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Key legal challenges associated with artificial intelligence in India

Naina Pachnanda

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INTRODUCTION

Artificial Intelligence (hereinafter referred to as “AI”) and related technologies are crucial to the business ecosystem and are permeating into every sector. As AI gains more control over common subjects and services, it is bound to become potentially unpredictable and cause harm. While research on AI is being conducted all over the world, there are certain potential legal questions raised when it comes to the usage of AI. These range from criminal liability to data privacy concerns. This article addresses some of the key legal issues that crop up with respect to AI, across different sectors, as with an exciting new generation of AI solutions being developed it is essential that the same is regulated by a legal framework which allows AI to make the best possible impact in the economy.

In the event that there exists no legal definition for Artificial Intelligence, for the purpose of this article, Artificial Intelligence is defined as “a constellation of technologies that enable machines to act with higher levels of intelligence and emulate the human capabilities of sense, comprehend and act.”

Before one aims to pin point issues that arise with respect to an AI technology and attribute any liability to an AI technology, it is essential to determine the nature of the AI’s existence. This becomes important as the attribution of any liability would be based on the status granted to the AI in the country. To ensure their accountability under the law, AI entities could be treated as legal personalities, like corporations. Corporate liability of an individual was limited to motivate people to engage in commercial activities through corporations. The same principle could be extended to AI entities. This enables a number of advantages to the existing legal system to tackle upcoming challenges by AI without the need to make drastic changes in the legal system, to effectively solve AI related problems as AI developers are largely concerned about the liability arising from its actions.

KEY LEGAL

CHALLENGES

As mentioned above, assuming that an AI technology is given the status of legal personhood, in India, principles of tort law may be applied, in case of default by the AI technology. When an AI software is defective or use of such software injures the party using the software, it results in legal proceedings under the tort principle of negligence. In the case of AI, the software developer/programmer owes a duty of care to the customer/user. It is of course difficult to decide on the standard of care to be owed to the customer/user. The kind of software being implemented might assist in deciding the standard of duty of care that may be attributed to the software developer/programmer. For instance, if the system involved amounts to an “expert system” the befitting standard of care that would be that of an expert or a professional. Similarly, we could reason that if a person can be held liable for the wrongdoing of a human helper, the recipient of such support could be equally liable if they outsource their duties to a non-human helper instead, considering that such delegation is equally advantageous to them. The policy contention is quite compelling that using the assistance of a self-learning and autonomous machine should not be treated any differently from employing a human auxiliary, if such assistance leads to the harm of a third party . However, to hold the principal liable for the wrongdoing of another, it may be challenging to determine the standard against which the operations of non-human helpers will be assessed in order to emulate the degree of misconduct, as in human auxiliaries. The potential standard should take into consideration, that in many areas of application non-human auxiliaries are more safe and less likely to cause damage to others than human beings, and the law should at least not dissuade their relevance.

Again, assuming that an AI technology is granted the status of a legal person, the AI technology can be held liable under the criminal law system. For criminal liability to be established both the elements of mens rea( mental element) and actus reus (physical act) are essential to be present. The pertinent question that arises here is that how does an AI technology fulfil these two essential aspects of criminal liability? And how is an AI technology liable directly for the commission of an offence?

Assuming an AI is an innocent agent , the obvious question that arises is that who shall be held liable for the crime committed? Here there are two candidates at play, i.e. the programmer of the Al software and the user of the AI software. A programmer of an Al software might design a program in order to commit offences through the Al entity. Both the programmer or the user do not perform any physical act in the commission of the crime and therefore, they do not meet the actus reus requirement of the offence. The legal result of this is that the programmer and the user should be criminally liable, as the principle of mens rea or malafide intention is attributed to them for the specific offence committed, while the Al entity has no criminal liability whatsoever.

In another scenario, assuming there is excess involvement of the programmers or the users in the day to day activities of the Al entity, but without any intention of committing an offence by way of the Al entity, negligence or recklessness should be considered as the standard of mens rea.

