Print Friendly, PDF & Email

[Mission 2023] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 26 November 2022

 

NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same

Answer the following questions in 150 words:


General Studies – 1


 

1. Although constitutionally banned, untouchability is still practised in India. Examine the reasons for it and suggest steps that must be taken to purge the social evil of untouchability from the society.

Reference: Indian Express

Introduction

Dalits or untouchables are officially known as Scheduled Castes since the Government of India Act, 1935. Caste system, which according Dr BR Ambedkar is ordained by the Hindu religious scriptures, has placed untouchables outside the Chaturvarna system of social division and imposed oppressive and in human rules of treatment against them. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), crime against Dalits – ranging from rape, murder, beatings, and violence related to land matters increased by 29 percent from 2012 to 2014.

 

Body

Background

Despite strong laws including SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989, Untouchability Act 1955 and various constitutional provisions like Art 15(2) (no discrimination at public place), Art 17(untouchability), Art. 23(prevention of bonded labour) have been framed but have failed to this discrimination.

These laws have politically and legally emboldened the dalits but socially have failed to be realised due to lack of awareness, poor reporting, police apathy etc. It is important to address the following concerns rather than making stronger legislation which are strong enough on paper

Reasons for prevalence of untouchability in India

  • Political:
    • Dalit movement, like identity movements across the world, has really narrowed its focus to forms of oppressions.
    • Most visible Dalit movements have been around issues like reservations and discrimination in colleges, and these are issues that affect only a small proportion of the Dalit population.
  • Social:
    • Today Dalits are perceived as a threat to the established social, economic and political position of the upper caste. Crimes are a way to assert the upper caste superiority.
    • Stasis in farm income over the past few years caused disquiet among predominantly agrarian middle caste groups, who perceive their dominance in the countryside to be weakening.
    • The growing scramble for Dalit votes by different political actors has only added a fresh twist to a conflict that has been simmering for some time.
  • Economic:
    • Rising living standards of Dalits appears to have led to a backlash from historically privileged communities.
    • In a study by Delhi School of Economics, an increase in the consumption expenditure ratio of SCs/STs to that of upper castes is associated with an increase in crimes committed by the latter against the former
    • Rising income and growing educational achievements may have led many Dalits to challenge caste barriers, causing resentment among upper caste groups, leading to a backlash.
    • There is also a possibility of the rise due to high registration and recognition of such crimes.
    • Half of all atrocities committed against Dalits are related to land disputes.
  • Educational Institutions:
    • In public schools, Dalits are not allowed to serve meals to superior castes; they often have to sit outside the classroom; and are made to clean the toilets.
    • Even in universities most of the faculty vacancies reserved for them are lying vacant and students are often discriminated.
    • The recent incidents of suicides of Rohith Vemula and Payal Tadvi substantiate the above claims of discrimination against Dalit students.
  • Dalit women:
    • Girls face violence at a younger age and at a higher rate than women of other castes. According to the National Family Health Survey by the age of 15, 33.2% scheduled caste women experience physical violence. The figure is 19.7% for “other” category women.
    • The violence continues, largely due to a sense of impunity among dominant castes.
    • Dalit women and girls are often the targets of hate crimes. Access to justice has been abysmal, with conviction rates at a measly 16.8 percent. Crimes against Dalits usually see half the conviction rate of the overall rate of conviction of crimes. Experts and activists say that low conviction rates and lack of prosecution of such cases of atrocities are the reasons why crimes against Dalits continue to rise.
  • Political power does not help:
    • Even when Dalit women acquire political power, as when they are elected as sarpanches, there is often no protection against the social power that sanctions violence and discrimination against them.
    • In a village with a Dalit woman sarpanch, a Dalit woman was burned, but no action was taken.
  • Workplace violence:
    • The risky workplaces compounded with a lack of labour rights protection measures render migrants Dalit women more vulnerable to occupational injury.
    • Further, the emerging problem of sub-contracting short-termed labour makes it more difficult for them to claim compensation when they are injured at work places.
    • Dalit women are most vulnerable to abuse and exploitation by employers, migration agents, corrupt bureaucrats and criminal gangs.
    • The enslavement trafficking also contributes to migration of large proportion of Dalit women.

