[op-ed of the day] The makings of a digital kleptocracy

Mains Paper 2 : Governance, Transparency & Accountability, Citizens Charters |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Data monetisation aspects


Note- Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. Aspirants should try to cover at least this editorial on a daily basis to have command over most important issues in news. It will help in enhancing and enriching the content in mains answers. Please do not miss at any cost.

CONTEXT

  • There has been public furore over the delay in the release of data, for example farmer suicides, suppression of data such as on employment, bungled migration data in the Census, and controversy over the methodology used to calculate GDP growth rates.
  • These data are the backbone of policy making in India.

Suggested Use of data

  • These three — information obtained through the RTI Act, administrative data and data collected by the statistical machinery of government — are examples of “data as a public good”.
  • But these are scarcely mentioned in a chapter so-titled in this year’s Economic Survey.
  • Instead, its focus is on the expanding digital footprint of people, falling costs of data generation and storage and the growing data mining industry.
  • The thrust is on how to monetise these data, for example by selling data that we share with the government in trust.
  • Another worrying suggestion is consolidation of our data across various ministries.

Problems with Data usage

1.Toxicity – 

  • Somewhere along the line, your mobile number and/or email ID got sold in the data market.
  • Even as most of us delete these, others get trapped.
  • A former Chief Justice of India was duped of ₹1 lakh recently as a result of a fraudulent email.
  • In Mumbai, identity fraud was perpetrated by accessing personal data (address, phone number and Aadhaar).
  • In phishing attacks in Rourkela, Odisha, fraudsters called bank customers asking for Aadhaar details to update their account, but used it to siphon off money.

2. Similar treatment like public services –

  • The Survey treats personal data (such as date of birth, mobile numbers and addresses) the same way as data on rainfall, temperatures and road networks.
  • In the examples above, the fraudsters had to get access to people’s data. The Survey is proposing that these be sold for a price.
  • In early July, the Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, informed Parliament that the department had earned ₹65 crore from the sale of vehicle registration and licence data.
  • Imagine the consequences of your health data being sold to private health insurance companies; or your data on your earnings being sold, or data being used in the way Cambridge Analytica did.

Other faultlines

If data can be toxic, centralising and consolidating it, as advocated by the Survey, increases its toxicity exponentially.

1.Centralising the data –

  • Contrary to the widely advocated principle of decentralised/disaggregated data silos as a first line of defence by data security experts, the Survey portrays decentralisation as an obstacle.
  • With decentralised data, data mining companies employ sophisticated tools to combine distinct data silos to create profiles of individuals.
  • Consolidating it, for example if a unique number such as Aadhaar links them, reduces the company costs for profiling and targeting.
  • Centralising it (in one data silo) means that a single data breach can compromise all aspects of your life.

2. Without Consent –

  • Often they are collected and shared without our consent or knowledge, for example, CCTVs or web browsing histories.
  • When our data are used by opaque algorithms to make crucial decisions about our lives, such as shortlisting for jobs, getting health insurance or whether you were speeding, we cannot question them.

Case study of Aadhar –

  • Given the government’s track record on Aadhaar, these laws are unlikely to protect citizen’s rights adequately.
  • Further, privacy and data protection laws will face unique implementation challenges in India.
  • This is on account of low levels of tech-digital and legal literacy combined with pre-existing social inequalities which directly bear upon power relations between us (as citizens/consumers) and them (government/corporations).

Conclusion

  • Even where such laws have been put in place, those societies/economies are grappling with the fallout of corporations whose practices can best be described as “digital kleptocracy”.
  • To understand this, take the example of lending and credit scores.
  • The literature documents unscrupulous use of algorithms to identify vulnerable targets such as search histories of single African American mothers in the United States that are used to sell them home or education loans which it is clear they are unlikely to be able to repay.
  • Thus, digital kleptocracy is a means by which rich tech companies mine poor people’s data,in fact, steal; in most cases the person is unaware of their data being harvested and used for profit.
  • What the Economic Survey advocates is not only for the government to facilitate such practices but also climb aboard this bandwagon of digital kleptocrats.
Right To Privacy

[op-ed snap] Flee Market

Mains Paper 3 : Effects Of Liberalization On The Economy, Changes In Industrial Policy and their effects on Industrial Growth |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Falling stock market and slowng growth are causes of worry


CONTEXT

The wheels of India’s multi-year stock market rally are slowly beginning to come off. Since the Union Budget was presented this month, there has been a palpable change in mood among investors, who in June led a mini-rally in the market as signs emerged one after another that the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be returning to power at the Centre.

Background

  • The Nifty and the Sensex are down roughly by about 5% since the Budget was presented.
  • Foreign portfolio investors have pulled out over ₹2,500 crore in July, in contrast to June when FPIs made a net investment of close to ₹10,400 crore. 
  • Investors who were quite enthusiastic about the prospects of structural reforms that could boost India’s economic growth under the second Modi government, have been quite disappointed by the Budget proposals.
  • Among other things, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman imposed new taxes on the “super rich” and on companies that buy back their own shares, and raised the mandatory minimum public shareholding in listed companies (a move that is seen to be against the interests of promoters).
  • Not surprisingly, investors have been taken aback by these measures, which are seen as increasing the burden on businesses.

Falling stock market

  • Even more worrying is the signal that is sent across by the falling stock market.
  • As stock prices discount the future, lacklustre market performance could well be a prelude to the further worsening of general economic conditions in the near term.
  • There is already a significant downturn in sectors such as automobile with major companies reporting falling sales and earnings, and automobile dealers closing down showrooms and slashing jobs.

Slowing growth

  • The overall gross domestic product growth, which slipped below 6% to hit 5.8% in the fourth quarter, has also been slowly catching up with the bleak picture painted by high-frequency economic indicators for quite some time.
  • The underlying turmoil in Indian markets becomes evident when one looks beyond the Sensex and the Nifty at the mid-cap and small-cap space that has witnessed significant value erosion since the start of 2018.
  • The small-cap index has lost almost a third of its value since January 2018 while the mid-cap index has lost about a fifth of its value.

