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Data protection, privacy and law: Is India ready yet?

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The debate surrounding big data, privacy and security in India has reached different levels. One may ask that, how does the legal and regulatory framework in India, amongst other things, surrounding big data, surveillance, internet of things (IoT – Tech 5.0), cybersecurity and privacy balance the pre-requisites of protecting the privacy of its citizens on one hand; and, at the same time, foster novel inventions and effective developments on the other? Well, the answer to the above question is convoluted.

In the 21st century, data appears to be the new coinage. Hackers utilize the data for generating wealth illegally; Conglomerates utilize it for generating wealth legally and the Government utilizes the same for the purposes of keeping threats at bay and/or surveillance. Of course, there is no doubt about the fact that data is an extremely valuable commodity in the present century. Though, the law in India seems to be trying to address various nuances concerning data protection and privacy but, the law is stepping-up. Certain questions regarding the proposed personal data protection legislation in India emerge surrounding privacy related damage and probable misuse, if any.

PERSONAL DATA PROTECTION & PRIVACY

Before delving into the niceties of the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 (“Bill”) that is presently being discussed at length in a joint parliamentary committee – it is relevant to note that the Supreme Court of India (“SC”) vide its judgment dated August 24, 2017 held that the right to privacy is a fundamental right that is essentially emanating from the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Interestingly, vide the aforesaid judgment, the SC also noted that “…privacy of personal data and facts is an essential aspect of the right to privacy[…]. Apart from declaring that privacy is a fundamental right, the SC also acknowledged ‘Informational Privacy’ to be a subset of the right to privacy .

Be that as it may, the aforementioned privacy judgment of the SC may entail wider implications insofar as the law governing data protection and privacy is concerned in India. The proposed Bill and the extant laws will now entail going through the strictures and/or frameworks concerning life and personal liberty of the citizens, as enumerated under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Consequent to the aforesaid privacy judgment rendered by the SC, an expert committee was set-up and led by Justice B.N Srikrishna to scrutinize the feasibility of a new law concerning data protection and privacy in India regarding its contours and/or limits surrounding the same. Per the ‘Statement of Object and Reasons’ of the Bill, the same is based on the endorsements of the expert committee’s report and the comments received from numerous stakeholders involved in the process.

At the outset, one may note that privacy as-a-concept is not absolute or unfettered and there is no ‘one size fits all approach’ if one were to define it. However, trying to define privacy is a herculean task for the simple reason that the term (aka privacy) may signify different things to different people. Regrettably, it remains a challenge to ensure that the legal framework and the intent thereof concerning the Bill satisfies the needs and requirements of every entity – be it the Government, Corporates or NGOs (including citizens). All in all, it appears to be a challenge to effectively harmonize the clash between the privacy of one entity vis à vis the security of the other entity.

At this juncture, it is imperative to understand the extant legislations (other than the Bill) and/or policies surrounding data protection and privacy in India. Apart from the regional legislations concerning data protection and privacy, the personal data of citizens in India is also protected via concomitant safeguards developed by the Courts, especially the SC under the common law doctrine(s), rules of equity and the principle of breach of confidence.

The extant legislations are primarily regional-in-nature that includes, but is not limited to, the applicable provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the applicable rules framed thereunder, the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies Act) 2016, etc. Moreover, numerous entities in highly regulated sectors such as banking and financial services, telecommunications space are (also) amenable to information technology and confidentiality obligations arising under regional / local laws for the purposes of storing / utilizing the clienteles personal and confidential data / information for stipulated purposes only.

Yet, at this stage, two questions beg innumerable consideration(s), at the get-go, what measures ought to be taken to duly protect the personal and confidential data of the citizens till the time the Bill is enforced as a law ¬– are regional legislations apposite to address the same ? Next, is there a requirement to legislate and enforce a distinct – an all-encompassing law – concerning surveillance or legislate distinct regional / local laws with respect to the same ?

To my mind, it appears that we are currently functioning in a legal vacuum insofar as surveillance is concerned in India. As regards surveillance law, India does not address the issue of surveillance appositely as there is no (principal) surveillance law – matters concerning national interest and security have been laid out simply by the executive in exercise of its executive functions that do not provide for a legal framework and/or basis. Hence, a legislation governing not only data protection and privacy in India but, also necessitating the Union / Govt. to obey the prescribed data protection (including surveillance) rules warrants urgent necessity.

