[UPSC Newspaper Clips] June 05, 2020

UPSC Newspaper Clips


Middle Power Game

Elevation of India-Australia ties welcome for rules based Indo-Pacific

TOI Editorials

The first-ever virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison yesterday not only happened at a critical moment in the Covid induced international political churn, but also elevated New Delhi-Canberra ties to the level of comprehensive strategic partnership. The two countries have been lukewarm towards each other for far too long. Indian foreign policy has shuttled between obsessing over the neighbourhood to pursuing ambitions of reserving a seat next to the big powers. As a result, it has somewhat ignored middle powers like Australia which actually hold the key to changing geopolitical equations.

Therefore, it is welcome that the two sides have now decided to upgrade their foreign affairs and defence dialogue to the ministerial level. Additionally, they also unveiled a shared vision for maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and signed seven agreements across crucial areas such as defence and rare earth minerals. But the big one is the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement, aimed at increasing military interoperability through enhanced defence exercises. There’s no denying that the bilateral synergy here stems from a convergence of interests in East Asia. Australia is right in the middle of the Indo-Pacific geographical articulation. And unlike the time it pulled out of the first iteration of the Quad in the last decade, today Canberra is much more forthright about balancing China’s assertive rise in the Indo-Pacific.

It was Australia that was vocal about initiating a probe into the origin of the coronavirus – for which it earned China’s economic wrath – and has begun to take Chinese influence in its critical domestic sectors seriously. Add to this Australia’s influence in the South Pacific, democratic credentials and reputation as a mineral resources powerhouse, and there is much that Canberra and New Delhi can do together to ensure a free, open and rules based Indo-Pacific.

Of course, both countries need additional partners in this project. The Asean grouping is a common point of interface, as is the trilateral platform with Japan. But the most promising plurilateral grouping is President Donald Trump’s suggestion of a G11 that would include both India and Australia. This would not be too large a group like the G20 and not as small as the Quad, making it a viable prospective platform to coordinate and uphold a rules based international order. Taken together, India should seize this opportunity to boost ties with Australia on natural merits.


Silver Linings

IT spawned a new middle class for India in the 1990s.Healthcare can be the new IT

TOI Editorials

With healthcare receiving utmost priority from policy makers like no other period in recent Indian history, an opportunity to replicate the IT sector’s success beckons. Flagging the huge employment opportunity, capital intensive nature of business, and gestation period between investment and payback, biotech entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar Shaw believes tax holidays that IT sector received earlier will do the trick. Healthcare offers entry points for capital and labour at various levels: It encompasses hospitals, pharmaceuticals, medical education, biomedical research and development, ancillary equipment manufacture, diagnostics, grassroots health workers, health insurance, telemedicine, and even medical tourism.

This sprawling field can create millions of skilled jobs when employment elsewhere is fast drying up. The coronavirus has unleashed tremendous institutional and entrepreneurial energies with R&D as well as production ramping up in critical areas like PCR testing kits, vaccines and drugs, ventilators, genome sequencing and personal protection equipment. Both public and private sectors are finding their niche areas here. But the pandemic has bared huge gaps in healthcare infrastructure. At 1% of GDP, government spending on healthcare has been a huge disappointment: India has just 0.7 beds per 1,000 population against an average of 2.4 beds in middle income countries. Many backward districts still don’t have medical colleges and are underserved by doctors.

Remedying gaps in rural healthcare apparatus and hiring more doctors, nurses, and training auxiliary health workers who can work as contact tracers, phlebotomists, vaccinators and health data aggregators will create lakhs of jobs. There is also growing need for medical professionals globally that India can meet through ramping up medical education. On the manufacturing side, reduced input costs can regain lost “atma-nirbharta” in APIs. Only further expansion of India’s middle class can break the rut that consumption is long stuck in. A double strike for both health and wealth is within reach. Intelligent shifts in health and industrial policies can’t wait.


Makes States Healthy Again

State governments can be better armed financially to fight Covid-19 by issuing public health bonds

Maitreesh Ghatak & Tarun Jain , [ Ghatak is professor of economics, London School of Economics, UK, and Jain is associate professor of economics, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad]

State governments are on the frontline in the fight against Covid-19. Yet, state finances have been devastated as tax revenue has dried up, and expenditures on health, migrant transportation and economic revival have skyrocketed. As the economy recovers from two months of lockdown, restoring state finances for the long run is a priority. Yet, the process of centralisation of the structure of public finances in India has left the states with limited fiscal power, and the lockdown has dried up revenue from the few fiscal instruments they control.

On May 17, GoI increased states’ limit for FY2020-21 borrowings by 1-2% of state GDP, equivalent to about Rs 4.28 trillion, which despite the conditionalities, offer a window of opportunity. We propose that state governments issue ‘long-duration public health bonds’ of at least 10 years’ — ideally 30 years’ — maturity in domestic capital markets to raise funds specifically for healthcare expenditure, worth 1% of the issuing state’s GDP.

