The HINDU Notes – 25th February 2020 - VISION

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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The HINDU Notes – 25th February 2020

πŸ“° ASI likely to barricade stone chariot at Hampi

•The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is contemplating installing a wooden barricade around the stone chariot inside Vittala Temple complex at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hampi in a bid to protect it from vandalism.

πŸ“° ‘Most feared military equipment’ on offer

Defence deals worth around$3 billion to be signed today

•Defence sales and cooperation featured prominently in the speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Donald Trump at the “Namaste Trump” event in Ahmedabad on Monday. While announcing that defence deals worth around $3 billion would be signed during his visit, Mr. Trump offered a range of high-tech defence equipment to India.

•“As we continue to build our defence cooperation, the U.S. looks forward to providing India with some of the best and most feared military equipment on the planet. We make the greatest weapons ever made. Airplanes, missiles, rockets, ships.... we make the best and we’re dealing now with India. But this includes advanced air-defence systems and armed and unarmed aerial vehicles,” Mr. Trump said as Mr. Modi looked on.

•“Tomorrow our representatives will sign deals to sell over $3 billion in the absolute finest state-of-the-art military helicopters and other equipment to the Indian armed forces,” he said.

•The deals are for 24 MH-60R Multi-Role Helicopters for the Navy worth $2.2 billion and six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters for the Army worth $800 million. The other big ticket deals in the pipeline are for armed drones, an air defence system, MK-45 127mm naval guns and six more P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft among others. While these are at various stages of procurement, the U.S. State Department has recently notified the sale of an air defence system to Delhi in a deal worth $1.8 billion.

•As reported by The Hindu , the long pending proposal to procure armed Predator drones from the U.S. for the three Services is back on the table and the Qualitative Requirements (QR) are currently being finalised.

•Expressing his belief that the U.S. should be India’s “premier defence partner,” Mr. Trump said, “Together, we will defend our sovereignty, security and protect a free and open Indo-Pacific region for our children and for the generations to come.”

πŸ“° Dissenter not anti-national: SC judge

‘A party getting 51% mandate in polls doesn’t mean the 49% must remain silent’

•A dissenter is not an anti-national. Holding a contrary view to that of the government does not make one an anti-national, according to Supreme Court judge Justice Deepak Gupta.

•Justice Gupta made the observation during a lecture organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association on “Democracy and dissent” on Monday. His speech received a standing ovation.

Rise in sedition cases

•Justice Gupta red-flagged the hike in sedition cases against activists, lawyers and students and branding voices of dissent as “anti-national”. Expressing dissent to government’s policies did not amount to acting against the nation.

•“There have been many recent incidents where people dissenting have been slapped with terms like anti- national... Majoritarianism is an anti-thesis to democracy...,” he said.

•A political party getting 51% mandate in the polls did not mean the other 49% of the country ought to remain silent for the next five years. “A democracy is for 100% of the people. Government is for everyone. Everyone plays a role in democracy,” he noted.

•Justice Gupta’s words are significant against the background of protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in various parts of the country, most prominently at Shaheen Bagh in the national capital.

•His observations follow shortly after Justice Arun Mishra accoladed the “versatile genius” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “think globally and act locally” at an international judges conference on Saturday.

The right to protest

•Justice Gupta said governance did not mean carrying out the whims of a few, but following the rule of law. The government was not always right. Citizens had the right to come together, protest and dissent peacefully. “Dissent is a human right. A society will not evolve unless its rules are questioned. Dissent must be encouraged. It is only through discussion that we can strive to run the country better. The government has no right to stifle a protest unless it turns violent. Dissent, after all, was the essence of Civil Disobedience movement of Mahatma Gandhi... We are only a free country when there is freedom of speech,” Justice Gupta said.

•He highlighted how dissent had been a powerful tool in the hands of judges. He referred to how Justice H.R. Khanna sacrificed his Chief Justiceship to write his historic dissent championing the right to personal liberty in the ADM Jabalpur case.

πŸ“° Wuhan researchers call for expansive approach to testing SARS-CoV-2

Oral swab testing might not be enough to confirm status

•A paper published in a recent issue of the peer-reviewed, open-access journal ‘Emerging Microbes and Infections’ has cautioned that SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the COVID-19 outbreak, is being shed through multiple routes, so testing through oral swabs alone might not be sufficient.