From the above, it necessarily appears that an all-inclusive legislation governing and regulating the storage, process and distribution of personal and sensitive data is a pressing priority. At present, there is no single (and an all-inclusive) legislation that governs and regulates the storage and distribution of personal and sensitive data / information in India.

THE BILL AND THE WAY FORWARD

The Bill has tried to address various issues surrounding the collection, process and utilization of personal and sensitive data / information by numerous entities in India. Rather interestingly, the Bill seeks to suggest a pre-emptive approach / system that hinges onto excessive governmental involvement and supposedly fortifies the Government. As a result, it may lead to a probable upsurge in compliance related costs for Corporates or other entities spanning numerous sectors and thereby leading to disturbing watering-down of the data privacy apropos the Government.

Further, the Bill intends to safeguard the privacy of the Indian citizens by establishing a pre-emptive system that controls how entities collect, process and utilize personal or sensitive data / information, rather than protecting the citizen’s privacy due to the resulting damage being caused by the perpetual infringement of the aforementioned privacy.

Besides, the proposed Bill is problematic and questionable when it comes to the fortification of the citizen’s privacy as the Bill considerably reinforces the Government’s part in the digital space and consequently leads to increasing surveillance and watering-down of the property rights in India without ensuring apposite counterbalance. In this regard, it is likely that India as a digital economy may observe disastrous outcomes concerning novelty in the digital space, though, brushing aside the intended object and purpose of protecting data privacy in India.

As a matter of fact, recently, the Jio-Facebook deal wherein Facebook acquired a 9.99% stake in Reliance Jio platforms appears to be worrisome in the context of data privacy. Both the Conglomerates now have entry to copious amounts of personal data / information of numerous citizens of India. What that means is, pending the enactment of the Bill into a legislation, the collection, process and utilization of personal and sensitive data / information by the aforesaid Conglomerates would be subject to their privacy policies in India.

Nevertheless, what worries me is that the users have not been provided with adequate information as to why or what plans the entity has to do with the personal data / information being sought and/or collected, and I don’t think most users understand the meaning of the terms – ‘Data Policy’ or ‘Privacy Policy’ – concerning the privacy and data policy of the entity.

If one were to study Facebooks’ privacy and data policy , it sets forth distinct data distribution arrangements not only with its users but, also third-party partners, albeit, restricted to stipulated purpose(s) only. Popular Facebook products like – Instagram and Messenger are (behind-the-scenes) disseminating significant amounts of data considerably among its popular products. Meanwhile, WhatsApp – a popular cross platform messaging and VoIP service application acquired by Facebook in the year 2014 already shares extant systems, processes, technology and apposite infrastructure with a view to provide its users a stable and reliable experience across its business eco-system.

This exemplifies my worried state concerning the Jio-Facebook deal, amongst others, for the reason that India does not have a data protection regime. In the absence of a legal and regulatory framework concerning data protection and privacy in India, nobody can stop the two Conglomerates (including others) – beyond their morals, values and ethics – to persuade them to stop the collection, process and utilization of personal and sensitive data / information of its users. Of course, it goes without saying that, one can drag them to the Court(s) of law should things falter but, sans any legal or regulatory framework in place, things (or your data) might get out of hand. Hence, it is desirable to duly implement, as soon as practicable and keeping in mind the interest of all stakeholders, the Bill (at the earliest) in order to protect our privacy. This is precisely why we need the legislation for safeguarding our privacy we so badly deserve.

[Disclaimer: Ali Waris Rao is an in-house legal counsel at Hindalco Industries Ltd., Aditya Birla Group. The views expressed are personal and have no bearing on the firm he represents.]

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Policy & Politics

National Education Policy: Govt aims to save Rs 2 lakh crore spent by Indian students abroad

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There are almost 8 lakh Indian students studying in various foreign universities and spend on an average Rs 2 lakh crores every year in fees and other expenses. The government is taking steps to ensure that quality education and similar facilities are provided in India itself so that these students are retained here, stated Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, Union Minister of Education, Government of India. He was speaking at the 14th NATIONAL EDUCATION SUMMIT 2021 – NEP 2020 – ‘Transforming Educational Landscape of the Nation and Carving a Road Map for Implementation’ organized by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

The minister stated that the education ministry is in talks with more than 128 foreign universities on ways to collaborate so that similar facilities can be given to the students here as well. “We have already got more than 50000 student registrations and there are already almost 1000 students involved in research and development in India,” he said.

