Gaps in Births and Deaths Registration (Amendment) Act
Context: The Registration of Births and Deaths (RBD) Act, 1969 is set to be amended through the Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023.
Relevance: GS Paper – 1 GS Paper – 2 Health
The Bill aims to modernize and update the Act to address changing needs and create a national and state-level database of registered births and deaths.
Objective and Necessity of Amendments:
- The amendment is driven by the need to establish a comprehensive database of births and deaths to enhance the efficiency and transparency of delivering public services and social benefits.
- The Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023, has been passed by Parliament and received presidential assent.
Central and State Databases:
- The Bill mandates the Registrar General of India to maintain a national-level database, and each State’s Chief Registrar is to maintain a state-level database using an approved portal.
- These databases will serve to update various national-level databases including the National Population Register, Aadhaar, electoral rolls, ration cards, and passports.
Concerns Regarding Aadhaar and Deceased Individuals:
- The Bill requires collecting the Aadhaar number of parents during birth registration, but does not mention collecting the Aadhaar number of the deceased.
- Omission of the Aadhaar number of the deceased could hinder updating databases by removing their names.
Necessity of Central Database:
- The Registrar General of India’s role has traditionally focused on coordinating and unifying registration systems.
- The proposed central database seems redundant as it is essentially a collection of state-level databases, raising questions about its necessity.
Sharing of Information with Other Databases:
- The Bill suggests making the central-level database available to authorities maintaining various databases such as population registers, Aadhaar, electoral rolls, etc.
- Existing laws or executive orders might need amendments for these authorities to access birth and death data.
Cause of Death Certificate:
- The Bill mandates issuing cause of death certificates for deaths in medical institutions and for deaths outside hospitals where a medical practitioner attended the deceased.
- This approach poses challenges such as inaccurate diagnosis before death, non-conformity with classification standards for certain medical practices, and issuing certificates for deaths with different causes.
Birth and Death Certificates as Proof:
- Birth certificates are proposed to be accepted as proof of date and place of birth for various purposes like school admissions, passport issuance, and Aadhaar registration.
- Such provisions could potentially be achieved through rule amendments without necessitating changes to the Act.
Registering ‘Presumed Deaths’:
- The Act could consider including a provision to register “presumed deaths” in cases of natural calamities or accidents where individuals are missing for a prolonged period.
- This would facilitate families in obtaining death certificates earlier when it is reasonable to assume the person has died in the event.
China assures support for Sri Lanka’s debt relief ahead of crucial IMF review
Context: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has pledged assistance to address Sri Lanka’s financial debt challenges. The statement was made during the China-South Asia Exhibition in Kunming.
Relevance: GS 2 International Relations
Comprehensive Support from China:
- China commits to enhancing Sri Lanka’s capacity for independent development.
- Focus on breaking free from the poverty trap and accelerating industrialization and agricultural modernization.
Debt Treatment Uncertainty:
- No clear indication in the statement about whether Sri Lanka and China have reached a debt treatment agreement.
- Sri Lanka eagerly awaits resolution ahead of an upcoming assessment by the IMF.
IMF Evaluation and Extended Fund Facility (EFF):
- IMF team set to visit Colombo for the first review of the EFF extended to Sri Lanka.
- IMF’s disbursement of the second installment contingent on assessing Sri Lanka’s progress, including on debt treatment.
Debt Restructuring Negotiations:
- Sri Lanka engages in discussions with all bilateral creditors for finalizing debt restructuring terms.
- China, a major bilateral lender, opts out of the common platform established by creditor countries.
China’s Observational Role:
- China remains an observer in the official creditor committee co-chaired by India, Japan, and France.
- China’s absence raises concerns among other creditors, impacting negotiation dynamics.
Contours of Debt Treatment Plan:
- Bilateral creditors explore diverse options for debt treatment plan, including moratorium, longer repayment terms, and lower interest rates.
- Sri Lanka assures comparability of treatment while expressing confidence in China’s bilateral cooperation.
Word choice in data protection law, a dilution of rights
Context: India has passed the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023, which aims to safeguard personal data and privacy.
Relevance: GS 2 Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Standard Situations and Consent:
- Data protection’s core challenge is defining the standard for consent when personal data is used.
- The Act addresses standard situations like internet activity tracking, health status deduction from physical activity, and managing marketing calls.
