Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
- Sri Lanka’s prospects with RCEP in India’s absence
The issue in news
Recently, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed by China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand along with 10 members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) that include Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines.
- While it is not clear if India is considering joining the China-led Regional Cooperation Economic Partnership, Sri Lanka seems open to the idea.
- The article analyses Sri Lanka’s prospects with RCEP in India’s absence.
- According to economists, Sri Lanka’s growing emphasis on tapping the emerging Asian market would make the RCEP agreement seem an ideal forum to build trade ties in the region, but given its current economic challenges and India’s decision to opt out of the grouping, the road is not smooth for Sri Lanka.
- While it is opined that its strategic location in the Indian Ocean along one of the busiest shipping routes in the world is an advantage, there is a need for the [southern] Hambantota and Colombo Ports to be developed, together with the airports in order to be a centre in the international commercial processes.
- Sri Lanka’s government is prioritising the development of the China-backed $1.4 billion Colombo Port City as a hub for international business and investment.
- Sri Lanka’s State Minister of Regional Co-operation has asserted that the country is pro-trade and will explore all multilateral arrangements, including the RCEP.
- According to experts, if India was to eventually become a member of RCEP, there could be a boost to Sino-Indian economic relations within a rules-based framework that could potentially reduce bilateral tensions.
In Sri Lanka, the government’s position on Free Trade Agreements (FTA) has not been consistent.
The progress on the proposed Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) with India is stalled.
The government is also re-examining the FTA signed with Singapore.
However, it has expressed interest to revive FTA negotiations with China.
Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
- Digital India
The issue in news
At the Bengaluru Tech Summit 2020, the Prime Minister of India has asserted that ‘technology first’ is India’s governance model.
- Digital India mission was launched in India in 2015.
- The Digital India mission is not being seen as any regular government initiative and has become a way of life, especially for the poor and marginalised and those in the government.
- The PM called on the youth to play a big role in devising robust cybersecurity solutions.
- Addressing the summit, the Australian Prime Minister said India and Australia had unlimited possibilities of working together in space research, critical minerals, 5G, Artificial Intelligence, quantum computing and much more.
- The two countries are working together for an open, free, safe and secure Internet.
- Australia’s PM said that Australia-India cyber and critical technologies partnership grant programme would be soon launched.
- They have already signed the landmark Australia-India Technology Framework agreement on cyber and cyber-enabled technology.
- Australia believes that technology held the key to new science, medical research, reduction of carbon emission and tackling of global climate change, and it was now at the forefront of foreign policy, security and defence.
- Terror funding: Saeed gets 10 years in jail
The issue in news
Hafiz Saeed – the chief of Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Mumbai terror attack mastermind has been sentenced to 10 years in jail by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan in two more terror financing cases.
- Saeed and his two close aides (Zafar Iqbal and Yahya Mujahid) have been sentenced to 10 and a half years each, while the chief’s brother-in-law Abdul Rehman Makki was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.
- The sentencing comes weeks after the Paris-based global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog — the Financial Action Task Force — retained Pakistan on its grey list till February 2021. Pakistan has failed to fulfil FATF’s six key obligations, including failure to take action against two of India’s most wanted terrorists — Saeed and Maulana Masood Azhar.
- Earlier, Hafiz Saeed was sentenced to jail in Pakistan for five-and-a-half years on terror finance charges.
- Making India a large data economy
The issue in news
The Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology said that, as a precursor to the government’s plans to cultivate India as a large data economy, the country will have its Data Protection Law in place.
- He asserted that data would drive the digital economy and international commerce, and that it offered ‘a great opportunity for India to emerge as a data economy’, supported by innovation and data refining.
Personal Data Protection Bill 2019.
The Bill seeks to provide for the protection of personal data of individuals.
- The Bill governs the processing of personal data by:
- Companies incorporated in India
- Foreign companies dealing with personal data of individuals in India
- Obligations of data fiduciary: Personal data can be processed only for a specific, clear and lawful purpose. Additionally, all data fiduciaries must undertake certain transparency and accountability measures such as:
- Implementing security safeguards (such as data encryption and preventing misuse of data), and
- Instituting Grievance Redressal Mechanisms to address complaints of individuals. They must also institute mechanisms for age verification and parental consent when processing sensitive personal data of children.
- Rights of the individual
- Seek correction of inaccurate, incomplete, or out-of-date personal data.
- Have personal data transferred to any other data fiduciary in certain circumstances.
- Restrict continuing disclosure of their personal data by a fiduciary, if it is no longer necessary or consent is withdrawn.
- Grounds for processing personal data: The Bill allows the processing of data by fiduciaries only if consent is provided by the individual. However, in certain circumstances, personal data can be processed without consent. These include:
- If required by the State for providing benefits to the individual,
- Legal proceedings,
- To respond to a medical emergency.
The central government can exempt any of its agencies from the provisions of the Act:
- In the interest of the security of the state, public order, sovereignty and integrity of India and friendly relations with foreign states, and
- For preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence (i.e. arrest without warrant).
- Processing or transferring personal data in violation of the Bill is punishable with a fine of Rs 15 crore or 4% of the annual turnover of the fiduciary, whichever is higher, and
- Failure to conduct a data audit is punishable with a fine of five crore rupees or 2% of the annual turnover of the fiduciary, whichever is higher