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Q. 283. Governors in Indian states: A colonial imprint
It is surprising to note that our Constitution is eerily silent on the manner of appointment of chief ministers by the governor when there is no clear majority by any of the contesting political parties.
Equally overwhelming is its silence on the conduct of floor tests in assembly/Parliament.
These deafening silences give the governors unyielding powers, the reasons for which can be found in the troubled history of colonial India, a flawed Constituent Assembly and the quasi-federal nature of the Indian Constitution.
Governors in British India and the Government of India Act, 1935
Ivor Jennings, observed that all Constitutions are the heirs of the past as well as the testators of the future. According to him, this can be best summed up by using the language of Roman-Dutch law i.e., every generation is bound by fideicommissa (an arrangement similar to a trust by which a testator gave property to a person for the benefit of another who could not, by law, inherit property).
Similarly, our Constitution is primarily based on the Government of India Act, 1935 (“GoI Act, 1935”). However, the GoI Act, 1935 was a bad precedent for the Constitution of an independent country. Jennings rightly opines that the recurring motif under the GoI Act, 1935 was whether a power was to be in British or Indian hands and, if the hands were to be Indian, whether they were to be tied closely or left comparatively free.
Section 49 of the GoI Act, 1935, stated that the executive authority of a province shall be exercised on behalf of His Majesty (George V) by the governor. This is a clear example of federal principle in the constitution wherein the provinces derive their power directly from the sovereign and not from the central government as its agent or delegate.
Relationship between a governor and his ministers: in the ordinary exercise of his constitutional discretion, a governor is unquestionably competent to reject the advice of his ministers, whenever that advice seem to him to be adverse to the public welfare or of an injurious tendency. In such a contingency, if no compromise was possible, either the resignation or the dismissal of ministers must ensue. Thus, before the Constituent Assembly started its work on the Indian Constitution, the existing system had a well-established institution of governors in the provinces who were directly answerable to the King of UK.
In other words, the British administration had provided a strong working machine in each of the provinces and it was, understandably, impossible for the Indian leaders to start afresh when the provinces became states under the Union of India.
Constituent Assembly Debates
Article 164 of the Constitution provides that the chief minister shall be appointed by the governor. It reads as follows: “The Chief Minister shall be appointed by the Governor and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister, and the Ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor. …”
Article 164 was based on section 51 of the GoI Act 1935. Section 51(1) of the GoI Act 1935 reads as follows: “(1) The Governor’s ministers shall be chosen and summoned by him, shall be sworn as members of the Council, and shall hold office during his pleasure. …”
The debates on this provision happened on June 1, 1949. It is indeed surprising to note that the members of the Constituent Assembly chose to focus on two points and completely missed the elephant in the room.
The debates centred around the following two topics:
the need to include a provision mandating all ministers to disclose all or any of their interests, shares etc., in any enterprise, business, trade or industry; and
reservation of tribal members in the cabinet.
It is also pertinent to note that the whole set of articles relating to state governments were passed in a hurry in one day.
In Role of State Governor in India, K.V. Rao, an eminent political scientist, says that the whole structure of the Constitution in this regard was designed in such a way as if the Congress and its then high command would be in power for a long time.
Having experienced the British administration’s federal set-up in India, the Congress party clearly knew the worth of having a strong centre with distributed legislative powers to its units. The quasi-federal nature of the Constitution allows the centre to control the constituting units: the fact that the Union can change boundaries of any state without obtaining their permission is one such example of quasi-federal nature of the Indian Constitution.
As rightly pointed out by eminent scholar H.M. Seervai in Constitutional Law of India, it was only after the defeat of the Congress party in some states in the 1967 elections that problems arose as to the exercise of power of the governor in forming ministry. The problem was complicated by a large number of “independent” candidates and none of the other parties securing a clear majority.
The fact that the governor holds his office during the pleasure of the President who is bound by the advice of the council of ministers at the centre, makes the “discretion” of the governor to appoint the chief minister a mere farce.
It is not a mere coincidence that we have very vague provisions with respect to the exercise of powers by the governor.
The lackadaisical approach by the Constituent Assembly while discussing provisions relating to the state executive clearly shows the intent of the system—a powerful centre with weak units.
Q. 282. Indo-Russian venture for 200 copters
The long-pending joint venture between India and Russia to manufacture 200 Kamov-226T light-utility helicopters for around $1 billion (over Rs 6,500 crore) is now finally set to kick off.
The JV is between defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics and Russian companies.
Overall, the armed forces urgently need 484 light choppers to replace their obsolete single-engine Cheetah Chetak fleets.
Under the agreement, the first 60 choppers will come from Russia, while the rest will be manufactured in India over nine years.