According to Dr Pokhriyal, the government of India ensured that even during the lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic, none of the students lost an academic year due to the non-accessibility of academic facilities.

“Almost 33 crore students across the country were able to get online education. Even in remote villages, the education institutes ensured that students could get access to their studies through radios and rooftop loudspeakers,” he said.

Speaking on the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020, the minister explained that till class 5, students would be able to get an education in their mother tongue or the language of their preference. “The Education facilities in India would get a huge boost with the introduction of the NEP. This would also help in the promotion of Local languages for education,” he said.

Dr Pokhriyal also asked the Industry representative to collaborate with educational institutes to help design the curriculum.

“Education is the most important pillar for any economy. Once the industries collaborate with the educational institutes, the curriculum can be designed in a way where the students can also gain industrial experience as a part of their studies,” he informed.

Professor Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science & Technology (DST) explains that the education system should be designed as a means of achieving creativity and skill development.

“NEP 2020 aims to achieve that. The education curriculum should be aligned with the needs of the industry. Its objective should be to help in problem-solving of the society,” he said.

According to Prof. Sharma, setting up of the National Research Foundation would also help in building the research capacity of the universities and colleges in the country. “The government has also earmarked a huge budget of Rs 50000 crores to spend over the period of 5 years for the creation of the National Research Foundation (NRF). This in turn will help in funding the research in the range of disciplines right from science and technology to humanities,” he added.

Kunwar Shekhar Vijendra, Co-Chairman, National Council on Education & Chancellor, Shobhit University explained that the National Education Policy will connect the past with the future with a focus on excelling in the education sector.

“The National Research Fund and the National Technical Research Organization will bring big changes in the research and development ecosystem of the country and will be more inclusive. National Education Policy will play a crucial role in bridging the gap between research and education,” he said.

According to Prof Ashutosh Sharma, setting up of the National Research Foundation would help in building the research capacity of universities and colleges in the country. “The government has also earmarked a huge budget of Rs 50,000 crore to spend over the period of 5 years for the creation of the National Research Foundation. This in turn will help in funding the research in the range of disciplines right from science and technology to humanities,” he added.

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The 21st century belongs to young India, country poised to become R&D capital: Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’

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Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, Union Minister of Education, Govt of India today said that as universities and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) move towards academic reforms, an ecosystem that is both flexible and innovative is being created. “As we move towards self-reliance, it is important that we rediscover the ancient knowledge and tradition of education system of India.

Addressing the inaugural of the 16th FICCI Higher Education Summit 2021, organised in collaboration with the Union Ministry of Education and Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Mr Pokhriyal said that “India is poised to become the R&D capital of the world not because of the cost advantage but due to the rich and intelligent human capital that the country is bestowed with.

“Built on the foundational pillars of access, equity, quality, affordability and accountability, the Minister said that the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is aligned to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and aims to transform India into a vibrant knowledge society and a global knowledge superpower,” Dr Pokhrialsaid.

In the next 20-30 years, the energy and talent of young India will be used in the development of the nation and advancing the world. The 21st century belongs to Young India,” he said.

I firmly believe that NEP 2020 has been formulated for the rise of the nation- the nation of ancient world class universities of Nalanda, Takshashila, Vikramshila, among others; the nation that was the ‘VishwaGuru’ (global leader). India has been pioneers in fields of medicine, mathematics and chemistry, yoga. We want India to rediscover the ancient knowledge and tradition of the education system of India and rise to newer heights as far as education, R&D and innovation is concerned, Dr Pokhrial said.

Further, elaborating on the NEP 2020, the Minister added that the NEP and its implementation has drawn global attention to India. The Cambridge University, in its message of appreciation for the NEP 2020 has said that India, aided by NEP 2020 is set to regain its stature of world leaders in education.

“The NEP will ensure that India can appreciate and utilise the talents of the youth of our country,” he said. Dr Pokhriyal also spoke about the importance of retaining talent in the country. The ministry is trying to curb the brain drain and intends of taking higher education gross enrolment ratio to 50 per cent, he said.

Talking about the importance of the involvement of the private sector, the Minister said that while the government formulates policies, it is up to the private bodies and institutions to implement and execute the same. The government, he said, looks towards a greater private participation in the education sector by planning to convert 30 universities into Institutes of Eminence (IoEs) from the existing 20.

