16 March 2024 : Indian Express Editorial Analysis

Indian Express Editorial Analysis


1. A penal code for AI

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Important aspects of governance: E-governance – applications, models, successes, limitations and potential;

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of knowing facts about the AI Act which represents a landmark regulatory framework for governing artificial intelligence within the European Union. Understanding its provisions and implications can provide insights into emerging regulatory trends in technology governance.


  • The European Parliament recently passed the groundbreaking Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act, 2024), marking the first comprehensive regulatory framework for artificial intelligence (AI).
  • This law not only governs AI within the European Union (EU) but also sets a global precedent for engaging with AI technologies.
  • The AI Act is notable for its recognition of the varying levels of AI intelligence and potential harms associated with AI systems.
  • Through a detailed analysis, this article will explore the key provisions and implications of the AI Act, shedding light on its significance and potential impact.

The New Regulatory Framework:

  • The AI Act aims to establish a uniform legal framework for the development, deployment, and use of AI systems within the EU.
  • It emphasizes adherence to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and other relevant European laws.
  • Notably, the law applies to AI providers offering services within the EU, regardless of their location.
  • Central to the AI Act is its definition of AI systems, which highlights their autonomy, adaptiveness, and ability to generate outputs based on input.

Prohibited AI Practices:

  • Article 5 of the AI Act prohibits certain AI practices deemed harmful.
  • These include deploying subliminal or manipulative techniques that distort decision-making processes, thus causing significant harm to individuals or groups.
  • This provision addresses contemporary concerns such as fake news propagation and algorithmic manipulation through social media platforms.

Classification of AI Systems:

  • The AI Act categorizes AI systems based on their potential for harm, distinguishing between harmful, high-risk, and low-risk AI systems.
  • Harmful AI practices, such as subliminal manipulation and exploitation of vulnerable groups, are explicitly banned.
  • High-risk AI systems, which pose safety risks or threaten fundamental rights, are subject to stringent regulations, including risk management and human oversight requirements.
  • In contrast, low-risk AI systems, such as chatbots and emotion recognition systems, face minimal regulatory obligations.

Enforcement and Governance:

  • The implementation of the AI Act involves the establishment of a European Artificial Intelligence Board and national supervisory authorities within each EU member state.
  • These bodies will oversee the application and enforcement of the law, imposing fines of up to 6% of the offender’s total worldwide annual turnover for non-compliance.
  • The phased implementation of the law allows AI developers and providers time to adapt to the regulatory requirements.

Global Implications and Commercial Potential:

  • The AI Act not only impacts AI development and use within the EU but also sets a precedent for global AI regulation.
  • Considering the significant commercial potential of AI, with projections reaching trillions of dollars in investment, regulatory frameworks like the AI Act are crucial for managing the commerce, benefits, and potential harms associated with AI technologies.
  • As AI continues to influence various aspects of human life, laws and regulations must evolve to address its multifaceted implications comprehensively.


  • The article of the AI Act represents a significant milestone in AI regulation, setting a precedent for global governance of AI technologies.
  • By recognizing the varying levels of AI intelligence and potential harms, the AI Act aims to promote responsible AI development and use while safeguarding fundamental rights and values.
  • As AI continues to evolve and expand its influence, regulatory frameworks like the AI Act will play a vital role in shaping the ethical and legal landscape of AI technologies.

What is India’s Strategy Regarding AI Regulation?


  • India is yet to have a comprehensive framework for regulating AI. However, India has shifted from a stance of not considering AI regulation to actively formulating regulations based on a risk-based, user-harm approach.
  • Advocacy for Inclusive and Responsible AI:
  • India’s initial national AI strategy, #AIFORALL, aimed at inclusivity, debuted in 2018.
  • NITI Aayog’s National Strategy for AI (2018) included a chapter on responsible AI.
  • In 2021, NITI Aayog issued a paper, ‘Principle of Responsible AI’. Seven broad principles were enumerated in the paper: equality, safety and reliability, inclusivity and non-discrimination, transparency, accountability, privacy and reinforcement of positive human value
  • In March 2023, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology introduced IndiaAI, the national program on AI, aimed at serving as a comprehensive initiative to cover all AI-related research and innovations.
  • In July, 2023 Telecom Regulatory Authority of India issued a paper, that recommended setting up a domestic statutory authority to regulate AI through the lens of a “risk-based framework” and constitution of an advisory body with members from multiple government departments, academia and experts.
  • Major Sector-specific AI Frameworks in India:
  • Healthcare Sector:
  • Indian Council of Medical Research issued ethical guidelines for AI in biomedical research and healthcare in June 2023.
  • Capital Market:
  • SEBI issued a circular in January 2019 to guide policies and create an inventory for AI systems in the capital market.
  • Education Sector:
  • National Education Policy 2020 recommends AI awareness integration in school courses.