Health is Wealth

Public health investments can generate large economic returns, especially when targeting young children. Consider the 1918 Spanish influenza, perhaps the only comparable event in the last century to the current crisis. A 2006 study, ‘Is the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Over? Long-Term Effects of In Utero Influenza Exposure in the Post-1940 US Population’ (bit.ly/3eR2NGq), by Douglas Almond showed that babies born to infected mothers in the US were up to 15% less likely to graduate from high school. Infected infant boys had 5-9% lower earnings as adults, suggesting that public health failures can have longterm effects.

In similar vein, large-scale malaria reduction in the 1950s in India generated 2% greater annual income for adult men even 30 years later, plus savings from treatment in public hospitals. A 2018 study in Kenya, ‘Exploiting Externalities to Estimate the Long-Term Effects of Early Childhood Deworming’ (bit.ly/3gRBXjw), by Owen Ozier shows that deworming pills costing just a few cents per dose had large cognitive effects, comparable to 0.5-0.8 years of schooling, partly by breaking the transmission of vectors from infected to uninfected children.

Another 2016 WHO study, ‘Return on Investment from Childhood Immunisation In Low- And Middle-Income Countries, 2011-20’ (bit.ly/2MpPil9), reported that immunisations yielded a net return about 16 times greater than costs over the decade. No wonder Bill Gates called immunisation expenditures his ‘“best investment” [which] turned $10 billion into $200 billion worth of economic benefit’. To be sure, not every intervention is equally effective everywhere, and the specific policies will need to be customised. But public health clearly delivers high private and social returns to government spending.

The immediate concern to additional government borrowing is potential increases in market interest rates. That short-term perspective takes the supply of loans to be inelastic. To the extent the loans fund public investments that raise the productive capacity of the population, this will show up in the form of higher income levels and higher tax revenues in the future. If state governments spend on public health now, chances are high that their residents will be healthier and earn more later. State governments can exploit this ‘virtuous cycle’ to tax their more prosperous residents in the future and repay the bonds. In contrast, raising taxes now could potentially act as a hindrance to economic recovery.

Disproportionate Returns

Issuing bonds for 30 years’ duration matches the decades-long returns from investments in healthcare, and is about the time taken for a young child who benefits from health investments to become an active taxpaying adult. Very short-duration bonds mean that the repayment schedule will not match the boosts in tax revenue.

Arguably, GoI could raise the same money at lower cost and then transfer to states. But, recently, GoI held up disbursing states’ share of GST collections at precisely the point that states needed those funds the most. Market borrowing limits by states have been raised subject to administrative conditions, and GoI could possibly impose conditions for health funds as well. Finally, borrowing directly allows each state government to prioritise its unique healthcare expenditure needs.

Specifying the bonds as ‘health bonds’, and not for general use, limits using the proceeds for healthcare only. Even within the healthcare sector, the need for debt repayment ensures that government expenditures focus on the highest returns — typically associated with early childhood and maternal care, communicable diseases and sanitation.

State debt is already traded on capital markets as state development loans (SDLs). The cost of new offerings will be pegged to prevailing yields, implying different cost of capital for different states. State government borrowings benefit from the implicit sovereign guarantee, though still trade at a discount to equivalent maturity central government debt.

The bonds may be attractive to investors looking for higher returns than GoI debt, but at lower risk than corporate bonds. They may boost returns for institutions with statutory constraints to invest only in government securities. In the spirit of impact-investing, the bonds may also be attractive to civic-minded households concerned about India’s public health infrastructure and wish to contribute positively.

The Covid-19 crisis has vividly demonstrated that public health and its economic aspects are closely interrelated, and so must be the policy responses to it. Our proposal of a public health bond is very much in this spirit.


Cry Of The Wild

Outcry over death of an elephant in Kerala is reassuring. It must be followed by a deeper soul-searching.


The gruesome death of a 15-year-old pregnant wild elephant in Kerala has triggered shock, sadness and anger among people. The elephant had a part of its face blown up some days ago after reportedly biting into a pineapple stuffed with explosives when it wandered into a farm on the edge of a forest in Palakkad district. Attempts at rescue by forest officials failed and the animal died in great pain in late May. The outrage over the elephant’s death in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which is wrecking lives and livelihoods, is, in part, because the incident has been reported from Kerala, which has projected itself as a model state, setting benchmarks of responsible and sensitive caregiving in the time of the pandemic. While it is not uncommon for farmers across India to target wild animals that poach crops by letting them feed on fruit laden with poison or filled in with fire-crackers, the barbaric practice is punishable under wildlife laws.

The elephant is an important element in Kerala’s cultural memory and traditions — it is an integral part of temple festivals and pageantry. Some of these beasts — there are about 486 of them in the state — have a huge fan base and even dedicated social media accounts. But adulation for the animal does not always translate into genuine concern for its well-being. Stories of elephants being ill-treated by mahouts and owners may be relatively few now because a vigilant civil society, especially the elephant fans, keeps track and is quick to flag incidents of cruelty or negligence. However, genuine elephant lovers could do more: They need to prod people to question if it is human to keep an animal that prefers to be part of a herd and roam in the wild chained alone to a restricted space and subject it to unwarranted attention in the name of faith and culture.