Lauding the FICCI Higher Education Summit, Dr Pokhriyal said that over the years, the summit has evolved into a thought leadership forum and brings together key stakeholders including, policymakers, educationists, industry and students for deliberations and knowledge sharing at both national and international levels.

Padma Vibhushan Dr RA Mashelkar, National Research Professor and Chancellor of Institute of Chemical Technology said that from ‘Right to Education’ we must move to ‘Digital Rights Education’. “This digital disruption will change the fundamentals of the legacy education system; hence, we must take advantage of that. Coupling future of jobs with future of education; a seamless system of linking education, research and innovation and finally borderless multidisciplinary education is the need of the hour,” he said.

Speaking at the inaugural, Mr Uday Shankar, President, FICCI said that the radical changes in the education sector have placed learners at the centre and shifted the focus from teaching to learning through digital modes.

“However, with its 672 million young population, preparing to join the workforce and citizenry for the new order society requires massive disruption and of rethinking the traditional educational model. Jobs will have to be created to gainfully employ 100 million youth who will enter the job market over the next decade,” Mr Shankarsaid.

However, Mr Shankar further said that this challenge is not an easy one. “It requires the best of technology, the best of minds, but it also requires an enabling policy framework that thinks of education very differently,” he added.

Over the years, said Mr Shankar, education has gained interrupted focus of the government and policy interventions. “The NEP 2020 released by the government is a powerful document. It conveys a clear bias for a disruptive change and takes into cognizance the issues of equitability, inclusivity, accessibility, exploratory and experimental- all ingredients required for transforming into Education 4.0 and beyond.

“We should give serious consideration to participation from the private sector into unlocking the real value in education,” he further added.

Dr Vidya Yeravdekar, Chair, FICCI Higher Education Committee and Pro-Chancellor Symbiosis, International University said that it is imperative that all stakeholders work together in these (COVID) times. “The government, universities, teachers, students, and civil societies that will absorb our students need to come together. The NEP 2020 has carved a new path for all of us. The world is watching this transformation of the Indian education system,” she said.

The govt is now in the process of implementing the NEP and this implementation has gained a lot of momentum. “We will see a lot of changes in our education system right from this academic year,” she said.

Dr Sekar Viswanathan, Co-Chair, FICCI Higher Education Committee and VP, VIT University informed that more than 3,000 delegates, including 300+ foreign delegates from 74 countries are participating in the virtual summit. “This conference is an attempt to deliberate upon and understand the system changes that are required to develop a higher education ecosystem that instils resilience, encourages innovation, promotes sustainability, and enables students and workforce to be enterprising to face the disruptive future,” he said.

Mr Dilip Chenoy, Secretary General, FICCI thanked the Minister for the extensive consultation process that went into framing the NEP. “The consultation processes and the task force that had been created to execute the NEP will successfully engage with the industry,” he said.

FICCI EY Report, ‘Higher Education in India: 2040’, was also released at the event. The report, while defining Education 4.0 in the current context, has highlighted the significant emerging trends within the higher education sector and drawn learnings and highlighted global best practices.

Dr Rupamanjari Ghosh, Co-Chair, FICCI Higher Education Committee and Vice Chancellor, Shiv Nadar University; Dr Rajan Saxena, Advisor, FICCI Higher Education Committee and Founder, The Open-Ed Works attended the session.

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Policy & Politics

New Development Financial Institution should balance between infrastructure and development needs

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her Budget speech, said that a Bill would be introduced to set up a DFI and Rs 20,000 crore would be provided to capitalise the institution. ‘The ambition is to have a lending portfolio of at least Rs 5 lakh crore for this DFI in three years’ time,’ she said.

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Professor Stephany Griffith-Jones, Financial Markets Director, Initiative for Policy Dialogue, Columbia University, said that the focus on DFIs now is on helping countries to achieve ‘green growth’, promote innovation, provide counter-cyclical finance not just to the infrastructure sector but also crucial areas.

Former Deputy Governor of the RBI, Rakesh Mohan, on Friday suggested that the proposed new Development Financial Institution (DFI) needs to attract ‘patient capital’ investors as well as leading experts on its board and in top management. Mohan, who was also a former Executive Director at the IMF, made these comments during a webinar organised by the think-tank Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) and India International Centre.

