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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 25 DECEMBER 2019

SECURE SYNOPSIS: 25 DECEMBER 2019


NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


 

Topic:  Indian Culture will cover the salient aspects of Art forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

1. Art of Gandhara echoed largely Buddhist patronage, although other deities and themes were not ignored. Explain. (250 words)

Reference: Art and culture by Nitin Singhania

Why this question:

The question is based on the principle art of Gandhara and the contributions of Buddhist patronage it received during the period.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the coming of Gandhara art, key features and the influence of Buddhism through the route of patrons upon the art.

Directive:

Explain – Clarify the topic by giving a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by defining what constitutes Gandhara art and its evolution.

Body:

Gandhara art is a style of Buddhist visual art that developed in northwestern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan between the 1st century BCE and the 7th century CE.

Discuss the features that assert the influence of Buddhist culture on the Gandhara art form.

List down features that assert Buddhist influence such as –

  • Buddha, who was hitherto designated only by a symbol, was conceived in human form.
  • His person was given some of the 32 suspicious bodily signs associated with the Mahapurushalakshana, such as the protuberance of the skull, the hair-knot, bindi between the eyebrows and elongated ears.
  • Buddhist practice incorporated some aspects of popular religion, evident from Stupas and female figures at Stupas.

Conclusion:

Conclude with significance and that though the art was largely influenced by Buddhism other cultures of Gods and goddesses were not totally ignored.

Introduction:

Gandhara art, style of Buddhist visual art that developed in what is now northwestern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan between the 1st century BCE and the 7th century CE. The style, of Greco-Roman origin, seems to have flourished largely during the Kushana dynasty and was contemporaneous with an important but dissimilar school of Kushana art at Mathura.

Body:

Gandhara art and Buddhism:

  • The Gandharan craftsmen made a lasting contribution to Buddhist art in their composition of the events of the Buddha’s life into set scenes.
  • In its interpretation of Buddhist legends, the Gandhara school incorporated many motifs and techniques from Classical Roman art, including vine scrolls, cherubs bearing garlands, tritons, and centaurs. The basic iconography, however, remained Indian.
  • The materials used for Gandhara sculpture were green phyllite and gray-blue mica schist which in general, belong to an earlier phase, and stucco, which was used increasingly after the 3rd century CE. The sculptures were originally painted and gilded.
  • The Hellenistic influence was nowhere more dramatic than in Gandhara, a term now used to describe the school of semi-classical sculptures of Pakistan and Afghanistan in the early centuries of our era.
  • In contrast with Mathura School, the Gandhara School images are known for their anatomical accuracy, spatial depth, and foreshortening.
  • The Gandhara school drew upon the anthropomorphic traditions of Roman religion and represented the Buddha with a youthful Apollo-like face, dressed in garments resembling those seen on Roman imperial statues.
  • This style of art was closely associated with Mahayana Buddhism and hence the main theme of this art was Lord Buddha and Bodhisattvas.
  • All early Bodhisattvas are shown in wearing turbans, jewelry, and muslin skirts, a costume that was an adaptation of the actual dress of Kushan and Indian nobles.
  • Thus, it can be conjectured that in idea and conception this style was Indian and in execution it was foreign. One example of the Gandhara style of art is the Bamiyan Buddha statues.
  • The Gandhara depiction of the seated Buddha was less successful.

Gandhara art and other religions:

  • Although it was dominated by the themes of Lord Buddha, however, there were images on other subjects also made such as the images of the Greek God Apollo and certain kings as well.
  • Although Buddhist imagery dominates the art of Gandhara, some Hindu deities such as Skanda, the god of war, were also common.
  • Early art from Gandhara often features motifs from Greco-Roman mythology and imperial representations, as well as western architectural elements such as Corinthian capitals and friezes of garland-bearing, cupid-like erotes.
  • These characteristics make Gandharan works truly distinctive in the history of art.
  • This river god is inspired by Roman prototypes, both in the rendering of the figure and in its depiction as a male. Personifications of rivers in Indian culture are always female.

