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29th October – Editorials/Opinions Analyses

Contents

  1. The challenges of walking the Indo­ Pacific talk
  2. Countering deepfakes, the most serious AI threat 
  3. Victim’s account may be more conclusive than medical finding

The challenges of walking the Indo­ Pacific talk

Context: The recently concluded third annual United States-India 2+2 ministerial dialogue has amplified the ongoing conversation in India on the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), the Indo-Pacific, the threat from China, and, the United States as a potential ‘alliance’ partner.

Relevance:

GS Paper 2: Important International institutions, agencies, for a (structure, mandate); Bilateral, Regional, Global groupings & Agreements (involving and/or affecting India)

Mains questions:

  1. In countering China, India must note that strategic talk alone cannot trump overriding economic realities. Critically Analyse. (15 marks)
  2. The Indo-Pacific is a grand politico-economic vision while the Quad is a forum for strategic and military consultations among India, the U.S., Australia and Japan. Elaborate. (15 mark)

Dimensions of the articles:

  • What is Indo-Pacific Region?
  • Fundamental difference between Indo-Pacific and Quad.
  • India’s vision for Indo-Pacific
  • Significance of the Indo-Pacific for India
  • Challenges
  • Indian Initiatives

What is Indo-Pacific Region?

The “Indo-Pacific” idea was originally conceived in 2006- 07. The term ‘IndoPacific’ combines the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and the Western Pacific Region (WP) – inclusive of the contiguous seas off East Asia and Southeast Asia – into a singular regional construct. The idea has gained eminence in recent times due to:

  • Increasing geopolitical connect between the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific in both the geo-economics
  • Eastward shift of the world’s economic “centre of gravity” towards the Asian continent .
  • Growing Eminence of India
  • Politico-military aggressiveness of China.
THE INDO-PACIFIC REGION 
38 
At least 38 
Worlds A 
G) iii 
62% 
Worlds GDP 
Worlds Trade 
Worlds Contairer Trade 
55% 
Indo-Pacific 
Reg um

Fundamental difference of Quad and Indo-Pacific:

  • The Indo-Pacific a politico-economic vision and the Quad is a military-strategic vision however the Quad does not form the military or strategic nucleus of the Indo-Pacific.
  • While the Indo-Pacific provides a complex political and economic picture with a hesitant, but growing, articulation of China as a strategic challenge, the Quad is inherently more anti-China in character and intent.

India’s Vision for Indo-Pacific: In the Shangri La Dialogue, India embraced the concept of IndoPacific and highlighted following points-

  • It stands for a free, open, inclusive region, which embraces all in a common pursuit of progress and prosperity. It includes all nations in this geography as also others beyond who have a stake in it.
  • Southeast Asia is at its Centre. And ASEAN central to its future.
  • Evolve, through dialogue, a common rules-based order for the region. These rules and norms should be based on the consent of all, not on the power of the few.
  • Rather than growing protectionism, India seeks for a level playing field for all. India stands for open and stable international trade regime.
  • Connectivity is vital and India is doing its part, by itself and in partnership with others like Japan – in South Asia and Southeast Asia, in the Indian Ocean, Africa, West Asia and beyond.

India’s view can be summarized into five S in Hindi: Samman (respect); Samvad (dialogue); Sahyog (cooperation), Shanti (peace), and Samridhi (prosperity)

Significance of Indo-Pacific for India:

