As fireworks lit the sky for the opening of the Tokyo Olympics, something magical happened: A fleet of 1,824 drones in the air formed the official symbol of the Tokyo Games; the display then transformed into the Earth with coloured maps of continents. This heavenly performance was orchestra to the score of Imagine by John Lennon (reworked).
The drones utilised Intel’s “Shooting Stars” platform, and displayed the unprecedented power of the advanced technology with a breath-taking spectacle like none before.
The global commercial drone market size has been valued at $13.44 billion in 2020. Expected to be galloping at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 57.5% from 2021 to 2028, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated this growth rate with a considerable increase in the utilisation of drone technology across various scenarios. UNICEF has said that more than eighteen countries have deployed drones for delivery and transportation purposes during the pandemic.
The terrorist organisation ISIS has been using drones for warfare and has posted videos from its successful hits online. The US government has been successfully using Predator drones to take out high value terrorist targets in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Recently the terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir upped their game by attacking an Indian Air Force technical airport with drones on 27 June, increasing instances of use of drones by anti-national elements and terrorists are being noticed causing widespread concerns.
The Drones have umpteen applications, some of which we have not yet envisioned.
Replacing hazardous works such as climbing tall structures, inspecting confined areas and traversing dangerous terrains. They are helping save lives during search and rescue efforts and are optimising energy production and delivery.
1. Enforcement: The drones are an important enforcement tool been used by the police in search and rescue, identification of victims, monitoring, analysis, and management of road traffic, or for monitoring pedestrian behaviour and accident prevention, to deal with illegal immigration, for border surveillance. In some US states, the police use drones for crowd control, in accidents, crime tracing, for the monitoring of crime suspects, and in search and rescue operations.
2.Commercial: As compared to on-ground vehicle deliveries, drone deliveries are more environmentally friendly and companies are drawn towards preparing themselves to offer drone delivery services. Some examples among others are Amazon and Google.
3.Environmental Protection: Another crucial and effective role of Drones are in protection of the environment, enforcement of environmental law and environmental crime prevention. In Africa drones have been used to deal with illegal poaching, which threatens the extinction of mammalian species, while in Italy, the police launched the “DroMEP” project, which involves the use of drones in environmental monitoring. Apart from Forest Monitoring, illegal logging, deforestation, and smoke detection to prevent forest fires, small drones can be used for low-cost data collection for biodiversity, natural disasters, and wildlife monitoring and assessment.
4.Agriculture: Agriculture has been most benefited from the usage of drones for different applications such as: mid-season crop health monitoring, irrigation equipment monitoring, and midfield identification. Data acquisition and analysis and for continuously monitoring fields for learning and developing modern farm management skills by the farmers.
5.Health and public: Low-cost drones with a camera on board have been used for public health purposes by detecting water spots to reveal mosquito breeding areas responsible for malaria.
6.Healthcare Logistics: Drones are facilitating the much needed requirement of modernising the last mile in medical deliveries and bridging gaps in access by providing regardless of location—just in time resupplies of key medical items.
In recent times, drones for healthcare have witnessed a range of landmark moments.
A. In India, Medicine from the Sky, a World Economic Forum initiative in partnership with the Telangana government and Apollo Hospitals, has also helped enable and scale drone-based medical deliveries in the region.
B. University of Maryland drone delivered a kidney that was successfully transplanted into a patient suffering from a serious neurological condition, the first ever drone delivery of a human organ.
C. In Rwanda more than 13,000 deliveries have been done by Zipline drones demonstrating their humanitarian potential.
D. Outside of Kigali, drones now carry 35% of blood supplied for transfusion.
E. In Ghana delivery of Covid-19 testing materials.
Globally, every state is acknowledging the use of drone technology as the need of the hour. India with vast and equally difficult geography and wide-raging healthcare disparities need to incorporate drone delivery solutions on a much larger scale.
Ranging from Boeing’s Phantom Eye with a 150-ft wingspan that cruises at 20,000m for days together to small hummingbirds, drones come in all shapes and sizes. Airplane-like with fixed wings, Helicopter-like with rotary blades, or balloon-like and insect or bird-mimicking devices.
There are different categories of drones, drones with different weights, control systems and else. They can be remotely piloted via a communication link from a ground station, with a smartphone, or utilise satellite communication; they can even be autonomous. Their speeds may vary from static hovering to more than 1,000 km/h. Drones can have varying flight ranges and endurance, from a few minutes to even months. They have evolved to use different power sources, including solar energy. Furthermore, they utilise different lift technologies from fixed wing drones which can take off in the same way as aeroplanes, to other types that can be launched through a rocket or catapult or even by hand; there are some which take off vertically using multi-rotor and helicopter type blades, the variety is immense and mind-boggling.