Conclusion:

The schools of Gandhara and Mathura influenced each other, and the general trend was away from a naturalistic conception and toward a more idealized, abstract image. Gandhara School of Art can be said as an influence and culmination of both the Indian as well as foreign traditions due to its strategic location.

 

Topic:  Indian Constitution– historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

 2. Constitutional Morality necessitates a co-existence of freedom and self- imposed restraint. Examine.  (250 words)

The Hindu

Why this question:

On the occasion of Constitution Day, at a joint sitting of Parliament to mark the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution, President Ram Nath Kovind, (quoting B.R. Ambedkar) made a significant observation that all three organs of the state, persons occupying constitutional posts, civil society members, and citizens should abide by ‘constitutional morality’.

Key demand of the question:

Explain what constitutional morality is and discuss the significance of the necessary coexistence freedom and self-restraint.

Directive:

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we must look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Define what you understand by constitutional morality.

Body:

Recently, concerns are increasingly being voiced by different segments of people regarding violations of the Constitution by those in authority; about the future of democracy and democratic traditions are growing across the world.

Explain that in quite a few democracies, one can also perceive a decrease in democratic freedoms and a trend in favour of illiberal populism. India was hitherto perceived to be an exception to this, being protected by safeguards found in its Constitution — the product of a Constituent Assembly that consisted of not only the best legal minds, but also of compassionate individuals who espoused the finest human values.

Conclusion:

Conclude by highlighting the challenges and suggest that such policies and acts by the govt. are portents of danger, and call for a great deal of introspection. They merit a calibrated response.

Introduction:

Constitutional morality means adherence to the core principles of the constitutional democracy. In Dr. Ambedkar’s perspective, Constitutional morality would mean an effective coordination between conflicting interests of different people and the administrative cooperation to resolve the amicably without any confrontation amongst the various groups working for the realization of their ends at any cost.

Body:

Importance of Constitutional Morality:

  • Constitutional Morality is not limited only to following the constitutional provisions literally but vast enough to ensure the ultimate aim of the Constitution.
  • A socio-juridical scenario providing an opportunity to unfold the full personhood of every citizen, for whom and by whom the Constitution exists.
  • Constitutional morality is committed to certain features of it such as commitment to liberty, constitutional supremacy, Parliamentary form of government and self-restraint, rule of law, equality, intolerance for corruption, etc.
  • Constitutional Morality is a sentiment to be cultivated in the minds of a responsible citizen but to be promoted by an independent judiciary embodied with values and ethics.
  • The central elements of constitutional morality were freedom and self-restraint.
  • The Constitution was made possible by a constitutional morality that was liberal at its core and not just in the ideological sense.

Recent challenges to Constitutional Morality:

  • Dilution of article 370:
    • The fact that Article 370 was a temporary provision has been used to dilute it.
    • Nevertheless, it was a provision made in the Constitution for a specific purpose, which clearly required more detailed and careful treatment before being abruptly invalidated.
  • Federalism:
    • While the Indian Constitution provides for a federal system with a unitary bias, the Central and State Governments both derive their authority from the Constitution.
    • This implies that States are not exactly subordinate to the Centre.
    • Splitting Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two Union Territories, without due consultation with different segments and shades of opinion there, including its political leadership, ran contrary to this essential principle.
    • This violated the spirit, if not the letter, of the Constitution.
  • Post poll dilemma in Maharashtra:
    • The drama enacted after the Maharashtra State Assembly results were announced could have been avoided if constitutional proprieties were adhered to.
    • The pre-election alliance of the BJP-Shiv Sena had secured a majority. But the inability of the two allies to resolve issues relating to sharing of power led to a breakdown.
    • President’s rule had to be invoked. After a compromise was reached between the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress to form a government, the President’s rule was revoked using the Prime Minister’s ‘special powers’, and a BJP-led government was sworn in.
    • The State also witnessed incidents such as sequestering of MLAs who were taken to safe havens to avoid poaching in the event of a trial of strength.
    • The provisions of the Constitution and the position of constitutional functionaries had been compromised.
  • Secularism:
    • Secularism has remained a part of Indian culture since ages.
    • However, some biases are beginning to emerge in many circles in India.
    • In its seminal judgment in S.R. Bommai case held that secularism is part of the basic structure of the Constitution (the doctrine of Basic structure upheld in Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala case, 1973) and cannot be trifled with in the name of security or other considerations.
  • Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA):
    • The CAA only makes it easier for refugees from countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to gain Indian citizenship.
    • However, it excludes certain categories, such as Muslims. This denies people belonging to one particular religion recourse to the new law.
    • The critics argue that this act violates the Constitution’s Article 14 and 15 which guarantees the fundamental right to equality to all persons.

