The Hindu Important News Editorial and Analysis 10 February 2021

1) India must return to traditional diplomacy.

The new combative strategy to ‘push back’ requires sober analysis, with the issue being how and against what and whom.

GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

GS-3: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security;


Context:

1. Indian diplomacy’s public articulation and responses are changing radically as shown by the statement of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), of February 3, on singer Rihanna’s tweet.

2. The new direction of Indian diplomacy’s external publicity is no longer confined to other governments, international organizations, external and domestic political and business elites, conference halls and negotiating tables but its extended up to “The target individual audiences”

3. New diplomacy’s aim to forcefully convey to foreign audiences, India’s unwillingness and unwelcome to accept perceived or real interference in the country’s domestic affairs.

 

Indian diplomacy’s past practice in three key:

1. First, India’s new public diplomacy is actively seeking new audiences within India (notably, politically engaged young people at home), in the West (Indian Diaspora communities abroad), and in the developing world (key opinion formers in India’s immediate region or resource-rich states in the global South).

2. Second, Indian officials are attempting to render India’s foreign policy-making process more open and democratic by engaging in dialogue with communities outside the New Delhi political and diplomatic elite.

3. Third, the effort seeks to utilize new media rather than traditional methods to reach its various target audiences.

 

New assertive norms:

1. This new Indian diplomacy’s development is part of the government’s impatience with the norms of old-fashioned diplomacy.

2.  the emphasis gaining on establishing a personal rapport with global leaders and what has been often stressed by the External Affairs Minister,

3. The India need to take risks to advance Indian positions and interests. Thus, new and assertive norms are being adopted now, have demonstrated a disdain for international liberal opinion.

4. It is beyond dispute that new directions for Indian diplomacy, in form as well as in substance, should be constantly sought. But the test of innovation can only be one: is it more effective in advancing Indian objectives

5. It is on this basis that the MEA statement and the widespread social media activity that followed need to be judged. While the statement’s origin will not be authoritatively known,

6. It can be legitimately surmised that it was/could not have been through the normal processes of the MEA. The decision on the basis of a political decision.

 

Social media and public diplomacy:

1. Chinese investment in public diplomacy, estimated at almost US$9 billion in 2009–10, India on marginal level in investment.

2. India is investing in technology because it does not want to be left behind in the “arms race” for soft power and because some policy makers genuinely believe that social media, in particular, are transforming the practice of politics.

3. India has established a long-term strategy to brand itself as a creative economic and cultural center, utilizing interactive websites as well as social networking Sites like Facebook, twitter.

4. The power of new technologies tensions have arisen between the traditional and new approaches to Indian public diplomacy.

 

Motivated campaign against Indian diplomacy’s:

1. There is little doubt that Khalistani groups in western countries would have sensed an opportunity to fish in troubled waters of the farmers’ agitation in the Punjab.

2. There should also be no doubt that the Pakistani generals, who have continuously sought to keep the embers of the Khalistan movement warm, would be looking for opportunities to create trouble.

3. This is notwithstanding that the patriotism of Indian Sikhs and their contributions to the nation are beyond question.

4. It would not be surprising at all if there are “motivated campaigns” against India under way on these issues.

 

Self-assurance, past and now:

1. the India of today is self-confident to hold its own is of course true, but it can be argued that right from Independence,

2. India has displayed the self-assurance not to take things lying down; only the methods may have been different.

3. There can be no quarrel with the External Affairs Minister’s warning that India will “push back”. The issue is not about should India “push back” but how and against what and whom.

4. India then refused to purposefully engage its international liberal critics though it publicly asserted security concerns for the administrative steps and laid stress on the point that the CAA did not impinge on the rights of the Indian minorities.

5. The government treated its global media critics with disdain; with MEA emphasizing that India’s reputation was not decided by a ‘newspaper in New York’.

 

Ponder over direction concern:

1. the popular reach of global liberal opinion especially in the Trumpian era was limited with the object to deter foreign critics from lending their names to “manipulated campaigns”

2. If more celebrities joined, the farmers’ protest would be energized , If these were the thoughts behind the decision then there is a need to check if it succeeded or gave an oxygen boost to the Rihanna tweet.

3. It is difficult to imagine that foreign critics like Ms. Rihanna, or for that matter of the Greta Thunberg kind, would be deterred by a concerted Indian pushback of the nature that has been undertaken.

4. The Delhi police have filed a first information report (FIR) against unknown persons who prepared a ‘toolkit’ which was attached to the first tweet of Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg.

5. India should of course press the governments concerned, especially of Canada, to take action against Khalistani elements.

6.  The Canada in particular, has shown scant regard for Indian concerns on this account and it is unlikely that they will change course now.