  • Greater Role in the Region- This concept is a shift from the Asia-Pacific (included North-east Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania), where India did not have a major role to play. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) launched in 1989 did not include India, as did the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) launched in 1996, though India was admitted into ASEM in 2006. India still remains outside APEC despite stated US support for its inclusion. However, India is a key player in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Play Role of a Net Security Provider where India is expected to assume the responsibility for stability in the region by following capacity building, military diplomacy, military assistance and direct deployment.
  • Help achieve Economic Potential- India is targeting a sustained 7.5-8% economic growth and aims to be a $5 trillion economy by 2025. The Indo-Pacific can aid this as there is
    • Presence of natural resources– like oil and hydrocarbons in South China sea, which can help India diversify its import basket.
    • Presence of high market potential for Indian exports such as engineering services, ICT services etc.
    • Development of North Eastern States- that can become a gateway for India to integrate with this region.
    • Integration of Blue Economy Aspirations– where, ocean ecosystems bring economic and social benefits that are efficient, equitable and sustainable for the entire region.
  • Ensure Freedom of Navigation– as the region includes some vital trade routes and world’s vital choke points for global commerce, including the Straits of Malacca. Around 95% of India’s foreign trade comes by the Indian Ocean.
  • Develop a Security Architecture– as there are issues like territorial and water disputes between countries, piracy concerns, North Korean nuclear capability and greater militarization in the region.
  • Containment of China– In the backdrop of China’s aggressive expansionists tendencies including Belt and Road Initiative, String Of Pearls Theory, Indo-Pacific presents an opportunity to capitalise on China’s key strategic vulnerability, viz., its energy lifelines transiting the Indian Ocean and to showcase Indian Navy’s capability to moderate China’s behaviour, thereby dissuading its future aggressiveness.
  • Help achieve Strategic Objectives
    • Gives an extension to India’s ‘Act East Policy’
    • Entry in multilateral groupings– such as Nuclear Supplier’s Group and permanent seat in UN Security Council.
    • Create alliances with smaller powers– as it would entail continued engagement with China while simultaneously developing strong economic and security alliances in East and South East Asia and across the Indian Ocean region
    • Increasing role of ports– where different countries are trying to setup their bases in different ports of the region. E.g. India has secured access to Duqm port in Oman for military use and develop the Agalega Island in Mauritius. The Indian Navy has secured a logistics facility in Singapore that will allow it to refuel and rearm and has similar facilities in Vietnam.

Challenges:

  • Need to build capacity- India wants to stop Indo-Pacific from turning into a Chinese sphere of influence, but it doesn’t have sufficient resources to do so. Neither does India have adequate economic resources to provide credible alternatives to China’s Belt and Road Initiative nor does it have sufficient diplomatic capacity to meaningfully engage with all stakeholders at the same time like US and Russia. China’s aggression and debt trap diplomacy, which impinge sovereignty, is going to test Indian diplomacy.
  • Seamless Connectivity- between the countries in the region remains to be a concern.
  • Role of North- East States– until they are developed, India’s role may not be utilized to the maximum extent possible.
  • Heterogeneity in the region- with different countries in terms of sizes, ethnicities, aspirations, it becomes difficult to obtain a cohesive approach.
  • De-globalization- The western world has been hit by a spate of protectionism, which creates hurdles to such cooperation on issues like tariffs, oil import etc for the common Indo-Pacific region.
  • China’s economic presence in Indo-Pacific region:
Trade and the neighbours: 2018-19 (U.S. $) 
Indian and Chinese trade with key Indo-Pacific countries 
BN: BILLION I MN: MILLION 
BILATERAL ANNUAL TRADE 
Main countries 
Australia 
New Zealand 
United States 
South I<orea 
ASEAN* 
Ban ladesh 
Ja an 
Sri Lanka 
Maldives 
India 
30 bn 
2.64 bn 
87.96 bn 
20.7 bn 
96.80 bn 
9.21 bn 
17.63 bn 
4.19 bn 
288.99 mn 
China 
252 bn 
33.4 bn 
737.1 bn 
284.54 bn 
600 bn 
18 bn 
353.7 bn 
4 262.52 mn 
*ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST 
ASIAN NATIONS 
SOURCE: GOVERNMENT TRADE PORTALS AND MEDIA REPORTS

Indian initiatives:

  • Defence Cooperation such as Joint defence exercises like Malabar, RIMPAC; inter-operability where countries can use each other’s military bases.
  • Asia-Africa Growth Corridor– an economic cooperation agreement between the governments of India, Japan and multiple African countries.
  • SAGAR Approach– Security and Growth for All in the Region.
  • Project Mausam: to explore the multifaceted Indian Ocean ‘world’–collating archaeological and historical research.
  • Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue: The Indian Navy launched this apex level conference in 2018, in recognition towards the importance of Indo-Pacific for the region.
  • India has been an active participant in mechanisms like the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), the  t East Asia Summit, the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus, the ASEAN Regional Forum, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and the Mekong Ganga Economic Corridor.
  • Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, in which the navies of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) participate.
  • Through, Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) India is stepping up its interactions with the Pacific Island countries.