Conclusion

Interestingly, many industrialists who were previously enthusiastic cheerleaders for the Narendra Modi government have turned vocal about their disappointment at the government not being bold enough in pushing through structural reforms needed to boost economic growth despite the majority it enjoys in Parliament. This suggests the deep sell-off in stocks over the last 18 months may well be a sign of disappointed investors voting with their feet.

Issues related to Economic growth

[op-ed snap] Burning bright: on India’s tiger census

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Aunthenticity of tiger census


CONTEXT

If India has increased its population of tigers to an estimated 2,967 individuals in 2018-19, putting behind fiascos such as the Sariska wipeout 15 years ago, it adds to its global standing as a conservation marvel: a populous country that has preserved a lot of its natural heritage even amid fast-paced economic growth.

Background

  • Since the majority of the world’s wild tigers live in India, there is global attention on the counting exercise and the gaps the assessment exposes.
  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has asserted in its report, ‘Status of Tigers in India 2018’, that 83% of the big cats censused were individually photographed using camera traps, 87% were confirmed through a camera trap-based capture-recapture technique, and other estimation methods were used to establish the total number.
  • Previous estimates for periods between 2006 and 2010 and then up to 2014 indicated a steady increase in tiger abundance.

The debate regarding the numbers

  • Such numbers, however, are the subject of debate among sections of the scientific community, mainly on methodological grounds, since independent studies of even well-protected reserves showed a lower increase.
  • It is important to put all the latest data, which are no doubt encouraging, through rigorous peer review.
  • Conservation achievements — and some failures — can then be the subject of scientific scrutiny and find a place in scientific literature to aid efforts to save tigers.
Present time situation
  • There are several aspects to the latest counting operation — a staggering exercise spread over 3,81,400 sq km and 26,838 camera trap locations — that are of international interest, because some tiger range countries are beginning their own census of the cats.
  • Moreover, even developed countries are trying to revive populations of charismatic wild creatures such as wolves and bears through a more accurate outcome measurement.
  • For India’s tigers, not every landscape is welcoming, as the official report makes clear.
Divergences in population
  • The less accessible Western Ghats has witnessed a steady increase in numbers from 2006, notably in Karnataka, and Central India has an abundance, but there is a marked drop in Chhattisgarh and Odisha; in Buxa, Dampa and Palamau, which are tiger reserves, no trace of the animal was found.
  • It is imperative for the NTCA to analyse why some landscapes have lost tigers, when the entire programme has been receiving high priority and funding for years now at ₹10 lakh per family that is ready to move out of critical habitat.
Conclusion
  • Ultimately, saving tigers depends most on the health of source populations of the species that are estimated to occupy a mere 10% of the habitat.
  • The conflict in opening up reserves to road-building has to end, and identified movement corridors should be cleared of commercial pressures.
  • Hunting of prey animals, such as deer and pig, needs to stop as they form the base for growth of tiger and other carnivore populations.
  • As some scientists caution, faulty numbers may hide the real story.
  • They may only represent a ‘political population’ of a favoured animal, not quite reflective of reality.
Tiger Conservation Efforts – Project Tiger, etc.

TOI 270: new planetary system

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : TOI 270

Mains level : Exoplanets and thier habitability



News

TOI 270

  • It is the name of the dwarf star and the planetary system recently discovered by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).
  • TOI 270 is about 73 light years away from Earth, and is located in the constellation Pictor.
  • Its members include the dwarf star, which is 40 per cent smaller than the Sun in size and mass, and the three planets or exoplanets (planets outside the solar system) that have been named TOI 270 b, TOI 270 c, and TOI 270 d.
  • These three planets orbit the star every 3.4 days, 5.7 days, and 11.4 days respectively. In this system, TOI 270 b is the innermost planet.

Nature of the planets

  • Researchers expect it to be a rocky world about 25 per cent bigger than Earth.
  • It is not habitable since it is located too close to the star — about 13 times closer than our Solar System’s Mercury is from the Sun.
  • On the other hand, TOI 270 c and TOI 270 d are Neptune-like planets because their compositions are dominated by gases rather than rock.
  • Planet d, which is suspected to have a rocky core covered by a thick atmosphere, offers a surface unfavorably warm for the existence of liquid water, thereby rendering the planet potentially uninhabitable.

About Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)

  • TESS is NASA’s latest satellite to search for planets outside our solar system, known as exoplanets.
  • The mission will spend the next two years monitoring the nearest and brightest stars for periodic dips in their light.
  • TESS is expected to transmit its first series of science data back to Earth in August, and thereafter periodically every 13.5 days, once per orbit, as the spacecraft makes it closest approach to Earth.
  • These events, called transits, suggest that a planet may be passing in front of its star.
  • TESS is expected to find thousands of planets using this method, some of which could potentially support life.
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

Dholera Special Investment Region

Mains Paper 3 : Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways Etc. |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : DMIC, SIR

Mains level : Smart Cities in India


News

  • Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant pushed the idea of Dholera as the first “green city in the world”.

Dholera Special Investment Region

  • The Dholera Special Investment Region is one of the several Greenfield cities that have been planned on the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC).
  • Located about 100 kilometres south-west of Ahmedabad, Dholera will be connected to the city by a six-lane Expressway with a metrorail running through its centre.
  • A greenfield international airport is also being developed in the vicinity which will unburden the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International airport of some of its traffic.
  • Six of the 24 nodes identified on the DMIC are in Gujarat.
  • The government had set up the Gujarat Industrial Corridor Corporation (GICC), an SPV to oversee development on the DMIC, a decade ago.

What’s so special ?

  • The Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR) is slated to be bigger than Singapore.
  • It covers an estimated 920 square kilometers, encompassing 22 villages of Dholera taluka of Ahmedabad district and is strategically located between Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Bhavnagar.
  • The Dholera SIR entails development of total 9225 hectares of land up to 2040 and will employ an estimated 8 lakh persons and will house 20 lakh inhabitants.
  • Phase-I of the project which entails developing basic infrastructure in 22.5 square kilometres of activation area will cost roughly Rs 4,400 crore.
  • In Phase-I, 52 per cent will be industrial and 28 per cent will be residential.

