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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 9th February, 2017

  • February 9, 2017
  • 2
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Feb 2017, Science and Technology, Security, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 9th February 2017

Archives

SECURITY AND DIASPORA 

TOPIC:

General Studies 2

  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

General Studies 3

  • Role of external state and non?state actors in creating challenges to internal security
  • Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate

Diaspora – Security concerns w.r.t. evacuations.

Introduction

The Indian Diaspora is a generic term to describe the people who migrated from territories that are currently within the borders of the Republic of India. It also refers to their descendants. The Diaspora is currently estimated to number over twenty million composed of “NRIs” (Indian citizens not residing in India) and “PIOs” (Persons of Indian Origin who have acquired the citizenship of some other country).

The Diaspora covers practically every part of the world. It numbers more than a million each in eleven countries, while as many as twenty-two countries have concentrations of at least a hundred thousand ethnic Indians.

Understanding:

According to the latest United Nations estimates, 244 million people, or 3.3% of the world’s population, live in a country other than the one where they were born. By far, the most popular destination in 2015 was the United States, followed by Germany, Russia and Saudi Arabia. But the ranking should not be viewed as a popularity contest. Saudi Arabia shows up because it hosts an enormous number of migrant workers, not immigrants who resettle, as in the United States.

Indians make up the largest diaspora: 16 million Indians are scattered across the world, which partly reflects the country’s demographic size (1.2 billion) and youth (median age is around 26).

Issue:

The increasing size and complexity of the diaspora requires the government to expand capacity and improve procedures. More than 11 million Indians now reside abroad and 20 million travel internationally every year.

As political instability rattles the West Asian region, which hosts more than seven million Indians, the government can no longer rely on heroic efforts by individual officials or quick-fix solutions. Despite extensive experience in conducting evacuation operations of its citizens abroad, India still needs to institutionalise best practices.

Previous experiences:

  • On January 26, 1986, as New Delhi celebrated its Republic Day, South Yemen was being engulfed in a civil war that threatened the lives of thousands of foreigners living there. While Britain, France and the Soviet Union coordinated to jointly evacuate their nationals, the 850 Indians in the country were forced to wait for several more days until New Delhi finally managed to convince a merchant ship to pick them up.
  • Fast forward almost 30 years, to April 2015, when Yemen was on fire once again. This time, however, the Indian government successfully conducted Operation Raahatto evacuate almost 5,000 Indians and nearly 1,000 citizens from 41 other countries. Besides Air India aircraft, the Indian Navy deployed vessels, and the Indian Air Force C-17 Globemasters for strategic airlift. Such unprecedented efforts and resources reflect New Delhi’s new drive to protect the lives and assets of its citizens abroad in times of crisis.

Measures to be initiated

  • First, the government will need to build on its rich experience in conducting more than 30 evacuation operations since the 1950s.
    • Studying India’s history, best practices and lessons learned will help institutionalise them and avoid the need to reinvent the wheel every time a crisis erupts.
    • By supporting policy-oriented research at universities and think tanks to document the memory of senior officials, the government would also facilitate the transmission of their expertise to younger officials.

Preparing a manual

  • Second, the government must avoid the jugaad(careless or reactive)approach.
    • Every evacuation case is unique, given the specific nature and location of the crisis, but this should not preclude an analytical attempt to formulate a blueprint that lists core tasks for all operations.
    • An inter-ministerial committee should prepare a manual with guidelines that establish a clear chain of command and division of competencies; identify regional support bases, assembly points and routes for evacuation; develop country-specific warden systems to communicate with expatriates; and establish evacuation priority and embarkation criteria.
  • Third, India’s diplomatic cadre must be given specific training to operate in hostile environments.
    • As pointed out by a senior government official, when it comes to operating in complex theatres, “practice and preparedness make perfection”.
    • To achieve this, the government could instruct the police or army to train Indian Foreign Service probationers to operate in war zones; conduct frequent evacuation simulations and emergency drills; and create rapid reaction teams of Indian security personnel to be deployed to protect diplomatic staff and installations abroad.
  • Fourth, the success of future operations will also rely on New Delhi’s willingness to work together with friendly governments.
    • India will have to invest in cooperative frameworks that facilitate coordination among countries that have large expatriate populations in West Asia, in particular Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and among leading powers with evacuation capacity in the Indian Ocean region.
  • Fifth, the government will have to assign a greater role to its armed forces, in particular by strengthening the Navy and Air Force’s capacity to operate in tandem with civilian authorities.
    • It should, for example, direct the military to develop a non-combatant evacuation (NEO) doctrine, designate the Integrated Defence Staff as the nodal organisation to improve inter-services and civil-military coordination, direct the services to conduct more multilateral NEO exercises, and adapt military modernisation plans to increase capacity for out-of-area deployment and evacuation.

