need to bring the concept of “ease of doing business” into our administrative thought and practices. Only then we can optimally harness the talent pool that we abundantly possess, both inside and outside the government.
7. The E-Shram portal can become the means of ensuring targeted welfare schemes aimed at the informal sector but further steps are required to truly address the issues of unorganised workers. Analyse (150 words, 10 marks)
The government aims to register 38 crore unorganised workers, such as construction labourers, migrant workforce, street vendors and domestic workers, among others. The workers will be issued an e-Shram card containing a 12 digit unique number, which, going ahead, will help in including them in social security schemes
E-shram and targeted welfare schemes
- Hitherto, unorganised sector workers were effectively excluded from the purview of labour laws.
- Through this portal, after registering unorganised workers, the government says that it will be able to provide social security benefits such as insurance coverage, maternity benefits, pensions, educational benefits, provident fund benefits, housing schemes etc.
- The UAN number will be valid across the country and will help to provide workers, especially migrant workers, with social security benefits regardless of their location.
- The database will also help to create a central portal through which all social security benefits can be accessed.
E-shram portal: Purpose and Significance
- Delivery of benefits: The portal will not only register them but would also be helpful in delivering of various social security schemes being implemented by the central and state governments.
- Maintaining a database of workers in unorganized sector: In India, 38.2% of the population is employed, shows the recently-released Periodic Labour Force Survey Annual Report 2019-’20. And, the unorganised sector represents 81% of the workforce, according to the ministry’s annual report.
- A large number of unorganised workers are home-based and are engaged in occupations such as beedi rolling, agarbatti making, papad making, tailoring, embroidery work, workers who are working or engaged as street vendors, head loaders, brick kiln workers, cobblers, rag pickers, domestic workers, washermen, rickshaw pullers, landless labourers etc.
- Welfare of workers: The number of unorganised workers is expected to have increased due to the pandemic-infused economic burdens. Hence portal will help workers get their due benefits.
- Portable: This system is also aimed at helping migrant workers by making the benefits they are entitled to more “portable”.
- The access to schemes for interstate migrant workers ranges from 5% to 27.5% which means the lowest level of access is 0.5% of migrant workers and highest is 27.5%
- Portal will remove this discrepancy.
Issues that need to be addressed
- The Centre of Indian Trade Unions has said that arrangements for off-line registration are needed, given that all workers may not be able to access the online portal.
- The Working People’s Charter said that imposing the condition of Aadhaar would exclude workers without Aadhaar cards from the process.
- Other organisations have stated how many workers have to change mobile numbers frequently, and so they may not always be able to access the Aadhaar-linked mobile.
- The lack of clarity about the entitlements to be received through the portal has also been criticised.
- Even those who may have a smartphone through which they can access the portal might not be digitally literate enough to adequately navigate and understand how the portal works.
- In such a scenario, providing an online-only registration process would mean that many unorganised workers would not be able to register on the portal.
- Allow multiple forms of ID: The mandatory usage of Aadhaar for registration is unconstitutional and exclusionary, and must be removed. Other government provided ID cards should be allowed for authenticating a worker’s identity.
- Allow the latest numbers to be used: Workers should be allowed to use any number of their choice for registration. The portal must also allow the registered number to be modified by the workers.
- Allow offline registration: The government must create a way to register in the database offline. To this extent, common service centres can be leveraged to hold ‘registration camps’ for those who wish to register offline. Workers who are registered on pre-existing databases must automatically have their data supported into the new database.
- Increase ease of registration: Both central and state governments must organise local events and door-to-door campaigns to help workers register on the database. A helpline should be created to deal with complaints about the portal.
Registration in e-shram portal
- The registration of workers on the portal will be coordinated by the Labour Ministry, state governments, trade unions and CSCs.
- A worker can register on the portal using his/her Aadhaar card number and bank account details, apart from filling other necessary details like date of birth, home town, mobile number and social category.
- The initial benefits of registration include insurance coverage of Rs. 1 lakh in case of partial disability and Rs. 2 lakh in case of permanent disability or death.
- As of 30th August, more than 9.2 lakh workers have been registered on the portal.
General Studies – 3
A monoclonal antibody is a laboratory-produced protein that functions like the antibodies made by the immune system in response to infection. By binding to a specific molecule on a virus or bacteria — known as an antigen — a monoclonal antibody can enhance or restore the immune response against these pathogens. Monoclonal antibody treatment has been used and tested- trusted source for the Ebola virus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), as well as chronic illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and more.
Scope of monoclonal antibodies for treatment of Covid-19 patients in India:
- The recent surge in the country’s COVID-19 cases not only highlighted the unpredictable nature of the disease but also made us realise how easily the virus can escalate from mild to severe infections.
- Success stories have been heard in India as well, where select hospitals have started administrating the same.
- In an observational study, Researchers have found that a combination of casirivimab and imdevimab — two monoclonal antibody treatments that have emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration — keep high-risk patients out of the hospital when infected with mild to moderate Covid-19.
- Monoclonal antibodies reduced their risk of developing an infection with symptoms by 80%.
- Research suggests that certain monoclonal antibodies can reduce the risk of hospitalization and death in people with asymptomatic or mild COVID-19.
- The ‘pandemic fatigue’ was clearly evident due to overstretching of work during the second wave of Covid in India. Monoclonal therapy would be of great help as the burden on hospitals and healthcare staff would be reduced.
- The therapy is now said to help avoid hospitalisation in high-risk groups, progression to severe disease, and to reduce the usage of steroids.
- This could be a gamechanger for India considering the poor state of healthcare facilities especially in the rural areas.
- Scientists are also looking at whether this treatment can reduce the risk of someone with COVID-19 transmitting the virus to others in their household.
- Serum Institute of India (SII) and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) have announced an agreement with pharmaceutical major Merck to develop SARS-CoV-2 neutralising monoclonal antibodies (mAbs).
- The monoclonal antibody Actemra (tocilizumab) which reduces inflammation that occurs during COVID-19, is used for the treatment of COVID-19 in hospitalized adults and children 2 years and older.
Potential of monoclonal antibodies in treating other diseases:
- The majority of the monoclonal antibodies on the market are for noncommunicable diseases, such as autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.