Back2Basics

Special Investment Region (SIR)

  • Special Investment Region (SIR) is a concept similar to Special Economic Zone.
  • However, this is a unique term applied in the territory of the state of Gujarat.
  • The Gujarat government has enacted a legal framework for the SIR – The Gujarat Special Investment Region Act – 2009(GSIR -2009) which has come into effect from 6th January, 2009.
  • SIR refers to an existing or proposed Investment Region with an area of more than 100 sq. Kms or Industrial Area with an area of 50-100 sq. Kms declared so by the state under Section 3 of the Gujarat Special Investment Region Act – 2009.
  • By giving SIR status, Gujarat govt. proposes to develop the investment region /industrial area as global hubs of economic activity supported by world class infrastructure, premium civic amenities, centers of excellence and proactive policy framework.

Delhi–Mumbai Industrial Corridor Project

  • The DMIC Project is a planned industrial development project between India’s capital, Delhi and its financial hub, Mumbai.
  • It is one of the world’s largest infrastructure projects with an estimated investment of US$90 billion and is planned as a high-tech industrial zone spread across six states as well as Delhi.
  • The investments will be spread across the 1,500 km long Western Dedicated Freight Corridor which will serve as the industrial corridor’s transportation backbone.
  • It includes 24 industrial regions, eight smart cities, two international airports, five power projects, two mass rapid transit systems, and two logistical hubs.
Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

Too much quota may impact right to equal opportunity: Supreme Court

Mains Paper 2 : Executive & Judiciary |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Deabte over quotas


News

  • The Bench is examining whether to refer to a Constitution Bench a batch of petitions challenging the validity of a constitutional amendment providing 10% economic quota in government jobs and educational institutions.

Why issue over Quota?

  • The Supreme Court orally remarked that excessive quota may impact the right to equal opportunity guaranteed under the Constitution.
  • The court said quota benefits given to the most “forward” classes, especially to those who had no qualification whatsoever, would result in “excess” reservation and breach equality.
  • Reservation itself is an exception. Reservation is intended to achieve equality of opportunity.

Referring Indra Sawhney case

  • The economic reservation violated the 50% reservation ceiling limit fixed by a nine-judge Bench in the Indra Sawhney case.
  • Further, the 1992 judgment had barred reservation solely on economic criterion.
  • In a 6:3 majority verdict, the apex court, in the Indra Sawhney case, had held that “a backward class cannot be determined only and exclusively with reference to economic criterion.
  • It may be a consideration or basis along with and in addition to social backwardness, but it can never be the sole criterion.

Issue over economically backward quota

  • After a gap of 27 years, the Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act of 2019 has provided 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the “economically backward” in the unreserved category.
  • The Act amends Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution by adding clauses empowering the government to provide reservation on the basis of economic backwardness.
  • This 10% economic reservation is over and above the 50% reservation cap.
  • The government however has justified to the apex court that the 10% economic quota law was a move towards a classless and casteless society.
  • It said the law was meant to benefit a “large section of the population of 135 crore people” who are mostly lower middle class and below poverty line.
Minority Issues – Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Start-Up India Scheme

Mains Paper 3 : Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways Etc. |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Start-up India scheme

Mains level : Startup ecosystem in India



News

  • Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Delhi have seen the highest number of start-ups recognised under the government’s flagship Start-Up India Scheme in the period from 2016 to 2019.
  • These three states also attracted the highest investments from Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) in start-ups.

About Start-Up India Scheme

  • Startup India Scheme is an initiative of the Indian government, the primary objective of which is the promotion of startups, generation of employment, and wealth creation.
  • It was launched on the 16th of January, 2016.
  • A startup defined as an entity that is headquartered in India, which was opened less than 10 years ago, and has an annual turnover less than ₹100 crore (US$14 million).
  • The action plan of this initiative is based on the following three pillars:
  1. Simplification and Handholding
  2. Funding Support and Incentives
  3. Industry-Academia Partnership and Incubation
  • An additional area of focus is to discard restrictive States Government policies within this domain, such as License Raj, Land Permissions, Foreign Investment Proposals, and Environmental Clearances.
  • It was organized by The Department for promotion of industry and internal trade (DPI&IT).

Back2Basics

Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs)

  • An alternative investment is a financial asset that does not fall into one of the conventional investment categories. Conventional categories include stocks, bonds, and cash.
  • Most alternative investment assets are held by institutional investors or accredited, high-net-worth individuals because of their complex nature, lack of regulation, and degree of risk.
  • Alternative investments include private equity or venture capital, hedge funds, managed futures, art and antiques, commodities, and derivatives contracts.
  • Real estate is also often classified as an alternative investment.
Start-up Ecosystem In India

Regulatory Sandbox

Mains Paper 3 : Indian Economy |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Regulatory Sandbox

Mains level : Functions of a regulatory sandbox


News

  • The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) will soon allow the use of regulatory sandbox (RS) to promote new, innovative products and processes in the industry.

Regulatory Sandbox

  • A sandbox approach provides a secure environment for fintech firms to experiment with products under supervision of a regulator.
  • It is an infrastructure that helps fintech players live test their products or solutions, before getting the necessary regulatory approvals for a mass launch, saving start-ups time and cost.
  • The concept of a regulatory sandbox or innovation hub for fintech firms was mooted by a committee headed by then RBI executive director Sudarshan Sen.
  • The panel submitted its report in Nov 2017 has called for a regulatory sandbox to help firms experiment with fintech solutions, where the consequences of failure can be contained and reasons for failure analysed.
  • If the product appears to have the potential to be successful, it might be authorised and brought to the broader market more quickly.
  • The sandbox will enable fintech companies to conduct live or virtual testing of their new products and services.

About IRDAI sandbox

  • For the IRDAI sandbox, an applicant should have a net worth of Rs 10 lakh and a proven financial record of at least one year.
  • Companies will be allowed to test products for up to 12 months in five categories.
  • It has said applicants can test products for up to a period of one year in five categories – insurance solicitation or distribution, insurance products, underwriting, policy and claims servicing.

Why sandbox is necessary?

  • The RS allows the regulator, the innovators, the financial service providers (as potential deployers of the technology) and the customers (as final users) to conduct field tests to collect evidence on the benefits and risks of new financial innovations, while carefully monitoring and containing their risks.
  • India accounts for approximately 6 per cent of insurance premium in Asia and around 2 per cent of the global premium volume.
RBI Notifications

[op-ed of the day] Partnership lessons

Mains Paper 3 : Investment Models |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Lessons from UK in following PPP


Note- Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. Aspirants should try to cover at least this editorial on a daily basis to have command over most important issues in news. It will help in enhancing and enriching the content in mains answers. Please do not miss at any cost.

