Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

27 May 2021


Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name



Losing the way with a map

The Hindu


Social Media & Harbour

Indian Express

Mains Value Addition

WhatsApp moves Delhi High Court against India’s new IT Rules

Syllabus–GS 2: Polity

Analysis: –

  • WhatsApp has moved the Delhi High Court against India’s new and stricter IT Rules that require instant messaging platforms to aid in identifying the ‘originator’ of messages.
  • The petition challenging the constitutional validity of the rules, which come into force on May 26, was filed on May 25.
  • “Requiring messaging apps to ‘trace’ chats is the equivalent of asking us to keep a fingerprint of every single message sent on WhatsApp, which would break end-to-end encryption and fundamentally undermines people’s right to privacy,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.
  • The spokesperson added that the messaging platform had consistently joined civil society and experts around the world in opposing requirements that would violate the privacy of its users.
  • ‘The Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021’ were notified on February 25, giving social media platforms three months to comply.
  • The rules state that intermediary providing messaging services will “enable the identification of the first originator of the information on its computer resource” following a judicial order passed by a court of competent jurisdiction or an order passed under section 69 by the Competent Authority as per the Information Technology Act.
  • The rules state that an order will be passed only for the purposes of prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or punishment of an offence related to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or of incitement to an offence relating to the above or in relation with rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material, punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than five years.
  • WhatsApp has done what every company must do if they care about end-to-end encryption and privacy. The IT rules notified by the government are unconstitutional.

Quad ‘targeting’ China, says Consul General

Syllabus – GS 2: International Relations

Analysis: –

  • China’s Consul General in Mumbai said it was “self-contradictory” to ask China to keep supply chains open, amid a current surge in Indian imports of supplies, while at the same time “threatening decoupling” between the Indian and Chinese economies.
  • He also hit out at the India-United States-Japan-Australia grouping, known as the Quad, describing it as “an attempt for containment”.
  • “It is self-contradictory for some Indian media and think tanks to ask China keeping the supply chain open on the one hand, and threaten decoupling with China on the other.
  • Such opportunistic and protective ideas will only add up to the problem,” said Tang Guocai.
  • “China is the first country to get out of the pandemic and resume development, offering India and the region huge opportunities.
  • We are glad to find the second wave of COVID-19 here is melting down.
  • As two of the world’s largest vaccine producers, China and India have every reason to join hand and work for the final victory against the pandemic in our region and the world.”

Mains Analysis

Losing the way with a map

Why in News?

A cultural mapping project proposed in 2015 is now all but dead

Syllabus–GS 2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Background: –

  • An online resource for arts and culture, Sahapedia, recently ran the budget numbers for the Ministry of Culture (MoC) and the figures are appalling.
  • While allocations for culture have been marginal at best over the last decade, they have declined in the last five years, now standing at a mere 0.07% of the Budget.
  • For 2021-22, the budget for the MoC is just ₹2,688 crore, with another ₹4 crore accruing from indirect allocations to other ministries.
  • If one were to make a vulgar comparison, one Rafale jet costs ₹1,670 crore. So, the annual budget of the MoC — which runs three Akademis, 70-odd museums, three national galleries, several national libraries and archives, cultural institutions of the size of the National School of Drama and Kalakshetra, zonal cultural centres, and more — equals 1.5 Rafales.

Government efforts: –

  • In 2015, the National Mission on Cultural MappingMission, created with an outlay of ₹3,000 crore, was not officially approved until 2017.
  • In 2018-19 and 2019-20, only ₹42.78 crore was allocated, of which ₹1.17 crore has been utilised.
  • The exercise was supposed to begin by identifying artists at the block level, but this was abandoned as there was no IT infrastructure, ironic when the government has an app for everything.

Significance of Mapping

  • It can create a database that anybody can plug into, thus becoming a resource for the media, researchers and funders. At its best, it can do so much more.
  • It can, for instance, locate a derelict cinema and renovate it as an auditorium in a town where there are none, or create transport and tourism infrastructure around a declining crafts village.
  • When the European Capitals of Culture programme picked Glasgow, the city was rife with crime and poverty.
  • The programme built and renovated its cultural facilities, created a garden festival, and constructed a museum.

The mission documents

  • After a lot of platitudinous rambling, it finally states that it will identify, collect and record cultural assets and resources. It correlates this to planning and strategising.
  • It mentions a portal and a database listing organisations, spaces, facilities, festivals and events.
  • It also states that this database can be used to preserve culture and provide or ameliorate livelihoods.
  • From a childish SWOT analysis to expecting arts to curb anti-social elements to roping artists into the Swachh Bharat and NamamiGange schemes, the plan loses its way inside a jungle of homilies and acronyms.
  • There’s a HamariSanskritiHamariPahchan Abhiyan for “cultural awareness”, which suggests an ideological slant.
  • There is a project with an indecipherable title — ‘Design for Desire and Dream’.
  • There is hollow jargon such as “Create holistic thinking in artists to make them job creators rather than job seekers”.
  • From pontification, it hops on to talent hunts, to digital literacy, to training online teachers.