Way forward:

Development of infrastructure investment initiatives– to develop connectivity and inter-operability between the regions to encourage economic trade among others. The India Increased the diplomatic coordination sphere- from the current Quad countries to the larger region, so as to build larger consensus on the Indo-Pacific common concerns. The emergence of the Indo-Pacific as a geo-strategic concept is a welcome development. However, it needs further diplomatic movement and there needs to be greater clarity on economic issues.


Countering deepfakes, the most serious AI threat 

Context: The debate around “deepfakes” has been rekindled recently with the popularity of applications such as FaceApp (for photo-editing) and DeepNude ( that produces fake nudes of women).

Relevance:

GS Paper 3: Basics of Cyber Security; Role of media and social-networking sites in internal security challenges; Internal security challenges through communication networks

Mains questions:

  1. It is crucial to enhance media literacy, meaningful regulations and platform policies, and amplify authoritative sources. Discuss the statement in context of Deepfake. 15 marks
  2. Disinformation and hoaxes have evolved from mere annoyance to high stake warfare for creating social discord, increasing polarisation, and in some cases, influencing an election outcome. Elaborate. 15 marks

Dimensions of the Article:

  • What is Deepfakes?
  • What are the threats related to Deepfakes?
  • Measures to address the challenges related to Deepfakes
  • Way forward

What is Deepfakes?

Deepfake is a portmanteau of “deep learning” and “fake”. It is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) software that superimposes a digital composite on to an existing video (or audio).The origin of the word “deepfake” can be traced back to 2017 when a Reddit user, with the username “deepfakes”, posted explicit videos of celebrities.

Deepfakes are the digital media (video, audio, and images) manipulated using Artificial Intelligence. This synthetic media content is referred to as deepfakes.

What are the threats related to deepfakes?

A cyber Frankenstein: Frankenstein is not a computer virus, which is a program that can multiply and take over other machines. But, it could be used in cyberwarfare to provide cover for a virus or another type of malware, or malicious software. Therefore it has multiple challenges:

  • Deepfakes, hyper-realistic digital falsification, can inflict damage to individuals, institutions, businesses and democracy. They make it possible to fabricate media — swap faces, lip-syncing, and puppeteer — mostly without consent and bring threat to psychology, security, political stability, and business disruption.
  • Nation-state actors with geopolitical aspirations, ideological believers, violent extremists, and economically motivated enterprises can manipulate media narratives using deepfakes, with easy and unprecedented reach and scale.

Targeting women:

  • The very first use case of malicious use of a deepfake was seen in pornography, inflicting emotional, reputational, and in some cases, violence towards the individual.
  • Pornographic deepfakes can threaten, intimidate, and inflict psychological harm and reduce women to sexual objects. Deepfake pornography exclusively targets women.

Damaging individual dignity:

  • Deepfakes can depict a person indulging in antisocial behaviours and saying vile things. These can have severe implications on their reputation, sabotaging their professional and personal life.
  • Malicious actors can take advantage of unwitting individuals to defraud them for financial gains using audio and video deepfakes.
  • Deepfakes can be deployed to extract money, confidential information, or exact favours from individuals.

Harming social fabric of society:

  • Deepfakes can cause short- and long-term social harm and accelerate the already declining trust in news media. Such an erosion can contribute to a culture of factual relativism, fraying the increasingly strained civil society fabric.
  • The distrust in social institutions is perpetuated by the democratising nature of information dissemination and social media platforms’ financial incentives.
  • Falsity is profitable, and goes viral more than the truth on social platforms. Combined with distrust, the existing biases and political disagreement can help create echo chambers and filter bubbles, creating discord in society.

