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The Hindu 26 August 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

SL. NO.

TOPICS   

THE HINDU

PAGE NO.

1

Privacy no longer supreme 

10

2

A bottom-up approach to conservation                                                                          

11

3

IISER team’s find may help fight drug-resistant infections                                       

07

4

IMF report flags several delays in India’s data report                                         

13

5

Under the cover of president’s Rule                                                   

10

 

Title

1. Privacy no longer supreme.                                                                                               (The Hindu, Page 10)     

Syllabus

Mains: GS Paper II – Polity & Constitution 

Theme

Rights 

Highlights

Context: The article highlights that despite judgment on Right to Privacy, government has continued to commission and execute mass surveillance programme. So, there is a need for Right based data protection law to regulate data surveillance through judicial oversight.     

In this context, let us understand the basics of Right to Privacy Judgment, Justice Srikrishna Committee Report on “A Free and Fair Digital Economy & Protecting Privacy, Empowering Indians” and government’s surveillance programmes.

Right to Privacy Judgment

Supreme Court in Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd) vs Union Of India has ruled Right to Privacy as an integral part of Right to Life and Personal Liberty as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.The Court held that these rights are recognised by the Constitution as inhering in each individual as an intrinsic and inseparable part of the human element which dwells within. However, right to privacy is not absolute and state can make law to restrict right to privacy. A law on invasion of life or personal liberty must meet the three-fold requirement of 

  1. Legality, which postulates the existence of law i.e.  state action must have a legislative mandate

  2. Need, defined in terms of a legitimate state aim i.e. there must be a legitimate state purpose

  3. Proportionality which ensures a rational nexus between the objects and the means adopted to achieve them.       

This judgment forced the government to change its view on privacy of citizens. This was further helped by Judgment in Aadhaar as it prohibited authentication of Aadhaar details by private organisations including corporates. (eg Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance etc.) 

Justice Srikrishna Committee Report 

  • Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeITY) in July 2017 constituted a ten member committee of experts headed by former Supreme Court Judge, Justice B.N. Srikrishna to study various issues related to data protection in India and also to draft a Data Protection Law. 

  • It submitted a report titled A Free and Fair Digital Economy Protecting Privacy, Empowering Indians. 

  • The report has cited Puttaswamy Judgment and highlighted that sphere of privacy includes a right to protect one‘s identity. This right recognises the fact that that all information about a person is fundamentally their own, and they are free to communicate or retain it for themselves. 

  • This core of informational privacy, thus, is a right to autonomy and self-determination in respect of one‘s personal data an must be the primary value that any data protection framework serves.

  • The data protection law has embodied the principle that the state must be a model data controller and prescribed a higher standard of observance for the state.  

  • It has also created Data Protection Authority (DPA) which will be an independent regulatory body responsible for the enforcement and effective implementation of the law. Broadly, the DPA shall perform the following primary functions: (i) monitoring and enforcement; (ii) legal affairs, policy and standard setting; (iii) research and awareness; (iv) inquiry, grievance handling and adjudication. 

Mass surveillance steps taken by government (Steps taken in disregard to privacy & Draft law by the Committee) 

  • Despite the judgment on right to privacy, Aadhaar and a draft data protection law drafted by the Committee, the government continued to commission and execute mass surveillance programmes on grounds of national security and with little regard to follow the three fold requirement of legality, need and proportionality. 

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs, in December 2018 authorised 10 Central agencies to “intercept, monitor and decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer in India”.  This notification has been challenged in Supreme Court.

  • Ministry of Information Broadcasting had floated a tender for ‘Social Media Monitoring Hub’, a technical solution to snoop on all social media communications, including e-mail. The government had to withdraw the project following a petition in Supreme Court. 

  • A request for proposal for a similar social media surveillance programme was floated in August 2018 by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which is presently under challenge before the Supreme Court. 

  • The Income-Tax department has its ‘Project Insight’ which also has similar mass surveillance ends.    

Storage of Data for Public Good and not on rights based approach

  • Government sees storage of individual data for public good and does not take into account a rights based approach. 

  • This gives government the right to use, monetise and exploit data in any manner it desires so long as it guards against security incidents such as breaches and unauthorised access. 

  • This approach of the government is evident from this year’s Economic Survey as it appreciates government’s efforts to sell and monetise the vehicle owners’ data in the Vahan Database and has asked to replicate the success with other databases.     

Need for Right based Data Protection Law

  • The Justice Srikrishna committee which has published the draft Personal Data Protection Bill uses a similar language of ‘free and fair digital economy’, with the digital economy being the ends and the notion of privacy merely shaping the means to achieve the ends. 

