Content

  1. Boosting India with maritime domain awareness
  2. Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 needs to be debated thoroughly

Editorial: Boosting India with maritime domain awareness

Context:

  • Beyond monitoring Chinese activity in the Indian Ocean, India’s initiatives could help generate intraregional synergy.

Relevance:

  • GS Paper 2: India and Its neighbourhoods

Mains Questions:

  1. What do you understand by ‘The String of Pearls’? How does it impact India? Briefly outline the steps taken by India to counter this. 15 Marks
  2. ‘China is using its economic relations and positive trade surplus as tools to develop potential military power status in Asia’, In the light of this statement, discuss its impact on India as her neighbor. 15 Marks

Dimensions of the Article:

  • Indian Ocean Region
  • India and Indian Ocean
  • Challenges in Indian Ocean Region
  • India as Net Security Provider in Indian Ocean: Steps Taken By India
  • Way Forward

Indian Ocean Region

  • India is a peninsular country which is surrounded by Indian Ocean on three sides. The geographical location of India makes Indian Ocean integral part of its foreign policy, security decision, trade etc.
  • At present, Indian Ocean carries about half of world’s container shipment, one-third of bulk cargo traffic and two-third of oil shipments. Its littoral states are densely populated with over 40% of global population which makes it an attractive market.
  • It also carries 90% of India’s trade by volume and 90% of oil imports.
  • With the changing geopolitical equations of the world powers such as USA and China, importance of Indian Ocean has increased.

India and Indian Ocean

  • Geostrategic location –Indian Ocean gives India access to the South-Asia, South East Asia, Africa, West Asia and Oceania which are important from the point of view of energy, economic trade and security.
    • Choke points i.e. Strait of Hormuz, Bab-el-Mandeb, Strait of Malacca, Sunda strait and Lombok are important for not only India but also global trade.
    • It’s also important for India to counter the increasing Chinese dominance over Indian Ocean. China at present is developing several ports in Indian Ocean such as Hambantota, in Mauritius, Gwadar in Pakistan etc.
  • Economic Integration – India is an Emerging Market Economy which will benefit through its trade links with South East Asia, South Asia, Africa, West Asia and Oceania.
    • Africa currently holds enormous potential for energy exploration, mineral resources and employment opportunities for Indian diaspora.
    • Australia which is the biggest nation in the Indian Ocean is already a world leader and its partnership with India would benefit Indian economy in more than one way i.e. access to nuclear energy, new economic market for Indian goods, people to people contact etc.
    • South East and West Asia is important to India for its abundant oil reserves and other mineral resources.
  • Security – Due to possibility of terrorist attacks and increasing presence of China in Indian Ocean such as inauguration of first overseas military base in Djibouti, Indian Ocean has become an integral part of India’s maritime policy. China also inaugurated its first overseas military base in Djibouti.
    • The new Maritime Security Policy of 2015 highlights the need to develop seamless and holistic approach for greater coordination between various maritime agencies.
    • It also validates the use of Indian Navy as an instrument to secure the blurring traditional and non-traditional sea lines of communication for the purpose of economic integration.
    • The Indian Navy played a pivotal role in containing piracy on the high seas and is positioning itself as the “net security provider” in the broader Indian Ocean region with capacity building, joint exercises and increased multilateral exchanges.
  • Energy Security: India is world’s third largest oil importer with maximum import from West and South-east Asian countries. For this purpose, Indian Ocean is a very important medium for India’s energy security.
  • Ocean Resources: India is highly dependent upon ocean resources such as fishing and aquaculture. India is also involved in deep sea mineral exploration in Central Indian Ocean with ship Samudra Ratnakar from South Korea.
  • Emerging Geopolitics: While India has been increasing its outreach in Indian Ocean under SAGAR — Security and Growth for All in the Region strategy, now it is also trying to increase its centrality in the wider Indo-Pacific, a concept which situates India at the very heart of the changing geopolitical transitions in the region.
  • Multilateral Cooperation:  Indian Ocean RIM Association; India is planning to expand and further invigorate IORA’s activities, from renewable energy and the blue economy to maritime safety and security, water science and greater institutional and think-tank networking.
    • Earlier 21-member states of IORA had issued a strategic vision document, known as the Jakarta Concord, that “sets out a vision for a revitalized and sustainable regional architecture’’.
    • Besides maximizing the potential of trade, investment and economic cooperation in the region, the Jakarta Concord also aims to address non-traditional issues, such as illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, human trafficking, drug trafficking, illegal migration and piracy.
    • A Declaration on Preventing and Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism was also adopted last year.

