Editorial Simplified: Short on Nuance | GS – III

Relevance: GS Paper III (Science & Technology)

Why has this issue cropped up?

B N Srikrishna committee’s draft data protection bill is expected to be tabled soon in Parliament.

Pros of the committee

  • The committee’s inclusive functioning style and seeking a public opinion at all stages are commendable.
  • Its recommendations pertaining to user-centric design, setting up of an independent data protection authority, regulating the government along with the private sector and a new law for intelligence gathering for national security are steps in the right direction.
  • Also welcome is the suggestion that the Aadhaar Act requires several modifications and provisions for regulatory oversight.
  • So is the recognition the committee has accorded to data portability.

Cons of the committee

  • It has suggested that the UIDAI be both the data fiduciary and the regulator for Aadhaar.
  • There is also the suggestion that even though personal data can be transferred outside India, data fiduciaries will be required to store a local copy.
  • The committee’s cliched vocabulary and superficial treatment of several important issues are the most disappointing. For example, the concepts of fair and reasonable processing, purpose and collection limitation, notice and consent, data quality and data storage limitation are not new. They have largely failed to prevent identity thefts, unethical profiling and other privacy violations.
  • The committee does discuss artificial intelligence and big-data analytics but fails to define clear-cut guidelines for their safe use. It ends up vaguely suggesting that no processing of personal data should result in taking decisions about a person without consent, but does not provide guidelines about enforcement.
  • It does not appear that the committee has carefully evaluated the data processing requirements of the diverse private sector, spanning healthcare, insurance, social media and e-commerce, and how these requirements may infringe upon privacy.

Way forward

  • A data protection framework is incomplete without an investigation of the nuances of digital identity, and guidelines for the various use cases of authentication, authorisation and accounting.
  • It is also incomplete without an analysis of the extent to which personal information needs to be revealed for conducting businesses, and during eKYC processes.
  • In addition, effective protection requires an understanding of the possible pathways of information leaks, comprehending the limits of anonymisation with provable guarantees against re-identification attacks and a knowledge of the various possibilities with virtual identities.
  • Also required is an analysis of the possibilities of privacy preserving tools, techniques and protocols from computer science including hash functions, symmetric and public key cryptography, etc.
  • Most theories for improving state efficiency in the delivery of welfare and health services using personal data will have to consider improved data processing methods for targeting, epidemiology, econometrics, tax compliance, corruption control, analytics, and topic discovery.
  • This, in turn, will require digitisation, surveillance and processing of large-scale personal transactional data. Acquisition, storage and processing of personal health data will be crucial to such systems.
  • There should be detailed analyses of how such surveillance — targeted towards improving efficiency of the state’s service delivery — can be achieved without enabling undesirable mass surveillance that may threaten civil liberty and democracy.
  • The committee needs to balance the seemingly conflicting requirements of individual privacy and the benefits of large-scale data processing, and it is not obvious that a trade-off is inevitable.
  • A data protection framework is incomplete without defining the requirements and standards of access control, and protection against both external and insider attacks in large data establishments, both technically and legally.
  • The computer science sub-areas of security and automatic verification will certainly have a lot to offer.
  • Civil society can play a crucial role as it’s participation in discussions on data protection has been exemplary, especially in the wake of the Aadhaar debates and privacy judgment.


Essential Facts (Prelims): 7 December, 2018

Inland Waterways

  • Kolkata-Patna is India’s new IWT origin-destination pair for containerised cargo movement on the National Waterway-1.
  • The Ministry of Shipping is developing NW-1 (River Ganga) under Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) from Haldia to Varanasi (1390 Km) with the technical and financial assistance of the World Bank.
  • The project would enable commercial navigation of vessels with capacity of 1500-2,000 DWT.

Freight village

  • The Ministry of Shipping has approved the development of a freight village in Varanasi adjoining the Inland Waterways Terminal on River Ganga.
  • The Varanasi freight village will be developed by the Inland Waterways Authority of India .
  • It will serve as a cargo hub, and a centre for aggregation and value addition. It will also provide support to stimulate development of a professional logistics industry in Varanasi.
  • A freight village is a designated area where facilities for various modes of transportation, distribution of goods and other logistics are available in a synchronized manner on a large scale.
  • The main function of freight villages is management and utilization of various modes of transport, synergizing them and decongesting the existing mode of transportation.
  • Freight villages are basically cargo aggregators which offer various logistic choices to a shipper/ cargo owner; i.e. choice of rail-road; rail-waterway; road-waterway. The choice is based on the optimal/ lowest logistic cost that can be derived by the shipper/ cargo owner.
  • Delivery and coordination of various freight related activities under one roof ensures ease of doing business and makes it possible to realize high truck capacity due to which economic efficiency and activity of the enterprises on site can be improved
  • Varanasi has found to be a suitable site for the freight village. The city is located strategically and is a focal point in the logistics chain of Eastern Transport Corridor of India where the National Waterways-1, Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC), National Highway-7 and National Highway-2 pass through.


