Daily Editorials Analysis for 28th January 2020

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Andhra Pradesh moves to scrap Legislative Council

Paper: II

For Prelims: Legislative Council.

For Mains: Structure, Organization and Functioning of the Legislature.

Context of News:

  • Andhra Pradesh Cabinet has decided to abolish the state’s Legislative Council. The Council had last week referred the contentious capital decentralisation Bill to a Select Committee for review.
  • After the Cabinet meeting, the Assembly will meet later today to introduce a resolution to abolish the Legislative Council.
  • After passing the resolution, the government will send it to the Governor for his approval and then send it to Parliament for ratification.

About Legislative Council:

  • The Legislative Council is the upper house in those states of India that have a bicameral legislature; the lower house being the State Legislative Assembly. Its establishment is defined in Article 169 of the Constitution of India.
  • Under Article 169 of the constitution, Parliament may by law create or abolish the second chamber in a state if the Legislative Assembly of that state passes a resolution to that effect by a special majority.
  • How are Council’s members elected?
  • Although its membership may vary in each state, the Legislative Council must not have more than a third of the total membership of the Assembly of that state, and in no case fewer than 40 members.
  • About 1/3rd of members are elected by members of the Assembly (MLAs), another 1/3rd by electorates consisting of members of municipalities, district boards and other local authorities in the state, 1/12th by an electorate consisting of teachers, and 1/12th by registered graduates.
  • The remaining members are nominated by the Governor from among those who have distinguished themselves in literature, science, art, the cooperative movement, and social service.
  • The Legislative Councils are permanent Houses, and like Rajya Sabha, one-third of their members retire every two years.

  • Which states have Legislative Councils?
  • Apart from Andhra Pradesh (58 members), five other states have Legislative Councils: Bihar (58), Karnataka (75), Maharashtra (78), Telangana (40), and Uttar Pradesh (100).
  • Jammu and Kashmir too had a Council, until the state was bifurcated into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.

Argument For and Against Legislative Council:

  • For:
  • A Check against Hasty Legislation; The advocates of second chambers in the States emphatically assert that the second chambers in the States would be necessary to protect the interests of the people against the hasty and ill-considered legislation initiated and passed by the lower Houses.
  • Thorough Discussion on the Bills by More Mature and Seasoned Members; The atmosphere in the Councils is comparatively serene. Emotions do not run riot there, as the members of the Legislative Councils are more mature and more literate and not all of them are elected functionaries who are keen to show off to their constituents that they can exhaust their lungs fighting for their interest on the floor of the Assembly.
  • Against:
  • Either Superfluous or Mischievous; It is emphasized even now that if a majority of the members in the upper house belong to the same party which holds majority in the lower house, the upper house will become a mere ditto chamber. If on the other hand, two different parties are holding sway in the two Houses, the upper house will delay the bills for four months unnecessarily.
  • Backdoor Entrance of the Defeated Members; It is apprehended by the critics that a Legislative Council may be utilized to accommodate discredited party-men who may not be returned to the Assemblies. The nominated quota placed in the hands of the Governor may be used for enabling these defeated leaders to seek nomination to the Council and then their elevation to the Chief Minister ship.
  • Costly Institution; It was pointed out by the advocates of unicameralism that bicameralism in the States would be a Rolls Royce institution in the bullock-cart country. It would be an expensive experiment and a big drain on the State’s exchequer.

Way Forward:

  • It was expected that the Upper House consisting of graduates, teachers, outstanding persons in the fields of art, literature, science and social service, would check-mate the radicalism of the lower House. They were supposed to serve as a “check upon democratic outbursts” and provide an element of sobriety and second thought.
  • However, the second chambers in our States have proved to be ornamental superfluities which a poor country like India can ill afford. The members of the Legislative Council also owe allegiance to one party or the other and eventually act according to the dictates of a party to which they belong.
  • Hence, it is being widely held that we should do away with this expensive and otherwise superfluous legislative appendage. The states of Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, have already abolished the Legislative Councils. Time is not far off when all such second chambers will be abolished in the remaining states


Straddling national interests with digital norms on facial recognition technology

Paper: III

For Prelims: Facial recognition technology.

For Mains: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-technology, Bio technology and issues relating to Intellectual Property Rights.

Context of News:

  • Recently Google CEO advocated for banning of facial recognition technologies as of now before these technologies can be relooked to ensure the safety in terms of privacy.
  • Recent support for a temporary ban on facial recognition technologies seems uncharacteristic. It is not often that companies developing a technology call for its ban.
  • Their interest is in promoting the use of technology, not proscribing it. Not every one of the leading tech companies agree with Google on facial recognition.

Facial recognition technology:

  • A facial recognition system is a technology capable of identifying or verifying a person from a digital image or a video frame from a video source. Other applications include advanced human computer interaction, video surveillance, automatic indexing of images, and video database, among others.
  • Facial recognition technology uses a database of photos, such as mug shots and driver’s license photos to identify people in security photos and videos. It uses biometrics to map facial features and help verify identity through key features of the face.

Concerns Related to Facial Recognition Technologies:

  • Lack of Regulation:
  • The main reason for concerns amongst citizens is the lack of regulations surrounding the use of facial recognition technology. Many are worried about how accurate the technology is and if there are biases and misinformation in these technologies. One issue, for example, is that the technology has been proven in multiple studies to be inaccurate at identifying people of color, especially black of different colour and ethnicity.
  • Safety and security issue:
  • Problem is not only misidentifying someone leading to wrongful convictions. Problem also lies in the manner this date is being used, which are damaging to our society by being abused by law enforcement for things like constant surveillance of the public. E.g. Chinese government is already using facial recognition to arrest jaywalkers and other petty crimes that cause debate amongst what is considered basic civil rights and privacy issues versus protecting the public. Accuracy and accountability are necessary when it comes to the use of technology, especially regarding the justice system.
  • The concerns have not gone unnoticed by politicians and many countries have started to create legislation around these issues.

Way Forward:

  • Law enforcement agencies around the world are claiming that the use of facial recognition software helps keep dangerous criminals off the streets, but advocates say that there is no checks and balances when it comes to the system and above more privacy issue can’t be compromised in order to ensure safety and security of citizenry.
  • Looking at the present situation of use of facial recognition system; Facial recognition really doesn’t have a place in society. It’s deeply invasive, and from our perspective, the potential harm to society and human liberties far outweigh the potential benefits.
  • With the vast number of concerns and privacy issues surrounding facial recognition software and its use, cities around the world, we will face more dilemmas as law enforcement agencies will attempt to tackle these issues. AI and facial recognition technology are only growing and they can be powerful and helpful tools when used correctly, but can also cause harm with privacy and security issues. Lawmakers will have to balance this and determine when and how facial technology will be utilized and monitor the use, or in some cases abuse, of the technology.

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