Conclusion:

Constitution has been the guarantor of equal treatment to people of all religions and regions irrespective of geography and history. Thus, Constitutional morality is important for constitutional laws to be effective.

 

Topic:  Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

3. Russia is looking forward to India concluding a new Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), in this context discuss the prospects that India can have going forward with EAEU. (250 words)

The Hindu

Why this question:

Russia is looking forward to India concluding a new Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).Thus the question.

Key demand of the question:

Discuss the importance of EAEU, the prospects it holds for India with Russia wanting India to participate and contribute to the grouping through FTAs.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

In first, discuss what EAEU is.

Body:

Discuss briefly about EAEU –

  • The Eurasian Economic Union is an international organization for regional economic integration.
  • It was established in 2015 by the Treaty of the Eurasian Economic Union.
  • The EAEU provides for free movement of goods, services, capital and labor, pursues coordinated, harmonized and single policy in the sectors determined by the Treaty and international agreements within the Union.
  • The Member-States of the Eurasian Economic Union are the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and the Russian Federation.
  • The Union is being created to comprehensively upgrade, raise the competitiveness of and cooperation between the national economies, and to promote stable development in order to raise the living standards of the nations of the Member-States.

Discuss its importance for India and relevance to the Eurasian economies.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is an international organization for regional economic integration that came into existence on 1st January 2015. It provides for free movement of goods, services, capital, and labor within its borders. It pursues, coordinates, & harmonizes the policies in the sectors determined by the Treaty and international agreements within the Union. It has international legal personality and is established by the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union.

Body:

Eurasian_Economic_Union

Russia is looking forward to India concluding a new Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

India and EAEU:

  •  India is in the top twenty of the major Union trade partners and takes the 18th place in imports to the EAEU and the 15th place in exports from the EAEU.
  • In 2017 as compared to 2016, the trade turnover between India and the EAEU increased by 23%, from 8.8 billion US dollars to 10.8 billion US dollars.
  • The EAEU trade balance with India is positive.
  • The first quarter of 2018 saw the same high rates of growth in trade. In 2017, volume of exports to India increased by 25.1% and amounted to 7.5 billion US dollars.
  • The EAEU Member States supply to India crude oil (21.8% of exports), mineral and chemical fertilizers (5.8%), hard coal (3.4%), paper (2.7%), petroleum products (2.5%), turbojet engines (2.5%), industrial or laboratory equipment (2.1%), and other goods.
  • The volume of the EAEU imports from India increased by 18.4% and reached 3.3 billion US dollars in 2017.
  • In 2017, the EAEU mainly imported from India such products as pharmaceuticals (20.7% of imports), mechanical equipment (8.1%), organic chemical compounds (6.4%), tea and coffee (5.7%), electrical equipment (4.3%).

Potential of EAEU:

  •  The Eurasian Economic Union has an integrated single market of 180 million people and a gross domestic product of over Int$5 trillion.
  • The EAEU encourages the free movement of goods, services and provides for common policies in the macroeconomic sphere, transport, industry and agriculture, energy, foreign trade and investment, customs, technical regulation, competition and antitrust regulation.
  • Provisions for a single currency and greater integration are envisioned in future.
  • The union operates through supranational and intergovernmental institutions.