- In the past few decades, cancer immunotherapies have saved the lives of millions of people around the world. Monoclonal antibodies have transformed the way we treat multiple cancers, including breast cancer, for which the drug Herceptin has been a game changer.
- Monoclonal antibodies could have a huge impact on the way we treat and prevent infectious diseases. And there are already promising signs.
- Two experimental antibody therapies against Ebola are being used to great effect as part of an emergency access programme in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- And several antibodies that can act against different strains of HIV are also in development.
Millions of people around the world could benefit from existing monoclonal antibody treatments and those in development – including the ones for Covid-19, which could help bring the pandemic to an end. However, monoclonal antibodies should be made more affordable by i) investing in innovative technologies that could lower production costs; ii) create new business models that enable different market approaches in low-, middle- and high-income countries; iii) establish collaborations between public, private and philanthropic organisations to focus on the needs of the developing countries.
9. The central and the state governments should go beyond policy guidelines and take steps to meet the future technological and infrastructural demands of Electrical Vehicles (EV). Discuss. (150 words, 10 marks)
Many states in India have come out with policies on e-vehicles including Jharkhand and Odisha recently. It is encouraging to see that both Centre and States are introducing measures such as vehicle scrappage, smart city, PLI schemes to give a boost to e-vehicles sales.
Background: India and e-vehicles
- The race among states is a good sign as India fervently seeks to cut down on its fossil fuel consumption.
- About 80% of its oil imports are to meet transport sector needs. It is also mandated to reduce greenhouse gases emissions by around 35% of 2005 levels in another nine years to meet global climate goals.
- India, by the middle of July, clocked 1.04 lakh EV sales in the current fiscal whereas in the last 5 years, the total registrations were 5.17 lakh.
- But it stands at the cusp of a revolution if it pushes EVs seriously. Between 2001 and 2017, vehicle ownership in the country rose over three-fold.
Need for Centre and State to go beyond policy guidelines to push electric vehicles sales
There is a strong believe that electric infrastructure will have a massive scale going forward.
- The Centre has extended its Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles scheme till 2024, with a total budgetary outlay of Rs 10,000 crore.
- The government’s support to manufacturing, R&D, subsidy and scrapping apart, it must show intent by investing robustly in battery manufacturing and charging infrastructure, which is very negligible at present.
- It must also adopt EVs in the public transport system in a big way.
- Central and state governments must lead by inducting EVs for office use.
- For EVs to contribute effectively, we need commensurate efforts in developing an entire ecosystem. This requires a nudge from state and central government.
- Need to shift the focus from subsidizing vehicles to subsidizing batteries because batteries make up 50% of EV costs.
- Work places in tech parks, public bus depots, and Multiplexes are the potential places where charging points could be installed. In Bangalore, some malls have charging points in parking lots.
- Corporates could invest in charging stations as Corporate Social Responsibility compliances.
- A longer-term policy priority has to be the setting up of lithium battery production and solar charging infrastructure of a scale that matches the ambition. The Centre has accepted some of the demands of the auto industry to popularize EVs.
- The government should provide incentives for CNG vehicles and should also come out with a scrappage plan for vehicles to incentivize customers to buy new vehicles.
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.
FAME Phase II
- In FAME India Phase II, launched from 1 April 2019, emphasis is on electrification of public transportation.
- Electrification of the public & shared transport: It is 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.
- Charging infrastructure: About 2700 charging stations will be established in metros, million plus cities, smart cities and cities of hilly states across the country.
National Electric Mobility Mission Plan
- To encourage reliable, affordable and efficient hybrid and electric vehicles that meet consumer performance and price expectations.
- Government-Industry collaboration for promotion and development of indigenous manufacturing capabilities in hybrid and electric vehicles, required infrastructure, consumer awareness and technology;
- Energy Security: Helping India to emerge as a leader in the electric vehicle Two-Wheeler and Four-Wheeler market in the world by 2020, with total EV sales of 6-7 million units thus enabling Indian automotive Industry to achieve global EV manufacturing leadership and contributing towards National Fuel Security.
- Environment Conservation: Mitigation of the adverse impact of vehicles on the environment.
- 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.
- Indian Manufacturing Capabilities: Growth of domestic manufacturing capabilities in the automobile sector. Economic Survey 2019 had noted that India could become the Detroit of Electric Vehicles.
MSP is the rate at which the government buys grains from farmers. Currently, it fixes MSPs for 23 crops grown in both Kharif and Rabi seasons. The government recently hiked the MSP for wheat by Rs. 40 to Rs. 2,015 per quintal and for mustard seed by Rs. 400 to Rs. 5,050 per quintal for the current crop year in order to boost crop area as well as income of farmers.
MSP and higher price realisation are not congruent
The trouble with MSP is that while it is touted as an all-important factor for farmers promising an instant rise in their income and stability, it also has many drawbacks in implementation. This affects the price realisation of farmers, in reality for several reasons.
- Methodology: MSP covers numerous costs such as the cost of sowing (A2) and labour (FL). These considerations are controversial with suggestions that it should be based on comprehensive costs (C2), which also include land rent costs.
- Inflation: Too much of a hike on MSP either paves way for inflationary effects on the economy, with a rise in prices of food grains and vegetables, or loss to government treasury if it decides to sell at a lower price as compared to the higher MSP it bought at.
- Diverse factors: MSP is a nationwide single price policy. However, the actual costing for production varies from place to place, more severely so in areas lacking irrigation facilities and infrastructure. Thus, not all farmers have equal benefits.
- Procurement at MSP is flawed: First, procurement of wheat and paddy for meeting the requirement of the public distribution system (PDS) is undertaken largely by state governments.
- Of the total procurement of wheat and paddy from farmers, the Food Corporation of India’s (FCI’s) share is less than 10%.
- In the north-east and many other states, procurement operations are almost non-existent and farmers are forced to sell below MSP.
- As the experiences of these schemes show, the benefit of higher MSPs for kharif crops or rabi, is unlikely to be available to most farmers as the states lack adequate storage capacity, working capital and manpower for undertaking large-scale procurement of all commodities.
- The MSP-based procurement system is also dependent on middlemen, commission agents and APMC officials, which smaller farmers find difficult to get access to.
- Agri-Infrastructure: Hiking the MSP without investing in infrastructure is just a short-term play. While it does deliver immediate results, long-term developments to back-it up are also important.