Measures needed

  • Attitudinal change need to brought about among the upper caste through the use of local Panchayat level officials who need to disseminate information regarding the rights, legal provisions and ensure community places are open to all.
  • Police need to sensitised to take due notice of violation of dalits rights and act stringently rather than turning a blind eye.
    • Dalits fear reporting such crimes fearing backlash in the community they live. Such barriers need to be dispelled by strengthening and reaching out to them through institution already in place namely Nation commission for SCs etc.
  • Sensible labour laws reforms to give exit options to Dalits trapped in a system.
  • Integrating social and cultural transformation with an economic alternative is critical.
  • Huge investments will be needed in upskilling and educating dalits and government needs to create an abundance of new jobs within the formal sector and lowering barriers to job creation
  • Increased availability of stable-wage jobs for women is critical to preventing their socio-economic exploitation
  • Bridging the deep-rooted biases through sustained reconditioning: It is only possible by promoting the idea of gender equality and uprooting social ideology of male child preferability.
  • They should be given decision-making powers and due position in governance. Thus, the Women Reservation Bill should be passed as soon as possible to increase the effective participation of women in the politics of India.
  • Bridging implementation gaps: Government or community-based bodies must be set up to monitor the programs devised for the welfare of the society.
  • Dalit women need group and gender specific policies and programmes to address the issue of multiple deprivations.
  • Dalit women require comprehensive policies on health, especially on the maternal and child health
  • Make credit available by pooling the women to form self-help groups. The example of Kudumbashree model of Kerala can be emulated.

 

Conclusion

Stringent laws alone have never helped its cause and attitudinal change in perception toward the Dalits and for Dalit toward themselves need to changed through active interventions which is well possible within the existing framework .


General Studies – 2


 

2. The multi-sectoral collaborations to achieve a reduction in suicide mortality in the country as proposed in the National Suicide Prevention Strategy is a much-needed step. Elaborate.

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

Recently, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India has announced the “National Suicide Prevention Strategy”. It is the first of its kind in the country, with time-bound action plans and multi-sectoral collaborations to achieve reduction in suicide mortality by 10% by 2030. The strategy is in line with the World Health Organisation’s South East-Asia Region Strategy for suicide prevention.

 

Body

Statistics

  • India has the highest suicide rate in the Southeast Asian region.
  • A total of 1,34,516 cases of suicide were reported in 2018 in India, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
  • While the rate of suicide was 9.9 in 2017, it increased to 10.2 in 2018.

 

National Suicide Prevention Strategy

  • The strategy broadly seeks to establish effective surveillance mechanisms for suicide within the next three years.
  • It seeks to establish psychiatric outpatient departments that will provide suicide prevention services through the District Mental Health Programme in all districts within the next five years.
  • It also aims to integrate a mental well-being curriculum in all educational institutions within the next eight years.
  • It envisages developing guidelines for responsible media reporting of suicides, and restricting access to means of suicide.

Measures taken by Government of India

  • Mental Healthcare Act, 2017:
    • MHA 2017 aims to provide mental healthcare services for persons with mental illness.
  • Kiran:
    • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has launched a 24/7 toll-free helpline “KIRAN” to provide support to people facing anxiety, stress, depression, suicidal thoughts and other mental health concerns.
  • Manodarpan Initiative:
    • Manodarpan is an initiative of the Ministry of Education under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. It is aimed to provide psychosocial support to students, family members and teachers for their mental health and well-being during the times of Covid-19.
  • DecriminalisationSection 309 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) states whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine or both.
    • Section 115 (1) of the Mental Healthcare Act 2017 of the Act provides, “Notwithstanding anything contained in section 309 of the IPC, any person who attempts to commit suicide shall be presumed, unless proved otherwise, to have severe stress and shall not be tried and punished under the said Code.
    • However, this law applies only to those suffering from mental illness. There is presumption of severe stress in case of an attempt to die by suicide.

Conclusion and way forward

  • Limiting access to the means of suicide, such as highly hazardous pesticides and firearms.
  • Educating the media on responsible reporting of suicide.
  • Fostering socio-emotional life skills in adolescents.
  • Early identification, assessment, management and follow-up of anyone affected by suicidal thoughts and behaviour.
  • These needed to go hand-in-hand with foundational pillars like situation analysis, multi-sectoral collaboration, awareness raising capacity building, financing, surveillance and monitoring and evaluation.

 

3. Central Information Commission, the apex body under India’s transparency regime must take urgent steps to remove hurdles in the citizens quest for accountability. Examine.

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Introduction

A good 17 years after India got the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the transparency regime in the country remains a mirage with nearly 3.15 lakh complaints or appeals pending with 26 information commissions across India.

According to a report by the Satark Nagrik Sangathan, the backlog of appeals or complaints is steadily increasing in commissions every year.

Body

About Central Information Commission

Objectives

  • To receive and inquire into complaints from any citizen as provided in RTI Act.
  • To receive and decide upon the second appeal from any citizen as provided in the RTI Act, and RTI rules 2012.
  • To exercise the powers conferred on CIC under the RTI Act.
  • To perform the duty of Monitoring and Reporting as provided in Section 25 of the RTI Act.

