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Legal steps to guard digital payments: (The Hindu)

Context:

The Home Ministry has asked banks and e-wallet firms to furnish details of the extent of financial fraud reported in the past one year as digital transactions picked.

Introduction:

  •  The use of mobile wallets and online transactions has spiked since demonetisation.
  •  A high-level committee of the Ministry convened a meeting in this regard with the officials of banks, e-wallet firms and the Reserve Bank of India to understand the extent of technological misuse and financial frauds committed through digital means.

Meaning of Digitalization:

  •  Digitalization is the integration of digital technologies into everyday life by the digitization of everything that can be digitized.
  • Digitalization also means the process of making digital everything that can be digitized and the process of converting information into digital format.

Advantages of digitalization:

  1. Increasing digital literacy and Internet access can lead to economic empowerment and reduce social inequality.
  2. Good governance :Use of information technology can make government system more transparent and accountable, enhance efficiency in delivery of various services, simplify procedures, reduce leakages in subsidies and has potential to reduce corruption.
  3. Growth: Digitization has a direct correlation with faster growth ,development and welfare
  4. Employment to jobless

Challenges for Digitalization:

  1. Low digital literacy
  2. Lack of adequate infrastructure to protect data.
  3. Cases of cyber crimes are rising
  4. Many rural areas remains isolated from internet and cellular services
  5. Women have comparatively poor access to online services, which widens the gender gap.
  6. Poverty is one of the obstacle in digital development
  7. A digital economy poses security risks like theft of  debit cards in India.

Cashless Economy

  • Decreased reliance on liquid money . All transactions are done  by using cards or by digital means
  • The people using the means of e-commerce, mobile banking or Internet banking for their purchase or for their transaction

Advantages of cashless economy:

Advantages for the society:

  •  Reduces the circulation of liquid money
  • The black money or parallel money cannot be able to sustain
  • The transaction process and purchase will made easy
  •  No need to carry cash. Just carrying the required cards or mobile banking will     suffice.
  •  More sense of safety with a PAN protected card etc.
  •  No fear of being robbed unlike carrying cash and letting everyone know that     there could be something worth snatching.
  •  Now labour get their payment in their bank accounts therefore minimum wages as per Indian Labour Law can be ensured.
  1.  Advantages for the economy:
  •   Digital payments indirectly reduce expenditure in manufacturing currency notes and its transportation.
  •  Electronic transactions also help in curbing corruption and black money flow which in ameliorate economic growth.
  •   It becomes easier to determine how much was spent where, and one able to manage the budget.
  •     Cashless economy increase transparency in the system

3.Advantages for the government:

  •  The government can control the financial transactions in the society.
  •  More    transparency and easy to track money laundering and other such activities.
  • Helps to eliminate counterfeit currencies
  • If the government finds a person guilty government can block his/her transaction.

Disadvantage of cashless economy:

  •   Higher risk of identity theft
  • Cashless transaction system is not widespread due to lack of education and technology gap which is a matter of concern and must be addressed by government or financial institutions.
  •      Direct threat to cyber security and individual financial data.
  •    Increase in online banking fraud.
  •     As per the survey automation will cut 70,000 jobs in India.

Government schemes related to Digitalization:

  •  The Digital India Programme is the flagship programme launched by the Government of India with a vision to transfer India into digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
  • The Unified Payments Interface (UIP)-the payment system that allows mobile-enabled money transfer between bank accounts is also a step towards digitalization of economy.
  • The Bharat Interface for Money (Bhim app), the common app that can be used by anyone who has a bank account with a linked mobile number. Bhim provides a Smartphone front-end to make bank-to-bank payments.
  • The government also unveiled two schemes –Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi Dhan Vyapaar Yojana for customers and trades alike to promote mobile banking and e-payments.
  •  Finance minister Arun Jaitley proposed a slew of measures to hasten India’s movement to a cashless economy like ban on cash transactions more than Rs 3 lakh, tax breaks for the creation of a cashless infrastructure, greater usage of non-cash modes of payments and making Aadhaar based payments more widespread.
  •  The budget proposed to ban all cash transactions above Rs 3 lakh, in line with the ·     Aadhaar pay, a merchant version of Aadhaar-Enabled Payment System (AEPS), will be launched soon to enable those who do not have debit cards, mobile wallets and mobile phones to make digital payments.