Prospects for India can have by FTA with EAEU:

  •  Both Moscow and Delhi were going to reach a new level of security partnership by increasing oil and natural gas supplies through “long-term arrangements”.
  • For the EAEU Member States India is, first and foremost, a new large market.
  • As for agricultural products, it concerns mainly grains, oils, vegetables, drinks including mineral water.
  • In industrial area there are fertilizers, machines, equipment, vehicles, products of mechanical engineering, salt, chemicals, rubber, plastics, steel and wood products.
  • India, in its turn, has potential capacity to increase its export of agricultural, food and textile products, including ready-made clothes, as well as chemical, pharmaceutical and other products.
  • In addition, India is interested in advanced technologies, for instance, aircraft engineering, shipbuilding, metallurgical engineering, chemical industry or in creating “smart cities”.
  • India and the Union Member States could implement joint projects in metallurgy, engineering, information technology, services and pharmaceuticals, jewelry industry, etc.
  • Trade turnover between the parties can grow up by 30-40% from the current level depending on the depth of tariff liberalization.
  • The total increase in the EAEU countries’ GDP can reach about $ 1.4 billion in the short term and $ 2.7 billion in the long term.
  • Liberalization of the current trade regime will help to increase India’s GDP by more than 3%. Current evaluations seem to be quite ambitious.
  • If we attain even part of these objectives, it will become a major step forward for our economies.

Conclusion:

India has strategic partnerships with each of the members of EAEU. Thus, EAEU is of considerable interest for India in the view of investment.

 

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

4. Governments recent decisions have affected India’s international standing amidst such circumstances do you think India stands the risk of isolation? Analyse. (250words)

Business Standard 

Why this question:

The article presents a critical analysis of recent government actions and policies that have created a sense of fear and isolation.

Key demand of the question:

Provide for a detailed analysis of recent govt. policies taken by the govt and in what way they pose a risk to the govt.

Directive:

analyze – When asked to analyse, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Highlight the key issues ongoing in the country.

Body:

Explain the following aspects in detail –

  • It is a truism of international relations that rising powers, such as India, should seek out friends and allies on their periphery and maintain relations further afield that are of long-term benefit to their economic rise.
  • For example, amid the widespread protests over the combination of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Act amendment, some implications need to be borne in mind for India’s international relations. Bangladesh has been India’s most stalwart partner in the neighborhood. Co-operation on security and extremism reached new heights, and the economic relationship has also developed.
  • But NRC problem has been compounded by the citizenship amendment law, which implies in its text and motivation that Bangladesh is not a secular country. This is seen as deeply offensive in Bangladesh, which has had divisive discussions about its identity before reaffirming its constitutional secularism.
  • Domestic political concerns may have also played a part in India’s decision to stay out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
  • Recent actions, including the internet shutdown in Kashmir, have depleted that store of capital. The sharp growth slowdown means that India is a less attractive partner, and the actions taken against foreign companies operating on Indian soil, including changing the rules of the game at the last minute to benefit domestic players, reduce the number of advocates for New Delhi abroad.

Conclusion:

Conclude with what needs to be done to address these challenges.

Introduction:

Amid the widespread protests over the combination of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Act amendment, some implications need to be borne in mind for India’s international relations. Maintaining internal solidarity is also of importance — and internal politics should, by and large, not be allowed to spill out into foreign policy stances and actions that do not benefit the national interest viewed most broadly

Body:

India internal politics and impacts on Foreign policy:

  • It is a truism of international relations that rising powers, such as India, should seek out friends and allies on their periphery and maintain relations further afield that are of long-term benefit to their economic rise.
  • Bangladesh being India’s most stalwart partner in the neighbourhood and Co-operation on security and extremism reaching new heights and consequent development of the economic relationship.
  • Despite this, Dhaka, quite understandably, wants to be left out of the burgeoning NRC crisis in India
  • Although public assurances have been conveyed to the Bangladesh government that the NRC is viewed as strictly an internal legal matter for India, there was some resistance to a joint official statement of this fact.
  • On a gamut of issues, from the Teesta water-sharing onward, India has under-delivered to its neighbour.
  • Domestic political concerns may have also played a part in India’s decision to stay out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
  • Recent actions, including the internet shutdown in Kashmir, have depleted that store of capital.
  • The sharp growth slowdown means that India is a less attractive partner, and the actions taken against foreign companies operating on Indian soil, including changing the rules of the game at the last minute to benefit domestic players, reduce the number of advocates for New Delhi abroad.
  • The possibility of large detention camps for those identified under the NRC, which, thanks to the Citizenship Act, will be primarily of one religion — and the protests as well as the police’s harsh response against students in well-known institutions — have further hurt India’s international standing.