When an emerging technology does not fit neatly within a pre-existing regulatory scheme, regulators have the difficult task of creating new rules that do not conflict with existing ones. In the absence of an established record of risk assessment data, regulations of new and emerging technologies are largely based on ethical considerations, perceptions of risk, or their potential impacts. This is the case with regard to unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly referred to as drones, and the potential threat they pose to manned aircraft and persons on ground. The Ministry of Civil Aviation recently released a draft policy for drones titled Drone Rules 2021 which will replace the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules 2021, which came into force in March this year. The said policy focuses on more safety features and aims at addressing the concerns of India’s nascent unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) such as self-certification, and non-intrusive monitoring, reducing the number of approvals required by applicants. From 25 the number of forms required are reduced to 6 with reduced fees for certain approvals. The draft policy also makes a push for ‘Made in India’ technologies, includes exemptions for research and development (R&D) activities, and envisions a drone trade body. On the aspect of safety—the policy proposes mandatory safety features like ‘No permission—no take-off’. It also mandates for drones to be equipped with a real-time tracking beacon and geo-fencing. This technology ensures safety as it will help in triggering real time alerts if and when the vehicles cross a certain boundary which are prohibited or under exempted list. The existing drone owners who don’t have these installed, will have to incorporate them within six months of the rules coming into effect. Interesting aspect introduced in the draft rules are provision for promotion of adoption and use of drones by creating a Drone Promotion Council which will facilitate:
(a) development of a business-friendly regulatory regime, including automated permissions;
(b) establishment of incubators and other facilities for the development of drone technologies;
(c) involvement of industry experts and academic institutions in policy advice; and
(d) organising competitive events involving drones and counter-drone technologies.
The new rules also provide for classification of drones based upon the maximum all-up weight including payload which remains unchanged and are as under:
(a) Nano drone: Less than or equal to 250 gm;
(b) Micro drone: Greater than 250 gm and less than or equal to 2 kg;
(c) Small drone: Greater than 2 kg and less than or equal to 25 kg;
(d) Medium drone: Greater than 25 kilogram and less than or equal to 150 kilogram;
(e) Large drone: Greater than 150 kg.
The draft rules are open for public suggestions until 5 August, 2021.
The INTERPOL has recently issued a detailed ‘Framework for Responding to a Drone Incident’ which provides guidelines for First Responders and Digital Forensics Practitioners on how to respond to a drone incident.
Once a drone is captured there is an opportunity to collect a wide range of forensic evidence. This may include the serial number of the frame of proprietary drones, which can lead to the person who purchased the machine, to physical cues like fingerprints of the pilot or other ground crew who put it in the air or handled its operations. It may also have connected devices that store data in an SD card and can be used as forensic evidence.
A camera onboard can be a source of rich information for investigation; other than the stored data, the recorded footage might contain not only visual information but metadata in the form of EXIF data. Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF) is a standard that defines specific information related to an image or other media captured by a digital camera. It is capable of storing such important data as camera exposure, date/time the image was captured, and even GPS location.
Analysis of electronic evidence for forensic purposes consists of discrete stages such as acquisition, examination, analysis, and presentation. Throughout the process, the chain of custody of the evidence must always be updated whenever it changes hands and its integrity must be secured at all times.
There are two primary sources of evidence in a drone related incident viz. The Drone, and Drone Remote Controllers (RC.)
Data on drones can include the one stored on different data storage mediums, including the drone itself, removable storage mediums, mobiles devices, the cloud, and so on. In addition, there is important residual data held on the drone RC which includes: (a) Telemetry data related to the drone’s flights such as GPS, (b) Velocity, (c) direction, (d) altitude, (e) motor speeds, (f) Time and Date (from GPS signal), and (g) user inputs.
Then maybe Associated Devices that have been paired or connected to the controller such as a mobile handset or tablet. Which can provide IMEI of the handset or unique hardware ID of the device.
Additionally, it may hold important information about Registered User Accounts containing email address or registered account name that has been created with the drone manufacturer.
Communication logs would contain signalling data which logs the signal strength between the drone and the RC. These and other related artefacts can be of immense importance interesting the origin, motive targeting and tradecraft of the adversary.
Law has a tightrope to walk, on one hand it has the task of adapting and rising up to ever-changing technologies, on the other, not to be a hindrance to innovation and growth.
The future is a grey sky filled with iron birds, which will be doing almost everything, from surveillance to saving lives and assisting with pest control to cleaning oceans.