The twin-engine Kamov-226Ts are multi-role helicopters.
It can undertake reconnaissance, patrol and disaster relief operations as well as transport eight combat-ready soldiers with a maximum range of 600-km.
Q. 281. Wildlife Crime Control Bureau
The Wild Life Crime Control Bureau has been created under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. The mandate includes collection, collation of intelligence and its dissemination, establishment of a centralized Wild Life crime databank , coordination of the actions of various enforcement authorities towards the implementation of the provisions of the Act, implementation of the international Conventions, capacity building for scientific and professional investigation, assistance to authorities in other countries for a coordinated universal action towards control of Wild Life crime and to advise the government on various policy and legal requirements. Central Zoo Authority
The Central Zoo Authority was created by the Central Government through an amendment of the Wild Life (Protection) Act in the year 1992. The main objective was to enforce certain minimum standards and norms for upkeep and health care of animals in Zoos and to restrain mushrooming of unplanned and ill-conceived Zoos that were cropping up as adjuncts to public parks, industrial complex and highways.
National Zoological Park
The National Zoological Park was set up on 1st November 1959 as per the decision taken in the 1st Meeting of the Indian Board for Wild Life in 1952. It is being directly managed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.
Wildlife Institute of India
Wildlife Institute of India was established in 1982 as an attached office of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Subsequently, it was granted autonomous status in 1986. The institute is mandated by Government of India to carry out research on various aspects on Wild Life conservation, conduct training programmes for capacity building of Wild Life managers, build up repository of knowledge of Wild Life and provide technical and advisory services to the State and Central Governments in the country.
Q. 280. New Zealand river recognised as living entity
A river in New Zealand has become the first in the world to be recognised as a living entity with the legal status of a person after a 170-year battle by the local Maori people.
The nation’s parliament passed a bill to allow Whanganui River –known by the Maoris as Te Awa Tupua - to represent its own interests and advocate on its own behalf.
The third-largest river in New Zealand, the Whanganui runs approximately 321 km from the interior mountains in the Hawkes Bay region of northern New Zealand, south until it merges with the Tasman Sea.
It will be represented by two nominees - one appointed by the Maori community, or Iwi, and one appointed by the government.
The new status of the river means if someone abused or harmed it the law now sees no differentiation between harming the tribe or harming the river because they are one and the same.
The approach of granting legal personality to a river is unique. Te Awa Tupua will have its own legal identity with all the corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person.
While the Whanganui is the first river in the world to be granted personhood, it follows the former Te Urewera national park in New Zealand, which was granted the same status in 2014 through the Te Urewera Act.
The local community has fought for recognition of its relationship with the river since the 1850s, including a legal battle that has lasted about 80 years and has been the longest-running litigation in New Zealand’s history.
The parliament’s bill will end the battle and includes £45 million as financial redress and £17 million for a fund to protect the river.
In the precolonial era, the Whanganui River was a vital communication route for Maori people and it navigability attracted large-scale settlement in the Whanganui River valley. When colonists arrived, it was the most densely populated part of what is today called the North Island. For these reasons, the area is rich in Maori history and culture.
Q. 279. Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)
The normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) is a simple graphical indicator that can be used to assess whether the target being observed contains live green vegetation or not.
In an effort to monitor major fluctuations in vegetation and understand how they affect the environment, 35 years ago Earth scientists began using satellite remote sensors to measure and map the density of green vegetation over the Earth.
By carefully measuring the wavelengths and intensity of visible and near-infrared light reflected by the land surface back up into space, scientists use an algorithm called a "Vegetation Index" to quantify the concentrations of green leaf vegetation around the globe.
When sunlight strikes objects, certain wavelengths of visible and near-infraredare absorbed and other wavelengths are reflected. The pigment in plant leaves, chlorophyll, strongly absorbs visible light (from 0.4 to 0.7 µm) for use in photosynthesis. The cell structure of the leaves, on the other hand, strongly reflects near-infrared light (from 0.7 to 1.1 µm). The more leaves a plant has, the more these wavelengths of light are affected, respectively.
Scientists create detailed maps of the Earth’s green vegetation density that identify where plants are thriving and where they are under stress (i.e., due to lack of water).
Q. 278. Startup definition enlarged
Ans. Government has enlarged the definition of what constitutes a startup to a venture that's as much as seven years old from five now, relaxed the norms for tax benefits and included employment generation potential to give a big push to job creation and entrepreneurship. That's to account for the longer gestation period for companies in the sector.
These changes are an effort to ensure ease of starting up new businesses to promote the startup ecosystem and build a nation of job creators instead of job seekers.