It comes in the backdrop of the Union Budget 2021-2022 recognising the long-term debt financing needs of the infrastructure sector and proposing a “professionally managed” DFI “to act as a provider, enabler and catalyst for infrastructure financing”. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her Budget speech, had also said that a Bill will be introduced to set up a DFI and provided Rs 20,000 crore to capitalise the institution. “The ambition is to have a lending portfolio of at least Rs 5 lakh crore for this DFI in three years-time,” she had said. Later, Financial Services Secretary Debasish Panda had reportedly said India Infrastructure Finance Company Limited could be subsumed into the new DFI – the National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development. The proposed DFI will also play a crucial role in realising the National Infrastructure Pipeline, under which around 7,000 projects have been identified with an estimated Rs 111 lakh crore-worth of investment between 2020 and 2025.

Rakesh Mohan also proposed that the new DFI should be headquartered in Mumbai, India’s financial capital. The first CEO or CMD of the proposed DFI should be a person with India’s best interests in mind.

Echoing Mohan, former Deputy Governor of RBI Shyamala Gopinath also said there should be an emphasis on good governance. In addition, there is a need to focus on issues such as contract enforcement and project bankability, she said.

Speaking on the occasion, former Executive Director of IDBI, G. A. Tadas, said the Budget proposal of providing Rs 20,000 crore to capitalise the institution will not be sufficient to finance infrastructure projects to the tune of Rs 111 lakh crore by 2025 and help the country to be a USD 5 trillion economy. The initial capital for the DFI needs to be augmented to at least Rs 50,000-60,000 crore to achieve a portfolio of around Rs 5 lakh crore in the next three years, he added. He said there has to be an emphasis on a robust risk management System.

Professor Stephany Griffith-Jones, Financial Markets Director, Initiative for Policy Dialogue, Columbia University, said the focus on DFIs now is on helping countries to achieve ‘green growth’, promote innovation, provide counter-cyclical finance not just to the infrastructure sector but also crucial areas such as health and other social sectors. Larger number of DFIs can have greater impact, she said, adding that post the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, the DFIs have seen a renaissance.

Professor Sachin Chaturvedi, Director General, RIS and Professor Milindo Chakrabarti, Visiting Fellow, RIS, also spoke during the programme.

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Bank account & property will be seized for violation of GST rule

Bharat vyapar bandh on 26 February on the call of CAIT .

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The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has called for a Bharat Vyapar Bandh on February 26, and the trade organizations in all the states of the country have decided to join the bandh. CAIT has called for a Bharat Vyapar Bandh, against the recent amendments to the GST rules as it is adverse to business and demanding a ban on e-commerce company Amazon immediately.

CAIT National President B C Bhartia & Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said that said that on February 26, “Dharna” will be organized at about 1500 places across the country, including Delhi, to raise traders voice against the unjustified amendments in GST rules and traders across Country will not login GST portal on Bandh day as a mark of protest . They said that most of the leading trade organisations in different states of the Country both at national and state level including Delhi have decided to join the vyapar bandh, while some other organizations will also announce their support by this evening.

Bhartia and Khandelwal told that Bharat Vyapar Bandh of traders will be rational and peaceful across the country. While wholesale and retail markets will remain completely closed, shops selling essential commodities have not been included in the shutdown in view of the need of the citizens of the country. Shops which cater to the needs of people in residential colonies have also been kept out of the bandh. They said that shutting down vyapar even for a day was never the intention of the traders but it is the changed format of GST which has forces us for holding a day long Bandh. GST tax system has become very complex rather than simplified and is completely contradict the original declared vision & purpose of GST implementation, which has now become a never ending cycle of huge compliance’s.Instead of simplifying and rationalizing the tax system, the GST Council is working towards imposing maximum burden of tax on traders, which is grossly undemocratic.

Bhartia and Khandelwal said that after amendment in the current rules, the tax officer has been given unlimited rights to many things because of which now the GST registration of any trader will be in hands of the tax officer and he can cancel it even without giving any notice or opportunity of hearing, he can also seize the traders bank accounts and property, also Input credit of tax paid to traders can be blocked. Such provisions will discourage traders and create many obstacles in doing business.