 

Powers and Functions

  • To receive and inquire into a complaint from any person regarding information requested under the RTI act.
  • It can order an inquiry into any matter if there are reasonable grounds (suo-moto power).
  • While inquiring, the Commission has the powers of a civil court in respect of summoning, requiring documents, etc.
  • Adjudication in the second appeal for giving information;
  • Direction for record-keeping
  • Imposition of penalties and Monitoring and Reporting including preparation of an Annual Report.

 

Issues in the working of CIC

  • Delays and Backlogs: On average, the CIC takes 388 days (more than one year) to dispose of an appeal/complaint from the date it was filed before the commission.
    • A report released last year has pointed out that more than 2.2 lakh Right to information cases are pending at the Central and State Information Commissions (ICs).
  • No Penalties: The report found that the Government officials hardly face any punishment for violating the law.
    • Penalties were imposed in only 2.2% of cases that were disposed of, despite previous analysis showing a rate of about 59% violations which should have triggered the process of penalty imposition
  • Lack of Transparency: The criteria of selection, etc, nothing has been placed on record.
  • Amendment and powers to centre: The Right to Information (Amendment) Act, 2019 amended the Right to Information Act, of 2005.
    • The RTI Act, 2005 specified the tenure, terms of service, and salaries of the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and Information Commissioners (ICs) at the central and state levels, in the parent law.
    • The RTI (Amendment) Act, 2019 removed these provisions and stated that the central government will notify the term and quantum of salary through rules.

 

 

Way forward and Conclusion

  • Democracy is all about the governance of the people, by the people and for the people. In order to achieve the third paradigm, the state needs to start acknowledging the importance of an informed public and the role that it plays in the country’s development as a nation. In this context, underlying issues related to RTI Act should be resolved, so that it can serve the information needs of society.
  • The role of information commissions is crucial especially during Covid-19 to ensure that people can obtain information on healthcare facilities, social security programs and delivery of essential goods and services meant for those in distress.
  • By its 2019 order, the apex court had passed a slew of directions to the Central and State governments to fill vacancies across Central and State Information Commissions in a transparent and timely manner.
  • Urgent digitization of records and proper record management is important as lack of remote access to records in the lockdown has been widely cited as the reason for not being able to conduct hearings of appeals and complaints by commissions.

 


General Studies – 3


 

4. Artemis is the first step in the next era of human exploration. Discuss the significance of NASA’s Artemis-I mission. Throw light on the pioneering technologies being used in this mission.

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Introduction

Artemis– Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of Moon’s Interaction with the Sun. It is NASA’s next mission to the Moon. After multiple delays caused by technological failures and natural disasters spread across two months, the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket has been lifted off from the Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Body

About Artemis Mission

  • Artemis I is an uncrewed mission of NASA.
    • Named after the sister of Apollo in Greek mythology, it is NASA’s successor to the Apollo lunar missions from fifty years ago.
  • It will test the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion crew capsule.
    • The SLS is the largest new vertical launch system NASA has created since the Saturn V rockets used in the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Artemis I is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions to build a long-term human presence at the Moon for decades to come.
    • The primary goals for Artemis I are to demonstrate Orion’s systems in a spaceflight environment and ensure a safe re-entry, descent, splashdown, and recovery prior to the first flight with crew on Artemis II.
  • It is only a lunar Orbiter mission even though, unlike most Orbiter missions, it has a return-to-Earth target.

Significance of Artemis I

  • Artemis I is the first step into that new space age of achieving the promise of transporting humans to new worlds, of landing and living on other planets, or maybe meeting aliens.
  • The CubeSats it will carry are equipped with instruments meant for specific investigations and experiments, including searching for water in all forms and for hydrogen that can be utilised as a source of energy.
  • Biology experiments will be carried out, and the impact of deep space atmosphere on humans will be investigated through the effect on dummy ‘passengers’ on-board Orion.

Pioneering technologies used

  • Advances in robotic exploration are exemplified by the suite of rovers on Mars, where Perseverance, Nasa’s latest prospector, can drive itself through rocky terrain with only limited guidance from Earth.
  • Improvements in sensors and artificial intelligence (AI) will further enable the robots themselves to identify particularly interesting sites, from which to gather samples for return to Earth.
  • Within the next one or two decades, robotic exploration of the Martian surface could be almost entirely autonomous, with human presence offering little advantage.
  • Instead of astronauts, who need a well equipped place to live if they’re required for construction purposes, robots can remain permanently at their work site. Likewise, if mining of lunar soil or asteroids for rare materials became economically viable, this also could be done more cheaply and safely with robots.

Conclusion

The key difference between the Apollo era and today: the emergence of a strong, private space-technology sector, which now embraces human spaceflight. Private-sector companies are now competitive with Nasa, so high-risk, cut-price trips to Mars, bankrolled by billionaires and private sponsors, cold be crewed by willing volunteers. Ultimately, the public could cheer these brave adventurers without paying for them.