The Startup India initiative launched in January 2016 offered incentives to such ventures to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.
The government has also eased norms for getting income tax benefits available under the Startup India programme.
The new definition will allow more startups to avail tax benefits announced in the action plan last year. Startups won't have to furnish a letter of recommendation from an incubator or industry association to be eligible for the tax benefits and recognition under Startup India.
Companies incorporated after March 31, 2016, could avail of a three-year tax holiday in the first seven years of their existence as part of the incentives announced for the upcoming firms.
The definition's scope has been broadened to include scalability of business models with the potential of employment generation or wealth creation.
One of the main thrusts of the Startup India programme was to create employment opportunities for the country's youth, but that hadn't been included in the definition at the time.
Q. 277. Plastic raises breast cancer risk
A chemical commonly found in hard plastics, currency bills and paper receipts, may increase the aggressiveness of breast cancer.
Bisphenol S (BPS) may increase the aggressiveness of breast cancer as it is an endocrine-disrupting chemical, researchers say.
Most breast cancers are estrogen receptor positive and, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, 55 to 65 % of women who inherit a harmful mutation in the BRCA1 gene will develop breast cancer.
Q. 276. What should the government do to get the most out of GST?
The GST will greatly improve a fractured tax system and help create an integrated Indian market. But to make the most of this bold innovation, the government has a lot more work to do.
Current tax system
Under the current tax system, different states impose separate levies as goods move across the country.
Truckers spend hours idling at internal borders, filling out forms and awaiting inspection.
Small and medium-sized companies prefer not to grow rather than have to deal with the administrative burden of becoming national enterprises.
Compared to this, even a less-than-perfect GST would be an improvement.
More work ahead
Unfortunately, the GST in prospect is further from perfect than the government had hoped. Delhi needs the support of individual states to implement the new tax.
To gain it, officials have settled on a complex structure with at least four different brackets (five if we include zero-rated staples), as well as an additional levy on sin and luxury goods.
Resorting to multiple rates sacrifices some of the GST’s economic benefit. It would have been better to follow the example of many other countries around the world, which collect a tax of the same kind—a so-called value-added tax—using a single rate applied to a virtually all goods.
The added complications will weigh especially heavily on India. They’ll be gamed by firms and consumers used to navigating bureaucratic mazes. That will make it harder, in turn, to thin the bureaucrats’ teeming ranks, which ought to have been a high priority. The burden of compliance will be lightened, but less than it could have been.
So once the GST is in place, the government should keep working toward its original goal of having only one or two rates, with as few exemptions and as little paperwork as possible. To make the reform stick, and to build support for other initiatives, India needs to see the benefits of the GST as clearly and as quickly as possible. A simpler system would yield better results in short order, and serve over time as a more powerful spur to economic growth. The new GST, imperfect as it may be, will be a great step forward for India.
Q. 275. India is not moving to counterforce doctrine
India's "minimum credible nuclear deterrence" doctrine and "no first use" policy are based on the concept of deterrence by denial, rather than deterrence by punishment. Should deterrence ever break down, India will have to pay an enormous price for a nuclear first strike by an adversary before launching massive punitive retaliation. Nuclear doctrine has to be ultimately tested in the crucible of operational reality. Across the entire spectrum of conventional conflict, the first use of nuclear weapons by India does not make sound strategic sense. The real distinguishing feature of India's nuclear doctrine is that it is anchored in India's continued commitment to global, verifiable and non-discriminating nuclear disarmament.
The object of deterrence is to persuade an adversary that the costs to him of seeking a military solution to his political problems will far outweigh the benefits. The object of reassurance is to persuade one's own people, and those of one's allies, that the benefits of military action, or preparation for it, will outweigh the costs.
However, lately there has been a lot of speculation on India’s nuclear doctrine. There is increasing evidence that India will not allow Pakistan to go first. India’s opening salvo may not be conventional strikes trying to pick off just Nasr batteries in the theatre, but a full comprehensive counterforce strike that attempts to completely disarm Pakistan of its nuclear weapons.
BMD and MIRV
The pieces of evidence cited for this claim are: India’s focus on developing highly accurate missiles, acceleration of ballistic missile defence (BMD) and the development of multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (Mirv) capabilities for its missiles. None of these moves sufficiently explains a possible change in India’s nuclear doctrine.
First, the development of accurate missiles is being undertaken as India’s yield of nuclear weapons is 15-20KT (kilotons) for its fission warheads and 250KT for thermonuclear warheads. The destruction caused by nuclear warheads goes down exponentially as the distance increases from the centre of the blast, hence the move towards improving the accuracy of weapon delivery systems.