•A paper by Wei Zhang, et al, all from the CAS Key laboratory of Special Pathogens at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, says investigations on patients in a local hospital infected with the virus revealed the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in anal swabs and blood as well. What’s more, more anal swabs than oral swabs tested positive at a later stage of infection. Since COVID-19 is believed to be a disease of the respiratory tract, usually only oral swabs are used for diagnosis, and discharge is based on the oral swabs testing negative. The anal positives suggested, they argued, shedding through the oral-fecal route, and therefore transmission is possible as well. The researchers also showed that a serology test (testing blood for antibodies) can improve detection positive rate, and thus should be used in future.

•As part of the research, samples - including oral swabs, anal swabs and blood - were collected by Wuhan Pulmonary Hospital. Two investigations were performed – the paper describes - In the first investigation, samples were taken from 39 patients, 7 of whom were in a ‘severe condition’. In the second investigation, samples were lifted from 139 patients, whose clinical records were not available.

•“When counting all swab positives together, we found most of the positives came from oral swab (8/10, 80%) on day 0. However, this trend appears to change on day 5. We found more (6/8, 75%) anal swab positive than oral swab positive (4/8, 50%),” the paper says. The data suggested a shift from more oral positives during early period to more anal positives during later period, it adds.

•“We show that the current strategy for the detection of viral RNA in oral swabs used for 2019-nCoV diagnosis is not perfect. The virus may be present in anal swabs or blood of patients when oral swabs detection negative,” the researchers say, indicating the possible gaps in current detection methods. “We detected the virus in oral swabs, anal swabs and blood, thus infected patients can potentially shed this pathogen through respiratory, fecal–oral or body fluid routes.”

•This observation implies that a patient cannot be discharged purely based on oral swabs testing negative, and the researchers go on to make a recommendation to do serological tests to confirm status.

πŸ“° Shun negativism, don’t encourage violence: Venkaiah Naidu

Venkaiah says the youth should study issues like CAA before forming opinion

•Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Monday urged the youth to shun negativism and not to encourage violence.

•Addressing a gathering at the 32nd annual convocation ceremony of Goa University, Mr. Naidu said the youth should “academically study” all issues, like the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), ban on triple talaq, and others, before forming their opinion.

•“I am happy that in recent times people are talking about the importance of the Constitution. It is, indeed, a positive sign and every citizen must follow the Constitution in letter and spirit,” he said.

•Also, everyone should follow constitutional methods to achieve their goals, the Vice President said. “We should not only be concerned about the fundamental rights, but also about duties. Rights and responsibilities must go together.”

•Mr. Naidu said the need of the hour is to channel the energies of youths in constructive, nation-building activities. “My advice to youth is to shun negativism and not to encourage violence. There is no place for violence in a democracy,” he said, without referring to any specific instance.

•Be constructive and not obstructive or disruptive. Develop a positive outlook, he said. “Some of our troubling neighbours are trying to advise us. They should not meddle in the internal happenings of our country.”

•“If you need to progress, then you need to have peace. We can’t have outside interference in India’s internal affairs. We are able to take care of ourselves, thank you,” the Vice President said.

•He also appealed to the youth to academically study issues like Article 370 (its scrapping in Jammu & Kashmir), ban on triple talaq, and the CAA before forming their opinion. “Don’t just rely on newspapers and headlines. Take a good advantage of social media.”

•Mr. Naidu also said climate change and global warming are two of the biggest challenges being faced by the world, and all nations have to step up their effort to protect the environment and reduce carbon footprint. “We need to ensure that man does not tamper with nature but learns to co-exist in harmony with nature for a greener, life-enhancing future.”

•Illiteracy, diseases, challenges in farm sector and social evils like atrocities on women and weaker sections, child labour, terrorism, communalism, and corruption have to be eradicated to build a new and resurgent India, Mr. Naidu said.

•He said it is true these challenges have to be fought in a concerted manner by all conscientious citizens, but he expects the youth to be in the forefront of this noble mission. “This is the time for all sections, particularly the youth, to be at the forefront of making India stronger on all fronts. Please remember that discipline, honesty and total commitment to hard work are essential prerequisites for success in any field, including public life.”

•The Vice President said people should always select and elect leaders on the basis of “four Cs of good conduct, character, capacity and calibre”, and not on the basis of the other four Cs — caste, community, cash and criminality.