Using technology

  • Sixth, to minimise redundancies, the government must institutionalise a permanent inter-ministerial coordinating mechanism for emergency evacuations, incentivise inter-agency cross-posting of officials dealing with diaspora affairs, and encourage State governments to create regional contingency plans.
  • Seventh, to avoid cost inflation and delays, the government must establish a permanent civil reserve air fleet that pools aircraft from all Indian airlines based on pre-established requisition and reimbursement procedures.
  • Eighth, the government will have to invest in new technologies to better monitor the diaspora’s profile and mobility.
    • This can be achieved by encouraging more diplomatic missions to provide online consular registration forms, developing an online registration system for overseas travellers, utilising social media, and by making the Aadhaar card compulsory to facilitate biometric identity verification and reduce identity fraud during evacuation.
  • Finally, the government must expand efforts to manage public opinion and be able to conduct a quiet diplomacy that is crucial to safely extricate Overseas Indians from conflict zones.
    • To reduce domestic pressures, it should embed media representatives more frequently in such missions, reassure the diaspora by ensuring that high-level political representatives are personally engaged, and avoid raising expectations by clearly distinguishing Indian citizens from people of Indian origin.

Conclusion

India has extensive experience in conducting evacuation operations, but to secure the lives and assets of Indians abroad, the government must avoid an ad hoc approach and seek to institutionalise best practices, bolster diplomatic and military capabilities, and improve coordination.

Connecting the dots :

  • With changing global security situation and dispersed Indian diaspora evacuation operations in recent times have been testing. Critically analyse the need for a comprehensive policy in this direction. Give you sketch of a probable policy dimension.

 

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

TOPIC:

General Studies 3

  • Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Time to formulate a law for data protection

  • Government’s push to ‘go cashless’, growing pervasiveness and penetration of Aadhar and the age of Big data has led to re-emergence of interest in privacy and data protection in India.
  • Big Data= extremely large data sets that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions.
  • There are multiple laws which have impact on privacy of individuals- Information Technology Act, Aadhaar Act, Right to Information Act, and various other delegated legislation.
  • But there is no comprehensive law or policy on privacy or data protection in India.

Right to Privacy Bill, 2014

  • The Right to Privacy bill, 2014 has been lying redundant and has no future dim hope as the government has set no timelines for its reconsideration or re-enactment.
  • The issue of privacy law arose when government of India said in the Supreme Court that “violation of privacy doesn’t mean anything because privacy is not a guaranteed right”, actually arguing that the citizens of India do not have a fundamental right to privacy.
  • The Right to Privacy Bill, 2014 guaranteeing citizen against the misuse of personal data by government or private agencies was being prepared by central government. The objective was to uphold Article 21 of Constitution that states sensitive personal data need not be disclosed by an individual without prior consent to the data subject.
  • This is a constitutional assurance provided for every citizen in India against misuse of personal data.
  • The draft bill is yet to be discussed by the stakeholders and difference of opinions have to be solved.
  • The penalty clause of the bill proposes enhancement of penalties of Rs 2 crore against any person or agencies in illegally using the personal data. Any official of telecom service provider is found guilty in misusing the personal data is subject to penalty of Rs 50 lakhs, illegally obtained personal information on false pretext is also subject to penalty of 50 lakhs. Stealth of personal data on the first attempt is subject to 10 lakhs and on repeated act penalty is enhanced to 20 lakhs.
  • Though the bill is to protect personal data of an individual and ensuring privacy it has a proposed clause to exempt the intelligence and law enforcement agencies from its ambit. The special exemption clause in the bill states exemption of intelligence authorities from the scrutiny of Data Protection Authority. The bill aims at the scrutiny of intelligence agencies only by competent court.
  • Hence, with the growing use of digital content, there is a glaring gap that needs to be filled legally.