Yet another viewpoint suggests that an Al algorithm might have many characteristics and qualifications that exceed those of an average human being, but all such qualities are not essential in order to impose criminal liability. As far as a human or a corporation is concerned, if they are able to fulfil both the essentials of the mental and physical elements, only then can criminal liability be imposed. Similarly, if an AI technology is capable of fulfilling both the essentials of mens rea and actus reus, then criminal liability can be imposed on the AI as well. So long as an AI technology, controls a mechanical or other mechanism to move its moving parts, any act by the AI technology here may be considered as performed by the Al technology itself, thereby fulfilling the requirement of the physical component, i.e. actus reus. As far as the mental element or mens rea is concerned, the only essential requirements that need to be fulfilled under the general ambit of criminal law are knowledge, intent, negligence, etc. Knowledge is defined as sensory reception of factual data and the understanding of that data. Most Al technologies are well- prepared for such kind of reception. The process of analysis in Al systems parallels that of human understanding. The cognitive ability of the human brain understands the data received by senses such as eyes, ears, hands, etc., by analyzing that data. Similarly, advanced AI algorithms are trying to emulate human cognitive patterns. Therefore, if a human being can be held criminally liable for an offence by fulfilling the two criteria of intention and physical act, why should an AI be exempt from the same?

Another potential legal issue that crops up is that of the AI being defective in nature. This attracts product liability. As per the concept of product liability in case of any defect in the product, the manufacturer or the seller of the product is to be held liable for any defect in the product. However, as far as equating an AI technology to a product is concerned, the question that often pops up is that is it fair to hold the creator liable for any injury or harm caused by the AI, as this would inevitably draw an analogy with the principle of strict liability. It is essential that all AI technologies should have limits placed on their ability to cause harm, and it could be argued that there is no better person than the creator to be able to prevent any such harm caused by the AI as well as compensate for any financial losses resulting from such harm.

With an increasing shift in business towards the digital set up, and an increase in the demand of software products, another area of concern, is that of Intellectual Property Rights, particularly the Patent law. As far as protection of AI innovation is concerned, the Patent Act,1970 currently provides protection only to the true and first inventor, which implies a legal person , which includes either a natural person or an artificial person, i.e. a corporation. Section 3(k) of Patent Act 1970 clearly states that “mathematical or business method or computer programme per se or algorithms are excluded from patentability. However, in the recent order by a quasi-judicial body, in the case of Ferid Allani v Union of India has stated that computer inventions that meet the criteria of a ‘technical effect’ , are patentable under the law. This order opens the doors for an enormous corpus of innovation to now become protectable and more valuable as patent protection for innovations in India is essential to foster innovation.

Any discussion on AI is incomplete without addressing the issue of data protection. The functioning of AI is based on the dataset that is used to train the AI’s actions. Therefore, it is essential that such data should be utilized in a safe manner. Since there is a wide range of data collected at an individual’s end, to be utilized, the problem lies with respect to the safe usage of such data. In the event that the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 ( hereinafter referred to as “PDP Bill”), is pending before Parliament, the Information Technology Act, 2000 alongside the Information Technology(Reasonable security practices and procedures and sensitive personal data or information) Rules, 2011 provide a framework, for protection of sensitive personal information, as far as body corporates are concerned. This apart, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology ( hereinafter referred to as “MeitY”) has acknowledged the imbalance with a few companies dominating the market and has recommended that there should be mandatory data sharing mandatory to open up competition in any concerned sector enabling startups, or for other community/ public interest purposes. This is to ensure startups and small medium enterprises are given equal opportunity as compared to big corporate giants and there is no monopoly by corporate giants.

CONCLUSION

Given that AI is a growing industry and India has a tremendous corpus of AI innovators, with the development of an imaginative legal framework to govern the same, AI innovation can be safely unlocked and fostered, in a fashion that is safe and yet dynamic.

DISCLAIMER

The views expressed in this article are that of the author alone and do not reflect the views by any organization.