How is Government dealing with the Issue related to check crimes in financial sector?

  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 has recently been amended to meet challenges in cybercrime, the amended Act is yet to come into force, it has introduced two important provisions that have a strong bearing on the legal regime for data protection.
  • The Supreme Court said the introduction of a “carefully structured” data protection regime and its contours were matters policy matters to be considered by the Centre.
  • The government has already indicated in the court that the committee would be framing a data protection Bill similar to the “technology-neutral” draft Privacy Bill submitted by an earlier expert committee led by former Delhi High Court Chief Justice A.P. Shah to the Planning Commission of India in 2012.

Ratan P.Watal committee on Digital Payment:

  • The Committee on Digital Payments headed by Ratan P. Watal has submitted its final report to the Union Finance Ministry.
  •  It was notified in 2016.
  •  It was tasked to review existing payment systems in the country and recommend appropriate measures for encouraging Digital Payments.

Key recommendations:

  •  The Committee has recommended medium term strategy for accelerating growth of Digital Payments in India.
  •  It also recommends inclusion of financially and socially excluded groups and assimilation of emerging technologies in the market.
  • It calls for need of safeguarding security of Digital Transactions and providing level playing to all stakeholders and new players who will enter this new transaction space.

CERT-In

The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) is an office within the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. It is the nodal agency to deal with cyber security threats like hacking and phishing. It strengthens security-related defence of the Indian Internet domain. In March 2014, CERT-In reported a critical flaw in Android Jelly bean’s VPN implementation.

In December 2013, CERT-In reported there was a rise in the cyber attacks on Government organisations like banking and finance, oil and gas and emergency services. It issued a list of security guidelines to all critical departments

Judges cannot decide on troop deployment: Centre: (The Hindu)

Context

  • Centre filed a petition in response to the Calcutta High Court order countermanding the Centre’s directive to withdraw certain companies from the two districts in West Bengal.

What did the petition filed by the centre state?

  • The court’s direction ignores and virtually obliterates the very concept of separation of powers.
  • The maintenance of order and the security of the country, which includes the deployment of police and armed forces, is a fundamental facet of the governance of the country.
  • The matter is a core governmental function of the executive wing of the State and cannot be the subject matter of judicial review, or adjudication by a court
  • The Centre submitted that its decision was taken after assessing the ground situation. The State government had also concurred.

What is the doctrine of separation of power?

Separation of power

  • The doctrine of separation of powers is a part of the basic structure of the Indian Constitution even though it is not specifically mentioned in it.

Why is it important to create a system of checks and balances?

  • The system of checks and balances is an important part of the Constitution.
  • With checks and balances, each of the three branches of government can limit the powers of the others.
  • Different organs of the state impose checks and balances on the other. The following examples illustrate the checks and balances:
  • Judiciary has the power to void laws passed by the Parliament. It can declare the unconstitutional executive actions as void.
  • Legislatures review the functioning of the executive.
  • Executive appoints the judges.
  • Legislative branch removes the judges. It can also alter the basis of the judgment while adhering to the constitutional limitation.

What are the various provisions in the constitution regarding the separation of powers?

Articles 122 and 212

  • The courts cannot inquire the validity of the proceedings of the legislatures.

Article 50

  • Article 50 puts an obligation over the state to separate the judiciary from the executive.

Articles 121 and 211

  • The legislatures cannot discuss the conduct of a judge of the High Court or Supreme Court. They can do so only in matters of impeachment.

Article 361

  • The President and Governors enjoy immunity from court proceedings.

What is the reason for the heightened deployment of forces by the government?

