Q1. The Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023 appeals more to political allegiance than constitutional rights. Critically analyse. (10M)
Nearly six years after the Supreme Court recognized privacy as a fundamental right, the Indian government has taken a significant step towards safeguarding personal data with the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023. The act will regulate the collection, processing, and use of personal data in India.
Contribution of CVC upholding integrity and accountability in public affairs in India:
- Erosion of Informational Autonomy: The law could potentially undermine individuals’ ability to safeguard their personal data and exercise informational autonomy.
- It might inadvertently facilitate government control over data, weakening existing mechanisms of privacy protection.
- Lack of differentiation for sensitive data: The latest version of the law fails to distinguish between personal and sensitive personal data, lacking adequate provisions to safeguard the latter from potential misuse.
- Government Surveillance Backing: The law offers broad exemptions for government data processing, such as for crime prevention or investigation.
- This legalizes unchecked and covert government surveillance, raising concerns about privacy infringement.
- Extensive Authority for Security Agencies: The law empowers security agencies to collect and retain any data, based on sovereignty, security, or public order preservation.
- This raises potential issues regarding the extent of data access and retention.
- Data transfer: The act allows transfer of personal data outside India, except to countries notified by the central government.
- This mechanism may not ensure adequate evaluation of data protection standards in the countries where transfer of personal data is allowed.
- No right to forget: The government is also exempt from being required to delete any data that it possesses, regardless of the purpose it may have been collected for, on the request of an individual, or by way of a prescribed data retention period.
- Flexible Data Purpose Usage: The government is not bound by purpose limitations, allowing data collected for one specified purpose be used for a new, incompatible purpose, which stands in contrast to the regulations imposed on businesses.
- Absence of Compensation Provision: the law does not provide for compensation to be granted for data principals whose privacy has been violated and who have suffered a loss.
Positive aspects of the digital protection act:
- Strengthened Data Security: Stricter requirements for data fiduciaries to implement security measures can help safeguard sensitive data, enhancing trust and confidence in digital transactions.
- Data Protection Board (DPB): Act mandates the establishment of an adjudicatory body, Data Protection Board (DPB), that will enjoy quasi-judicial powers and will be wholly appointed by the central government.
- Increased Accountability and Remedies: The law empowers citizens by providing them with avenues to address privacy violations, ensuring that their rights are protected and promoting a culture of accountability among data handlers.
- Penalties: There are penalties for non-compliance of the provisions by data fiduciaries up to INR250 crore.
- Consent: Personal data may be processed only for a lawful purpose after obtaining the consent of the individual.
- For individuals below 18 years of age, consent will be provided by the parent or the legal guardian. Consent may be withdrawn at any point in time.
The Act muddles the distinction between informational privacy and information security. It falls short in its attempt to replace information security with individuals’ capacity to control their data’s privacy. The DPDPA’s current enactment seems to veer away from the initial envisioned purpose, which emerged following the Right to Privacy judgment.
Q2. How does the National Education Policy 2020 address the challenges and gaps in India’s education system in relation to Sustainable Development Goal 4? Comment on controversies regarding its implementation. (15M)
The NEP 2020, a transformative education roadmap, addresses gaps and challenges hindering India’s progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4. Goal 4, as per the United Nations, aims for inclusive, quality education and lifelong learning, aligning with NEP’s vision.
National Education Policy 2020 address the challenges and gaps in India’s education system in relation to Sustainable Development Goal 4:
- The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education is 27.1%, highlighting limited access to quality institutions and underemployment.
- NEP 2020 aims to universalize access to early childhood education, proposes compulsory and free secondary education, and expands open and distance learning to enhance GER.
- High Dropout Rate: With a primary school dropout rate of 25% and secondary school dropout rate of 35%, NEP 2020 focuses on engaging education, aiming to reduce dropouts.
- Multilingual Education: Many children learn in a language they are not familiar with, hindering effective learning. Local language-based education is limited.
- NEP 2020 emphasizes mother tongue/local language/regional language as the medium of instruction till Grade 5 and beyond, fostering effective learning.
- Equitable and Inclusive Education: NEP ensures equity for Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups, addressing gender, socio-cultural, geographical identities, and disabilities.
- Quality Teachers: According to the ASER Centre, only 56% of teachers in primary schools are trained to teach.
- NEP improves teacher quality by providing better training and promotion pathways. A common National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) will be developed.
- Learning Outcomes: Learning outcomes are below par, with a significant number of students lacking foundational skills in reading and mathematics.
- Recognizing poor learning outcomes, NEP calls for a National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy to improve foundational skills.
- Lack of basic infrastructure, such as proper classrooms, sanitation facilities, and learning materials, hinders the learning environment.
- NEP 2020 aims to increase public investment in education to 6% of GDP, addressing infrastructure shortcomings.
- Skill Development Gap: Just 45% of Indian graduates are employable, indicating a need for alignment with industry demands.
- NEP 2020 integrates professional education within higher education to enhance employability, making technical, health science, legal, and agricultural institutions multi-disciplinary.
- Digital Divide: Despite registering a significant (digital) growth rate of 13 percent in a year only 31% rural Internet usage compared to 67% urban.
- NEP 2020 establishes a technology unit to develop digital education resources, ensuring digital infrastructure, content, and capacity building are well-coordinated.
Controversies regarding NEP 2020 implementation:
- Overambitious Goals: The policy envisions 6% of GDP public spending, which is challenging considering competing budgetary demands on healthcare, security, and more.
- Language Barrier: The NEP emphasizes home language learning up to class five for better understanding. However, education’s social and economic goal clashes with the country’s English-driven mobility.
- Governance: The NEP 2020 calls for a more decentralized system of governance in higher education. This requires the government to devolve power to state governments and institutions.
- Legal Complexities and Policy Applicability: The New Education Policy, 2020 has garnered criticism due to its interaction with the existing Right to Education Act, 2009.
- Key areas, like the age of starting schooling, necessitate deliberation to address potential conflicts between the statute and the newly introduced policy.
- Teacher shortage: India has a shortage of over 10 million teachers, and the NEP 2020 does not propose any concrete measures to address this problem.
- Pedagogical Limitations: Flexibility and choice are paramount, but structuring curricula for diverse classrooms may undermine an institution’s identity.
- Institutional Constraints: Promoting diversity and institutional choice is key. A forced multidisciplinary approach risks uniformity rather than variety.
The successful implementation of NEP 2020 in higher education will require a concerted effort from all stakeholders. The Central government, State governments, institutions, teachers, students, and the community will all need to work together to make this happen.
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