Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 04 May 2023

World Press Freedom Index 2023

GS Paper - 2(Governance)

2023 marks the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day. The theme of this year’s event is “Shaping a Future of Rights: freedom of expression as a driver for all other human rights”. The report was released by global media watchdog Reporters without Borders (RSF).

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It signifies the right to freedom of expression, as embodied in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as the element that enables all other human rights.

Findings of the report:

  1. Norway, Ireland and Denmark occupied the top three positions in press freedom, while Vietnam, China and North Korea constituted the bottom three.
  2. India’s ranking in the 2023 World Press Freedom Index has slipped to 161 out of 180 countries. In 2022, India was ranked at 150.
  3. Pakistan has fared better when it comes to media freedom as it was placed at 150, an improvement from last year’s 157th rank. Sri Lanka also made significant improvement on the index, ranking 135th this year as against 146th in 2022.

About RSF:

  1. RSF is an international NGO whose self-proclaimed aim is to defend and promote media freedom. Headquartered in Paris, it has consultative status with the United Nations.
  2. The objective of the World Press Freedom Index, which it releases every year, is to compare the level of press freedom enjoyed by journalists and media in 180 countries and territories.
  3. RSF defines press freedom as “the ability of journalists as individuals and collectives to select, produce, and disseminate news in the public interest independent of political, economic, legal, and social interference and in the absence of threats to their physical and mental safety.”

Significance of World Press Freedom Day:

It is to raise awareness about the state of press freedom globally as well the responsibilities and perils of the job. It was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1993, and since then, the anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration is celebrated as World Press Freedom Day.

Windhoek Declaration:

  1. It was adopted on 3 May, the last day of the seminar. It consisted of 19 principles related to “independent, pluralistic, and free press”. Later, in 1993, May 3 was proclaimed as World Press Freedom Day by the U.N.
  2. seminar was held between April 29 and May 3, 1991, in the Namibian capital Windhoek, shortly after the country gained independence.
  3. It focussed on “promoting an independent and pluralistic African press” and was held in partnership with U.N. agencies.
  4. It also decided to organise training courses and study trips for journalists, managers, and technical personnel.
  5. The Declaration builds on Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which relates to the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
  6. free press is essential for democracy as well as economic development. It also talks about the persecution of journalists, editors, and publishers in African countries, urging the U.N. to identify press censorship as a violation of human rights.

Windhoek-inspired declarations

  1. The 1991 Windhoek Declaration inspired a series of regional declarations promoting the independence of press and pluralism in media. A few of them are:
  2. The 1992 Alma Ata Declaration on promoting independent and pluralistic Asian media
  3. The 1994 Santiago Declaration on media development and democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean
  4. The 1996 Sana’a Declaration promoting independent and pluralistic Arab media
  5. The 1997 Sofia Declaration on promoting independent and pluralistic media with special focus on Central and Eastern Europe


ESMA Derecognised of six Indian CCPs

GS Paper - 3 (Economy)

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the European Union (EU’s) financial markets regulator and supervisor, has derecognised six Indian central counterparties (CCPs) from 30 April 2023. These six CCPs are The Clearing Corporation of India (CCIL)Indian Clearing Corporation Ltd (ICCL)NSE Clearing Ltd (NSCCL)Multi Commodity Exchange Clearing (MCXCCL)India International Clearing Corporation (IFSC) Ltd (IICC) and NSE IFSC Clearing Corporation Ltd (NICCL).

What is the issue?

  1. As per the European Market Infrastructure Regulations (EMIR), a CCP in a third country can provide clearing services to European banks only if it is recognised by ESMA.
  2. ESMA said it reviewed the recognition of all third-country CCPs (TC-CCPs) that had been recognised prior to 21 September 2020, as per the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) regime.
  3. The decision to derecognise Indian CCPs came due to ‘no cooperation arrangements’ between ESMA and Indian regulators – the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA).
  4. While ESMA wants to supervise these six CCPs, Indian regulators are of the view that since these domestic CCPs operates in India and not in the EU, these entities cannot be subjected to the ESMA regulations.
  5. They feel that these six CCPs have robust risk management and there is no need for a foreign regulator to inspect them.
  6. Last year in December, Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das asserted that foreign regulators should trust the credibility of Indian regulations.

What will be the impact of the move?