  • India has a long border and, in order to effectively prevent cross border infiltration of terrorists, the Central Police Forces are also deployed.
  • The thinning of border deployment has serious national security implications
  • It is the fundamental job of the government of the day, and not the judiciary, to decide on the placement of police and armed forces to secure the nation’s borders and maintain law and order internally
  • 61 officers of various Central police forces were martyred this year alone, emphasizing the need of forces in high alert theatres like the Valley, the North East and the Red Corridor States affected by naxal extremism

What may be the implications of the court’s decision?

  • The Judiciary plays a very important role as a protector of the constitutional values that the founding fathers have given us.
  • It is the exclusive domain of the Central government to decide on the most efficacious deployment of personnel and resources to quell pressing situations
  • The Court could not assess the need for deployment of Central Police Forces in different States better the government
  • The decision by the court overrides its jurisdiction and may prove another instance of judicial review through judicial activism.
  • The role of the high court may criticized in some quarters as being violative of the doctrine of separation of powers
  • Issuing directions in respect of various aspects of the country’s administration, transgresses into the domain of the executive and the legislature

Echoes at Doklam: (The Hindu, Editorial)

Context:

Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled his vision to make China a great power so that it “leads the world in terms of the composite national strength and international influence.”

Introduction:

  • Mr. Xi stressed that China did not “pose a threat to any other country”, he reiterated the centrality of China’s territorial integrity and called on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to go hi-tech, saying that technology is at the core of combat strength.
  •  Recently, the Indian Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa, expressed hope that Chinese troops who were in the Chumbi valley for their annual summer exercises would move back at the onset of winter.
  •  The Army believes that there could be increased transgressions by China at other vulnerable points along the over 4,000km long Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Military reforms and tensions:

  •  In the last couple of years, the PLA has been systematically stripped of its power by Mr. Xi, first through the formation of the theatre commands and later in a series of changes in the top leadership.
  •  In 2015, Mr. Xi announced reorganisation of the seven military regions into five theatre commands with all three services effectively integrated, which reduced the clout of the PLA generals by bringing the military under stronger grip of the Central Military Commission chaired by him.
  •  Mr. Xi looks toward consolidating his grip on the Party and the crucial Politburo Standing Committee, it is in his interest to project himself as being firm and decisive in preserving core Chinese national interests.
  •  Beijing has used local disputes to establish a permanent presence, it can be argued that the PLA may stay put in the Chumbi valley using Doklam as a ruse.
  •  The 2012 stand-off with the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal is an example.
  • India had no option but to prevent the change of status quo by preventing the PLA from drastically altering the balance at the strategic location
  • Adding to this are other issues of disagreement such as India’s refusal to be a part of Beijing’s grand plans with the Belt and Road Initiative, citing sovereignty issues apart from deepening engagement with the U.S., and a jostling for space in the Indian Ocean Region.
  • The stalemate has been generally viewed as a victory for India and China would not want to be perceived to be weak by other countries in the region.

India- China border Issue

  • Sovereignty over two large and various smaller separated pieces of territory have been contested between China and India.
  • The westernmost, Aksai Chin, is claimed by India as part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and region of Ladakh but is controlled and administered as part of the Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang.
  • The other large disputed territory, the easternmost, lies south of the McMahon Line. It was formerly referred to as the North East Frontier Agency, and is now called Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The McMahon Line was part of the 1914 Shimla Convention between British India and Tibet, an agreement rejected by China.