  • The author highlights that this idea misinterprets the committee report as only to seek economic ends by using stored data. Thus, there is a need for rights based data protection law which - 

  • includes comprehensive surveillance reform prohibiting mass surveillance

  • provides for judicial oversight mechanism for targeted surveillance

  • recognises the principle that the state ought to be a model data controller as it deals with its citizens’ personal information    

 

Title

2. A bottom-up approach to conservation                                                                          (The Hindu, Page 11)   

Syllabus 

Prelims GS Paper III – Environment 

Theme

Ecology 

Highlights

Context : In the light of recent back to back floods in the state of Kerala, the author has highlighted the importance of ecological conservation of Western Ghats using a bottom up approach by empowering grass root institutions viz gram Panchayats. In the article he has highlighted the recommendations of Western Ghats Ecology Expert panel(WGEEP) and also the importance of involving the Panchayati raj institutions for the conservation of Western Ghats.  

 

 

Recommendations of WGEEP 

  • It called for a model of conservation and development compatible with each other. 

 

  • The panel had recommended to demarcate ecologically sensitive areas within the Western Ghats Region as ecologically sensitive zones under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. 

 

  • In line with the National Forest Policy, the panel suggested to assign 60% of the total area of Western Ghats in Kerala, including the region housing wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, as a zone of highest ecological sensitivity, ‘ESZ1’.

 

  • In Kerala, rainfall increases rapidly with elevation, and high rainfall and steep slopes render localities vulnerable to landslides. Hence, areas prone to landslides would come under ESZ1. 

 

  • The extent and quality of natural vegetation was the third indicator for classifying an area as ESZ1. 

 

  • Landslides are under check in areas with intact natural vegetation because the roots bind the soil. 

 

  • Any disturbance to such vegetation would render any locality that has steep slopes and experiences high rainfall susceptible to landslides. 

 

  • Such disturbances may include quarrying or mining, replacement of natural vegetation by new plantations, levelling of the land using heavy machinery, and construction of houses and roads. Therefore, the panel recommended that such activities be avoided in ESZ1 areas.

  • The author highlights that Had these recommendations been accepted, the extent and intensity of landslides being encountered today would have been much lower.

 

 

Role played by PRIs in Kerala

 

  • The Kerala High Court had ruled in favour of Plachimada Panchayat that cancelled Coca-Cola’s licence because the company polluted and depleted groundwater reserves, drying up wells and adversely impacting agriculture and livelihoods

 

The panchayat had invoked its constitutional rights, arguing that it had the duty to protect the well-being of its citizens and had the right to cancel — or refuse permission for — anything that affected its citizens adversely.

 

Further the court had observed that grass-root institutions have the authority to decide on the course of development in their own locality.

 

  • Kerala had also been at the forefront of the country’s Literacy Mission of the late 1980s; it pioneered Panchayat Level Resource Mapping and followed it up with the People’s Planning campaign that attempted to involve every panchayat in the preparation of a Panchayat Development Report.

 

 

Suggestion 

 

  • The panel's recommendations should be applied as soon as possible. 

  • Implementation of these recommendations should have active involvement of Panchayati Raj institutions.  Further Kerala High Court's ruling that local bodies have the authority to decide on the course of development in their own localities should be made genuinely operational across the country.

 

  • Conservation prescriptions should not be merely regulatory, but include positive incentives such as conservation service charges. 

 

  • We must hand over economic activities like quarrying to agencies like the Kudumbashree groups(Successful SHG Model of Kerala ) that are accountable to local communities. 

 

 

 

 


 

Title

3. IISER team’s find may help fight drug-resistant infections                                       (The Hindu Page 07)

Syllabus 

Prelims : GS Paper I – SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY 

Theme

Biotechnology 

Highlights

Context: 

  • A group of scientists in Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Pune, claim to have determined the atomic structure of complex bacterial protein (McrBC) which helps to prevent viral infections in a bacterial cell and functions as a molecular scissor. 

  • The atomic structure also helps in understanding working of molecular scissors. A high-resolution structure of McrBC was possible by using electron cryomicroscopy, commonly known as cryo-EM. 

  • The atomic structure of McrBC was published in two prestigious journals Nature Communications and Nucleic Acids Research (published by the Oxford University Press).   

Phage Therapy

  • The determination of the McrBC’s structure has long-term implications in ‘phage therapy’ and could help combat drug-resistant infections in the future. 