Criminals, terrorists and disruptive elements will not be behind too; from contraband transport to targeted assassinations, attacks on critical infrastructure to dissident protests in the sky, and violation of individual privacy to advanced cybercrime, drones will be used by adversaries to the fullest.
It is, therefore, imperative that a forward-looking, harmonised and appropriate legal framework is put in place to harness the benefits of this wonderful emerging technology, while protecting the common citizen from its illegal and criminal use.
Brijesh Singh, IPS, is an author and IG Maharashtra. Khushbu Jain is an advocate practising before the Supreme Court and a founding partner of law firm Ark Legal. The views expressed are personal.
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Remittances are the lifeline for many developing countries
For more than 60 nations, international remittances represent at least 5% of their GDP.
India is the largest recipient of remittances in the world. The data from the balance of payment indicates that private transfers mainly representing remittances by Indians employed overseas remained at $83 billion in FY19 and FY20. After declining modestly to $80 in FY21, it again improved to $89 billion in the financial year ending March 22.
Remittances are an important part of the national income of developing and low income countries. They play a significant role in economic development of these countries. As per the World migration report 2022, there were 281 million (or 3.6% of the world’s population) international migrants globally with 169 million (60% of total migrants) labour migrants in 2020. Assuming an average household size of four, more than 1 billion people benefited from the remittance flows in 2020. Furthermore, the data shows that the top destinations of international migrants were the USA, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Russia and the UK. Meanwhile, the largest number of international migrants in 2020 originate from India followed by Mexico, Russia, China and Syrian Arab Republic, with Syria having a large number of refugees due to widespread displacement over the last decade.
Meanwhile, global remittances have increased more than 5 times over the past 2 decades. Of the total international remittances of $702 billion recorded in 2020 (decline from $719 billion in 2019 owing to Covid-19 pandemic) around 77% or $540 billion was received by low and middle income countries. High-income countries including the USA, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and Germany are the top countries sending remittances. On the other hand, developing countries, India and China received the maximum remittances ($83 billion and $59 billion respectively) in 2020, followed by Mexico, the Philippines and Egypt. Even though in absolute terms the remittances are significantly higher in India and China, their share as % of GDP is very low (3.1% of GDP and 0.1% of GDP respectively). But certain smaller countries like Tongo, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Lebanon, Nepal depend significantly on remittance flows. The share of remittances in GDP of these countries is more than 24%.
When travel restrictions were imposed due to the pandemic, it was thought that remittances would be badly hit. However, the overall decline in 2020 was only modest when compared to 2019, -2.4% yoy. This has been possible due to policy response to support remittance flows together with shift from informal channels (movement of cash through borders) towards more formal channels through increased digitalisation of financial transactions. The impact of the pandemic on remittances, though limited, has been uneven with certain countries (Europe and Central Asia in particular) and certain workers (those engaged in severely affected sectors as travel and tourism) being affected more than others. Many workers lost their jobs or had to come back to their native countries while others got stuck in foreign countries with no job and money or had to undertake pay cuts. However, some migrants benefitted due to various welfare programs of their respective host countries and sent back more money.
Another incident which is likely to have a negative effect on remittance flows is the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is more than 5 months with no signs of the war drawing to a close. Countries of Central Asia including Tajikistan and Kyrgyz Republic where the dependence on Russia for remittances is quite high (82% for the latter and 76% for the former) will be impacted significantly by the persisting war. As per the World Bank, the remittances flowing to Tajikistan from Russia are likely to fall by more than a fifth, thereby leading to shrinking of its economy by 2%. Even Kyrgyzstan economy is projected to decline by 5% with the remittances from Russia expected to fall by a third. Coming to India, it is the largest recipient of remittances in the world. The data from the balance of payment indicates that private transfers mainly representing remittances by Indians employed overseas remained at $83 billion in FY19 and FY20. After declining modestly to $80 in FY21, it again improved to $89 billion in the financial year ending March 22. The RBI survey-based remittance estimates 2020-21 shows that India received maximum remittances from USA, followed by the UAE, UK, Singapore and Saudi Arabia. These top 5 countries accounted for 59% of the total remittances flow to India. Interestingly, UAE was the top source country as per the previous survey 2016-17 and it has been replaced by the USA now. Apart from that, the UK and Singapore too emerged as important source, replacing Qatar and Kuwait from the top 5 sources of remittance inflows. In fact, the share of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) group together has declined to 30% from more than 50% in 2016-17, owing to various factors, including low oil price and slow pace of migration amidst stricter labour laws, higher work permit renewal fees and taxes. The pandemic further led to lower demand for white collar workers in these countries.