Value Addition

Moon exploration

  • In 1959, the Soviet Union’s uncrewed Luna 1 and 2 became the first rover to visit the Moon.
  • Before the USA sent the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon, it sent three classes of robotic missions between 1961 and 1968.
  • After July 1969, 12 American astronauts walked on the surface of the Moon until 1972.
  • In the 1990s, the USA resumed lunar exploration with robotic missions Clementine and Lunar Prospector.
  • In 2009, it began a new series of robotic lunar missions with the launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS).
  • In 2011, NASA began the ARTEMIS.
  • In 2012, the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft studied the Moon’s gravity.
  • Apart from the USA, the European Space Agency, Japan, China, and India have sent missions to explore the Moon. China landed two rovers on the surface, which includes the first-ever landing on the Moon’s far side in 2019.

 

 

 

Answer the following questions in 250 words(15 marks each):


General Studies – 1


 

6. Women bear a disproportionate burden in conflict and women refugees who are forced to flee their homes face trafficking, sexual exploitation and other forms abuse. Suggest possible solutions to the above issues.

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Introduction

The coup in Myanmar, a Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — that have all occurred in the last 18 months — have each underscored the fact that women bear a disproportionate burden in conflict, especially those forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in other countries. Economic stressors resulting from COVID-19 exacerbate the situation. Important markers in gender equality and the protection of civilians have been reversed in many countries.

Body

 

Disproportionate burden on women in conflict zones

  • Conflict zones and women’s ordeal : In Yemen, a woman dies in childbirth every two hours.
    • In South Sudan, more than 65% of women have experienced sexual or physical violence — double the global average.
    • More than 40% of girls in Nigeria are married before the age of 18. Each of these statistics directly relates to ongoing violence in those countries.
  • Displacement: According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, more than half of the planet’s 80 million displaced people are women and children.
  • Political violence begets gender violence: Across the globe, sexual violence against women and girls is often used as a war tactic to terrorize civilians.
    • In 2020, the United Nations verified 2,500 cases of conflict-related sexual violence in 18 countries committed mostly against women and girls.
    • In Afghanistan, 62% of women have experienced all three forms of gender-based violence (GBV): psychological, physical, and sexual abuse.
  • Refugee women ordeal: An estimated 1 in 5 female refugees living in humanitarian settings has experienced sexual violence and its consequences, including trauma, stigma, poverty, and unwanted pregnancy.
    • Rates of domestic violence and human trafficking also commonly spike during times of conflict due to rising instability, poverty, and a weakening rule of law.
  • Conflict and child marriage: Because war disrupts economies, supply chains, and agricultural production, it often leads to widespread poverty and hunger. Consequently, rates of child marriage go up as families become desperate for additional income or one less mouth to feed.
    • Child brides often face a lifetime of suffering.
    • Girls who marry before 18 are less likely to remain in school, more likely to experience domestic violence, and more likely to die from complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Disrupts access to lifesaving reproductive health care: The violence and chaos of war often destroy a country’s health infrastructure. And without access to sexual and reproductive health care, including family planning services, girls and women in conflict often risk unintended pregnancies in dangerous conditions.
    • In Yemen, for example, only 20% of the country’s remaining hospitals are able to provide maternal and child health services.
    • A looming famine and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have only worsened an already dangerous situation there, especially for mothers.
    • Right now an estimated 2 million pregnant and breastfeeding women in Yemen are acutely malnourished.

International policy on preventing gender based violence

  • In 2000, the United Nations Security Council approved resolution 1325, which marked the start of the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
    • The resolution urged the participation of women in peace initiatives, protection from violations of their human rights, and the prevention of conflicts.
    • Eight further resolutions have since been approved, widening the range of issues covered by the agenda and thus making it more ambitious.
  • There are other measures which likewise aim to protect women and highlight their specific needs both during and after a conflict.
    • One of such frameworks is Recommendation 30 from the Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), approved in 2013.
    • This covers issues such as the participation of women in all areas – including peace processes –, access and upholding of all their rights, and active participation in conflict prevention.
  • The Sustainable Development Goals constitute a further benchmark framework, in particular SDGs 5 (Gender Equality) and 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions).
    • Lastly, the Arms Trade Treaty is the first agreement to recognise the links between international arms transfer and gender violence.
  • Article 7(4) specifically states that exporting countries must consider the risk that the arms transfer could be used to commit or facilitate acts of violence against women

 

Possible solutions

  • Safety audit of refugee camps: Countries which are hosting refugees must do safety audit of camps to ensure that women are not exploited or trafficked. There must be a mechanism to report human rights violation and instances of abuse.
  • Access to reproductive health and contraceptives: Unbridled access to contraceptives and awareness regarding their usage scientifically will lead to prevention of unintended pregnancies in conflict areas.
  • Skilling and opportunity for economic independence: Providing income-generating opportunities is key. Skill development workshops, permits for working will help in mainstreaming them in society.
  • Screening of gender based violence at health camps: Setting up services that do not lead to stigmatisation is the quickest way to increase reporting in communities.
  • Women to be included in peace negotiations: All peace negotiations must include presence of women and their inputs as they are the most affected.