Second, BMD is a defensive mechanism aimed at neutralizing a nuclear attack rather than conducting a counterforce first strike. A BMD forces the enemy to reassess the number of warheads it requires for destroying a target. This imposes costs in terms of producing more warheads, delivery platforms, and the cost of maintaining and securing them.
Finally, India is developing Mirvs not for first strike but to retain a credible second strike option if India loses some of its missiles to an enemy first strike. For example, if India has 20 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with 6 Mirvs, and 30% of them are taken out by an enemy in a first strike, India will still be left with sufficient missiles and warheads to strike back and impose unacceptable damage on the enemy.
Moreover, a counterforce strike is a lot more complex and taxing than both first use and second strike. First use may be on counter value and/or counterforce targets or ones that overlap and it may not be a surprise or a pre-emptive strike. On the other hand, a counterforce strike is a surprise nuclear blitz on the enemy’s missiles, C4I (command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence), military infrastructure and war- fighting capabilities. It requires a large number of warheads, missiles, accurate and round-the-clock intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (Istar).
The enormity of the task to track hundreds of road mobile missiles and other military targets can be gauged from the fact that after the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai, the Indian Air Force was ready to strike Pakistan, but did not have the precise targeting coordinates of terrorist camps and other relevant targets.
India Vs Pak Nukes
The current estimate of India’s nuclear arsenal, based on Western think tanks, is about 100-120 warheads, which, according to some experts, is not good enough for a minimum credible deterrence, let alone a counterforce first strike to disarm Pakistan. Most importantly, the financial cost of a first strike doctrine will be prohibitive for India.
What needs to be remembered is that Pakistani missiles are road mobile on transporter erector launchers (TEL). Conventional missiles can take them out if the need arises; there is no need for nuclear missiles to accomplish this task. The US and USSR made megaton warheads for counterforce strike because they had missiles in hardened silos.
If India has precise intelligence on Pakistani TELs, it can quickly take them out using Brahmos missiles which travel at three times the speed of sound or any other conventional munition.
If Pakistan uses tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) even on its soil on Indian troops, India, according to its stated doctrine, will undertake massive retaliation, which was thought to be countervalue strikes on Pakistani cities. Recently, this has been misinterpreted by some analysts as a counterforce first strike. India using nuclear weapons after Pakistan’s use of TNW will not be a first strike but a retaliatory strike. India would be free to take out Pakistani targets like the Pakistan army headquarters in Rawalpindi, which is an example of an overlapping counterforce and countervalue target.
The talk of counterforce first strike is destabilizing and dangerous. Instead of deterrence, it moves to the realm of fighting a nuclear war and trying to win it. It means hundreds if not thousands of warheads on hair-trigger alert and the risks that come with it.
Any signalling to India’s adversaries that India is moving to a counterforce first strike doctrine will make them take countermeasures and increase their own arsenal and look to strike India first, leading to a destabilizing chain reaction. The assumption that India is moving towards a counterforce first strike doctrine and the evidence cited for it are on weak ground. While India’s doctrine needs a revision to be in tune with current strategic realities, the claims that it is moving to a counterforce first strike are erroneous.
Q. 274. Graphene sieve could make seawater drinkable
Researchers in the United Kingdom have developed a graphene-based sieve that can filter salt out of seawater, a development that could provide drinking water to millions of people around the globe.
The applications could be a game-changer in countries where access to safe, clean, drinkable water is severely limited.
Graphene -- an ultra-thin sheet of carbon atoms organized in a hexagonal lattice -- was first identified at the University of Manchester in 2002 and has since been hailed as a "wonder material," with scientists racing to develop inexpensive graphene-based barriers for desalination on an industrial scale. Overcoming hurdles
In recent years, there had been some success in water filtration using graphene oxide to sift out other smaller nanoparticles and organic molecules.
But researchers had struggled to move forward after finding that the membrane's pores would swell up when immersed in water, allowing particles to continue to pass through.
Now, the team at Manchester has used a compound of graphene, known as graphene oxide, to create a rigid sieve that could filter out salt using less energy.
Boosting global access to water is critical.
By 2025, 14% of the global population will suffer from water scarcity, the United Nations predicts.
In addition, climate change is expected to wreak havoc on urban water supplies, with decreased rainfall and rising temperatures expected to fuel demand.
Cities have been investing heavily in diversifying their water supplies, including developing new desalination technologies to make seawater potable. But existing, industrial-scale desalination plants can be costly and normally involve one of two methods: distillation through thermal energy, or filtration of salt from water using polymer-based membranes.
These techniques have drawn criticism from environmentalists, who argue they involve large amounts of energy, produce greenhouse gases and can be harm marine organisms.
