27th March, 2018 Complete Explanation of all relevant Editorials from The Hindu By: Kishor Bansal (MBA,HR), Appeared thrice in UPSC CSE.
1. Principle & procedure [Ethics GS-41 The Delhi High Court verdict setting aside the disqualification of 20 Aam Aadmi Party MLAs in Delhi is a searing indictment of the manner in which the Election Commission handled the complaint that they held offices of profit while serving as parliamentary secretaries. For a body vested with the crucial power to determine whether lawmakers have incurred disqualification in certain circumstances and advise the President or the Governor suitably, this is ain embarrassing moment. O The court has not reviewed its decision on merits. Rather, it has ruled that the EC violated the principles of natural justice while a lawyer's complaint against the legislators. It failed to offer an oral hearing on the merits of the complaint and chose to hide under the specious argument that notices had been issued to the MLAs to respond to documents that the EC had
summoned from the Delhi government. * After saying in its order of June 2017 that it would fix a date for the next hearing, the commission issued two notices seeking replies but fixed no date; instead, it proceeded to give its decision on January 19, 2018 . Further, Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat, who had recused himself at an earlier point, rejoined the process without intimation to the legislators. And another vitiating factor was that Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, who had not heard the matter and assumed office only in September 2017, had signed the order. * It is a basic feature of judicial or quasi-judicial processes that someone who does not hear a matter does not decide on it. The high court order scrupulously adheres to the core principles of judicial review of decisions made by a duly empowered adjudicatory body
Courts do not normally plunge into the merits of such a decision, but examine whether there has been any violation of natural justice, whether sufficient opportunity has been given to the parties and whether the proceedings were vitiated by bias, arbitrariness or any extraneous consideration That a pre-eminent constitutional body should be found wanting in ensuring natural justice while answering a reference from the President is a sad comment on its functioning > It ought to have treated the matter with abundant caution, given the ease with which political parties tend to question the EC's impartiality. The EC has an opportunity to redeem its name by more carefully considering the same question that has now been remanded to it for fresh adiudication, * It could appeal to the Supreme Court, but a better course would be to hold a fresh and fair hearing 5 The high court has acknowledged the EC's "latitude and liberty" in
matters of procedure, but cautioned that any procedure should be sound, fair and just. In proceedings that may result in unseating elected representatives, fairness of procedure is no less important than finding an answer to the question whether they ha 2. The non-politics of outrage [Cyber security, Technology G S-3] We are witnessing mass outrage over certain actions or non-actions of Facebook (FB) and a British political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica (CA), regarding the use of personal data for political messaging during the U.S. presidential elections. * But digging into the issue, it is difficult to see what is really novel in the current disclosures that was previously not known. O It is also unclear why the facts that these disclosures centre on are
more important than many other well-known facts about the underlying issue of data, digital controls and exploitation. It is not evident what the real concerns underlying the outrage are. And lastly, there is the important question of what it really means for countries such as India. CA's role in the US. elections has been known for quite some time. O So now after a whistle-blower's account and an undercover investigation, if those responsible for data and digital policies behave as if any of this is news to them, it is either disingenuous or unacceptably naive and incompetent As FB has clarified, the only illegal element here is that a research company transferred data to CA against FB policies. O But both the company concerned and FB itself could have legitimately used the same user data for the same purpose of psychometrics-based micro-targeted political messaging for any of
their paying clients. O What exactly do we then have a problem with? Just with violation of FB's policies, or with psychometrics-based political messaging and the collective national damage that it causes? O Is it, for instance, alright if FB itself did similar things for its paying clients, which it has provisions for? * Meddling in elections is a most serious issue, but there are other equally important data-centric threats - from complete data-based control over all activities and actors in a sector bv platform companies (think Uber, but the process will soon reach as afar as agriculture and manufacturing) to that of actual informational warfare which can wreck countries. * Interestingly, CA's parent company also offers data-intelligence services to militaries, and indeed countries such as the U.S. have extensive informational warfare projects based on social media and other micro-informational sources for various countries,