India China Trade:

  • Trade deficit with China continues to balloon, which is currently over $51.09 billion
  • India exports basic material to China and buys relatively more sophisticated products from it.
  • India only sells raw materials to China and buys finished consumer goods in return.
  • India sells basic stuff such as iron ore, cotton, copper and inorganic chemicals to China. It buys mobile phones, telecom equipment, power generators and engineering goods from China. The trade pattern suggest the position of the two countries in global value chains that dominates modern manufacturing.
  • China can continue to maintain its export competitiveness despite a strong currency if its productivity is growing faster than the productivity of its trading partner.
  • According to the statics, the Chinese currency has actually appreciated against the Indian currency over the past 15 years. One Chinese yuan could be bought for Rs5.88 in August 2002. The exchange rate was Rs8.76 per yuan a decade later. It is Rs9.53 per yuan now.
  • Chinese imports from countries such as Germany, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are far higher than the exports it ships to them. These countries make the more valuable parts of various gizmos which are then sent to China for cheap assembly.
  • Thus, India’strade deficit with China is thus not a result of exchange rate but of the inability to either boost productivity or to plug into the international supply chains that span the world.

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Should robots be nationalised?: (The Hindu)

Context:

It is believed that If properly managed, the robotic revolution could be a chance to free millions of people from a system of exploitation of labour which is unprecedentedly inhumane.

Artificial Intelligence:

  • Artificial Intelligence is intelligent behaviour by machines, rather than the natural intelligence of humans and other animals.
  • Artificial Intelligence is the branch of computer science concerned with making computer behave like a human beings.
  • It is the study of ways in which machines can be made to have sufficient creative reasoning power to perform mental task.
  • Artificial intelligence includes expert tasks such as diagnostic diseases, designing computer system and planning scientific expedition.

Government task force on artificial intelligence:

  • Recently, the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry has constituted a Task Force on Artificial Intelligence (AI) for India’s Economic Transformation.
  • The Task force will explore the possibilities to leverage AI for development across various fields. It will submit concrete and implementable recommendations for industry, government and research institutions.

Advantages:

  1. It can help in doing multiplicity of tasks quickly which manually can take significant time.Ex: Advanced computing in genetics to determine the molecular properties
  2. Can help in reducing human misery. ex: robots, drones helping during disasters, essential in era of climate change
  3. Meeting needs of increasing population. Ex: quick Transport(compressing space), Driverless cars, drones for service delivery like medicines
  4. Reaching remote places to gain knowledge and prosperity Ex: Deep Ocean, Polymetallic nodule extraction etc.
  5. Precision: Such technologies are more precise and accurate than human beings, which can lead to provision of much better quality services.
  6. Economy: The overall costs of their management and operation is lower as compared to the manpower costs incurred, in the case of firms. This can help in generating greater profits for the upcoming entrepreneurs and startup firms.
  7. Convenience: Artificial intelligence believed to be more convenient, as compared to a task being performed using an older technology, or manually.
  8. Declining productivity is a major issue which can be resolved by AI.
  9. It is a virtual labor force and a new driver in the economy. Along with productivity improvement, AI can boost economic growth through innovation. This will enable people to do their jobs better, be more productive and focus on their high-value tasks.

Disadvantages:

Threat to humanity:

  1. Fourth Industrial Revolution, built around Artificial Intelligence eliminates jobs, both blue and white collar, at a rapid pace.
  2. Artificial intelligence could drive global unemployment to 50%, wiping out middle class jobs, and exacerbating inequality.
  3. Automation’s effect on unemployment would have huge political consequences.
  4.  In China, artificial intelligence has already affected the thousands of jobs as electronic manufactures; develop precious robots to replace humans.
  5. Livelihood issue: It will take jobs of millions so problem relate to basic necessities and vicious cycle issues will erupt.
  6. Social unrest: It will lead to  chaos, fight and social crimes.
  7. Human emotion: Robot can never be friend, so decrease in socialization harmony, problems related to privacy, human ethics and moral behaviour.
  8. Creates inequality: A wealthier country will progress more as better product in less time.
  9. Loss of worth of human intelligence due to presence of an alternative.
  10. The ethical problem of fixing the legal accountability emanating from consequences of actions guided by artificial intelligence.
  11. Benefits only rich and concentration of wealth

Fourth Industrial Revolution:

  •    The Fourth Industrial Revolution can be described as the advent of “cyber-physical systems” involving entirely new capabilities for people and machines.
  •   The Fourth Industrial Revolution represents entirely new ways in which technology becomes embedded within societies and even our human bodies. Examples include genome editing, new forms of machine intelligence, breakthrough materials and approaches to governance that rely on cryptographic methods such as the blockchain.

