The most reasonable way to find out the impact of any public policy is to undertake a regular evaluation of public programmes. The “Swachh Sarvekshan” (evaluation of Clean India Mission) which started in 2016 has proved to be a lifeline of the Modi government’s best programme, ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’, and brings much learning to public administrators.
George H. Fredrickson, the Edwin O. Stene Distinguished Professor of Public Administration at the University of Kansas, who recently passed away on 24 July, has left behind an enriching literature on the role evaluation plays in public programmes. He triggered a debate on contemporary governance processes in his 2007 essay, Whatever Happened to Public Administration? Governance, Governance Everywhere, in which he featured the inter-jurisdictional relations and third-party policy implementation in public administration on one hand and the study of the influence or power of non-state and non-jurisdictional public collectives on the other. The evaluation process is expected to bring to the surface the role of these actors and achieve holistic and sustainable reforms rather than confine to a sterile structural-technological mission.
‘Swachh Sarvekshan’ of the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’, a pet programme of our Prime Minister, launched on Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, 2 October 2014, was a formidable and persevering undertaking of grassroots administration. It surprised many administrative reformers as few governments willingly take up evaluation of their programmes. It appears that either the government is too naïve or is quite inexperienced about the political group phenomenon or power play of clects (kinshipstatus groups) at the grassroots when a commodity as vital as ‘garbage’ and ‘toilet habits’ are brought into public discourse. The mission was set to displace many interest groups and lobbies of developers and builders in most towns and cities when the maintenance fee gets reduced from many thousands to mere Rs 60 to Rs 120 per month, besides providing employment to local people primarily who were never taken into jobs by developers or city builders for many reasons. It was obvious that by turning ‘cleanliness’ into a mission of government policy, the local administration was left open to criticism, conflicts and juridical battles with RWAs, local clects, and outsourced agencies which were allocated cleanliness contracts by municipalities. Yet the roadmap to the mission promised to unfurl ‘Clean India’ by 2019, on the 150th birth anniversary of the Mahatma. ‘Swachh Sarvekshan’ started in 2016 with just 73 cities with 1 million-plus population. A benchmark of 6 key areas for evaluation was fixed for Urban Local Bodies, as follows:
1. Open Defecation Free Town and Integrated Solid Waste Management
2. Information, Education and Behaviour Change Communication
3. Door to Door Collection, Sweeping, Transportation
4. Solid Waste Disposal
5. Community Toilets
6. Individual Home Toilets
The number of cities for evaluation increased gradually from 73 in 2016 to 434 in 2017 and then proceeded towards an ambitious jump to 4,203 cities in 2018, 4,337 in 2019 and 4,242 in 2020. This evaluation covered municipal corporations, nagar panchayats and cantonment boards besides the classified 92 Ganga Towns.
In the 2005 Second Administrative Reforms Commission (called Moily Commission), Dr Manmohan Singh had persuaded DARPG Minister Prithvi Raj Chavan to undertake an evaluation of best practices in e-governance initiatives for all levels of government. The push for evaluation of ‘best practices’ started with the works of Stanford Borins and Steven Kelman at the Harvard Ash Centre for Democratic Governance. The ‘best practice’ methodology later generated a lot of critique in public administration. Von Bergen’s 2012 essay on the ‘The High Cost of Supervisory Inaction’ from the South-eastern Oklahoma State University had found that supervisory non-response to good performance sets the stage for the extinction of good practices and equally relevant is when the supervisor fails to address poor performance which then percolates to subordinates as accepted behaviour. Evaluation makes supervision possible for both the best and the worst.
Swachh Sarvekshan gradually brought an incremental shift from processes and outputs to outcomes and innovations. This change restricted discretion of local administration during implementation and directed them to deliver by adhering resolutely to the purpose of the mission. The Quality Council of India under Adil Zainulbhai, who started the first evaluation survey under the Ministry of Urban Development in 2016, laid the foundation of an internal peer competition amongst cities to win positions. But the competition was weak and slow. The focus on best performers became a cage for evaluators as low-ranking cities were not evaluated holistically for their reasons for non-performance. Evaluation exercise also missed taking cognizance of the fragile and transitional base that a higher-ranked performer may have since ‘sustainability’ was not an indicator in evaluation.
