Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 06 August 2023

Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2023

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

After nearly five years of negotiations involving the government, technology companies and civil society representatives, the Centre tabled the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2023, in Parliament, which lays out procedures on how corporations and the government itself can collect and use information and personal data of India’s citizens.

Criticisms of India Bill and the government’s counter

  • These include a progressive weakening of the Data Protection Authority of India – the body that is supposed to be the key regulator and enforcer of the law – and the multiple exemptions to the central government and its agencies entities, which were among the most criticised provisions of the previous draft.
  • The Centre was also empowered to appoint members to the data protection board, raising concerns over the control it could potentially exert on the institution in cases where it was an interested party.
  • Other features include provisions for the central government to bypass norms around seeking express consent from citizens and the right to exempt “any instrumentality of the state” from adverse consequences citing national security, relations with foreign governments, and maintenance of public order among other things, are where the Bill comes in closer to the Chinese version, than the EU legislation that the whole exercise started out with.
  • The government has maintained that it needs some exemptions and cannot be treated at par with private entities in all cases for various reasons.
  • The government needs certain exemptions because it deals with issues including terrorismlaw and order, and public health emergencies. “In such a situation, there have to be carve outs so that the government can efficiently do its work”.

Data protection laws in other geographies

  • An estimated 137 out of 194 countries have put in place legislation to secure the protection of data and privacy, with Africa and Asia showing different levels of adoption – with 61 and 57% of countries respectively having adopted such legislations, according to data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, an intergovernmental organisation within the United Nations Secretariat. The share in the least developed countries is only 48%.


Room temperature superconductivity

GS Paper - 3 (Science and Technology)

Two South Korean researchers posted two related papers on the internet, not yet peer-reviewed, claiming that a lead-based compound they had developed had shown superconducting properties at room temperature, under normal pressure conditions.

Superconductivity and why it is a big deal

  • Superconductivity refers to a state in which a material offers zero, or near-zero, resistance to electric current.
  • A current is nothing but the movement of charged particles, electrons in most cases, in a particular direction. When the electrons movethey collide, and interact, with other atoms in the material.
  • The movement is not entirely smooth it encounters resistance which, as of now, is an essential property in electrical conductivity.
  • Resistance involves a loss of energy, mostly in the form of heat. Part of the reason why electrical appliances get heated is this resistance.
  • Elimination of this resistance can result in super-efficient electrical appliances, removal of transmission losses in power cables, and massive gains in energy. But that is not all.
  • Superconducting materials show very interesting behaviour under magnetic field which allows the functioning of systems like the MRI scan machine and the superfast Maglev trains that float above the tracks. Superconductors have very critical uses in a wide variety of other scenarios as well.
  • Unfortunately, the resistance to electric conductivity cannot simply be wished away. In many ways, resistance is like friction that any motion encounters – almost a built-in feature.
  • But while friction cannot be entirely eliminated – and this is actually a good thing – resistance can be brought down to zero, or negligible levels, in certain extreme conditions to create superconductors.
  • In fact, superconductors are already being used, but their use is limited because of the extreme conditions that have to be created.

What do current superconductors look like?

  • As of now, superconductivity can be achieved only at very low temperaturesmore than 250 degree Celsius below zero, very close to absolute zero which is – 273 degree Celsius.
  • The first material to have been discovered to show super conductive properties was Mercury, which becomes a superconductor at close to 270 degree Celsius below zero.
  • Most of the other materials commonly used as superconductors – LeadAluminumTinNiobium, and several others – also become superconducting at comparable temperatures, called critical temperature.
  • In some cases, materials can exhibit superconductivity at slightly higher temperatures as well, but under increased pressure conditions.
  • It is all about creating the right kind of conditions for the electrons in the material to move without resistance, and a variety of tweaks are experimented with depending upon the internal atomic structure of the material.


DPDP Bill as normal Bill

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

The Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Bill is a normal Bill and not a Money bill, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said. Earlier, it was reported that the Bill was being introduced under Article 117 of the Constitution, which deals with special provisions for Finance Bills.

What is a Finance Bill?

  • In a general sense, any Bill that relates to revenue or expenditure is a Financial Bill. A Money Bill is also a specific type of Finance Bill that must deal only with matters specified in Article 110 (1) (a) to (g).
  • More specifically, Article 117 of the Constitution deals with the special provisions relating to Financial Bills. Article 117 (1) indicates that a Bill that makes provision for any of the matters specified in clauses (a) to (f) of Article 110 (1) can be introduced or moved only on the President’s recommendation and cannot be introduced in the Rajya Sabha.
  • Examples of this first category of Financial Bills are Money Bills and other Financial Bills originating solely in the Lok Sabha.
  • The second category of Finance Bills is dealt with under Article 117 (3) of the Constitution. Such Bills are more like ordinary Bills.
  • The difference between this kind of Financial Bill and an ordinary Bill is that if the former is enacted, it will involve expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India and cannot be passed by either House unless the President has recommended its consideration.
  • In all other respects, such Financial Bills are just like ordinary Bills, and can even be introduced in the Rajya Sabha, amended by it, or be subjected to deliberation by both Houses in a joint sitting.
  • A Financial Bill becomes a Money Bill when it exclusively falls under one of the seven heads listed under Article 110(1), which defines Money Bills. Moreover, a Money Bill is a Financial Bill that is certified by the Speaker.

What is the difference between Money Bills and Financial Bills?

  • Article 110 defines a “Money Bill” as one containing provisions dealing with taxes, regulation of the government’s borrowing of money, and expenditure or receipt of money from the Consolidated Fund of India, among others, whereas Article 109 delineates the procedure for the passage of such a Bill and confers an overriding authority on the Lok Sabha in the passage of Money Bills.
  • A major difference between money and Financial Bills is that while the latter has the provision of including the Rajya Sabha’s (Upper House) recommendations, the former does not make their inclusion mandatory.
  • The Lok Sabha has the right to reject the Rajya Sabha’s recommendations when it comes to Money Bills.
  • What differentiates a Money Bill from any ordinary Bill or Financial Bill is that while an ordinary Bill can originate in either house, a Money Bill can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha, as laid down in Article 117 (1).
  • Additionally, no one can introduce or move Money Bills in the Lok Sabha, except on the President’s recommendation. Amendments relating to the reduction or abolition of any tax are exempt from the requirement of the President’s recommendation.
  • The two prerequisites for any financial Bill to become a Money Bill are that first, it must only be introduced in the Lok Sabha and not the Rajya Sabha. Secondly, these bills can only be introduced on the President’s recommendation.

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