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India and neighbors

With Doklam standoff resolved, PM to visit China: (The Hindu)


  • India announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be paying a three-day visit to China, even as Bhutan welcomed the diplomatic end of the border crisis.

Statement by The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)

  • MEA announced that Mr. Modi’s visit to China for the BRICS summit will be followed by his visit to Myanmar.
  • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will be visiting Xiamen, in China’s Fujian province during September 3-5, 2017 to attend the 9th BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa] Summit.
  • The trip is likely to include a one-on-one meeting between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping on September 4.
  • The meeting between the two leaders will be the first since they exchanged courtesies during the July 7-8 G20 summit meeting in Hamburg.
  • India on Monday declared de-escalation of the two-month-long standoff on the Doklam plateau that had led to dramatic rise in tensions.

Lessons from Doklam: (The Hindu, Editorial)


  • Several significant questions remain unanswered about the terms and conditions of the resolution of the Sino-Indian military stand-off at Doklam, it provides New Delhi and Beijing an opportunity to reflect over what went wrong and rejig this important bilateral relationship.
  • The upcoming visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to China to attend the BRICS summit will provide the two sides such an opportunity.

Lesson learnt

  • The most self-evident lesson from the Doklam stand-off is that we inhabit a ‘self-help’ world wherein China is a world power.
  • India is on its own and would have to fend for itself in case of a clash with China, a country with which every major state in the international system has a robust economic relationship.
  • None of the major powers unambiguously and unreservedly supported India’s position on Doklam.
  • In fact, even Bhutan kept a studied silence through the latter part of the stand-off.
  • New Delhi, therefore, must carefully review the scenarios and consider its options before upping the ante.
  • Moreover, regarding Doklam, instead of inviting military attention to itself and trapping itself in a conflict with Beijing, New Delhi could have convinced Thimphu to be more vocal about Bhutan’s territorial rights.
  • Doklam stand-off is that China is unlikely to respect India’s ‘special relationships’ with its neighbours.
  • India has long enjoyed a special status in the South Asian region and often treated it as its exclusive backyard.
  • With China expanding its influence in the region and competing for status and influence, the ‘middle kingdom’ considers South Asia, with India in it, as its periphery.
  • China uses economic incentives and military pressure to do so.
  • India’s traditional policy towards South Asia, of limited economic assistance topped with a big brother attitude, will need to undergo fundamental transformation to retain its influence.
  • India should consider all odds and evaluate the merit of the cause before making military commitments.
  • Indian political parties cannot make any domestic gains by whipping up nationalist passions against China.
  • India needs to engage China diplomatically to resolve outstanding conflicts rather than engage in a war of words, or worse, threaten to use force.
  • India needs to realize the importance of cooperating with China on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) while getting China to do so on various India-led regional projects. It cannot be a zero-sum game.

What next?

  • It is high time, therefore, that the two countries appointed dedicated high-ranking officials to discuss the boundary issues in a more sustained and result-oriented manner.
  • It is necessary for India to devise a strategy to engage a resurgent China, also a significant neighbour, in the days ahead.
  • There is also an urgent need to adopt a multi-pronged strategy to deal with Beijing.
  • India needs to engage China a lot more at several levels: diplomatically, politically, multilaterally and economically.
  • The upcoming BRICS summit in the Chinese city of Xiamen is a good occasion to initiate a dedicated backchannel with Beijing given the high potential for future disagreements.

Can India and China use BRICS to build a house?: (Indian Express, Editorial)


  • India and China have managed to metaphorically avoid stepping on another land line in Doklam plateau, at the tri-junction of India.
  • This September 3, the two Asian giants’ is going to take a step in the right direction when prime minister Narendra Modi meets Chinese president Xi Jinping, along with other leaders from Brazil, Russia and South Africa at the 9th annual BRICS Summit.

Importance of BRICS

  • The informal bloc of BRIC(S) nations was established as a response to global financial crisis of 2008.
  • It was a result of the cracks that had begun to form in the global financial system lead by the Bretton Woods institutions and dominated by the west.
  • The BRICS nations have together promoted their exports, coordinated responses in international legal disputes, successfully negotiated for an increase in voting shares at the World Bank.
  • In an increasingly overpopulated topography of multi-lateral institutions, BRICS have consolidated their reserves to become creditors of foreign aid rather than just borrowers of the same.
  • The bloc has achieved much economically – of course, there is much left to be desired politically.
  • The coming decade presents the opportunity to make the world institutions more equitable politically. For the success of that, India and China need to find common ground before the economic momentum that is behind them begins to fade.
  • It would be wise for China to stop treating India as an economic laggard to itself that can be coerced into submission and realise that such actions only push India, against its will, towards the west.
  • India on the other hand must continue to advocate for an increased joint collaboration with China in multi-lateral institutions, even if it’s voting shares in such institutions is second to China.