Based on such unsustainable achievement one could see the rise and fall of many high ranking cities like Mysuru, which was adjudged the No.1 city in 2016 but dropped to the 8th position in 2018, or Tiruchirappalli, which fell from 3rd to 13th, Pune from 5th to 10th. Although the most drastic drops of Gangtok from the 16th position in 2016 to the 94th in 2018 and Chennai from the 4th position in 2016 to 100th in 2018 demand many clarifications. In just the opposite manner, many of the obstinately dirty cities of Uttar Pradesh, such as Lucknow, Agra, Ghaziabad and Varanasi, jumped many positions upwards to 12th, 16th, 19th and 27th, respectively in the 2020 survey, and the state further dominated the North Zone’s 20 cities below one lakh population with 15 best cities, while Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand could only show two cities each. The lowest performers in UP like Hasanpur and Baghpat look for solutions but can Uttarakhand provide answers for Rishikesh, one of the worst ranking cities despite a high revenue earner for the state? Similar questions wrap around Mathura-Vrindavan which was bestowed with an award in 2019 when it raised its rank from 422 to 133. This recognition catapulted the city to take a phenomenal leap to the 39th position in 2020.
Some very intricate issues lie hidden within the ‘Sarvekshan’. Why do Bihar, Rajasthan, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu continue to let their most popular cities be the worst performers in the cleanliness drive? In the national capital, North and East Delhi are ranked 43 and 46 respectively out of a total of 47 cities evaluated with a 10-lakh-plus population. On the other hand, some states continue with their consistent upward drives such as Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. Interestingly, with a literacy rate of above 95% in Kozhikode, Thrissur, Kannur, Thrippunithura, Kerala has not been able to translate this advantage into cleanliness in city behaviour as these cities lie very low on the ranks.
To conclude, a few findings need to be highlighted in ‘Swachh Sarvekshan’. The evaluation process should equally focus on the worst performers to identify the causes for being laggards. The evaluation methodology should be broadened to incorporate a more holistic picture of administrative and political leadership, habit of legal compliance and elasticity for adopting existing situations to programmes of larger human good. This may bring to the core the erstwhile marginalised City Mayors, Ward Councillors along with the District Administrators and highlight the invaluable non-state actors who make implementation possible. It is also seen that most laggards in implementation are the states and cities which are vulnerable to disasters such as Chennai and cities of Kerala, J&K, the Northeastern states and Uttarakhand, yet this is nowhere factored in the ranking methods. Just as river cities are now being evaluated under Ganga cities, a section titled ‘disaster-prone cities’ could be added.
Lastly, even though literacy and education are assets, they are not necessarily a driving force for cleanliness as is demonstrated with the outcomes in TN and Kerala, as compared to UP and MP. Hopefully the 2021 ‘Swachh Sarvekshan’ will adopt this holistic methodology and inspire more states to achieve the mission of ‘Swachh Bharat’.