CONTEXT

As India deepens private participation in infrastructure through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), it is an opportune moment to explore the lessons from the UK, the pioneer in the use of PPPs and privatisation in infrastructure.

 

Public service analysis after following PPP model

1.Health and education –
  • A National Audit Office (CAG equivalent) assessment of the UK’s pioneering Private Finance Initiative (PFI) found that schools and hospitals built with PFI are 40 per cent and 60 per cent more expensive than their respective public sector alternatives.
  • Using the government’s lower borrowing cost to discount the cost of projects, it found that very few PFI projects would have passed the Value for Money test.
  • It concluded that the country had “incurred billions of pounds in extra costs for no clear benefit”.

2.Railways, water and sewage

  • The balance sheet on service quality is not much better.
  • Over 2000-11, the reliability and punctuality of British rail increased from 88 to 91 per cent, a small increment given the advances in digital technology and massive public investments.
  • Skimping on investments on the less salient parts of the privatised water and sewerage utilities has taken its toll on the environment.

Favouring nationalisation

An early 2018 poll by Legatum Institute found that 76-83 per cent favoured renationalising the railways, energy, and water industries.

The Labour party has announced that it would renationalise the utilities. Finally, in his 2018 Budget speech, after 716 projects since 1992, the Chancellor of Exchequer formally brought down the curtain on PFI saying he would never sign a PFI contract.

Relevance for India

1.The difference in public sector efficiency  –

  • In the UK, the starting point in terms of efficiency and service quality was high, and corruption in service delivery low.
  • The Indian public sector suffers from peculiarly Indian constraints.
  • Political interference in recruitment, competitive trade union activity (witness the posters in every railway station), rigidities on salaries and writs in courts on service matters, reduce the efficiency of personnel management in the public sector.
  • Activities of oversight agencies — Vigilance, Comptroller and Auditor General etc — cause extreme risk aversion in decision taking, reducing efficiency of procurement and operational decisions.

A stronger case for PPP

  • The starting point in India may often be a public agency which is inefficient, corrupt at the point of contact with the citizen and providing very poor service.
  • With a much lower starting point, it is quite conceivable that private providers may be operationally more efficient and give better service.
  • To that extent, the case for PPP is stronger in India than in the UK.

Weak regulatory approach

  • On the other hand, the regulatory capacity in India is weaker.
  • The unambiguous lesson from the UK is that capable regulators could not prevent asset stripping and skimping on investments.
  • There is nothing to suggest that this would not be repeated in India.
  • Also, using PPP purely for off-balance sheet financing to reduce the short-run fiscal deficit, is penny-wise and pound-foolish because the cost of borrowing of the private sector is much higher.

Way forward for PPP

1.Improve service quality – For a start, PPP must not be a short cut only to save money or bridge fiscal gaps or transfer risks; it should be used to improve service quality or bring efficiency improvements.

2. Careful selection –

  • Second, project design and the PPP components need to be carefully chosen.
  • For instance, outsourcing labour-intensive and customer-service operations, while retaining pricing and investment in public hands, may bring in efficiencies without under-investment or over-pricing.
  • Given the higher cost of private capital, and the inevitability of delays and related cost over-runs, construction is best financed with public borrowing though the operating asset could then be privately operated.

3. Principles for renegotiations –

  • Third, since it is impossible to write perfect long-term contracts, renegotiations are inevitable.
  • Clear principles and a mechanism for renegotiations without moral hazard need to be planned for

Back2basics

A PPP Project means a project based on a contract or concession agreement, between a Government or statutory entity on the one side and a private sector company on the other side, for delivering a service on payment of user charges. The rights and obligations of all stakeholders including the government, users and the concessionaire flow primarily out of the respective PPP contracts.

Unlike private projects where prices are generally determined competitively and Government resources are not involved, PPP projects typically involve transfer of public assets, delegation of governmental authority for recovery of user charges, private control of monopolistic services and sharing of risks and contingent liabilities by the Government.

The justification for promoting PPP lies in its potential to improve the quality of service at lower costs, besides attracting private capital to fund public projects. For creating a transparent, fair and competitive environment, the Government of India has been relying increasingly on standardising the documents and processes for award and implementation of PPP projects.

PPP Investment Models: HAM, Swiss Challenge, Kelkar Committee

[op-ed snap] Going local

Mains Paper 2 : Governance, Transparency & Accountability, Citizens Charters |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Critical review of data localisation policy for Indian economy


CONTEXT

A high-level government panel has recommended doing away with the requirement of foreign firms needing to store a copy of all personal data within India.

Background

  • Firms will now be able to store and process data abroad, though critical personal data will have to be processed and stored in the country.
  • This approach marks a significant departure from the recommendations of the Justice Srikrishna committee report which had suggested that a copy of personal data must be stored in the country.
  • The panel’s decision comes after a rethink by the Reserve Bank of India, which earlier relaxed its April 2018 circular that had mandated that all payment data generated in the country be stored here.

Impact of rethink

This decision, which is likely to be welcomed by foreign companies, who would have seen a surge in costs to comply with these regulations, suggests that a more considered view on localisation norms is evolving in India.

The arguments in favour of data localisation are straightforward — it will address questions on privacy and security, enable greater governmental access to data, and help develop local data infrastructure.

Costs associated with data localisation

But on each of these issues, it is not very clear if the benefits from localisation outweigh the costs.

 1.No strong data protection law – For instance, in the absence of a strong data protection law, questions of privacy and security are unlikely to be addressed.

2. Bilateral Treaties are better – And while there are reasonable arguments to be made in favour of law enforcement having greater access to data, especially when it is not stored in India, interventions such as bilateral treaties aimed at addressing specific issues might be a more prudent approach.

3. Definition of critical Data

  • The next set of questions are likely to centre around what constitutes critical personal data.
  • The Srikrishna committee report had classified personal data pertaining to finances, health, biometric and genetic data, religious and political beliefs, among others, as sensitive personal data.