  • The practice of phage therapy uses bacterial viruses (phages) to treat bacterial infections. Phages are groups of viruses that infect and kill bacterial cells and phage therapy is the therapeutic use of bacteriophages to treat bacterial infections.

  •  Understanding of the molecular scissors would aid in combating multidrug resistant microbes.  

How the molecular scissors in bacteria work?

  • Like humans, bacteria too have an elaborate defence system to combat phages or the viruses which infect bacterial cells. 

  • These phages inject their DNA into the bacterial cell, wherein they multiply and duplicate the virus that eventually bursts out of that cell to infect many more. 

  • So to prevent infection, bacteria have specialised ‘molecular scissors’ which specifically cut the foreign DNA, thereby preventing their multiplication in bacterial cells. 

  • The molecular scissors of bacteria also regulate the entry of other foreign DNA that might host an antibiotic resistance gene.     

Features of McrBC 

  • To cut the foreign DNA, McrBC is powered by an inbuilt motor that uses GTP (guanosine triphosphate) as an energy currency of the bacterial cell. 

  • The atomic structure of McrBC (by using cryo-EM) reveals the details of its working parts. 

Nobel Prize in Physiology

  • Work in the field of bacterial immunity against viruses was first undertaken by in the early 1950s by renowned Italian microbiologist Salvador Luria. 

  • He won Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1969, along with Max Delbrück and Alfred Hershey, for their discoveries concerning the replication mechanism and the genetic structure of viruses. 

  • The phenomenon that Luria discovered was later found to be a result of the action of McrBC, which only cuts DNA that is labelled by a specific chemical mark. 

  • This chemical mark is also seen in human DNA that regulates the reading of the encoded genetic information. Consequently, McrBC is used as a laboratory tool to study the readability of human and other genomes. 

Studying Phage therapy again 

  • Research into phage therapy in western countries declined in the 1940s after Alexander Fleming’s discovery of antibiotics. 

  • However, it continued in the erstwhile Soviet Union, particularly in Georgia, mainly owing to the presence of Felix d’Herelle, the pioneering French-Canadian microbiologist who was one of the co-discoverers of bacteriophages. 

  • While research into phage therapy was virtually abandoned in the West, it went on in Georgia. However, much of it was obscured owing to the Cold War and the Iron Curtain.  

  • With an increase in use of anti-biotics, slowly it was observed that bacteria had started acquiring resistance to these antibiotics. 

  • So, the main reason for the renaissance in phage therapy in the West and elsewhere is the fact that the impact of antibiotics is decreasing.     

 

Title

4. IMF report flags several delays in India’s data report                                         (The Hindu , pg no - 13)                                                                                            

Syllabus 

Mains GS Paper III – Economy  

Theme

Economy 

Highlights

What has happened?

 
  • International Monetary fund’s “Annual Observance Report of the Special Data Dissemination Standard for 2018” has said that India has failed to comply with multiple requirements prescribed in the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS), which is mandatory for all IMF members.

What is SDDS requirements?

  • The IMF has taken steps to enhance member country transparency and openness, including setting voluntary standards for dissemination of economic and financial data. 

  • The Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) was established in 1996 to guide members that have, or might seek, access to international capital markets in providing their economic and financial data to the public. 

  • The General Data Dissemination System (GDDS) was established in 1997 for member countries with less developed statistical systems as a framework for evaluating their needs for data improvement and setting priorities. 

  • In 2012, the SDDS Plus was created as an upper tier of the IMF’s Data Standards Initiatives to help address data gaps identified during the global financial crisis. In 2015 the enhanced GDDS (e-GDDS) replaced the GDDS. More than 97 percent of IMF member countries participate in the e-GDDS, SDDS, or SDDS Plus.

  • Under the Special Data Dissemination Standards (SDDS) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), central banks undertake the responsibility of disseminating information under certain data categories, such as, analytical accounts of the banking sector, analytical accounts of the central bank, balance of payments, international reserves and exchange rates. The IMF requires that these data should be available at regular intervals in public domain.

 

India & SDDS:

  • National Summary Data Page (NSDP) provides a quick access to a single comprehensive source of economic and financial data, provided under the guidelines of SDDS.

  • The Reserve Bank of India is one of the earliest central bank signatories of SDDS. The National Summary Data Page of RBI provides the data released by the Reserve Bank of India under SDDS requirements.

  • Similarly, The Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation maintains an ‘Advance Release Calendar’ for its data categories covered under the SDDS and Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance also provides National Summary Data Page under SDDS. Ministries and various also undertake similar procedures of NSDP with respect to their own data.