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Cinema on big screen back in Kashmir after 32 years
It is a well-known fact that both Bollywood and Cricket are perhaps the greatest unifying forces in the country. Therefore, the return of cinema on the big screen in Kashmir is perhaps a great breakthrough made by the present administration and could contribute in restoring some sort of normalcy in the Union Territory. Over the years, Kashmir was one of the favourite places for shooting movies and its beautiful scenic surroundings provided the backdrop for so many on the screen romances. Raj Kapoor was probably the first big producer director who shot his
Barsaat’ in the valley. There were objections in some quarters when the movie was released since orthodox people objected to Nargis wearing a Kashmiri dress. There was no end to filming there onwards. Shammi Kapoor’sJunglee’ which provided him the Yahoo image and launched him from that point as the rebel star was partly shot in Kashmir. Scores of movies from
Kashmir Ki Kali’ andJab Jab Phool Khile’ starring Shashi Kapoor followed. However, at the beginning of the 1990s, some people decided to take law into their own hands and objected to Bollywood movies being screened. Their primary objection was that their religion did not permit films. This was a totally uncalled for interpretation of Islam since in neighbouring Pakistan which is an Islamic country, Movies continued to be produced and watched by millions of people. In fact, Hindi films were a big hit in that country and on my only visit to Islamabad in 2005, was surprised to see Shah Rukh Khan posters and videos at many places. It was evident that Bollywood was a big influence and people looked forward to watching films produced in Mumbai and elsewhere. Thus, to infer that movies should be banned in Kashmir was a completely regressive step. Lt Governor Manoj Sinha has taken this initiative of once again making theatres available to the masses so that they could enjoy watching movies. It has always been the constant demand of anyone from Kashmir who visits other parts of the country that their programme should include at least two or three movies. The administration there has made it possible for them to entertain themselves in their own cities and towns. Many people have expressed the apprehension that Ultras inspired by forces from across the border may try and disrupt the screening and may also target the movie theatres to spread terror. The government is obviously prepared to take everyone on who wishes to pursue this kind of line. In fact, people should come out in open support of the authorities as without their participation, it would be extremely difficult to take this positive proposal ahead. Kashmir was always known for its distinct culture and cannot be deprived of this new experience for many who may have never been to a theatre. This is a step in the right direction which needs wider endorsement. Once movies start getting screened, more and more producers would line up to shoot their films thus adding to the revenue of the UT and other areas. Kashmiris cannot be denied entertainment any further. And the movies will strengthen their economy because the film industry is very resourceful and influential.
CRIME AGAINST WOMEN: A STUDY OF PERCEPTIONS AND AWARENESS IN YOUTH
The Indian legislations made to deal with crimes against women are in galore. The Constitution of India and certain other legislations having bearing on women’s protection are as under of certain other enactments pertaining to the crimes committed against women. These laws have been passed by Indian Parliament from time to time to prevent such crime against women in the Indian society.
It is an exigency today for our society to thoroughly study the crimes against women in various patterns and shades. The crime against women has become the order of the day and the same is confirmed by our print, web and broadcast media by their news reporting and coverage. Though women are worshipped as life givers, the numerous instances of crimes against women stand antithetical and are as stigma to our culture. It may look repetitive but to remind that women play a very pivotal role in the society, and yet the society has not given them their due share and the veneration they deserve. The Indian patriarchy has always been biased against women and this negative inclination has resulted in grievous offences like rape, acid attack, stalking, voyeurism and a host of other heinous crimes.
The glorious Vedic history stands as a witness that women in India were treated as goddess in the form of Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Durga and had a very reverential status in the society they enjoyed the equal rights like men. However the medieval period saw the unprecedented and never to be repaired deterioration in the status women one time enjoyed. The new low was that they were treated as subservient as property. They were no near men not to think of near equality. This period was called ‘Dark Period for Women’ and it holds water. The period of British rule further lowered the position of women drastically mainly due to the western socio-cultural impact. Many reform movements were launched for the women and by the women against the age old bias, inequality, suppression and other corollary atrocities, and voiced for the women education and necessary legal reforms. Thus during this period the efforts of the reformers, national leaders and women’s organizations resulted in a good deal of social legislations by the British Government.
After Independence, the Constitution of India guaranteed gender equality, fundamental rights and special provisions for the treatment and development of women in every sphere of life. Even after these rights, women have been always discriminated on the basis of their sex.
Efforts have been made at various levels to curb the same. However, no substantial change had been visible until the year 2012, when the heinous rape committed in Delhi shook the entire nation up from this false stupor of security.