Global digital companies such as Microsoft and Google are known to cooperate closely with the American establishment, and, when insisted upon, prioritise the latter's interests even over their own economic ones Developing countries like India must realise that they do not have the kind of leverage that the U.S. or even the European Union (EU) have over global data giants, and will never have it, whatever be their boasts. A specific privacy shield arrangement with the U.S., for instance, ensures special protection just to EU data in the U.S * All data collected in India and transported abroad (data laws being nearly non-existent), on the other hand, remain largely out of our control or influence, As this data gets converted into digitally-intelligent services in all sectors _ from transport, commerce and tourism, to education and health, to agriculture and manufacturing, we are getting structurally sucked into foreign-controlled digital value chains from which any
attempts to escape may soon become too difficult and costly. At that stage, whether they influence and control our elections, or economics, or culture, or internal and external security, manoeuvring space for resistance will be limited. * All these data-based controls need to be seen as of one kind, and common strategies urgently devised for India to remain free_free not just in the much-vaunted "consumer choice" sense, which is mostly the Trojan Horse, but also free collectively, as a nation and a community O It may sound rhetorical but such is the vastness and depth of new global digital controls that digital freedom from them is becoming close to being as important as freedom from physical and legal controls was in the middle of the 20th centurv First of all, we need to recognise the ignored collective aspects of data, and the potential of collective damage or gains from it, which
the CA issue most clearly demonstrates_and focus on the related concepts of collective (not just personal) data protection and collective data rights and ownership. The current exercise by the Srikrishna Committee on data protection seems centred entirely on personal data rights, which is insufficient. * Considering it of strategic value, India is currently devising regulation for digital geospatial data, putting many public interest checks on its various uses, including it being taken abroad The problem is, even from a security point of view, geodata is * Social data of various kinds and sectors may be of greater strategioc * Advanced militaries like in the U.S., Russia and China know this perhaps no longer the most strategic. value and are investing in large-scale informational warfare and insurgency projects. * Evidently, all or much of Indian social data, in various sectors,
including even granular data of consumer behaviour (which provides much detailed psychometric information with cross-sectoral application) need some protections, although of varying kinds taking into account legitimate economic and global integration issues. * As with geospatial information, all critical data and digital intelligence about various sectors must be designated as collective national assets, and the collective rights to them instituted This does not mean that all such data will necessarily be prevented from being taken abroad, or being used by foreign companies. It basically means an enabling cover of jurisprudence being thrown over such data, which ensures assertion of collective rights to it, and where needed, the corresponding laws and regulation. Platform companies such as FB, Amazon and Uber are key sites of data collection and expropriation, and its conversion into digital intelligence (to influence elections, or whatever else they wish to do)
due regulation of the digital sector. O It still wants to savour for some more time the utopian dream that the Internet finally delivers them of governments, 3. A perfect storm in the cotton field [Agriculture, Biotechnol Earlier this month, the government cut royalties that local seed companies pay to Monsanto, for the second time in two years. This follows previous attempts to defang Monsanto. In February, for instance, the anti-trust regulator, the Competition Commission of India, decided to probe into anti-competitive practices by Monsanto. At the centre of all this is the pink bollworm infestation plaguing cotton farmers. Even though Bollgard 2, or BG-2, Monsanto's second generation insecticidal technology for cotton, was supposed to protect crops against the pink bollworm, the pest has grown resistant to the toxins produced by this trait.
Rights Authority of India. Other countries restrict saving and selling of seeds in various degrees. Over 70 countries that are members of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, for example, allow farmers to reuse seeds from a protected plant variety, but not to sell them In the U.S., where plant varieties are patented, the patented seeds cannot even be reused. Without such protections, several seed companies in India prefer hybrids because unlike open-pollinated varieties, hybrids lose their genetic stability when their seeds are replanted. * This compels farmers to repurchase seeds each year, protecting When Monsanto introduced Bt cotton in India, the technology was so * But because there was no open-pollinated Bt option, they were also corporate revenues popular that cotton farmers shifted to it en masse. forced to shift en masse to hybrids,
bollworm and some that are not, This can be contrasted with the homozygous seeds of open-pollinated varieties in the U.S., China or Australia, which have 100% toxic seeds. The problem with hemizygous hybrids is that they allow pink bollworm s to survive on toxin-free seeds when they are vulnerable newborns. This is only a hypothesis, but other pink bollworm experts say it's reasonable. Bruce Tabashnik, at the University of Arizona, who studies pest resistance, adds that experiments are needed to confirm this. When all these factors combine with the pink bollworm's biology, * The pest does its most damage in the latter half of the cotton- * So, the long duration of Indian cotton crops, between 160 and 300 this creates a perfect storm of conditions for resistance. growing season and does not consume any other crop that grows then. days, allows this pest to thrive and evolve resistance more quickly