The government should shift its focus from providing only price support to farmers and focus on building better infrastructure, minimizing the gap between farmers and the market, land reforms, policy reforms to increase flow of credit to farmers, establishing food-processing industries for perishable goods, providing better irrigation facilities etc so, that agriculture emerges as a viable means of sustenance.
- The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs announces MSP for various crops at the beginning of each sowing season based on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP). The CACP takes into account demand and supply, the cost of production and price trends in the market among other things when fixing MSPs.
- Factors taken into consideration for fixing MSP include:
- Demand and supply;
- Cost of production;
- Price trends in the market, both domestic and international;
- Inter-crop price parity;
- Terms of trade between agriculture and non-agriculture;
- A minimum of 50% as the margin over cost of production; and
- Likely implications of MSP on consumers of that product.
- The CACP considers both ‘A2+FL’ and ‘C2’ costs while recommending MSP.
- A2 costs cover all paid-out expenses, both in cash and kind, incurred by farmers on seeds, fertilisers, chemicals, hired labour, fuel and irrigation, among others.
- A2+FL covers actual paid-out costs plus an imputed value of unpaid family labour.
- The C2 costs account for the rentals and interest forgone on owned land and fixed capital assets respectively, on top of A2+FL.
Answer the following questions in 250 words:
General Studies – 1
11. The scope of the reform movements was not confined to religion only but included the society as a whole. It gave a vison of a prosperous modern India and subsequently this vision got incorporated in the Indian National Movement. Elaborate. (250 words)
Indian Society in the 19th century was caught in a vicious web created by religious superstitions and dogmas. The priests exercised an overwhelming and unhealthy influence on the mind of people. Social Conditions were equally depressing with women being oppressed in name of gender along with people deemed to be of lower caste.
Scope of reform movement included Religion and social condition
- The major social problems which came in the purview of the reforms movements were emancipation of women(in which sati, infanticide, child marriage and widow re-marriage were taken up), casteism and untouchability, education for bringing about enlightenment in society.
- In the religious sphere main issues were idolatry, polytheism, religious superstitions, and exploitation by priest.
- Important characteristics of Social Reform Movement included leadership by wide emerging Intellectual middle class.
- Reform movement started in different parts of India in different period but having considerable similarities.
- They were link with one region or one caste. It was clear to them that without religious reformation, there cannot be any social reformation.
- Two Intellectual criteria of social reform movement included- both Rationality and Religious Universalism
- Similarly, while the ambits of reforms were particularistic, their religious perspective was universalistic. Raja Ram Mohan Roy considered different religion as national embodiments of Universal theism.
- g.: In the BrahmoSamaj, it led to the repudiation of the infallibility of the Vedas, and in the Aligarh Movement, to the reconciliation of the teachings of Islam with the needs of the modern age.
- The socio religious reform movement, as a whole, was against backward element of traditional culture in terms of both religious and social evils.
- g.: Holding that religious tenets were not immutable; Syed Ahmed Khan emphasized the role of religion in the progress of society: if religion did not keep pace with and meet the demands of the time it would get fossilized as in the case of Islam in India.
- The focus was on regeneration of traditional institutions including medicine, education, and philosophy and so on.
- There were differences in methods of those reform movements but all of them were concerned with the regeneration of society through social and educational reforms.
Reform movements and national awakening
- In spite of the opposition from the orthodox sections of the society, these movements contributed towards liberating people from the exploitation of priests.
- The movement gave the upcoming middle class cultural roots and reduced the sense of humiliation that the British powers had created.
- Modern, rational, secular, and scientific outlook was promoted realizing the need of the modern era. The reformers aimed at modernisation rather than outright westernization.
- A favourable social climate was created to end India’s cultural and intellectual isolation from the world.
- It was greatly due to the constant endeavours of the reformers that abolition of Sati and legalisation of widow-marriage were achieved during the nineteenth century.
- There was much intellectual fervour, prolonged agitation and acute discussion during the controversy over the age of Consent Bill.
- Such debates, even if they failed to bring about any concrete change immediately, raised the level of consciousness.
- The ideas and activities of the intellectuals were directly or indirectly related to the task of nation-building and national reconstruction.
- The social reform movement, as a matter of fact, was not an isolated phenomenon; it was loaded with wider national political and economic considerations. In a way, the social reform movement was a prelude to nationalism.
In a nutshell, it can be argued that in the evolution of modern India the reform movements have made very significant contribution. They stood for the democratization of the society, removal of superstitions and decadent customs, spread of enlightenment and development of a rational and modern outlook. This led to the national awakening in India.
12. The decision to induct girls for permanent commission through the National Defence Academy is a step in the right direction which was long overdue in the process of achieving gender parity in armed forces. Elaborate. (250 words, 15 marks)
The Centre on September 8 told the Supreme Court that it had taken a decision to allow women entry into the National Defence Academy (NDA), so far, a male bastion for recruitment into the Armed Forces. When this decision comes through formally on paper, women can prepare for a career in the Armed Forces immediately after Class 12.
Recently, PM announcement to allow girls for admission in Sainik School is a welcome move that will prepare girls for equal roles & life in the military.
- The apex court had ordered on March 17 last year that women officers be given the same option of converting their short service commission to permanent commission as male officers.
- Several untenable reasons have been touted for years to deny women parity in the forces. These range from protecting women’s honour and lack of gender sensitivity among male soldiers to needing to lower standards for women officers.
- All of this was called as hogwash by the Supreme Court. Women in the forces have repeatedly proved themselves to be equally capable as their male colleagues when given same opportunities.
- Plus, a woman officer or cadet is fully aware of the risks involved in her profession. Only a patriarchal mindset feels the need to shield her.
- Therefore, the Centre and the services’ decision is a welcome change in attitude towards women in the armed forces who have long been at the receiving end of patriarchal mores.
Achieving gender parity in armed forces:Timeline
- The first batch of women officers was given commission in the Navy in 1992. It has taken close to 30 years for women to be given direct permanent commission.
- The Army, Air Force and Navy began inducting women as short-service commission (SSC) officers in 1992.
- This was the first time when women were allowed to join the military outside the medical stream.
- They were commissioned for a period of five years in certain chosen streams such as Army Education Corps, Corps of Signals, Intelligence Corps, and Corps of Engineers.
