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18th January 2021 – Editorials/Opinions Analyses

Content

  1. Update debate
  2. The unravelling of liberal globalism

Editorial: Update debate

Context:

  • WhatsApp’s decision to delay the update of its privacy policy, following a backlash from its users, is an implicit acknowledgement of the increasing role played by perceptions about privacy in the continued well-being of a popular service.

Relevance:

  • GS Paper 2: Historical underpinnings & evolution; Features, amendments, significant provisions, basic structure; Comparison of Indian constitutional scheme with other countries’

Mains Questions:

  1. Examine the scope of Fundamental Rights in the light of the latest judgement of the Supreme Court on Right to Privacy. 15 marks
  2. Privacy of citizens is too important to be left to the business practices of digital companies. Discuss. 15 Marks

Dimensions of the Article:

  • Why right to privacy is needed?
  • Supreme court judgement related to Right to Privacy:
  • Issues related to Privacy:
  • Way forward

What is right to privacy?

Privacy as a human right enjoyed by every human being by virtue of his or her existence. It depends on no instrument or charter. Privacy can also extend to other aspects, including bodily integrity, personal autonomy, informational self-determination, protection from state surveillance, dignity, confidentiality, compelled speech and freedom to dissent or move or think.

  • In short, the right to privacy has to be determined on a case-by-case basis. Privacy enjoys a robust legal framework internationally.
  • Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 1966, legally protect persons against “arbitrary interference” with one’s privacy, family, home, correspondence, honour and reputation. India signed and ratified the ICCPR on April 10, 1979, without reservation.
  • Article 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, 2012, recognises the respect for private and family life, home and communications.
  • Article 8 mandates protection of personal data and its collection for a specified legitimate purpose.

Why right to privacy is needed?

  • Rapid digitization in India may result into problems of ID theft, fraud, misrepresentation
  • Welfare benefits through IT platforms using computerised data collected from citizens.
  • Huge personal data collection – Huge MNCs are taking data of millions of Indians abroad without including protection procedures
  • Increasing internet users – India has around 400 million Internet users engaged in generation, transmission, consumption and storage of data.

Supreme court judgement related to Right to Privacy:

  • Expands the individual’s fundamental rights – by guaranteeing it in Article 21 and including freedom from intrusion into one’s home, the right to choice of food, freedom of association etc.
  • Ensures dignity – as it is not possible for citizens to exercise liberty and dignity without privacy
  • Etches firmer boundaries for the state – Now right to privacy cannot be curtailed or abrogated only by enacting a statute but can be done only by a constitutional amendment
  • Increase responsibility of state to protect data – as any data breach in national programmes involving collection of personal data would have to be compensated unlike in a police state.
  • Shows an admirable capacity of judiciary to self-correct – This judgement overrules its previous stand in 6 and 8-judge benches.
  • Independent external monitoring – Now citizen can directly approach Supreme Court or High Courts for violation of his fundamental right under Articles 32 and 226. Thus ensuring that the right is subject to reasonable restrictions of public health, morality and order only.
  • International significance – as privacy enjoys a robust legal framework internationally and India has also signed and ratified the ICCPR in 1979.
  • Preventing digital colonisation by digital & e-commerce businesses – such as ensuring checks on accessibility of data harvested and taken to servers outside the country by Facebook and Google.

Issues related to Privacy:

  • Issues with WhatsApp: Problems for the Facebook-owned app started earlier this month when it announced an update to its terms of service and privacy policy, according to which users would no longer be able to opt out of sharing data with Facebook.
  • Embedding data privacy: Unfortunately, many businesses only have data privacy tacked onto their IT security or disaster recovery plan. But that’s not good enough because data privacy touches on so many parts of your business.
  • Proliferating devices: Data privacy becomes harder to handle when you factor in things like the Internet of Things (IOT), bring-your-own-device IT policies and proliferating internet-connected tablets, phones and watches. When you bring more devices into the workplace, you end up having more data to manage.
  • Increasing maintenance costs: Keeping your systems secure and preventing data privacy issues at the enterprise level can be expensive. But, the costs of a data breach are so significant, you need to bite the bullet and invest properly.
  • Access control is difficult in many industries: Data privacy breaches are often caused by poorly managed access within an organization. People and processes matter as much as technology. Humans are the weakest link in the chain of privacy and security.

