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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs 31st May, 2017

  • May 31, 2017
  • 3
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs May 2017, IASbaba's Daily News Analysis, National, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 31st May 2017

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NATIONAL

TOPIC:

General Studies 2

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

General Studies 3

  • Economics of animal?rearing

Prevention of Cruelty of Animals

Introduction
The government has been showing special interest in protecting breeds of cattle. The recent rules are notified only with respect to cows and this has risen concerns. There should a holistic and ground level policy made with specific interests to all sectors.

Issue:
The Centre’s move to notify new rules to regulate livestock markets under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (PCA) is either extremely poorly thought out or much too clever for its own good.

  • In a way, both. On the surface, the notification, which spans eight pages, reads like a general document on the regulation of the sale of all kinds of livestock bought and sold in animal markets, with some welcome prohibitions on the cruelty inflicted in the transport and treatment of animals.
  • But parse the rules, and it is evident that cattle — a category that includes cows, buffaloes, bulls and camels — come under a slew of special restrictions which, when effected, could have an extremely serious impact on the meat and livestock industry, not to mention the livelihoods and dietary choices of millions of people.
  • Surprisingly, only the purchase or sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets has been prohibited.
  • This raises suspicions that the Centre has attempted to conceal, or at least soften perceptions about, an extremely controversial provision, in the guise of passing a seemingly inoffensive, even enlightened, body of rules relating to animal cruelty.
  • The rules framed for the sale of cattle are so cumbersome — for instance, buyers must verify they are agriculturists, and sellers must furnish photo identity proof and written declarations stating that the cattle are not brought to the animal market for slaughter — that one wonders whether the objective is to surreptitiously throttle the entire cattle trade in an elaborate ream of red tape.
  • Is the ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets intended to act indirectly as an absolute ban?
  • Is the notification, stripped of its generalities and niceties, really about the BJP government’s pet concern, cows?

Livestock and animal husbandry

  • Such questions are bound to be raised given the way the rules were notified. If the main subject of the notification was the regulation of livestock markets, why was it issued by the Ministry of Environment and not the Animal Husbandry Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, which deals directly with this issue?
  • Moreover, on what ground can the slaughter of any animal for food be prevented under the PCA, when it explicitly recognises that animals may constitute “food for mankind”?
  • What the Act prohibits is only the “infliction of unnecessary pain and suffering” when animals are consumed as food.
  • Such legal infirmities are bound to be challenged in court, but meanwhile the economic costs of this decision will merit a close watch. If estimates that 90% of slaughtered buffaloes are bought and sold in animal markets are correct, then the trade will be crippled.
  • The Centre must address the concerns of the trade as well as of those who suspect the notification is a part of a Machiavellian plot to influence and curb food choices.
  • While there is a case to retain most of the rules prohibiting the cruel treatment of animals, the ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets must go.

Impact:

  • The ban will hurt the farmer, cattle trade, meat exports and the leather industry.
  • The cattle population in India is estimated to be around 190 million, and going by the practice of not keeping animals beyond eight or nine years of age, it accounts for about 22-23 million deaths every year.
  • The new rules effectively limit access to buyers, particularly for small stock-keepers, who will no longer be able to sell their non-productive animals at cattle markets.
  • A dairy farmer is now expected to feed an animal that is no longer productive, which will hurt his primary income.
  • A large percentage of a dairy farmer’s income also comes from sale of unproductive animals.
  • The directive will disrupt his production cycle, as farmers sell and procure cattle largely from local livestock traders or cattle markets.

Conclusion:

Government policies towards any sector should be well thought out and the impact on other sectors should be studied in detail. Hence the present legislation is not complete and transformative. There is need to address concerns at the earliest.

Connecting the dots:

  • Critically discuss the impact of new rules w.r.t. prevention of cruelty of animals act. Elaborate the impact on society in general.

 

NATIONAL

TOPIC:  General Studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections

Plug Aadhaar loopholes with comprehensive privacy law on personal data protection

Aadhaar: Why in news again?

A report released by The Centre for Internet and Society had revealed that over 135 million records from India’s Aadhaar national ID systems had already leaked online.

The leaks didn’t take place because of a flaw in the national Aadhaar system, but through government agencies that handle Aadhar data.

There is strong debate about – Whether the implementation and execution of the Aadhaar Act is error-free? Are government and extra-governmental agencies sticking to the various protective provisions of the Act? What steps are required to plug loopholes of present Aadhaar system?

Background:

The Aadhaar national database is one of the richest government-operated databases across the globe, holding more than just our basic identity details.

