News & Events
in this section, we are presenting our readers/aspirants compilation of selected editorials of national daily viz. The Hindu, The live mint,The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Economic Times, PIB etc. This section caters the requirement of Civil Services Mains (GS + Essay) , PCS, HAS Mains (GS + Essay) & others essay writing competition
1.No comments: On post-match conferences
Some questions at post-match conferences are insensitive, but a player boycott is no solution
At 23, Naomi Osaka has the tennis world at her feet. With four Grand Slam titles and now ranked second in the world, Osaka has tremendous brand equity. She also speaks her mind beyond sport, be it on racism or on her mixed lineage of being born to a Haitian father and Japanese mother while growing up in the United States. It looked as though the baton of success had passed from the great Serena Williams to Osaka. Yet, the Japanese star’s fresh halo suffered a dent with her media boycott in the current French Open at Paris. Shooting the messenger is a petulant attribute that crops up in politics, sport and the arts. Often these are impulsive reactions to a bad day at work. The odd tennis press conference was skipped in the past with Serena and Novak Djokovic being guilty of such violations. But what makes it worse for Osaka is her premeditated stance revealed through her message before the French Open: ‘I am not going to do any press during Roland Garros.’ She also juxtaposed her cold-shoulder of the media with mental-health issues, hinting that journalists tend to exacerbate the fragile minds of athletes, especially those who lost a match. In one fell swoop, Osaka ignored nuance, dished out a lame excuse and trivialised the serious issue of mental health.
In a universe where athletes prefer social-media posts over media interactions, the official press-conference is the last remaining avenue for probing questions that elicit insightful answers. Player-journalist interactions are the only substitute for source-based inferences that colour the narrative. Closer home, M.S. Dhoni revealed his international retirement through Instagram and lapsed into silence. Sports bodies have sensed this diffidence and in the cricket World Cup or a Grand Slam event, the post-match press-conference is a contractual obligation. In this era of click-bait headlines, it is not that all Fourth Estate members are perceptive. There have been instances of the odd insensitive question but the athlete can always offer a counter or stick to a ‘no-comments’ response. Osaka deciding to constantly pay a fine for not honouring her media commitments at the French Open has set a terrible precedent and it is fitting that the consortium of Grand Slams have hinted at harsher measures including ejecting her from the tournament. Besides excellence on the turf, commerce off the field equally drives sport. Corporate sponsors, who get some play through advertorial material as background screen in press-conferences, are obviously aggrieved. Legends such as Rafael Nadal have also spoken about how sport evolves through the symbiosis between athletes and the media. It is a pity that Osaka has suddenly turned blind to this reality.
2.Ending encryption: On enforcing traceability on popular messaging apps
Enforcing traceability on popular messaging apps will encroach into user privacy
Barely a day before the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 came into force, WhatsApp moved the Delhi High Court against the rules — specifically the one that mandates that a “significant social media intermediary providing services primarily in the nature of messaging shall enable the identification of the first originator of the information on its computer resource as may be required by a judicial order”. Given the specification that a “significant social media intermediary” is one with more than 50 lakh registered users, WhatsApp’s messenger service would clearly be affected. WhatsApp’s contention is that for compliance and traceability, it would have to break its end-to-end encryption service that allows messages to be read only by the sender and the receiver. Its argument is that the encryption feature allows for privacy protections and breaking it would mean a violation of privacy. The question to be asked is whether the traceability guidelines (by breaking encryption) are vital to law enforcement in cases of harmful content. A release by the Ministry of Electronics and IT has said that the traceability measure will be used by law enforcement as the “last resort” and will come by only in specific situations, such as “for the purposes of prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or punishment of an offence related to the sovereignty and integrity of India… or child sexual abuse material, punishable with imprisonment….” The assertion suggests that this requirement is in line with the Puttaswamy judgment that clarified that any restriction to the right of privacy must be necessary, proportionate and include safeguards against abuse.
But the Government, as the law stands now, can already seek access to encrypted data under Section 69(3) of the IT Act, and Rules 17 and 13 of the 2009 Surveillance Rules that require intermediaries to assist with decryption when they have the technical ability to do so and when law enforcement has no other alternative. Besides, it can still seek unencrypted data, metadata and digital trails from intermediaries such as WhatsApp. The trouble with enforcing traceability is that without safeguards such as having any independent or judicial oversight, government agencies could seek any user’s identity on vague grounds and this could compromise the anonymity of whistle-blowers and journalistic sources, who can claim to be acting in the public interest. WhatsApp’s contention that “requiring messaging apps to ‘trace’ chats is the equivalent of asking us to keep a fingerprint of every single message sent… and fundamentally undermines right to privacy” is, therefore, not hyperbole. If anything, the Government needs to revisit its position on traceability commitments of intermediaries and instead revise the IT Act, 2000 in line with existing global best practices besides legislating the long-pending Data Protection Bill.