than it can for short-duration crops, * Contrast this with other cotton-growing countries which strictly Mr. Kranthi says the only solution to the problem is to move swiftly This is where Monsanto's first-generation Bollgard comes in. Seed terminate the crop within 160 davs. to short-duration varieties. companies cannot develop open-pollinated varieties with BG-2, but they can with BG, since Monsanto didn't patent BG in India. However, not everybody agrees with this strategy. Govind Gujar, who retired as the head of entomology at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, says moving back to BG is a bad idea because the problem was not with the BG trait but with long-duration cotton. * And even if BG-2 doesn't fend off the pink bollworm, it still protects against other pests like the tobacco cutworm and the American bollworm The presence of two Bt genes in BG-2 means it will be more
effective than BG in delaying resistance against these pests. He asks: "When the whole world is moving to BG-3, why do we want to go back in time?" The more critical question is, even if the government incentivises a return to BG, will all seed companies stop making BG-2 seeds? Some, like the Hyderabad-based Nuziveedu Seeds, say they will But others, like the Aurangabad-based Ajeet Seeds, prefer BG-2 because of the superior stacked gene technology, If India cultivates both BG and BG-2, simultaneously, that can accelerate resistance among pests, studies predict. This could trigger the emergence of new cotton pests. India erred by not clamping down on long-duration crops when Bt cotton was first introduced * At least now it must base its policy on sound science and implement it stringently.
Province in the eastern Nangarhar province The group has carried out several suicide attacks, mainly targeting Shias in the already troubled country. It's from Khorasan that ISIS is handling its South Asia operations, including in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh ISIS hasn't carried out any major terror attack in India, nor does the gro up have any organisational presence in the country. But it has lured doz ens of Indians into its fold > It's evident from its actions that the ISIS leadership has seen South Asia as a fertile ground for the organisation. The history of jihadist insurgency, high Muslim population and growing tensions between communities may all have prompted the group to focus on the region in its quest for expansion Understandably, it chose Afghanistan, which has been at war with itself for decades, as its operation centre..
hailing from middle class or upper middle class families, nullifying the argument that lack of education and poverty drive extremist ideas among the youth. * All these developments, from establishing wilayats in Afghanistan and Libya to attracting youth from India and Pakistan, suggest that ISIS may have been weakened at its core but it's far from defeated 5. Gene panel challenge [Health sector GS-21 * India still depends on European genetic panels. This has to change In Nalgonda district of Telangana, Sai Chaitanya, 21, has been waiting for advancement in Indian genetic research. He has Ichthyosis, a condition caused by the mutation of a single gene, which has led to the growth of fish-like scales on his skin. Like him, many others are virtually locked into disease-prone gene pools and yearn for early detection and treatment. In India, private enterprises engaged in genome mapping now offer
Once the panel is created, screening any number of individuals for specific diseases becomes cost-effective and efficient. O However, the European panels against which Indian DNA is screened mostly prove ineffective because genes that mutate and cause abnormalities are not the same among the two geographical-genetic regions. Also, about 60-70% of the mutations found in European population clusters, with reference to a single disease, might not occur among Indian people W hat India needs is a pan-Indian, whole-genome sequencing exercise that will determine the genetic types which exist within its geographical boundary O Genetic research so far has identified four linguistically defined whole population groups in India: Indo-European (North), Dravidian (South), Tibeto-Burmese, and Austroasiatic (Northeast) Each of these is further divided into 4,635 identified social groups
with a specific genetic make-up, thanks to endogamy. Senior Principal Scientist at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, Dr. Kumarasamy Thangaraj, who studied 263 Indian populations, said that India should develop a baseline genetic data for each of its social groups. His colleague, Giriraj Chandak, found differences in the basic disease characteristics among European and Indian patients of chronic pancreatitis and neural tube defects, * An initial investment for whole genome sequencing would be Rs. 1,000 crore, he estimated. Further sequencing for genetic panels would increase the cost by 10 to 100 times, which may be a small price to pay for considerable dividends. Once Indian panels are made, Dr. Kumarasamy predicted a dip in cost for screening individual patients, ranging from Rs. 100 to Rs. 1,000 as against the initial sum of Rs. 5 to Rs. 10 lakh required for sequencing a family of four.
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