4. A single agency

  • It had envisaged a data protection agency which would list out further categories of sensitive personal data.
  • But it is debatable whether a single agency is best suited to draw up this list. As, globally, the framing of localisation norms has been largely contextual, driven typically by the type of data and the sector it relates to — in Canada, any data may be sensitive based on the context — sector-specific regulators might be better at identifying which data is sensitive.
Cyber Security – CERTs, Policy, etc

[pib] Seed Bankers for Conserving Native Crops

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Seed Vaults

Mains level : Preservation of native plant varities



News

  • Till date 1597 plants varieties have been registered with Protection of Plant Varieties & Farmers Right Authority and certificates of registration have been issued.

National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources

  • ICAR-National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), New Delhi is conserving seed germplasm for long-term conservation (at -20°C) in its National Genebank (NGB).
  • NGB has the responsibility of conservation of plant genetic resources for posterity and sustainable use including landraces and traditional varieties which are potential sources of agriculturally important genes.

Navigate to the page for:

Protection of Plant Varieties & Farmers Right Authority


Back2Basics

India’s seed bank at Chang La

  • At Chang La in the Himalayas, at a height of 17,300 feet, there is a storage facility with over 5,000 seed accessions.
  • One accession consists of a set of seeds of one species collected from different locations or different populations.
  • The vault is a joint venture of the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (under ICAR) and the Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (under DRDO).
  • When a seed needs to be stored for few years, maintaining it at just 10 degree Celsius is enough.
  • But in the long run, for 10 to 20 years, they need to be kept at a minus 15 to minus 20 degree Celsius (range).
  • Chang La has a prevalent temperature in this sub-zero range.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

  • It is a facility located on a remote Norwegian island in the Arctic Ocean and it houses the world’s largest collection of seeds.
  • The seeds can be of use in the event of a global catastrophe or when some species is lost due to natural disasters. It is therefore also referred to as the doomsday vault.
  • The storage rooms are kept at −18 °C (−0.4 °F). The low temperature and limited access to oxygen will ensure low metabolic activity and delay seed aging.
  • The samples stored in the genebanks are accessible in accordance with the terms and conditions of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, approved by 118 countries or parties.
Genetically Modified (GM) crops – cotton, mustards, etc.

[op-ed snap] Talks and terror: on Afghan peace talks

Mains Paper 2 : Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Peace talks in afghanistan are not yielding required results


CONTEXT

The attack on Afghan vice presidential candidate Amrullah Saleh’s office in Kabul on Sunday that killed at least 20 people and injured 50, including Mr Saleh, is a grave reminder of the crisis the war-torn country is going through even amid attempts to find peace.

Background

  • Mr. Saleh, a former intelligence chief and a strong critic of the Taliban and Pakistan, is President Ashraf Ghani’s running-mate for the September 28 election.
  • And the irony is that the assault occurred a few hours after President Ghani officially launched his campaign in which he promised that “peace is coming”.
  • The message the insurgents are trying to send is that even the most fortified political offices in the country or its top politicians are not safe.
  • The insurgents have made it clear they will carry out their offensive irrespective of the peace process, especially when Afghanistan gets down to a full-fledged election campaign.

Peace initiatives

  • In recent months, even when the U.S. and Taliban representatives have held multiple rounds of talks in Doha, Qatar, insurgents have kept up attacks, both on military and civilian locations.
  • The Taliban appears to be trying to leverage these assaults to boost its bargaining position in the talks with the U.S.
  •  And the Kabul government’s inability to prevent them and the U.S.’s apparent decision to delink the negotiations from the daily violence are giving the insurgents a free run in many Afghan cities.

Problems before  Afghanistan

  • Afghanistan’s crises are many.
  • Half the country is either directly controlled or dominated by the Taliban.
  • In the eastern parts, the Islamic State has established a presence and the group targets the country’s religious minorities.
  • The government in Kabul is weak and notorious for chronic corruption.
  • Its failure to ensure the basic safety and security of civilians is in turn eroding the public’s confidence in the system.

Response by government

  • At present, the government appears beleaguered. Its security agencies are strained by the prolonged war. 
  • It is true that Afghanistan needs a political settlement.
  • The war has been in a stalemate for long.
  • The government, even with U.S. support, is not in a position to turn the war around.
  • The Taliban, on the other side, has expanded its reach to the hinterland, but not the urban centres.

Giving too much leeway to the Taliban

  • While a peace process is the best way ahead in such a scenario, the question is whether the U.S. is giving too much leeway to the Taliban in its quest to get out of its longest war.
  • The decision to keep the Afghan government out of the peace process was a big compromise.
  • The absence of a ceasefire even when talks were under way was another.

Conclusion

  • The result is that Afghans continue to suffer even when the Americans and the Taliban talks.
  • This has to change.
  • There has to be more pressure, both political and military, on the Taliban to cease the violence.
  • And the U.S. should back the Afghan government and the coming elections resolutely, while Kabul has to get its act together.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Afghanistan

Non-pneumatic Anti-Shock Garment (NASG)

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About NASG

Mains level : Maternity healthcare in India



News

  • Project Sahara, an initiative in the state of Gujarat uses a unique technique to prevent maternal mortality due to excess bleeding.

Non-pneumatic Anti-Shock Garment (NASG)

  • Most mothers after child delivery suffer from postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) that leads to continuous and excessive bleeding.
  • The rapid loss of blood because of PPH reduces the body’s blood pressure and can even cause death.
  • The non-pneumatic anti-shock garment (NASG) applies pressure to the lower body and abdomen, thereby forcing the blood that was getting accumulated in the pelvic area to other essential organs of the body.
  • The neoprene garment quickly stabilizes vitals and gives doctor enough time for treatment.

Why need NASG?

  • As such, in November 2018, Babu started a new project, called Sahara, that aimed at reducing haemorrhage-related maternal deaths by providing new mothers with a special suit —the NASG.
  • PPH-related deaths accounts for significant number of maternal mortality in India.
  • A lot of mothers become anaemic because of poor nutrition. This weakness compounds the damage caused by excessive and sudden bleeding.
Mother and Child Health – Immunization Program, BPBB, PMJSY, PMMSY, etc.