Advantages of Fourth Industrial Revolution:

  •   Fourth Industrial Revolution has the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for populations around the world.
  • In the future, technological innovation will also lead to a supply-side miracle, with long-term gains in efficiency and productivity.
  •  Transportation and communication costs will drop, logistics and global supply chains will become more effective, and the cost of trade will diminish, all of which will open new markets and drive economic growth.

Conclusion:

Artificial intelligence and the rapid speed, with which its utility is being recognized in domains as diverse as transport, health, navigation, etc, is indeed good news for mankind. But, at the same time, an unregulated use, or even an unthought application of such technologies can bring with it numerous casualties.  There is need to use this technology in a manner that improves out comfort and convenience levels, and should not allow machines to dictate the order of things in the long-run by maintaining requisite checks.

Centre to aid offshore e-commerce play:

Context

  • Centre plans to expand the footprint of the Indian e-commerce sector to tap potential markets outside the country, including Africa and Southeast Asia.

What is the significance of expanding the ecommerce industry?

  • Among several factors, a conscious patronization of online commerce, and an emergence of retail as a dominant market segment have contributed to the unprecedented growth of ecommerce in India.
  • The digital economy in the country is forecast to generate employment for about 30 million people by 2024-25, “which is double than the current scenario”.
  • The policy is aimed to achieve the target of making India a trillion-dollar digital economy in the next seven years
  • With increasing demand for online purchasing, more and more businesses are moving to e-store from brick and mortar stores.
  • With the boom in internet usage and its convenience, ecommerce has a lot of potential to capture markets both domestic and overseas.

What are the factors catalyzing the ecommerce industry in India?

The three principal driving factors that seem to have contributed  to this growth in ecommerce sector of India are:

  • Participation of niche companies in online trading
  • Unmatched FDI (foreign direct investment)
  • Uniform GST (Goods and Services Tax)

What are the two aspects for the expansion of e-commerce industry?

    • There will be two aspects to it — one will focus on expansion within India, and the other on global expansion.

The government is to tap overseas markets in the Southeast Asia, West Asia, SAARC and BRICS nations

  • The e-commerce economy is currently pegged at $30 billion, and the government expects it to grow at $150 billion by 2024-25.

What are the other initiatives taken by the government?

The government is also working on a strategy to make India a hub for

  • Data analytics
  • Cloud computing
  • Financial technology

What are the challenges to the expansion of the ecommerce industry?

  • Shipping costs and tracking visibility
  • Clarity in cross-border fees (Import duties and taxes)
  • Reasonable product delivery times
  • Data security.

How is the government working on the data protection draft bill?

  • The Data Protection Act, the draft of which is likely to be ready by December 2017, will provide a policy framework on digital economy, including social media.
  • The government will also ready a security framework for mobile devices and the mobile application ecosystem by March 2018.

What is Data Protection under the Indian legal system?

  • The Indian constitution has provided the right to privacy under the scope of Article 21. Its interpretation is found insufficient to provide adequate protection to the data.
  • In the year 2000, effort has been made by our legislature to embrace privacy issues relating to computer system under the purview of IT Act, 2000.
  • This Act contains certain provisions which provide protection of stored data. In the year 2006, our legislature has also introduced a bill known as ‘The Personal Data Protection Bill’ so as to provide protection to the personal information of the person.

What is the significance of data protection bill?

  • In the year 2006, our legislature has introduced a bill known as ‘The Personal Data Protection Bill’ to provide protection to the personal information of the person.
  • The bill applies both to government as well as private enterprises engaged in data functions.
  • Privacy has become an intensely discussed and debated topic, in this new era of digital age
  • In order to remove obstacles from cross-border flow of data, the privacy of people and freedom should be maintained at all levels by processing the data equivalent in all participating states
  • The new  Data Protection Act, the draft of which is likely to be ready by December 2017, will provide a policy framework on digital economy, including social media. The government will also ready a security framework for mobile devices and the mobile application ecosystem by March 2018

U.S. makes H-1B visa renewals tougher:

Context:

Fresh changes in rules notified by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for renewal of non-immigrant visas will severely impact H-1B visa holders.

