Right to Access Information (Right to Freedom of Expression)

#GS2 #GS3 #Constitution #InternalSecurity

The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Friday restored high-speed mobile Internet, which was cut since August 5, 2019, when the Centre ended its special status.

Necessity of 4G network in the valley: 

  • High-speed internet services are necessary to give access to medical fraternity and patients to avail latest information, advisories, and guidelines.
  • To enable online classes in the wake of continuing lockdown protocols, 4G network is very much necessary. It will also let people to work from home.
  • Slow internet has also adversely affected businesses dependent on online platforms. Lifting the ban would be beneficial for people engaged in commercial activities dependent on high-speed internet like e-commerce, travel bookings, filing of GST and income tax returns etc.             

Challenges to National Security 

  • As a result of cross-border terrorism issues across the Pakistan border, infiltration is a main concern. 
  • High-speed internet has huge potential of spreading misinformation, fake news. Larger data files like audio/video files are used by terror outfits for propaganda. This could lead to incitement of violence and aid in planning attacks.        

Legal procedure to suspend Internet services

  • There are three laws that enable suspension of Internet services: 
    • The Information Technology Act, 2000, 
    • The Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973 
    • Telegraph Act, 1885 
  • Initially, under section 144 of the CrPC, internet suspension orders were issued 
  • In 2017, Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Service) Rules were notified under the Telegraph Act to govern suspension of Internet. 
  • Section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act empowers these rules. It contains provisions related to interception of messages in the “interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India”.

Anuradha Bhasin vs Union of India (2020)

  • The verdict given by the Supreme Court has stated that the freedom of speech and expression and the freedom to practice any profession or carry on any trade, business or occupation over the medium of Internet is protected under Article 19(1)(a) and Article 19(1)(g) respectively.
  • But, such freedom is not absolute since there are reasonable restrictions mentioned under Article 19(2) and Article 19(6) of the Constitution.
  • The Supreme Court has also directed authorities to only pass internet suspension orders in those areas, where there is absolute necessity of such restrictions to be imposed.

Article 19

  • The Indian Constitution guarantees its citizens the freedom of speech and expression. It is mentioned in Article 19(1)(a). 
  • This includes words of mouth, writings, graphical representation, videography, posters etc.
  • Article 19 provides the right to communicate, print and advertise the information, including commercial as well as artistic speech and expression.
  • This right is inclusive of the right to access information as others should not be prevented from knowing/listening. Hence, Right to Information (RTI) is a fundamental right.
  • Restrictions on the freedom of speech of any citizen by action or inaction of the state pertains to failure of the State. This accounts to the violation of fundamental right.
  • The right to speech also includes the right not to speak.
  • The Supreme Court of India has held that participation in sports is an expression of one’s self and hence, is a form of freedom of speech.
  • In 2004, the SC held that hoisting the national flag is also a form of this freedom.
  • Freedom of the press is also intrinsic to this Article.

There exist reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2), under certain conditions: 

  1. sovereignty & integrity of India 
  2. the security of the State 
  3. friendly relations with foreign States 
  4. public order 
  5. decency or morality 
  6. in relation to contempt of court 
  7. defamation 
  8. incitement to an offence.



Right to Privacy

#GS #Constitution #Governance

Amid concerns over the Parivar Pehchan Patra scheme, the Haryana govt. says enrolment is voluntary. But residents have little choice as delivery of even birth and death certificates is linked to it. 

Importance of Right to Privacy

  • Privacy is necessary for freedom of speech and expression to sustain. Under surveillance, people will not have the privilege to criticise authority due to fear of state action.
  • Data surveillance can result in censorship regime. 
  • Dissent could be suppressed. 
  • Journalists, Activists, Human Rights Organisations, NGOs etc. can be controlled by the state too.
  • People who are leading a lifestyle which is different from the mainstream, and deemed to be taboo by a certain section of the society might be vilified or targeted. For example, the queer community could be targeted. 
  • Surveillance by Police might put civil liberties at serious risk. 
  • Many law enforcement officials across the world are accused of unauthorised data collection, data mining to predict travel plans etc. to put citizen’s reputation at risk. 
  • Private details like travel details, shopping history, financial details etc are used to create online granular profiles which are then sometimes used to spread specifically crafted fake news. This has increased the potency of fake news in the country.
  • European Union (EU) has become a model for the world by framing the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) rules that protects right to privacy. This includes right to be forgotten too. 
  • In its previous judgements too, the Supreme Court of India has also asserted the need for a right to reputation. The society must be mature enough to understand in order to preserve reputations privacy is crucial.