Set up in 2008, the Aadhaar system assigns each Indian a 12-digit ID in the form of XXXX-XXXX-XXXX, and records information such as home addresses, information on all bank accounts, mobile phone numbers, and all the biometrics details you can imagine, ranging from eye color to fingerprints, and from height to iris scans.

When it was first launched, the program was advertised as a database of Indian citizens’ details which the government could use to pay subsidies and other benefits. Each user could register and assign a bank account to his Aadhaar ID, where to receive social benefits.

Eight years after the program’s inception, the Indian government has pushed the adoption of the Aadhaar system in almost every facet of day-to-day life.

How insecure is Aadhaar data- A case study:

Aadhaar can be one of the single-most transformative reform measure taken by the Indian government or it can be the very embodiment (or expression) of an ultra-intrusive state, spying on every action of its citizens. The future reality could simultaneously be both, either or neither.

  • Empowering individuals: By providing millions of disenfranchised and invisible Indians with an identity, Aadhaar may be tremendously empowering.

(OR)

  • Empowering the state at the cost of the citizen: If not implemented carefully, it has the potential to alienate, empowering the state at the cost of the citizen.

The Kerala Sevana Pension website displayed the following information about pensioners: name, pension ID, bank, branch, account number, Indian financial system code (IFSC) number, and Aadhaar number. The display of Aadhaar number is a clear violation of the Aadhaar Act. However, a greater cause of concern is the disclosure of the pension database itself. This is a common feature in all the recent “leaks” that have been alleged—personal information unrelated to Aadhaar has been disclosed by user agencies.

Protection of information under the Aadhaar Act,2016:

  • The Aadhaar Act, 2016 contains an entire chapter dedicated to protection of information, becoming the first modern-day statute in India to explicitly do so.
  • It obliges both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the range of agencies which collect Aadhaar data to keep data secure.
  • It incorporates standard fair information practices of collection limitation, purpose specification, use limitation, access and correction, recognized by the A.P. Shah Committee and widely accepted as the bedrock of data protection in the world.

However, despite these facets, the Aadhaar Act has failed to protect the information and secure privacy.

For Aadhaar to succeed, India needs a separate, comprehensive privacy law on personal data protection.

A law on personal data protection is required:

India, being the host and the biggest platform of data outsourcing needs an effective and well formulated mechanism for dealing with cyber crimes, data stealing etc. Data Protection laws may be defined as the laws which are enacted for safeguarding and protecting the data present on the internet.

  • Presently, the IT Act, 2000 and rules there under cover the existing framework on privacy and data protection in India.
  • Sections 43A, 69 and 72A of the IT Act embody the law on data protection.
  • In 2014, a bill named, The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2014 was introduced in Parliament which had a limited focus.

With every innovation in technology, an innovation in the art of misuse and fraud, also takes place. India, unlike countries such as the UK, Australia and other European countries, does not have a dedicated Data Protection Law.

A robust machinery for enforcement of technology-agnostic data protection norms must be established in the country.

  • The Aadhaar Act or UIDAI should be supposed to protect all data strictly unrelated to Aadhaar itself cannot be the case. It does not comes into the mandate of UIDAI, as it is no data protection agency. It is into this breach that the law on personal data protection needs to step in. Compelling interest to have such law exists in India today. With over a billion Aadhaar numbers issued and demonetisation catapulting India into the digital economy, vast amounts of demographic data will be generated and used.
  • A data protection law is also in the interest of national sovereignty. With approximately 450 million people online today, India presents a combination of a large number of Internet users coupled with low digital literacy. The absence of a data protection regime means that several private companies collect and use personal data in a manner quite unknown to the individual.

An example: logging into the “My Activity” section in the Google suite of products recently, one can access a full profile of where he/she was a year to the day—the restaurant visited, the hotel stayed in and the distance driven. All this has been stored technically with ones consent—so Google isn’t violating the law—but the protection of the data is now the benefaction of Google’s privacy policy.

Conclusion:

A new legislation dealing specifically with the protection of data and information present on the web is the dire need of the day. As an emerging global power that has aspirations to be at the vanguard of the information technology age that we live in, India needs to set the rules of the game. If set right, the fruits of the digital economy, including the benefits of Aadhaar and big data, will work for the citizen.

If the Aadhaar project is to achieve its core objective of uniquely identifying every Indian resident we need to have a robust mechanism for data protection in place.

Connecting the dots:

  • Discuss the need to have a comprehensive Data Protection Law in India.

Also Read: Time to formulate a law for data protection

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