5 elements to design a privacy law

Data collection

  • The law should require the entities that collect the data to specify the purpose of collecting the data.
  • The users should be provided with ‘opt-out’ clause so that they can withdraw their content from data collection.
  • In Aadhar Act, Lok Sabha rejected the amendment that sought to introduce an opt-out clause which allowed the biometric and demographic information of the Aadhaar-number holder to be deleted. This has left the citizens with the unsettling feeling of having surrendered their biometrics permanently.
  • The laws should specify the manner and form of preserving data, the time limits for retention and whether they recognize the “right to be forgotten”.

Use and process of data

  • Data is consistently being collected- actively through giving user information while registering for an app and passively through GPS tracking of movements on Google Maps, etc.
  • Today, Big Data technologies have made it easy to extrapolate personal information about individuals. For example, a recent study found that an individual’s Facebook “likes” reveal, with a reasonable accuracy, their ethnicity, religious and political leanings, sexual orientation, and personality traits.
  • Thus, data collection limitation (how much information one reveals about itself) is not enough. The law has to focus on putting limitation on usage of data also by controlling how data controllers can use the information collected about their users. The onus has to be on entities that collect and control the data.
  • This may also involve formulating rules of proportionality and the narrow modifying of exceptions that will govern the balancing of competing interests.
  • India can also learn from European Union (EU) initiatives on data protection “by design” and “by default”, which focus on improving default privacy settings so as to reduce subsequent regulatory intervention.

Sharing and transfer of data

  • Currently there is no regulatory framework to control how data is shared by the data controller with third parties.
  • Also there is no consideration of the different standards that govern the sharing of information with governmental and non-governmental entities, both within India and abroad.
  • Indian law has to be able to deal with situations such as the Facebook-WhatsApp data-sharing policy (for commercial benefits) or the Apple-Federal Bureau of Investigation stand-off (for law enforcement).

Rights of users

  • The data privacy law should also recognise the rights of users.
  • Though it is yet to be decided if right to privacy is a constitutional right or not, but it is necessary that right to privacy atleast becomes a statutory right.
  • Once again, EU Privacy law can become a guide here by recognising
    • Rights to data quality– ensuring accuracy of personal data by allowing individuals access and correction rights
    • Data integrity– ensuring security of data
    • Data-breach notification– requiring users to be informed of any privacy-related breaches
    • Data portability– allowing users to transmit their personal data across service providers

Supervision and redressal mechanism

  • The success of any law depends on enforcement. More than focussing on writing laws, much attention should be given to effectiveness of redressal mechanisms.
  • For example, in Aadhar Act, only UIDAI is permitted to initiate criminal action and not the Aadhaar number holder.
  • Adding to it, the accompanying regulatory order envisages a grievance redressal “contact centre”. However, the actual process of redress and the binding nature of such a mechanism is left unspecified.

Conclusion

If the “Privacy Right” has to be taken beyond “Data Protection”, it is necessary to define

“Privacy” as a “Sense of personal liberty felt by an individual without the constraints felt by him as radiated by people around him”.

The availability and disclosure of data about an individual to the people around is the prime reason for these constraints to be felt by the individual. Hence one of the concepts of Privacy is to give the right to the individual to control how much of the information about himself he would try to share with others.

Thus as part of privacy protection mechanism, there can be three classifications “Personal Data, “Sensitive Personal Data” and “Essential Data”. This classification is expected to provide a better foundation for regulation.

The new laws have to be broad enough to ensure their wide applicability and simultaneously flexible enough to adapt to technological changes. Along with it, their application to state and private sector, their different standards of application should also be clearly demarcated.

India has to be compliant with globally accepted privacy and data-protection standards so as to ensure utmost priority to privacy of a common individual.

Connecting the dots:

  • Should there be right to privacy? Discuss.
  • Data protection is one of the key elements for a robust cyber policy. Analyse.

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