President’s address in Parliament
Source: The Indian Express
Written by: Chakshu Roy
Topic in the syllabus: Polity (GS-2)
Analysis about: This article talks about the annual President’s address in Parliament
- The Constitution gives the President the power to address any of the Houses or a joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament.
- Article 87 provides 2 special occasions on which the President addresses a joint sitting of the houses.
- The 1st is to address the opening session of a new legislature after the election.
- The 2nd is to address the first sitting of Parliament every year. A session of a new or continuing legislature cannot begin without fulfilling this condition.
- When the Constitution came into force, the President had to address each session of Parliament. So during the provisional Parliament in 1950, President Rajendra Prasad gave an address before every session.
- The 1st Amendment to the Constitution in 1951 changed this status and made the President’s address once a year.
The address – By the govt, about the govt:
- There is no fixed and set format for the President’s speech. The Constitution says that the President shall “inform Parliament of the cause of the summons”.
- The address of the President follows a general structure in which it highlights the government’s accomplishments and achievements from the last year and sets the broad governance agenda for the coming year.
- The speech that the President reads is the viewpoint of the government and is written by the government.
- Usually, in December, the Prime Minister’s Office asks the different ministries to start sending in their inputs for the speech.
- A message also goes out from the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs asking ministries to send information and inputs about any legislative proposals that need to be included in the President’s address.
- All this information is aggregated and shaped into a speech, which is then sent to the presidential office.
- The government utilises the President’s address to make policy and legislative announcements.
- For example,in 2015, President Pranab Mukherjee announced the Narendra Modi government’s plan to expedite financial sector reforms and its endeavour for the smooth conduct of legislative business and enactment of progressive laws in Parliament.
Procedure & tradition:
- In the days following the President’s address, a motion is moved in both the Houses thanking the President for his address.
- This is an occasion for MPs in both the Houses to have a broad debate on governance in the country.
- The Prime Minister replies to the motion of thanks in both Houses and responds to the issues put forward by MPs.
- The motion is then put to vote and MPs can express their agreement or disagreement by moving amendments in the motion.
- Opposition MPs have been successful in getting amendments passed to the motion of thanks in Rajya Sabha five times (1980, 1989, 2001, 2015, 2016). But they have been less successful in Lok Sabha.
- The President’s address is one of the most important occasions in the Parliamentary calendar.
- It is the only occasion in the year when the whole Parliament, i.e. the President, Lok Sabha, and Rajya Sabha come together.
Global antitrust and the challenge of Big Tech
Source: The Hindu
Written by: V. Sridhar (Professor, International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore.)
Topic in the syllabus: Economy, Science &Technology (GS-3)
Analysis about: This editorial talks about how it is important to check the monopoly power of Big Tech while encouraging their positive externalities and consumer surplus.
- There are ongoing investigation worldwide, in the European Union and the United States, on the abuse of monopolistic power by the Big Tech companies, especially Facebook and Google.
- Many compare this with the earlier antitrust investigations in the U.S. on the telecom industry and the breakup of the AT&T given by the Department of Justice in its Modified final Judgment in 1982.
What is the key difference?
- The information good that is being provided by the Internet firms of today, is majorly
- The consumption of information by one does not change the value for the others.
- Telecom services are within the jurisdictional boundaries of regulators and, therefore, the
regulators have the power to laydown rules of the nice behaviour of the licensed telecom operators.
- On the other hand, Internet firms operate globally. Hence, it is very difficult to laydown international rules of obligation and fulfilment by the different country regulators.
- While it is debatable whether the goods and services provided by the Internet firms are
excludable, telecom is certainly excludable due to the necessity for consumers to obtain connections from the respective telcos and pay the subscription charges to them.
- It is this factor that was leveraged by the Internet firms to provide search, navigation, and social connectivity with no charge to the consumers, and, simultaneously, making these services non-excludable.
- While governments can cover the expense of providing public goods (such as police protection, parks and street lights)through taxpayers’ money, private firms require monetisation models to cover the costs of providing their services.
- Therefore, Internet firms have resorted to personalised advertisements and3rdparty sharing of the personal information of their users for monetisation purposes.
- The strong network effects present in these Internet platforms warrant increasing the
subscriber base and capturing as much market share as possible. This results in the near-monopoly of some companies in their defined markets.
What is the challenge?
- Even without our knowledge, these Internet firms have now become an indispensable part of our lives. E.g. Google search, maps etc.
- Therefore, the question before policymakers is how to regulate these Internet companies from abusing their monopoly power while at the same time encouraging the positive externalities and consumer surplus they create.
- Due to strong network effects, it is not possible to ban or restrict these services. Even if other options are available (such as Signal and Telegram for messaging), the network effects bind customers to their regular used platform (WhatsApp), even if it is not their favourite.
What are the solutions?
- Australian government pointed out in its media legislation, that Google and Facebook
must negotiate a fair payment with news organisations for using their content in Facebook’s newsfeed and Google’s Search.
- Controlled expansion of products and services without hurting the interests of consumers and smaller competing firms shall be the mantra used by these companies to minimise litigation, lawsuits and, eventually, wastage of taxpayers’ money.
- The other way to control this abusive behaviour of the Internet firms is to use the power of public voice.E.g. –
- March 2015 – Free Basics programme of Facebook
- While governments and regulators deal with these dilemmas,Internet firms should adhere to core ethical principles inconducting their businesses.
Remembering the Holocaust
Source: The Hindu
- Ron Malka is Ambassador of Israel to India
- Walter J. Lindner is Ambassador of Germany to India
- Eric Falt is the Director andRepresentative of the UNESCO New Delhicluster office covering Bangladesh, Bhutan,India, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka
Topic in the syllabus: Social issues, society (GS-1)
Analysis about: This editorial talks about why it is important to empower people to reflect on the root causes and repercussions of hate crimes.
- Annually, on January 27, the United Nations honour the victims of the Holocaust by reaffirming its unwavering commitment to counter anti-Semitism (unfair treatment of any ethnic or racial group), racism, and different forms of intolerance.
- The date marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi Concentration and Extermination
Camp of Auschwitz Birkenau by Soviet troops in 1945 and calls for asombre reflection on the practical dangers of very extreme forms of hatred.
Hate speech & society:
- Time and again, we have seen how hate speech can prompt ordinary people to feed into prejudices and hostilities.
- Hate speech has intensified Currently, the anonymity of the Internet and increased screen time
during the pandemic have intensified hate speech.
- Greater exposure to hateful discourses online has allow edanti-Semitism and other variants of racism to fester in our societies.
- The Holocaust was a watershed moment in history as it illuminates the many manifestations of hate and its impact.
- Hence, whilst urging member states to strengthen the resilience of people against hateful ideologies, the UN emphasises the use of educationas an important tool to inculcate a culture of peace.
- Within the framework of its programmes on the prevention of violent extremism and Global Citizenship Education, UNESCO continually works towards increasing activities to curb and address tacitand overt forms of anti-Semitism.
What is the way forward?
- There are increasingly growing dangers of online platforms in distorting reality and stoking hatred.
- Lessons on how racist ideologies and hate speech inform the development of tragedies like the Holocaust must go beyond textbook learning. This is because many times, we have seen highly educated people perpetuating hatred.
- In today’s polarised world, empowering people to question and engage in critical reflections about the root causes and implications of hate crimes is essential.
- Consequently, equipping them to make the rational choice of acting as active by standers rather than per petratorsis the only way to create hatred free, peaceful and sustainable societies.