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Policy & Politics

IRDAI must be allowed to regulate hospitals as well, says T.L. Alamelu, Member (Non-Life), IRDAI

Tarun Nangia

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The Member (Non-Life) of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) believes that either there must be a separate regulator for the healthcare segment or that the IRDAI must be allowed to regulate hospitals.

“We wish that there is a regulator or we are allowed to regulate hospitals,” said T L Alamelu, while addressing the 23rd CII Insurance and Pensions Summit.

The regulator also suggested that they are attentive towards the increasing price of Insurance premiums.

“Have an eye on how insurers increase their premiums,” Alamelu added.

Alamelu also mentioned that “InsurTechs and FinTechs are both ways for the industry to move forward” and that the “regulator has allowed the industry to do digital policies and we have in the regulatory sandbox encouraged this marriage between the InsurTech and insurers.”

Also speaking at the CII Insurance and Pensions Summit was Supratim Bandyopadhyay, Chairman, PFRDA.

Bandyopadhyay suggested that the country is not future ready in terms of penetration of pension schemes. The chief of the pension regulation in India advised that financial literacy and especially pension literacy could be helpful in making India ready for the future.

“We are still not future ready, and I believe lot of financial literacy and pension literacy has to go into it,” Shri Bandyopadhyay suggested.

Bandyopadhyay also said that “IRDAI and PFRDA can come together and we can create a forum through which, if CII agrees, we can work together – all three of us to create awareness in a big way.”

Talking later at the Summit, about the risks faced by the Insurance sector, was Suresh Mathur, Executive Director IRDAI.

Mathur highlighted that “Cybersecurity is constantly being rated as one of the top threats to business today.”

“Data protection is an area that will require closer examination by all the stakeholders as the volume of personal data handled by the insurers increased,” he added.

Also addressing the 23rd edition of the CII Insurance and Pensions Summit was Randip Singh Jagpal, Chief General Manager, IRDAI.

Jagpal was optimistic of where the Insurance industry is and said that, “the spread of insurance penetration has made its way to the village level through the CSEs or other post offices.”

He also added that “people are more aware as to how to meet their security needs, they look upon insurance in meeting their protection needs.”

Jagpal also mentioned that the “insurance products are being structured in a very simplified manner so there is a lot of focus on having simple products which are easy to identify and easy to explain to the customer.”

The CII Insurance and Pensions Summit was also addressed by Saurabh Mishra, Joint Secretary, Department of Financial Services, who highlighted the importance of Government of India schemes in bridging the socio-economic divide.

“The initiatives like the Jeevan Jyoti, Suraksha Bima Yojana, Atal Pension Yojana and the Ayushman Bharat scheme have been kind of stand-out initiatives that aim to provide a social security net to insurance and pension schemes. These initiatives have certainly helped addressing the socio-economic needs of the poor, the underserved, the underprivileged by providing financial security of some sort,” Mishra said.

He also highlighted that the insurance industry should “focus on steadily shifting towards increasing the access of low-cost simple insurance products including those that can be sold through all channels.”

“The other idea that necessitates regulatory scrutiny is that the application of technology in Insurance must be really assessed,” he added.

Earlier at the opening session of the Insurance and Pensions Summit, Tapan Singhel, the Chairman of the CII National Committee on Insurance and Pensions mentioned that the “industry has to keep forging ahead in terms of creating massive distribution and creating new ways of distribution – be it on e-commerce platforms or on social media platforms.”

“The industry has to work very closely with the Government in terms of providing the need for social security going forward,” Singhel added.

Talking about the issues of penetration of Insurance in the country, RM Vishakha, Co-Chair, CII National Committee on Insurance and Pensions mentioned that “do not believe that we (India) are under penetrated in terms of a basic insurance, but what I think we are is that we are grossly underinsured.”

Extending the topic further, Krishnan Ramachandra, Co-Chair, CII National Committee on Insurance and Pensions said that “even with increasing penetration, etc. we will need to factor for general and medical inflation and given that medical inflation operates significantly higher than CPI, there will need to be a correction cycle from a pricing standpoint.”

Bandyopadhyay suggested that the country is not future ready in terms of penetration of pension schemes. The chief of the pension regulation in India advised that financial literacy and especially pension literacy could be helpful in making India ready for the future.