Way forward

Since the global surveillance disclosures of 2013, the right to privacy has been a subject of international debate. Indian laws also talked about one component of privacy, i.e. data protection. The Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules of 2011 provides for the secure storage of personal data and Aadhaar Act 2016 also has full chapter on privacy and security of personal data. However India is still lagging behind over 100 countries that already have some form of data protection law. India should resolve the following concerns:

  • Increasing privacy consciousness in India which is low compared to western countries. Indian institutions like joint family, marriage celebrations etc. do not encourage privacy. However, rapid changes in technology warrant people awareness about what to put in public realm.
  • Developing a national data protection framework which will hopefully also define the contours of personal privacy in a broader context beyond just data.
  • Horizontal application of privacy- where this right is available against private players also. If state is excluded from its role in society’s data resources without constraining private corporations, it may lead to threatening of interests of weaker sections that depend on the state for justice and redistribution.
  • Encouraging use of privacy enhancing technologies (PET) – These are essentially processes and tools that allow end users to safeguard the privacy of their personally identifiable information It puts the end user in control over what information to share, with whom to share and a clear knowledge of the recipients of this information.
  • Balance individual’s privacy right with benefits of data mining and big data by clearly laying down a legal framework.

Editorial: The unravelling of liberal globalism

Context:

  • Donald Trump has been defeated, but not Trumpism and the anti-globalist politics it has unleashed.

Relevance:

  • GS Paper 3: Effects of Liberalisation on the economy;

Mains Questions:

  1. How would the recent phenomena of protectionism and currency manipulations in world trade affect macroeconomic stability of India? 15 Marks

Dimensions of the Article:

About Globalisation?

  • Globalisation as a concept fundamentally deals with flows. These flows could be of various kinds – ideas moving from one part of the world to another, capital shunted between two or more places, commodities being traded across borders, and people moving in search of better livelihoods to different parts of the world.
  • The crucial element is the ‘worldwide interconnectedness’ that is created and sustained as a consequence of these constant flows. It is true that nationalism and protectionism are on the rise; however, Globalization isn’t ending, it’s changing.

Events which challenge to Globalization:

As the new wave of globalization is spreading out, many of the world’s people are becoming resistant to it. In the West particularly, many middle-class workers are fed up with a political and economic system that resulted in economic inequality, social instability, and – in some countries – mass immigration, even if it also led to economic growth and cheaper products.

There have been five major geopolitical shifts creating suspicion of ending globalisation.

  • First, protectionism is growing. A number of trade barriers have been introduced since mid-2018, the most significant of which have been higher tariffs on bilateral trade between the US and China.
  • As a percentage of GDP, global exports have stalled and even started to go in reverse slightly. This increase in protectionism has contributed to the slowdown in global growth, both via the direct effects on trade flows, supply chains and import costs, and via the wider indirect effects on business sentiment, uncertainty, and investment around the world.
  • Second, the ability of multilateral institutions to establish and enforce shared rules seems to be weakening. As a political ideology, “globalism”, or the idea that one should take a global perspective, is on the wane. Bilateral agreements based on national interests are taking precedence over multilateralism. This is especially evident in current ongoing COVID pandemic which is causing the demand to reform various multilateral organisations such as WTO, WHO etc.
  • Third, the dominant role of Western countries in the multilateral financial institutions that have provided global capital appears to be receding as new financial institutions emerge, such as the China- backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank.
  • Fourth, state capitalism is on the rise: Examples include the growing economic role of state-owned enterprises & sovereign wealth funds (e.g. India’s NIIF) and the increased direct government support of domestic industries.
  • Fifth, with the current COVID pandemic, global value chains got disrupted as a result of lockdown. In the response, various countries such as India are now focussing on self-reliance and curbing their imports.