Q. 273. How GST is about pooling sovereignty and promoting federalism?
29 March 2017 must be recorded as one of the most significant days in the history of federalism in India. By passing the four bills relating to different aspects of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the Lok Sabha has, perhaps for the first time put limitations on its own powers, in the interest of federalism, and signed off on a pooling of sovereignty in taxation matters with 32 state and Union territory legislatures.
In turn, over the next couple of months all the state legislatures will share their powers of taxation. In the process of sharing and jointly exercising the powers to tax, the GST Council will be born as India’s first truly federal institution.
Neither the Parliament on its own nor the state legislatures individually or jointly can override the collective recommendations of the GST Council. In other words, the GST regime has created an institutional and Constitutional framework for cooperative federalism in the arena of indirect taxation.
In the GST regime, the Union and the states will be vested with concurrent powers to levy GST on intra-state supply of goods and services and the union will be vested with the exclusive power to levy GST on the supply of goods and services in the course of inter-state trade or commerce which includes supply in the course of imports into the territory of India.
There will be a State GST (SGST) and a Central GST (CGST) for intra-state supplies and an Integrated GST (IGST) for inter-state supplies. There will be separate laws for imposing these levies.
SGST Act has to be enacted by each state and CGST Act and IGST Act has to be enacted by the Parliament. Since CGST and SGST will be levied on the same tax base it is essential that the provisions of these laws should be similar so as to have harmony in the working of the system.
Moreover, the IGST will have forward and backward linkage with CGST and SGST for Input Tax Credit (ITC), the laws dealing with these taxes will have provisions that will ensure a seamless and effective ITC mechanism.
Although GST is perceived as a levy formed by subsuming all taxes and duties on goods and services, in the proposed regime, taxes on petroleum products and alcohol have been kept out of the GST net.
As passed by the Parliament, the law doesn’t extend to Jammu & Kashmir. In the above backdrop it follows that the implementation of the GST regime for Jammu and Kashmir would be different. The state legislature will consider the enactment of legislation on the subject in which the state would make provisions in sync with the GST regime, applicable to all the other states. The components of GST would be levied by the state itself under the proposed legislation, which would be analogous to the statutory framework proposed by the Union of India.
To conclude, having created an institutional and constitutional framework for cooperative federalism, the task ahead is to create and extend a similar framework in other arenas of fiscal federalism. This could be started by rejuvenating the Inter State Council, which is a Constitutional body set up on the basis of provisions in Article 263 of the Constitution. The body was formed by a Presidential Order on recommendation of the Sarkaria Commission. It is the Council’s mandate to discuss all manner of policies, and subjects of common interest.
Q. 272. Why India needs a new logistics network
One of the central promises of the new goods and services tax (GST) that is set to be rolled out in July is that it will allow companies to restructure their supply chains once the domestic market is truly integrated. It is hard to see how the production structure can be improved radically unless India builds a new logistics network to allow inputs, components and finished goods to move across the country seamlessly. The success of the flagship Make in India programme is also critically dependent on a modern logistics network.
An effective multi-modal logistics and transport sector will make our economy more competitive. A specific programme for development of multi-modal logistics parks, together with multi-modal transport facilities, will be drawn up and implemented. This programme—aims to shift from India’s current point-to-point logistics model to a hub-and-spoke model. This will entail setting up 35 multi-modal logistics parks at a cost of Rs50,000 crore, developing 50 economic corridors and inviting investment from the states and private sector. Crucially, this will all be done with an integrated approach that will utilize railways, highways, inland waterways and airports to create a transportation grid that covers the country.
One, efficient transportation and logistics are important for boosting India’s competitiveness. They reduce transport time and costs, of course—but they also reduce cost of production by minimizing the need for large inventories. This means less capital required for warehouses, insurance and the like.
Second, while the conventional view of demand in the logistics sector states that it is derived demand, growth in transport and logistics enterprises can create markets for other goods.
Third, efficient logistics networks can reduce divergence in regional growth.
Fourth, inter-state trade flows in India stand at a healthy 54% of GDP. Reducing friction via improved logistics could boost this.
And lastly, while the demand for transport grew at around 10% annually in the 1990s, it has accelerated since. Failing to keep pace will hamstring everything from the manufacturing push and attempts to boost farmer earnings to the benefits of urban agglomeration economies.
The main hurdle so far has been that India’s logistics and transport sector has developed in silos. This has resulted in overly complex regulation and administrative procedures as well as missing modal links and an inefficient modal mix. As of 2008, the mix was 50% of total freight flow via roads, 36% by rail, 7.5% by pipelines, 6% by coastal shipping, 0.2% by inland waterways and 0.01% by airways. The ratios may have shifted somewhat since then but they are unlikely to have changed substantially. This is a pity: Transport by rail and inland waterways is far more cost- and time-efficient than transport by roads, for instance, and should account for high proportions of the freight flow.