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Policy & Politics

Synthesizing the expanding horizons of Article 21: Are the civil liberties truly infallible?

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Often characterised as ‘the procedural Magna Carta protective of life and liberty’, Article 21, in our living Constitution, is the most organic and progressive provision. Embodying the ‘constitutional value of supreme importance in a democratic society’, Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, 1950 provides,

“No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”

Interpreted as “the heart of the constitution”, this article offers three keywords with ever expanding definitions- life, personal liberty and state

“Life” under Article 21, has been defined as more than just the act of breathing. Through a multiplicity of Judicial precedents, it encompasses a broader range of rights, such as the right to live in dignity, the right to a livelihood, the right to health, the right to clean air, and so on. Despite the phraseology of Article 21 beginning with a negative word, the word ‘No’ has been used in connection to the word deprived.  It is a negative right granted solely against “the state”, thus limiting its parlance. ‘The state’, however, cannot be defined in a restricted sense. Synonymous to its scope in Article 12, “state” includes government departments, the legislature, the administration, local governments possessing statutory powers, leaving out non-statutory or private bodies devoid of statutory powers. Hence, the fundamental right guaranteed by Article 21 only protects against acts of the State or acts performed under the authority of the State that do not follow the procedure established by law, limiting its parlance against private individuals. Although the horizons of this article have been ever increasing, and each of its terms have been redefined with the growing conscience of the judicial interpretation, its main aim remains constant-before the State takes away a person’s life or personal liberty, the procedure established by law must be strictly followed.

The reach of Article 21 was limited until the 1950s, with the Supreme Court ruling in A.K. Gopalan vs State of Madras that segregated the contents and subject matter of Article 21 and 19 (1) (d) as “non-identical, proceeding on different principles”. However, “personal liberty” was given the broadest amplitude, in Maneka Gandhi v Union of India, which included the right to travel and go outside the country all other rights related to the personal liberty of a person, and such rights could only be restricted by a procedure which is “fair, just and reasonable, not fanciful, oppressive or arbitrary.” Serving as a paradigm shift, this judgement removed the exclusivity between Articles 19(1) and 21, and any procedure established by law restricting these rights should stand the scrutiny of other provisions of the Constitution as well – including Article 14, thus giving birth to the jurisprudential “Golden Triangle” against arbitrary state action. 

“As a result of the expansion of the scope of Article 21, Public Interest Litigations in respect of children in prison being entitled to special protection, health hazards caused by pollution and harmful drugs, housing for beggars, immediate medical aid to injured persons, starvation deaths, the right to know, the right to an open trial, and inhumane conditions in aftercare homes have all found a home under Article 21.”

However, “this golden picture of infallible rights, which stands immunised against emergencies, abrogation or amendments, faced a tough test in the pandemic.  With COVID mortality on the rise and many of our hospitals running low on oxygen, a constitutional question arises: “Do we really enjoy a right to life?” In 1989, through a landmark judgment in Pt. Paramanand Katara v. Union of India the Supreme Court recognized emergency medical care as a part of Article 21 and right to health care was added to its wide catena. Furthering its stance through Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity v. State of West Bengal “and it’s obligation under Article 2(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ratified on 10th April 1979),” the vertex court had envisaged a robust health care jurisprudence. Coupled with a major crunch in oxygen supplies, ventilators, Personal Protective Equipment kits, the country’s doctor-to-patient ratio of 1:1,456 is approximately 30 percent below the mandated World Health Organization ratio of 1: 1000.With total public health expenditure, at 1.29% of its a gross domestic product-the lowest among all BRICS nations, the country with, all it’s judicial declarations on paper, seemed to have invited a predicted massacre. All the defences that the right to healthcare cannot be construed as absolute, fall flat when we identify the greatest casualty in the pandemic-our health infrastructure gilded in its pre-existing issues of lack of physical infrastructure and human resources. While China, with larger population, responded with massive make-shift hospitals, our State grossly failed to give teeth to its own constitutional promises.  Have we as a state made any actual progress in expanding the horizons of Article 21 to include right to healthcare?”