If we look at the state wise distribution of remittances, Maharashtra is the top recipient with its share in total inward remittances increasing significantly to 35.2% (from 16.7% in previous survey), pushing Kerala to the second position (10.2% share compared to 19% earlier). Tamil Nadu (9.7%), Delhi (9.3%) Karnataka (5.2%) are the other major recipients of remittances. These top five sates account for around 70% of the total remittances. The remittances are the major source of foreign exchange for India besides being used to finance our huge trade deficit. This necessitates building and developing a conducive policy ecosystem for these flows such that they flow to India at lower cost. In line with the crucial role that NRI remittances play in our country, the RBI has recently liberalised NRI deposits.
To conclude, remittances are the lifelines for low income developing countries. This can be supported by the fact that for more than 60 countries, international remittances represent at least 5% of their GDP. Those against migration and remittances argue that there are potential costs to the country receiving remittances if moving out from the country creates labour shortage in the home country or if the remittances sent are significantly high, then it can lead to appreciation of the currency, thereby making its exports less competitive. However, these costs are not of value when seen in the context of resource scare low income developing countries. Remittance inflows for low and middle income countries are even higher than FDI and aid. Efforts should thus be made by the authorities to reduce transaction costs. As per the World Bank, global average cost of sending the remittances is currently 6.09% of the amount sent for US$ 200 and the UN SDG target is to reduce it to 3% by 2030. In this context investment in digital technologies by remittance service provider will help a long way in reducing the cost of remittance flows and will also ease the KYC process.
The author works as a senior economist in the Indian banking sector with core interests in public administration, external sector dynamics and global economics. Previously, she has worked on country risk analysis of emerging market economies with a French consulting firm. She holds a Master’s degree in economics from the Jawaharlal Nehru University and a bachelor’s from Sri Venkateshwara College, Delhi University.
NITISH DOES ANOTHER U-TURN
There’s a good reason why Tejashwi Yadav used to refer to the JD(U) leader as Paltu Uncle (someone who does U-turns). Tejashwi was referring to Nitish Kumar’s habit of changing coalition partners to suit his moods and personal ambitions. Certainly, Nitish has been vacillating between the BJP and the Opposition. In 2013, he ditched the BJP with whom he had a cordial rapport during the Vajpayee-Advani era, protesting against the elevation of Narendra Modi as the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate. Two years later, he tied up with the RJD and the Congress to form the Mahagathbandhan for the 2015 polls. Although the NDA got only 58 of the 243 seats in the Assembly polls, the JD(U) was pushed to the second position with the RJD winning 80 seats, while the JD(U) got only 71, though both had contested 101 seats each. However, as a senior leader, Nitish Kumar became the CM with Lalu Yadav’s son and heir apparent, Tejashwi as his deputy CM. That alliance did not last very long and Nitish was soon back with the BJP. He contested the 2019 Lok Sabha with the NDA, at a point when the Opposition needed a face and Kumar could have emerged as a leader uniting all the opposition parties together. In the 2020 Bihar Assembly polls, the JD(U) came third with RJD emerging as the single largest party and even the BJP getting more than the JD(U), but again it was Nitish who was made the CM.
However, his having walked back to the Mahagathbandhan has happened at a time when the Opposition still lacks a viable face to take on Narendra Modi. As a six-term CM representing a state in the Hindi belt, certainly Nitish’s bid would have a certain appeal that is missing from Mamata Bannerjee or K. Chadrasekhar Rao’s candidature. Nitish also has a cross-party goodwill for his 2015 swearing-in ceremony had seen leaders from various parties, including the Abdullahs, Kejriwal, Mamata Bannerjee, Yechury and Rahul Gandhi present. Given the fact that the Congress is in no shape to lead the charge against the BJP and Modi, a united opposition would do well to throw its weight behind Nitish’s candidature.
That is not to say that Nitish’s popularity has not waned. Certainly he is not the same leader that he was in 2013 when he took a stand against Modi’s candidature as PM. Much water has flown under that bridge since then, his own credibility has also taken a hit after he tied hands with Modi after first opposing him. Neither is the JD(U) the single largest party in the state. Riding on Nitish’s coat-tails, the BJP has made considerable inroads—which makes you wonder about the former’s political smarts. But the Opposition is currently so bankrupt that any viable alternative to the Gandhis will do, even if it’s one with a slightly damaged political aura. Over to 2024, and we may see a Modi Vs Nitish face off, that is, of course, if Nitish remains put in one place till then and doesn’t do another U-turn.
United States still searching for a regional role
Through the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, the United States tends to assure its Indo-Pacific partners that it still has geo-economic clout in the region, but the US has been continuously compelled by China to find a regional role in Asia-Pacific at least since 2009.