Integrated policy is thus essential, pulling together the planned road and rail dedicated freight corridors and suggesting a solution to the long-running lack of last-mile connectivity for India’s ports. It also offers more scope for boosting the use of technology than development in silos would. Containerization, for instance—shipping freight across modes in standard containers—would enable live tracking via chipped containers. This in turn would enable greater security and predictability, as well as providing the granular data that is important for business projections and policymaking alike. This is an opportunity for states to compete for hosting the logistics hubs and reaping the economic benefits.
Q. 271. Why a Data protection law is necessary for India?
Recently, the government made it mandatory to link Aadhaar numbers to tax returns and set itself a target of one year within which it would link all mobile numbers to the Aadhaar database. While the Supreme Court agreed to refer these issues to a larger bench, it seemed happy to let the government continue to incorporate Aadhaar into all aspects of our lives.
Perhaps in anticipation of these events, a number of academic papers have been published recently, agitating the need for a privacy legislation. They have broadly suggested the enactment of a law along the lines of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) data protection principles articulated in the 1980s—that personal data is the property of the data subject and cannot be used without his consent.
Most privacy laws have been built on this model and if we go down this path, our law will be consistent with global practice. However, if we make consent the cornerstone of our privacy jurisprudence, we will have taken a conscious decision to place upon the data subject, the burden of determining whether or not the use of personal data for a particular purpose is in his interest. In our present data-intensive world, this is a question the data subject is ill-equipped to answer.
Today data is collected, processed and transferred in more ways than can be comprehensively enumerated.
Our online activity is logged; our financial transactions tracked and correlated against location, age and time of day; and our physical activity measured using wearable and other smart devices.
All this data is stored in the cloud and is easily accessible through application program interfaces (APIs) for further processing.
Databases are designed to interconnect with each other and use deep learning algorithms to find patterns in ways that even the best data scientists will struggle to understand. Providing meaningful informed consent under these circumstances is impossible.
Role of Data controller
The one person in the data processing workflow, who might have visibility into the possible outcomes of data processing is the organization collecting the data—the data controller.
It knows what the data will be used for, as well as the algorithms through which the data will be processed.
It is best equipped to assess the possible consequences—both intended and unintended—of its use.
More importantly, it has the ability to consciously determine the outcome of the data processing.
It makes more sense to hold the data controller accountable for ensuring that no harm befalls the data subject than use poorly informed consent provided by the data subject as a licence to process.
There could be situations where the commercial interests of the data controller run contrary to those of the data subject. Take, for example, the use of financial information to assess creditworthiness. If the data controller is required to focus solely on promoting the interest of the data subject, it will only consider information that establishes a favourable credit rating. Doing so would run contrary to the commercial interests of the data controller whose business depends on lending only to those borrowers who can repay. In such circumstances the fiduciary responsibility of the data controller should extend to ensuring that the data in its possession is processed in a fair and non-discriminatory manner. And that it does not use other extraneous facts in its possession to unfairly discriminate against the data subject.
In a way, it is a blessing that India took its time to enact a data protection law. Without the baggage of a consent-based privacy jurisprudence, we have the freedom to enact a law that is appropriate to our data-intensive world. While the rest of the world is struggling to redesign their laws that are based on a data protection model conceived of in the 1980s when data volumes were a mere trickle compared to today, India has the opportunity to build, from scratch, a forward thinking privacy framework that can address the current reality and can serve as a model for the rest of the world.
Q. 270. India's naval build-up
In over half a century of naval development, maritime forces have based their combat strategy and modernization on two principal concepts of operations: “sea control” and “sea denial”.
A maritime power either dominates the adversary by controlling the littoral seas or denies their use to the adversary. Sea control and Sea denial
Sea control is the strategy of choice for an ascendant force but entails a higher operational commitment in dictating the tempo of operations in littoral spaces over prolonged durations. In contrast, a weaker force focuses all its combat efforts in denying the adversary the use of the near-seas—a strategy called “sea denial”. Flat-top
In peace and in war, there is no platform that provides access to littoral spaces as thoroughly and emphatically as the aircraft carrier. Not only does it allow a superior maritime force to establish effective sea command, it ensures a continuous and visible presence that influences the cost-benefit calculus of the enemy commander and his political masters.
The importance of flat-top operations cannot be overstated, because apart from the ability to surveil and strike littoral targets, aircraft carriers enable crucial tactical air-cover, an operational imperative in littoral conflict. Powerful navies the world over, thus, regard aircraft carriers—and not battleships (or submarines)—as the core of their war-fighting plans and power-projection strategies.