Compliance & deviation criteria of SDDS: 

  • The yearly observance report for each member country lists the compliances and deviations from the SDDS under each data category for that year.

  • There are several data categories which IMF considers for this report to capture a nation’s economic health which includes national accounts both in GDP & GNI terms, production indices, employment figures, etc.
     

  • The report lists three types of deviations from SDDS. The first deals with delays in data dissemination from the periodicity prescribed in the SDDS. 

  • The second occurs when member countries do not list a data category in their Advance Release Calendars (ARC) despite the category being mandated by the SDDS. The third deviation occurs when data is not disseminated at all for a particular period.

 

Observation from report:

  • India has failed to comply with multiple requirements prescribed in the SDDS, whereby India had non-compliance in multiple categories in 2018 and to an extent in 2017, which breaks with an otherwise near perfect dissemination record of India in past years.
     

  • Although the IMF has acknowledged India’s deviations but termed them non-serious, however the continuation of such deviations may lead to problems in the future. 
     

  • The deviations has been marked as non-serious because it was mainly caused by delay in positing of data rather than with-holding of data, whereby data is provided by several agencies and is not collated by a single agency. 
     

  • Apart from this, concerns have been raised within India over quality and release of data by the Government of India such as the delay in PLFS survey data, quality of GDP back series data or withholding of caste census data. 


 



 

Title

5. Under the cover of president’s Rule                                                   (The Hindu Pg no 06)

Syllabus 

Prelims GS paper II – Polity  

Theme

President’s Rule 

Highlights

President’s Rule 

 

Article 355 imposes a duty on the Centre to ensure that the government of every state is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. It is this duty in the performance of which the Centre takes over the government of a state under Article 356 in case of failure of constitutional machinery in state. This is popularly known as ‘President’s Rule’. It is also known as ‘State Emergency’ or ‘Constitutional Emergency’. 

The President’s Rule can be proclaimed under Article 356 on two grounds —one mentioned in Article 356 itself and another in Article 365: 

 

1. Article 356 empowers the President to issue a proclamation, if he is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of a state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. Notably, the president can act either on a report of the governor of the state or otherwise too (ie, even without the governor’s report). 

 

2. Article 365 says that whenever a state fails to comply with or to give effect to any direction from the Centre, it will be lawful for the president to hold that a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution. 

 

Parliamentary Approval and Duration 

 
  • A proclamation imposing President’s Rule must be approved by both the Houses of Parliament within two months from the date of its issue. However, if the proclamation of President’s Rule is issued at a time when the Lok Sabha has been dissolved or the dissolution of the Lok Sabha takes place during the period of two months without approving the proclamation, then the proclamation survives until 30 days from the first sitting of the Lok Sabha after its reconstitution, provided the Rajya Sabha approves it in the mean time. 

 
  • If approved by both the Houses of Parliament, the President’s Rule continues for six months 6 . It can be extended for a maximum period of three years 7 with the approval of the Parliament, every six months. However, if the dissolution of the Lok Sabha takes place during the period of six months without approving the further continuation of the President’s Rule, then the proclamation survives until 30 days from the first sitting of the Lok Sabha after its reconstitution, provided the Rajya Sabha has in the meantime approved its continuance. 

 
  • Every resolution approving the proclamation of President’s Rule or its continuation can be passed by either House of Parliament only by a simple majority, that is, a majority of the members of that House present and voting. 

 
  • The 44th Amendment Act of 1978 introduced a new provision to put restraint on the power of Parliament to extend a proclamation of President’s Rule beyond one year. Thus, it provided that, beyond one year, the President’s Rule can be extended by six months at a time only when the following two conditions are fulfilled: 

 

1. a proclamation of National Emergency should be in operation in the whole of India, or in the whole or any part of the state; and 

 

2. the Election Commission must certify that the general elections to the legislative assembly of the concerned state cannot be held on account of difficulties. A proclamation of President’s Rule may be revoked by the President at any time by a subsequent proclamation. Such a proclamation does not require the parliamentary approval.

 

Scope of Judicial Review 

 

The 38th Amendment Act of 1975 made the satisfaction of the President in invoking Article 356 final and conclusive which could not be challenged in any court on any ground. But, this provision was subsequently deleted by the 44th Amendment Act of 1978 implying that the satisfaction of the President is not beyond judicial review.