The United States-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) is calling for prosperity in the region. It, therefore, solicits a critical assessment. We need to evaluate if it is a serious effort toward “region-building” in the Indo-Pacific or just another geopolitical manoeuvring by the United States to find a regional role. The context has to be how the American partners in the region would benefit, and not what the United States thinks it must do. The members must, therefore, approach this framework with adequate caution. Here’s why.
First, a White House statement of 23 May clearly asserted the significance of the Indo-Pacific region for the United States. It suggests that trade with the Indo-Pacific supports more than three million American jobs and attracts approximately $900 billion FDI in the United States. So, in congruence with a previous American initiative viz. Build Back Better World (B3W) that aimed to create American jobs, IPEF, too, carries similar ambitions. In fact, countries which supported the B3W are yet to decipher any pragmatic gains. B3W, a G7 backed $40 trillion infrastructure plan launched in June 2021, was positioned to focus on four potential areas viz. climate, health and health security, digital technology, and gender equity. It has been almost a year now, and the initiative continues to remain in political vacuity. Interestingly, B3W was apparently positioned against China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Today, for the IPEF, the real challenge is whether it can create a win-win situation for other developing countries in the region, or is it all about the agenda of restoring “American exceptionalism”. Instead of laying down a concrete geo-economic roadmap for the B3W, and for instance, how private sector capital as mandated can be mobilised to finance it, the United States has brought its partners into a new bandwagon–the IPEF. Interestingly, IPEF carries some overlapping agenda on similar lines as the B3W, amid its call for supply chain resilience, clean energy, or digital economy. In 2019, the United States launched a Blue Dot Network (BDN) as a certification system that aimed to ensure transparency in infrastructure financing. This was also positioned against the BRI –reflecting an American impatience to counter China even through frameworks with unmatched mandate. The IPEF discourse, too, is moving in this direction.
Second, IPEF is not positioned as a traditional free trade agreement. And cannot be compared with a mega-regional bloc like Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CP-TPP). This is because, for a cooperation framework like IPEF, it is not easy to define concrete deliverables e.g. on standards, or for that matter, supply-chain resilience. The propositions envisaged under the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) and China+1 policy, both aiming to reduce dependence on China, are yet to yield any pragmatic outcome. Such deliverables, however, can be defined only in case of mega-regional trade agreements.
Third, IPEF cannot even be compared with congregations like Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) that was formed in 1989 and includes countries on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. Almost all the issues that comprise the core mandate of both B3W and IPEF are already there on APEC’s agenda, and all countries currently in IPEF except India are also APEC members. So, at least for India, joining APEC would create more geo-economic gains instead of relying on IPEF–a congregation that seems to be yet another non-serious American effort after BDN and B3W. It’s no longer about geographic eligibility because United Kingdom which does not share the Pacific has already applied to join the CP-TPP. And China, too, which was deliberately kept out from President Obama’s TPP owing to stringent TRIPS-plus commitments has also expressed its interest in joining it now. With such reconfigurations, a rule-based system can’t be determined by economic frameworks like IPEF, but by mega-regional blocs which not only hosts China, but also Australia, Japan, South Korea, and others.
Fourth, on a strategic note, a crucial issue for the Asian allies of the United States is to decipher for themselves the relationship between Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) and Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS). AUKUS was formed by the United States last year by including its old ally i.e. the UK, along with Australia, but by excluding Japan and India which are already there in Quad. Quad’s mandate has been gradually diluted since 2007, so the question remains if AUKUS complements its security role or not.
Therefore, the Indo-Pacific countries need to exercise caution in approaching the IPEF. Through IPEF, the United States tends to assure its Indo-Pacific partners that it still has a geo-economic clout in the region and that China has yet not displaced it. Perhaps, it is largely mistaken because it has been continuously compelled by China to find a regional role in Asia-Pacific at least since 2009. Moreover, IPEF is a unique deal for the United States, but “just another” plan for its partners especially India and Southeast Asian countries. IPEF can make sense only if it advances “region-building” in the Indo-Pacific, but without prioritising American interests. Also, the American narratives against China, even if appealing for few Indo-Pacific countries, cannot help sustain their geo-economic interests.
Faisal Ahmed is a Professor of International Business at FORE School of Management, New Delhi. Alexandre Lambert is the Academic Director at Geneva Institute of Geopolitical Studies, Geneva. They are authors of the book The Belt and Road Initiative: Geopolitical and Geoeconomic Aspects published by Routledge, c.2022.
