Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 27 June 2023
- A New Digital India Bill Is Needed to Build a Future-Ready Digital India
- India’s Employment Situation
A New Digital India Bill Is Needed to Build a Future-Ready Digital India
- Consultations on the planned “Digital India Bill” to update the current Information Technology (IT) Act, which has been in effect for more than 20 years, have been started by the Indian Ministry of Electronics and IT.
- This new law seeks to address issues including user harm, competition, and misinformation that are arising in the digital sphere.
- The first draught of the Bill is anticipated to be released by the end of June, according to Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Union Minister of State for Electronics and Technology.
- The execution of this Bill could change how technology is controlled, which has important ramifications not just for India but also for the rest of the world.
GS Paper 2 – Government policies and Interventions,
GS Paper 3 – Recent Technological Advancement – Digitalization
Examine the international regulatory frameworks and the lessons that may be learned from regulating intermediaries in places like the European Union and Australia. How can India take these observations into account when it creates its own regulatory framework for the Digital India Bill? (250 words)
Lack of Sufficient Current Regulatory Regime
- The existing IT Act defines “intermediaries” as organisations that act as a middleman between users and the Internet. This definition is insufficient. However, the IT Rules’ description of intermediaries is vague and covers a wide range of services, including social media platforms, video chat services, matrimony websites, and even online comment sections.
- All of these intermediaries are subject to the same requirements, which include strict deadlines for responding to requests from law enforcement and demands to remove content. This one-size-fits-all strategy ignores the diverse levels of risk and harm connected to various kinds of intermediaries.
International Frameworks and Lessons:
- Several nations have taken action to regulate intermediaries in a reasonable manner. The Digital Services Act of the European Union presents a well-developed framework with exemptions and three layers of intermediaries, each of which has certain legal responsibilities.
- Australia has also put in place an eight-tiered classification system with industry-drafted regulations for search engines and social media sites. These nations demand that intermediaries carry out risk analyses based on the possibility of exposure to hazardous content. The Indian government can use these frameworks as inspiration for its own regulatory strategy.
What is the Digital India Bill’s primary goal?
- The goal of the Digital India Bill is to guarantee that there is an institutional structure for accountability and that the internet in India is accessible, unhindered by user harm or criminal activity.
- Emerging technologies, social media platform algorithms, artificial intelligence, user dangers, internet diversity, and intermediary regulation will all be included by the legislation.
- The fundamental challenge in data protection or regulation is the right of the individual to secure his information and the requirement to utilise personal data for lawful purposes. The main goal of the Digital India Bill is to establish an internet regulator. The law tries to deal with this difficulty.
- A limit will be introduced on how much of a person’s personal information can be accessed for legal reasons.
- The majority of the bill’s characteristics are contrasted with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.
Why is the Digital India Bill necessary?
- The number of internet users in the country currently exceeds 760 million, and in the upcoming years, this number will reach 1.2 billion. Despite the fact that the internet is useful and promotes connectivity, there are a number of user damages nearby.
- Therefore, it is crucial to enact legislation that will set forth new guidelines for individuals’ rights and responsibilities and mention the requirement to gather data.
- The IT statute, 2000 will be replaced by this statute.
India’s main areas of focus
- India should establish a classification system that allows for flexibility as technology develops to create a future-proof regulatory environment. Few specified categories should be developed rather than many highly specialised ones, and intermediaries should be compelled to conduct risk analyses.
- Major duties could be waived for micro and small businesses, as well as cache and conduit services, while still distinguishing communication services from other types of intermediaries like search engines and online marketplaces.
- The appointment of a grievance officer, cooperation with law enforcement, identification of advertising, and removal of harmful content from non-communication service intermediaries within appropriate timeframes could still be required.
- Risk analyses should be carried out for communication service intermediaries based on active user counts, harm risk, and the potential virality of harmful information.
- Larger communication platforms, like Twitter, would be required to fulfil extra requirements like hiring Indian-based employees and setting up internal grievance appeals processes. Circuit breakers that slow down content distribution could be implemented as a strategy to reduce virality.
Implementation and Industry Collaboration:
- To guarantee the efficacy of the suggested approach, precise risk assessment metrics and suitable thresholds should be established. Regular reviews of these measures should be conducted in conjunction with industry stakeholders.
