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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 26 September 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Expertise over politics
  2. Children, a key yet missed demographic in AI regulation 

Expertise Over Politics


Context:

The Supreme Court’s decision not to intervene in the order issued by the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA), which instructs Karnataka to release 5,000 cubic feet of water per second (cusecs) to Tamil Nadu until September 27, is a commendable move. The Supreme Court has wisely chosen to defer to the expertise of this specialized body in managing water resources, especially in a year marked by deficient rainfall.

Relevance:

  • GS2- Cooperative Federalism
  • GS3-Water Resources

Mains Question:

What is the current state of inter-state water dispute over the Cauvery river? Suggest measures to deal with this recurring issue. (10 marks, 150 words).

Background:

  • Karnataka had appealed to the highest court, arguing that it faced a significant deficit of over 53% in water inflows to its reservoirs this year due to a weak southwest monsoon. Consequently, it claimed it couldn’t afford to release 5,000 cusecs for another 15 days.
  • To its credit, Karnataka had been complying with the CWMA’s order, despite pressure and protests from some political parties and organizations.
  • Earlier in August, Tamil Nadu had approached the Court seeking directives for water release from Karnataka’s reservoirs to meet its water requirements for the latter half of August and the entire month of September.
  • The Court had then requested a report from the CWMA, which clearly outlined the extent of the water scarcity this year.

Current Status:

  • The current CWMA order is set to expire on September 27, and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC), an auxiliary body to the Authority, is scheduled to meet on September 26 to reassess the situation.
  • This dispute highlights the recurring issue of equitable water sharing during monsoon-deficient years, underlining the need for a consistent formula for resource allocation.
  • In years of ample rainfall, there is minimal contention about Karnataka adhering to the water-sharing guidelines established by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, as modified by the Supreme Court in 2018.
  • Much of this water release happens naturally through downstream flow during periods of heavy rainfall when the reservoirs are full.
  • It is during deficient years that the involved states look to the Court for favorable rulings, even if the CWMA does not provide them.

Way Forward:

This annual cycle of adjudication and seasonal litigation should not become the norm. The CWMA should seize this opportunity to develop a permanent formula for assessing deficits in any given year. Even the method of assessing this deficit is a matter of disagreement between the two states. It is now incumbent upon the CWMA and CWRC to collect data on rainfall, inflow, and storage to formulate an equitable approach to allocating the shortfall.

Conclusion:

It’s inevitable that neither state will be completely satisfied with the quantum of water release ordered by the CWMA. However, at this juncture, it is crucial for political considerations to yield to the expertise of those managing the region’s water resources.


Children, a Key Yet Missed Demographic in AI Regulation 


Context:

India is set to host its inaugural global summit on Artificial Intelligence (AI) this October, and in December, as the Chair of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI), India will also host the GPAI global summit. These events underscore the strategic significance of AI for India, as it is predicted to contribute $500 billion to the country’s economy by 2025, constituting 10% of the GDP target.

Relevance:

GS3- Science and Technology

  • Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.
  • Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-technology, Bio-technology and issues relating to Intellectual Property Rights.

Mains Question:

“One area where India can lead is in how regulators address the critical yet less understood demographic of children and adolescents in the context of AI.” Examine the challenges posed by AI to children and suggest measures to deal with them. (15 makrs, 250 words).

Children and AI- associated challenges:

  • Many cutting-edge AI applications are not specifically designed for children but are accessed by them, creating governance challenges.
  • Without proper regulation, data-intensive AI-based digital services may employ opaque algorithms and deceptive tactics to exploit impressionable young individuals.
  • This can lead to distortions of ideal physical appearances, triggering body image issues, as well as malicious threats such as misinformation, radicalization, cyberbullying etc.
  • The next generation of digital citizens must also deal with the indirect consequences of their families’ online activities. “Sharents,” who regularly post content about their children online, need to be aware of the potential risks.

Way Forward:

RegulationSuccessful regulation should create an environment that promotes children’s well-being, inclusion, fairness, non-discrimination, safety, transparency, explainability, and accountability.

 It should also adapt to the varying developmental stages of children from different age groups. For example, California’s Age Appropriate Design Code Act could serve as a template, emphasizing transparency, default privacy settings, and age-appropriate language.

To protect children’s interests when interacting with AI, the upcoming Digital India Act (DIA) should emphasize international best practices, standards, strong institutions, and openness, trust, and accountability.

Regulation must align incentives to mitigate issues like addiction, mental health concerns, and overall safety.
ResearchIndian authorities should encourage research to gather evidence on the benefits and risks of AI for Indian children and adolescents, laying the foundation for an Indian Age Appropriate Design Code for AI.
Empower the children and youthIndia should move away from top-down safety protocols that place undue burdens on parents as children move into adolescence.

Young people should be equipped with tools to manage unintended consequences, such as AI-powered deep fake capabilities that can be used for malicious purposes.
Initiate dialogue with childrenMechanisms for regular dialogue with children can help incorporate their input on the benefits and threats of AI-based digital services.

Establishing institutions similar to Australia’s Online Safety Youth Advisory Council, composed of individuals between the ages of 13-24, could be an effective approach to make regulation more responsive to the challenges young people face while preserving the benefits of digital services.

Conclusion:

India’s diverse population with intersectional identities requires AI regulation to address real-world biases and inequities. The current approach to children under India’s data protection law needs improvement, as it transfers an excessive burden to parents and hampers safe platform operations and design. As India moves towards enacting new laws to regulate internet harms and asserts its thought leadership in global AI regulation, the welfare of its young citizens must be a primary concern. Given India’s capacity to generate vast amounts of data, it has the opportunity to set a policy precedent for countries in the Global South in this regard.


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