Contents

  1. Access to Internet- The SC verdict
  2. Move to cash transfers of subsidies will lead to savings
  3. Being forearmed on climate change
  4. Technology: The main front in the US-China trade war

ACCESS TO INTERNET- THE SC VERDICT

Details

  • In Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India the SC’s interpretation of the fundamental rights governing the freedom of speech, assembly, and movement is well-nigh perfect.
  • The Court has read the limitations on these rights narrowly and has made it clear that any restrictions placed on the Internet, among other things, must meet a test of proportionality.

Opacity in Orders by govt

  • After dilution of Article 370, government  only issued orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure inflicting grave restrictions on people’s movement, but it also imposed an indiscriminate shutdown of the Internet by invoking provisions of the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017
  • The blockade placed on the Internet in the Kashmir Valley, continue unabated, even though more than five months have lapsed since these measures were first imposed.

Court’s View:

  • The right to freedom of speech and expression, contained in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, the Bench held, implicitly also includes a mandate to a right to information
  • The Court also recognised that the Internet today is critical to the conduct of commerce. Therefore, any restriction on the web will necessarily impinge on the right under Article 19(1)(g), “to carry on any occupation, trade or business”
  • The court observed that any restraint made on a fundamental freedom must be necessary and proportionate to the goal that it seeks to achieve
  • In this verdict SC has not transgressed into the powers of government with this judgement, which reflects all the submissions of the govt

How this verdict on access to internet is seminal, progressive, balanced?

  • There are three concepts that the judgement brings out very clearly. First is the value of liberty, which is so important and not negotiable. It cannot be put in peril.
  • The second is the importance of knowing things or having access to information and how in today’s world, the internet is such an important means of getting information.
  • The third part is on the exercise of statutory powers such as Section 144 -The court said that if govt want to publish any order under Article 144, make sure it is done transparently for people to know and with a possibility of a challenge to those orders
  • The verdict understands the requirements of protecting society against some parts of itself.
  • It strikes a very careful balance between rights and liberty on one hand and the need to protect citizens on the other, through the state.
  • At all points of time, the narrative is the supremacy of the Constitution and the value of human beings.

The court is always increasing the frontiers

  • A court is a dynamic organism so no judicial thought can ever be stagnant. If it becomes stagnant, it will not be alive to the sensibilities of a mobile society.
  • Jurisprudence is all about narratives of profound thinking.
  • India has always taken the lead in looking at comparative law but apart from comparative law that is the judgements rendered in other jurisdictions, there is a tremendous upsurge of interest in academic freedom.

MOVE TO CASH TRANSFERS OF SUBSIDIES WILL LEAD TO SAVINGS

Focus: GS-3: Agriculture

Discussion/Analysis

  • Will Put agriculture on sustainable growth path
  • All such investments will go a long way to augment farmers’ incomes in a sustainable manner

Focus on agri-food policies

Top of the list would be the food subsidy-

  • To ensure transparency and to fully account for the food subsidy
  • Unless there is focus on reforms, the inefficiency of the grain management system will keep on increasing and the nation will suffer

Next big ticket item is the fertilizer subsidy-

  • Fertiliser subsidy in the last budget was provisioned at around Rs 80,000 crore, there were pending bills of the Fertiliser industry to the tune of Rs 39,000 crore
  • Real problem of this sector is the imbalance in the policy of Fertiliser subsidization: While urea (N) is subsidised to the extent of 75 per cent of its cost, phosphatic (P) and potassic (K) fertilisers are subsidised only to the tune of about 25 per cent of their cost
  • Leading to highly imbalanced use of N, P and K on farmers’ fields, giving a very low Fertiliser-to-grain response ratio, and degrading the soil, underground water, and even the environment with excessive nitrogen use

Reforms suggested

  • If we move towards direct cash transfers to the intended beneficiaries, it will set this sector on a sustainable growth path with minimum saving of Rs 50,000 crore annually
  • This savings can then be invested in better water management, especially drip irrigation (“more crop per drop”); for better infrastructure for Agri-markets

BEING FOREARMED ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Why in news?

New research suggests heat waves could affect the productivity of three out of four Indian workers by 2030 and could lower India’s gross domestic product (GDP) by up to 4.5%

Details:

  • Report was released by McKinsey Global Institute, Climate Risk and Response: Physical Hazards and Socioeconomic Impacts
  • Forecasts a 9% chance of 250-360 million Indians being exposed to a lethal heatwave in 2030
  • The numbers are unsettling because, once a threshold is breached, the climate impact tends to rise exponentially
  • A response to potential climate hazards would call for a shift in work hours for agriculture, better heat resistance in urban clusters, and warning systems as well as mass evacuation capacity for increasingly frequent natural disasters.

What  we have done so far?

  • The International Energy Agency (IEA) reckons that India has brought down the energy and emission intensities of its GDP by more than a fifth over the past decade.
  • Our per capita carbon dioxide emissions are a third of the global average and share of global emissions is just 6.4%
  • The country has granted 700 million people access to electricity since the turn of the century and our pace of oil consumption growth is expected to surpass that of China by the middle of this decade

What we need to do to stay ahead of the climate change problems?

  • Cleaning up coal-fired power plants
  • raising the share of natural gas and renewables in our energy mix
  • Adapting our energy policy to the projected ravages of climate change
  • More research and disclosure on climate risks
  • Start taking climate hazards into our development planning

TECHNOLOGY: THE MAIN FRONT IN THE US-CHINA TRADE WAR

Why in news?

The concern that China will use US technology to acquire military capabilities to challenge it is driving American policy

Details:

  • The phase 1 agreement that the US and China signed does not even represent a temporary ceasefire, as tariffs mostly remain in place and there is no indication how or when they will be lifted
  • China also solemnly promised not to steal intellectual property from high-technology companies, but how this will be enforced remains an open question
  • Beijing has also refused to make any commitment on hacking and cyber aggression, taking refuge in the argument that this is not a trade issue
  • The US is quite likely to use the terms of the deal to press Beijing on a host of issues covered under the deal, with each item a potential pressure point

Technology is already a crucial front in this conflict

  • US secretary made the remarks that silicon valley startups are increasingly under the threat from Chinese actions
  • US has already imposed severe constraints on technology supply chains that involve sales of semiconductors and components to China
  • Over 200 Chinese entities have been placed on a blacklist, including telecom equipment manufacturers like Huawei and ZTE, artificial intelligence companies like SenseTime, Megvii, Yitu and iFlytek, and surveillance system makers like Hikvision and Dahua Technology.
  • If an efficient, global supply chain will get decoupled as a result of the US-China technology war, we will see deadweight losses, higher costs and higher carbon emissions

India’s stakes

  • New Delhi must realize that at least in the technology space, India’s interests are better aligned with those of the US.
  • So far, due to India’s disinterest, Vietnam has been the primary beneficiary of the ongoing US-China trade war.
  •  coming technology war is an opportunity for India as US companies shift their supply chains
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