Daily Editorial Analysis for 17th February 2020

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Missing Link of grain management system and food security act From Budget

Paper: III

For Prelims: About Procurement Price & Minimum Support price.

For Mains: Major Crops; Storage, Transport and Marketing of Agricultural Produce and Issues and Related Constraints.

Context of News:

  • In recent tabled budget, there is massive reduction in food subsidy. The revised estimates (RE) for food subsidy for 2019-20 have been slashed by a whopping Rs 75,552 crore — from the budgeted estimate (BE) of Rs 1,84,220 crore to Rs 1,08,668 crore (RE).
  • Agriculture still engages about 50 per cent of India’s workforce.If the masses do not gain from the growth process, their incomes remain subdued, then the demand for manufactured goods, housing and other goods will remain low.

About Procurement Price & Minimum Support price:

  • Minimum Support Price is the price which is announced before the crop sowing. This the price at which government is required to buy the crop whether the market price is less or more. GoI announcing it since 1966-67. Procurement price is announced after the harvesting and it is higher than MSP.
  • Procurement price of a commodity refers to the price at which govt. procures the commodity from producers/manufactures for maintaining the buffer stock or the public distribution system
  • MSP are announced at the beginning of the sowing season for certain crops on recommendations by Comission for Agricultural Costs and Prices(CACP) and announced by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the Prime Minister of India. So it is decided by the Central government.

Associated problems with Food Grain Management:

  • Lack of Storage:
  • The mechanism that the Indian government used to procure crops is not efficient. The government needs adequate infrastructure for the procurement of the production like Cold storage and Silos etc.
  • Poor Quality of Food grains and high Wastage:
  • The poor quality of seeds used in agriculture produce poor quality of food. But sometimes production also gets decayed due to improper management of the crop and lacks the accurate accessibility of market.
  • The marginalization of Private Trade:
  • All activities in the context of crop production procurement id done by the government. It marginalized Private entrepreneurs. They can develop adequate infrastructure for the procurement so the government should give them a chance to participate in this field.
  • Uncompetitive Exports:
  • The higher price of MSP constraint the competitive export of the production.
  • Economic Burden:
  • It is an expensive activity for the government to purchase crop at MSP, Procurement and after that distribute it under the Public Distribution Service (PDS). These activities increase the economic burden of the government.
  • High Corruption:
  • Involvement of distributor in corruption puts the policy plan core idea at bay by negating the benefits reaching the needy within in time.
  • According to a report, 40-60% of the production is released in black market through corruption which is an illegal activity.

Way Forward:

  • Implementing Shanta Kumar panel recommendations:
  1. Fixing the issue price, other than the poor under the Antyodaya category, at 50 % of the procurement price.
  2. Limiting subsidized grain distribution under National Food Security Act to 40 % of the population rather than the current 67 %.
  3. Limiting the procurement of rice particularly in the north-western states of Punjab and Haryana where the groundwater table is depleting fast.
  4. Inviting private sector to participate in grain management.
  • Storage Reform:
  • End-to-End Computerization of FCI operations and Liquidating excessive stocks (beyond the buffer norm).
  • The government should introduce storage reforms in the country such as to outsource grain storage function to Centre Warehousing Corporation ( CWC), State Warehousing Corporation (SWC) and Private Sector Players.
  • The government should introduce a Private Entrepreneur Guarantee (PEG) scheme to construct godowns, cold storage and other infrastructure based on Public-Private Partnership (PPP). It increases efficiency and infrastructure.
  • For the storage purpose government should adopt ‘Silos’ rather than gunny bags. Because they are more efficient are safe for storage.
  • The Government has not given any number for poverty since 2011 — it was 21 % as per the Tendulkar poverty line. It is the need of the hour to update the real numbers of people living in extreme poverty and then devise the limit in subsidized food grain distribution.

In political micro-targeting, the vulnerable Indian voter

GS Paper-III

Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges.

Mains: issues with the data protection bill

Why in News?

Data protection Bill permits the government to define certain personal data as “critical personal data,” without providing any limitation on the government’s power to make such designation, which generally may not be transferred outside of India.

Three types of personal data:

  • All personal data — data from which an individual can be identified.
  • Sensitive personal data (SPD), which the Bill defines as financial, health, sexual orientation, biometric, genetic, transgender status, caste, religious belief, and more.
  • Critical personal data- The government at any time can deem something critical, and has given examples as military or national security data.