Challenges in Indian Ocean Region

  • Despite a decline in piracy off the coast of Somalia, the Indian Ocean has been witnessing a sudden rise in non-traditional challenges.
  • Maritime crime has been increasing, with a record number of drug hauls in the Asian littoral in the recent years.
  • Migration and human trafficking in South and Southeast Asia too has registered a surge in numbers. A rise in refugee movement from Bangladesh and Myanmar resulted in a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions.

India as Net Security Provider in Indian Ocean: Steps Taken By India

  • India’s maritime strategy 2015, titled “Ensuring Secure Seas: Indian Maritime Security Strategy”:
    • The Indian Ocean lies at the core of India’s maritime strategy as it reflects New Delhi’s willingness to play a larger role in the region and India’s intentions to be the net security provider in the region.
    • It shows the East Coast of Africa littoral regions as areas of primary interest while the West Coast of Africa and their littoral regions as the secondary area of interest.
  • Developing naval bases:
    • India signed a deal with Singapore to expand existing Indian access to Changi naval base.
    • India also contributes to the development of Agalega in Mauritius with dual-use logistical facilities.
    • India also secured access to the Port of Duqm in Oman for military use and logistical support. The port in southeast Oman is about 400 kilometres to Iran’s Chabahar Port, directly across the Gulf of Oman, and offers the potential to enhance India’s regional footprint.
  • Collaboration with foreign countries:
    • India and France, eying the Indian Ocean, have signed the “reciprocal logistics support” agreement as part of which warships of both the nations would have access to each other’s naval bases.
    • India and the United States signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement in 2016, giving both countries access to designated military facilities for refuelling and supplies.
  • Indigenous naval development: INS Arihant (Nuclear submarine), INS Vikrant (aircraft carrier to be built by India) show India’s rising capabilities as major ocean power.
    • India recently achieved the longstanding ambition to have a nuclear triad, after the indigenous INS Arihant, India’s first nuclear-powered submarine successfully completed its first deterrence patrol.
  • Regional groupings: Like IORA, Indian Ocean Naval symposium, BIMSTEC to address common concerns and play leadership role in the region, Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue.
  • Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) which involves enhancing capacities to safeguard land and maritime territories & interests; deepening economic and security cooperation in the littoral; action to deal with natural disasters and maritime threats like piracy, terrorism.
  • Military Exercises in the Indian Ocean region like Malabar, CORPAT (between India Indonesia).
  • Military assistance that includes supplying equipment and joint development of military weapons. E.g. besides increasing training slots, India has offered to build four Offshore Patrol Vehicles for Myanmar, and also offered a $100 million credit line to Vietnam to purchase military equipment.
  • Deployment of Indian naval ships in Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations, search and rescue, evacuation operations. E.g. India was first responder in recent Idai cyclone in Mozambique.

Way Forward

  • The littoral countries of Indian Ocean suffer from the asymmetry of size, high tariff and cost of investment etc. Therefore, the littoral states should promote regional groupings like IORA, BIMSTEC etc. which promote inclusive and sustainable regional development.
  • Challenge for India is to patiently address the domestic concerns of its partners and develop frameworks for military cooperation and not to take relationship with smaller countries for granted. India, therefore, has to carefully tend these relationships with sustained political attention.
  • India should develop a more comprehensive Maritime Policy which should not only aim towards countering Chinese presence but also triggers the terror groups operating from the Indian Ocean.
  • Indian Ocean Maritime Symposium which aims towards increasing maritime cooperation among navies could also be seen as an important partner to increase maritime security.
  • Initiatives such as SAGAR – Security and Growth for All in the Region can be a good strategy to engage the regional countries and counter not only Chinese presence but also increase the economic integration and security. •
  • Other initiatives are
    • Transfer of Indian made patrol vessel – Barracuda to Mauritius
    • Deployment of P-81 aircraft to Seychelles for surveillance
    • Agreement to develop connectivity infrastructure on Assumption Island in Seychelles and Agalega in Mauritius.
  • Safeguard the Choke points in Indian oceans and also secure the passage for Indian diaspora living in Indian Ocean countries.
  • Areas such as disaster management, technological advancement, blue economy, sustainable resource extraction, humanitarian assistance should also be explored.

India has to cooperate with other countries like USA, Japan, Australia to increase its reach and counter Chinese presence. The debt trap of Hambantota port in Sri Lanka increased fears about Chinese debt trap diplomacy. This offers India opportunity to stabilise its position. India is also expanding its outreach in IndoPacific (e.g. Quad) indicating that it is not merely an Indian Ocean and South Asian power, but one with capacity and intent to shape the wider Indo-Pacific, stretching from its established presence in the Indian Ocean to interests in the South China Sea, the Middle East and Africa and into the Pacific.