πŸ“° Banks’ profitability remains fragile, says Das

Telecom sector poses challenge; overhang of non-performing assets remains relatively high

•While the Indian banking sector may be slowly turning around on the back of improvement in asset quality, its profitability remains fragile, Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das said.

•He also said that banks continued to face challenges like the present crisis in the telecom sector.

•“In terms of recent progress, the Indian banking sector is slowly turning around on the back of improvements in asset quality with enhanced resolutions through the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). Despite the recent decline in impaired assets and a significant improvement in provisioning, profitability of the banking sector remains fragile,” Mr. Das said at an event.

•He said the capital position of banks had improved on account of recapitalisation of public sector banks by the government and capital raising efforts by private sector banks.

•“Nevertheless, the sector continues to encounter challenges from events like those around the telecom sector,” he said.

•According to Mr. Das, the overhang of non-performing assets (NPAs) remains relatively high, which is weighing on credit growth. “Also, in view of subdued profitability and deleveraging by certain corporates, risk-averse banks have shifted their focus away from large infrastructure and industrial loans towards retail loans,” he said, adding that this diversification strategy, while helpful as a risk mitigation tool, had its own limitations. He also said sector-specific pockets of stress needed policy attention.

•“At the same time, proper due diligence and risk pricing in lending is of prime importance so that the health of the banking sector is not compromised while ensuring adequate flow of credit to productive sectors of the economy,” Mr. Das said.

•On the issue of resolution of asset quality, the RBI Governor expects to have an integrated framework for resolution of financial firms operating in India, in the near future.

•On consolidation in public sector banks, he said a properly worked out consolidation of PSBs can generate synergies in allocation of workforce and branches.

•“The focus has to be on ushering in significant improvements in efficiency and rationalisation of scarce capital to meet the capital adequacy requirements,” he said.

•As far as regulation of banks is concerned, he said the RBI was focussing on a sharper and more forward-looking off-site surveillance framework, apart from on-site supervision.

•On non-banking finance companies, he said recognising the systemic importance of such entities and their inter-linkages with the financial system, the RBI had taken steps and the asset-liability management (ALM) position and other aspects of top 50 NBFCs were being closely monitored, covering all NBFCs with asset size above Rs. 5,000 crore.

•The ALM of top 51-100 NBFCs is also being examined by the respective regional offices of the Reserve Bank, he added.

•He reiterated that the RBI would also issue draft guidelines on corporate governance in banks.

πŸ“° The unassailable keywords for the judiciary

India’s judges must remind themselves constantly of the need to uphold an independent, strong and respected judiciary

•Justice Arun Mishra’s public praise of the Prime Minister at a public forum on Saturday raises serious questions about the independence of the judiciary. What is more disturbing is that he was speaking at the inaugural session of the International Judicial Conference 2020, ‘Judiciary and the Changing World’. The damage his statement has caused is incalculable. The international judicial community must have been left aghast as far as the very independence of the Indian judiciary is concerned. Judges across India must be left bewildered wondering whether they should indulge in similar praises or not. One cannot forget that Justice Mishra is one of the seniormost judges of the Supreme Court of India and every word spoken by him may be taken seriously by those connected with the administration of justice.

•The Prime Minister himself applauded the Supreme Court by referring to some recent “critical judgments”, adding that 1.3 billion Indians wholeheartedly accepted the judicial verdicts. The Prime Minister’s claim certainly appears to be off the mark considering that large numbers have questioned these judgments.

•The Law Minister, who was also speaking at the inaugural session, himself took the opportunity to attack many of those who criticise the functioning of the judiciary and its judgments. The Executive and the Judiciary appear to be in tandem, something which was clearly not designed under the Constitution. Was the international conference a platform for these?

Reiterating independence

•In a 1981 judgment, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that “Judges should be stern stuff and tough fire, unbending before power, economic or political, and they must uphold the core principle of the rule of law which says: ‘Be you ever so high, the law is above you.’. This is the principle of independence of the judiciary which is vital for the establishment of real participatory democracy, maintenance of the rule of law as a dynamic concept and delivery of social justice to the vulnerable sections of the community. It is this principle of independence of the judiciary which we must keep in mind while interpreting the relevant provisions of the Constitution.”