Dispute resolution: Adversarial versus Amicable
Parties to a dispute adopt a multi-pronged approach to find a resolution. The resolution outcome depends on the nature of the dispute, relationship and expectations, economic financial losses and, the process adopted for resolution. The outcome can have a long-term impact on the business growth of a company. This article discusses the nuances of different dispute resolution processes that are broadly categorised as adversarial versus amicable in nature. Adversarial is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “involving two people or two sides who oppose each other: or an adversarial system of justice with prosecution and defence opposing each other. Amicable is described as “someone or something that is friendly and shows peace-loving characteristics. Friendly in feeling; showing goodwill; peaceable, an amicable discussion”. Disputes emanate from a breach of contract or fraud. The strategy to handle the conflict can be adversarial or amicable, with the same or similar outcome. The purpose is to find a quick, efficient, cost effective and enforceable solution that puts to rest the litigation, and allows the parties to go on with their respective businesses. The most obvious form of finding a resolution is to knock the doors of the court. This is either through litigation or alternate forms of Dispute Resolution (ADR) which is Arbitration and Mediation. Litigation follows an adversarial path. It is a formal judicial process wherein parties approach the court to settle the dispute. The court appointed Judge acts as a referee, and the contesting parties present their case in a formal manner. Based on the evidence the Judge or Adjudicator passes a decree or judgement. In litigation the Judge has to strictly follow a definite prescribed procedure, which is as per the codified procedural law: Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and The Commercial Courts Act 2015. Approximately 10- 11 steps need to be fulfilled to complete a Court case, which includes service of summons, filing of pleadings and documents by both parties, discovery and interim orders, discovery of documents, witness statements, production of proof and evidence, crossexamination of witnesses, arguments which the Judge examines and concludes in a court decree. Discovery, proof and document production is lengthy and often risky. It requires sharing of confidential marketing and financial data with the opposite party and public disclosure, which can hamper the business growth of the Company. Litigation comes with a bagful of legal expenses for the paper work which is time consuming and costly. Litigation in comparison to ADR (Alternate Dispute Resolution), is rigid which strictly follows the procedures, statute and rule book. If the parties do not agree with the decisions of the court, they can appeal to a superior court, provided certain conditions are fulfilled. If not appealed, the decree or judgment needs to be legally executed to enjoy the fruits of the decision. ADR methods are non-adversarial, flexible and most importantly maintain confidentiality. It empowers parties to work together to amicably settle complex issues. The most common ADR methods are Conciliation, Mediation, Negotiation, and Arbitration. Arbitration is adversarial, although more supple than court litigation. It is a process in which an experienced, independent and neutral is appointed as an Arbitrator. It germinates from the clauses of a contract, where the parties agree that in case any dispute arises they would opt for arbitration rather than court. In comparison, arbitration is flexible, time and cost effective than litigation. It does not require the rigours of lengthy litigation by strictly following the procedural law. The Arbitrator/s along with the parties engineer the procedure and rules to be followed. The rigid steps of evidence gathering, witness statements need not be followed and a lot can be resolved on the basis of documentary proof. The arbitration proceedings conclude into an Award, which is at par with a Court decree and is final and binding on parties. Both the Court decree and Arbitration award require a separate process of enforcement that may require Court intervention. If the court decree is challenged in appeal, it can take several years before it reaches a stage of finality. In comparison the arbitration award is not easily contested, if challenged it is only under strict and narrow grounds. Conciliation is an amicable form of despite resolution. A method when a skilled expert is appointed to help the parties reach an agreement. It is confidential and not in the public domain. The skill of the Conciliator/ Mediator is crucial to the success of the conciliation and enforcement of the settlement agreement. It is a voluntary process, where the Conciliator helps to find common grounds between the parties. As such Conciliation is friendly, less hostile and an antagonistic process. It culminates in a settlement agreement that is a joint decision of both parties. Conciliation/mediation are informal processes that afford the parties flexibility to communicate between themselves in a safe environment in the presence of the Conciliator. The parties control the process, solution and the final outcome. Parties take a decision for their own dispute whereas in litigation and Arbitration it is the Court Judge or Arbitrator who decides the outcome. In conclusion, the adversarial nature of dispute resolution especially Court litigation is time consuming, entails lengthy discovery with risks to confidential information and requires large legal budgets. In comparison ADR (alternate Dispute Resolution) can be more efficient and effective. In addition to the economic benefits of ADR, it can help the disputing parties who are deeply invested in the issue to find joint solutions and retain their relationship. A trained Conciliator brings some form of expertise to bear on the situation and help the parties to settle all kind of issues that can go beyond the dispute at hand. Conciliation/ Mediation can be done at any stage, pre-or post-litigation. Girija Varma is a mediator, arbitrator, legal counsel and develops dispute resolution strategies. She is a Fellow (Stanford Univ.), LL.M. (Cornell Univ) and British Council Chevening Scholar. Her expertise is in intellectual property, commercial laws and damage assessment.