- India may build a regulatory environment that is in accordance with the goal of the government of encouraging a safer internet ecosystem and supporting business growth by establishing a framework that encourages accountability and online safety while lessening the burden on a large number of intermediaries.
- The introduction of the proposed Digital India Bill offers a chance to modernise the current legal system and reshape how technology is regulated in India.
- The government can establish a flexible and future-proof regulatory environment by adopting a classification framework that takes changing technological landscapes into account.
- An ecosystem like this will lessen excessive legal duties for intermediaries while improving accountability and online safety. India can create the groundwork for a digital future that fosters innovation, encourages economic expansion, and guarantees a safer internet ecosystem by finding the proper balance.
India’s Employment Situation
- With the national unemployment rate rising, the government will continue to have a significant difficulty in producing jobs.
- Jobs are being created less quickly in India, especially in the IT/ITeS industry and startups. Plans for hiring are also moving slowly in other areas.
- Approximately 2.25 lakh active job postings are now available, which is about 1 lakh lower than the same period last year, according to hiring companies. This downturn has had a significant negative impact on the white-collar workforce.
GS Paper 2 – Government Policies and Intervention
Identify the causes of the slowdown in job creation in India. What steps can be made to resolve this problem? Examine how government programmes are helping to create jobs and increase employability. (150 words)
Lack of job security:
In recent years, the idea of job security has lost any meaning. Thousands of people have been let go by tech behemoths and large startups in India, including Google, Microsoft, IBM, Meta, Amazon, Cognizant, Byju’s, and Ola. Across all industries, job security is lacking.
Demand for IT professionals and skills:
- Despite a general slowdown in hiring, there is still a need for tech expertise in industries going through a digital transformation.
- To advance digitally, businesses in the banking, non-banking, hospitality, automotive, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and educational sectors are looking for qualified IT specialists. There are still some employment options for blue- and grey-collar workers.
Challenges and Motivators
- Cost-cutting, challenging macroeconomic conditions, less revenue visibility, and a moratorium on new hires are some of the causes of the slowdown in employment creation. Companies frequently attribute staff underperformance to layoffs. In addition, data analytics and artificial intelligence are also causing employment losses. According to analysts, thousands of human jobs could be replaced by AI in the next five years.
- There are some encouraging signs for job development following the COVID-19 pandemic.
- An growth in employment of 58 million between 2019 and 2022. The two years were selected to match a pure pre-Covid estimate and a pure post-Covid estimate, respectively.
- The number of jobs for women rose by 28 million, or by 25% over the 2019 level; the number of jobs for males rose by 30 million, or at a rate of just 8.4%, or one-third the rate of jobs for women.
- Over a period of at least three years, this rate of employment creation has never been higher in India.
Job Possibility and Requirements Mismatch:
- Despite having a labour surplus, India is experiencing a paradoxical lack of skilled workers. Between work opportunities and qualifications, there is a mismatch.
- Truck drivers, metallurgists in the steel business, nurses and technicians in the healthcare industry, and civil engineers in the building industry, for instance, are in short supply. India’s economic expansion has been fueled by the service sector, which has led to a shortage of skills at the level of mass education.
Low Women’s Participation:
- Workplace factors like peace and order, effective public transit, violence against women, and societal standards frequently deter women from looking for jobs.
- Many women opt to focus solely on running their households and caring for their family. The dearth of suitable employment options for women is another major issue.
To address the job crisis, the Indian government has launched a number of programmes, including:
- The National Career Service (NCS) Project is the National Employment Service’s transformation into a career-related service provider.
- Pt. DeenDayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushlya Yojana (DDU-GKY): Giving young people in rural areas the chance to develop their skills.
- The PM- SVANidhi Scheme, which provides working capital loans without collateral to street vendors impacted by the COVID-19 lockout.
- The Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship has implemented the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), a skill-development programme.
- Rural Self-Employment and Training Institutes (RSETIs): Institutions that provide training to encourage rural youth to start their own businesses.
Suggestions and the Way Forward:
- The government and society should place a high premium on raising the standard of education. Enhancing the business climate and increasing a company’s global market presence might provide job prospects.
- To increase employability and create more jobs, the government’s skill development efforts must be implemented properly. The government should concentrate on increasing employability and creating new jobs.