Concerns associated: –

  • When the pandemic struck last year, instead of helping beleaguered artists and artisans, the government slashed culture funding by a further 21%.
  • Contrast this to countries like China, Singapore, Australia and the U.K., which increased allocations, besides announcing billion-dollar relief packages.
  • Additionally, the government’s cultural institutions are plagued by vacancies (ranging from 30% to 70%) and lack of trained manpower.
  • This means fund usage has invariably been random and ill-planned.
  • This chaos was attributed, correctly, to the absence of a comprehensive cultural map that would chart geographies, artists, resources and institutions, find the gaps, and ensure optimal fund utilisation.

Way Forward: –

  • A cultural map could be a vital tool in the bedlam that reigns the space, and the idea cannot be abandoned because many bureaucrats and ministers don’t understand its meaning or scope.
  • Even this blueprint can help unravel the MoC’s budgetary challenges, provided its irrelevancies, absurdities and overreach are removed, and the focus kept on a deeper survey and understanding of the diversity of the cultural base, without caste, communal and regional hierarchies.
  • To be a cultural leader, official India must look at its own face in a clearer mirror.

Question: –

Why should a mapping exercise organise competitions or train teachers? The official boasting about India being a cultural powerhouse rapidly disintegrates when you examine facts. Discuss.

Social Media & Harbourp

Why in News?

The new rules for social media platforms and digital news outlets, called the Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code, came into effect from Wednesday.

Syllabus—GS2: Issues related to Fundamental rights; GS3: Issues related to Social Media

Background: –

  • Recently new rules for social media platforms & digital news outlets called the “Intermediary Guidelines & Digital Media Ethics Code” came into effect that asked
  • All social media platforms to set up a grievances redressal & compliance mechanism, which included appointing a resident grievance officer, chief compliance officer & a nodal contact person.
  • The platforms to submit monthly reports on complaints received & action taken.
  • The 3rd requirement is for instant messaging apps was to make provisions for tracking the first originator of a message.
  • Failure to comply with any one of the above requirements would take away the indemnity provided to social media intermediaries under Section 79 of the IT Act.

What is Section 79 of the IT Act?

  • Section 79 says – “Any intermediary shall not be held legally or otherwise liable for any 3rd party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted on its platform”.
  • The protection shall be applicable if the intermediary does not in any way, initiate the transmission of the message in question, select the receiver of the transmitted message & do not modify any information contained in the transmission.
  • In other words, As long as a platform acts just as the messenger carrying a message from point to point, without interfering in any manner, it will be safe from any legal prosecution brought upon due to the message being transmitted.
  • The protection under Section 79 is not granted if the intermediary, despite being notified by the govt does not immediately disable access to the material under question.

The reason behind the introduction of these protection provisions:

  • The need for protection of intermediaries from actions of third parties came into following following a police case in 2004.
  • When a Ceo of a website was arrested for obscene videos posted by the user.
  • In 2005, the Delhi HC held that prima facie,a case made out against Ceo& website.
  • The Ceo was held liable under Section 85 of the IT Act that says When a company commits an offence under the IT Act, all executives in charge at that time should be liable & proceeded against.
  • But in 2012, SC overturned this judgment & held that Ceo& website could not be held accountable since they were not directly involved in the transaction.
  • Following the judgment, the IT Act amended & section 79 protection provisions were introduced.

New rules impact on Section 79 protection:

  • No drastic impact on social media intermediaries will occur.
  • As of now, as per new guidelines except Whatsapp, no social media giant has not appointed a resident grievance officer, chief compliance officer & nodal contact persons.
  • They also placed to submit monthly action taken reports on grievances & complaints submitted to them.
  • This all leads to undermining the safe harbor protections & following are consequences of it:
  • If any post violates local laws, the law agency not only books the person who shared the content but also the executives of the companies as well.
  • The liability can even be criminial in nature where CCO can be made to serve in prison up to 7 years.
  • It could also lead to situations where employees of the platform may be held liable for no fault on their part.

Global norms on safe harbor protection for social media:

  • In the US, Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act provides Internet companies a safe harbor from any content user posts on these platforms.
  • Like Section 79 of India’s Act, Swction 230 of the Communication Decency Act states that an intermediary shall only be like a bookstore owner who can’t be held accountable for the books in the store unless it is proven that there is a connection between writer or publisher of the book & store owner.

Arguments against new rules:

  • The rule 4(2) provision requiring intermediaries to enable identification of the 1st originator of information on the platform
  • could also put journalists & activists at risk of retaliation in India & infringe upon rights to free speech & expression.
  • The traceability provision also breaks the end-to-end encryption & impermissibly infringes upon the user’s fundemantal rights to privacy & freedom of speech.
  • Nowhere in the world intermediaries requires to enable the identification of the 1st originator of end-to-end encrypted information.
  • Across the globe, it was recognized the important benefits of end-to-end encryption & the dangers of undermining that security protocol.
  • Rule 4(2) infringes upon Fundamental rigts to privacy without satisfying the three-part test set forth by the apex court in KS puttaswamyy vs Union of India on aspects of legality, necessity & proportionality.

Question: –

Critically evaluate the new rules for social media platforms and digital news outlets, called the Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code. Examine the concerns associated with the rules.

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