Article 21

  • In the Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) vs Union of India Case, the Supreme Court of India stated that the right to privacy is protected as a fundamental constitutional right, it is an intrinsic part of life and liberty under Articles 21 of the Constitution of India. 
  • It held that privacy is a natural right that inheres in all-natural persons, and that the right may be restricted only by state action that passes each of the three tests:
  1. Such state action must have a legislative mandate;
  2. It must be pursuing a legitimate state purpose; 
  3. It must be proportionate i.e., such state action — both in its nature and extent, must be necessary in a democratic society and the action ought to be the least intrusive of the available alternatives to accomplish the ends.



Civil War in Yemen

#GS2 #InternationalRelations

U.S President, Mr. Biden announced the end of U.S. support to the Saudi-led war in Yemen. 

Yemen Crisis:

  • The conflict can be traced back to the Arab Spring of 2011. The uprising forced the country’s autocratic president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to transfer authority to Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, his deputy.
  • President Hadi found it difficult to deal with different issues like militant attacks, corruption, scarcity of food, and a legacy of military loyalty to Saleh.
  • Conflict arose in 2014 when the Houthi Shia Muslim rebel movement seized the northern Saada province and surrounding areas.
  • The Houthis, a group of Zaidi Shia Muslims whose ancestors had a kingdom in this region for around 1,000 years capitalised on the widespread anger against President Hadi's decision to postpone long-awaited elections and his ineffective negotiations over a new constitution, to protest against the government.
  • They marched from their stronghold of Saada province to the capital Sanaa and surrounded the presidential palace, placing Hadi under house arrest, forcing Mr Hadi into exile abroad.
  • The conflict intensified in 2015, when Saudi Arabia along with other Sunni Arab states, supported by the US, UK, and France, began air strikes against the Houthis, with the objective to restore Mr Hadi’s government. 

Iran’s involment – support to Houthis:

  • The Saudi-led coalition anticipated the entry of its rival state Iran (Shia majority) in the Yemen crisis. 
  • Saudi Arabia alleges Iran’s involvement in providing the Houthis with weapons and logistical support. Iran outrightly denies these allegations.
  • The Houthis broke with Saleh and he was killed by Houthi fighters in December 2017.
  • On the anti-Houthi side, militias include separatists seeking independence for south Yemen and factions who oppose the idea.

Consequences of Yemen Instability:

  • According to the UN, humanitarian crisis is of concern, with at least 8.4 million people at risk of starvation and 22.2 million people – 75% of the population – in need of humanitarian assistance.
  • Severe acute malnutrition is threatening the lives of almost 400,000 children under the age of five.
  • Yemen’s health system has all but collapsed, while the world’s largest cholera outbreak has killed thousands.
  • In June 2018, Saudi-backed government forces began an assault on the key rebel-held port of Hudaydah, the entry point for the vast majority of aid going into Yemen and a lifeline for the starving.
  • Aid agencies warned the offensive could make Yemen’s humanitarian catastrophe much worse.



Inflation & Cash Reserve Ratio

#GS3 #Economy

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday said it would retain an accommodative policy stance into the next financial year to help revive growth on a durable basis even as it held interest rates and vowed to ensure inflation remains within target.
  • The RBI also lowered its projection for retail inflation for the current quarter and announced that it would gradually restore the Cash Reserve Ratio


  • Inflation refers to the increase in the average prices of goods and services for a longer duration in the economy. 
  • The effect of inflation is observed over a large basket of goods. 
  • As a result of inflation, the value of money is reduced. It means that the purchasing power of money is reduced.

Monetary Policy

  • Monetary Policy is the process of regulating the supply of money in an economy by the monetary authority of the country. 
  • The Reserve Bank of India is authorised to make monetary policy under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. 

Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR)

  • CRR is an important tool of the Monetary Policy. A specific CRR is provided to each commercial bank in India by the RBI.
  •  CRR is a specific part of the total deposit that is held as a reserve by the commercial banks and is mandated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). 
  • This specific amount is held as a reserve in the form of cash or cash equivalent which is stored in the bank’s vault or is sent to the RBI. 
  • Cash Reserve Ratio in India is decided by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) under the periodic Monetary and Credit Policy. 
  • If the CRR is low, the liquidity with the bank increases, which in turn goes into investment and lending and vice-versa. 
  • Higher CRR creates a negative impact on the economy and also lowers the availability of loanable funds. As a result, it slows down the investment and reduces the supply of money in the economy.
  • CRR ensures that the banks do not run out of money. RBI can set the cash reserve ratio between 3% and 15%.




