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The Hindu Editorial

8-December-2023

1. India’s growing neighbourhood dilemmas.

Topic: GS2 – International relations.

Context:

  • Indian foreign policy aspires to global leadership, but faces challenges in its immediate neighbourhood.
  • South Asia poses three types of dilemmas for India: politically anti-India regimes, structural issues from China’s influence, and geopolitical architecture changes.

Causes of Dilemmas:

Regional Geopolitical Architecture:

  • Diminishing US presence in South Asia creates a power vacuum, filled by China, impacting India’s strategic position.
  • China’s rise acts as a geopolitical buffer for smaller states, leading to a ‘China card’ in their foreign policy.

Norms-Free-Zone and Material Needs:

  • China offers a norms-free alternative, influencing regional states to prioritize material benefits over normative considerations.
  • India’s normative approach contrasts with China’s non-normative stance, impacting regional dynamics.

Changing Power Dynamics:

  • India’s historical primacy in South Asia faces challenges as China emerges as a non-resident power without historical baggage.
  • Complications from being a resident power, such as cultural, ethnic, and refugee issues, hinder India’s influence.

Policy Stance and Assumptions:

Status Quo Bias and Limited Engagement:

  • India’s status quo bias in dealing with regional politics limits engagement with diverse power centers.
  • A one-track policy focusing on established leaders may alienate other influential actors or opposition figures.

Mistaken Assumptions:

  • The belief that South Asia minus Pakistan would align with Indian geopolitical reasoning has proven inaccurate.
  • India’s culture-connect with the region is questioned as a potential liability in foreign policy execution.

Recommendations:

Realistic Framing and Acknowledgment:

  • India should recognize the fundamental shift in South Asian dynamics and acknowledge China’s emergence as a serious contender.
  • Accepting the new reality of ‘Southern Asia’ with China as a contender helps in realistic policy formulation.

External Actor Involvement:

  • Proactive involvement of friendly external actors is crucial to counter the region becoming Sino-centric.
  • Collaborative efforts with external partners can help balance influence and maintain regional stability.

Flexible Diplomacy:

  • Indian diplomacy should be flexible, engaging multiple actors within neighbouring countries.
  • The focus should be on lessening anti-India sentiment rather than excluding anti-India elements from diplomatic engagement.

Increase Diplomatic Capacity:

  • India urgently needs to address the shortage of diplomats to effectively implement its foreign policy.
  • The growing role of India in global affairs requires a commensurate increase in diplomatic personnel to handle emerging opportunities and crises.

Question:  Examine the key dilemmas in India’s neighborhood policy, considering the impact of China’s rise and shifting regional dynamics. Suggest concise strategies for India to navigate these challenges effectively.

 

2. Restoration of Statehood and polls in J&K should not be delayed further

Topic: GS2 – Indian polity

Background:

  • Collapse of the elected government in Jammu & Kashmir led to the imposition of Governor’s rule over five and a half years ago.
  • Subsequent changes included the removal of Article 370, bifurcation into Union Territories, and legal challenges pending in the Supreme Court.

Recent Legislative Developments:

  • Lok Sabha passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, and the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023.
  • The first bill increases the total Assembly seats from 107 to 114, with nine reserved for Scheduled Tribes, allowing the Lieutenant-Governor to make nominations.
  • The second bill replaces the term “weak and underprivileged classes (social castes)” with “Other Backward Classes” in the J&K Reservation Act, 2004.

Concerns and Criticisms:

  • Propriety questioned regarding the timing of legislative changes before the Supreme Court’s verdict on the constitutionality of Article 370 abrogation.
  • Lack of involvement of elected representatives raises concerns about decisions being presented as fait accompli to UT citizens.
  • The last five and a half years marked by suspension of political and civil liberties, arrests, communication shutdowns, media restrictions, and power cuts.

Recommendations:

  • Propose a restoration of the democratic process through popular elections in J&K.
  • Emphasize the importance of restoring Statehood to address citizens’ concerns and foster political engagement.
  • Highlight the need for a comprehensive approach to address longstanding issues contributing to separatism and militancy in the region.

3. Regulating deepfakes and AI in India

Topic: GS3 – Science and technology.

Introduction:

  • Deepfake technology, utilizing AI, raises concerns over its potential misuse, particularly in politics and the upcoming general elections.
  • Recent incidents involving political figures and celebrities in India highlight the need for legal frameworks to address deepfake-related crimes.

Instances of Deepfakes in Politics:

  • In 2020, AI-generated deepfakes of BJP leader Manoj Tiwari circulated before Delhi elections, influencing political narratives.
  • A recent deepfake video of Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kamal Nath caused confusion and stirred controversy.

Evolution of Deepfake Technology:

  • Deepfakes, born from AI and machine learning, blur the lines between reality and fiction, with applications in education, film, forensics, and art.
  • Originating from a Reddit user in 2017, deepfakes have become accessible to semi-skilled individuals, posing risks of exploitation and misinformation.

Legal Framework in India:

  • Existing laws lack specificity on deepfakes and AI-related crimes, relying on various legislations for civil and criminal relief.
  • Sections of the Information Technology Act, 2000, and the Indian Penal Code address privacy violations, obscenity, and cybercrimes associated with deepfakes.

Challenges and Lacunae:

  • The current legal framework faces criticism for not being designed for emerging technologies like AI.
  • Shehnaz Ahmed suggests a comprehensive regulatory approach based on a market study to assess harm caused by AI technology.
  • Concerns raised about the focus on post-uploading remedies and the need for preventive measures and awareness.

Government Response:

  • Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw acknowledges the deepfake crisis, announcing draft regulations for public consultation.
  • Minister of State Rajeev Chandrasekhar asserts existing laws are adequate, plans a special officer, and an online platform for reporting deepfake crimes.

Global Comparisons:

  • The U.S. and the EU have introduced executive orders and bills to manage AI risks, labeling requirements for deepfakes, and fines for non-compliance.

Future Considerations for India:

  • A comprehensive AI governance approach is necessary, focusing on safety standards, awareness, and institution building.
  • Regulatory responses should consider India’s context, balancing innovation and stringent measures, distinct from global counterparts.

Question: Examine the legal challenges surrounding deepfake technology in Indian politics. Discuss the current legislative framework and propose measures to address potential misuse.

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