Conclusion:

 Currently, India’s position internationally is not so secure that it can afford to offend its friends. It would be unwise to alienate the neighbours for short-term domestic political ends. India must proactively reach out to the neighbours in ascertaining them of healthy relations and non-impact of internal politics on foreign policy.

 

Topic:  Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

5. Do you think National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) detrimental for the secular nature of India? Critically Analyse. (250 words)

India Today

Why this question:

The question is amidst the uproar across the country against the implementation of National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that are being considered detrimental for the secular nature of the nation.

Key demand of the question:

Explain that lately, it would seem, that some biases are beginning to emerge in many circles in India as well, undermining its long held secular precepts.

Discuss the impact of the two policies brought out by the government and their repercussions on the secular fabric of the country.

Directive:

Critically analyze – When asked to analyse, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Provide briefly the details of the two.

Body:

First explain what are the issues of concern associated with the NRC and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) of 2019 has had huge consequences on both the domestic and foreign policy front.

In India, widespread protests that began in the Northeast are now raging across the country.

On the international front, soon after the protests broke out, two Bangladesh ministers cancelled their visit to India, the Japanese Prime Minister postponed his visit to the country and the annual India-Japan summit was cancelled.

From the perspective of India’s ambitious development plans and strategic diplomacy, the question that arises is whether the Central government factored in the ramifications of the CAA on India’s Act East Policy and its potential side effects on the country’s relationship with foreign stakeholders heavily invested in the Northeast.

Discuss the short term and long term challenges posed and what needs to be done to address such concerns.

Conclusion:

Conclude with solutions to ensure the secular fabric is conserved and protected.

Introduction:

The protests erupting across India since the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) are a testament to the centrality of secularism as the foundational principle that binds the country together and holds the key to India’s survival as a nation. The deathly blow that the CAA and its companion, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), have delivered to secularism threatens the foundations of India’s plural social fabric. When secularism is threatened, India is weakened. This is the lesson from the passage of the CAA, and the unrest it has unleashed.

Body:

India’s unique model of secularism: 

  • Secularism in India refers to the equal status and treatment of all religions.
  • Secularism in India is a positive, revolutionary and comprehensive concept which takes within its sweep all the communities in India following several religions.
  • Indian secularism recognizes the importance of religion in human life.
  • Diversity can only be effective with secularism as a foundational value.
  • India’s survival as a multi-religious, multilingual, multiracial, multicultural society will depend on how successful it is in working its secularism
  • Indian Secularism equally opposed oppression of dalits and women within Hinduism. It also opposes the discrimination against women within Indian Islam or Christianity and the possible threats that a majority community might pose to the rights of the minority religious communities.
  • Indian Secularism has made room for and is compatible with the idea of state- supported religious reform. For example- Indian constitution bans untouchability under Article 17. There is also abolition of child marriage and lifting the taboo on inter-caste marriage sanctioned by Hinduism.
  • Indian Secularism deals not only with religious freedom of individuals but also with religious freedom of minority communities i.e. individual has the right to profess religion of his /her choice. Likewise, religious minority also have a right to exist and to maintain their own culture and educational institutions.

