Indian Express Editorial Analysis- 26 February 2024

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Indian Express Editorial Analysis- 26 February 2024

1. In poll year, a data question

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies – Interventions for development in various sectors
This subject is important to both Prelims and Mains since it covers a number of governance-related topics, such as the function of regulatory agencies such as the Data Protection Board, the role of laws in preserving individual privacy, and the necessity of enforcing laws in a way that upholds democratic values.

– The advent of the big data economy has brought about a transformation in national elections and voting procedures, posing a range of opportunities and challenges.
– This analysis explores the ways in which the big data economy has affected elections from a variety of angles, with particular attention to the ramifications for businesses, political parties, and personal privacy.

Influence of Big Data on ElectionsMicro-Targeting and Campaign Strategies:

  • With the aid of big data, political candidates can now use micro-targeting tactics and boost their campaigns with a variety of engagement options like social media, audio calls, and bulk SMS.
  • Nonetheless, voters have very little ability to consent to data collection and usage, and they are frequently ignorant of the vast databases that hold their personal information.

Network Effect and Social Media:

  • As more people sign up, social media platforms’ built-in network effect increases user benefits by enabling increased connectivity and content access.
  • Platforms leverage comprehensive user profiles for revenue generation, leveraging improved data collection to provide tailored services and targeted advertising.

 Impacts on PrivacyDetailed User Profiles

  • Platforms gather remarkably detailed user profiles, including subtle preferences and behaviours in addition to easily recognisable details like age and location.
  • The Cambridge Analytica scandal during the 2016 US presidential election serves as an example of how this vast amount of data can be made profitable through a variety of strategies, such as personalised ads and micro-targeting initiatives.

Political Parties and Data Utilization:

  • Political parties use digital networks to obtain comprehensive data about their supporters, allowing for the distribution of content that is specifically targeted to their demographic and ideological preferences as inferred from their online behaviour.
  • Although these strategies have both manipulative and beneficial effects, they give rise to serious worries about invasions of privacy and the ambiguous use of personal information.

Policy and Regulatory LandscapeIndia’s Data Protection Act:

  • The forthcoming enforcement of India’s data protection legislation offers a crucial chance to address privacy apprehensions and protect the rights of individuals.
  • But current shortcomings—like insufficient restrictions on government data access and insufficient provisions for individual compensation—require immediate changes in order to guarantee effective privacy protection, especially in light of election preparations.

Challenges in Implementation:

  • People have suffered as a result of the lag between the enactment and enforcement of data protection laws, which exacerbates privacy violations and impedes information access.
  • Comprehensive regulatory frameworks that prioritise citizens’ rights and interests are necessary, and this need is further highlighted by the lack of a data protection board and insufficient redressal mechanisms.

Recommendations for Regulatory FrameworkInclusive Consultation Process:

  • In order to address current shortcomings and harmonise with international best practices, efforts to improve data protection must give priority to inclusive consultation processes that incorporate feedback from a diverse range of stakeholders.
  • Opportunities for sustained engagement are necessary to guarantee that regulatory measures are implemented effectively.

Empowering Data Protection Board:

  • Strict checks on executive power and open appointment practices are necessary to ensure the Data Protection Board’s independence and effectiveness.
  • Principles like necessity, proportionality, and data minimization should be required to be followed by regulations, and sensitive data categories should have higher security requirements.


  • Privacy and democratic integrity are seriously threatened by the rapidly changing digital landscape, especially during election seasons.
  • In the face of growing big data economies, maintaining fundamental rights and rebalancing power dynamics require a people-centric approach to data protection.
  • To protect individual liberty and democratic values, inclusive and rights-based regulatory frameworks must continue to be crucial as nations negotiate the challenges of digitization.

What Data Protection Laws are there in Other Nations?
European Union Model:
– The primary objective of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is to create a comprehensive data protection law for the processing of personal data.
– The EU created the right to privacy as a fundamental right with the purpose of protecting people’s dignity and their ownership rights over the data they produce.

US Model:
– The US lacks a comprehensive set of privacy rights or principles that address the use, collection, and disclosure of data, much like the EU’s GDPR.
– Instead, there isn’t much law that is specific to any one industry. Different strategies are used by the public and private sectors to protect data.
– Extensive legal frameworks such as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Privacy Act explicitly delineate and confront the government’s capacity and conduct concerning personal data.
– There are several standards that are unique to the private industry.