  1. With the withdrawal of recognition, these TC-CCPs will no longer be able to provide services to clearing members and trading venues established in the EU, ESMA had said.
  2. Some of the major European banks dealing in the domestic forex, forward, swap and equities and commodities markets include Societe Generale, Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas.
  3. The derecognition will impact these lenders and they will have to set aside additional capital to trade in the domestic market.
  4. The clearing members will also be impacted by way of higher capital requirements, increased margin requirements, enhanced credit risk and lack of multilateral netting benefit.

What’s the role of CCP?

  1. CCPs perform two main functions as the intermediary in a market transaction – clearing and settlement – and guarantee the terms of trade.
  2. CCP is a system provider, who by way of novation interposes between system participants in the transactions admitted for settlement, thereby becoming the buyer to every seller and the seller to every buyer, for the purpose of effecting settlement of their transactions.
  3. CCP is authorised by the RBI to operate in India under the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.


USTR again places India on priority watch list

GS Paper - 3 (IPR)

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) again placed India on the ‘Priority Watch List’ along with China and Russia and four others, for lack of adequate intellectual property rights protection and enforcement. In its 2023 Annual Special 301 Report, that identifies trade barriers to American companies due to IP laws of other countries, the USTR said that India remained one of the most challenging economies for IP enforcement and protection and the country’s overall IP enforcement was inadequate.

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  1. Patent issues continue to be of particular concern in India, the USTR said, citing the potential threat of patent revocationslack of presumption of patent validity, and the narrow patentability criteria under the Indian Patents Act impact companies across different sectors.
  2. It also said that patent applicants continue to confront costly and time-consuming pre- and post-grant oppositions, long waiting periods to receive patent grants, and excessive reporting requirements.
  3. As per the report, the levels of trademark counterfeiting in India continue to “remain problematic” besides excessive delays in trademark opposition proceedings and a lack of quality in examination.
  4. The US continues to urge India to join the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks, which expands protectable subject matter to include non-traditional marks such as sensory markscolorposition, and movement marks.
  5. On the draft Digital Personal Data Protection Bill that took steps to address concerns from the previous draft regarding intellectual property protection, the USTR said that right holders remain concerned with the concise language of the bill noting that problematic issues may be reintroduced at the rule-making stage after the bill is enacted.

Institutes of National Importance (INIs) 
under HECI

GS Paper -2 (Social Sector)

Government is likely to bring Institutes of National Importance (INIs), including IITs, IIMs, NITs and IISERs, within the ambit of the proposed single higher education regulator, Higher Education Commission of India.

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There are currently 160 INIs including AIIMS, IITs, NITs and IIMs which are empowered to hold their own examinations, grant degrees and receive government funding and are governed by their own senates/board of governors but with some involvement from the government as well.

About HECI:

  1. It is the most significant higher education reform envisaged by the new National Education Policy (NEP) released in July 2020.
  2. The idea of a single regulator subsuming all higher education regulators, however, predates the NEP 2020.
  3. The proposed HECI structure includes four different verticals like National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC) for function of regulation, National Accreditation Council (NAC) for accreditation, Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) for funding and General Education Council (GEC) for setting academic standards.

Present regulation:

  • Central universities (CUs) and INIs are governed by their own Acts of Parliament and are not answerable to the University Grants Commission or the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).
  • The central universities are still dependent on UGC for release of their budgetary grants, but the IITs, IIMs and NITs deal with the ministry directly on financial matters.
  • The Education Ministry, on different provisions and powers of the proposed HECI, also considered bringing INIs and CUs within its ambit.
  • The possibility of bringing all technical education institutions within HECI’s control was broached during a presentation made by the then AICTE chairman in December 2021.
  • The IIMs have been very protective of their autonomy, especially since the passage of the IIM Act. In the first few months of 2022, a few IIM directors collectively wrote a letter to the ministry opposing the idea.

Aim of this move:

It is to ensure that basic standards and benchmarks are met across institutes in accordance with the new National Education Policy.

Impact of this move:

  1. It is believed that INIs have already established high academic standards and benchmarks, both in India and globally, and that imposing uniform standards on them would be inappropriate.
  2. There are also worries that any move to introduce an overarching regulatory regime could eventually lead to a loss of autonomy for INIs, as it would create opportunities for regulatory overreach.

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