Opening new doors: (Indian Express, Editorial)


  • The highest adjudicatory power stands defined as the power to re-interpret that which has been pre-interpreted.
  • Judicial review emerges as the power to co-govern the nation by feats of demosprudential adjudicatory leadership. This feat should cause constitutional happiness.

Right to Privacy (R2P)

  • The R2P is spoken as a right, a principle, and a value.
  • It is an “elemental principle”, a “protected constitutional value” such that “would redefine in significant ways our concepts of liberty and the entitlements that flow out of its protection” and as a “standard”.
  • The court asserts the need to protect the privacy of the being when “development and technological change continuously threaten… public gaze and portend to submerge the individual into a seamless web of inter-connected lives”.
  • It proceeds to speak of spatial control, decisional autonomy, and informational control.
  • The standards of reasonableness of restrictions on the R2P will have to ultimately depend on the type of claims and contentions made before courts.
  • In this sense, the right is neither inalienable, natural, or un-waivable.

Significance of Right to Privacy (R2P)

  • The R2P decision is significant for opening many doors to the future.
  • In effect, it rules that the two-judge bench that overruled the Naz Delhi High Court decision offended the R2P and the curative bench will now have to follow that decision.
  • Further entailments on the politics of beef will unfold in relation to the human right to food, nutrition, and health.
  • The court has already held (through Justice Nariman) that international law applies unless there is direct legislative prohibition.
  • Moreover, human rights standards and norms also enter the determination of the reasonableness of such prohibition.
  • The judgment will have considerable implications for the future of reproductive rights. Scrupulous regard for comparative constitutional studies and international legal perspectives render its impact even more wide-ranging, reshaping constitutional futures.

Same as old

  • This normalization is an unsurprising act of judicial discretion, which consists in presenting the new as always existing.
  • It is however, clear that interpretation here results in innovation, the new declaration of an “inalienable” and “natural right”, a right rooted in pre-constitutional common law foundational principles and also in some values of the Preamble of the Indian Constitution.
  • Human dignity and liberty as well as autonomy thus emerge as core values, as these are not conceivable without the R2P.

Types of Privacy recognized by the court

  • Physical or spatial privacy;
  • Informational privacy;
  • Decisional privacy;
  • Proprietary privacy;
  • Associational privacy.


Indian Economy. Planning, Growth and Employment

Centre to unveil ‘future-ready’ industrial policy in October: (The Hindu)


  • The government on Tuesday said it would announce the new ‘future-ready’ Industrial Policy in October, by suitably incorporating measures to facilitate the use of smart technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics for advanced manufacturing.

What is this new policy?

  • The new policy would aim at making India a manufacturing hub by promoting ‘Make in India’, also that it would incorporate the National Manufacturing Policy.

Wide consultations

  • Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman would hold discussions on the framework in Chennai, Guwahati and Mumbai with stakeholders, including industry captains, think tanks and State governments.
  • The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP – the nodal body for the new Policy and part of the Commerce and Industry Ministry) has pursued comments, feedback and suggestions from the public, by September 25, on a discussion paper on the policy.


The ‘illustrative outcomes’ of the policy sketched in the paper include:

  • Increasing the number of Global-Indian firms in the Fortune-500 category in the long-term,
  • In the medium-term helping attract $100 billion inward FDI annually
  • It supports outward FDI to stress Indian presence in world markets, and addressing the problem of low job creation in the formal sector.
  • Developing alternatives to banks and improving access to capital for MSMEs through ‘peer to peer lending’ and ‘crowd funding’.
  • Providing a credit rating mechanism for MSMEs.
  • Addressing the problem of inverted-duty structure.
  • Balancing it against obligations under multilateral or bilateral trade agreements.
  • Studying the impact of automation on jobs and employment.
  • Ensuring minimal/zero waste from industrial activities and targeting certain sectors to radically cut emissions.

Six thematic focus groups:

  •       Manufacturing and MSME;
  •       Technology and innovation;
  •       Ease of doing business;
  •       Infrastructure, investment, trade and fiscal policy; and
  •       Skills and employability for the future, would facilitate inputs.

What are focus groups?

  • Focus groups, with members from government departments, industry associations, academia, and think tanks have been set up to delve deep into challenges faced by the industry in specific areas.
  • Also a Task Force on Artificial Intelligence for India’s Economic Transformation has also been constituted which will provide inputs for the policy.


  • The discussion paper said the constraints to industrial growth include inadequate infrastructure, restrictive labour laws, complicated business environment, slow technology adoption, low productivity, challenges for trade including the Indian MSME sector facing tough competition from cheap imports from China and FTA countries, inadequate expenditure on R&D and Innovation.
  • These constraints function in tandem to increase cost of goods and services.
  • As they are strongly entwined, they exacerbate the disadvantages.
  • “The nexus needs to be broken at more than one link to ensure that the spin-off is in the positive direction,” the paper added.

