The Hindu Editorial Analysis | 24th July ’20 | PDF Download

Deepening India-S. Korea ties | TH

  • India and South Korea have signed numerous bilateral agreements with the aim of taking their ties to the next level.
  • Economic partnership is struck at $22 billion annually
  • Defence partnership: mere sale and purchase of weapon systems
  • Cultural prejudices on both sides
  • Whatever bilateral progress has been made, say in the realm of trade and investment, has not lent sufficient momentum that people start building bridges in other areas.
  • NOTE: As in any relationship, mutual respect regarding cultural values is the key to building a robust partnership between two countries.
  • Filling the information gap.
  • In South Korea, racial prejudice or discrimination, toward Indians is prevelant.
  • Some visiting South Koreans have faced hostility in India.
  • The establishment of the Indian Culture Centre (ICC) in Seoul 10 years ago was a step in the right direction.
  • Its mission was to promote people-to-people contacts.
  • The ICC’s attempts to broad-base an appreciation of Indian culture by, for example, teaching south Indian dances to elementary school students in South Korea, or organising experiential sessions centred on Indian cuisine, are commendable.
  • As the balance of power in the region continues to shift fast, India and South Korea may need each like never before, to protect their ways of life.

Calibrated balance

  • External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar laid out India’s world view in the face of global challenges, many of which pull it in different directions.
  • Mr. Jaishankar’s contention was that non-alignment as a concept belonged to a bygone era and that multipolarity in the world necessitated that India would have to take a definite stand, and even take risks” on issues such as connectivity, maritime security, terrorism and climate change.
  • However, he made it clear that India does not reject non-alignment in its entirety, and that while it would no longer remain disentangled from difficult decisions, it would not compromise on its independence.
  • More importantly, he said that India has “never been part of an alliance system, nor will it ever be”.
  • He added that even the U.S. must look beyond its present alliances, and engage with more multilateral arrangements.
  • Mr. Jaishankar explained that while non-alignment worked for India during the Cold War era between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, the fact that India and China share a land boundary would always be a factor in a “new cold war” between the U.S. and China.
  • He spoke of Indo-U.S. cooperation in many fields, and the growing maritime collaboration in particular, but left unsaid the hard reality that military collaboration on land would prove problematic given India’s disputed boundary with China, the venue of a nearly three-month-long stand-off between the PLA and the Indian Army.
  • India has rightly chosen not to raise its tensions with China in any forum other than bilateral talks with Beijing.
  • Equally significant is the government’s outreach to Moscow, including a visit by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
  • Participation of Mr. Jaishankar in the Russia-India-China trilateral last month.
  • External Affairs Minister’s comments that India should also seek to build coalitions with “middle powers”, such as the European Union and Japan.
  • A time of crisis often clarifies priorities.
  • At a time of a double crisis for India — battling the novel coronavirus pandemic in the country and Chinese aggression at the border — the message from New Delhi is one of a carefully calibrated balance.

Escalating tensions

  • The U.S.’s decision to close China’s consulate in Houston.
  • Escalation between the world’s two largest economies.
  • Trump administration: accused the consulate and other Chinese diplomatic missions in the country of economic espionage, visa fraud and attempted theft of scientific research.
  • It has announced visa restrictions on students, imposed sanctions on Chinese officials over a Hong Kong security law and is reportedly considering a sweeping travel ban on the millions of members of China’s ruling Communist Party.
  • Since the tariff war that President Trump launched in 2018, China has retaliated against every hostile move by the U.S.
  • China made matters worse by providing refuge in its San Francisco consulate to one of the Chinese researchers against whom the U.S. has issued an arrest warrant because she allegedly lied to the authorities about her ties to the Army.
  • The U.S-China tensions are no longer about trade and technology.
  • China poses a serious threat to the U.S.-dominated international order.
  • The message from China is that it is ready for a long game of escalation, as long as the U.S. keeps playing it.
  • This is a cyclical trap — measures and countermeasures keep taking ties to new lows with no possibility of an exit.
  • If this deterioration is not arrested immediately, the U.S. and China risk a total breakdown in diplomatic relations.
  • That is bad news for the whole world.