•In the same judgment another learned judge holds, “...While the administration of justice draws its legal sanction from the Constitution, its credibility rests in the faith of the people. Indispensable to that faith is the independence of the judiciary... the framers of the Constitution took great pains to ensure that an even better and more effective judicial structure was incorporated in the Constitution, one which would meet the highest expectations of judicial independence....”

•That structure seems to be crumbling under its own weight.

•Later in 1993, another Constitution Bench in the Second Judges Appointment Case, declared: “It is obvious that only those persons should be considered fit for appointment as Judges of the superior judiciary who combine the attributes essential for making an able, independent and fearless judge. Several attributes together combine to constitute such a personality. Legal expertise, ability to handle cases, proper personal conduct and ethical behaviour, firmness and fearlessness are obvious essential attributes of a person suitable for appointment as a superior Judge.”

Standard of conduct

•Among the several attributes that have been prescribed of a judge is “proper personal conduct”.

•In a case in 1995, C. Ravichandran Iyer v. Justice A.M. Bhattacharjee & Ors. , the Supreme Court went to the extent of holding that for a judge, “the standard of conduct is higher than that expected of layman” and that “therefore the judge can ill-afford to seek shelter from the fallen standard in society”.

•It was also declared, “The Judges of higher echelons, therefore, should not be mere men of clay with all the frailties and foibles, human failings and weak character which may be found in those in other walks of life. They should be men of fighting faith with tough fibre not susceptible to any pressure, economic, political or any sort.”.

•It concluded, “In short, the behaviour of the Judge is the bastion for the people to reap the fruits of the democracy, liberty and justice and the antithesis rocks the bottom of the rule of law.”

•Ironically, Justice Mishra himself in a judgment in R. Muthukrishnan versus The Registrar General Of The High Court Of Judicature At Madras observes, “Judicial independence is a privilege of and protection for the people.”

•He holds, “Francis Bacon has said about the Judges that Judges ought to be more learned than witty, more reverend than plausible, and more advised than confident. Above all things, integrity is their potion and proper virtue. .... The balancing of values, reverence between the Bar and the Bench is the edifice of the independent judicial system. Time has come to restore the glory and cherish the time-tested enduring ideals and principles.”

•He also says, “Independent Bar and Independent Bench form the backbone of the democracy.” So why these remarks about the country’s leader?

Key judicial charter

•So, what can a citizen make out of this completely avoidable public praise by such a senior judge? Have those in positions of responsibility and even others who have publicly praised the Prime Minister in the recent past forgotten the Charter called “The Restatement of Values of Judicial Life”? This was adopted by the full Court, in 1997, to serve as a guide to be observed by the judges which, according to the charter, was “essential for an independent, strong and respected judiciary, indispensable in the impartial administration of justice”. The Charter is “a complete code of the canons of judicial ethics” and categorically declares among many others the following values: “6. A Judge should practise a degree of aloofness consistent with the dignity of his office” and “16. Every Judge must at all times be conscious that he is under the public gaze and there should be no act or omission by him which is unbecoming of the high office he occupies and the public esteem in which the office is held.” To my mind, both stand violated now.

•In a Constituent Assembly Debate, Professor K.T. Shah (Bihar) spoke of the dangers lying ahead on May 24, 1949: “In my opinion, Sir, if I may so with all respect, this Constitution concentrates so much power and influence in the hands of the Prime Minister in regard to the appointment of judges, ambassadors, or Governors to such an extent, that there is every danger to apprehend that the Prime Minister may become a Dictator if he chooses to do so. I think there are cases which ought to be removed from the political influence, of party manoeuvres. And here is one case, viz. Judges of the Supreme Court, who I think should be completely outside that influence.”

•He again said, “I have been trying to lay before the Houses viz., or keeping the Judiciary completely out of any temptation, and contact with the executive or the legislative side. Whether during his tenure of office... or even on retirement, I would suggest that there should be a constitutional prohibition against his employment in any executive office, so that no temptation should be available to a judge for greater emoluments, or greater prestige which would in any way affect his independence as a judge.”

•One thing is clear, the judiciary is fast eroding the hopes and aspirations of great men and women who sat in the Constituent Assembly debating and giving us the great document, the Constitution of India. Any correction, if at all, must come from within the judiciary. Will it? We the Citizens of India can only sit back and watch bemused and deeply disappointed.