“The inability of the Apex Court in materialising its own judgements expanding its realm of rights “to ensure the minimum economic investment for its realization stems from the lack of periodic assessment of its own judgments”. Thus, many of its lofty declarations have remained only on paper, and its discourse restricted to the law books.  

Have we as a state made any actual progress in expanding the horizons of Article 21 to include right to Healthcare? Trusting the executive wisdom to bring alive its precedents, the Supreme court, as a guardian of the constitution mustn’t remain a “mute spectator” as it did in the migrant crisis, during the national lockdown in India. While, the initial response of the Supreme Court in the pandemic did not justify its role as the guardian protector of the fundamental rights, it’s proactive interventions in the rationale of state vaccination policies hint at a redemption. Although the pandemic has brutally exposed the fault lines in our governance, and raised disturbing questions about the realization of our essential rights, our resilience and constructive zeal will walk us through this “new-normal”, towards a day when “the distinct prisms of the constitutional guarantee of the right to healthcare” are realities in their truest sense.”

One of the very first cases referred to Project Monitoring Group (PMG) by the Prime Minister’s Office was related to an investment of about Rs 2,000 crore that had been made around the Delhi airport to set up an Aero-City that housed a number of hotels. This was not coming to fruition because of certain security concerns expressed by the local police.

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Policy & Politics

The much-maligned journalist

Anil Swarup

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The news about a couple of lady journalists being detained is nothing new. It keeps happening every other day. Much worse has been in store for such journalists who attempt to be true to their profession. There is absolutely no doubt that there are a large number of journalists who make us all proud, who do their job like true professionals despite extremely adverse set of circumstances. However, the perception about the media is perhaps determined by those that are “sold” out or have succumbed or both.

Credibility of the media has taken a severe beating in the recent past. In a survey carried out by me on the Twitter, I had a question, “According to you, which of the following institutions is carrying out its responsibilities in the best possible manner?”

1. Civil Servants

2. Judiciary

3. Politicians

4. Media

Of more than 3000 participants, 65% voted in favor of Civil Servants, 22% for Judiciary, Politicians 9% and Media was last with 5%. Most of the television channels had lost their credibility long ago. They are seen as aligned and/or promoting (some very aggressively) the agenda of a particular segment. There is hardly any news on these so called “news channels”. They are now seen and perceived as promoting particular views. Many treat them as entertainment channels. Perhaps rightly so. All objectivity has gone for a toss.

In another survey carried on Linkedin, as many as 62% voters felt that in comparison to TV news, social media and digital media, newspapers provided the most reliable news. The TV news channels were the worst in terms of reliability (4%). However, the most discussed are these channels and, perhaps for that reason they garner most of the advertisement revenue. However, newspapers are still considered most credible even though in some of the newspapers you have to wade through first few pages of advertisements to discover the page carrying news. Perhaps the huge dependence on advertisement revenue has impacted the quality of news reporting in the newspapers as well. I had personally given up watching television news channels long ago because it appeared that only decibels determined TRP ratings (though the TRP ratings have also been questioned). Soon thereafter, I gave up reading newspapers as well as it was becoming increasingly difficult to find news in newspapers.

The challenges faced by the journalists are enormous. Their job is a temporary one and, considering the number of aspirants available for each job, they aren’t many in the offing. It is easy for an outsider to criticize but it is not easy to get a job in the first place and if you lose the one you have, it is all the more difficult as you could be considered “inconvenient”.

Most of the TV Channels and Newspapers are owned by business houses. During the last century, owners of the publications did not meddle with the editorial part. Now they own the editorial content as well. The designation of “Managing Editor” says it all. This wasn’t heard of till a couple of decades ago. It has all changed now.

Governments have always been powerful on account of the advertisement muscle they had but there were rare instances of “directives” to the newspapers. There were newspapers that withstood pressure even during Emergency. However, it has all changed. There have been instances of Chief Editors of prominent national dailies being shown the door for not toeing the line. Governments have become increasingly powerful. Objectivity has gone for a toss. The attitude is simple, either you are with me or against me.