Is globalization ending in reality?

  • If we measure economic integration and interdependence among countries—the main features of globalization— against trade flows of goods and services and against financial and investment flows, we may be witnessing an interruption. However, if we use metrics that are more in line with the economic dynamics of the 21st century, then there would be signs that globalization is accelerating rather than subsiding.
  • Following are the indicators of 21st century economic integration and interdependence among countries that transcend trade and financial flows:
    • Technical and regulatory standards: In recent decades we have seen true globalization of standards, protocols, certifications, processes and monitoring in areas such as communications and phytosanitary, safety and quality issues, among others.
    • An unprecedented massification of access to digital services and e-commerce platforms is being observed. This connection is possible through standardized operating systems and internet protocols that allow billions of users to communicate at near-zero cost, have simultaneous access to digital content, and do business from virtually anywhere in the world.
    • Financial and capital markets are increasingly united by products & services due to standardizing of routines, processes and standards of financial, risk management and payment systems policies.

Features of new wave of globalization:

Global value chains are undergoing five structural shifts:

  • Goods-producing value chains have grown less trade-intensive: Trade is still growing in absolute terms, but the trade intensity (that is, the ratio of gross exports to gross output) has fallen from 28.1 percent in 2007 to 22.5 percent in 2017 due to rising domestic consumption in China and other emerging economies.
  • Trade in services has grown more than 60 percent faster than goods trade over the past decade with some type of services such as telecom and IT services growing two to three times faster. But they often go unpriced and untracked due to their intangible nature.
  • Share of trade based on labor-cost arbitrage (i.e. companies searching for low cost labour) has been declining (forming only 18 percent of goods trade) especially in labour-intensive goods manufacturing. Other factors such as access to skilled labor or natural resources, proximity to consumers, and the quality of infrastructure are increasingly becoming more important.
  • Global value chains are growing more knowledge-intensive as companies are spending more on R&D and intangible assets such as brand, operational processes and other intellectual property.
  • Value chains are becoming more regional and less global. The intraregional share of global goods trade has increased by 2.7 percentage points since 2013, most noticeable for Asia and the EU countries as companies prioritize proximity to customers and speedy deliveries.

Technological developments:

  • Global value chains are growing more knowledge-intensive as companies are spending more on R&D and intangible assets such as brand, operational processes and other intellectual property. Value chains are becoming more regional and less global. The intraregional share of global goods trade has increased by 2.7 percentage points since 2013, most noticeable for Asia and the EU countries as companies prioritize proximity to customers and speedy deliveries. Digital platforms, logistics technologies, and data-processing advances will continue to reduce cross-border transaction costs, bring together far-flung participants, make Delivery of services more efficient, reduce transit times & speed payments. These technologies together could potentially boost overall trade by 6 to 11 percent by 2030.
  • On the other hand, automation, AI, and additive manufacturing (3D printing) could reduce global goods trade by up to 10 percent by 2030. However, this reflects only the direct impact of these technologies on enabling production closer to end consumers in advanced economies. It is also possible that these technologies could lead to nearshoring and regionalization of trade instead of reshoring in advanced economies.
  • The advent of ultra-fast 5G wireless networks opens new possibilities for delivering services. Remote surgery, for example, may become more viable as networks transmit sharp images without any delays and robots respond more precisely to remote manipulation.

Conclusion:

Globalization has been a powerful force in shaping modern human history. The world economy has become increasingly connected and interdependent over recent decades, and conventional wisdom suggests that this will only continue in the years ahead. But while it’s tempting to extrapolate the past effects of globalization into the future, such a leap may also be a mistake. That’s because there is growing evidence that globalization itself is quietly transforming – and how it ultimately evolves may be markedly different from what might be expected.

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