Challenges posed by the recent CAA and NRC to secularism in India:

  • The first is that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act is against the letter and spirit of our Constitution. Articles 5 to 11 of the Constitution deal with citizenship, and the Citizenship Act, 1955, lays down criteria for citizenship based on birth, descent, registration, naturalization, and citizenship by incorporation of territory.
  • By setting new criteria, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act goes against the premise of common citizenship regardless of differences of caste, creed, gender, ethnicity and culture.
  • Further, Article 14 of the Constitution lays down that the “State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India”.
  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Act is divisive, deeply discriminatory and violative of human rights.
  • Our national unity was won through struggle; the Citizenship (Amendment) Act is one of the many threats to its survival. Our hard-won Constitution recognizes individual and social differences, and that we must weave the cord of unity by creating a sense of belonging and inclusiveness for all.
  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Act attempts to create and deepen communal division and social polarization in the country.
  • The Act gives eligibility for citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered India on or before December 31, 2014, and specifically excludes Muslims from that list.
  • In granting citizenship on the basis of religion, it discriminates against Muslims and rejects the basic concept of secularism.
  • That the Citizenship (Amendment) Act is discriminatory and violative of human rights has been recognized by those who have come out on the streets in many States, in opposition to the Act.
  • The agenda of Hindutva and its ultimate goal of establishing a “Hindu Nation” underlie the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, is well established both by past experience and the present actions of the BJP-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
  • In the days since the passage of the CAA, multiple protests across north and Northeast India last week. Ironically, these protests are themselves expressions of India’s overlapping multi-religious, multi-ethnic character that the CAA seeks to undermine.
  • The mobilizations in the Northeast are about anxieties of ethnicity, culture and language as much as religion while the protests in Delhi, Aligarh and Lucknow are chiefly about religious identity and discriminatory exclusion of Muslims from the CAA.

Measures to safeguard the secular fabric in India:

  •  Since secularism has been declared as a part of the basic structure of the Constitution, governments must be made accountable for implementing it.
  • Define the word “minority”. The concept of secularism is based on recognition and protection of minorities. The two cannot be separated.
  • Setting up of a commission on secularism for ensuring adherence to the constitutional mandate on secularism.
  • Separation of religion from politics. It is of such urgency that no time should be wasted in bringing this about.
  • It is the duty of the secular and democratic forces to rally behind those political forces that really profess and practice secularism.
  • In a secular state, religion is expected to be a purely personal and private matter and is not supposed to have anything to do with the governance of the country.

Conclusion:

The real challenge that protests and resistance to the CAA and NRC face today is that they are bereft of a vocabulary to defend secularism’s cause even though it is the threat to secularism that sparked these protests. India urgently needs to wrest and reclaim secularism, anchoring it in a new vocabulary that redeems its credibility. Our collective ability to do so will determine whether India will reclaim itself or stay firm on its current path toward a re-imagination of its foundations.

 

Topic:  Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

6. Cleared by the Cabinet, the Personal Data Protection Bill is due to be placed in Parliament. How does it propose to protect personal data, how is it different from previous draft, and why is it a subject of debate? Discuss in detail. (250 words)

Indian Express

Economic Times

Why this question:

Global negotiations today revolve around debates about the transfer of data. India’s first attempt to domestically legislate on the topic, the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill, 2019, has been approved by the Cabinet and is slated to be placed in Parliament this winter session.

Key demand of the question:

One must explain in detail the current case of data protection, issues and challenges and way forward.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Explain first why data matters.

Body:

  • Data is any collection of information that is stored in a way so computers can easily read them (think 011010101010 format).
  • Data usually refers to information about your messages, social media posts, online transactions, and browser searches.
  • The individual whose data is being stored and processed is called the data principal in the PDP Bill.
  • This large collection of information about you and your online habits has become an important source of profits, but also a potential avenue for invasion of privacy because it can reveal extremely personal aspects.
  • Companies, governments, and political parties find it valuable because they can use it to find the most convincing ways to advertise to you online.
  • Discuss how the PDP Bill proposes to regulate data transfer, what are the key concerns associated with it.
  • Suggest solutions to overcome these issues.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:

The Union cabinet recently gave its approval to the Personal Data Protection Bill that seeks to lay down a legal framework to preserve the sanctity of “consent” in data sharing and penalize those breaching privacy norms. The Bill will update the currently non-existent standards for privacy and consent. The Bill is based on the previous draft version prepared by a committee headed by retired Justice B N Srikrishna.