What are the choices then available with the hapless journalist? If she doesn’t toe the line, she could lose her job, as many have, and harassed. There could be criminal cases instituted against her. And, barring few mentions of protests from their associations, she has to fight her battle on her own. It is tough but she can still survive and keep her body and soul together provided she gives up her crusading spirit against all the wrongs perpetrated by those in power as they are extremely powerful and go to any extent to silence her.

The tragedy, however, is with regard to such journalists as have become loud crusaders for the ruling dispensation. They unabashedly and shamefully give up any semblance of objectivity. They take their crusading spirit to the other extreme. And, many of them benefit though bring a bad name to this laudable profession. In public perception, these are the ones that represent journalists. Hence, unfortunate terms like “presstitudes” are coined to describe them. All professions, including the civil service, have their share of the good, the bad and the ugly but impression about the profession gets determined by those that are visible. In the case of journalists, visible ones are those that are loud and “sold out”. Hence, the loss of credibility.

What can then be done by the consumers of what is dished out by journalists? In a market driven world, media also offers what we read or want to read. If the reader starts “demanding” objective reporting, even the “owners” will have no option to provide that. We have so far been demanding “masala”. Hence, TV channels have been converted into entertainment channels. It is ironical that despite poor credibility, they thrive. We can keep criticizing the hapless journalist but if we don’t change our own attitude towards news, we can’t expect journalists to be our conscience keepers. Can we?

Anil Swarup has served as the head of the Project Monitoring Group, which is currently under the Prime Minister’s Offic. He has also served as Secretary, Ministry of Coal and Secretary, Ministry of School Education.

The challenges faced by the journalists are enormous. Their job is a temporary one and, considering the number of aspirants available for each job, they aren’t many in the offing. It is easy for an outsider to criticize but it is not easy to get a job in the first place and if you lose the one you have, it is all the more difficult as you could be considered “inconvenient”.

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Policy & Politics

Why are Babasaheb’s dreams still unfulfilled?

Bharat Ratna Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution, wanted to establish an egalitarian society

Vijay Darda

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Indian civilization is so great and noble that even gods and goddesses living in heaven envy it and desire to be born here! A legion of great men and spiritual avatars were born in this holy land in various eras who contributed to enhance the glory of India. But I would like to mention two great men in recent history. One of them is Mahatma Gandhi and the other is Bharat Ratna Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, fondly called ‘Babasaheb’. Gandhiji freed the country from slavery with the weapon of non-violence. He imbibed the thoughts of Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavir and shaped the life of the common man through the noble virtues of non-violence, renunciation, forgiveness and non-possession. Many countries have become independent by treading the same path. Ask the people of China and Russia the importance of freedom and you will know how precious it is.

Babasaheb underlined and explained the importance of freedom to the common man. He thought over the needs of the common man. The common man wants that his country should be free and every person in the country should be protected. He wants to breathe free and exercise the freedom of expression. All these things have been bequeathed to us by our Constitution. The Constitution paves the way for our life and imparts direction to the development of life. Babasaheb framed the Constitution of India by taking all these factors into consideration and showed the way to create a hatred-free society. No injustice should be meted out to anyone in the name of either caste or religion or language. He has shown a perfect way of living whereby man can develop himself in perfect freedom.

The million dollar question today is why Babasaheb’s dreams of establishing an egalitarian society as enshrined by him in the Constitution and a caste free India are still unfulfilled? Who is responsible for it? Is it the government, society or our whole system? Monday, December 6 happened to be Babasaheb’s ‘Mahaparinirvan Day’, so this question is again staring in the face of the whole country. Last week, when the Union minister of state for social justice and empowerment Ramdas Athawale informed the Rajya Sabha about the number of people still forced to do manual scavenging in the country, I was terribly shaken. As many as 43,797 people are still engaged in manual scavenging work and of them 42,594 belong to the scheduled castes! No doubt the evil system of manual scavenging is coming to an end, but as long as even a single person is compelled to do so, it is a matter of shame, a defeat, a social exploitation and a blot on our scientific society.