Importance of data:

  • In today’s world, online presence, which ensures greater outreach, is a key source of competitive advantage which has been realized by the political parties and gave rise to efforts by political parties to use the strategic data to tap into the fragmented political discourse by catering to the individual.
  • Microtargeting is often used by political parties and election campaigns includes direct marketing data mining techniques which can be used by Democratic political parties, as well as candidates to track individual voters and identify potential supporters.
  • Political parties are increasingly employing data-driven approaches to target individual voters using tailor-made messages.


  • The current draft empowers the Central government to notify social media intermediaries as significant data fiduciaries if their user base crosses a certain threshold and whose actions are likely to have an impact on electoral democracy.
  • Such profiling has raised huge concerns of data privacy for individuals and has become a burning issue for political debate.
  • Over the years, political advisory and advertising firms have devised sophisticated tools to gather voter data and made proper campaign products out of it.
  • The politicians of today’s age leave no stone unturned while canvassing for votes and the passive users are just not aware of what they are being subjected to.
  • It can have serious ramifications if this potential is used by demagogues to spread fake news and propaganda.


  • Therefore, the concerns related to regulation of the digital world are being debated in all jurisdictions which have experienced the impact of this technological advancement.
  • It requires serious discussion so that digital tools are used for enhancing democracy through citizen engagement, and not for harvesting personal data for voter targeting.
  • There is serious harm to the country’s democratic nature resulting on account of loss of informational autonomy.
  • The liberating and anti-establishment potential of the Internet are considered as a promise for the health of a liberal democracy.
  • It remains to be seen as to how the privacy law responds to the implications of political micro-targeting.

Additional information:

The Personal Data Protection Bill has been cleared by the cabinet which is due to be placed in Parliament. It is however different from previous draft, and has certain issues in it which needs proper discussion.

Three significant changes from draft headed by BN Srikrishna committee:

Sr. No. Draft headed by BN Srikrishna committee Proposed in the bill
1. All fiduciaries must store a copy of all personal data in India ·         Critical personal data must be stored and processed in India.

·         Sensitive personal data to be stored only in India.

·         Only requiring individual consent for data transfer abroad and not for sensitive and critical personal data

2. The previous draft did not apply to non-personal data, which many companies use to fund their business model. Fiduciaries to give the government any non-personal data when demanded.

(Non-personal data refers to anonymised data, such as traffic patterns or demographic data)

3. No such provision in the bill The Bill also requires social media companies, based on factors such as volume and sensitivity of data as well as their turnover, to develop their own user verification mechanism. While the process can be voluntary for users and can be completely designed by the company, it will decrease the anonymity of users and “prevent trolling”


Highlights of the Bill

  • The Bill regulates the processing of personal data of individuals (data principals) by government and private entities (data fiduciaries) incorporated in India and abroad.  Processing is allowed if the individual gives consent, or in a medical emergency, or by the State for providing benefits.
  • Finally, it legislates on the right to be forgotten. With historical roots in European Union law, this right allows an individual to remove consent for data collection and disclosure.
  • Data localization: The Bill requires that a serving copy of personal data be stored within the territory of India.  Certain critical personal data must be stored solely within the country.
  • A national-level Data Protection Authority (DPA) is set up under the Bill to supervise and regulate data fiduciaries. Each company will have a Data Protection Officer (DPO) who will liaison with the DPA for auditing, grievance redressal, recording maintenance and more.
  • It also grants individuals the right to data portability, and the ability to access and transfer one’s own data.

Data Protection Authority:

  • It will be in charge of ensuring that entities processing data do so in keeping with the law.
  • The DPA, a sector agnostic body, will ensure that every entity that handles data is conscious of its obligations and that it will be held to account in case of failure to comply.
  • The authority will consist of a chairperson and six persons with expertise in data protection and information technology.
  • The authority has the power to levy penalties for various offences by the fiduciary.

For data localization

Data localization refers to the process of storing data within the borders of a country where the data was generated. If the 20th century brought Internet as a decentralized space, the 21st century is marked by battles over the control of data.

  • Data localisation will help Indian law enforcement agencies access data for investigations and enforcement.
  • RBI circular says that, it is important to have unfettered supervisory access to data stored in India.
  • Recently lynching across the country were linked to WhatsApp rumours and in this context, localisation of data assumes significance.
  • Also 121 Indian citizens’ WhatsApp accounts were hacked by Israeli software called Pegasus. It gives security against foreign attacks and surveillance.
  • It champions domestic innovation.
  • Massive amounts of data generated by cities can be used to improve infrastructure and transport systems as Singapore has done.

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