Microdots technology for Vehicles

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Microdots

Mains level : Vehicular Safety



News

  • The government has come out with draft rules to make microdots mandatory in vehicles.
  • This move will also ensure that consumers have a way of identifying original parts from fake ones and that contributes to overall safety as well.

Microdots Technology

  • The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways issued a draft notification on amending the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, and allowing motor vehicles and their parts, components, assemblies, sub-assemblies to be affixed with permanent and nearly invisible microdots.
  • These microdots can be read physically with a microscope and identified with ultraviolet light.
  • Microdots are a globally proven technology to ensure originality in spare parts of machines and components, including in the automobile sector.
  • The government has envisaged that with microdots becoming a permanent feature in vehicles, identifying them would become easier in case they are stolen.

How it works?

  • The microdots and adhesive are to become a permanent fixture/affixation which cannot be removed without damaging the asset itself.
  • The microdots are to comply with AIS 155 requirements, if affixed.
  • The technology involves spraying thousands of microscopic dots onto vehicles or other assets to form a unique identification.
  • Each microdot carries this identification which is registered to the owner, but is not visible to the naked eye.
Road and Highway Safety – National Road Safety Policy, Good Samaritans, etc.

GI tag in news:  Odisha’s Rasagola and Kodaikanal’s Malai Poondu Garlic

Mains Paper 3 : Intellectual Property Rights |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Significance of GI tagging


News

  • The Rasagola, a popular dessert of Odisha and Kodaikanal’s malai poondu Garlic has received the geographical indication tag from the Registrar of Geographical Indication.

About Odisha Rasagola

  • The registration was conferred to ‘Odisha Rasagola’ under Section 16(I) or of authorized Section 17(3)(c) of Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act 1999.
  • The GI number 612 has been registered in favour of the Odisha Small Industries Corporation Limited (OSIC Limited), a government of Odisha undertaking and Utkal Mistanna Byabasayee Samiti, a traders’ organisation, in the foodstuff category.
  • According to the application submitted to the Registrar of GI, ‘Odisha Rasagola’ is a sweet from the state of Odisha made of chhena (cottage cheese) cooked in sugar syrup.
  • This culinary is offered to Lord Jagannath as part of bhog since centuries.
  • Colour development of the ‘Odisha Rasagola’ is very specific, where without addition of external colour, various intensely-coloured rasagolas are prepared using the principle of caramelisation of sugar with specific methods of preparation.

History of Rasagola

  • Both Odisha and West Bengal have been contesting the origin of the rasagola.
  • Historical records submitted say the ‘Odisha Rasagola’ is associated with world famous Puri Jagannath Temple.
  • As per Record of Rights, this is the duty of Bhitarachha Sebaka. It is mentioned in Bhitarachha Sebara Niyama and published in Record of Rights, Part‐III, Orissa Gazette.
  • The reference of rasagola is found in the late 15th-century Odia Ramayana written by Balaram Das.
  • Balaram Das’s Ramayana is known as Dandi Ramayana or Jagamohana Ramayana as it was composed and sung at the Jagamohana of the Puri Temple.
  • In its ‘Ajodhya Kanda’, another religious script, one comes across elaborate descriptions of chhena and chhena‐based products including Rasagola.


About Kodaikanal’s malai poondu Garlic

  • Also known by its scientific name Allium Sativum, this particular garlic is known for its medicinal and preservative properties. It is grown in the Kodaikanal Hills, Dindugul district.
  • It has anti-oxidant and anti-microbial potential, which is attributed to the presence of higher amount of organosulfur compounds, phenols and flavonoids compared to other garlic varieties.
  • Its usually white or pale yellow and each bulb weighs 20-30g on an average.
  • According to the GI application, Kodaikanal Hill Garlic cultivation is done twice in a year, once around May and for second time in November depending upon the suitability of the climate.
  • The hill altitude, the misty condition and the soil prevailing in the Kodaikanal region are responsible for its medicinal property and the long storage shelf life of the garlic.

Back2Basics

Geographical Indications in India

  • A Geographical Indication is used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
  • Such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to its origin in that defined geographical locality.
  • This tag is valid for a period of 10 years following which it can be renewed.
  • Recently the Union Minister of Commerce and Industry has launched the logo and tagline for the Geographical Indications (GI) of India.
  • The first product to get a GI tag in India was the Darjeeling tea in 2004.
  • The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 (GI Act) is a sui generis Act for protection of GI in India.
  • India, as a member of the WTO enacted the Act to comply with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
  • Geographical Indications protection is granted through the TRIPS Agreement. See also the Paris Convention, the Madrid Agreement, the Lisbon Agreement, the Geneva Act.
GI(Geographical Indicator) Tags

RoboBee X-Wing

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RoboBee X-Wing

Mains level : Applications of Nanotechnology



News

RoboBee X-Wing

  • The Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory in Cambridge has claimed to have made possible the “lightest insect-scale aerial vehicle so far to have achieved sustained, untethered flight.
  • The robot can sustain a flight for less than a second. It is essentially a flying machine, which can flap its wings 120 times a second and is half the size of a paperclip.
  • Initially, the researchers called this lightest centimetre-sized vehicle, “RoboBee”, but with the current advancement which makes it possible for RoboBee to fly untethered, its name has been upgraded to “RoboBee X-Wing”.

Working

  • The robot weighs 259 mg and uses 110-120 milliwatts of power using solar energy, matching the “thrust efficiency” of similarly sized insects such as bees.
  • Much like aircraft, the robot is heavier than the air it displaces — a concept referred to as “heavier-than-air flight”.
  • However, when objects become smaller, achieving a heavier-than-air flight becomes more complicated.

Why make insect like robot?

  • Studying the mechanisms that insects use to flap their wings and navigate in the air is a matter of interest to biologists.
  • Flapping-wing robots can help in addressing questions related to the evolution of flight, the mechanical basis of natural selection and environmental monitoring.
Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology

[op-ed of the day] Governing India through fiscal math

Mains Paper 3 : Government Budgeting |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Concerns with maintaing Strict Fiscal Deficit approach


Note- Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. Aspirants should try to cover at least this editorial on a daily basis to have command over most important issues in news. It will help in enhancing and enriching the content in mains answers. Please do not miss at any cost.