New Rules:

  • The new rules are in line with the Donald Trump administration’s Buy American, Hire American Policy.
  • An H-1B worker goes to the USCIS for three types of changes to his status- amendment, transfer and renewal.
  • Amendment are sought when an H-1B employee changes the location within the same company, transfer is sought when he moves from one company to another; and a renewal is sought at the expiry of the visa, which is usually issued for three years at the beginning.

What is H1B Visa?

  •  The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows companies to employ foreigners for a period of up to six years.
  •  This visa is aimed at helping companies employ foreigners in positions for which they have been unable to find American employees.
  •  H1B visa holders are allowed to apply for permanent residency in the US as well as buy or sell property in the country.
  • The H-1B is a visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows U.S. employers to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.
  • If a foreign worker in H1B status quits or dismissed from the sponsoring employer, the worker must either apply for and be granted a change of status, find another employer or leave the United States.
  • Effective January 2017, USCIS modified the rules to allow a grace period of up to 60 days but in practice as long as a green card application is pending they are allowed to stay.
  • The regulations define a “specialty occupation” as requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor.

Criticisms:

  • The aim of the H1B visa programme was to supplement the US workforce with high-skilled workers to do jobs that Americans are not skilled to do, not to replace the US workers.
  • Many companies use the H1B visa to replace American workers with foreign ones, as the latter can be hired at lower salaries without compromising on the skill sets.
  • In few cases, American employees have alleged that they were made to train H1B holders to do their own jobs, and then fired.

The new H1B reform bill proposals:

  • Proposes a radical overhaul of the process, increasing the minimum salary for visa holders, more than double the current minimum.
  • The H1B visa bill removes the ‘per country’ cap for employment-based immigrant visas.
  • It sets aside 20% of the annually allocated H1B visas for small companies and startup employers to ensure small businesses have an opportunity to compete for high-skilled workers.
  • The Bill encourages companies to recruit American workers. This provision would crack down on outsourcing companies that import large numbers of H-1B and L-1 workers for short training periods and then send these workers back to their home country to do the work of Americans.
  • It explicitly prohibits replacement of American workers by H1-B or L-1 visa holders.
  • The Bill seeks to give the Department of Labour enhanced authority to review, investigate and audit employer compliance as well as to penalise fraudulent or abusive conduct.

Impact of H1B visa reforms:

  • Among the biggest recipients of H1B visas each year are Indian IT firms, such as Infosys, TCS, Wipro, HCL, Igate, Cognizant, as well as global giants IBM, Accenture, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon, among others.
  • If this bill passes, they will to bear significantly higher costs for employing highly-skilled foreign citizens.
  • It may even  create a gap in demand and supply for talent for smaller companies that cannot afford incurring high costs to employ skilled workers.
  • It will eliminate the Master’s Degree exemption for employers.
  • The new rules may bring back restrictions on the spouses of H1B visa holders who until recently were not allowed to work in the US.

How is India responding?

The Indian government appears to have taken notice of the reports but it is unclear if it’s going to escalate the matter as a diplomatic issue. India has been largely silent on Trump administration’s recent immigration ban barring foreign nationals from seven Muslim-dominated countries.

However, India’s interests and concerns have been conveyed both to the US administration and the US Congress at senior levels.

No dilution of India, EU trade pact:

Context:

  • India and the European Union are yet to finalise a date for re-launching their Free Trade Agreement negotiations stalled since 2013.