China Model:
– China has implemented new privacy and data security regulations in the last 12 months. The Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL), which became operative in November 2021, is one such law.
– It gives Chinese data principals more rights in an attempt to prevent the improper use of personal data.
– The Data Security Law (DSL), which became operative in September 2021, requires the prioritisation of commercial data and imposes further restrictions on cross-border transfers.

PYQ: Right to Privacy’ is protected under which Article of the Constitution of India? (2021) 
(a) Article 15
(b) Article 19
(c) Article 21
(d) Article 29 

Ans: (c)
Practice Question: Examine critically the opportunities and problems that arise from the convergence of technology, governance, and individual rights, especially in light of the Data Protection Act of India. (10 m / 150 words)

2. North and South, twain must meet

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies – Interventions for development in various sectors
GS2- Polity- Constitutional Bodies 
Because this analysis explores the operation of State Finance Commissions, a critical component of state governance, it is pertinent to both the Prelims and Mains exams.

– The establishment and operation of State Finance Commissions (FCs) are essential to the transfer of taxes and resources to local government entities.-
– Nonetheless, there are differences between the intended function of FCs and their actual implementation on the ground, as evidenced by cases of delayed reports and state governments rejecting recommendations.

Challenges in State Finance CommissionsDelayed Reports and Recommendations:

  • State FCs frequently experience delays in reporting and making recommendations, which shortens the time that their ideas are effective.
  • Studies and an RBI report both confirm that this delay jeopardises the stability of resource transfers to local governments.

Centralizing Impulses and Devolution Constraints:

  • The centralization inclinations of both the federal government and state governments hinder the transfer of powers and responsibilities to local communities.
  • The observation made by experts highlights governments’ resistance to transferring power outside of their immediate sphere of influence.

Concerns of Southern StatesFalling Share in Central Taxes:

  • Concerns about the shrinking share of central taxes have been raised by Southern states, who blame it on a perceived divide between the North and the South.
  • But a closer look shows that the northern states have also seen a decrease in their share, albeit not as much.

Dependency on Central Transfers:

  • The poorer northern states get most of their revenue from central taxes and grants, and as a result, they depend heavily on transfers from the centre.
  • This reliance highlights how important fiscal transfers are to maintaining state finances.

Analysis of Fiscal TransfersHorizontal and Vertical Distribution:

  • The problem of fiscal transfers includes both vertical and horizontal distribution between the Centre and the states.
  • States now face more financial difficulties as a result of the Center’s reliance on cesses and surcharges, which has reduced the divisible tax pool even as the states’ portion of it has increased.

Impact of Cesses and Surcharges:

  • The fiscal landscape has become more complex as a result of the proliferation of cesses and surcharges, which has decreased the states’ share of gross tax revenues.
  • The Center’s spending priorities have shifted to areas included in the State and Concurrent lists, which is reflected in this trend and is further taxing the state’s finances.

Policy RecommendationsRevisiting Criteria for Horizontal Distribution:

  • State FCs ought to think about reevaluating the standards for the horizontal tax distribution, taking into account factors like tax effort, financial restraint, and demographic performance.
  • A more nuanced strategy would encourage states to implement responsible fiscal policies and raise socioeconomic indicators.

Addressing Political Implications:

  • In addition to financial concerns, political concerns—specifically, those related to the upcoming delimitation process—also contribute to the unwillingness to transfer authority.
  • It is imperative to tackle these issues in order to promote a collaborative federal structure and guarantee just allocation of resources.


  • The difficulties that State Finance Commissions encounter highlight the difficulties that come with resource allocation and fiscal federalism.
  • Promoting cooperative federalism and guaranteeing sustainable fiscal devolution among states requires addressing delays in FC operations, reevaluating tax distribution standards, and reducing political concerns.

State Finance Commissions (SFCs)
– The State Finance Commission (SFC) was formed as an organisation to organise and rationalise the fiscal relationships between the States and sub-States in India by the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments (CAs).
– Article 243I of the Constitution requires the State Governor to establish a Finance Commission every five years.
– Article 243Y of the Constitution requires the Finance Commission, which was established under Article 243 I, to assess the Municipalities’ financial situation and make recommendations to the Governor.

– States are not in compliance with the requirement to regularly establish their SFCs.
– They do not submit the reports on time, and they lack proficiency.
– It is their great duty to consider the various local administrations.
– Reliable data is a big problem they handle.
– The Union FC is seen as having greater constitutional significance than local governments and SFCs.

Practice Question: Talk about the difficulties that India’s State Finance Commissions (SFCs) are facing and how they affect governance and fiscal federalism. (10 m / 150 words)

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