CAIT Delhi State President Vipin Ahuja & State General Secretary Dev Raj Baweja said that the trade associations connected to scooter parts, electrical goods, medicines, computers and computer accessories, chemical, paint chemicals, bicycles, toys, papers, stationary in Delhi , Iron and Hardware, Sanitary Goods, Iron Trade, Jewelery, Rubber Plastics, FMCG Goods, Cosmetics, Readymade Garment, Wood & Plywood, Building Materials, Grocery, Oil, Spices, Food, Electronics, Mobile, Furnishing Fabric, Gift Items, Photo , General store, tarpaulins, ferro alloys, acrylic, aluminum, metal, machinery, marble, radio and radio parts, cement, file and envelope makers, handloom and handloom fabrics, metal scrap, agricultural implements, in Delhi and all over the Country have declared their support to Bharat Vyapar Bandh.

CAIT national president B.C. Bhartia and secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said that on 26 February “dharna” will be organised at about 1,500 places across the country, including Delhi, to raise traders’ voice against the unjustified amendments in GST rules and traders across the country will not login GST portal on that day as a mark of protest .

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Policy & Politics

Government aims to become self-reliant in silk sector in two years

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Smriti Zubin Irani, Union Minister of Textiles and Women & Child Development Government of India today said that the recent Budget has brought cheer to the textile industry with the announcement of seven mega textile parks. Additionally, INR 10,000 crores have been dedicated by the Govt of India for PLI schemes, specially dedicated to MMF and technical textiles.

Addressing the inaugural session of the Karnataka VastraTek – Apparel & Textile Conclave organised by the Department of Handloom and Textiles, Govt of Karnataka in association with FICCI Karnataka State Council, Ms Irani elaborated on the growth of the silk sector in the state, Ms Irani said that Karnataka reigns in the realm of silk. “Under the Silk Samagra Program, the Govt of India dedicated specifically over INR 2,000 crores for the development of silk. I am hopeful that the industry gives the state of Karnataka ideas, proposals or initiatives that can make our country Atmanirbhar in silk. We in the Ministry of Textiles are looking at the next two years to ensure that India is self-reliant in the space of silk,” she said.

“Just reducing the produce line to saris and garments would be doing a great injustice to the potential of the silk sector. We are aware that silk, especially the waste of a cocoon can be used by pharma and cosmetic companies. We are hopeful that industry captains can suggest usage of silk waste to help elaborate our production line or elaborate our diversification prospects, Ms Irani added.

On the future of textiles in the state of Karnataka, the Minister said that the MSP operations for cotton procurement by the Cotton Cooperation of India has touched over INR 359 crores in the state. “From 2014-15 to this year, the Ministry of Textiles has extended support of over INR 1,622 crores only for cotton procurement and MSP operations benefiting over 1.67 lakh farmers,” she said.

Highlighting the importance of the handicrafts sector, the Minister said that Pehchaan Cards were distributed to over 26,000 artisans. The latest handloom census has brought to light that there are over 50,000 weavers in Karnataka who are looking at new opportunities digitally to expand their markets. She further suggested that on lines of the GeM portal that has brought on-board over 1,50,000 weavers from across the country, a similar digital opportunity is given to the marketing of artisans and weavers of Karnataka.

The textile and the apparel sector were tested as an industry during the COVID times and we rose to that challenge nationally and internationally by becoming the second largest manufacturers of PPE suits. “The fact that we could turn around our manufacturing processes in less than 60 days to meet the immediate need of our country speaks volume and is a testimony to the talent of the textile industry,” she added.

Mr Shrimanth Balasaheb Patil, Minister of Handloom and Textile & Minority Welfare Department, Government of Karnataka said that the state was first state to implement a dedicated textile policy and has been an inspiration to other states in the country for the same. The Doddabalapur Integrated Textile Park is the first integrated textile park of the country spread across 48 acres of land and has over 85 units focused on weaving, warping, among others and has generated employment for over 8000 people.

“The Govt of Karnataka is committed to providing world class facilities with easy access to railways, airports and ports for the smooth export of goods and materials. The new Textile and Apparel Policy 2019-2024 has been formulated keeping industrial requirements in mind and the incentives provided is the best in the country. With constant monitoring, the sector will be able to tide over the difficult situation induced by the pandemic,” he said.

Mr Ullas Kamath, Chairman, FICCI Karnataka State Council & Joint Managing Director, Jyothy Labs Ltd said that the special emphasis given by the union budget 2021 to the textile and apparel sector to set up large textile parks are extremely important.

“Very few countries can boast of robust textile value chains that India has. Karnataka has been one of the key states of apparel and garment supplies to both domestic and international markets and the textile industry occupies key position in terms of its contribution to the state’s economy. The policy intervention by the Govt of Karnataka have created thriving manufacturing clusters.” he said.