But the flat-top is also an article of faith with India’s naval elite because of its ability to alter the psychological balance in the Indian Ocean littorals.
A potent symbol of a nation’s pride and power, an aircraft carrier projects strength.
It could be replaced by lesser platforms that might do the job, but none can replicate its demonstrative impact. For naval commanders, therefore, the aircraft-carrier debate is more than a question of “utilitarian” value, because the flat-top is the “beating heart” that provides all naval combat effort with its essential vigour.
This is not to say all criticism of the navy’s modernization plans is invalid. The move to induct modern air carriers and other costly platforms has indeed imposed a huge financial burden on the state, slowing investment in other key areas of military development.
Yet, the suggestion that air power must substitute naval aviation is patently misplaced, as the air force has shown itself to be an unreliable source of tactical action at sea. It does provide a measure of fleet support but is incapable of crisis response in the far littorals. The real dilemma
The real dilemma for India’s maritime planners is that their mission set of raising fighting efficiency and interdiction potential in the near-littorals is constantly in competition with the broader strategic objective of expanding regional political influence.
The navy’s deployment plans must deter adversaries, but also establish a visible footprint in the far seas to project ambition and influence through presence operations. If particular aspects of the maritime blueprint are found to be lacking—as indeed is the case with the limited success of the MiG-29K aircraft—the navy cannot discard its broader strategy in favour of an ad-hoc plan built around particular assets of relative operational superiority.
Indian naval power in the Indian Ocean region would be robbed of its vitality if the aircraft carrier is replaced with a few more destroyers, corvettes and shore-based air power—regardless of the latter’s perceived tactical advantages in battle.
As Gorshkov noted in his thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating treatise The Sea Power Of The State, ideas on the deployment of maritime power need to be grounded in the logic of geopolitics and long-term state interests, and not on any contingent assessments of imminent needs.
Q. 269. What is Li-Fi technology
Light Fidelity or Li-Fi technology is a ground-breaking light-based communication technology, which makes use of light waves instead of radio technology to deliver data.
Li-Fi can compensate as the radio spectrum becomes overloaded
Using the visible light spectrum, Li-Fi technology can transmit data and unlock capacity which is 10,000 times greater than that available within the radio spectrum.
The visible light spectrum is plentiful, free and unlicensed, mitigating the radio frequency spectrum crunch effect.
How it works?
Li-Fi and Wi-Fi are quite similar as both transmit data electromagnetically. However, Wi-Fi uses radio waves while Li-Fi runs on visible light.
As we now know, Li-Fi is a Visible Light Communications (VLC) system. This means that it accommodates a photo-detector to receive light signals and a signal processing element to convert the data into 'stream-able' content.
An LED lightbulb is a semi-conductor light source meaning that the constant current of electricity supplied to an LED lightbulb can be dipped and dimmed, up and down at extremely high speeds, without being visible to the human eye.
For example, data is fed into an LED light bulb (with signal processing technology), it then sends data (embedded in its beam) at rapid speeds to the photo-detector (photodiode).
The tiny changes in the rapid dimming of LED bulbs is then converted by the 'receiver' into electrical signal.
The signal is then converted back into a binary data stream that we would recognise as web, video and audio applications that run on internet enables devices.
Li-Fi vs Wi-Fi
While some may think that Li-Fi with its 224 gigabits per second leaves Wi-Fi in the dust, Li-Fi's exclusive use of visible light could halt a mass uptake.
Li-Fi signals cannot pass through walls, so in order to enjoy full connectivity, capable LED bulbs will need to be placed throughout the home. Not to mention, Li-Fi requires the lightbulb is on at all times to provide connectivity, meaning that the lights will need to be on during the day.
What's more, where there is a lack of lightbulbs, there is a lack of Li-Fi internet so Li-Fi does take a hit when it comes to public Wi-Fi networks.
But it's not all doom and gloom! Due to its impressive speeds, Li-Fi could make a huge impact on the internet of things too, with data transferred at much higher levels with even more devices able to connect to one another.
What's more, due to its shorter range, Li-Fi is more secure than Wi-Fi and it's reported that embedded light beams reflected off a surface could still achieve 70 megabits per second.
The future internet
Li-Fi technology will in future enable faster, more reliable internet connections, even when the demand for data usage has outgrown the available supply from existing technologies such as 4G, LTE and Wi-Fi. It will not replace these technologies, but will work seamlessly alongside them.
Using light to deliver wireless internet will also allow connectivity in environments that do not currently readily support Wi-Fi, such as aircraft cabins, hospitals and hazardous environments.
