DAILY MAINS NEWSLETTER FOR UPSC |27 Feb 2021| RaghukulCS

Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

27 FEB 2021

Index

Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name

Source

1

“A colonial relic”.

 The Hindu

2

Imparting direction to science in India.

The Hindu

3

No-Tech free for all-

Indian Express

Mains Value Addition

India, China agrees to establish new hotline

Syllabus- GS2 –

Bilateral agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Analysis:

  • The Foreign Ministers of India and China agreed to establish a new hotline to ensure “timely communication” in the wake of last year’s border crisis but differed sharply on the way forward to restore relations.
  • External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar told his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, that “bilateral relations have been impacted severely over last year” and that while “the boundary question may take time to resolve”, the “disturbance of peace and tranquillity, including by violence, will inevitably have a damaging impact on the relationship”.
  • He stressed that restoring normality to the broader relationship would first require complete disengagement and then de-escalation along the border.

The caracal, a favourite of royals, now critically endangered

Syllabus: – GS3 – Conservation

Analysis: –

  • The National Board for Wildlife and Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change last month included the caracal, a medium-sized wildcat found in parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat, in the list of critically endangered species.
  • Though not under grave threat in its other habitats, the animal is on the verge of extinction in India, some experts believe.
  • The recovery programme for critically endangered species in India now includes 22 wildlife species.
  • Besides India, the caracal is found in several dozen countries across Africa, the Middle East, Central and South Asia.
  • While it flourishes in parts of Africa, its numbers in Asia are declining.

Economy records 0.4% growth in Q3

Syllabus: – GS3 –

Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment

Analysis: –

  • India’s economy returned to growth terrain in the third quarter of 2020-21, with a 0.4% rise in the GDP, even as the National Statistical Office estimated the economy to contract 8% during the full fiscal.
  • The NSO had earlier estimated a 7.7% contraction for FY21.
  • The GDP shrunk in the first two quarters by 24.4% and 7.3% respectively, following the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown.
  • Agriculture continued to grow strongly, with a 3.9% rise in GVA in Q3, even as manufacturing and construction resurged after two bad quarters.

Mains Analysis

“A colonial relic”.

Why in News: –

A Delhi court granted bail to climate activist Disha Ravi, arrested in connection with allegedly being involved in sharing a “toolkit” on social media related to the farmers’ protest, terming evidence produced by police as scanty and sketchy.

Syllabus: -GS-3:

Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges,

  • A session’s court has affirmed the belief that a dispassionate scrutiny of outlandish claims by the police is necessary for protecting the liberty of those jailed on flimsy, often political, reasons.
  •  In particular, the judge has applied the established test for a charge of sedition under Section 124A of the IPC.
  • The act involved must constitute a threat to public order and incitement to violence.

Sedition Law in India:

  1. Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code deals with the offence of sedition. It lays down that,
  2. Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in India.
  3. Parson shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine”.
  4. The Case in Devi Saran v/s State AIR 1954 Pat 254, the SC Court has held that Section 124A imposes reasonable restriction on the interest of public order & therefore it is protected under Article 19 (2) of the Constitution.

 Restrictions on Freedom of Press in India:

  •  The freedom of press comes within the ambit of freedom of speech & expression.
  • In a democracy, freedom of press is highly essential as it acts as a watchdog on the three organs of a democracy viz. the legislature, the executive & the judiciary.
  •  But, the freedom of press is not absolute in nature.
  • It is subject to certain restrictions which are mentioned in Article 19(2) of the Constitution. The following are the grounds of restrictions laid down in Article 19(2).
  • Sovereignty & Integrity of India, Security of the State, Friendly relations with Foreign States, Public Order Decency or Morality and  Contempt of Court
  •   The grounds of ‘Public Order’ & ‘Friendly relations with Foreign States’ was added by the Constitution (First Amendment) Act,1951.
  • While the ground of ‘Sovereignty & Integrity of India’ was added by the Constitution (Sixteenth Amendment) Act, 1963.

