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The Hindu Editorial

15-November-2023

1. A Norwegian perspective of India’s digital journey.

Topic: GS3 – Digital development.

India’s Role in Accelerating the Digital Public Goods Agenda

  • India’s G-20 presidency championed the G-20 Framework for Systems of Digital Public Infrastructure.
  • This framework defines DPI as “a set of shared digital systems” used to “drive development,inclusion, innovation, trust, and competition and respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
  • India’s success in issuing digital identities to nearly all its citizens demonstrates the power of DPI in promoting social inclusion and access to services.

Digital South-South Cooperation

  • The Bengaluru-developed Modular Open Source Identity Platform (MOSIP) has provided digital IDs to over 97 million people in diverse countries.
  • The annual assembly of the Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA) in Ethiopia showcases the global South’s leadership in DPI development.
  • Norway supports the DPGA and is a member of the 50-in-5 campaign to make at least one national digital good available globally in the next five years.

The Norwegian Perspective

  • Norway has a long history of supporting digital public goods and has provided several successful examples,such as the Yr weather forecasting service and the VIPS plant health warning system.
  • Norway emphasizes the role of digital public goods in addressing food insecurity,with 24 registered digital public goods targeting SDG2 on ending food hunger.
  • Norway recognizes the challenges of privacy,data leaks, and digital sovereignty in the digital domain and advocates for open solutions like digital public goods.

Following the Indian Blueprint

  • Norway welcomes collaboration with India within the DPGA and the 50-in-5 campaign to draw lessons from India’s digital journey and help other countries leapfrog the digital divide.

 

2. India should be forceful in articulating its position on Gaza

Topic: GS2 – International relations.

India’s UN Votes on Israeli-Palestinian Resolutions:

  • Ceasefire Resolution Abstention: Two weeks prior, India abstained from a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire in Israeli strikes on Gaza.
  • Recent Votes in Favor: India voted in favor of five out of six annual draft resolutions at the UNGA’s Fourth Committee criticizing Israel for increased settlements, supporting Palestinians’ rights, and endorsing UNRWA in Gaza.
  • Official Explanation: The official explanation labeled the votes as “routine” affirmation of India’s traditional policy, causing confusion over the government’s stance on the crisis.

Inconsistencies and Unexplained Stand:

  • Contradictory Explanations: The October Explanation of Vote mentioned the absence of an “explicit condemnation” of October 7 attacks by Hamas as the reason for abstention. However, none of the resolutions discussed the October 7 attacks.
  • No Proposed Amendments: India did not propose amendments during the Fourth Committee deliberations, where the Israeli envoy called for a rejection of “anti-Israel” resolutions lacking references to the current situation.
  • Silence on Ceasefire Call: India has not joined the call for a ceasefire or explicitly called for an end to strikes on civilian targets, contributing to uncertainty about its position.

Government’s Traditional Stand:

  • Two-State Solution Support: India maintains its traditional stand supporting the Palestinian cause and a two-state solution.
  • “Zero Tolerance” for Terrorism: The government affirms “zero tolerance” for terror attacks and expresses standing by Israel.
  • Lack of Explicit Actions: India has not explicitly asked for an end to strikes, designated Hamas as a terror group, or changed domestic law as suggested by the Israeli Ambassador.

Concerns and Opportunities:

  • Exerting Influence: Criticism that New Delhi appears unwilling to exert itself to make a difference in the conflict.
  • Opportunity in Global Summits: Upcoming Voice of Global South and G-20 virtual summits could provide an opportunity for India to articulate options for ending violence and addressing post-conflict scenarios in Gaza.

Call for Clarity:

  • Government’s Position Explanation: More than a month into Israel’s reprisals, there is a need for the government to clarify its position on the conflict and outline potential roles for India.
  • Historical Voice: Emphasis on preserving India’s historical reputation for being forceful and balanced on such global issues.

3. Unfettered powers to seize devices threaten freedom of speech

Topic: GS2 – Indian polity

Supreme Court’s Directive on Media Professionals’ Device Seizure:

  • Timely Intervention: The Supreme Court directs the Union government to formulate guidelines safeguarding the interests of media professionals regarding the seizure of their digital devices.

Chilling Effects on Journalism:

  • Recent Incidents: Actions against journalists involving the seizure and search of their devices send a chilling message to the media community and compromise sources.

Guidelines Framework:

  • Judicial Warrant Requirement: Guidelines should mandate that law enforcement agencies cannot seize or search devices without a prior judicial warrant, specifying the expected information sought.
  • Protection of Sources: Journalists should not be compelled to incriminate themselves or reveal sources by providing passcodes or biometric data.
  • Data Safeguards: Protocols must be in place to protect devices and data, preventing leaks, tampering, or unauthorized sharing with third parties.
  • Irrelevant Data Deletion: Procedures should ensure timely deletion of irrelevant data to an investigation.
  • Cloning Technology: Guidelines should permit the use of cloning technology to allow journalists to continue their work while ensuring data preservation.

Transparency and Public Consultation:

  • Balancing of Interests: The Court emphasizes the need for a “balancing of interests,” urging transparent guideline drafting and public consultations.
  • Privacy as Fundamental Right: The Court recognizes privacy as a fundamental right, indicating the relevance of the issue for all citizens.

Legal Framework Update:

  • Digital Realities: Laws regarding search and seizure need updating to consider the impact of new digital realities.
  • Inclusive Approach: Guidelines and legal updates should address the evolving landscape of personal and professional information stored on vulnerable handheld devices.

 

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