Inclusive growth

Financial inclusion and the right to privacy: (Live Mint, Editorial)


  • India has the distinctive opportunity to put in place a model system for the governance of privacy, one that is far better suited for the digital age and for expanding financial inclusion.

Data protection law

  • A data protection law is especially important at this early stage in the development of databases, policies and systems in India that rely upon Aadhaar.
  • While Aadhaar to facilitate the collection of massive amounts of information, which would expose vulnerable consumers to privacy risks—competing factors that well-crafted legislation can address.
  • Integration of Aadhaar into the economy helps the financially excluded to access life-changing loans, insurance, savings and payments services more easily, and the costs of the financial services delivery likely will fall as a result.
  • Aadhaar can also help citizens receive timely and complete payment of their government benefits.

How can it damage?

  • If government and the private sector collect Aadhaar numbers for everything, Aadhaar might become the organizing tool for the compilation of sensitive, detailed and constantly evolving individual profiles.
  • Corporations and government with access to these profiles could use them in abusive ways to describe, predict, and ultimately influence the behaviour of individuals, sometimes without their knowledge.
  • Data from a person’s purchasing history, location, habits, income and social media activity can be used to classify consumers and customize the price of financial products or the interest rates charged to.
  • Such customization could exploit the consumer unfairly, based on their habits, or enable financial service providers to discriminate directly or indirectly based upon the customer’s ethnicity, gender, caste or religion.
  • Government access to profiles can also raise privacy concerns. The vast amounts of data generated by new technologies and linked to Aadhaar increase the potential for abusive data practices and privacy invasion.
  • The Supreme Court’s ruling is a vital first step in responding to this danger.

Safeguards for consumer privacy

  • India also has the opportunity to establish safeguards for consumer privacy that are integrally part of the design, including the technical design, of government and private sector systems.
  • This approach, often known as “privacy by design”, has received widespread support from regulators and policymakers around the world.
  • The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which takes effect next year, mandates data protection by design and by default, significantly expanding the reach of this process.
  • A critical feature of any data protection regulation will be the limitations placed on the collection and storage of personal data.
  • The collection and storage of data should also be regulated, especially considering the vastly increased opportunities for harmful and unauthorized access the more data is collected and the longer it is kept, and the social harms created by pervasive surveillance.

Judicial rulings

  • Judicial rulings are one path for developing the right to privacy.
  • The legislative path allows India to develop world-leading data protection that moves away from the flawed notice-and-choice model to one that establishes for the government and private sector alike clear, predictable parameters on the collection, use, processing, sharing, and the security of personally identifiable information.
  • The Supreme Court’s recognition of a right to privacy provides the foundation to ensure that innovations such as Aadhaar are used to enhance the poor’s dignity and well-being.

Science and Tech

ISRO opens up satellite making to industry


  • The Bengaluru-based ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC), which has so far produced about 90 Indian spacecraft invited single or combined industries to apply for this opportunity.

What is the length of the contract?

  • ISAC would sign a three-year contract with the finalists, train, handhold and supervise their teams in making its range of satellites at its facility.
  • The first lot of spacecraft from this exercise was expected in about six months from the signing of the contracts. This is also roughly the normal time taken to assemble a satellite.
  • The contract mentions milestone payments, assigning of new spacecraft upon delivery; and a possible renewal of contract after three years.

What made ISRO open doors to satellite making?

  • The manpower of ISAC/ISRO is not adequate for meeting both the increased load of making more satellites and for the research and development that might be useful for future satellites.
  • The present bid to outsource our AIT will may allow them to re-deploy their human resources effectively and focus on research and development.
  • ISRO needs to make 12-18 diverse spacecraft a year, thus search is on for 5-6 teams to make communication, remote sensing and navigation spacecraft
  • First satellites from this effort are targeted to be out in 2018                 
  • Industry to be trained in all the current types of Indian satellites
  • ISRO satellite center, Bengaluru to uphold and supervise all activities

Why is it necessary?

  • ISRO’s this year’s annual budget stands at around $1.4 billion even after a substantial hike, which are peanuts when compared to NASA’s 19.1 billion.
  • The Indian Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests had asked for a 50% hike, while ISRO chairman stressed on the need for “for manpower for producing various satellites and also bolster the R&D set up to develop new generation satellite and launch vehicles”.
  • In the $ 339-billion global space industry, satellite manufacturing accounts for 8% or $13.9 billion

Important missions

  • Although the goal is to get vendors to realise satellites “end to end”, ISAC would retain important and scientific missions.
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