Conclusion

Conflicts and situations of instability exacerbate pre-existing patterns of discrimination against women and girls, exposing them to heightened risks of violations of their human rights. Possible solutions musbe explored for protection of these women who are displaced and are vulnerable to abuse.

 


General Studies – 2


 

7. Critically analyse the proposed Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022, in safeguarding the privacy of individuals and upholding the right to privacy of the citizens. Compare the proposed bill with the privacy laws of other countries.

Reference: Live MintIndian Express

Introduction

The new Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022 released on Friday (November 18) is focused on personal data, as compared to an earlier unwieldy draft.  The personal data protection bill has been in the works for about five years. The first draft of the Bill was presented by an expert panel headed by Justice B.N. Srikrishna in July 2018, after a year-long consultation process.

Body

Features of the bill

  • Data Principal and Data Fiduciary: The bill uses the term “Data Principal” to denote the individual whose data is being collected.
    • The term “Data Fiduciary” the entity (can be an individual, company, firm, state etc.), which decides the “purpose and means of the processing of an individual’s personal data.”
    • The law also makes a recognition that in the case of children –defined as all users under the age of 18— their parents or lawful guardians will be considered their ‘Data Principals.’
  • Defining personal data and its processing: Under the law, personal data is “any data by which or in relation to which an individual can be identified.”
    • Processing means “the entire cycle of operations that can be carried out in respect of personal data.”
    • So right from collection to storage of data would come under processing of data as per the bill.
  • Individual’s informed consent: The bill also makes it clear that individual needs to give consent before their data is processed.
    • Every individual should know what items of personal data a Data Fiduciary wants to collect and the purpose of such collection and further processing.
    • Individuals also have the right to withdraw consent from a Data Fiduciary.
    • The bill also gives consumers the right to file a complaint against a ‘Data Fiduciary’ with the Data Protection Board in case they do not get a satisfactory response from the company.
  • Language of information: The bill also ensures that individuals should be able to “access basic information” in languages specified in the eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution.
    • Further, the notice of data collection needs to be in clear and easy-to-understand language.
  • Significant Data Fiduciaries: The bill also talks of ‘Significant Data Fiduciaries, who deal with a high volume of personal data.
    • The Central government will define who is designated under this category based on a number of factors ranging from the volume of personal data processed to the risk of harm to the potential impact on the sovereignty and integrity of India.
  • Data protection officer & Data auditor: Such entities will have to appoint a ‘Data protection officer’ who will represent them.
    • They will be the point of contact for grievance redressal.
    • They will also have to appoint an independent Data auditor who shall evaluate their compliance with the act.
  • Right to erase data, right to nominate: Data principals will have the right to demand the erasure and correction of data collected by the data fiduciary.
    • They will also have the right to nominate an individual who will exercise these rights in the event of death or incapacity of the data principal.
  • Cross-border data transfer: The bill also allows for cross-border storage and transfer of data to “certain notified countries and territories.”
    • However, an assessment of relevant factors by the Central Government would precede such a notification.
  • Financial penalties: The draft also proposes to impose significant penalties on businesses that undergo data breaches or fail to notify users when breaches happen.
    • Entities that fail to take “reasonable security safeguards” to prevent personal data breaches will be fined as high as Rs 250 crore.
    • As per the draft, the Data Protection Board — a new regulatory body to be set up by the government — can impose a penalty of up to ₹500 crore if non-compliance by a person is found to be significant.