- Recruits under the Women Special Entry Scheme (WSES) had a shorter pre-commission training period than their male counterparts who were commissioned under the Short Service Commission (SSC) scheme.
- In 2006, the WSES scheme was replaced with the SSC scheme, which was extended to women officers. They were commissioned for a period of 10 years, extendable up to 14 years.
- Serving WSES officers were given the option to move to the new SSC scheme or to continue under the erstwhile WSES.
- They were to be, however, restricted to roles in streams specified earlier, which excluded combat arms such as infantry and armoured corps.
- One of the turning points for women in the military came in 2015 when Indian Air Force (IAF) decided to induct them into the fighter stream.
- In Secretary, Ministry of Defence vs Babita Puniya & Ors: the Court pointed out the “significant role” played by women since their induction in the army in 1992.
- So extending permanent positions to women SSC officers is a step forward in bringing equality of opportunity in the army.
- In early 2021, the Indian Navy deployed four women officers on warships after a gap of almost 25 years.
- India’s only aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and fleet tanker INS Shakti are the warships that have been assigned their first women crews since the late 1990s.
- In May 2021, the Army inducted the first batch of women into the Corps of Military Police, the first time that women joined the military in the non-officer cadre.
- In the recent judgement, SC allowed women to sit for National Defence Academy (NDA) exam as the current policy is based on “gender discrimination”.
SC upheld the right to equality in the Constitution for the spirit of the order is the principle of non-discrimination. Gender cannot serve as the basis for inequitable and unequal treatment in any sphere, including in defence forces. There is a bigger need in shift to take place in the culture, norms, and values of the rank and file of the Army, which will be the responsibility of the senior military and political leadership.
El Niño and La Niña represent opposite extremes in the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The ENSO cycle refers to the coherent and sometimes very strong year-to-year variations in sea-surface temperatures, rainfall, surface air pressure, and atmospheric circulation that occur across the equatorial Pacific Ocean. El Niño refers to the above-average sea-surface temperatures that periodically develop across the east-central equatorial Pacific. It represents the warm phase of the ENSO cycle. La Niña refers to the periodic cooling of sea-surface temperatures across the east-central equatorial Pacific. It represents the cold phase of the ENSO cycle.
- They both originate in the same equatorial location – eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, so in this way they are similar.
- Together, El Niño and La Niña are part of a natural cycle that can significantly impact not only global weather, climate, and ocean conditions but also food production, human health, and water supply.
- These systems typically last about one to two years, with the cycle alternating every three to seven years.
- El Niño and La Niña affect not only ocean temperatures, but also how much it rains on land.
- Both events are related to extreme weather events. Depending on which cycle occurs (and when), this can mean either droughts or flooding. Typically, El Niño and its warm waters are associated with drought, while La Niña is linked to increased flooding.
- Both El Niño and La Niña are being impacted due to climate change events and global warming.
How El-Nino impact Indian Monsoon
- El Nino, characterized by warming of surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, is associated with lower than normal monsoon rainfall in India.
- El Nino has been found to impact almost half the world triggering droughts in Australia, India, southern Africa and floods in Peru, Ecuador, the United States, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Colorado River basin.
- El Nino affects the flow of moisture-bearing winds from the cooler oceans towards India, negatively impact the summer (south-west) monsoon.
- After all, the south-west monsoon (June-September) accounts for over 70% of the country’s annual rainfall and irrigates over half of the crop land.
- The rain-fed kharif crops are heavily dependent on the monsoon and the quantity of rainfall determines agricultural production.
- El Niño years tend to be drier than average, but one of the strongest El Nino of the century (1997-98) produced a monsoon season with above-average rainfall for India.
- Researchers also believe that even the location of the warming in the Pacific may possibly have an influence on the monsoon.
Can better prediction models help mitigate its adverse impact?
- Understanding the main mechanisms of ENSO has given us the ability to operationally forecast it a season or more ahead.
- Recently, South Korea’s fastest supercomputers, Aleph conducted climate model simulations to understand ENSO’s response to global warming.
- They noticed sea-surface temperature anomalies at CO2-doubling conditions and it became robust at CO2 quadrupling.
- Machine Learning has helped in the skill enhancement of forecasts for weather and particular climate phenomena, such as the ENSO in the tropical Pacific.
Just as for weather forecasts, the future evolution of the atmosphere can be predicted by knowing the observed atmosphere and ocean state at a given time and applying the equations of motion. Impact-based information with long‑lead times may also substantially support the shift towards more anticipatory and preventative risk management, as urged in several international frameworks such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
General Studies – 2
14. As India strengthens its relationship with the west, Russia still remains a very crucial partner for India. Examine the statement in the light of possibility of imposition of Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) on India by the U.S. (250 words, 15 marks)
As Russia and India both desire a multi-polar world, they are equally important for each other in fulfilling each other’s national interests. However, due to the changing geopolitical scenario, Russia is growing closer to China and becoming anti-west, while it is vice-versa for India. Despite the changing dynamics, Indo-Russia ties have stood the test of times especially in defence sector.
- Even as India is diversifying its defence trade partners, Russia still dominates the Indian defence inventory to the tune of about 60 per cent.
- Russia remains the only partner that is still willing to give India critical technologies, such as a nuclear submarine.
- Russia also reaffirmed its “unwavering support” to India for a permanent seat in an expanded UN Security Council.
- Russia expressed its support for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
- Both countries have mutual benefits in supporting struggle against terrorism, Afghanistan, climate change; organisations like SCO, BRICS, G-20 and ASEAN.
Indo-Russia relations: Crucial Significance for India
- Defence: The relations between India and Russia are one of “Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership” and the ongoing military contracts between the two sides will be maintained as the defence minister reiterated the same.
- India became the top foreign buyer of US weapons in 2014. Given that the military-technical ties were historically the bedrock of India and Russia’s relationship, a drop in the sector was a clear matter of concern.
- While in overall terms, Russia remained India’s top supplier of defence items during the period 2014-18, the total exports fell by 42 percent between 2014-18 and 2009-13.
- Russia still commands 58 percent of total arms imports by India, followed by Israel and the US at 15 and 12 percent, respectively.