7. Through all this the question that still remains is whether the social storm unleashed in India after the Rihanna tweet would deter other foreign celebrities from pursuing the now amended ‘toolkit’.

 

Solution:

1. To hold the keys to the effectiveness of diplomacy whose ultimate target audience has to be not domestic sectional interests but global opinion and in the context of India’s external interests.

2. The Change in way the government handled criticism from liberal sections abroad, of the administrative steps taken in Jammu and Kashmir after the constitutional changes of August 2019 and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), and the protests that followed, most be in liberal manner. “ Not tit for Tat”

3. There was no frenzied response on social media to the allegations against the government on human rights matters and Internal Affair of country is needed.

4. In the days of conventional diplomacy, the Social media tweet would have perhaps been just ignored, at least officially, and use liberal approach in the high time.

5. The MEA most doing headed in the right direction Perhaps, the erudite External Affairs Minister should ponder over this, and in doing so also take into account his earlier avatar, as a diplomat.

6. The government would be now conscious of engaging international liberal opinion rather than merely dismissing it.

 

India Public diplomacy and employed a number of new initiatives:

1 India’s effort to reach out to overseas Indians;

2. Its attempts to build connections with foreign business interests;

3. Its nascent foreign aid and development program;

4. Its use of major events to showcase and “nation-brand” India;

5. Its use of new social media to reach out to younger, tech-savvy audiences.

 

The rise of liberal opinion:

1. The real challenge in the coming months to the government, but liberal opinion in democratic western societies.

2. It will have far more traction with the advent of the Joe Biden administration in the United States.

3. A pointer is the interaction of top U.S. Congress members in the India Caucus had, recently; asking India to ensure that “norms of democracy are maintained and peaceful protests and demonstrations be allowed”.

4. The Indian not come under pressure on matters of critical importance to Indian interests. But it taking recourse to traditional diplomacy even if it is stodgy and unappealing to sections of nationalist Indian opinion.

 

Conclusion:

1. There is nothing intrinsically wrong in building public opinion, all governments as well as groups do so. It is part of the global political and diplomatic processes but must be part of a careful strategy to achieve objectives. Otherwise, it can be counter-productive.

2. The MEA statement: “Motivated campaigns targeting India will never succeed. We have the self-confidence today to hold our own. This India will push back “taken into right sprite by Indians and those try to influence India domestic affair.

 

2) Fine-tuning the State-of-the-app technology

Keener scrutiny of the technology platforms of India’s States can lead to improved public services and user confidence.

GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 GS-3: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security;


Context:

1. Recently, WhatsApp had announced an upcoming change to its privacy policy, which led to growing concerns around privacy among many users, and who started switching over to other messaging services such as Signal and Telegram.

2. Indian consumers are becoming more aware and concerned about data protection and privacy — a trend that has become stronger in the recent past.

3. The issue of privacy is crucial for government technology platforms and services as governments typically have a monopoly in providing public services.

 

Law and Regulation in India over Right to privacy:

1. India did not have specific laws on data protection even India did not implemented the Personal Data Protection Bill; there is no control over how user data will be processed by companies.

2. However In Puttaswamy v India (2017) case, Right to privacy was established as a fundamental right under article 21.

3. The Information Technology Act (2000) (“IT Act”) to include Section 43A and Section 72A, which give a right to compensation for improper disclosure of personal information.

4. Under Section 72-A of the IT Act. The Act Penalises the offender for three year imprisonment or a maximum fine of Rs 5 lakh. on Breach of data privacy.

5. The Aadhar act Section 13 makes the processing of personal data without a person’s consent possible for any function of the Parliament or State Legislature.

 

Public Platforms and COVID-19:

1. The issue of privacy is crucial for government technology platforms and services as governments typically have a monopoly in providing public services, unlike the private sector.

2. Hence, “porting out” or “digital migration”, as seen in the case of WhatsApp, is not an option.

3. There is an examination of government technological platforms to create better awareness.

4. The action in the case of Aadhaar (the Government of India’s biometric digital identity platform) and Aarogya Setu.

5. The least 35 mobile apps that specifically address COVID-19 were developed by 25 States and Union Territories of India Have privacy concern.

6. Of these, 27 mobile apps provide general information on COVID-19 and seven allow tracking of nearby COVID-19 cases. Of all the mobile apps, 15 have a quarantine tracking feature and at least four of these require prior registration with the State Health Department.

 

Still a case of digital exclusion:

1. The development of COVID-19 mobile apps was well-received and perceived as a strong proactive initiative, especially by sections of the population that were digitally empowered.

2. More than 40% of mobile phone subscribers in India lack access to Internet services.

3. This includes those with feature phones that have no Internet and when added to those with no mobile phone at all, India’s digitally excluded could be more than 50%.