CONTEXT

While it is important for a government to pursue a sound economic policy, including management of the public finances, it is yet another matter to make a fetish of any one aspect of it. The latter appears to govern this government’s approach to policy when the fiscal deficit is given pride of place in its self-assessment.

Thread of fiscal discipline

  • Soon after the Budget for 2019-20 was presented, one of the Finance Minister’s predecessors remarked that “fiscal prudence rewards economies”.
  • It figured in the most recent Economic Survey, and its anticipated magnitude for 2019-20 was the final statement in the Budget speech that had followed.
  • The Finance Minister had commenced the speech saying how the government was committed to fiscal discipline.

Fiscal discipline

  • In the context, “fiscal discipline” is understood as taking the economy towards the 3% of the gross domestic product.
  • Actually, the point is two-fold:
    • whether the fiscal deficit should be the sole index of fiscal management
    • what a reduction in the deficit would achieve.

Not always a perfect measure

While a sound fiscal policy is highly desirable, the magnitude of the fiscal deficit is not always and everywhere — think here of the state of the economy — a good measure of soundness.

 Overall imbalance in the Budget

  • First, the fiscal deficit reflects the overall imbalance in the Budget.
  • Embedded in the accounts of the government is the revenue account which is a statement of current receipts and expenditure.
  • A fiscal deficit may or may not contain within it a deficit on the revenue account, termed the “revenue deficit”.
  • The possible embeddedness of a revenue deficit within a fiscal deficit muddies the waters somewhat.
  • For movements in the overall, or fiscal, deficit by itself tell us nothing about what is happening to the revenue deficit.
  • A revenue deficit implies that the government is dissaving.
  • Therefore, unless the revenue deficit is kept explicitly in the picture, we cannot deduce the soundness of economic management from a mere reduction in the fiscal deficit.

Rewards yet to be seen

  • A revenue deficit of the Central government is relatively recent, having been virtually non-existent till the 1980s.
  • After that a rampant populism has taken over all political parties, reflected in revenue deficits accounting for over two thirds of the fiscal deficit such as the case today.

Implications of Revenue deficits

  • Revenue deficits have become structural in India by now.
  • This has three implications:
    • That the public debt is only bound to rise;
    • we are permanently borrowing to consume,
    • And leaving it to future generations to inherit the debt.

International borrowing

  • Of late an entirely new dimension has been added to fiscal management, but here again the appropriateness of conducting economic policy by reference to the magnitude of the fiscal deficit remains the issue.
  • In the last Budget the government has signalled its intention to borrow in foreign currency from the international market.
  • This is an innovation alright as the Government of India has so far never borrowed in the international markets, leaving it to public sector organisations and the private corporate sector to do so.

Justification of the move

  • In the Budget speech of the 17th Lok Sabha, the Finance Minister justified the move in terms of the very low share of foreign debt to GDP.
  • The proposal has received criticism, some of it focussing on the consequences of exchange rate volatility.

Concerns with it 

  • Benefits have been flagged too, such as that Indian sovereign bonds will attract a lower risk premium because the price of the foreign-currency-denominated sovereign bond will now be discoverable.
  • This though ignores the biggest lesson from the global financial crisis of 2007, that the market cannot be relied upon to price risk correctly.
  • And, both arguments overlook the foreign exchange constraint.
  • Dollar-denominated debt has to be repaid in dollars.
  • Right now our reserves are fairly high but this could change.
  • Oil prices could go back to where they were, the trade war initiated by U.S. President Donald Trump holds little prospect for faster export growth, and portfolio investment may flow out.
  • While these are only possibilities, they point to the need to ultimately base your borrowing plan on expected dollar earnings.
  • The opportunity offered by low global interest rates right now is not matched by the likelihood of robust export growth.

Conclusion

  • In the final analysis though, it is not the risk of exchange rate depreciation or stagnant exports or even capital flight that is the issue; it is the rationale for borrowing.
  • With revenue deficits the overwhelming part of the fiscal deficit, we would be borrowing to finance consumption.
  • Dollar denominated sovereign debt is just a matter of shifting this borrowing overseas.
  • That is the real issue.

 

Financial Inclusion in India and Its Challenges

[op-ed snap] Patients and victims

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Regulation of medical devices


CONTEXT

  • Last year, a series of reports revealed the traumatic experiences of Indian patients who had received faulty hip implants manufactured by the pharma major, Johnson and Johnson
  • Another investigation has revealed that Johnson and Johnson paid hefty compensations to US patients who had received the defective implants.
  • In India, however, the company has challenged government orders to compensate 4,700 patients who had undergone hip replacement surgeries.
  • The reports also highlight that the story is more than that of corporate negligence.
  • That Johnson and Johnson continue to brazen it out in India has much to do with the regulatory deficit in the country.
  • The investigations pertain to implants manufactured under two brand names, ASR and Pinnacle.
  • Both products are not in the market currently.
  • Johnson and Johnson recalled ASR from the global market in 2010, while Pinnacle was withdrawn in 2013.

Recalling of medical Device

  • But recalling a medical device is not like recalling a consumer product.
  • Defective implants can cause crippling pain — even death.
  • Patients who receive such implants need regular monitoring. In several countries, registries track the health of such patients.
  • In fact, Johnson and Johnson’s recalling of ASR owes to the more than 15 warnings, between 2007 and 2009, issued to it by the Australian Joint Registry (though the company describes its decision as “voluntary”).
  • Pinnacle was pulled out of the market after a flurry of lawsuits in the US alerted the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the device’s defects.

The slow reaction by India

  • In India, in contrast, regulators were slow to react.
  •  Maharashtra’s FDA red-flagged ASR a few months after Johnson and Johnson withdrew the product from the global market.
  • But it took another year for the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation to ban the import of ASR.
  • Another year went by before the drug regulator issued an advisory to orthopaedic surgeons asking them to not implant ASR.

Defence by corporate

  • These delays are significant because last year, Johnson and Johnson told a Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) expert committee that it cannot trace as many as 3,600 patients who underwent surgeries involving the faulty implant.
  • That India did not have a joint registry when these surgeries happened has compounded the problem.
  • The want of a registry has also come in the way of ascertaining the damage caused by Pinnacle. Johnson and Johnson claims that it has no adverse reports of the device in the country.
  • However, reports in this paper have highlighted the trauma of at least seven patients with Pinnacle implants.