Positives of the current Bill

  • Gender neutrality: Significantly, and for the first time in the country’s legislative history, the terms ‘her’ and ‘she’ have been used irrespective of an individual’s gender. This, as per the draft, is in line with the government’s philosophy of empowering women.
  • Imbibes best global practices: To prepare it, best global practices were considered, including review of data protection legislations of Australia, European Union (EU), Singapore, and a prospective one of the USA.
  • Comprehensiveness: The draft has outlined six ‘Chapters’ and a total of twenty-five points. The ‘Chapters’ are: ‘Preliminary,’ ‘Obligations of Data Fiduciary,’ ‘Rights and Duties of Data Principal,’ ‘Special Provisions,’ ‘Compliance Framework,’ and ‘Miscellaneous.’
  • Special emphasis for child protection: If personal data is likely to cause harm to a child, its processing will not be allowed.
  • Widening the scope of data: Narrowing the scope of the data protection regime to personal data protection is a welcome move, as it resonates with the concerns of various stakeholders.
  • Harnessing economic potential: Now non-personal data could be used to unlock social and economic value to benefit citizens, businesses, and communities in India with appropriate safeguards in place.
  • Doing away with aggressive push for Data localisation: Relaxing data localisation provisions to notify countries to which data can flow, could aid India in unlocking the comparative advantage of accessing innovative technological solutions from across the globe, which in turn helps domestic companies.
  • Free flow of data: In addition, the free flow of data will help startups access cost-effective technology and storage solutions, as our research shows.
  • Allowing data transfers: This will also ensure that India is not isolated from the global value chain, helping businesses stay resilient in production and supply chain management and fostering overseas collaboration.

Issues with the current Bill

  • Wide-ranging exemptions to the Centre and its agencies with little to no safeguards, and reduced independence of the proposed Data Protection Board are among the key concerns flagged by experts.
    • It is also worth noting that the new Bill has just 30 clauses compared to the more than 90 in the previous one, mainly because a lot of operational details have been left to subsequent rule-making.
  • The central government can issue notifications to exempt its agencies from adhering to provisions of the draft law for national security reasons.
    • In an explanatory note accompanying the proposed legislation, the government argued that “national and public interest is at times greater than the interest of an individual”, while justifying the need for such exemptions.
  • The draft law leaves the appointment of the chairperson and members of the Data Protection Board entirely to the discretion of the central government. While the Data Protection Authority was earlier envisaged to be a statutory authority (under the 2019 Bill), the Data Protection Board is now a central government set up board.

Privacy laws of other countries

  • China model : New Chinese laws on data privacy and security issued over the last 12 months include the Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL), which came into effect in November 2021.
    • It gives Chinese data principals new rights as it seeks to prevent the misuse of personal data.
    • The Data Security Law (DSL), which came into force in September 2021, requires business data to be categorized by levels of importance, and puts new restrictions on cross-border transfers.
    • These regulations will have a significant impact on how companies collect, store, use and transfer data, but are essentially focused on giving the government overreaching powers to collect data as well as to regulate private companies that collect and process information.
  • US Model: Privacy protection is largely defined as “liberty protection” focused on the protection of the individual’s personal space from the government. It is viewed as being somewhat narrow in focus because it enables collection of personal information as long as the individual is informed of such collection and use.
    • The US template has been viewed as inadequate in key respects of regulation.
  • GDPR EU: The GDPR focuses on a comprehensive data protection law for processing of personal data.
    • It has been criticised for being excessively stringent, and imposing many obligations on organisations processing data, but it is the template for most of the legislation drafted around the world.

Conclusion

The reworked version of the data protection Bill, released three months after the Govt withdrew an earlier draft, eases cross-border data flows and increases penalties for breaches. But it gives the Centre wide-ranging powers and prescribes very few safeguards. A thorough stakeholder consultation is required before the Bill is tabled.

 

8. The current global environment with its macroeconomic, trade and strategic challenges makes it all the more compelling for the world’s two largest democracies to deepen their engagement in a way that is mutually beneficial. Comment in the light Indo-U.S. relations.

Reference: The Hindu

Introduction

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s visit to India last week highlights the renewed focus in the U.S. on strengthening economic ties with Asia’s third-largest economy and ‘one of America’s indispensable partners’.

Body

Need for deepening of bilateral relations between India and USA

  • Security: Combat terrorism and weapons of mass destruction Protect global commons like sea routes and sea lanes of communication.
    • Eg: India has mentioned Taiwan issue in public for the first time while USA has been passing through South China sea and Taiwan straits to protect freedom of navigation in high seas.
  • Global cooperation: International Cooperation through platforms like UN, ASEAN, G-20, IMF, Quad. Quad security dialogue has been initiated to reign in China’s dominance in the region.
  • Defence cooperation: Defence agreements Iike LEMOA, COMCASA, Industrial Security Agreement and BECA; Bilateral military exercises like Yudh Abhyaas, Vajra prahar, etc have been taking place every year.
  • Space cooperation: Indo-US science and technology cooperation agreement; Joint Microwave remote sensing satellite named NISAR.
  • Diaspora and people to people ties: Strength of Indian diaspora in US is around 4.5 million which is around 1% of its population. Indian diaspora is a source and agent of soft power, an effective public diplomacy tool and is acknowledged for its work ethos, discipline, non-interference and peaceful living with the locals.