WEST NEEDS TO LISTEN TO INDIA ON UKRAINE VS RUSSIA
This month it will be six months of the Russia-Ukraine conflict—six months of non-stop war and sanctions that have endangered food security all around the globe and led to increasing oil prices and skyrocketing inflation. The majority of the economies around the world are predicted to be sliding into recession. Amid this, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has assured India that “there is no question of India getting into recession or a stagflation or a technical recession like the US”, that the country’s economic fundamentals are strong, GST collection has gone up, manufacturing is picking up, the country’s debt to GDP ratio is lower than many developed countries, etc. All very commendable when disruption has become the norm in the world in the last two and a half years—from the Covid-19 pandemic, which is still not over, to the Russia-Ukraine war. Whatever the Opposition might be saying, that India is going the Sri Lanka way, the fact is that major economic missteps have to be taken for that to happen, like the way it happened in Sri Lanka—the overnight switch to organic fertilisers that impacted tea and rice production, thus hitting the country’s main revenue earner and destroying its food security. Of course, as the government has been saying, some states have to show some fiscal responsibility as they can derail the India story. It is a different matter that the “top” fiscally irresponsible states are Opposition ruled. But that is a story for another day. The bottom line is, if India had not shown the sagacity to buy discounted Russian oil and thus keep the disruption at a minimum, it might have gone the way many western countries are headed. Take a look at Germany, for instance, the European country with the maximum dependence on Russian gas, supply of which it has promised to phase out. It is just as if to show Germany what phasing out would mean Vladimir Putin has weaponized gas by shutting down the Nord Stream pipeline under the pretext of maintenance. As a result of which, Germany’s supply has been hit to the extent that heating may become a problem in winter and rationing of gas for domestic use may have to start. The energy crisis is so severe that the German government is scouring for fuel, while also reactivating its coal plants, thus adding to major air pollution. And to think of the pressure that India has had to face—and is still facing—when it refused to cut down, and instead ramped up its purchase of Russian oil. It is but natural for India to keep its national interest ahead of “principles” on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The charge often hurled at India of funding Russia’s war, is hokum, because even after increasing its purchase of Russian fossil fuel, after the first hundred days of the war, India was the eighth largest buyer in the world, with the top seven places reserved for China and nations such as Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Turkey, Poland and France. The need of the hour is an immediate cessation of violence, which India has been insisting on. Instead what we are witnessing is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy trying to make the West believe that he can win the war and it is the West’s duty to fund this war between “good and evil”. He has found an enthusiastic cheerleader in US President Joe Biden, who has made this war into a matter of personal prestige and is fighting a proxy war with Vladimir Putin by arming Zelenskyy with the most sophisticated weapons for free—weapons that somehow do not seem to be winning the war for Ukraine, and are bound to find their way into the black market sooner than later. This is not to justify Putin’s invasion of Ukraine; but if the West has such a huge problem with him, it should try to remove him, instead of taking the sanctions-forRussia and weapons-for-Ukraine route, for, till date, the Russians are not showing any signs of rising up against Putin. But the cascading effect of the war and the sanctions has affected the whole world. It doesn’t seem that Putin is losing the war, notwithstanding western assertions to the contrary. He seems to be effectively blockading Ukraine, and punishing the West. In fact, the immediate casualties of the war are the Western leaders: Boris Johnson has lost his chair, Emmanuel Macron his majority and Joe Biden is about to lose his midterm elections. Hence, isn’t it time for the West to insist on a cessation of violence, to ask Zelenskyy to negotiate with Putin and settle for a truncated Ukraine and peace? When it comes to giving up some territory to Putin—territory which anyway was highly contested—and reduce the suffering of the rest of the world, the latter is definitely a better option. The West needs to ask Zelenskyy to be a true leader, instead of a Vogue poster boy. Listen to India for once and stop this war. Enough is enough.
Why Hulla Bol when India is doing better than many?
Price rise is only a ruse. As the noose tightens on Congress leaders, the country is certain to witness more such protests on one pretext or the other.