Tribes India Aadi Mahotsav

#GS1 #GS2 #IndianSociety #Governance

  • The Aadi Mahotsav- A Celebration of the Spirit of Tribal Crafts, Culture and Commerce is on at Dilli Haat, INA, New Delhi. 
  • The fest has some interesting events, with a fashion show being organised showcasing traditional handicraft artisan Ms. Ruma Devi and renowned designer Ms. Rina Dhaka’s creations.
  • The Aadi Mahotsav is an annual event that was started in 2017. The festival is an attempt to familiarise people with the rich and diverse craft, culture of tribal communities across the country, at one place. However, due to the pandemic, the 2020 edition of the festival could not be held.
  • The fortnight-long festival features the exhibition-cum-sale of tribal handicrafts, art, paintings, fabric, jewellery and much more through 200 stalls to showcase this.  About 1000 tribal artisans and artists from across the country are participating in the festival.
  • Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) under the M/o Tribal Affairs, as the nodal agency working towards tribal empowerment, has been putting in place several initiatives that help in improving the income and livelihood of the tribal people, while preserving their way of life and tradition. 
  • The Aadi Mahotsav is one such initiative that helps enable the economic welfare of these communities and bring them closer towards mainstream development.



National Skill Development Fund

#GS2 #Governance

  • The National Skill Development Fund (NSDF) has been helpful in increasing skilling of youth, enabling increased employment opportunities for them. 
  • NSDF meets its objectives through National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), which is an industry led ‘Not For Profit Company’ set up for building skill development capacity and forging strong linkages with the market. 
  • The National Skill Development Fund was set up in 2009 by the Government of India for raising funds both from Government and Non-Government sectors for skill development in the country.
  • The Fund is contributed by various Government sources, and other donors/ contributors to enhance, stimulate and develop the skills of Indian youth by various sector specific programs.
  • A public Trust set up by the Government of India is the custodian of the Fund. The Trust accepts donation, contribution in cash or kind from the Contributors for furtherance of objectives of the Fund.

NSDC: National Skill Development Corporation

  • NSDC is Public Private Partnership (PPP) under Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE).
  • It was founded in 2009 as not-for-profit company by Ministry of Finance to address need for providing skilled manpower across various industry sectors.
  • Government of India (GoI) through MSDE holds 49% of share capital of NSDC, while private sector has balance 51% of the share capital.
  • NSDC aims to promote skill development by catalysing creation of large, quality and for-profit vocational institutions.
  • Its objective is to create training capacity in the country; fund vocational training initiatives and create market ecosystem for skill development.
  • Its mandate is to train 150 million people by 2022.
  • It is also involved in re-skilling and also in catering to skilled manpower requirement of overseas markets, most notably that of Japan (under TITP) and UAE.
  • NSDC acts as a catalyst in skill development by providing funding to enterprises, companies and organizations that provide skill training. 
  • It also develops appropriate models to enhance, support and coordinate private sector initiatives.
  • NSDC promotes establishment of model and aspirational skill centres known as Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra (PMKK) for imparting skill training in every district throughout the country. 

National Skill Development Mission

The Skill India initiative is under Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. This initiative consists of:

  • National Skill Development Mission
  • Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)
  • National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015
  • Skill Loan Scheme

Objectives of National Skill Development Mission

  • Implementing the National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) which will allow opportunities for long-term, as well as short-term training, leading to productive employment and career improvement. 
  • Using the framework to maintain a balance between the industry/employer demand and the workforce which will lead to a sustainable livelihood because of determined training. 
  • Providing facilities of re-skilling and up-skilling to the workforce of the unorganised sectors of the industry.
  • Ensuring high-quality training standards through high-quality teaching and benchmarked institutions according to national and international standards which result in a highly-skilled workforce and global job opportunities.
  • Support weaker and disadvantaged sections of society through focused outreach programs and targeted skill development activities.
  • Enabling pathways for transitioning between the vocational training system and the formal educational system, through a credit transfer system.
  • Maintaining a national database, known as the Labour Market Information System (LMIS), which will act as a portal for matching the demand and supply of skilled workforce in the country. 
  • The LMIS, will, on the one hand, provide citizens with vital information on skilling initiatives across the country. 
  • On the other, it will also serve as a platform for monitoring the performance of existing skill development programs, running in every Indian state.



Third phase of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana

#GS2 #Governance

  • Skill India Mission was launched by the government in 2015 under which the flagship scheme Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) is run.
  • It aims to train over 40 crore people in India in different skills by 2022. It aims at vocational training and certification of Indian youth for a better livelihood and respect in the society.

Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 

  • PMKVY launched in 2015, is the flagship scheme of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) implemented by National Skill Development Corporation.
  • The objective of this Skill Certification Scheme: is to enable a large number of Indian youths to take up industry-relevant skill training that will help them in securing a better livelihood.
  • Individuals with prior learning experience or skills will also be assessed and certified under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).
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