Significance of Judgment:

  1. Judgment says Citizens are conscience keepers of government in any democratic nation.
  2. They cannot be put behind bars simply because they choose to disagree with the state policies.
  3. Even our founding fathers of constitution accorded due respect to divergence of opinion by recognising the freedom of speech and expression as an inviolable fundamental right.
  4. “Let noble thoughts come to me from all directions” because our founding fathers of Indian constitution granted some fundamental right for that.
  5. The Difference of opinion, disagreement, divergence, dissent, or for that matter even disapprobation, are recognized legitimate tools to infuse objectivity in state policies.

 Constitutional Provisions and Freedom of the press:

  1. The rights of the press in India arise out of the freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
  2. The press has a variety of rights including the right to publish, right to circulate, right to receive information, right to advertise, right to dissent, etc.

Major laws related to mass media in India

  • First Press Regulations,
  • Gagging Act,
  • Indian Press Act,
  • Vernacular Press Act,
  • Official Secrets Act,
  • Press and Registration of Books Act,
  • Sea Customs Act,
  • Contempt of Court.

Social Media Regulation: –

  • Media law covers an area of law which involves media of all types (TV, film, music, publishing, advertising, internet & new media, etc.).
  • It stretches over various legal fields, including but not limited to corporate, finance, intellectual property, publicity and privacy.
  • Social media law India is regulated by the Information Technology Act which was enacted in the year 2000 to regulate, control and deal with the issues arising out of the IT.
  • Social networking media is a within the meaning of Indian information technology act 2000 (IT Act 2000)

Concerns of Sedition:

  1. The tendency of the rulers to treat instances of dissent.
  2. It especially involving strident criticism of policies and laws in which particular regimes are deeply invested, as attempts to provoke disaffection and disloyalty.
  3. It is significant that the judge not only saw Ms. Ravi’s activism as related to her freedom of speech and expression, but went on to say that an attempt to reach a global audience is part of that freedom.
  4. It should also be underscored that such bail orders should not be rare or special, but be routine judicial responses to cases in which there is a mismatch between the accusation and the evidence.

 Way forward:

  • A citizen has the fundamental rights to use the best means of imparting and receiving communication, as long as the same is permissible under the four corners of law and as such have access to audience abroad.
  • It is by now fairly clear to everyone except, perhaps, the government and its vociferous supporters, that there is no place in a modern democracy for a colonial-era legal provision such as sedition.
  • The sedition is too broadly defined, prone to misuse, and functioning as a handy tool to repress activism, the section deserves to be scrapped.
  • The Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, “The role of journalism should be service. The Press is a great power, but just as an unchained torrent of water submerges the whole countryside and devastates crops, even so an uncontrolled pen serves but to destroy.

Question: –

“An aware and assertive citizenry, in contradistinction with an indifferent or docile citizenry, is indisputably a sign of a healthy and vibrant democracy.” Discuss.

Imparting direction to science in India.

Why in News: –

National Science Day (NSD) will be conducted on February 28 to commemorate the discovery of Raman Effect by Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman. He went on to receive a Nobel Prize for this discovery in the year 1930.

Syllabus: – GS-3: 

 Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

India’s place in Patents Publications

  • India was the third largest publisher of peer-reviewed science and engineering journal articles and conference papers, with 135,788 articles in 2018. (Source: The good news: from the report published by the National Science Foundation of the U.S. in December 2019)
  • This milestone was achieved through an average yearly growth rate of 10.73% from 2008, which was greater than China’s 7.81%. 
  • China and the United States had about thrice and twice the number, respectively, of India’s publications.
  • The not-so-good news is that publications from India are not impactful.
  • From the report, in the top 1% of the most cited publications from 2016 (called HCA, or Highly Cited Articles),
  • India’s index score of 0.7 is lower than that of the U.S., China and the European Union.
  • An index score of 1 or more is considered good.
  • The inference for India is that the impact, and hence the citation of publications from India, should improve.

India in International patent applications:

  1. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) through their Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is the primary channel of filing international patent applications.
  2.  In its report for 2019, WIPO says India filed a modest number of 2,053 patent applications.
  3. Compared to the 58,990 applications filed by China and 57,840 by the U.S.
  4.  This was the first time that China filed more patent applications than the U.S.
  5. The Indian Government put in place the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy in 2016 to “stimulate a dynamic, vibrant and balanced intellectual property rights system”.
  6. India needs hawk-eye’s focus à la China which filed just 276 patent applications in 1999 but rose to become an innovation titan in 2019.