- Nuclear: Russia is an important partner in peaceful uses of nuclear energy and it recognizes India as a country with advanced nuclear technology with an impeccable non-proliferation record.
- Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) is being built in India with Russian cooperation.
- Maritime corridor: Chennai Vladivostok Maritime Corridor is a sea route covering approximately 5,600 nautical miles, or about 10,300 km, aimed at increasing bilateral trade between India and Russia.
- Despite India-China border aggression, be it during Doklam or Galwan clash, Russia never once made a statement against India despite their closeness to China. In all fairness, Russia would never want to play second fiddle to China.
- India and Russia are also working on building nuclear plant in Bangladesh. Rooppur nuclear plant in Bangladesh will be constructed jointly with help of India.
- Make in India initiative has welcomed Russian companies from the public and private sectors. Russian firms have shown a willingness to invest in India in construction, major infrastructure projects such as dedicated freight corridors and industrial clusters, smart cities, and engineering services, sharing technologies and skills.
Possibility of CAATSA sanction over defence ties with Russia
- Given the nature of India-US relations, it is unlikely that USA will sanction India under CAATSA. In a future confrontation for the U.S. with China, India will be playing a key role. The U.S. will do their best to attract India in their campaign with China and wouldn’t risk by sanctioning India.
- Moreover, India has upheld its strategic autonomy time and again. It is not bound by mandate of USA to do defence deals with other nations.
- India does not recognise any sanctions other than the UN mandated sanctions.
- India and Russia have also secured their payment channels to pay for the deals in the national currencies in case of possible sanctions.
- Hence, there is no getting away from Russia in India’s defence matrix for the foreseeable future
Experts say Russia will continue to remain India’s top defence partner for some time to come while the U.S. is unlikely to impose sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) over the S-400 deal, given the nature of relations.
- CAATSA is a United States federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia.
- It includes sanctions against countries that engage in significant transactions with Russia’s defence and intelligence sectors.
- India could also face USA sanctions for purchasing the S-400 Triumf missile defense system from Russia under the CAATSA.
- The USA suspended Turkey from its F-35 aircraft programme and barred it from purchasing the jet, following Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 from Russia.
- The USA President was given the authority in 2018 to waive CAATSA sanctions on a case-by-case basis.
SAARC was mooted in 1985, which created the hope that trade, cultural activity and intellectual exchange would gradually diminish the political legacies of Partition by nourishing a regional fraternity. The dream is still relevant, but SAARC has remained incapable of responding to the unabated rise of identity-based aggression and violence. Along with this, a remarkable degree of indifference to others’ woes has grown.
The Future of SAARC remains bleak:
- The region is beset with unsettled territorial disputes, as well as trans-border criminal and subversive activities.
- It remains a theatre for ethnic, cultural, and religious tensions and rivalries.
- A current rise in ultra-nationalism is taking place against the backdrop of a bloody history of repeated inter-state wars and myriad intra-state conflicts.
- Nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan are at loggerheads.
- Cross-border terrorism has again made the region, as former US President Bill Clinton once deemed it, “the world’s most dangerous place.”
- Allowing SAARC to become dysfunctional and irrelevant greatly distorts our ability to address the realities and mounting challenges facing SAARC nations.
- The failure of South Asian nations to act in accord will plunge South Asia into a perilous theatre of discord and escalating tensions with jihadi militias at the forefront, placing the entire region in turmoil.
SAARC is imperative for South Asian countries:
- SAARC is needed as institutional scaffolding to allow for the diplomacy and coordination that is needed between member-states in order to adequately address the numerous threats and challenges the region faces.
- Though SAARC’s charter prohibits bilateral issues at formal forums, SAARC summits provide a unique, informal window — the retreat — for leaders to meet without aides and chart future courses of action.
- The coming together of leaders, even at the height of tensions, in a region laden with congenital suspicions, misunderstandings, and hostility is a significant strength of SAARC that cannot be overlooked.
- SAARC members are among the top troop-contributing countries to UN peacekeeping missions. With the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, a joint peacekeeping force from the SAARC region under the UN aegis could be explored to fill the power vacuum that would otherwise be filled by terrorist and extremist forces.
Reviving SAARC is in India’s interests:
- India should take the lead and work with its neighbors to slash the tariff and non-tariff barriers.
- SAARC should also seek free and preferential trading arrangements with other regional bodies, notably the EU and the ASEAN. It should also remain fully focused on the SAARC social charter to spread out its reach to the common man.
- There is a need to focus on small politics instead of big politics to resolve conflict in conflicting regions. This would mean that they focus on economic cooperation and other small ways that can create cooperation and more peace
- SAARC cannot be effective unless it places itself on a managerial position to achieve regional order, forcing all the members to act mutually in making the region a ‘zone of peace’ and the center for world business.
- All countries should come together to sort out their differences, either multilaterally or bilaterally. It’s not necessary to sort out the differences but despite that, it is necessary to work with the differences like that of India-China, Japan and China, Russia and Japan.
- The bilateral issues between member nations should be resolved. Bilateral Issues between India- Pakistan, India- Sri Lanka, Pakistan- Afghanistan etc. must be improved with serious engagement and collaboration – working together to bring peace and stability as a common good in the region.
- Information on terrorism, trafficking, smuggling etc. must be shared and joint exercises must be conducted to build mutual trust and capability.
- SAARC needs to work on Improving infrastructure and regional connectivity – Collaboration in scientific research, universities exchange programs, tourism etc. will have a positive effect on relations among countries.
SAARC has the potential to transform the South Asian Region. Mutual mistrust and non-cooperation should not be allowed to undermine this potential. Deeper regional economic integration will create greater interdependence with India acquiring the central role, which, in turn, would serve India’s strategic interests too. SAARC should function as an autonomous institution by which driving principles, strategic actions, and rules of law can be implemented in a way that is relevant to both, its own members and other rising powers.
Background of SAARC:
- SAARC was set up in 1985 and today it has 8 members: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Srilanka. Afghanistan joined SAARC only in 2007.
- SAARC member nations cooperate on a range of issues from agriculture, economy, poverty alleviation, S&T and culture to encourage people to people contact.
- SAARC aims at integration of south Asian nations for undertaking collective efforts to achieve common objective of regional stability and prosperity.
- Despite geographical contiguity and historical and cultural links, the SAARC region remains the most disconnected regions in the world.
