Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

23 June 2021 - Wednesday



Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name



The picture is clear, it is top-down misinformation

The Hindu


Losing the soft touch

Indian Express

Mains Value Addition

Countering a political act that has a legal garb

SyllabusGS 2: Government Policy

Analysis: –

  • Aisha Sultana, a film-maker from Lakshadweep, was recently booked for the alleged offences of sedition and statements prejudicial to national integrity.
  • A crime was registered based on a complaint by a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Ms. Sultana then moved the Kerala High Court for pre-arrest bail.
  • The court allowed interim bail to her on June 17. Ms. Sultana thus got temporary relief from incarceration.
  • The court will pass its final orders in the application shortly.
  • Sultana’s case is only one among the numerous sedition cases recently registered in the country.
  • In Lakshadweep, people have had sedition slapped against them for putting up placards or posters against the Prime Minister.
  • Sultana’s case also reveals the regime’s political strategy to threaten dissidents.

Policy creep: On e-commerce and overregulation risks

SyllabusGS 2: Economy

Analysis: –

  • Barely 11 months after the Government notified the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020, the Department of Consumer Affairs has mooted a set of sweeping amendments, ostensibly “to protect the interests of consumers… and encourage free and fair competition in the market”.
  • Among them is a norm stipulating the appointment of a chief compliance officer, a nodal contact person for 24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies, and another requiring e-commerce entities offering imported goods or services to ‘incorporate a filter mechanism to identify goods based on country of origin and suggest alternatives to ensure a fair opportunity to domestic goods.
  • A third mandates a fall-back liability on online marketplaces in the event of non-delivery of goods or services to the consumer.
  • Registration has also been made mandatory for all e-commerce players; specific ‘flash sales’, including ‘back-to-back’ ones, are set to be banned; and all entities must provide information within 72 hours on any request made by an authorised government agency probing any breach of law including cybersecurity issues.
  • While on the face of it none of these new rules appears exceptionable, especially when e-commerce tops the National Consumer Helpline’s complaints chart, there is still a distinctly discernible pattern to the changes.
  • Following on the heels of the recent IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, the draft e-commerce amendments show the Government’s increasing keenness to exercise greater oversight over all online platforms.

Mains Analysis

The Picture is clear, it is top-down misinformation

Why in News?

A new report shows that many Indians know misinformation about the pandemic often comes from the top

Syllabus— GS 2- Governance

  • People worry about the source of misinformation of COVID-19
  • Nearly one in four (23%) in our recent survey say that the Government, politicians or political parties are the source they are most concerned about.
  • Among platforms, only messaging applications (e.g. WhatsApp) generate more widespread public concern among people. They are named by 28%.
  • The data are not representative of India’s overall population as it covers only English-speaking population.
  • Still, it provides insight into how many Indians see the “infodemic” that has accompanied the pandemic, an immense wave of information that, unfortunately, also includes some false and misleading material, rumours, and attempts to exploit the crisis for propaganda or for profit.
  • The author claims that many Indians think that misinformation about the pandemic often comes from the top.



‘Network propaganda’

  • Top-down misinformation from politicians, celebrities, and other prominent public figures are a small part of the false and misleading claims one can come across online in terms of raw volume, but the research during the pandemic shows it accounts for a large share of social media engagement.
  • In country after country, reporters have found that official COVID-19 death tolls are far lower than the actual excess deaths recorded during the pandemic.

Unproven claims

  • And politicians have sometimes promoted supposed coronavirus remedies with no scientific basis.
  • Indian Medical Association (IMA) pointed out there was absolutely no evidence for this, just as the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare last year came under severe criticism from for recommending a range of unproved, alternative remedies to prevent or treat the disease.
  • Some misinformation circulates peer-to-peer on social media and on encrypted messaging services as people share supposed miracle cures and ineffective alternative health tips in good faith or carelessly.
  • This can create problems. But arguably, far more problematic is when people in positions of authority and prominent public figures promote measures that have no scientific basis in the middle of a deadly pandemic.

Examples from India

  • The ayurvedic remedy was launched in June last year by Baba Ramdev’s company, Patanjali Ayurved, claimed the remedy guaranteed “100 per cent recovery from COVID-19 within seven days of consuming the medicine”.
  • Hours later, the central government asked Patanjali Ayurved to stop advertising the drug and the Uttarakhand Ayurveda Department responsible for licensing the remedy pointed out the licence was for an immunity booster, not a cure.
  • Ramdev’s company falsely claimed Coronil was certified by the World Health Organization (WHO) — a claim WHO immediately pointed out was untrue.