Babasaheb knew that as long as there is a caste system in India, the country’s overall development is not possible. But the reality is not hidden from anyone. Even today there are reports of harassment of Dalit brethren. The vibes of caste are still around. If you analyse the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data of the last 5-7 years, you will find that more than 120 cases of atrocities on Dalits are registered daily. If the number of cases being registered is so high, imagine the number of incidents that go unreported. Even today the incidents of preventing Dalits from drawing water from upper caste community wells and preventing them from entering the temple take place. Incidents like attacking Dalit bridegrooms for mounting a horse during marriage procession keep occurring! There are hundreds of incidents of honour killing every year. Even today in the rural parts of North India, villages are delimited as per caste demography. The Dalit settlements are usually located on the outskirts of the villages.

No political party ever gets tired of taking Babasaheb’s name and paying lip service to his ideals, but none of them has a roadmap to follow his path of social equality and justice. Over the years, many political leaders who played politics in the name of Babasaheb became millionaires and billionaires, but the person whose upliftment Babasaheb always advocated for, is still awaiting development! Today we are celebrating the Amrut Mahotsav of India’s Independence, but the people of independent India could not get the Amrut of an egalitarian society!

In the name of Babasaheb, we have established humongous institutions, built roads, buildings and auditoriums, developed hundreds of gardens and installed thousands of statues, assuming that we had paid back the debt of gratitude to him. This is an absolutely wrong idea. We haven’t repaid the debt at all!

Whenever I visit any auditorium named after Babasaheb and see his grand statue there, why do I feel suffocated? Why do people still die unattended in the hospitals built in the name of Babasaheb? Why do I feel disappointed whenever I visit any institute of higher learning named after Babasaheb? Why does the voice of Babasaheb’s followers become feeble in Parliament? Why is travelling in a plane from the airport named after Babasaheb still a dream for many? How many more examples do I need to give you? These eyes have seen a lot of ups and downs over the years, so the mind gets perplexed at times. After all, when will the common man be free from this pomp, show and deceit? Babasaheb! When will India become a country of your dreams?

The author is the chairman, Editorial Board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha.

Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s profound ability and scholarship can be gauged from the fact that he was entrusted with the very crucial and extremely important task of framing the Constitution of independent India. In this Constitution, he planted the seeds of India’s future, but unfortunately his dreams are unfulfilled yet. Why?

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Policy & Politics

THIRD ROUND OF INDIA-UAE CEPA NEGOTIATIONS DUE TO BEGIN IN DELHI ON MONDAY

Tarun Nangia

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Union Minister of Commerce and Industries, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Textiles, Piyush Goyal, met the representatives of Aluminium, Copper, and Chemicals and Petrochemicals Industry here today as part of the ongoing multi-stakeholder consultations related to the India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) negotiations.

The third round of India-UAE CEPA negotiations are scheduled to be held in New Delhi on 06-10 December 2021 wherein both sides aim to conclude the negotiations. Shri Piyush Goyal apprised the representatives from the Industry about the importance of the CEPA in elevating the overall economic and commercial relations with UAE which in turn will not only benefit bilateral trade but also create new jobs and provide wider social and economic opportunities.

Providing a way forward on these discussions, Goyal appreciated the accommodative spirit of the Industry and urged the Industry representatives to continue to support the CEPA negotiations in the same spirit in the wider interests of the nation contributing to the holistic development of multi-sectoral economic value chains in the country.

The Minister also stressed on the potential benefits from the envisaged CEPA agreement for Industries which are labour intensive in nature and also on the numerous complementary spill-over economic benefits, including increased investments, job creation and employment opportunities. Further, industry representatives were also apprised of the strategic importance of the agreement which encompasses deeper bilateral economic engagement and wider market access.

The stakeholders expressed gratitude to the Minister for taking into consideration concerns of Indian Industry and provided constructive inputs on this matter with a view to ensure overall balance between market access and domestic sensitivities.

