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6th July – Editorials/Opinions Analyses

Contents

  1. What will be the impact of Chinese apps ban?
  2. What are scientists saying about a new virus strain in China?
  3. Re-enfranchise the forgotten voter
  4. Economic revival now hinges more on services sector

WHAT WILL BE THE IMPACT OF CHINESE APPS BAN?

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Introduction

  • In the wake of the face-off with Chinese forces on the India-China border in Ladakh, and a violent clash on June 15 that left 20 Indian soldiers dead, the Indian government on June 29 banned 59 apps of Chinese origin, citing data security and national sovereignty concerns.
  • These include popular ones such as TikTok, SHAREIt, UC Browser, CamScanner, Helo, Weibo, WeChat and Club Factory.

Why were the Chinese apps banned?

  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in a press release asserted that it had received “many complaints from various sources, including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorised manner to servers which have locations outside India”.
  • The Ministry said it had decided to block the 59 apps to safeguard the “sovereignty and integrity of India”, invoking powers under Section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009.
  • The government also said that several citizens had reportedly raised concerns in representations to the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) regarding security of data and loss of privacy in using these apps.
  • In addition, the Ministry said it had also received “exhaustive recommendations” from the Home Ministry’s Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre.
  • The government did not name China openly in its action.

How large is the user base in India for these banned apps?

Estimates of active users of TikTok in India vary with the highest pegged at 200 million.

File-sharing tool SHAREIt has about 400 million users.

How will users be affected?

  • Installed apps may continue to exist on mobile devices. But now that the latest versions of the apps have been removed from Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store, users will not be able to access updated versions in future.
  • If a notice goes out to internet service providers asking that data flow from these apps be halted, that could impact the functioning of existing, installed apps.

How does the ban affect Chinese app providers?

The potential loss of advertising revenue impacts app-makers.

When TikTok was banned briefly in India in 2019 on the grounds that it reportedly promoted pornography, the company had told a local court that it was losing roughly $15 million a month due to the ban.

What has China’s response been to the ban?

  • China has said that it suspects India’s actions could be in violation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.
  • Chinese Government said “India’s measure selectively and discriminatorily aims at certain Chinese apps on ambiguous and far-fetched grounds, runs against fair and transparent procedure requirements, abuses national security exceptions, and [is suspected] of violating the WTO rules.”
  • The Chinese government’s comments indicate that it could file a formal complaint at the WTO.

What legal options does the Indian government have?

  • In terms of process, there are two options available to the government under Section 69A of the IT Act to issue ban orders — normal and emergency.
  • In the case of the ban on the 59 apps, based on the use of the phrase “interim order” in the statement issued by TikTok, it appears that the government may have adopted the emergency route.
  • In the normal course, an order to block content requires: (a) a decision to be made by a government committee (b) relevant intermediaries to be given an opportunity to be heard by this committee.
  • The legal order that empowers the designated authority to implement the ban is yet to be made public.
  • Rule 16 of the Blocking rules requires strict confidentiality to be maintained regarding blocking requests, complaints received, and actions taken.

Can the order be challenged in an Indian court?

  • Though it is unlikely that the companies concerned may take such a step immediately, either they or any affected individual in India could challenge the blocking orders in court.
  • The courts will then decide whether the government has provided sufficient explanation as to the nexus between what these apps are alleged to be doing and the reasons adduced by the government such as protection of national security and strategic interests.
  • Courts will also consider if the ban is a proportionate and necessary step to be taken, given the facts at hand.

-Source: The Hindu


WHAT ARE SCIENTISTS SAYING ABOUT A NEW VIRUS STRAIN IN CHINA?

Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Why in news?

Newspapers and television channels reported that a new strain of H1N1 (also known as swine flu) had started infecting workers and the recommendations of scientists were that it must be controlled with a great deal of urgency as it had the potential of becoming yet another pandemic.

What are the risks from emerging pathogens?

At this stage, potential harm from G4 EA H1N1, the new strain, has just been flagged by scientists who predict risk from emerging pathogens.

said it replicates efficiently in human airway paths and so far, has infected a few people without actually making them ill.

G4 viruses have all the essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus. Of concern is that swine workers show elevated seroprevalence for G4 virus.

Is G4 a current pandemic?

No. The paper has merely forewarned of the possibility that the G4 virus might emerge into a pandemic in the future.

It calls for vigil primarily because this is a new strain against which humans would have no inbuilt immunity from the virus, much like SARS-CoV-2.

What is disease/pandemic risk surveillance?

Most countries have their own disease surveillance mechanisms in place to monitor and track emerging diseases.

Public health teams evaluate the risk of a particular pathogen on the community, based on the cases occurring, and warn of potential risks from that pathogen.

Early warning systems have been successful in predicting dengue and Ebola outbreaks, among other diseases, in the past, enabling health systems to be pre-warned and, thus, prepared to tackle the challenge.

What is the future?

All risk assessment systems across the world will have to be on active mode, besides forming a network globally to share information on emerging diseases and pathogens.

WHO’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) is at the front of such initiatives to make scientific predictions based on certain models.

Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN)

  • The Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) is a network composed of numerous technical and public health institutions, laboratories, NGOs, and other organizations that work to observe and respond to threatening epidemics.
  • GOARN works closely with and under the World Health Organization (WHO), which is one of its most notable partners.
  • Its goals are to: examine and study diseases, evaluate the risks that certain diseases pose, and improve international capability to deal with diseases.

-Source: The Hindu


RE-ENFRANCHISE THE FORGOTTEN VOTER

Focus: GS-II Governance

Introduction

  • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has made it possible for senior citizens above the age of 65 to vote by postal ballot, given that they are at greater risk from exposure to the novel coronavirus.
  • Hitherto, this option was available only to disabled citizens and those above 80 years.
  • However, postal ballots may not minimise the risk of infection and it may be better instead to provide separate voting booths for senior citizens.

Migrants on the margins

  • Same empowering approach be extended to another group which faces enormous difficulties in exercising its franchise: migrant workers.
  • Migrant workers travel across India in search of an economic livelihood, and many never intend to settle down and wish to return to their native villages and towns.
  • Migrant workers become quasi-disenfranchised, forgotten voters because they cannot afford to return home on election day to choose their representatives.
  • Internal migrant workers do not enrol as voters in their place of employment since they find proof of residence hard to provide.
  • Many are seasonal migrants who would rather vote in their villages if they could afford to return home.
  • Since they do not have a vote where they work, their concerns are easy to ignore in their host State.
  • Sometimes, they are targeted for allegedly taking jobs away from the local population.

Task before the ECI

  • Ensuring that every Indian who is eligible to vote can do so must be a central mission for the ECI.
  • It is a matter of pride that India currently has over 91.05 crore registered voters and in the 2019 general election, a record 67.4%, i.e., more than 60 crore voters, cast their vote.
  • The ECI would do well to focus attention on the one-third, a substantial 29.68 crore, who did not cast their vote.
  • National Election Study surveys have shown that about 10% of registered voters refrain from voting due to a lack of interest in politics.
  • That leaves approximately 20 crore voters who want to vote but are unable to do so.
  • Of these there are about three crores Non-Resident Indians (NRIs). Only about one lakh NRIs have registered to vote.
  • To enable NRIs to exercise their franchise, the government brought in legislation in the previous Lok Sabha to enable voting through authorised proxies.

Does our system enable any form of voter portability that can serve as a model for re-enfranchising migrant workers?

  • Yes. Service voters (government employees) posted away from home can vote through the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS).
  • Classified service voters (e.g., military personnel) can do so through their proxies.
  • The ECI has said that it is testing an Aadhaar-linked voter-ID based solution to enable electors to cast their votes digitally from anywhere in the country. It will be some time in the future before this becomes a functional reality.

Way Forward

  • To facilitate voting by migrant workers, the ECI could undertake substantial outreach measures using the network of District Collectorates.
  • Migrants should be able to physically vote in their city of work based on the address on their existing voter IDs and duration of their temporary stay.
  • It is technologically feasible to record and transfer votes to their respective constituencies without compromising on the credibility of the election process.

Election Commission of India (EC)

  • The Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority
  • The Election Commission is responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India.
  • The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.
  • Part XV of the Indian constitution deals with elections, and establishes a commission for these matters.
  • Article 324 to 329 of the constitution deals with powers, function, tenure, eligibility, etc., of the commission and the member.

-Source: The Hindu


ECONOMIC REVIVAL NOW HINGES MORE ON SERVICES SECTOR

Focus: GS-III Indian Economy

Introduction

The importance of services in the Indian economy has gone up over time. In 2004-05, services constituted 43.5% of the economy. By 2019-20, the proportion had jumped to more than 50%. 

What is manufacturing sector’s share?

  • The size of manufacturing sector has varied between 15%-16% of the economy in the last decade and a half.
  • Generally, it has been noted from the histories of many, now developed, countries that at initial stages of development, primary sector was the most important sector of economic activity.
  • People begin to use more goods that were produced in factories at cheap rates, the Secondary sector gradually becomes the most important in total production and employment.
  • And then, a further shift from secondary to tertiary sector in developed countries is observed.
  • While production in all the three sectors has increased, it has increased the most in the tertiary sector. As a result, the tertiary sector has emerged as the largest producing sector in India replacing the primary sector.

How do you explain growth of services?

  • Building factories generates funds for upgrading them, which then increases pressure to invest in improving roads, bridges, ports, railroads, power grids, and water systems.
  • All this creates jobs, which pay people and give them the purchasing power to demand services.
  • With the manufacturing sector not creating enough jobs, people have had to fend for themselves to earn a living.
  • This is reflected in the informal services sector, with the huge number of street vendors and small businesses seen across cities.

What other activities form part of services?

  • Everything from trade, hotels, transport, financial services, real estate and public administration come under services.
  • Ever since the imposition of covid-induced lockdown, most  of  these  sectors  have  either been asked to remain shut or norms of social distancing have ensured that people are staying away.

Why is the revival of services important?

  • Services form half of the economy. As the Report on Fifth Annual Employment-Unemployment Survey (2015-16) has pointed out: “67.5% of self-employed workers had average monthly earnings [of] up to ₹7,500.”
  • Even four years later, things could not have improved much. Hence, the ability of the self-employed to survive is limited.

-Source: Livemint

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