- The Act requires informed consent with clear positive actions, but it contradicts by permitting data use if individuals “voluntarily provided” data without indicating refusal.
Consent Ambiguity and Ambitious Provisions:
- The Act’s ambiguity about consent and data provision could lead to confusion in courts and business uncertainty.
- The Act’s weak provision may override the strict one, enabling governments and businesses to assume consent without notification.
Necessity vs. Convenience:
- Personal data can’t always be used with consent due to public functions like identity verification, welfare targeting, and law enforcement.
- Previous drafts allowed non-consensual data use only if “necessary” for specific state functions, demonstrating no feasible alternatives.
- The Act’s use of “for” instead of “necessary for” allows data processing without consent for certain legitimate purposes, prioritizing convenience over privacy.
Lack of Notification and Control:
- Data processed without consent won’t be notified to individuals, and they won’t have the right to correct incorrect data or erase unnecessary data.
- Data taken for one non-consensual purpose can be freely used for others, contradicting principles upheld by the Supreme Court.
Concerns and Policy Implications:
- The law raises concerns about rights to information, free speech, surveillance reform, and regulatory structure.
- While these may seem like legal details, they reflect policy choices that dilute potential privacy rights.
- To meaningfully protect personal data, efforts are needed to tackle the Act’s weaknesses and ambiguities.
Context: The PM Vishwakarma scheme has been approved by the Cabinet to support traditional artisans and craftspeople.
Relevance: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
The scheme aims to provide economic assistance through concessional loans to alleviate their struggles in accessing affordable credit from formal banking channels.
Loan Provision and Potential Benefits
- The scheme offers loans of up to ₹3 lakh (in two installments) at a reduced interest rate of 5%.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced the scheme during his Independence Day speech.
- The initiative’s budget is ₹13,000 crore.
- The scheme could provide economic relief to artisans by addressing their credit accessibility issues.
Challenges Beyond Credit Access
- The scheme’s scope is limited to credit availability, missing the broader challenges faced by traditional craftsmen.
- The primary issue is the lack of demand and appreciation for their goods and services in the wider market.
- Artisans encounter undervaluation of their economic contributions.
- The root problem is the absence of economic viability for their output.
Possible Unintended Consequences
- Merely extending loans might not solve the fundamental economic challenges these communities face.
- Without generating demand and opening new markets, beneficiaries could end up in more debt without improved income prospects.
- The scheme could unintentionally perpetuate low-paying traditional trades, inhibiting progress.
Interplay with Intergenerational Knowledge Transfer
- The scheme emphasizes the importance of knowledge transfer across generations.
- There’s a risk of the next generation being trapped in unviable low-paying trades due to lack of focus on economic viability.
- Many traditional trades are associated with caste-based systems, potentially exacerbating inequality.
Inclusion of Skilling Programs and Modern Tools
- The Vishwakarma scheme integrates skilling programs and financial support for modern tools.
- These provisions aim to enhance the skills and productivity of artisans.
- The potential benefits of these components are contingent on effective implementation.
Emphasizing Implementation and Expertise
- The article suggests that the scheme’s success hinges on its implementation.
- The government is advised to involve professionals with entrepreneurial skills and expertise to assist artisans in upgrading their offerings.
- This approach can enable craftspeople to adapt to new markets and capitalize on fresh opportunities.
- While the PM Vishwakarma scheme addresses credit accessibility, it’s vital to consider broader challenges.
- The lack of demand, undervaluation, and economic viability are crucial aspects to address.
- A comprehensive strategy involving skill development, market creation, and expert assistance is necessary for sustainable upliftment of artisanal communities.
President Murmu launches warship Vindhyagiri
Context: President Droupadi Murmu inaugurated the Vindhyagiri frigate, the final vessel in the Project 17A (Alpha) series, constructed by the Indian Navy in collaboration with Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) based in Kolkata.
Advancing Maritime Capabilities
- President Murmu hailed the launch as a significant step toward boosting India’s maritime strengths.
- The event also underscores India’s commitment to self-reliance and technological progress, exemplified by Project 17A, of which Vindhyagiri is a part.
- The President emphasized that a robust naval presence is vital to address security threats in the Indian Ocean Region and the larger Indo-Pacific.