4. The creation of mobile applications makes information readily available to those with the technology to access it, it does not solve the problem for individuals and communities that remain excluded digitally.

 

Future Features of the APP:

1. De centralised approach : The Future design considerations of these mobile apps should evaluate the need for a centralised approach and ascertain whether the same goals can be achieved through a decentralised information flow

2. End-to-End Encrypted: means nobody can see your messages or share it with anyone.

3. Businesses interacting with users: App most that any businesses that users interact with may provide the platform with information as well.

4. Hardware Information: App can NOT collect information from devices such as battery level, signal strength, app version, browser information, mobile network, connection information.

5. Deleting the Account: If someone only deletes the app from their device without using the in-app my account feature, then that user’s information NOT will remain stored with the platform.

6. Location: Even if a user does not use their location-relation features, app NOT collects IP addresses and other location.

7. Payment Services:  if anyone uses their payments services they will Not process additional information about you, including payment account and transaction information.

 

No consistency, privacy issues

1. The data above implies that the mobile applications developed have not benefited from the standardization of information and a coordinated development approach.

2. The analysis shows that the various mobile apps on COVID-19 operated by the different State governments lack consistency in terms of the features, functionalities, and frequency of information updates they offer.

3. The information was being updated manually in many of the mobile applications; the data in the mobile application was different from the actual data, leading to multiple sources of truth.

4. The privacy  in, most of these State mobile apps also differ significantly on the data privacy they provide, depending on the information or permissions they request from the user.

5. It seems that these data requests may not meet the two commonly: (1) accepted principles of data privacy — necessity (is the data necessary for the mobile application to achieve its goal,

6. Second (2) proportionality: the collection of data proportionate to the extent to which an individual’s right to privacy is being infringed.

7. The mobile applications developed could have proactively followed established principles of privacy by design, such as minimal data collection and end-to-end data security.

 

Possible solutions:

1. The governments should continue to set up functional help lines, auto diallers, SMS text messages, and other channels to ensure that the digitally restricted have access to the same information as the digitally empowered — especially during crises such as the pandemic.

2. The adoption of an API-based microservices architecture and federated database structure with an appropriate governance framework could address these issues.

3. It would Not  allow, to integrate with the myriad of State mobile apps to offer both its standard services, that is, contact tracing and real-time information on cases as well as State-specific customized services or sub-applications such as information on hospital beds and grocery shops, among others.

4. The “A” decentralized information flow, owing to information residing in many individual systems and not in a centralized system, increases the cost while reducing the reward of affecting a successful breach.

 

Other Solution:

1. The enactment of the Personal Data Protection Bill and the successful implementation of the Act.

2. More amendment in IT ACT (2000), and strengthen data protection.

3. Implementation of “Srikrishna Committee Report” on data localization.

4. The might be privacy guidelines by the private companies operating in India.

5. Draft new “National E-Commerce Policy Framework” data privacy and grant infrastructure status to data centers.

6.  Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) are agreements between governments that facilitate the exchange of information and privacy.

 

India’s govt insiative “Aatmanirbhar Bharat App Innovate Challenge”:

1. A Mega Hackathon will be organised on August 7, 2020, where the top finalists selected under The ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge’ across categories will be showcasing their Apps.

2. The mega Challenge had entries for 9 different categories namely Business, eLearning, Entertainment, Games, Health, News, Office and Work from Home, Others and Social.

3. The India had a challenging time in selecting the finalists as budding entrepreneurs from all over the country had displayed novel solutions across all domains.

4. The AatmaNirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge has been a huge opportunity for tech developers to participate from not only metropolitan cities but also Tier 2 and 3 towns.

5. This Challenge is envisaged to showcase India as one of the leading App developing countries globally.

 

Conclusion:

1. Government of India-backed technologies, extending the same level of scrutiny to technology platforms developed by the States brings the opportunity of improved public services overall, and the public confidence needed to encourage wider adoption.

2. Challenges, including access, governance, privacy, security, and archiving. There is need to have an integrated long-term strategy for policy creation for data privacy and Right to privacy.

 

3) Dams and damages.

The Uttarakhand government continues to ignore evidence that hydropower projects in the fragile region exacerbate disasters.

GS-1 :  Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc. geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features.


Context:

1. Three days after the glacier burst, the rescue operation inside the Tapovan tunnel at NTPC’s damaged hydel project site is still going on. It destroyed a dam known as the Rishiganga Hydroelectric Project.

2. NTPC’s 520 MW Tapovan-Vishnugad hydropower project is on the River Dhauliganga, about 4 km from Reni, was completely damaged.