The “Science policies”:

  • There have been four science policies till now, after 1947, with the draft of the fifth science policy 2020 having been released recently.
  • India’s first science policy adopted in 1958, Scientific Policy Resolution, aimed to develop scientific enterprise and lay the foundation for scientific temper.
  • It led to the establishment of many research institutes and national laboratories.
  • By 1980, India had developed advanced scientific infrastructure with sufficient scientific personnel.
  • The focus in the second science policy, Technology Policy Statement, in 1983, was technological self-reliance.
  • It aims to use technology to benefit all sections of the society, while strengthening research in fields such as electronics and biotechnology.

India science policy and its Aim:

  1. The Science and Technology Policy 2003, the first science policy after the economic   liberalization of 1991, aimed to increase investment in research and development and brought it to 0.7%.
  2. The Scientific and Engineering Research Board (SERB) was established to promote research.
  3. In 2013, India’s science policy included Innovation in its scope and was called Science, Technology and Innovation Policy.
  4. The focus was to be one of the top five global scientific leaders.

Fifth Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2020 (STIP2020):

  •  The draft of the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2020 (STIP2020), the fifth science policy that was released in January 2021 offers hope to research in India.
  • STIP2020 has an ambitious vision to “double the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) researchers, Gross Domestic Expenditure on R&D (GERD) and private sector contribution to the GERD every 5 years” and to “position India among the top three scientific superpowers in the next decade”.
  • STIP2020 defines an Open Science Framework which will create a “one nation, one subscription” solution that will give all individuals and institutions in India access to all top journals through a central subscription.
  • This scheme will provide fillip to improving access to knowledge.
  • It also defines strategies to improve funding for and participation in research.
  • India’s Gross Domestic Expenditure on R&D (GERD) is currently around 0.6% of GDP. 
  • This is quite low when compared to the investments by the U.S. and China which are greater than 2%. Israel’s GERD is more than 4%.

 

The key reason for India’s low funding in R&D and solution:

  1. India’s low funding in R&D is the low private sector contribution and law people participation in research and innovation.
  2. STIP2020 defines solutions to improve funding thus: all States to fund research, multinational corporations to participate in research, fiscal incentives and support for innovation in medium and small scale enterprises.
  3. The new measures should not become a pretext to absolve the Union and State governments of their primacy in funding research; the government should invest more into research.

 Key areas and focus:

  1. The critical focal areas are inclusion of under-represented groups of people in research, support for indigenous knowledge systems, using artificial intelligence,
  2. The reaching out to the Indian scientific diaspora for collaboration, science diplomacy with partner countries, and setting up a strategic technology development fund to give impetus to research.
  3. Science diplomacy is at the fore now with India offering COVID-19 vaccines to many countries; formulating a policy around it will yield dividends.
  4. The Support for indigenous knowledge systems should enable them to improve upon their limitations in subscribing to transparency and verifiability.

Way Forward: ­

  • India ranks third among the most attractive investment destinations for technology transactions in the world, India has reiterated that technology is a strong priority area for the Government, and it aims to make people science centric
  • The India science policy seeks to define strategies that are “decentralized, evidence-informed, bottom-up, experts-driven, and inclusive”.
  • It is in draft stage and will have to be finalised and placed before the cabinet for approval.
  • India’s the right moves and strikes the right notes to make India future-ready.
  • More specific directives and implementation with a scientific temper without engaging in hyperbole will be key to the policy’s success.

Question: –

In an International world, the patent publication assume significance and are a source of litigation. Discuss India’s efforts to foster innovation, replicate it at scale and commercialize it is a work in progress consequent to the policy.

No-Tech free for all-

Why in News: –

Self regulation and recent IT Code.

Syllabus: – GS2-

 Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

  • The policy has tried to create the much-needed level-playing field between online news platforms and print media on the one hand and online and television news media on the other.
  • It has also tried to bring online news portals within the ambit of the code of ethics that governs print media.
  • These include the norms of journalistic conduct drawn up by the Press Council Act and the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Rules, 1994.
  • This was long overdue because of the recklessness and irresponsibility that is on display on some of these platforms.