 

In Bommai case (1994), the following propositions have been laid down by the Supreme Court on imposition of President’s Rule in a state under Article 356: 

1. The presidential proclamation imposing President’s Rule is subject to judicial review. 

2. The satisfaction of the President must be based on relevant material. The action of the president can be struck down by the court if it is based on irrelevant or extraneous grounds or if it was found to be malafide or perverse. 

3. Burden lies on the Centre to prove that relevant material exist to justify the imposition of the President’s Rule. 

4. The court cannot go into the correctness of the material or its adequacy but it can see whether it is relevant to the action. 

5. If the court holds the presidential proclamation to be unconstitutional and invalid, it has power to restore the dismissed state government and revive the state legislative assembly if it was suspended or dissolved. 

6. The state legislative assembly should be dissolved only after the Parliament has approved the presidential proclamation. Until such approval is given, the president can only suspend the assembly. In case the Parliament fails to approve the proclamation, the assembly would get reactivated.



 

Highlights 

 
  • The lynchpin of the government’s legal measures to declare Article 370 inoperative and reorganise Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two Union Territories is the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order of August 5, 2019.

 
  • The Centre and Parliament also used the fact that the State was under President’s Rule to act on behalf of the State government and the State Assembly. This means that another principal source of the government’s power was the President’s proclamation issued on December 18, 2018, imposing Central rule.

 
  • One clear way to question and challenge the legality of the measures is to find out whether there are any limitations on the Centre or Parliament using the prevalence of President’s Rule to do anything that is not realistically possible to be done if there were a popularly elected legislature in a State.

 

Provision suspended 

 

To alter the boundaries of a state the constitutional provision says the President must refer any proposal to alter a State’s name or boundaries to the State legislature for its views.

 

It is an acknowledged fact that under the constitutional scheme, Parliament has overriding powers over the States in this matter. However, in respect of J&K, there is an additional proviso, one found only in the State’s own Constitution. This says J&K’s legislature has to give its consent to any altering of its boundaries or size or name. Significantly, the Presidential proclamation suspends the second proviso too.

 

These changes were made legally and constitutionally possible only because the State was under President’s Rule and the President’s Proclamation under Article 356 provided for it.

 

Impact of legislative and executive power under centre

 

Some of the possibilities of the kind of anti-federal damage that may be done while a State is under Central rule can be listed: 

(a) suits instituted by the State against other States or the Centre under Article 131 may be withdrawn or claims against it conceded 

(b) the power of a State Assembly to ratify Constitution amendments may be exercised by Parliament, and 

(c) the Assembly may be denied the opportunity to give its views on a proposal to alter the boundaries of the State. In the case of J&K, the consent of its legislature was mandatory, but the State Assembly’s consent was given by Parliament itself. 

 

Another area where center has assumed the role of state government for itself 

One is the power of the J&K government to concur with proposals to modify the way in which provisions of the Constitution apply to the State; and two, the recommendation of the State ‘Constituent Assembly’ to the President to declare Article 370 inoperative. 

 

These two measures have been adopted by the Centre in the name of the Governor and by reading the term ‘Constituent Assembly’ as ‘Legislative Assembly’, and using the factum of the State being under President’s Rule to make Parliament itself perform the duty of recommending the step.

 

What should be the limitation on centre?

 
  • The implicit limitation on the Centre performing nothing more than routine governance functions on behalf of the State will have to be traced to the overall scheme of Article 356 itself. 

  • First, the power is invoked only with the objective of restoring constitutional governance in the State, and not to exercise absolute powers to change policies, laws and programmes of the State in the limited period during which a State is under President’s rule. 

  • Parliament may pass the State Budget, or essential legislation so that existing programmes and statutory measures survive, but Article 356 does not give a blanket power to the President or Parliament to alter any matter in which the political leaders and the electorate of the State have a legitimate stake.

  •  Unless these implied limitations on the way the President or Parliament performs the functions of a State under Central rule, no State law or policy is safe.

  •  
  • A State law may be amended by Parliament during President’s Rule, and thereafter, the subject it falls under may be shifted to the Union or Concurrent List through a Constitution amendment; and the latter may be ratified on behalf of several State governments by placing them under President’s Rule for a limited period. 

  • This route may be used to abrogate any State law, and thereafter future elected regimes in the State may be prevented from restoring its old law, by stripping it of its legislative competence.

 

Conclusion 

 

Therefore, anyone challenging the constitutionality of the President’s Constitutional Order, or the resolutions adopted by Parliament preparatory to the declaration of Article 370 as inoperative, will also have to seek a verdict that imposes judicial limitations on the extent to which Article 356 can be used to subvert the will of the States.

 

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