In December 2012, the Government introduced the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, 2012 in the Lok Sabha. The Bill sought to redefine the offence of rape and amend the penal laws in line with the recommendations of the Law Commission of India and the National Commission for Women (NCW). Following the Delhi gang-rape incident, the Government constituted a three member committee headed by the former Chief Justice J. S. Verma to suggest amendments to the criminal laws to ensure speedier justice and enhanced punishments in cases of extreme sexual assault. The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013, passed in the Parliament (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha respectively on March 19 and 21, 2013), the bill received presidential assent on 2 April 2013 and was deemed to be effective from 3 February, 2013. Most of the recommendations made by Justice Verma Committee were incorporated as paramount for quicker trial and an enhanced punishment for the criminals committing sexual assault of extreme nature against women.
India being a follower of UN Charter and other important international instruments like Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, Convention on Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women 1979, Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women 1993, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1966, and related Protocols of 1976. These international instruments provide for equality, security, liberty and integrity for all persons inclusive of women.
The Indian legislations made to deal with crimes against women are in galore. The Constitution of India and certain other legislations having bearing on women’s protection are as under of certain other enactments pertaining to the crimes committed against women. These laws have been passed by Indian Parliament from time to time to prevent such crime against women in the Indian society.
There are many factors that contribute to crime against women in India such as chauvinistic patriarchy, illiteracy, unemployment, unequal wages, discriminatory socio-cultural practices, lack of awareness of seriousness of the crime, unquestioned acceptances of men’s superiority over women etc.
In the emotionally charged atmosphere after Nirbhaya gang rape case at that time, parliament did not get scope for undertake its due deliberation on the amendments or debate on each clause. It was anxious to appease public sentiment and enact more stringent rape laws.
Presently, the failure of good governance is the obvious root cause for the current unsafe environment eroding the rule of law, and not the want of needed legislation of Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013 as the changes are unquestionably draconian. If there is a felt need for more laws, then there are many recommendations of expert bodies and judicial decisions that remain unimplemented. But the government ignored all the recommendations and in haste passed the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013. The amendment brought certain change in IPC, Cr.P.C. and the Evidence Act particularly relating to protection of women against crime. These challenges unquestionably the Criminal Law Amendment Act which is being abused in practice.
In recent years there has been an alarming increase in sexual violence and harassment of women, which reveals a large scale societal breakdown. Violence against women appears to have the dual function of at once controlling women and perpetuating their interior status. It also aims at restricting women’s mobility and sexuality and to punish women who flout societal norms prescribed by the particular community. All the public place are physically dominated by man which poses a number of threats for women while they are moving towards pursuing education, acquiring some gainful employment or even trying to make a stride in the public space. To enable women to fight against discrimination and abuse it is necessary to empower them by ensuring for them appropriate and effective legal aid. Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 is a successful step in this sense which not only expands the definition of rape, it also addresses penalties for other abhorrent forms of crime like stalking, voyeurism. But the study revealed that appropriate and efficient laws alone are not sufficient to protect the right to live with dignity of women.
The purpose of law is to prescribe the standard of behaviour of the people and to regulate their conduct in a civilized society. Faithful implementation of the law is of the essence under the rule of law for good governance. In the absence of faithful implementation of the laws by efficient machinery, it remains mere rhetoric and a dead letter.
Unless and until people are ready to fight for it, things will not change. To handle women-related crimes effectively society’s perception needs to be completely altered. Strict law, however, creates fear among the people but it cannot put a complete deterrent to it since male domination and women subordination is very much ingrained in our socio-economic and political system. Socialization of children based on equality of sexes can redistribute and equate the power between male and female thereby alter the unequal power relations between both the sexes. Social media can play a significant role in making the masses understand sexism, sexual violence, fighting patriarchy and facilitating altitudinal change in the society.
Madrasa surveys could become a gamechanger
Muslim intellectuals like Iqbal had felt need for improvement of madrasa syllabus. Even today the need for reforms in Muslim education have not changed.
The government surveys of madarsas have great potential for country’s progress if carried out in the right earnest. But they are happening at a time when memories of certain madarsas in Assam being demolished due to alleged terror links are fresh in people’s minds.