  • Exercise Hand-in-Hand is conducted annually as part of military diplomacy and interaction between armies of India and China.
  • The joint exercise for the year 2018 will be conducted from 10 to 23 December 2018 at Chengdu, China.

Agri export

  • Gov approved the Agriculture Export Policy, aimed at increasing India’s exports to $60 billion by 2022 from the current $37 billion.
  • The objectives of the policy are, apart from doubling farmers’ income, to diversify the export basket and destinations, and to boost high-value and value-added exports, with a focus on perishables.
  • Export curbs include the imposition of minimum export price, quantitative limit on shipment, export duty and an outright ban.
  • The government had imposed a ban on exports of wheat in 2007 and on non-basmati rice in 2008 before lifting it in 2011.
  • It has resorted to curbs on onion exports almost every year and periodically slapped restriction on cotton and sugar exports as well.
  • A ban on exports of key pulses and oilseeds was in effect for a long time.

Air Pollution

  • 26% of global premature death and disease burden by air pollution occurs in India.
  • India, with 18% of the world’s population, has a disproportionately high 26% of the global premature deaths and disease burden due to air pollution.
  • Moreover, one in eight deaths in India was attributable to air pollution in India in 2017, making it a leading risk factor for death.
  • 12.4 lakh deaths in India in 2017 were due to air pollution, which included 6.7 lakh deaths due to outdoor particulate matter air pollution and 4.8 lakh deaths due to household air pollution. Over half of the deaths due to air pollution were in persons less than 70 years of age.
  • Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), attributable to air pollution in India in 2017 for major non-communicable diseases were at least as high as those attributable to tobacco use.

COP 24

  • Nearly 200 countries are taking part in COP24, or the Katowice Climate Change Conference, that began earlier this week as the UN’s follow-up to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.


  • Current Account Deficit ( CAD) is the difference between the inflow and outflow of foreign currency.
  • Being a major oil importer, rising oil prices meant for India more foreign exchange leaving the country.
  • But some of this pressure has eased with oil prices falling over the last two months and the rupee strengthening against the dollar.
  • The CAD was 1.9% of GDP in the financial year 2017-18 and 0.6% in the year before that. It stood at 2.4% in the first quarter of this financial year.

Crude import bill

  • India has signed an agreement with Iran to pay for crude oil it imports from the Persian Gulf nation in rupees.
  • Indian refiners will make rupee payments in a UCO Bank account of the National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC). Half of these funds would be earmarked for settling payments for exports of Indian goods to Iran.
  • Under US sanctions, India can export foodgrains, medicines and medical devices to Iran. India had won the exemption after it agreed to cut imports and escrow payments.
  • Under the 180-day exemption, India is allowed to import a maximum of 300,000 barrels a day of crude oil.
  • India is the second biggest purchaser of Iranian oil after China. Iran is its third largest supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia and meets about 10 per cent of total needs.
  • Prior to this, India paid its third largest oil supplier in euros using European banking channels. These channels got blocked from November.
  • Iranian oil is a lucrative buy for refiners as Iran provides 60 days of credit for purchases, terms not available from suppliers of substitute crudes — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Nigeria and the US.


CSE-2019 | Prelims Daily Quiz 57


With reference to the electoral bond scheme, which of the following statements is/are True?

1. The electoral bonds can be issued by the State Bank of India only.

2. One can buy an electoral bond of Rs 500.

3. One can buy an electoral bond of Rs 1 crore.


Select the correct answer using the code given below:

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 2 and 3 only

c) 1 and 3 only

d) 1, 2 and 3

c) 1 and 3 only

  • The bonds will be issued in multiples of ₹1,000, ₹10,000, ₹1 lakh, ₹10 lakh and ₹1 crore and will be available at specified branches of State Bank of India.