Light is already used for data transmission in fibre-optic cables and for point to point links, but Li-Fi is a special and novel combination of technologies that allow it to be universally adopted for mobile ultra-high speed internet communications.
A dual use for LED lighting
The wide use of solid state lighting offers an opportunity for efficient dual use lighting and communication systems.
Innovation in LED and photon receiver technology has ensured the availability of suitable light transmitters and detectors, while advances in the modulation of communication signals for these types of components has been advanced through signal processing techniques, such as multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO), to become as sophisticated as those used in mobile telecommunications.
An integrated communication solution
Li-Fi technology is being developed into a ubiquitous systems technology, consisting of application specific combinations of light transmitters, light receivers including solar cells, efficient computational algorithms and networking capabilities that can be deployed in a wide range of communication scenarios and in a variety of device platforms.
Q. 268. New world order in flux
The polycentric new world order, which was gradually emerging after the end of the Cold War, has begun to fray at the edges. The primary causes are:
the growing friction among the major powers,
the triumphant rise of the ultra-right wing political parties,
dilution in the forces of globalisation and free market economies, and
the world’s inability to comprehensively defeat the Islamic State (IS) group.
While the progress made in liberating Mosul and Aleppo has forced IS to retreat somewhat, its virulent ideology continues to flourish unabated. In fact, a “cyber caliphate” is emerging gradually. It is more dangerous than its geographical counterpart due to the ability to radicalise vulnerable youth using the Internet.
The unstable security environment in Afghanistan and along the Af-Pak border is the greatest cause of instability in southern Asia.
The strategic stalemate between the Afghan government and the remnants of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) forces on the one side and the Taliban and Pakistan-sponsored terrorist organisations like the Haqqani network on the other, is likely to endure.
China’s growing nexus with Pakistan and the two countries’ unresolved territorial disputes with India pose a formidable national security threat to India. In 2016, the intensity of this threat did not diminish – as has been the case since the Kargil conflict of 1999.
Despite misgivings in both countries, the China-Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC) has begun to take shape. Passing through Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), the CPEC will link Xingjian province of China with Gwadar on the Makran coast west of Karachi.
Though Pakistan is raising a division of approximately 12,000 personnel to provide security for the CPEC against terrorist attacks, eventually Chinese soldiers are bound to be inducted for this purpose like in Gilgit-Baltistan. Large-scale presence of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in Pakistan will further vitiate the security environment.
Surprisingly from India’s point of view, New Delhi’s long-time strategic partner Russia has expressed its support for CPEC, though denied later in a Facebook post. Russia also held a low-level military exercise with Pakistan and has offered to sell arms to the country. These developments are detrimental to India’s interests and could, to some extent, be attributed to the Obama administration’s policies that drove Russia closer to China.
India’s red lines were repeatedly crossed by Pakistani terrorists in 2016. India conducted surgical strikes over a broad front across the Line of Control in September and also launched targeted fire assaults. India must continue to inflict punishment on the Pakistan Army for every act of terrorism planned and directed by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). India should adopt a policy of tactical assertiveness under the umbrella of strategic restraint as war with Pakistan is not in New Delhi’s interest.
India must adopt a policy of tactical assertiveness under strategic restraint as war with Pakistan is not in New Delhi's interest.
The nuclear deal that Iran signed with the US has held for over a year despite strong opposition from several regional neighbours like Israel and Saudi Arabia. It is not yet clear whether the nuclear deal will survive the advent of the Trump administration. If it is abrogated by either signatory, the world is likely to soon witness the arrival of another nuclear power – with attendant consequences. Iran’s nuclear weapons are unlikely to be acceptable to the Trump administration or Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or to the Saudis.
Forgotten in the shadow of the conflict in Syria and Iraq is the civil war in Yemen. The Houthis and their allies, who seized Sanaa in September 2014, are locked in a bitter fight with a Saudi-led coalition comprising mainly Arab nations from the Gulf.
Varying degrees of turmoil in other countries around India, including Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka, also contributes to regional instability. Narco-terrorism, the proliferation of small arms, the circulation of fake currency, trans-border money laundering and the availability of sanctuaries for insurgents – often aided and abetted by neighbouring states – enable non-state entities to challenge duly elected governments. The insurgent movements in India’s North-eastern states are an example of this phenomenon.
The prevalence of volatility in the region leads to the inevitable conclusion that southern Asia will continue to remain unstable for some more time to come. The countries of the region must come together in their own interest and agree to systematically plug the loopholes that enable cross-border insurgent movements to flourish.
Sadly, there is too much mistrust among the neighbours. With the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) virtually defunct, no viable umbrella is available to enable the conduct of long and hard negotiations that would be required.
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