Divergences and friction areas

  • Tariffs war: Since 2018 both countries were engaged in tariffs war. E.g. In 2018, the US imposed additional tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium imports from various countries, including India. India’s refusal to remove the 20% tariffs on ICT products caused the trade deal between India and USA to delay which remains still pending.
  • WTO disputes: India USA are involved in WTO disputes on issues like, Capping prices of medical devices by India, greater Indian market access for American agriculture and dairy products etc.
  • IPR: India is also on S.’s “Priority Watch List” which identifies countries posing challenges to American intellectual property rights. Also, The US wants India to strengthen patent regulations, and to ease the limitations American companies investing in India face.
  • USA tensions with Iran, Russia: Putting unilateral curbs on Russian and Iranian imports into India through CAATSA would impinge on India’s relations with Iran, Russia, both relations in which India has strong stakes.
  • Divergence of interests in Afghanistan: In the backdrop of Afghan Peace deal, U.S. left Afghanistan. Decades of work was scrapped as Taliban took over and freedom of people and the developmental work India did is hampered.

 

Conclusion

Despite the differences in some areas, the upward trajectory in India USA relations indicates a sense of greater nuance to the need for institutionalisation of bilateral ties — towards not only graduating the bilateral dynamic away from over-dependence on chemistry between the top political leadership, but also design frameworks in a manner that maximise convergences between the two countries.

 


General Studies – 3


 

9. Cryptocurrencies can make it easy to obscure the source of criminal proceeds and are increasingly becoming the preferred currency because cryptocurrency offers a combination of anonymity, ease of use and the ability to circumvent international borders and regulations, in essence, to launder the ill-gotten proceeds. Examine.

Reference: Insights on India

Introduction

Cryptocurrencies can make it easier for fraudsters to obscure the source of criminal proceeds and are increasingly becoming the preferred currency of cybercriminals, from purchasing illicit goods using Bitcoin as a payment method to ransomware attacks where payments by Bitcoin are demanded. This trend is more prevalent because cryptocurrency offers a combination of anonymity, ease of use and the ability to circumvent international borders and regulations, in essence, to launder the ill-gotten proceeds.

Body

 

Cryptocurrency as a source of criminal activity

  • Criminals open online accounts with digital currency exchanges, which accept fiat currency from traditional bank accounts. Then, they start a ‘cleansing’ process (mixing and layering), i.e., moving money into the cryptocurrency system by using mixers, tumblers, and chain hopping (also called cross-currency). Money is moved from one cryptocurrency into another, across digital currency exchanges — the less-regulated the better — to create a money trail that is almost impossible to track.
  • According to the “Cryptocurrency Anti-Money Laundering Report,” criminals also use theft and gambling to launder cryptocurrencies.
  • Creation of Dark Web or Dark Market which cause it to exploit users through hacking.
  • With a market capitalization of $350 billion, bitcoin is the largest cryptocurrency in the world. A distinctive feature of bitcoin is that a record of all transactions is held in a public ledger maintained simultaneously across thousands of computers. As per bitcoin proponents, the latter are prone to manipulation or hacking.
  • Cryptocurrency does not have any legal tender. So, it cannot be authorized and can be subscribed by anyone which results in money laundering.
  • Since it doesn’t have regulatory authority, it is easy to trade between countries and can cause money laundering in disguise of trading.

Cryptocurrency shielding criminal activity

  • Layering: Cryptocurrencies can be purchased with cash (fiat) or other types of crypto (altcoin). Online cryptocurrency trading markets (exchanges) have varying levels of compliance with regulations regarding financial transactions. Legitimate exchanges follow regulatory requirements for identity verification and sourcing of funds and are Anti-Money Laundering (AML) compliant. Other exchanges are not as AML compliant. This vulnerability is where most transactions related to bitcoin money laundering take place.
  • Hiding: Crypto-based transactions can generally be followed via the blockchain. However, once a dirty cryptocurrency is in play, criminals can use an anonymizing service to hide the funds’ source, breaking the links between bitcoin transactions. This can be accomplished both on regular crypto exchanges or by participating in an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), where using one type of coin to pay for another type, can obfuscate the digital currency’s origin.
  • Integration: The point at which you can no longer easily trace dirty currency back to criminal activity is the integration point – the final phase of currency laundering. Despite the currency no longer being directly tied to crime, money launderers still need a way to explain how they came into possession of the currency. Integration is that explanation. A simple method of legitimizing the illicit income is to present it as the result of a profitable venture or other currency appreciation. This can be very hard to disprove in a market when the value of any given altcoin can change by the second.
  • Tumblers: Mixing services, known as “tumblers,” can effectively split up the dirty cryptocurrency. Tumblers send it through a series of various addresses, then recombine it. The reassembly results in a new, “clean” total (less any service fees, which can often be substantial.
  • Unregulated Exchanges: Another avenue through which criminals can undertake bitcoin money laundering is unregulated cryptocurrency exchanges.
  • Peer to Peer: To lower bitcoin money laundering risk, many criminals turn to decentralized peer-to-peer networks which are frequently international. Here, they can often use unsuspecting third parties to send funds on their way to the next destination.
  • Gaming site: Online gambling and gaming through sites that accept bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies is another way to conduct a crypto money-laundering scheme. Crypto can be used to buy credit or virtual chips which users can cash out again after just a few small transactions.