16. In the parliament, debates, discussions and deliberations on important issues facing the country, are the cornerstone of parliamentary democracy. In the light of the statement, evaluate the legislative process in India and suggest steps to make it more robust. (250 words, 15 marks)
Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana recently lamented the “sorry state of affairs” of law-making and Parliamentary debate in the country, saying there was “a lot of ambiguity in laws” which was triggering litigation and causing inconvenience to citizens, courts and other stakeholders.
- The CJI’s observations follow closely after the Parliament cleared the Tribunal’s Reforms Bill of 2021, which has sought the abolishment of as many as nine appellate tribunals, including the Film Certificate Appellate Tribunals despite Opposition charge that the legislation undermined the independence of the judiciary.
- The Bill has also revived provisions of tenure and service of Tribunals’ Members which were earlier struck down by the Supreme Court in a judgment.
Debates, discussions and deliberations: Cornerstone of parliamentary democracy
- Many rely on the volume of Bills passed by Parliament in a session as a measure of its efficiency.
- However, this measure is flawed as it does not account for what is lost when efficiency is achieved by passing laws without adequate notice and deliberation.
- Most, if not all, of these laws create burdensome obligations on persons and often affect their fundamental rights.
- Legislators, as representatives of the people, are expected to exercise a duty of care before casting their vote.
- This entails due deliberation about the implications of the law, posing amendments and questions to the concerned Minister, and requiring expert evidence through standing committees.
- Deliberation in Parliament ensures that the views of persons who are adversely affected by a law are heard and actively engaged with.
- Rushed law-making, rendering Parliament a rubber stamp, sacrifices two core ideals of a constitutional democracy, namely, equal participation and respect for fundamental rights.
Legislative process in India: Issues
- The proportion of Bills being referred to parliamentary committees for study and consultation has drastically fallen in the current Lok Sabha.
- As per an analysis, between June 2014 and May 2019, 186 Bills were introduced out of which 142 saw no prior consultations.
- As per another analysis, the proportion of Bills being referred to parliamentary committees for study and consultation has drastically fallen from 60 per cent in the 14th Lok Sabha (LS), 71 per cent in the 15th LS, 27 per cent in the 16th LS to just 11 per cent so far in the current LS.
- One such Bill, reorganising the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, saw an unprecedented breakdown of all channels of consultation, within and outside the Parliament.
- Another such Bill redefining the relationship between the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi and elected Chief Minister of Delhi saw no consultation whatsoever with either the people of Delhi or the elected legislature; in other words, the affected parties were denied the opportunity to participate in making the law.
- Even where consultation has been carried out, it has left much to be desired. Last year, amidst the pandemic, the government proposed drastic changes to the Environment Impact Assessment procedures.
- Concerned citizens had to approach the courts to get the deadline for the consultation extended and to get the government to make the notification available in all scheduled languages so that everyone could meaningfully participate in the consultation.
- The Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy (PLCP) was instituted in 2014 requiring that every Ministry and Department “proactively” publish every proposed draft legislation or subordinate legislation, its justification, essential elements, financial implications and an estimated impact assessment on rights, lives, livelihoods, environment, etc.
- The policy also provides that all such information should be put in the public domain for a minimum period of 30 days and the feedback received should also be published on the website of the concerned ministry or department.
- The policy also provides that the summary of this pre-legislative process should be made available to any Parliamentary standing committee to which the subsequent Bill may be referred.
- Thus, the policy envisaged a consultation while the Bill is being drafted and a study and consultation by a Parliamentary committee after it is introduced in Parliament.
In a country governed by the rule of law and a liberal Constitution providing for representation of marginalised sections in law-making positions, it is not difficult to argue that a closed and exclusive access to law-making processes is antithetical to the justice — social, economic and political — that our Constitution guarantees to everyone. By adopting arbitrary and discretionary processes and not clearly identifying and including all stakeholders in the policy-making process, the government denies equality before law to those excluded. It also curtails freedoms of speech of such excluded groups to undertake legitimate advocacy on law and policy issues.
To remedy the situation, a transparent consultation process must be initiated, to design a law on public participation in law and policy-making and to regulate lobbying and advocacy in an equitable manner.
General Studies – 3
17. e-RUPI has the potential to achieve financial inclusion and bridge digital divide in India. Write about the benefits of e-RUPI and analyse if it is the first step towards the adoption of digital currency in India. (250 words, 15 marks)
e-RUPI is a one-time contactless, cashless voucher-based mode of payment that helps users redeem the voucher without a card, digital payments app, or internet banking access. It is basically a digital voucher which a beneficiary gets on his phone in the form of an SMS or QR code. It is a pre-paid voucher, which he/she can go and redeem it at any centre that accepts it.
Benefits of e-RUPI:
To the Consumer
- e-RUPI does not require the beneficiary to have a bank account, a major distinguishing feature as compared to other digital payment forms.
- It ensures an easy, contactless two-step redemption process that does not require sharing of personal details either.
- Another advantage is that e-RUPI is operable on basic phones also, and hence it can be used by persons who do not own smart-phones or in places that lack internet connection.
- Only mobile phone and e-voucher required – Users redeeming the voucher need not have a digital payment app or a bank account.
- Safe and Secure: Beneficiaries do not need to share personal details and hence their privacy is maintained.
To the sponsors
- e-RUPI is expected to play a major role in strengthening Direct-Benefit Transfer and making it more transparent.
- Since, there is no need for physical issuance of vouchers, it will also lead to some cost savings as well.
To the Service Providers.
- Being a prepaid voucher, e-RUPI would assure real time payments to the service provider.
- Visibility for voucher utilisation – Voucher redemption can be tracked by the issuer
- Quick, safe & contactless voucher distribution
e-RUPI is the first step towards the adoption of digital currency in India
- The main objective and long-term vision behind e-RUPI is to reach 190 million unbanked citizens, fold them into a formal financial system, and close part of the digital gap.
- This digital payment system can provide equal access to financial, healthcare, and welfare services to each and every citizen of our country.
- The government is already working on developing a central bank digital currency and the launch of e-RUPI could potentially highlight the gaps in digital payments infrastructure that will be necessary for the success of the future digital currency.
- This new transfer system could be put to widespread use in public- service delivery, as it allows for money to be spent only for intended purposes and reaches the correct beneficiary.