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Policy & Politics

Rice has a share of more than 45% in the total APEDA basket of exports in April-November 2021-22

India’s exports of agricultural and processed food products witness an increase of more than 13 per cent in the first eight months of current fiscal notwithstanding logistical challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic

Tarun Nangia

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Notwithstanding logistical challenges posed by COVID19 pandemic, India’s exports of Agricultural and Processed Food products rose by more than 13 per cent in terms of USD in the first eight months of the current fiscal (April-November, 2021-22) compared to the same period of the previous year.






The export of products under the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) ambitincreased from USD 11,671 million in April-November 2020-21to USD 13,261 million in April-November 2021-22.

The target for exports under APEDA basket products has been fixed at USD 23,713 million in 2021-22.

The export of rice was the top forex earner at USD 5937 million during April-November 2021-22, growing 11 per cent over the corresponding period in 2020-21 when it touched USD 5,341million.

Meat, dairy and poultry products exports grew 12 per cent standing at USD 2665 million in April-November 2021-22compared to USD 2371 million in the corresponding eight-month period of 2020-21. Fruits and vegetables exports were up by 12 per cent to touch USD 1720 million during April-November 2021-22 against USD 1536 million in April-November 2020-21.

Exports of cereal preparations and miscellaneous processed items grew by 26 per cent during April-November 2021-22 to touch USD 1418 million against USD 1127 million in April-November, 2020-21. The cashew exports also grew by 29 per cent to USD 302 million in the first eight months of current fiscal compared to same period previous year.

The exports of oil meals declined by 12 per cent to USD 626 million in April-November, 2021-22, compared to same period in 2020-21.

Table: Agricultural and processed food products exports (April-November), 2021-22 vs 2020-21

Exports (April-November 2021-22) in USD million

Exports (April-November 2020-21) in USD million

Note: only oil meals exports declined Year-on-Year

The significant rise in agri-exports is seen as a testimony of the government’s commitment to increase farmers’ income through giving thrust on boosting exports of agricultural and processed food products of the country.

“We continue to focus on creating infrastructure for boosting exports by focusing on clusters in collaboration with state governments while taking into consideration objective of Agriculture Export Policy, 2018,” Dr M Angamuthu, Chairman, APEDA, said.

APEDA has been engaged with State Governments for the implementation of Agriculture Export Policy. Maharashtra, U.P., Kerala, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Manipur, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, M.P., Mizoram and Meghalaya have finalized the State specific Action Plan for exports while the action plans of other States are at different stages of finalization.

The rise in export of agricultural and processed food products has been largely due to the various initiatives taken by APEDA such as organizing B2B exhibitions in different countries, exploring new potential markets through product specific and general marketing campaigns by active involvement of Indian Embassies.

APEDA has also taken several initiatives to promote geographical indications (GI) registered agricultural and processed food products in India by organizing virtual Buyer Seller Meets on agricultural and food products with the major importing countries across the world.

In order to ensure seamless quality certification of products to be exported, APEDA has recognized 220 labs across India to provide services of testing to a wide range of products andexporters.

APEDA also assists in upgradation and strengthening of recognized laboratories for export testing and residue monitoring plans. APEDA also provides assistance under the financial assistance schemes of infrastructure development, quality improvement and market development for boosting export of agricultural products.

APEDA organizes participation of exporters in the International Trade Fairs, which provides a platform to the exporters to market their food products in the global marketplace. APEDA also organizes national events like AAHAR, Organic World Congress, BioFach India etc. to promote agri-exports.

APEDA also initiates registration of pack-houses for horticulture products for meeting the quality requirements of the international market. Registration of export units for peanut shelling and grading and processing units, for instance, is to ensure quality adherence for the EU and non-EU countries.

APEDA carries out registration of meat processing plants and abattoirs for ensuring compliance with global food safety and quality requirements. Another key initiative includes development and implementation of traceability systems which ensure the food safety and quality compliances of the importing countries. For boosting exports, APEDA compiles and disseminates various international trade analytical information, market access information amongst exporters and address trade enquiries.

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