πŸ“° Guns, gas and technology

As President Trump wraps up his two-day trip in India, the goal of $500 billion in two-way trade looks within sight

•U.S. President Donald Trump’s first official visit to India could lead to significant outcomes, as there have been regular and sustained engagements between Mr. Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of forums such as the G7, the G20, and the United Nations General Assembly.

•Today, the two countries are collaborating on issues ranging from maritime security to international terrorism, and have recently signed a number of agreements, including the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), to push the levels of strategic collaboration to wider fields. In the last few years, the U.S. has categorised India as a ‘Major Defense Partner’ and granted it the ‘Strategic Trade Authorisation-1’ status.

•Trade between the two countries has reached a new high. Total two-way trade flows increased to $142.3 billion in 2018, with 2019 figures estimated to be even higher, inclusive of India’s recent liquefied natural gas (LNG) and aircraft purchases. This is expected to go up further with India agreeing to buy naval helicopters from the U.S.

FDI from U.S.

•Steady inflows of capital from the U.S. attest to India’s attractiveness as an investment destination for American companies. The U.S. is the fifth-largest source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to India, with a cumulative capital stock of $28 billion. The presence of U.S. companies is found across diverse sectors of the Indian economy including defence and aviation, agriculture, health, education, and insurance. Preliminary findings from a recent CII survey indicate that nearly 86% of U.S. firms are ‘very bullish’ or ‘moderately bullish’ about India’s economic outlook, with approximately 73% of U.S. firms surveyed viewing India as a favourable investment destination and planning to invest more in the next 12 months.

•For their part, Indian companies are expanding their investments in the U.S. as well, with the CII’s data reflecting historic rates of investment and job creation, numbering over $18 billion and 1,13,000, respectively. Their investments in research and development as well as Corporate Social Responsibility activities are on the rise, and they are well-integrated with local communities and economies of many U.S. States. The goal of $500 billion in two-way trade is within sight. CII research suggests that in an improved trade scenario, this target could be reached as early as 2030. Businesses from both sides must come together to explore joint strategies and opportunities to resolve issues and facilitate further business. The two most promising sectors for future cooperation are energy and defence. In energy, India would continue to rely on U.S. liquefied natural gas of which it is already the sixth-largest buyer. Indian companies have invested $4 billion in the shale gas sector in the U.S. already. With four 
working groups set up for oil and gas, energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable development, the energy partnership is set to undergo a further jump.

•In the defence sector, India has built up its sourcing from the U.S. The recent 2+2 dialogue led to three agreements being inked under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative to co-develop and co-produce critical technologies. With India’s aspiration to invite FDI in its nascent defence production sector, U.S. companies will have good options for tie-ups with Indian businesses.

Partnerships in technology

•While these sectors will continue to dominate the India-U.S. bilateral relationship for the next few years, an aspirational knowledge economy can be envisioned as the way for partnerships ahead. Such an economy would be based on high-technology exports, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), electric vehicles, and other emerging sectors.

•More than 1,200 top global companies, including many from the U.S., have established research and product development centres in India, gaining from the competitive talent available here. As digital transformation becomes the new strategy for enterprises across the globe, Indian and U.S. companies can join hands to shape lives, businesses, and value propositions. Artificial intelligence is likely to dominate the business space in coming years, and India and the U.S. can drive this phenomenon with capacity building of both people and enterprises. Start-up collaborations between two of the most vibrant and dynamic new entrepreneurship hubs can be identified for areas such as agriculture, healthcare and education.

•The synergies between the world’s two largest democracies are vast and the visit of Mr. Trump is bound to create new interfaces.

πŸ“° The issues around data localisation

The contentious clauses on local data storage in the revised Personal Data Protection Bill need re-examination

•Among the many important laws that were introduced in the winter session of the Lok Sabha was the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill, 2019. The Bill was referred to a joint parliamentary committee, which is currently engaged in a process of public consultation.

•The draft law is a comprehensive piece of legislation that seeks to give individuals greater control over how their personal data is collected, stored and used. Once passed, the law promises a huge improvement on current Indian privacy law, which is both inadequate and improperly enforced.

•The PDP Bill, however, is not without its flaws. It has attracted criticism on various grounds such as the exceptions created for the state, the limited checks imposed on state surveillance, and regarding various deficiencies in the structures and processes of the proposed Data Protection Authority.