India – EU Foreign Trade Agreement (FTA) deadlock:

  • EU was quite upbeat on pushing the talks, which had started in 2007, and finalize a date for a formal round of negotiations to take place. However, India was not keen to do so unless both sides resume the talks afresh.
  • The Conclusion of the FTA was the top most agenda of the European leaders, but India was more eager to discuss issues related to counter-terrorism and security.

What was discussed ?

  • The issue of data adequacy and greater market access was discussed at length during the summit-level.
  • The Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) was almost mentioned as a passing reference in the India-EU joint statement, which stated that both sides agreed to “re-engage actively towards timely relaunching negotiations for a comprehensive and mutually beneficial India-EU BTIA.”
  • The BTIA talks have been stuck mainly because over slashing of import tariffs on European cars and alcohol and recognizing India as ‘data-secure’ country that will enable a free flow of data between India and EU.
  • EU highlighted that two-way trade that has reached $95 billion in 2016 can be further boosted by having the FTA.

Trade concerns:

  • India has allowed tens of bilateral investment treaties to lapse, including those with EU states, so it can bring these in line with a model treaty from 2015.
  • Another issue holding up the trade talks has been the EU not granting “data secure” certification to India.
  • India does not have a stand-alone data privacy law yet and the state recently went to great lengths to create a false dichotomy between development and privacy during the right to privacy hearings in the Supreme Court, including, by (unsuccessfully) arguing that privacy was an elitist concern.

What is India demanding?

  • Other sticky points in the negotiations have been India wanting a greater ease of movement of temporary skilled workers to provide services in the EU.
  • This EU and other developed nations have been historically reluctant about moving forward on this issue and this has become more challenging with the rise of populism and protectionism in Europe.

What is EU’s stand on it?

  • The EU wanting greater market access for its automobiles and its wines and spirits.
  • The EU is, commendably, at the forefront of protecting citizens’ rights as regards what happens to their data online.
  • It would certainly be a shot in the arm for consumer rights and privacy standards in the digital age if India were to adopt and implement strict standards for handling data, an outcome desirable in itself.

Way ahead

  • India and the EU should continue to welcome each other’s leadership roles in the world, because of commonly shared values.
  • EU is India’s largest trade partner and it is also, like India, wary of China’s political (the summit declaration makes a reference to freedom of navigation principles) and economic dominance.
  • EU is concerned about China flooding global markets with inexpensive steel and its response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (OBOR) has been lukewarm, but the strength of China’s relationship with EU member states themselves is heterogeneous, with China trying to make inroads into Eastern and Central Europe through infrastructure investments.
  • With around €100 billion in bilateral goods and services trade last year, India and the EU have a lot to gain from a trade deal.
  • It will certainly pay for both India and the EU to keep each other close as they feel their way around the emerging international order.

Prelims Related News

‘Fish-lizard’ fossil from Kutch is a Jurassic first:

Context:

  • A  Jurassic-era fossil of an animal that looks like an amalgamation of dolphin and lizard has been discovered in Kutch, Gujarat.

What was the discovery?

  • This is the first time an ichthyosaur fossil has been discovered in India.
  • The 5.5 metre-long skeleton is thought to belong to the Ophthalmosauridae family, which likely lived between 165 and 90 million years ago.
  • The way the creature’s teeth were worn out suggest it ate animals with thick and bony coverings

How is the discovery important?

  • This is a remarkable discovery because it is the first Jurassic ichthyosaur record from India.
  • It also throws light on the evolution and diversity of ichthyosaurs in the Indo-Madagascan region and India’s biological connectivity with other continents in the Jurassic.
  • The identification of the new specimen may further throw light on whether there was any marine connection between India and South America about 150 million years ago.

What is Ichthyosaur?

  • Ichthyosaur first appeared in the early Triassic period (251 million to 199 million years ago).
  • The name means fish-lizard, although the creature has been classified as a reptile since the mid-19th Century.
  • Its length ranged from 1m to 14m – although the average length was 2m to 3m.
  • The creature was noted for its sharp, robust teeth.
    Ichthyosaurs became extinct around 90 million years ago.
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