In Assam certain madarsas were demolished even before its accused teachers were taken to court trails on the charges of terror links. It was interpreted as an onslaught on the madarsas due to mistake of a few persons. This has shrouded the entire exercise aimed at studying Muslim education system with an element of suspicion.
In India madarsas have been in the forefront of the country’s freedom struggle. Unfortunately, their state of affairs ever since the Independence have been largely neglected. Their condition has worsened ever since they were excluded from the Right to Education Act.
Now Uttar Pradesh & Assam governments have embarked upon a massive exercise of mapping them. Dharam Pal Singh, a senior minister in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet said that the survey is meant to find the deficiencies in the education of the unrecognized madarsas in the state.
This move has challenged the status quo at the madarsas and have therefore created restlessness among the Ulemas, which have questioned the timing and the intent of the exercise.
The surveys were initiated after National Commission for Protection of Child Rights submitted its report to all state governments asking them to map the madarsas.
The report has made the recommendation on the basis of certain complaints of child rights violations. It is estimated that there are more than one lakh madarsas in the country.
Interestingly NCPCR in its 2021 report had not singled out madarsas. But it had also recommended mapping of the all unrecognized Vedic Pathshalas, Gumpas and other forms of non-formal education centers as well.
However, there has been a sharp criticism among the Muslims and some political leaders, who on various counts have questioned the state governments’ extraordinary attention and singling out the Muslim institutions.
However, Muslim intellectuals like Iqbal had felt the need for improvement and had believed that the madarsa syllabus was ossified in time. Even today the scholars’ views on the need for reforms in Muslim education have not changed. Indian madarsas largely run-on charity and have not relied either on government or foreign funding. A large percentage of these madarsas act as orphanages.
To bring about more clarity let’s look at the type of madarsas in India. Basically, there are three types of madarsas. First which are unmapped and include country’s top madarsas including highly reputed Darul-Uloom. It is run by donations from within the country. Such institutes constitute the largest number in the country.
The second type are recognized, which are registered in the state madarsa board and provide some kind of modern education to the children. They also receive textbooks, uniforms, other facilities and funds from the governments.
The third type is unrecognized, which have approached the government for funds but either due to insufficient infrastructure or some other reason they were not granted the recognition. They are also on their own.
According to NCPCR report total number of Muslim children in India in age group 6-14 years was 3.8 crores. Total number of Muslim Out of School Children is 1.1 crore (about 33 per cent). As per the reports most such students are studying in unmapped madarsas, (which are also considered to be unrecognized by the government) and about 15 lakh student study in the recognized madarsas.
In the past Congress, Janta Dal and BJP have made efforts to improve the condition of madarsas, by carrying out limited studies but no significant results were achieved.
The madarsas in India have largely remained neglected and left to fend for themselves due to their being involved in religious teaching only. But like other religious institutions across the country there are some black sheep indulging in undesirable activities such as terrorism, etc. Further there is a lack of transparency.
It needs to be understood that a small percentage of parents send children to madarsas by choice of pursuing Islamic studies. As some students are genuinely interested in advanced religious studies.
One also finds some very bright students in these institutes, who have even cracked All India Services competitive exams, considered to be one of the toughest in the world. Recently concluded NEET exams also prove their capability.
By and large a majority of students studying in madarsas constitute children of poor background, who don’t have the privilege of going to schools and belong to families which fall below poverty line. So madarsas remain the only option for their overall growth.
As per NCPCR report the Muslim community contributes to a share percentage of 69.18% to the religious minority population and contributes to a share of merely 22,75 per cent to the religious minority schools. It had a total of 4085 schools. It is also a fact that below 5 per cent students from madarsas make it to the undergraduate level.
There should be no doubt that madarsas need to be more inclusive in their approach and syllabus. There is no binding on madarsas to only impart religious studies. The Right to Education in all of its 39 Sections doesn’t restrict imparting religious education. Therefore, a blending of religious studies and modern education within the ambit of Right to Education Act seems to be a good solution. The madarsas need to open up to modern studies and private schools need to impart religious studies as well.