Conclusion

  • In 2017, the MoHFW issued the Medical Devices Rules. However, the country’s base legislation on implants continues to be the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, which does not have the scope to cover most modern devices, including hip implants.
  • The Indian orthopaedic device market is valued at over 450 million dollars and is expected to grow by 30 per cent per year till 2025.
  • The investigations into faulty hip implants bring out the urgent need for a law to regulate medical devices.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

[op-ed snap] Ban or regulate? — On India’s policy on cryptocurrencies

Mains Paper 3 : Mobilization Of Resources |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Regulation of cryptocurrencies


CONTEXT

The recommendation of an inter-ministerial committee that India should ban all private cryptocurrencies, that is, Bitcoin and others like it, hardly comes as a surprise.

Background

  • Indian policymakers and administrators have time and again made clear their distaste for them, their existence owed almost entirely to advanced encryption technologies
  • In his Budget speech in 2018, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government doesn’t consider them legal tender.
  • The Reserve Bank of India has repeatedly warned the public of the risks associated with dealing with cryptocurrencies.
  • Bitcoin, the most prominent among them, has yo-yoed wildly in value, even over short periods of time.

Concerns with cryptocurrencies

  • A May 2019 article by Bloomberg, citing data from blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis, said “speculation remains Bitcoin’s primary use case”.
  • Its use in illegal online marketplaces that deal with drugs and child pornography is well-documented.
  • There have been cases of consumers being defrauded, including in India.
  • Given all this, it is understandable that the committee, under the chairmanship of Subhash Chandra Garg, the former Economic Affairs Secretary, has come across as being wary of private cryptocurrencies even while advocating a central bank-issued cryptocurrency.

No central authority to regulate 

  • Governments and economic regulators across the world are wary of private cryptocurrencies.
  • As they need neither a central issuing authority nor a central validating agency for transactions, these currencies can exist and thrive outside the realm of authority and regulation.
  • They are even deemed a threat to the official currency and monetary system. The question then is whether banning cryptocurrencies is the most effective way to respond.

Drafting a law

  • The inter-ministerial committee believes it is, going so far as to draft a law that mandates a fine and imprisonment of up to 10 years for the offences of mining, generating, holding, selling, dealing in, transferring, disposing of, or issuing cryptocurrencies.
  • But six of the seven jurisdictions that its report cites have not banned cryptocurrencies outright.
  • Many of them, including Canada, Thailand, Russia and Japan, seem to be moving on the path of regulation, so that transactions are within the purview of anti-money laundering and prevention of terror laws.
  • China, which India has taken a cue from, has gone for an outright ban.

Conclusion

  • Even there, the report says, “owing to the network-based nature of cryptocurrencies, after banning domestic crypto exchanges, many traders turned to overseas platforms to continue participating in crypto transactions.”
  • Trading in China is now low but not non-existent.
  • But why would an outright ban be a superior choice to regulation, especially in a field driven by fast-paced technological innovations?
  • The report, unfortunately, doesn’t clarify that point.
Blockchain Technology: Prospects and Challenges

Explained: Renaming of States

Mains Paper 2 : Parliament & State Legislatures |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Renaming of States


News

Demands for ‘Bangla’

  • Over the years, several demands have been made, for reasons that could be either political or administrative, to change the name of West Bengal.
  • The first such demand can be traced back to 1999, when the then CM Jyoti Basu took the initiative.
  • At that time, “Bangla” and “Paschim Bangla” were considered, but the parties concerned could not reach a consensus.
  • A request in 2018 was rejected by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in November 2018 due to the similarity between “Bangla” and “Bangladesh”.

Why such demands?

  • The renaming demand is more to do with chronology than anything else.
  • The state’s name “West Bengal” starts with the letter “W”, which being the fourth last letter among English alphabet pushes the state to number 30 in the state roll call.
  • The implication is that during official meetings where all states are present, by the time West Bengal gets a turn to speak either the hall was half-empty or the audience was fast asleep.
  • Changing the name to “Bangla” would give it precedence, pushing it to spot number four.
  • Also the name of a state should invoke a strong sense of identity among its people and this identity can be formed if the state’s name carries the signature of its history and authentic culture, claims state govt.

Procedure for renaming a state 

  • Unlike in the case of renaming cities, to change the name of a state, approval from the Centre’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is required under provisions laid down in its 1953 guidelines.
  • This means that a Constitutional amendment becomes necessary to affect this change.
  • The Union MHA then takes over and gives it consent after it receives No Objection Certificates (NOCs) from several agencies such as the Ministry of Railways, Intelligence Bureau, Department of Posts, Survey of India and Registrar General of India.
  • If the proposal is accepted, the resolution, introduced as a Bill in the Parliament, becomes a law and the name of the state is changed thereafter.

Back2Basics

Renaming of states

  • The Constitution of India provides for the renaming of a state under Article 3.
  • The Article 3 provides for formation of new States and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing States
  • The procedure of renaming of the state can be initiated by either the Parliament or the State Legislator and the procedure is as follows:
  1. A bill for renaming a state may be introduced in the Parliament on the recommendation of the President.
  2. Before the introduction of the bill, the President shall send the bill to the respective state assembly for expressing their views within a stipulated time.
  3. The views of the state assembly are not binding; neither on the President nor on the Parliament.
  4.  But the process must not be skipped as it is of vital importance as any law so made will be affecting that particular state.
  5. On the expiry of the period, the bill will be sent to the Parliament for deliberation.
  6. The bill in order to take the force of a law must be passed by a simple majority.
  7. The bill is sent for approval to the President.
  8. After the approval of the said bill, the bill becomes a law and the name of the state stands modified.

Some of the instances of change in the name of the states are:

Old Name New Name Year of Change
East Punjab Punjab 1950
United Province Uttar Pradesh 1950
Madras Presidency along with Hyderabad Andhra Pradesh 1956
Madhya Bharat Madhya Pradesh 1959
Pondicherry Puducherry 2006
Uttaranchal Uttarakhand 2007

With inputs from: https://blog.ipleaders.in/renaming-state-city/