3.Rescue the steel frame: Bengal episode underlines how bitter political fights dent an already weakened bureaucracy
Bengal chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay’s sudden recall to Delhi is the product of a bitter BJP-TMC fight with a worrying larger message – the bureaucracy’s increasing vulnerability to political headwinds. Let’s be clear about the rules, first. Centre and states normally follow a consultative process on officers’ central deputations. The rules require state government’s “concurrence” in deputing IAS officers to serve under central government. But in case of “disagreement”, the state must “give effect” to Centre’s decision. This being the statutory position, Bandyopadhyay and the state government have few options realistically. But that’s not the end of this story.
Look at how politically charged the situation is, and therefore how much stress it puts on officers. Reports suggest Centre was unhappy that Bengal CM Banerjee and Bandyopadhyay left a meeting chaired by PM Modi to review cyclone damage and relief efforts. She was apparently unhappy that her political bete noire Suvendu Adhikari was at the meeting. The Bengal CM hasn’t clarified whether Bandyopadhyay sought her permission to continue in the meeting. But the fact is, by service rules, he also reports to the PM. Mamata claims the PM allowed both of them to leave. But the central “disciplinary” action against the IAS officer suggests otherwise. Many variants of such a drama may play out as politics becomes increasingly abrasive. What does that do to the morale and efficacy of the men and women whose job is to administer a vast, complex country?
IAS and IPS officers serve their elected political masters. But they should not be expected to serve the politics of their masters. That’s the red line that should not be crossed, but sadly is crossed with increasing impunity, by both politicians, and even more sadly, by more than a few bureaucrats. The brutal truth is that an officer who has to navigate the treacherous waters of bitterly antagonistic politics is an officer afraid to take the right administrative call. The cumulative effect of a timorous and politically-buffeted bureaucracy has already cost India. The Bandyopadhyay episode reminds us that cost can go up manifold.
Centre-state standoffs are particularly hard on IAS-IPS officers because of the duality governing their postings. The political executive at Centre and states must therefore, no matter how bitter their political fight, never abandon the consultative process. Sardar Patel’s steel frame now has the look of a battered tin frame. It’s the responsibility of every politician to change that.
4.Booster required: FY21 growth is better than expected; but extra GoI spend needed for FY22
Gross domestic product for 2020-21 shrank by 7.3% to Rs 135.12 lakh crore. India’s first annual economic contraction was forecast but it was not as dire as initially expected. In a year short of positive news, the economy’s resilience is a silver lining. The pullback which began in the October-December quarter gained momentum in the subsequent three months. In the January-March quarter, GDP expanded 1.6% to Rs 35.19 lakh crore.
The better than expected headline does not conceal the scale of the challenge ahead. The 2020-21 GDP numbers will undergo revisions for three years as data on smaller firms and informal sector come in. Typically, economic shocks tend to have a relatively more severe impact on these segments. To an extent, their lingering problems show up in the overall private consumption data. Private consumption for 2020-21 was Rs 75.6 lakh crore, a level that is lower than what was recorded two years ago. It remains the biggest component of GDP, contributing 56%. Unless consumption demand picks up there is a danger that the recovery will run out of steam.
The push in the last quarter came from government spending, which also drove growth in fixed investment. Investment was Rs 13.38 lakh crore, higher by 10.85%. Looking ahead, a lot will depend on the pace of opening up. Given the virulence of the second wave and the fear of another surge, the opening up this time will not be smooth. Unlike last year, it will be in fits and starts as both state governments and people are fearful. The worst hit in this scenario will be the service sector which is both contact intensive and a big provider of jobs. The second wave has completely altered the economic scenario, and the economy is now even more in need of strong fiscal support.
5.The battle in Bengal persists
The dispute between the Centre and the West Bengal government — with the former recalling the state chief secretary, Alapan Bandyopadhyay, with immediate effect and the state challenging the decision — is an outcome of four features. The first is political. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have just emerged from a bitter electoral battle. The BJP’s shock at the loss, and its decision to go on the offensive from day one, has translated into the pursuit of corruption cases against TMC leaders and an over-interventionist governor. The TMC’s complicity in post-poll violence and chief minister (CM) Mamata Banerjee’s assessment that she could be the leader of an anti- BJP front has seen the TMC double down. There is both trust deficit and political competition at play.
The second element is the politics of natural disaster management. It was Ms Banerjee’s absence from a meeting called by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi on cyclone Yaas and her perceived lack of courtesy which triggered the new conflict. The CM said she met and took permission from the PM to leave, and has instead attacked the Centre for politicising the cyclone, by inviting leader of opposition (and her bête noire) Suvendu Adhikari to the meeting. The allegations have their roots in 2020 — the BJP made the issue of corruption in post-Amphan relief a key element of its campaign and believes it may have another opportunity to corner the government. The TMC is on its guard; it wants greater central funds, but also wants to insulate relief efforts from any BJP imprint.