While madarsas have their own place and significance and should evolve for children’s betterment, there is also a need to increase the number of Muslim private schools in the country. The community should make efforts in this direction.
Now that UP, Assam and Uttarkhand government have decided to carry out the surveys of madarsas it is expected that it’s going to be a meaningful exercise. The data from the surveys will be used for the benefit of education for Muslim students, who would eventually turn out to be better and more productive citizens.
The normalisation of rape culture in Indian society
Bilkis Bano’s case reveals the horrific hatred that men have towards women. This dastardly act has shaken the very core of every thinking woman in India.
Rape crimes in India are becoming a daily part of our news feed. We read about war-ravaged Ukraine, Finland’s Prime Minister being accountable for a party video leak, Sonali Phogat’s death, and Bilkis Bano’s case, all in the same breath.
Maybe we are slowly becoming accustomed to violence against women and also starting to accept this as another entitlement that men in rage can have over a woman.
In a patriarchal society, rape culture is far more insidious and twisted in its understanding among the masses. In this culture, the blame is diverted towards the victim for either implicitly or explicitly bringing it upon herself. To an extent, the media is to blame for the objectification of women, which is always done through the lens of the male gaze. With the bombardment of crude female nudity, the normalisation of such crimes becomes a natural thought process of punishment towards women.
Also, in such cultures, women are taught to not express disapproval when they are molested or eve teased. It is or was something that she bought upon herself. The stigma of shame is extremely high for the victim.
Many cases don’t get reported because of the taboo attached to sexual misconduct. The truth is molestation and rape don’t happen only when a woman is outdoors during late hours, risking her safety. Rape also occurs within the confines of close-knit family relationships, neighbors, and friends. Women are viewed as someone who deserve punishment for not towing the line or adhering to the prescribed norms. According to the National Crime Records Bureau 2019 report, in 94.2% of rape cases, the accused was known to the survivor.
Such men who commit these atrocities are raised in environments and mindsets that subjugate women.
Any form of rebellion or resistance on her part is not acceptable.
Rape in marriages is not even considered a crime.
Bilkis Bano’s case reveals the horrific hatred that men have towards women. This dastardly act has shaken the very core of every thinking woman in India. Women no longer feel safe, nor can they trust that their complaints will be heard and that the culprit will be punished suitably.
Every day, we read horror stories about minors being mutilated and raped. The minor is a girl in all cases. Bilkis’s case was among the other most heinous crimes that have been committed in India, including the gang rape of a 22-year-old Nirbhaya, who had dared to travel on public transport in our capital city of Delhi.
Pregnant Bilkis Bano’s rape isn’t just a political or religious matter for women in India. It is about the collective consciousness of women that is being tested.
It is equally shocking when the elite of India try to argue on grounds of religious hatred and historical data of the Mughals ravaging India to half condone the act. The reasons cited are that when multiple Hindu women are raped, why is there no outrage? These arguments fail to see the atrocities committed against women as a collective gender.
Bilkis was gang raped when she was 5 months pregnant and her three-year-old toddler was smashed to death. Plus, her entire family of 13 was killed in front of her eyes.
One can’t deny that this does make us wonder about the issues of minority safety and majority power in a country as diverse as India.
One does shudder to think of the level of trauma that Bilkis Bano had to face. Plus the crestfallen look in her eyes to watch the 11 rapists being released and also welcomed out of jail with the ceremonial feeding of sweets. This seems beyond dystopian to any civilised nation.
The informed women in the country are shocked and dismayed at the obscene public display of injustice.
This isn’t Hindu versus Muslim. This is men against women.
A rape victim is traumatised for her entire life and the shadow it casts on her emotional health is still not discussed as it should be.
Bilkis Bano, winning this case and ensuring the rapists go right back into prison again, will reinstate the faith we have in our government and the judiciary.
Mohua Chinappa is an author and a podcaster of a show called The Mohua Show.