Data localisation in draft Bill

•One of the more contentious issues in the law Bill are the provisions pertaining to “data localisation”. The phrase, which can refer to any restrictions on cross-border transfer of data (for instance, requirements to seek permission for transfer, the imposition of taxes for foreign transfers of data, etc.), has largely come to refer to the need to physically locate data within the country.

•The PDP Bill enables the transfer of personal data outside India, with the sub-category of sensitive personal data having to be mirrored in the country (i.e. a copy will have to be kept in the country). Data processing/collecting entities will however be barred from transferring critical personal data (a category that the government can notify at a subsequent stage) outside the country.

•These provisions have been changed from the earlier version of the draft Bill, released by the Justice Srikrishna Committee in 2018. The 2018 draft imposed more stringent measures that required both personal and sensitive personal data to be mirrored in the country (subject to different conditions).

•The move to liberalise the provisions in the 2019 version of the Bill is undoubtedly welcome, particularly for businesses and users. Liberalised requirements will limit costs to business and ensure users have greater flexibility in choosing where to store their data. Prima facie, the changes in the 2019 draft reflect a more proportionate approach to the issue as they implement a tiered system for cross-border data transfer, ostensibly based on the sensitivity/vulnerability of the data. This seems in accord with the Supreme Court’s dicta in the 2017 Puttaswamy case, where the Court had made it clear that an interference in the fundamental right to privacy would only be permissible if inter alia deemed necessary and proportionate.

•However, on closer examination it appears that even the revised law may not actually stand the test of proportionality.

Purpose of localisation

•There are broadly three sets of arguments advanced in favour of imposing stringent data localisation norms: Sovereignty and government functions; referring to the need to recognise Indian data as a resource to be used to further national interest (economically and strategically), and to enable enforcement of Indian law and state functions. The second claim is that economic benefits will accrue to local industry in terms of creating local infrastructure, employment and contributions to the AI ecosystem. Finally, regarding the protection of civil liberties, the argument is that local hosting of data will enhance its privacy and security by ensuring Indian law applies to the data and users can access local remedies.

•But if data protection was required for these purposes, it would make sense to ensure that local copies were retained of all the categories of personal data provided for in the Bill (as was the case with the previous draft of the law). In the alternative, sectoral obligations would also suffice (as is currently the case with sectors such as digital payments data, certain types of telecom data, government data, etc.).

Protecting user privacy?

•In a 2018 working paper published by the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, we pointed at the fallacies in the assumption that data localisation will necessarily lead to better privacy protections. We note that the security of data is determined more by the technical measures, skills, cybersecurity protocols, etc. put in place rather than its mere location. Localisation may make it easier for domestic surveillance over citizens. However, it may also enable the better exercise of privacy rights by Indian citizens against any form of unauthorised access to data, including by foreign intelligence.

•Overall, the degree of protection afforded to data will depend on the effectiveness of the applicable data protection regime.

•We note that insofar as privacy is concerned, this could be equally protected through less intrusive, suitable and equally effective measures such as requirements for contractual conditions and using adequacy tests for the jurisdiction of transfer. Such conditions are already provided for in the PDP Bill as a set of secondary conditions (the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation too uses a similar framework).

•Further, the extra-territorial application of the PDP Bill also ensures that the data protection obligations under the law continue to exist even if the data is transferred outside the country.

•If privacy protection is the real consideration, individuals ought to be able to choose to store their data in any location which afford them the strongest privacy protections. Given the previously mentioned infirmities in the PDP Bill, it is arguable that data of Indians will continue to be more secure if stored and processed in the European Union or California (two jurisdictions which have strong data protection laws and advanced technical ecosystems).

•In the circumstances, it becomes important for the joint parliamentary committee currently examining the Bill to conduct a more in-depth evaluation of the localisation provisions in the law. The joint parliamentary committee ought to, ideally, identify the need, purpose and practicality of putting in place even the (relatively liberal) measures contained in the PDP Bill. Further, in order for localisation-related norms to bear fruit, either in terms of protecting citizen rights, enabling law enforcement access to data or enabling development of the local economy, there has to be broader thinking at the policy level. This may include for instance, reforming surveillance related laws, entering into more detailed and up-to-date mutual legal assistance treaties, enabling the development of sufficient digital infrastructure, and creating appropriate data-sharing policies that preserve privacy and other third party rights, while enabling data to be used for socially useful purposes.

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