Way Forward: –

  • If authorities in India are serious about addressing misinformation, they might take a cue from the fact that much of the Indian public clearly recognise that misinformation often comes from the top, and spend less time worrying about activists, journalists, and Twitter, and more time thinking about how to ensure that citizens can trust that the health remedies promoted by their own governments and by prominent political figures are actually safe and effective.

Question: –

The promotion and provision of what the IMA describes as an “unscientific medicine” marketed with “false and baseless” claims is an example of how misleading information from prominent public figures and people in positions of authority can lead to bigger problems. Discuss.

Losing the soft touch

Why in News?

Kanti Bajpai writes: Classical India may stand alongside classical China in the regard it garners, but contemporary India has been left behind.

Syllabus—GS2: India-China Ties

  • The common notion that Even though China has a hard-power advantage (Economic & Military power) over India, it lacks behind India in the soft arena is totally misunderstood.
  • Even in the Soft power sphere, China is more attractive than India.

What is Soft power & it’s Components?

  • Soft power is the ability to persuade rests on the power of attraction.
  • In simple terms, it is the ability to getting things done by others using persuasion.
  • In Joseph Nye’s View, soft power consists of Foreign Policy, Cultural & Political Influence.
  • Foreign policy influence comes from the legitimacy & morality of one’s dealings with others.
  • Cultural influence is based on other’s respect for one’s culture.
  • Political influence is how much others are inspired by one’s political values.
  • Soft power is difficult to measure but Australia’s Lowy institute came out with various measures that correspond to foreign policy influence, cultural & political influence.

India versus China: Soft Power battle

  • In the overall diplomatic influence, Among 25 Asian powers, China stands at first while India ranks sixth.
  • The diplomatic influence further divided into the following:
  • Diplomatic Networks: though India nearly matches China in the number of regional embassies but it considerably lags behind the number of embassies worldwide.
  • Multilateral Power: Even though India matches China in terms of regional memberships, but its contribution to the UN capital budget is completely dwarfed by Chinese contributions (11.7% ton0.8% of the total).
  • Foreign policy leadership, ambition & effectiveness: China ranks 1st or 4th on four measures while India ranks between 4th & 6th in Asia.
  • In the overall Cultural Influence measure, India stands at 4th place & China at 2nd place in Asia.
  • Lowy further divided cultural influence into 3 following elements:
  • Cultural projection: India scores better on Google searches & it also exports more of its cultural services.
  • But China does better on several other indicators, such as:
  • India has only 9 brands, while China has 73 brands in the list of the top 500 global brands.
  • On the number of UNESCO World Heritage sites, India has 37 while China has 53.
  • In the travel visa-free sphere, an Indian passport is allowed only in 60, while a Chinese passport can do in 74 countries.
  • Information flows: In 2016-17, India hosted a mere 24000 Asian students in tertiary education institutions whereas China hosted 2.25 Lakhs.
  • Tourist arrivals: In 2017, India clocked 5 million arrivals from Asia whereas China clocked 41 million & ranked 1st among 25 Asian countries.
  • On total tourist arrivals from all over the world, India received 17 million while China received 63 million.
  • Finally, in the political influence measure of 2017, both are placed close enough.
  • The governance effectiveness index shows India scoring in the top 43% countries worldwide & ranked 12th.
  • While China scoring in the top 32% & ranked 10th.
  • In political stability & absence of violence/terrorism, India ranked 21st & China ranked 15th.
  • The comparison between India & China on soft power is mixed, though China beats India in most of the measures but the difference is not so large.
  • However, the numbers give always inconclusive & far from reality.
  • In no conversation from International affairs to regional economy & technology, even in contemporary culture, China is absent.
  • But whereas India is not present in most areas.
  • Even if India is in the conversation, the confidence in its regional ambitions, capabilities & culture & political fit with Southeast Asia is low.

Way Forward: –

  • Around the world, in the current era China evokes awe, India evokes silence.
  • Classical India stands head-to-head with classical China in the regard it garners, but Contemporary India has been left a distance behind.
  • Its high time for India to recognize its soft power bottlenecks & has to work hard to give superior competition to China.

Question: –

The comparison between India and China on soft power is mixed — China surpasses India far more than the other way round, though the difference in some cases is not large. Comment

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