Personal Data Protection Bill | ToI

  • Ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY)’s June 29 decision to block access to 59 Chinese mobile apps – by invoking the exception clause relating to sovereignty under Section 69 of the IT Act – has been welcomed by most.
  • But it is at best an ad hoc measure.
  • The instant ban is yet another call for having a functionally robust Data Protection Authority (DPA).
  • The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 entrusts the DPA with the mammoth task of protecting the right to privacy of 1.3 billion Indians by regulating approximately 600 million entities, including the proliferating digital ecosystem of both the government of India and the states.
  • For impartial and effective discharge of its crucial role, there is a need for the DPA to have sufficient capability to discharge its functions.
  • The EU shares its data only with countries which meet the ‘adequacy requirement’ under the General Data Protection Regulations (EUGDPR) and the OECD privacy guidelines.
  • The independence of the DPA is the foremost criterion for meeting such a requirement and a necessary prerequisite for a free and fair cross-border transfer of data.
  • Only with an independent DPA can India unlock its true potential in global digital commerce.
  1. Under the bill, the Centre has the power to notify categories of ‘sensitive personal data’ in consultation with the DPA and concerned sectoral regulators. Such powers should vest solely with DPA as it is the primary rule making body under the bill and must remain at more than an arm’s length from the government.
  2. The Centre is empowered under Section 86 of the bill to issue binding directions to the DPA without any prior consultation with it. This may adversely affect the functional autonomy of the body.
  3. While the power to notify certain large data fiduciaries as ‘significant data fiduciaries’ rests solely with the DPA, the Centre has been given the power (in consultation with the authority) to notify social media intermediaries as significant data fiduciaries, thereby diluting DPA’s power.
  • Data fiduciaries at all levels of the government, ranging from the panchayat level to the Centre, will be regulated by the DPA.
  • To design effective regulation, monitoring and enforcement mechanisms and create awareness of data protection rights at grassroots level, the DPA must be a decentralised body on the lines of the State Information Commissions or the Consumer Protection Authority and the Consumer Fora.
  • A single centralised body as conceptualised now may not even be able to functionally discharge its responsibilities of safeguarding every citizen’s right to privacy and preventing any harm to him.
  • The DPA may need to be constituted as a collegial body with a combination of full-time, part-time and independent members from judiciary, civil society and persons of ability, integrity and standing in the field of data protection, technology and regulation.
  • The bill adopts good practices of involvement of various stakeholders such as industry, trade associations, departments of the governments, other sectoral regulators and the public in the formulation of code of practices.
  • However, the same transparent and consultative method is missing from the process of framing other rules and regulations.
  • The DPA must also be required to publish results of inspections and inquiries that it conducts on data fiduciaries.
  • Strong disclosure and reporting requirements must therefore be enshrined in the bill to gain much-needed public trust and make enforcement effective.
  • Lastly, the bill confers absolute discretion to the Centre for deciding the number of adjudicating officers, the manner and term of their appointment and jurisdiction.
  • The adjudicating officers preside on disputes under the PDP Bill.
  • Any law or policy is as good as its enforcement.
  • Efficacious and effective implementation and enforcement depends upon capacity and capability.
  • With rapidly progressing technology in a global world, we must envisage a DPA which is able to meet contemporary challenges, so that it becomes a model worth emulating.


  • Government has imposed restrictions on public procurement from the countries which share a land border with India to strengthen the defence and national security.
    • The Department of Expenditure in a detailed Order said the Government has amended the General Financial Rules 2017 to enable imposition of restrictions on bidders from countries which share a land border with India on grounds of defence of India, or matters directly or indirectly related thereto including national security.
    • As per the order, any bidder from such countries sharing a land border with India will be eligible to bid in any procurement whether of goods, services including consultancy services and non-consultancy services or works including turnkey projects only if the bidder is registered with the competent authority.
    • The Central government has also written to State Chief Secretaries for the implementation of this Order in procurement by them and their undertakings.
  • The External Affairs Ministry has said respecting and strictly abiding by the LAC is the basis of peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
    • External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, several agreements concluded by India and China since 1993 firmly acknowledge this.
    • He said the conduct of Chinese forces this year, including the deployment of large body of troops and changes in behaviour, accompanied by unjustified and untenable claims, has been in complete disregard of all the mutual agreements.
    • He said Indian side has made it clear that India is fully committed to observing and respecting the LAC and country will not accept any unilateral attempts to change the status quo along the LAC.
    • The two sides have agreed during the conversation of the Special Representatives to work towards complete disengagement of the troops along the LAC and de-escalation from India-China border areas for full restoration of peace and tranquillity.
  • India said Pakistan has blocked all the avenues for an effective remedy available for India in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case.
    • External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, the whole exercise of not providing any documents related to the case, not providing unimpeded consular access and some reported unilateral action of approaching the High Court on part of Pakistan again exposes the farcical nature of Pakistan’s approach.
    • He said, Pakistan is not only in violation of the judgment of ICJ, but also of its own Ordinance.
    • He said, Pakistan has completely failed to provide the remedy as directed by the ICJ and India reserves its position in the matter, including its rights to avail of further remedies.
  • 10th BRICS Trade Ministers virtual Meeting
    • Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal has called for all nations to enhance transparency in their trade and build trust to prevent losing their role as a preeminent trade partner.
    • Mr Goyal said, it is trust and transparency which determines the sustainability of global supply chains and nations must demonstrate their compliance with global rules of trade to remain a part of global trade flow.
    • The Minister said the ongoing crisis has exposed the world to vulnerabilities, forcing us to explore ways to support each other.
    • He said trade can be an engine of reviving growth in such a scenario.
    • Mr Goyal called for removing multiple hurdles in access to medicines at affordable prices created by the WTO rules for protecting intellectual property.
  • Bangladesh Government has said, the transhipment of the goods to India using Chattogram port has taken the bilateral trade to a new height.
    • Bangladesh’s Information Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud said, transhipment of goods to the north-eastern states of India using roads of Bangladesh after unloading containers at Chattogram Port will benefit both the countries.
    • Commending the arrival of the first ever container cargo from Kolkata via Chattogram port to Agartala, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Anurag Srivastava in a tweet, has said, it is a historic milestone in India-Bangladesh connectivity and economic partnership.
  • Railways will use radio-frequency identification tags, RFID for tracking of wagons, locomotives and coaches.
    • The Railways Ministry said, by using this RFID devices, it will be easier to know the exact position of wagons, locomotives and coaches.
    • Currently, such data is maintained manually, which leaves scope for errors.
    • The Ministry said, RFID tag will be fitted in the rolling stock and trackside readers will be installed at stations and key points along the tracks to read the tag from a distance of about two meters and transmit the wagon identity over a network to a central computer.
  • Dubai airline Emirates has announced to offer free medical cover for its passengers for COVID-19 related expenses, becomes the first airline in the world to do so.
  • Air India has made it clear that no employee of the organization will be laid off.
  • The Defence Ministry has issued the formal Government Sanction Letter for grant of Permanent Commission to Women Officers in the Indian Army.
    • This will pave the way for empowering Women Officers to shoulder larger roles in the organisation.
    • The order specifies grant of Permanent Commission to Short Service Commissioned Women Officers in all ten streams of the Indian Army.

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