Personal data protection: Time to focus on an individual’s online ‘Right to be forgotten’
This right is not available under India’s current data privacy regime.
Generally, there is a common misconception that data once deleted from any online platform or social media platform shall be deleted permanently, but it is not known to many that the data being uploaded by the user on any online platform or social media might get stored on the server held by the parent company and also there is no surety whether the data would be left untouched or be traded with other third parties involved for the sake of minting profit. In reality, social media and other online open-source platforms are a trap for the users set by the companies to extract information, and they either make use of the information themselves or sell it to other third parties in return to mint money, in the end, it’s the users who become the scapegoat.
In the light of social security and public interest, the right to be forgotten at large should be validated as ignoring this issue might pave the way to exploitation of user data and further other illegal activities. The government needs to change its approach and focus on revamping the legal framework in this regard along with entering into global collaboration efforts to protect the privacy of the individuals for the public at large.
The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 (“New Data Protection Act”) introduced the concept of an individual’s “Right to be forgotten” in India. This right is currently not available under India’s current data privacy regime which comes in the form of the Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, 2011 (“DP Rules 2011”) framed under the Information Technology Act, 2000 (“IT Act 2000”). “Section 27 of the New Data Protection Act,” “which falls under chapter 6 (Data Principal Rights) of the New Data Protection Act,” carves out the “right to be forgotten” in no uncertain terms.
“According to this section, every data principal shall have the right to restrict or prevent continuing disclosure of personal data (relating to such data principal) by any data fiduciary if such disclosure meets 1 of the following 3 conditions, namely the disclosure, withdrawn; (i) has served the purpose for which it was made or is no longer necessary; or (ii) was made based on the data principal’s consent and such consent has since been another law in force. or (iii) was made contrary to the provisions of the New Data Protection Act or any of personal data.”
To make use of the aforementioned rights to limit or prevent the further disclosure of personal data, an application must be filed, in the form and manner indicated, with an Adjudicating Officer, and such Adjudicating Officer must have concluded that at least one of the other three grounds mentioned above applies, as well as that the data principal’s interest and rights in restricting or preventing the prolonged dissemination of personal data outweigh any citizen’s right to freedom of expression and information.
The “right to be forgotten” emanates from a 2014 judgement by the European Court of Justice in the case of Google Spain SL, Google Inc. v. Agencia Espaola de Protección de Datos, Mario Costeja González. In this case, a newspaper published an article in 1998 relating to a forced property sale that was required to be made by Mr Mario Costeja Gonzalez to settle a social security debt.
As a result, the European Court of Justice ruled that European residents have the right to ask metasearch businesses like Google, who collect personal data for business, to erase links to sensitive data when requested, given that such material is no longer relevant. The European Court of Justice determined that the fundamental right to privacy is more important than a commercial firm’s economic interest and, in certain situations, more important than the interest of the public in access to data.
Likewise, in the case of Subhranshu Rout @ Gugul v. the State of Odisha, “the offender allegedly videotaped the rape, established a bogus social media profile, and published the material on the social media site.” The High Court of Orissa (“Court”) denied the accused’s bail motion, citing a lack of adequate remedies for victims seeking to have harmful information removed from the internet. In light of both escalating online abuse and exceptional callous activity on the internet, as well as the lack of a framework for exercising the right to be forgotten, the Court concluded that a broader debate on the execution of this right was required.
In a recent verdict, the Karnataka High Court ordered around 17 media houses to block/redact the names of the acquitted persons in a case who had invoked the “right to be forgotten”. Although Indian laws do not have specific provisions enshrined to protect the rights of the individual under such circumstances, however, the courts under the garb of judicial activism have stressed and taken note of instances where an individual’s right to privacy is in jeopardy. As the release of any sensitive data in the public domain shall lead to mental agony and harm to the reputation of not only that particular individual/group of individuals, but also to their families.
As a corollary, when that comes to the right to be forgotten, advocates essentially argue here that the right to privacy entails the right to be forgotten including people individuals who have been imprisoned or have faced charges and now desire to move forward.
