IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 24th March 2018
African Continental Free Trade Area
Part of: Mains GS Paper II- International relations
- Leaders of 44 African countries signed an agreement recently to create a free trade bloc.
The deal was signed at a ceremony in Rwandan capital Kigali.
- The pact, which aims to build an African Continental Free Trade Area, will remove barriers to trade such as tariffs and import quotas.
- It aims at creating a single market for goods and services with free movement of businesses and investments
- Nigeria, South Africa and eight other African countries refused to sign the deal.
- The AfCFTA, according to the African Union, will pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Continental Customs Union and the African Customs Union.
- The AfCFTA will make Africa the largest free trade area created in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization, according to the AU.
- It could create an African market of over 1.2 billion people with a GDP of 2.5 trillion dollars, the pan-African bloc said.
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TOPIC: General Studies 2:
- India and its neighbourhood- relations.
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
India’s policy toward Tibet: Needs reform
The government’s bid to ease tensions with China has been met with some criticism, particularly over a leaked memo to officials telling them to stay away from events that commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s 1959 flight to India.
Much of the criticism stems from the perception that the government is attempting to appease China by giving up its “Tibet card”.
- Clearly, giving in to China’s aggression on the subject is the wrong pretext to nuance its Tibet policy, and as the government has said, where the Dalai Lama goes within India is a sovereign issue.
- However, the bigger error may be for the government to be using Tibetan refugees in India as a card in its relations with China.
Deteriorating ties between India and China: Tibet is not responsible
Ties between the two have deteriorated over the past few years for a number of reasons unconnected to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan population in India:
- Border incursions, including the standoff at the part of Doklam claimed by Bhutan.
- India’s strategic shift in line with the U.S.’s Indo-Pacific pivot that targets China.
- China’s ‘deep-pocket’ inroads into South Asia.
- Differences on the international stage, including over the Nuclear Suppliers Group membership and terror designations to Masood Azhar.
It would be wrong to assume that these problems would go away if India were to make the Tibetan community and its leader less visible.
Therefore, it is ridiculous to portray strictures on their activities as a ‘peace offering to Beijing’.
Policy change towards Tibet:
Indian strategists have handed down the idea of a Tibet card for decades.
It is time to revise this policy with a thorough evaluation of the ground.
- The landscape of Tibet, now crisscrossed with railway lines, super-speed highways, tunnels and airports, has changed drastically in the past two decades.
- The Beijing-Lhasa railway line and other engineering marvels has made Tibet more self-reliant, with more jobs for the next generation.
- There’s an ongoing demographic shift in Tibet, with Beijing populating areas with majority ‘Han’ Chinese workers, encouraging mixed marriages, and mainstreaming Chinese culture into the region.
The government needs a proactive policy that takes into account these new realities. Above all, the Indian foreign policy establishment needs to stop seeing the Tibetan population in India as a strategic tool.
Connecting the dots:
- India needs to change its policy toward Tibet and also stop using Tibetan population as a strategic tool. Analyze.
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
The Cambridge Analytica: What next?
The massive data breach at Facebook not only shows the misuse of social media platforms for influencing a nation’s political destiny but also warns us on the perils lurking in the digital world. The outrage since the breach came to light is justified given that millions of consumers have put their blind trust on Facebook, giving the platform access to their personal information including photographs, location and even their thoughts.
Reference article: The Cambridge Analytica scandal: Democracy at stake
Indian context: What makes India more vulnerable?
- For millions of Indians, the discovery of internet itself happens through Facebook. There are over 2.2 billion users globally, out of that 250 millions of them are in India.
- While regulators in the US, China and the EU have put in place laws to address concerns around privacy and data protection, India has so far taken a piecemeal approach.
- It is time for technology companies like Facebook to take the onus of creating awareness about data protection upon themselves.
Like most human inventions, internet also has an evil side and this must be communicated as a statutory warning.
The social media platform has provided some tools that help users determine how much of their data can be shared but not many know about it.
As in case of latest breach, it took a data breach incident for Facebook to proactively highlight this security feature.
- Awareness should be backed up with strong data protection laws that impose heavy penalties on violators.
Platforms like Facebook thrive on getting maximum user information. The entire business model around personalised advertising requires access to more and more user information. Newer technologies like artificial intelligence are also completely dependent on gathering user-specific information.
Some of these activities could be legitimate but it needs to be clearly defined and communicated to the users.
- Consumers on their part should be cautious of sharing information online.
Even harmless looking mobile applications are able to collect large amounts of data. This includes the user’s contact list, messages, camera, and location, which may not have any direct correlation with the underlying service being offered.
- The experience world over is that many corporations are averse to installing even basic security if it involves investment. It is ultimately the management that has to take the call.
High security is inconvenient and painful but is worth the money spent on it if the reputation of an organisation has to be protected.
Connecting the dots:
- The data breach at Facebook should be a wake-up call for technology companies, policymakers and consumers of data services. Discuss.
A first step
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