PYQ: With the present state of development, Artificial Intelligence can effectively do which of the following? (2020)

1) Bring down electricity consumption in industrial units

2) Create meaningful short stories and songs

3) Disease diagnosis

4) Text-to-Speech Conversion

5) Wireless transmission of electrical energy

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1, 2, 3 and 5 only

(b) 1, 3 and 4 only

(c) 2, 4 and 5 only

(d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Ans: (b)

Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of the Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act, 2024) passed by the European Parliament in the context of global governance of emerging technologies. Analyze the potential implications of the AI Act for international relations, technological advancements, and the formulation of regulatory frameworks in other jurisdictions, with particular reference to India. (250 words/15 m)

2. Act of inclusion, not exclusion

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies – Issues arising out of their design & implementation.

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of understanding the CAA and its implications which involves an analysis of government policies and their socio-political ramifications.

  • The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed by the Indian Parliament in December 2019 has sparked debates regarding its secular nature and its basis for determining refugee status.
  • As the government gazettes the rules for implementing the CAA, discussions have resurfaced concerning its impact on religious minorities seeking refuge.
  • This analysis delves into the key arguments surrounding the CAA, addressing its purported anti-Muslim bias and its historical context in addressing refugee influxes.

Religious Criterion in Refugee Status:

  • Globally, religion often serves as a crucial factor in determining refugee status, alongside other grounds such as race, nationality, membership in a social group, or political opinion.
  • The criticism against the CAA, alleging its religious bias, fails to acknowledge the international precedent of considering religion as a criterion for persecution and refugee protection.

Misconceptions about Exclusion of Muslims:

  • Critics argue that the exclusion of Muslims from the list of persecuted minorities under the CAA is discriminatory.
  • However, the Act focuses on providing relief to persecuted minorities from neighboring Islamic countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
  • Muslims in these countries, being the majority, are not targeted based on religion but may face persecution for other reasons, making them eligible for refuge under different laws.

Historical Context of Refugee Influxes:

  • India has witnessed several waves of refugee influxes, primarily from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, due to political turmoil and communal violence.
  • The CAA aims to address the challenges posed by these influxes by providing expedited citizenship to persecuted minorities, particularly Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Christians, who have sought refuge in India.

Limited Mandate of the CAA:

  • The CAA is an amendment to the Citizenship Act of 1955 and does not alter its non-discriminatory nature.
  • It fast-tracks the citizenship process for persecuted minorities, reducing the residency requirement from 12 years to five years.
  • Contrary to misinformation, the CAA does not threaten the citizenship of Indian Muslims and does not provide an open-ended invitation to minorities from neighboring countries.

Implementation Challenges and Relaxation of Rules:

  • The framing of rules for implementing the CAA took over four years, facing delays due to various factors, including public movements and the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Concerns regarding the documentation required for proving persecution were addressed by relaxing the evidentiary requirements, focusing instead on verifying citizenship of the applicant’s country of origin.
  • Similarly, rules pertaining to proof of residency in India have been eased, allowing for a broader range of acceptable documents.


  • The gazetting of rules for implementing the CAA marks a significant step towards fulfilling a longstanding promise made by the Indian government.
  • Despite criticisms and challenges, the CAA aims to provide relief to persecuted minorities while upholding the principles of secularism and non-discrimination.
  • Effective implementation of the CAA will require collaboration between government agencies, NGOs, and concerned citizens to ensure that eligible refugees can avail themselves of the benefits provided by the Act.
What are the Concerns Related to the CAA, 2019?
  • Constitutional Challenge: Critics argue that it violates Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees the right to equality before the law and prohibits discrimination based on religion.
  • The CAA’s provision of granting citizenship based on religion is seen as discriminatory.
  • Potential for Disenfranchisement: The CAA is often linked to the National Register of Citizens (NRC), a proposed nationwide exercise to identify illegal immigrants.
  • Critics fear that a combination of CAA and a faulty NRC could disenfranchise several citizens who are unable to prove their documentation.
  • More than 19.06 lakh people were left out of the final draft of the Assam NRC released in August 2019.
  • Impact on Assam Accord: In Assam, there is a specific concern regarding the compatibility of the CAA with the Assam Accord, 1985.
  • The Accord established criteria for determining citizenship in Assam, including specific cut-off dates for residency.
  • The CAA’s provision of a different timeline for granting citizenship could conflict with the provisions of the Assam Accord, leading to legal and political complications.
  • Secularism and Social Cohesion: The CAA’s focus on religion as a criterion for citizenship eligibility has raised broader concerns about its impact on secularism and social cohesion in India.
  • Critics argue that privileging certain religious communities over others undermines the secular principles upon which the Indian state was founded and could exacerbate communal tensions.
  • Exclusion of few Religious Communities: The exclusion of certain religious communities from the CAA and its subsequent rules, such as Sri Lankan Tamils and Tibetan Buddhists, who faced religious persecution in their home countries, raises concerns.

PYQ: With reference to India, consider the following statements: (2021)

1) There is only one citizenship and one domicile.

2) A citizen by birth only can become the Head of State.

3) A foreigner once granted citizenship cannot be deprived of it under any circumstances.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 1 and 3

(d) 2 and 3

Ans: (a)

Practice Question:  Discuss the implications of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and its implementation for governance, constitutional principles in India. How does the CAA intersect with India’s foreign policy and its relations with neighboring countries? (250 words/15 m)

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