Body:

Decoding_the_data

Proposals of the PDP Bill:

  • The Bill calls for the creation of an independent regulator Data Protection Authority, which will oversee assessments and audits and definition making.
  • Each company will have a Data Protection Officer (DPO) who will liaison with the DPA for auditing, grievance redressal, recording maintenance and more.
  • The Bill trifurcates data as follows:
    • Personal data: Data from which an individual can be identified like name, address etc.
    • Sensitive personal data (SPD): Some types of personal data like as financial, health, sexual orientation, biometric, genetic, transgender status, caste, religious belief, and more.
    • Critical personal data: Anything that the government at any time can deem critical, such as military or national security data.
  • The Bill removes the requirement of data mirroring (in case of personal data). Only individual consent for data transfer abroad is required.
  • The Bill requires sensitive personal data to be stored only in India. It can be processed abroad only under certain conditions including approval of a Data Protection Agency (DPA).
  • Critical personal data must be stored and processed in India.
  • The Bill mandates fiduciaries to provide the government any non-personal data when demanded. It refers to anonymized data, such as traffic patterns or demographic data.
  • The previous draft did not apply to this type of data, which many companies use to fund their business model.
  • The Bill also requires social media companies, which are deemed significant data fiduciaries based on factors such as volume and sensitivity of data, to develop their own user verification mechanism.
  • This intends to decrease the anonymity of users and prevent trolling.
  • The Bill includes exemptions for processing data without an individual’s consent for “reasonable purposes”, including security of the state, detection of any unlawful activity or fraud, whistleblowing, medical emergencies, credit scoring, operation of search engines and processing of publicly available data.
  • The Bill proposes “Purpose limitation” and “Collection limitation” clause, which limit the collection of data to what is needed for “clear, specific, and lawful” purposes.
  • It also grants individuals the right to data portability and the ability to access and transfer one’s own data. It also grants individuals the right to data portability, and the ability to access and transfer one’s own data.
  • It legislates on the right to be forgotten. With historical roots in European Union law, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), this right allows an individual to remove consent for data collection and disclosure.
  • The Bill stated the penalties as: Rs 5 crore or 2 percent of worldwide turnover for minor violations and Rs 15 crore or 4 percent of total worldwide turnover for more serious violations.
  • Also, the company’s executive-in-charge can also face jail terms of up to three years.

Challenges posed:

  • A common argument from government officials has been that data localization will help law-enforcement access data for investigations and enforcement.
  • Critical data will be defined by the government from time to time and has to be stored and processed in India
  • National security or reasonable purposes are an open-ended terms, this may lead to intrusion of state into the private lives of citizens.
  • Technology giants like Facebook and Google have criticised protectionist policy on data protection.
  • They fear that the domino effect of protectionist policy will lead to other countries following suit.
  • Protectionist regime suppress the values of a globalized, competitive internet marketplace, where costs and speeds determine information flows rather than nationalistic borders.
  • Also, it may backfire on India’s own young startups that are attempting global growth, or on larger firms that process foreign data in India.
  • Civil society groups have criticized the open-ended exceptions given to the government in the Bill, allowing for surveillance.
  • Moreover, some lawyers contend that security and government access are not achieved by localization.
  • There have only been limited studies on privacy in the Indian context but the most existing literature points to the collectivist nature of society to explain the low levels of privacy consciousness.
  • While awareness is growing, if people display a high level of apathy towards ensuring the protection of their personal data it may push data fiduciaries down the path of non-compliance.

Way forward:

  • The government should table the Bill at the earliest to allow sufficient time for discussing the finer aspects of the Bill on the floor of the house.
  • The number of questions posed to MEITY on the topic of privacy and data protection indicates a high degree of interest in Parliament on the subject.
  • The government should also endeavor to remain as transparent as possible when framing the remaining provisions.
  • Simultaneously, society should not slide into complacency after the passage of the Bill.
  • Instead, it must continue to stay engaged to ensure that we have a strong data protection regime that succeeds in safeguarding Indians’ fundamental right to privacy.