Challenge to internal security:

  • Imagine a deepfake of a community leader denigrating a religious site of another community. It will cause riots and, along with property damage, may also cause life and livelihood losses.
  • A deepfake could act as a powerful tool by a nation-state to undermine public safety and create uncertainty and chaos in the target country.
  • It can be used by insurgent groups and terrorist organisations, to represent their adversaries as making inflammatory speeches or engaging in provocative actions to stir up anti-state sentiments among people.

Undermining democracy:

  • A deepfake can also aid in altering the democratic discourse and undermine trust in institutions and impair diplomacy. False information about institutions, public policy, and politicians powered by a deepfake can be exploited to spin the story and manipulate belief.
  • A deepfake of a political candidate can sabotage their image and reputation. A well-executed one, a few days before polling, of a political candidate spewing out racial epithets or indulging in an unethical act can damage their campaign.
  • A high-quality deepfake can inject compelling false information that can cast a shadow of illegitimacy over the voting process and election results.
  • Deepfakes contribute to factual relativism and enable authoritarian leaders to thrive. For authoritarian regimes, it is a tool that can be used to justify oppression and disenfranchise citizens. Leaders can also use them to increase populism and consolidate power.
  • Deepfakes can become a very effective tool to sow the seeds of polarisation, amplifying division in society, and suppressing dissent.

Measures to address the threats related to deepfakes:

Collaborative actions and collective techniques across legislative regulations, platform policies, technology intervention, and media literacy can provide effective and ethical countermeasures to mitigate the threat of malicious deepfakes.

Media literacy:

  • Media literacy for consumers and journalists is the most effective tool to combat disinformation and deepfakes.
  • Media literacy efforts must be enhanced to cultivate a discerning public. As consumers of media, we must have the ability to decipher, understand, translate, and use the information we encounter.
  • Even a short intervention with media understanding, learning the motivations and context, can lessen the damage. Improving media literacy is a precursor to addressing the challenges presented by deepfakes

Legislative regulations:

  • Meaningful regulations with a collaborative discussion with the technology industry, civil society, and policymakers can facilitate disincentivising the creation and distribution of malicious deepfakes.

Technological solutions:

  • We also need easy-to-use and accessible technology solutions to detect deepfakes, authenticate media, and amplify authoritative sources.

Way forward:

Deepfakes can create possibilities for all people irrespective of their limitations by augmenting their agency. However, as access to synthetic media technology increases, so does the risk of exploitation. Deepfakes can be used to damage reputations, fabricate evidence, defraud the public, and undermine trust in democratic institutions. To counter the menace of deepfakes, we all must take the responsibility to be a critical consumer of media on the Internet, think and pause before we share on social media, and be part of the solution to this infodemic.

Background:

1: Types of cybercrime:

  • Cyber Warfare: states attacking the information systems of other countries for espionage and for disrupting their critical infrastructure.
  • Phishing: It is a kind of fraudulent attempt that is made through email, to capture personal and financial information.
  • Cyber Stalking: repeated use of electronic communications to harass or frighten someone
  • Identity theft: It is a type of fraud in which a person pretends to be someone else and does crime with the name of someone else
  • Denial of service (DoS): It attacks refers an attempt to make computer, server or network resources unavailable to its authorized users usually by using temporarily interruption or suspension of services.

Victim’s account may be more conclusive than medical finding

Context: The alleged gang rape of a woman in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, in September brought forth an important issue concerning the relevance of forensic evidence of the victim of rape, i.e., about the signs of recent sexual intercourse and struggle.

Relevance:

GS Paper 1: Role of women and women’s organisation.

