Global leaders, and the world at large, expectantly witnessed the inauguration of Biden and his Vice-President.
Biden is 46th President of the United States
Theme: “America United”
Biden overturned several of the controversial decisions taken by Trump
Signed an executive order - provide relief and citizenship to migrants who have no legal documents
Revoked the decision to ban citizens from 7 Muslim-majority countries
USA is the world’s largest economy
Most expect a return to the pre-Trump era with the US playing a more active role in world dynamics.
Biden himself is a vocal proponent of friendly ties with India
Indo-US relations to grow closer and become less strained
QUAD may get further boost
Software exports, H1 visa policy, minimum compensation for engineers
Bilateral trade between the two countries was at $88.75 billion in 2019-20.
In 2019, the US was the largest goods export market (17% share) for India and, in terms of goods import supplier, it was the third largest.
In April-September 2020, the US was the second biggest source of FDI for India.
It’s likely that higher portfolio investments influenced by federal rates will flow into India.
There might be a rise in US funding influx and India would hopefully become the alternative choice
Privacy and surveillance
WhatsApp, with 459 million users, had emerged as the leading communications application for most Indians.
Facebook Inc., which also owns Instagram, has sought to integrate the offerings from WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook
Facebook’s revenue model uses data on its platform to allow advertisers to target ads towards users, the algorithms would benefit from the WhatsApp data as well.
Such data transfer from WhatsApp to Facebook is not possible in regions such as the EU, where data protection laws have stringent restrictions on storage and transfer of user data.
Regionally differential treatment
Indian government to quickly take up the legislation for robust data protection
Recommendations of the Srikrishna Committee
2018 Puttaswamy judgment
The draft Bill proposed by the government in 2019 diluted some of the provisos
Limiting data localisation in proposing that only sensitive personal data needed to be mirrored in the country, and not all personal data as mandated by the committee
The possibility of domestic surveillance over Indian citizens
Privacy is better addressed by stronger contractual conditions on data sharing and better security tools being adopted by the applications that secure user data.
The proposed Bill has some of these features, similar to European law.
But it also requires stronger checks on state surveillance before it is passed.
A case to dispose of mercy petitions swiftly
Balwant Singh Rajoana, former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh’s assassin, was sentenced to death in 2007 by a special CBI court.
His mercy petition was filed by the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandhak Committee in 2014.
In 2019, the Ministry of Home Affairs sent a letter to the Punjab government to commute Rajoana’s death sentence.
It said it had taken an “in principle” decision to commute the death sentence as a “humanitarian gesture” ahead of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev.
But its decision could not be implemented because the Cabinet did not send the file to the President.
Rajoana has been incarcerated for over 25 years.
The Supreme Court pulled up the government for its laxity and fixed the next hearing for sometime in January 2021.
Abolishing capital punishment
The delay in carrying out the death penalty is one of the reasons to review India’s position on capital punishment.
The debate on the efficacy of the death penalty in reducing crime has been going on for several decades.
A few years ago, the issue of abolishing capital punishment was raised in the Rajya Sabha but was rejected by a voice vote.
The then Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju, stated that the government was not contemplating abolition of the death penalty.
Through its report in 2015, the Law Commission of India proposed abolishing the death penalty and sought the comments of States and Union Territories on the subject.
Despite reminders, just 14 States responded by 2018.
India figures among the 56 nations in the world that have retained the death penalty, while 142 have abolished it either by practice or by law.
In 2019, the Sri Lankan government put an end to its four-decades-long moratorium on capital punishment when then President Maithripala Sirisena ordered the execution of four drug offenders.
According to Amnesty International, thousands of Chinese are executed in that country every year
In 2018, Iran executed 253 convicts and Saudi Arabia executed 149.
However, the total number of executions across the world came down in 2018 to 690 from 993 in 2017.
In India, 102 convicts were awarded the death sentence in 2019, raising the total number of death row prisoners to 378.
A time frame needs to be fixed for the President to dispose of mercy petitions.
The lack of accountability of various officials in the government and the courts have adversely affected our criminal justice system.
Delays in investigations, court hearings and administrative steps to be taken after the final verdict need to be inquired into, and responsibility fixed.
Victory for farmers | Tribune
Finally , the Union government has seen reason and agreed to keep the contentious farm laws on hold for a year and a half.
One of the negotiators from the government’s side — minister Som Parkash — reportedly agreed to the suspension of the laws for two years, but Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar announced a moratorium for six months less.
This is a moment of triumph for the farmers.
Parliamentary democracy has built-in mechanisms to evolve consensus through committees; and laws that impinge on the livelihoods of millions of farmers ought to have been discussed thoroughly in those consultative and standing committees before being rolled out like bulldozers on standing crops.
The protests that ensued have taken a huge toll on the people of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh in terms of over 60 lives lost, six farmers committing suicide, disruption of traffic and livelihood; yet, the farmers were remarkably restrained, not letting emotions override the philosophy of non-violence.
The whole nation should salute these farmers for their fortitude, discipline, tenacity and endurance.
They taught a few lessons in community living, langar and sewa to the rest of the nation, making this protest unique.
Now, they should not repeat the government’s mistake by taking an extreme position.
They should return triumphant to their villages.
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Union Home Minister Amit Shah says, Modi Govt. will provide home to every citizen of country by August 2022
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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh speaks to his Indonesian counterpart General Prabowo Subianto
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