The FICCI Karnataka State Council has been taking sector specific initiatives to improve industry performance. For the textile and apparel sector we are forming a subcommittee with leading garment manufacturers and this will certainly help to bring more vibrancy, he added.

Dr A Sakthivel, Chairman, Apparel Export Promotion Council (APEC) said that with the support and help extended by the Centre during in the last year, India became the second largest manufacturers of medical textile.

“Karnataka plays a vital role in apparel exports and does about INR 17,000 cr worth of exports per year. The state govt should utilise the PLI scheme and promote MMF garments in a big way, he said. There is a need for plug and play facilities for apparel manufacturing and processing, he suggested.

Speaking on the industry’s role, Mr R D Udeshi, President, Reliance Industries Limited said, “The time has come for the industry to come forward and be aggressive for reinvestment and become one of the major manufacturing hubs in the global arena. We, as an industry, have proved ourselves during the pandemic. From importing PPE suits to manufacturing and exporting the same, this has proved that the industry has the willpower and manufacturing excellence.”

Mr Jacob John, President – Premium Brands, Adithya Birla Fashion & Retail Limited said that the retail sector is pleased to see business bouncing back after a prolonged crisis induced by the pandemic. “With the steps taken by the govt, we expect business to attain normalcy by Q2 of FY22,” he said.

Mr Siddhartha Agarwal, Co-Chair, FICCI Karnataka State Council and Managing Director, Bhoruka Park Private Limited delivered the vote of thanks and said that the conclave had been organised against the background of the new state textile policy unveiled by the Govt of Karnataka.

On the future of textiles in Karnataka, the minister said that the MSP operations for cotton procurement by the Cotton Cooperation of India has touched over Rs 359 crore in the state. ‘From 2014-15 to this year, the Ministry of Textiles has extended support of over Rs 1,622 crore only for cotton procurement and MSP operations benefiting over 1.67 lakh farmers,” she said.

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Policy & Politics

India and Mauritius sign comprehensive economic cooperation and partnership agreement

As regards trade in services, Indian service providers will have access to around 115 sub-sectors from the 11 broad service sectors, such as professional services, computer related services, research & development, other business services, telecommunication, construction, distribution, education, environmental, financial, tourism & travel related, recreational, yoga, audio-visual services, and transport services.

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Dr Anup Wadhawan, Commerce Secretary, Government of India, and Ambassador Mr. Haymandoyal Dillum, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Government of Mauritius signed the India-Mauritius Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA)  in Port Louis yesterday, in the august presence of Prime Minister of Mauritius Mr Pravind Jugnauth, and External Affairs Minister, Govt of India, Mr S. Jaishankar.

CECPA is the first trade Agreement signed by India with a country in Africa. The Agreement is a limited agreement, which will cover Trade in Goods, Rules of Origin, Trade in Services, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, Dispute Settlement, Movement of Natural Persons, Telecom, Financial services, Customs Procedures and Cooperation in other Areas

Impact/benefits: CECPA provides for an institutional mechanism to encourage and improve trade between the two countries. The CECPA between India and Mauritius covers 310 export items for India, including food stuff and beverages (80 lines), agricultural products (25 lines), textile and textile articles (27 lines), base metals and articles thereof (32 lines), electricals and electronic item (13 lines), plastics and chemicals (20 lines), wood and articles thereof (15 lines), and others. Mauritius will benefit from preferential market access into India for its 615 products, including frozen fish, speciality sugar, biscuits, fresh fruits, juices, mineral water, beer, alcoholic drinks, soaps, bags, medical and surgical equipment, and apparel.

 As regards trade in services, Indian service providers will have access to around 115 sub-sectors from the 11 broad service sectors, such as professional services, computer related services, research & development, other business services, telecommunication, construction, distribution, education, environmental, financial, tourism & travel related, recreational, yoga, audio-visual services, and transport services.

 India has offered around 95 sub-sectors from the 11 broad services sectors, including professional services, R&D, other business services, telecommunication, financial, distribution, higher education, environmental, health, tourism and travel related services, recreational services and transport services.

Both sides have also agreed to negotiate an Automatic Trigger Safeguard Mechanism (ATSM) for a limited number of highly sensitive products within two years of the Signing of the Agreement.

Timelines: The Agreement will come into force at an early date.

The India-Mauritius CECPA will further cement the already deep and special relations between the two countries.

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