 Self-Regulation:

  • While the cinema industry has a film certification agency with oversight responsibilities, OTT platforms have none.
  • In order to ensure artistic freedom, the government has proposed self-regulation. 
  • The OTT entities should get together, evolve a code and come up with content classification so that a mechanism is evolved to preclude non-adults from viewing adult content. They must get down to do it.
  • The grievance redressal mechanism thought of is three-tier, with the publishers and self-regulating bodies being the first two.
  • The third tier is the central government oversight committee.
  • The policy proposed requires publishers to appoint grievance redressal officers and ensure a time-bound acknowledgement and disposal of grievances.
  • Then, there can be a self-regulating body headed by a retired judge.
  • Online platforms are wary of rules that seek verification of accounts, access control etc, but these issues need to be resolved within the framework of India’s laws.
  • While mainstream media is conscious of provisions in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that deal with the promotion of violence, enmity among communities, defamation etc, the content on online platforms seems to be oblivious of all this.
  • The vulgar comments posted on social media about women professionals in media or other fields and the inability of the Indian state to deal with such behaviour makes one wonder whether the IPC is even applicable in cyberspace.

Australian Example:

  1. The Indian digital and OTT players can draw lessons from the concerted action taken by digital companies in Australia, which have come together and drawn up a code to deal with fake news and disinformation.
  2. This is called the Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation and was released only recently by the Digital Industry Group.
  3. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has welcomed the initiative and said that more than two-thirds of Australians were concerned about “what is real or fake on the internet”.
  4. In response, the ACMA says that digital platforms agreed to a self-regulatory code “to provide safeguards against serious harms arising from the spread of dis-and misinformation”.
  5. Some of the actions promised by the digital platforms include disabling accounts and removal of content.

 Steps Taken by India:

  1. The Government of India has been alive to these dangers and has over time sought to devise a core framework that governs social media.
  2. This framework known as the “intermediary liability” has been made legally through Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000, that has been supplemented by operational rules, and the Supreme Court judgment in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India.
  3. All this legalese essentially provides large technology companies immunity for the content that is transmitted and stored by them.
  4. In return for this immunity, they have to comply with a set of conditions that is set by the government through a rule-making power.
  5. Recently, the Government of India announced drastic changes to it through the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

 Case Study: -United Kingdom:

  1. In the UK, the government is all set to bring in a law to make online companies responsible for harmful content and also to punish companies that fail to remove such content.
  2. The aim of the proposed “Online Safety Bill” is to protect internet users and deal firmly with platforms that promote violence, terrorist material, child abuse, cyber bullying, etc.
  3. Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden was quoted as saying, “I’m unabashedly pro-tech but that can’t mean a tech free-for-all”. This, in a sense, sums up the current mood on this issue across democracies.
  4. In the UK, self-regulation governs print media and private television and radio are regulated by the Independent Television Commission and the Radio Authority as provided by a statute.

Way Forward:

  • Finally, a word about the framework within which companies should operate in India.
  • As the Union Minister for Information Technology said they must function with the laws of the land. This is non-negotiable.
  • In recent times, Twitter has tried to define freedom of expression and even claimed that it seeks to protect the freedom of expression of Indians.
  • “Freedom of expression” is embedded in the chapter on fundamental rights in our Constitution and it is circumscribed by what are called “reasonable restrictions”.
  • These are in place because India is a vibrant democracy and the most diverse society in the world with many social, political and economic complexities.
  • That is why India’s founding fathers had, with great intuition and foresight, introduced a caveat vis-à-vis freedom of expression, so that constitutional rights promote internal peace and harmony.
  • What these freedoms are and what these restrictions are have been defined by our Supreme Court in innumerable cases and the law as laid down by India’s apex court is the law of the land.
  • We do not want some private international companies to assume the role of some supra courts and put their own spin on our Constitution.

Question: –

“The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021balances the need for regulation to keep out obnoxious online content that promotes violence and vulgarity with the need to preserve our constitutional values and freedom of expression. Critically evaluate.

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