GS Paper 2: Welfare Schemes (centre, states; performance, mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for protection of vulnerable sections);

Mains questions:

  1. Our Constitution, recognising the systemic degradation of lower caste persons, mandated prohibition on caste and sex based discrimination. Discuss the statement in context of growing rape incidents against women. 15 marks
  2. The challenge of India is to restore the culture of rule of law, and make police and justice accessible, effective and credible. Analyse the statement in context of Hathras rape case. 15 marks

Dimensions of the article:

  • Status of women safety in India.
  • Challenges related to women safety in India.
  • Steps taken by the government for women safety.
  • Way forward

Status of women safety in India:

  • Women safety involves various dimensions such as Sexual harassment at workplace, rape, marital rape, dowry, acid attack etc.
  • The United Nation’s ‘Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces’ programme, which started in 2010, recognized that cities all around the world were becoming unsafe for women.
  • The latest NCRB data for the year 2016 shows that Overall crimes against women have risen by just about 3%, whereas incidents of rape have gone up by 12%.
  • Majority of cases categorized as crimes against women were reported under ‘Cruelty by husband or his relatives’ (32.6%). This draws a bleak picture of women safety in private places or home.

Challenges related to women safety in India:

  • Lack of reporting: It is seen as a major roadblock for creating a safe atmosphere for women.
  • Slow criminal justice system: The investigation and disposal of cases take long time thereby encourage offenders.
  • Inadequate implementation: Many employers are yet to establish Internal complaints committee which is a clear violation of law.
  • Poor gender sensitization of law enforcing agencies like police, judiciary etc.
  • Various social factors like level of education/illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, mindset of the society etc. also pose a challenge.
  • Frivolous complaints: This is seen mostly in context of domestic violence act.
  • Exclusion by Technology: Technology though helpful to enhance public safety in certain ways, but its scope is limited so far as they exclude women without access to smartphones.
  • Hinders women development: For example- Sexual harassment at workplace is one of the most important causes of low labour force participation rate of women in India. Male dominated nature of India’s public sphere is being recognized but not challenged.

Steps taken by the government for women safety:

  • For sexual harassment at workplace VISHAKA guidelines by Supreme Court which provide measures to be taken by employers, Sexual Harassment of Women at workplace (prevention prohibition and redressal) Act 2013 by parliament, SHE Box by Ministry Of Women and Child Development for online complaint.
  • For rape cases: Proposal of Justice Verma Committee was accepted to treat juvenile between 16-18 years age as an adult for committing heinous crimes. Recently, the government has brought amendments in PoCSO act 2012 in which Rape of girl child below 12 years will be punished by death penalty
  • For domestic violence: Domestic violence act 2005 and Section 498A of IPC deals with cruelty by husband or relatives.
  • SWADHAR: A Scheme for Women in Difficult Circumstances, GPS tracking, ‘panic buttons’ etc.
  • Government is also planning to set up a dedicated National Mission on women safety to ensure specified actions by Ministries and Department

Way forward:

  • Strengthening criminal justice machinery: Strict enforcement of laws, setting up of fast track special courts, strengthening of prosecution machinery, strengthening of Alternate Dispute resolution mechanism like Lok Adalat, implementing Draft National Policy for Women 2016 in letter and spirit etc.
  • Encourage women to step up and speak to the relevant committee in the organization in case of any issues such as harassment and improper conduct and situation. Women should also be trained for selfdefence.
  • Gender sensitisation of the law enforcement agencies, especially the police and the judiciary through periodic training as well as instituting gender-sensitization trainings incorporates
  • Development of a community-based strategy to tackle domestic violence and community policing initiatives such as Mahila Suraksha Samiti and Women State Committee to check crimes
  • Adopting zero tolerance policy towards any form of harassment at the workplace. It should be embedded in an organization’s various policies and principles, such as the code of conduct.
  • Civil society in collaboration with all sections of society should organize several grass root movements. Many movements like ‘Pinjra Tod’ and ‘One Billion Rising’ are contributing significantly via bottom up approach for the cause of women safety.
  • Moral education: Moral overhauling of the mindset of masses should be attempted through awareness and education.
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