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The Hindu Editorial

23-December-2023

1. Telecom law upgrades for a digital authoritarian state.

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies
The Telecom Bill 2023’s impact on privacy, corporate favoritism, and democratic erosion holds significance for UPSC as a governance and rights issue.
Context:
  • The Telecom Bill 2023, raises concerns about privacy, favors select corporations, and lacks democratic scrutiny.
  • Nationalistic rhetoric obscures its shortcomings, contributing to an erosion of democratic principles.
Introduction:
  • Tweet by Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnav announces parliamentary passage of Telecom Bill, 2023.
Digital Bharat Nidhi and the Digital Divide:
  • The Telecom Bill introduces “Digital Bharat Nidhi,” renaming the Universal Services Obligation Fund (USOF).
  • Despite the name change, little structural change in addressing the digital divide.
  • Nationalistic rhetoric distracts from the lack of fresh ideas or solutions for improving connectivity.
Innovation and State Control:
  • Provisions favoring select private firms under the guise of national champions.
  • Allocation of satellite spectrum without auctions raises concerns, benefiting specific corporations.
  • Regulatory sandboxes and dispute resolution systems likely to favor large corporations, maintaining an oligopoly.
Modern Authoritarianism:
  • Telecom Act retains colonial architecture with clever rewording of phrases.
  • Changes, like replacing “licensing” with “authorization,” result in increased severity.
  • Vague definitions allow licensing of OTT messaging apps and email services, compromising user privacy.
  • Interception, surveillance powers, and Internet shutdowns lack safeguards, expanding government control.
  • “National security” remains undefined, enabling broad government powers without clear limits.
  • Biometric-based identification and penalties for non-compliance further contribute to a surveillance state.
Constitutional Concerns:
  • Passage of the Telecom Bill in haste without referring it to a Standing Committee.
  • Criticism of the parliamentary process as a constitutional veneer for an unconstitutional concentration of power.
Impact on Ordinary Citizens:
  • Lack of avenues for ordinary citizens to voice concerns or question the government.
  • The bill raises questions about the erosion of democratic principles.
  • The Telecom Bill exemplifies a move away from democracy under the guise of progress.
Practice Question: Examine the implications of the Telecom Bill 2023 on privacy, corporate influence, and democratic principles, considering its potential impact on governance. (150 words/10 m)

2. The Sahitya Akademi must do more to promote Indian literature.

Topic: GS1 – Indian Art and Culture – Government Awards
UPSC relevance: Sahitya Akademi Awards showcase India’s linguistic richness; understanding its significance aids aspirants in cultural and literary dimensions.
Context:
  • The Sahitya Akademi Awards, celebrating linguistic diversity in 24 Indian languages, offer writers encouragement and translation opportunities.
  • Despite its significance, the awards lack prominence due to underutilized promotional efforts and weak online presence.
Diversity Recognition:
  • Sahitya Akademi awards honor writers in 24 Indian languages, celebrating linguistic diversity.
  • Recognizes literary contributions in Dogri, Gujarati, Kashmiri, Manipuri, Odia, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Assamese, Bodo, Bengali, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Santali, and others.
Encouragement and Opportunities:
  • Acknowledges the vast linguistic landscape of India, offering encouragement to writers.
  • Sahitya Akademi award provides a platform for writers to pursue their craft.
  • Winners may experience increased book sales, inclusion in school curricula, and university teachings.
Possibilities for Translation:
  • Awardees, including Neelum Saran Gour, have opportunities for translation into other regional languages and English.
  • Translation enhances accessibility and promotes literary exchange.
 Lack of Prominence:
  • Despite being established in 1954, Sahitya Akademi awards lack widespread recognition.
  • Not as prominent as international literary awards like the Booker Prize or the Pulitzer.
Underutilized Promotional Efforts:
  • Sahitya Akademi’s promotional efforts fall short, impacting its visibility.
  • Weak social media presence and an outdated website hinder awareness about literary activities.
Additional Awards:
  • Sahitya Akademi presents other awards such as Bal Sahitya award, Yuva Puraskar, and Bhasha Samman (translation prize) – which have little recognition.
Room for Improvement:
  • Calls for enhanced promotion of Sahitya Akademi’s activities to foster greater awareness.
  • Emphasizes the need to leverage its extensive network to promote India’s literary heritage, especially among younger generations.
Conclusion:
  • Sahitya Akademi Awards, though instrumental in celebrating linguistic diversity, face challenges in recognition.
  • Improved promotion is crucial for preserving India’s literary heritage and encouraging wider appreciation.
Practice Question: Examine the significance of Sahitya Akademi Awards in preserving India’s linguistic diversity and the challenges they face in gaining recognition. (150 words/10 m)
 

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