The requirement for personal data or information about past traumatic occurrences of people who have already been punished or prosecuted to stay in the public domain is increasingly being challenged in court. It is a dire need of the hour that the government formulates laws that govern the liabilities of intermediaries and also protect the interests of the public at large.
The author is an independent IP Attorney working with a reputed law firm.
PM Modi’s ‘Not Era Of War’ Remark To Putin is In Tune With India’s Stand
During a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russian President Vladimir Putin, “Today’s era is not an era of war, and I have spoken to you on the phone about this,” and added that “democracy, diplomacy and dialogue kept the world together”. This remark by PM Modi has been interpreted by the West as a “public rebuke” by the Indian premier who has so far steered clear of making any statement that could be viewed as a public criticism of the Russian President for Moscow’s military operation against Ukraine. Some commentators and foreign policy analysts went one step further and interpreted the remark as an indication of India changing its stance vis-à-vis the Russian invasion against Ukraine.
French President Emmanuel Macron and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan cited this remark urging Putin to end the war. Macron even went to the extent of saying that those countries which have chosen to be “neutral” and “non-aligned” are “mistaken” and have a historical responsibility to speak out. “Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, was right when he said the time is not for war. It is not for revenge against the West, or for opposing the West against the East. It is the time for a collective time for our sovereign equal states. To cope together with challenges we face,” Macron went on to say at UNGA. What Macron’s statements highlight was the West’s eagerness to somehow send out a message to Russia that India is on their side in publicly condemning Moscow. In fact, both the French President and the US NSA saw in the PM’s remarks a much-awaited opportunity to exactly do the same. With this in mind, the West started misinterpreting what PM Modi said during the bilateral meeting with Putin.
To describe PM Modi’s words, “Today’s era is not of war” to Putin as public criticism of Russia or as something that suggests change in India’s stand is absolutely a misinterpretation of the remarks. What the Prime Minister said is completely in sync with India’s stand on Ukraine. PM Modi has been asking for cessation of violence right from day one. He has been telling the Russian President Putin in all his telephonic talks that there should be immediate cessation of violence and the problems should be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy. They have spoken at least four times in the last six months where the Prime Minister has called for cessation of hostilities and advocated the path of diplomacy and dialogue. This is what PM Modi underlined again during talks with Putin in Uzbekistan. Where is any change of stand then? What the West chose to ignore was a significant part of PM Modi’s statement in which the Indian leader clearly said that “I have spoken to you (Putin) about this (the need for restoration of peace)”. Ever since the war broke out, PM Modi has been emphasising on restoration of peace, end of violence, and dialogue and diplomacy. So, it’s in sync with the Indian position that has been reiterated time and again.
Whenever the West pressured India to join them to condemn Russia, New Delhi clearly said that it is on the side of peace. India has maintained that its approach will be driven also by national interest. Amid the growing pressure by the western countries on India to be critical of Russia, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on various platforms and during several bilateral and multilateral meetings has been telling the West unequivocally that India was, is and will be on the side of peace. That is exactly what PM Modi did when he said that this is not the era of war. The India premier has been reminding the world of the terrible cost of the conflict while reaffirming India’s stand pitching for cessation of violence. India did not show any hitch while condemning the Bucha massacre in Ukraine and joined various countries in demanding a probe into it. India voted twice to allow Ukraine President Zelensky to address the UN bodies. India also reached out to Ukraine with humanitarian assistance as well. So, India cannot also be viewed as showing any tilt towards Russia amid the violence. India has always been on the right side.
Therefore, the PM’s comments need to be seen in the context of India’s position in the last seven months of the war. There is no point in the West viewing PM Modi’s remarks underlining the need for peace as India changing its stand and choosing to join the bloc in its raft of sanctions against Russia. In the context of the ongoing situation in Ukraine, Prime Minister, in fact, reiterated India’s long-standing position in favour of dialogue and diplomacy.
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