 

Conclusion and way forward

  • Regulation is the Solution: Regulation is needed to prevent serious problems, to ensure that cryptocurrencies are not misused, and to protect unsuspecting investors from excessive market volatility and possible scams.
    The regulation needs to be clear, transparent, coherent and animated by a vision of what it seeks to achieve.
  • Clarity on Crypto-currency definition: A legal and regulatory framework must first define crypto-currencies as securities or other financial instruments under the relevant national laws and identify the regulatory authority in charge.
  • Strong KYC Norms: Instead of a complete prohibition on cryptocurrencies, the government shall rather regulate the trading of cryptocurrencies by including stringent KYC norms, reporting and taxability.
  • Ensuring Transparency: Record keeping, inspections, independent audits, investor grievance redressal and dispute resolution may also be considered to address concerns around transparency, information availability and consumer protection.
  • Igniting the Entrepreneurial Wave: Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain technology can reignite the entrepreneurial wave in India’s start up ecosystem and create job opportunities across different levels, from blockchain developers to designers, project managers, business analysts, promoters and marketers.

 

10. The mission Prarambh, marks the Indian private sector’s first foray into the promising space launch market, opening opportunities for the privatisation of space which is heavily dominated by ISRO. Discuss.

Reference: Times of IndiaIndian Expess/

Introduction

Skyroot Aerospace is set to launch India’s first privately developed rocket as part of the firm’s maiden mission, called Prarambh.

To enhance the diffusion of space technology and boost the space economy within the country, the Department of Space (DOS) is encouraging the participation of private companies in space activities.

Body

About mission Prarambh

  • The Prarambh mission is aimed at carrying three payloads into space, including a 2.5-kilogram payload that has been developed by students from several countries.
  • The Prarambh mission and the Vikram-S rocket were developed by the Hyderabad-based startup with extensive support from Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and IN-SPACe (Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre).
  • The rocket, named Vikram-S, will carry three customer payloads and launch from the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO’s) launchpad at Sriharikota.
  • If Prarambh is successful, Skyroot Aerospace will become the first private space company in India to launch a rocket into space.

Need for private participation

  • Indian space has had the participation of private sectors on small scale for a long time. A large part of the manufacturing and fabrication of rockets and satellites happens in the private sector. There is increasing participation of research institutions as well.
  • But the Indian industry had a bare 3% share in a rapidly growing global space economy which is already worth at least $360 billion.
    • Only 2% of this market is for rocket and satellite launch services, which require fairly large infrastructure and heavy investment.
    • The remaining 95% related to satellite-based services, and ground-based systems.
  • Indian industry is unable to compete because till now its role has been mainly that of suppliers of components and sub-systems.
  • Indian industries do not have the resources or the technology to undertake independent space projects of the kind that US companies such as SpaceX have been doing or provide space-based services.
  • The demand for space-based applications and services is growing even within India, and ISRO is unable to cater to this.
  • The need for satellite data, imageries, and space technology now cut across sectors, from weather to agriculture to transport to urban development and more.
  • There is a need for greater dispersion of space technologies, better utilization of space resources, and increased requirement of space-based services.

 

Recent developments in boosting privatisation in space sector in India

  • IN-SPACE: IN-SPACe was launched to provide a level playing field for private companies to use Indian space infrastructure.
    • It acts as a single-point interface between Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and everyone who wants to participate in space-related activities or use India’s space resources.
  • NewSpace India Limited (NSIL): Announced in Budget 2019, its aim is to use research and development carried out by ISRO over the years for commercial purposes through Indian industry partners.
  • Indian Space Association (ISpA): ISpA aspires to be the collective voice of the Indian Space industry. ISpA will be represented by leading domestic and global corporations that have advanced capabilities in space and satellite technologies.

 

Conclusion

There are several ambitious space missions lined up in the coming years, including a mission to observe the Sun, a mission to the Moon, a human spaceflight, and then, possibly, a human landing on the Moon. And to achieve all this ISRO needs the help and back up by opening up to the private sector.

 


Join our Official Telegram Channel HERE

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel HERE

Join our Twitter Account HERE 

Follow our Instagram  Account HERE