3. It’s happening due to the government continues to ignore evidence that hydropower projects in the fragile region exacerbate disasters. Here arises a question “dams are not victims of disasters they, in fact, exacerbate disasters”

 

Flouting all norms:

1. The actual cause of the February 7 floods is under investigation, pegging it as a natural disaster may be incorrect.

2. A June 26, 2019 order of the Uttarakhand High Court questioned the use of explosives on the Rishiganga site that too for illegal mining in the name of dam construction.

3. The use of explosives has repeatedly been questioned for dam construction, and the construction of other infrastructure projects, such as roads, in the fragile Himalayan State.

4. Also deforestation takes place when dams are constructed. While compensatory afforestation is the norm, it is often flouted.

5. The construction material that is supposed to be dumped on separate land is often dumped into the rivers. It would be naïve to assume that a disaster in Uttarakhand that involves dams was ‘natural’.

Dam situation in India:

1. According to a United Nations (UN) report Ageing water infrastructure “An emerging global risk”, over 1,000 large dams in India will be roughly 50 years old in 2025 and such ageing embankments across the world pose a growing threat.

2. The report notice by 2050, most people on Earth would live downstream of tens of thousands of large dams built in the 20th century, many of them including India’s already operating at or beyond their design life, putting lives and property at risk.

3. India ranks third globally with 5264 large dams in operation and about 437 are under construction. But, India too has had its share of dam failures. There are more than 36 reported failures cases so far.

4. In India over the 5,208 dams built so far, about 1,102 large dams have already reached 50 years of age and some are older than 120 years.

 

Issues for dam in India:

1. Old age and storage capacity cannot be the same as in the 1950-1960s.

2. Soil replaces the water in the reservoirs.

3. The rising frequency and severity of flooding.

4. The extreme environmental events and Climate change.

5. Technology is old and poor understanding of rock science (sediment)

6. Lack in storage capacity over water capacity and avalanche.

7. Lack in Real time inflow forecasting systems,

8. The Lack in procedure requires that study of dam hydrology.

9. India lack in “Dam Safety Organizations (DSO)” in states as well as Center.

10. Sediment Management is not available in many states.

 

The Chopra Committee report of 2014:

1. The committee was formed in October 2013 after the Supreme Court ordered the Union Environment Ministry to constitute an expert body to assess whether dams exacerbated the 2013 floods in the State where over 4,000 people were killed, mainly in the Kedarnath Valley.

2. Its report mentions how dams exacerbated the 2013 deluge, mainly as riverbeds were already raised from the disposed muck at the dam construction sites, and could not contain the sudden increased flow from floodwaters.

3. The report presents evidence to prove that dams are not only damaged in floods, they also cause immense damage in downstream areas.

4. This is because as floodwaters damage a barrage, they increase the destructive capacity of the water that flows downstream of the barrage.

5. The Chopra Committee suggested that 23 of the 24 proposed dam projects it reviewed be cancelled for the potential damage they could do.

 

Impact of climate change

1. To make matters worse, Himalayan glaciers are receding and disintegrating as a result of climate change, and the snow cover in the Himalayas is also thinning.

2. Research also shows how an increased number and volume of glacial lakes should be expected as a direct impact of increased temperatures.

3. The rapid increase or decrease in the reservoir water level and projections on the life of a dam reservoir may not stand due to erratic events, such as floods, that could rapidly fill a reservoir with muck and boulders brought along with the floods.

4. There is also the threat of earthquakes. In terms of earthquake risk, Uttarakhand lies in Seismic Zone-IV (severe intensity) and Seismic Zone-V (very severe intensity).

 

Government Participation:

1. Dam Safety Bill 2018: The Bill provides for the surveillance, inspection, operation, and maintenance of specified dams across the country. And also provide the institutional mechanism to ensure the safety of such dams.

2. Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP): ministry of jal Shakti in 2012, launched the six year Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) with World Bank with an objective to improve safety and operational performance of selected dams, along with institutional strengthening with system wide management approach.

3. Dam Health and Rehabilitation Monitoring Application (DHARMA): It is software web-based package to support the effective collection and management of Dam Safety data in respect of all large dams of India.

4. Seismic Hazard Mapping along with development of Seismic Hazard Assessment Information System (SHAISYS): It is also web based interactive application tool being developed in CWC under Dam Safety Organization (DSO) to estimate the seismic hazard at any point in Indian.


Conclusion:

1. The Uttarakhand government plans to construct up to 450 hydropower projects of 27,039 MW installed capacity. Chosen to ignore the disastrous impacts of rampant dam-building ignore for future and Strong legislation need for safety norms.

2. The State Dam Security Authority should be competent to entrust with the task of water management in reservoirs. and Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP): ministry of jal Shakti must be reintroduce.