The Halla Bol protest by the Congress on Friday (5 August) against increase in prices of essential commodities has nothing to do with reality. At the best, this was an attempt to demonstrate Congress’ anger at the various ED cases against members of the Nehru-Gandhi family and other members of the party for their acts of omissions and commissions when the party led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was in power at the Centre. This was the Congress’ message to the Centre that if you investigate into various cases of corruption, be ready to face the music. The Congress thinks it has many aces up its sleeves to create troubles for the government. As the noose tightens on Congress leaders, the country is certain to witness more such protests on one pretext or the other. Price rise is only a ruse. And surprisingly the protests happened after a full-fledged debate in Parliament on the issue. The Congress had raised the issues in Parliament but did not have the courage to listen to the response. It walked out when the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman was giving reply to the issues raised during the debate. The opposition was trying to create an impression that the situation of India’s economy was so bad that it would go the Sri Lanka way. Sitaraman asserted that the parameters were strong and there was no chance of India getting into recession or stagflation. Despite severe crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic, Omicron and Ukraine conflicts, the country was able to manage to keep inflation to a level on 7%. She pointed out that during the UPA regime, inflation had touched double digit figure and for 22 consecutive months, the figure was pegged at 9%. To understand what this 7% inflation means, there is a need to understand this in the global context. Data released by governments across the world reveals that India ranks at 108 out of 172 countries which means that its situation is better than 107 countries in the world. Of these, 63 countries have inflation of more than 10%. The United States, Germany and many other developed economies have higher inflation than that of India. Food prices have risen globally due to supply side management triggered by the Ukraine crisis, climate change and the Covid pandemic. Prices have begun to stabilise, but this will take time. India has done well by taking care of the poor by giving them free ration. Close to 80 crore people have been provided this free food protection. The prices of vegetables, potatoes and onions have seasonable variables, but they are well within manageable limit. Not that the government is not recognising that there is pressure on food prices. At a meeting of the Niti Ayog on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a call for stepping up domestic production by modernising agriculture, animal husbandry and food production. This would make India self-sufficient in farm sector and become a global leader, he said. Stress was given on diversification of crops to meet the domestic demand and reduce demand on imports. India imports edible oil from Malaysia and Indonesia and spends close to Rs one lakh crore just on this. The cost had gone up due to restrictions imposed by Indonesia on exports after the Ukraine crisis. The opposition needs to appreciate that when the entire world is suffering, you cannot single out India and predict gloom. Does it understand that there is global shortage of shipping containers leading to high bidding among traders to get their goods on the ships in an interconnected and interdependent world? Prices of electronic appliances that use micro-chips are likely to get costlier due to acute shortage of these chips. The factories manufacturing these micro-chips had shut down during Covid-19 Pandemic. Demand piled up and the manufacturers are finding it difficult to meet the backlog plus additional demands. Traders say that there is a waiting period of up to one year. In Taiwan, that produces about 63% of the chips, production suffered due to drought since chip-making demands huge water supply. According to an estimate, the chip crisis is going to be there till 2023. There has been a substantial increase from 10 to 30 per cent in the price of goods that use these chips including televisions, computers, kitchen appliances and cars. If the China-Taiwan confrontation intensifies, this would aggravate the crisis and the waiting for buying new cars could increase. Oil prices have increased due to low demand during Covid resulting in low income by oil producing countries and an increase in prices now to compensate for that. They are not increasing production to match the increase in demand. Global situation such as the Russian war on Ukraine has added fuel to fire. This will take time to stabilise. And we know that increase in oil prices have cascading influence on the economy since transportation becomes costly. Let us try to understand the oil situation for India. In 2014, when the Modi government came to power, the price of crude oil was 98.97 USD. It nose-dived to 43.67 USD in 2016, rose to 71.34 USD in 2018 and came to an all-time low of 41.96 USD in 2020. But it has touched a high of 106.92 USD in 2022. It has been predicted that the prices would increase up to 140 USD in months to come, thereby predicting hard times. This pressure had been faced even by the US that released a huge volume of oil from its reserves but the impact on its domestic market was only marginal. But amidst global economic pressure, India is an island of hope. Sitaraman pointed out that despite projection of a lower growth, India would still be counted among the fastest growing economies of the world. Just to make a comparison, she pointed out that: “4,000 banks in China are reportedly on the verge of going bankrupt. In India, the gross non-performing assets (NPAs) of scheduled commercial banks has hit a six-year low of 5.9% in FY 2022.” This certainly would not be music for the Congress that tries to show China in better light to belittle the Modi-government. Talking about the economic parameters, the Finance Minister pointed out that the GST collection since its inception was the second highest in July 2022 at Rs 1.49 lakh crore. She quoted economist Raghuram Rajan who said that the “the RBI has done a good job in increasing foreign exchange reserve of India, insulating India from problems being faced by neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Sri Lanka… New Delhi is less indebted which is a good sign”. India boasted of a robust foreign exchange reserves at $573.875 billion by the end of last month. While people may feel the pinch, there is no reason to be gloomy. After bad years, India is showing signs of faster recovery. Foreign investors are showing signs of confidence on our economy. At such a situation, those who predict gloom and slowdown are definitely not speaking the truth and are motivated by vested interests. Confidence is needed on the system and our strengths.
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