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1.Implication and evolution of privacy ruling (Live Mint)

2.Towards an electric vehicle only future (Live Mint)

 

Implication and evolution of privacy ruling (Live Mint) 

Synoptic line: It throws light on the historical evolution of right to privacy. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • Supreme Court’s judgement affirming privacy as a fundamental right, have a long history of common law but there are also some misgivings about the direction which it could take the business.

System of common law

  • The system of common law is based on precedent. Judges are bound to consider past judgments and apply them to disputes that come before them in the future.
  • They are only permitted to diverge the chain of historical decisions if it is possible to sufficiently distinguish in fact or principle from the available precedents. Our law is, therefore, not so much a monolith handed to us by our founding fathers as an edifice constructed brick-by-brick through an incremental series of decisions each one based on the judgements that preceded it but in aggregate a composite, well-integrated whole.
  • Common law takes shape in this manner, organically evolving to accommodate new technologies and social mores while remaining consistent with the past from which it arose.
  • The fundamental right to privacy has been developed by the courts in this manner for over 60 years.

Evolution of right to privacy

  • The reason the Supreme Court had to take the effort to gather nine judges together to rule on whether or not we have a fundamental right to privacy was because of a minor inconsistency that had crept into the chain of decisions over 50 years ago and remained unresolved.
  • It all began when the attorney general of India, while defending the Aadhaar project, argued that the Constitution does not include within it a fundamental right to privacy. He based his conclusion on two cases decided by the Supreme Court one, MP Sharma v. Satish Chandra, decided by an eight-judge bench in 1954 and the other, Kharak Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, by six judges in 1962.
  • Both cases had held, under different circumstances, that the Constitution of India does not specifically protect the right to privacy. In the 55 years that have passed since these cases were decided, there hasn’t been a larger bench of Supreme Court that has considered this issue, and therefore, by sheer weight of numbers, these judgements bound us. It would take nine judges to set this straight.
  • MP Sharma dealt with a completely unrelated issue the right against self-incrimination. While it did mention the right to privacy in passing, these comments were stray observations at best.
  • Kharak Singh, on the other hand, was a confusing decision that held, on the one hand, that the intrusion into a person’s home is a violation of liberty (relying on a US judgement on the right to privacy), but on the other hand went on to say that there was no right to privacy contained in our Constitution.
  • The task before the nine-judge bench in Puttuswamy v. Union of India was to settle the law once and for all. They did so emphatically overruling both MP Singh and Kharak Singh to the extent that they had held that there was no fundamental right to privacy.
  • They also overruled additional district magistrate (ADM) Jabalpur a decision that allowed for fundamental rights to be suspended during an Emergency and called into question the judicial reasoning in the Naz Foundation case that implied that the “minuscule minority” LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community was not entitled to the right to privacy.
  • They connected our privacy jurisprudence over the years with our international commitments and established our conformity with comparative laws around the world.

Impacts of judgement over businesses

  • Constraints they have imposed could well have a chilling effect on our ability to get the most out of modern technology. While the opinions of both justices speak of the need to balance the individual’s right to privacy with the benefits of data mining and big data, they go on to suggest a framework to protect individual autonomy based solely on consent.
  • While they seem to understand the benefits that big data can bring us, they appear, at the same time, ignorant of the chilling effect that a strict notice and consent-based framework can have on these business models.
  • Just as the strength of the common law system comes from the solid foundations on which it is based, its weakness is that it is structurally designed to build only on past decisions. Since they are required to decide solely based on historical thought processes, they are incapable of finding solutions for a future untethered to the past. This is why a common law judiciary is so bad at dealing with disruption.
  • We are also beneficiaries of new technologies that leverage the power of data offering us facilities and services that enhance our quality of life. Most of these new technologies rely on big data and machine learning which in turn depend on access to large data sets in order to do their magic.
  • Requiring data controllers to restrict themselves by proportionality and purpose could have a chilling effect on these new business models.

Way ahead

  • Regulators around the world have begun to discard the principle of notice and consent that guided their actions for over three decades. They have, instead, begun to rely on models such as accountability to address the challenges of a disruptive future.
  • If the nine judges who have done such an exemplary job of righting the mistakes of the past could have only shifted perspective while legislating for the future, then the recent judgement would have been perfect by every measure.