- With the government’s focus on direct benefit transfers for assorted welfare programmes, the e-Rupi can prove pivotal in terms of preventing leakages and providing last-mile connectivity for routine state provisions and other forms of support.
- Reduced cash utilisation, especially when an institution is distributing benefits. This can have significant adverse tailwinds for companies like Sodexo, if organisations use a part of their kitty to issue purpose specific e-RUPI – such as learning allowance on specific portals.
- Rural-urban divide, both in terms of technology and access to banking infrastructure.
- A large gap still exists in terms of internet access. As per the latest data available from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, there are 34.6 rural internet subscribers per 100 people in the country, as opposed to 104 in urban areas (as on end December 2020).
- Internet penetration also varies widely across states. Internet subscribers per 100 persons ranges from 210 in Delhi and 87.6 in Punjab to 40.8 in Uttar Pradesh and 32.9 in Bihar.
- There are around 190 million unbanked citizens in our country, residing mostly in rural parts.
- As the existing digital payment methods require a bank account and internet/smartphone, until these gaps are filled, complete financial inclusion will remain a developmental challenge.
- The M-Pesa in Kenya can be an example on which e-RUPI can build on.
- e-Rupi has been announced just for specific purposes, but it could be scaled up massively.
- In the US, there is the system of education vouchers or school vouchers, which is a certificate of government funding for students selected for state-funded education to create a targeted delivery system. This could be emulated in India too.
18. Critically Analyse India’s performance so far to achieve its Paris obligations. What policy and behavioural changes are further required to stay on course to achieve its targets by 2030? (250 words, 15 marks)
India was the only G20 nation compliant with the Paris agreement on the occasion of the Climate Ambition Summit 2020. It will mark the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement, and will provide a platform for government and non-governmental leaders to demonstrate their commitment to the Paris Agreement and the multilateral process.
India’s commitment to Paris agreement
In 2015, ahead of the UN significant climate conference in Paris, India announced three major voluntary commitments called the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC):
- Improving the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33–35% by 2030 over 2005 levels
- Increasing the share of non-fossil fuels-based electricity to 40% by 2030 and
- Enhancing its forest cover, thereby absorbing 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide
Performance of India in achieving its commitments
- India is on track to meet and exceed the NDC commitment to achieve 40% electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based sources by 2030; this share is 38.18% (November 2020).
- Similarly, against the voluntary declaration for reducing the emission intensity of GDP by 20%-25% by 2020, India has reduced it by 24% between 2005-2016.
- More importantly, we achieved these targets with around 2% out of the U.S.$100 billion committed to developing nations in Copenhagen (2009), realised by 2015.
- As part of its mitigation efforts, India is implementing one of the most extensive renewable energy expansion programmes to achieve 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022 and 450 GW by 2030.
- India has also coupled its post-pandemic revival with environmental protection.
- As part of the fiscal stimulus, the Government announced several green measures, including a $26.5-billion investment in biogas and cleaner fuels, $3.5 billion in incentives for producing efficient solar photovoltaic (PV) and advanced chemistry cell battery, and $780 million towards an afforestation programme.
Measures taken by India to Control Emissions
- Bharat Stage (BS) VI norms: These are emission control standards put in place by the government to keep a check on air pollution.
- National Solar Mission: It is a major initiative of the Government of India and State Governments to promote ecologically sustainable growth while addressing India’s energy security challenge.
- National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy 2018: The main objective of the policy is to provide a framework for promotion of large grid connected wind-solar photovoltaic (PV) hybrid systems for optimal and efficient utilization of wind and solar resources, transmission infrastructure and land.
- All these and many other initiatives helped India in cutting CO2 emissions by 164 million kg.
To sum up, India has indeed walked the talk. Other countries must deliver on their promises early and demonstrate tangible results ahead of COP26. In any case, we can always Suo motu revise the NDC for the first stocktake (2023) while simultaneously protecting our interests. The responsibility of sustaining the entire planet does not rest on a few countries; everyone has to act.
Paris Agreement and Nationally Determined Contributions
- The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015 and entered into force on 4 November 2016.
- Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.
- To achieve this long-term temperature goal, countries aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible to achieve a climate-neutral world by mid-century.
- It is a landmark process because, for the first time, a binding agreement brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.
- In their NDCs, countries communicate actions they will take to reduce their Greenhouse Gas emissions in order to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement.
- Countries also communicate in the NDCs actions they will take to build resilience to adapt to the impacts of rising temperatures.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) is when a company takes controlling ownership in a business entity in another country. It is, thus, a purchase of an interest in a company by a company or an investor located outside its borders. Indian foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows crossed another milestone in the middle of the second wave of the pandemic by nearly doubling over the same period last year. Of this, FDI equity inflows rose by 168%.
FDI: an important source & force behind economic development of India:
- Capital inflows create higher output and jobs.
- Capital inflows can help finance a current account deficit.
- Long-term capital inflows are more sustainable than short-term portfolio inflows.
- For e.g., in a credit crunch, banks can easily withdraw portfolio investment, but capital investment is less prone to sudden withdrawals.
- Acts as a bridge by filling up budgetary gap, stabilize rupee and improves Balance of Payment situation.
- Knowledge economy:
- Recipient country can benefit from improved knowledge and expertise of foreign multinational.
- Employment generation:
- creates employment opportunity mainly in service sector and ITEC.
- Investment from abroad could lead to higher wages and improved working conditions, especially if the MNCs are conscious of their public image of working conditions in developing economies.
- Infrastructure development:
- FDI in construction, railways except operation help in developing projects like high-speed train, Freight corridor, etc.
- Increased revenue in the form of corporate tax and for community welfare development as CSR.
- Enhances Competition:
- Increase competition among domestic manufacture, may lead to improved quality and services.
FDI: not the sole solution for India’s socio-economic issues:
- The motive of the foreign investors is only profit not the development of country so they often shifts their bases in search of high profits so there is more volatility and speculations in capital market. With their sudden exit, there may be unemployment and high inflation.
- Gives multinationals controlling rights within foreign countries. Critics argue powerful MNCs can use their financial clout to influence local politics to gain favourable laws and regulations.