Editorial: Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 needs to be debated thoroughly

Context:

  • The bill does not protect individuals against the Indian government as effectively. It stipulates that ‘critical’ or ‘sensitive’ personal data, related to information such as religion, or to matters of national security, must be accessible to the government if needed to protect national interest.

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. The Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 provides an opportunity for India to forge an agenda that will act as a standard-setter in national data protection legislation. Discuss. 15 Marks

Dimensions of the Article:

  • What is personal data and data protection?
  • Why was a Bill brought for personal data protection?
  • Provisions of the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019:
  • Way Forward:

What is personal data and data protection?

  • Data can be broadly classified into two types: personal and non-personal data.  Personal data pertains to characteristics, traits or attributes of identity, which can be used to identify an individual.  
  • Non-personal data includes aggregated data through which individuals cannot be identified.  For example, while an individual’s own location would constitute personal data; information derived from multiple drivers’ location, which is often used to analyse traffic flow, is non-personal data. 
  • Data protection refers to policies and procedures seeking to minimise intrusion into the privacy of an individual caused by collection and usage of their personal data. 

Why was a Bill brought for personal data protection?

  • In August 2017, the Supreme Court  held that privacy is a fundamental right, flowing from the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.  The Court also observed that privacy of personal data and facts is an essential aspect of the right to privacy. 
  • In July 2017, a Committee of Experts, chaired by Justice B. N. Srikrishna, was set up to examine various issues related to data protection in India.  The Committee submitted its report, along with a Draft Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in July 2018. 
  • The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 states that the Bill is based on the recommendations of the report of the Expert Committee and the suggestions received from various stakeholders.

Provisions of the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019:

  • Applicability: The Bill governs the processing of personal data by: (i) government, (ii) companies incorporated in India, and (iii) foreign companies dealing with personal data of individuals in India.
  • Obligations of data fiduciary: A data fiduciary is an entity or individual who decides the means and purpose of processing personal data. Such processing will be subject to certain purpose, collection and storage limitations.  All data fiduciaries must undertake certain transparency and accountability measures such as:
    • Implementing security safeguards (such as data encryption and preventing misuse of data),
    • Instituting grievance redressal mechanisms to address complaints of individuals. 
  • Rights of the individual: The Bill sets out certain rights of the individual (or data principal). These include the right to:
    • Obtain confirmation from the fiduciary on whether their personal data has been processed,
    • Seek correction of inaccurate, incomplete, or out-of-date personal data,
    • Have personal data transferred to any other data fiduciary in certain circumstances, and
    • Restrict continuing disclosure of their personal data by a fiduciary, if it is no longer necessary or consent is withdrawn.
  • Grounds for processing personal data: The Bill allows processing of data by fiduciaries only if consent is provided by the individual. However, in certain circumstances, personal data can be processed without consent.  These include:
    • If required by the State for providing benefits to the individual,
    • Legal proceedings,
    • To respond to a medical emergency.
  • Social media intermediaries: The Bill defines these to include intermediaries which enable online interaction between users and allow for sharing of information. All such intermediaries which have users above a notified threshold, and whose actions can impact electoral democracy or public order, have certain obligations, which include providing a voluntary user verification mechanism for users in India.
  • Data Protection Authority: The Bill sets up a Data Protection Authority which may:
    • Take steps to protect interests of individuals,
    • Prevent misuse of personal data,
    • Ensure compliance with the Bill. It will consist of a chairperson and six members, with at least 10 years’ expertise in the field of data protection and information technology. 
    • Orders of the Authority can be appealed to an Appellate Tribunal.  Appeals from the Tribunal will go to the Supreme Court.
  • Transfer of data outside India: Sensitive personal data may be transferred outside India for processing if explicitly consented to by the individual, and subject to certain additional conditions. However, such sensitive personal data should continue to be stored in India.  Certain personal data notified as critical personal data by the government can only be processed in India.
  • Exemptions: The central government can exempt any of its agencies from the provisions of the Act:
    • In interest of security of state, public order, sovereignty and integrity of India and friendly relations with foreign states, and
    • For preventing incitement to commission of any cognisable offence (i.e. arrest without warrant) relating to the above matters.

Way Forward:

The Data Protection Bill is a unique opportunity for India, a country with some 740 million internet users, to forge a pathbreaking agenda that will act as a standard-setter in the still-developing field of national data protection legislation.

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