Question– Critically analysis the recent judgement of Supreme Court regarding ‘Right to privacy’ how it will affect freedom of speech and expression.

 

2.Towards an electric vehicle only future (Live Mint) 

Synoptic line: It throws light on the India’s move towards an electric vehicles future which has been backed up by a supportive tax structure and policies, and a potentially large local market (GS paper III)

Overview

  • High-reaching policy shifts has come in the automotive sector. Recently, the energy department said its aim is that by 2030, all vehicles sold in India should be electric vehicles.

Ambitious targets

  • A look at the current numbers provides a good gauge of how ambitious a target this is. Electric vehicle sales stood at 22,000 units in the year ended 31 March 2016, according to the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles.
  • Even though the energy department clarified that its target was “aspirational”, its willingness to set a time frame shows the government is focused on delivering on it. The time for this could not be more appropriate. The electric vehicle market has reached an inflection point. Sales of electric cars grew at an exponential pace of 94% between 2011-15 the world over, led predominantly by the US, Europe and China.
  • The growth in the electric vehicle market will change the landscape of the Indian automobile industry significantly. It will also have a big impact on the overall Indian economy.

Corrections needed for India

  • India has a thriving automotive industry serving the local and global markets, particularly in small cars. Over 19 million people, making up 5% of India’s workforce, are employed in the sector, which is mostly centred around internal combustion engines.
  • As the country moves towards an electric vehicle-led future, there will be a requirement for new, efficient vehicle components such as high-density batteries. The current crop of manufacturers and suppliers will need to pivot quickly to capitalize on this wave.
  • They will need to collaborate closely, invest smartly, establish global tie-ups to get a leg up on technology and quickly build up scale. There are several encouraging developments already, with the Indian Space Research Organization allowing companies to obtain its innovative lithium-ion technology, NTPC and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd entering this space, and Mahindra and Tata building a strong product portfolio in specific segments.
  • However, companies need to act on this urgently, not least because competition in the sector is heating up and countries like China have been making rapid progress. Chinese firms have steadily increased their electric vehicle output and technical capabilities in the sector, leaving their global peers behind in building capacity as well as sales.
  • China is poised to become a global hub in the electric vehicle space, ahead of traditional auto hubs such as Germany. It currently has an 8.2% share of the auto component export market. However, it is expected to double that in the next five years, driven largely by its offerings in the electric vehicle space.

Impacts over India

  • India’s move to electric vehicles will open diversified opportunities for downstream industries such as lithium-ion battery packs, electric traction motors and charging infrastructure. With countries across the world, including the UK and France, announcing plans to move to an electric vehicle only future, the global demand for these products is likely to surge in the coming years.
  • While some of it will be met by the existing producers, there will be opportunities for new entrants, which will help create new jobs. India, with its well-established auto sector and relatively lower labour costs, is in a unique position to become a leading player

Steps taken by India

  • India’s move to embrace an electric vehicle only future has been backed up by a supportive tax structure and policies, and a potentially large local market. However, the progress in the next five years will be critical to long-term success.
  • India has announced the FAME scheme (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of [Hybrid &] Electric Vehicles in India) to make all personal vehicles electric by 2030. Lower GST (goods and services tax) on electric vehicles at 12%, in comparison with 43% for hybrid vehicles, is also a step in the right direction.
  • The government can next look to support the growth of the supply ecosystem and infrastructure. A road map for systematic build-up of charging infrastructure in public works is needed. Additionally, proposals to set up electric vehicle component manufacturing can be fast-tracked, and new testing facilities set up to support rapid scale-up.

Way ahead

  • Affordability will be a key success factor in India, especially in the small car segment. Targeted customer subsidies in the form of lower registration tax, road tax, and even lower GST rates in the formative years would go a long way in kick-starting adoption.
  • India’s pre-eminent position in two-wheelers, small cars, light commercial vehicles and buses is a natural advantage, given that these are the segments most amenable to a large electric vehicle share. India can become a dominant global hub for electric vehicles with concerted effort from all stakeholders.

Question– India can be a mega electric vehicle manufacturing hub, provided proper in-house support is given. Comment.