- FDI does not always benefit recipient countries as it enables foreign multinationals to gain from ownership of raw materials, with little evidence of wealth being distributed throughout society.
- Multinationals have been criticized for poor working conditions in foreign factories. e.g., Apple’s factories in China
- It threatens existing markets that are labour intensive by replacing with technology as in multi brand retail.
- FDI favours short term returns over investments in infrastructure.
- Diffusion of technology in difficult in our country where the state of both human and physical capital is not yet on par with developed countries. so with the increase in technology many unskilled workers lost their jobs.
- In India, FDI is sector specific like finance , IT, Banking, Insurance and outsourcing which predominantly employ skilled workers.
- The capital inflow at times worsen the regional inequalities . It is usually limited to urban and well developed regions like Delhi, Maharashtra etc, and states like Odisha receives around 1% of FDI. This makes richer region more rich and poor regions poorer.
- FDI may be a convenient way to bypass local environmental laws. Developing countries may be tempted to compete on reducing environmental regulation to attract the necessary FDI.
- Role of FDI can at most be seen as complementary and qualitative in nature.
- Government must bring reforms to encourage MSME sector which could boost the rural employment generation.
- Public expenditure for investment in capital formation as infrastructure and energy is for long term benefits of spurring economic activity and creating short term demands.
- Spending on social sectors and India’s pressing issues of poverty, demographic challenge and agrarian stagnation are towards avoiding social unrest and maintain a social security net.
- Government while continuing to simplify processes to attract FDI must realise it’s limited role and thereby take upon itself to make headway towards strengthening pillars of economic development which are health, education, and employment.
FDI in India
FDI is an important monetary source for India’s economic development. Economic liberalisation started in India in the wake of the 1991 crisis and since then, FDI has steadily increased in the country. India, today is a part of top 100-club on Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) and globally ranks number 1 in the greenfield FDI ranking.
Routes through which India gets FDI
- Automatic route: The non-resident or Indian company does not require prior nod of the RBI or government of India for FDI.
- Govt route:The government’s approval is mandatory. The company will have to file an application through Foreign Investment Facilitation Portal, which facilitates single-window clearance. The application is then forwarded to the respective ministry, which will approve/reject the application in consultation with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce. DPIIT will issue the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for processing of applications under the existing FDI policy.
Importance of Domestic Resource Mobilization (DRM):
In low-income countries confronting widespread poverty, mobilizing domestic resources is particularly challenging, which has led developing countries to rely on foreign aid, foreign direct investment, export earnings and other external resources. Nevertheless, there are compelling reasons to give much more emphasis to DRM.
- Greater reliance on DRM is vital to elevating economic growth, accelerating poverty reduction and underpinning sustained development.
- High-growth economies typically save 20-30 per cent or more of their income in order to finance public and private investment.
- DRM is potentially more congruent with domestic ownership than external resources.
- Foreign aid invariably carries restrictions and conditionality.
- FDI is primarily oriented to the commercial objectives of the investor, not the principal development priorities of the host country.
- DRM is more predictable and less volatile than aid, export earnings, or FDI.
20. Owing to the technological complexity and anonymity associated with social media, it has become a safe haven for cybercrimes. Critically analyse to what extent the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 will reduce crimes on social media? (250 words, 15 marks)
Recently, Chief Justice of India remarked that, many social media and news media communalise content leading to polarisation in the country. The remark from the CJI came while hearing petitions highlighting how some media outlets aired communal content linking the spread of the coronavirus to a Tablighi Jamaat meet held at Nizamuddin in Delhi. The hearing witnessed Chief Justice Ramana upbraid the lack of accountability on the part of social media platforms.
- Due diligence by intermediaries: Intermediaries are entities that store or transmit data on behalf of other persons. Intermediaries include internet or telecom service providers, online marketplaces, and social media platforms.
- Intermediaries are required to report cybersecurity incidents and share related information with the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team.
- Significant social media intermediaries: A social media intermediary with registered users in India above a threshold (to be notified) will be classified as Significant Social Media Intermediaries.
- Additional due diligence to be observed by these intermediaries include: (i) appointing a chief compliance officer to ensure compliance with the IT Act and the Rules, (ii) appointing a grievance officer residing in India, and (iii) publishing a monthly compliance report.
- Intermediaries which provide messaging as a primary service must enable the identification of the first originator of the information on its platform.
- This originator must be disclosed if required by an order from the Court or the government. Such order will be passed for specified purposes including investigation of offences related to sovereignty and security of the state, public order, or sexual violence.
IT Rules and its efficacy on reduction of crimes via social media
- The government announce that the Code is “soft-touch oversight” mechanism to deal with issues such as persistent spread of fake news, abuse of these platforms to share morphed images of women and contents related to revenge porn or to settle corporate rivalries.
- The speed and reach of digital media especially social media have meant that subversive rumours and fake news get aired with impunity.
- This has resulted in serious law and order problems.
- In India, this phenomenon has assumed dangerous proportions. Fake news and hate speech have led to lynchings and communal flare-ups in many parts of the country. This menace needs to be curbed.
- g.: Delhi Riots, DG Halli riots in Bangalore.
- It is very important that crores of social media users be given a proper forum for resolution of their grievances in a time bound manner against the abuse and misuse of social media.
- Checks and balances against executive excesses is in place as a court order is needed to extract information from social media companies. Additionally, no such order would be passed in cases where other less intrusive means were effective in identifying the originator of the information and the intermediary would not be required to disclose the contents of any electronic message.
- The government must be mindful that it did not over-regulate leaving a deleterious impact on the users’ right to privacy and free speech.
Critical analysis and way forward
- In the current form, these guidelines could undermine the principles of open and accessible Internet and violate the right to privacy and free speech of users, particularly in the absence of robust data protection law.
- These could also lead to an erosion of the ‘safe harbour’ protection given to intermediaries under Section 79 of the IT Act.
- There is no denying that there are problems with online content, which the government has rightly highlighted now.
- Its release has referred to a 2018 Supreme Court observation that the government “may frame necessary guidelines to eliminate child pornography, rape and gangrape imageries, videos and sites in content hosting platforms and other applications”, besides making a mention of discussions in Parliament about social media misuse and fake news.
- Besides the regulation, data privacy law must be passed immediately as it has been on the back burner. State must also be held accountable in upholding privacy rights of its people.