While the outrage at the unintentional killing of the elephant is understandable, some of it has been laced with communal prejudice. The location of crime has been identified, pointedly, as the Muslim-majority district of Malappuram and questions about the incident have been framed in cultural terms. The attempt to draw political capital needs to be resisted.


Law on locusts

Imagine COVID-19 information being disseminated through the beating of drums rather than Aarogya Setu

Bibek Debroy ,[ The writer is chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the PM.]

Acrid means pungent or bitter, and locusts leave a bitter taste in the mouth. I mean metaphorically, because of the devastation they cause. I have no idea what a locust tastes like. Acrida is a genus of grasshoppers. Following Carl Linnaeus, all living organism have Latin names. But acrid and acrida have different etymological roots — via Latin, acrida owes its origin to Greek and means locust. That’s the sense in which it is used (in Greek) in the Bible (Matthew 3.4, Mark 1.6), where there is a reference to eating locusts and wild honey. Indeed, locusts are efficient sources of food, far more than meat, but obviously not when swarms have been sprayed with harmful chemicals.

There was a Famine Inquiry Commission (Woodhead Commission) in 1945 which said, “as an instance of the possibility of the control of a pest over a vast area, the effective control of the desert locust, during its present cycle, may be mentioned…This warfare against the locust has been conducted by such simple means as trenching and poison-baiting.” Naturally, we have better means now. That Woodhead Commission led to the establishment of Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage (in 1946). This subsumed the former Locust Warning Organisation, established in 1939.

As should be obvious, there are different types of locusts. The indigenous Bombay Locust is hardly of concern now. It has been relatively benign since 1908 (there was a minor swarm in 1927). Our concern, and that of several countries, is the Desert Locust, during its swarming phase. A smallish swarm is an outbreak. When an outbreak is upscaled, it becomes an upsurge. When an upsurge is upscaled further, it becomes a plague. We had the last plague in 1959-62 and the last upsurge in 1997. Severity depends on the number of swarms. For instance, the 1997 upsurge had only four swarms. The 1968 upsurge had 167 swarms and the 1993 upsurge had 172 swarms.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has a Desert Locust bulletin and our Directorate also has a locust bulletin. From neither could I make out how many swarms we have now. It’s a premature question. In a non-flying stage, locusts are hoppers. When hoppers move together, they are known as a group. When adults move together, they are known as a band. The bands become larger and become swarms. At any one point in time, we have individual hoppers, individual adults, groups, bands and swarms. Hence, we don’t know how many swarms there will be eventually. But as of now, we don’t have a plague. We do have an upsurge.

The Directorate administers statutes like the Destructive Insects and Pests Act (1914), its 1992 amendment, and the Insecticides Act (1968), neither of which is specific to locusts. For locusts specifically, one should look towards the East Punjab Agricultural Pests, Diseases and Noxious Weeds Act (1949), which is also applicable in Delhi. When the Centre for Civil Society identified Delhi laws for repeal, this figured in the list, but has not been repealed. Section 4(1)(2) of this statute mentions locusts, a section inserted in 1951: “Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, in the event of any area being invaded, or in danger of an invasion, by locusts, the Collector of the district or other officer authorised by him in this behalf may call upon any male person not below the age of 14 years resident in the district to render all possible assistance in carrying out preventive or remedial measures and in the destruction of locusts…It shall not be necessary to notify every person individually for his services, and a proclamation by beat of drum or other customary modes in the village or locality shall be deemed sufficient notice to all affected persons residing in that village or locality.” Imagine COVID-19 information being disseminated through the beating of drums rather than Aarogya Setu.

The Punjab (as it then was) Legislative Assembly proceedings from 1951 explain why that amendment was introduced in 1951 (initially through an ordinance). In January 1951, Hissar, Gurgaon, Karnal, Ambala and Ludhiana were visited by locusts, with them eventually settling down in Hoshiarpur. Other than the government and the army, students and zamindars were also roped in to fight locusts and this was formalised through that ordinance/amendment. Like this year, locusts travelled beyond the immediately vulnerable areas in Rajasthan. Often, a statute cannot be repealed in entirety, since some sections remain relevant. For instance, in recent years, Punjab may not have invoked Section 4(1)(2) to fight locusts, but has used other sections to control parthenium. Other states have similar legislation — Assam, Andhra, Telangana, Tamil Nadu. However, there is a difference. In those cases, legislation doesn’t define an “insect pest” in the body of the legislation but leaves it to the notification. That’s the problem with the East Punjab legislation — its unnecessary specificity, where locusts and beating of drums are codified. The difference between a statute and rules/orders/notifications isn’t understood, a mindset that is the bane of other legislation too. A statute is passed by the legislature, rules/orders/notifications are in the executive’s domain, with information given to the legislature. Anything built into legislation also has to be formally repealed — a time-consuming process. Consequently, an anachronism like Section 4(1)(2) remains.

In 2020, farmers have beaten drums and utensils, used DJ-s and burst firecrackers to ward off locusts — in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. But that’s not the same as disseminating information about locust invasions through the beating of drums. I haven’t found any instance of Section 4(1)(2) being invoked after 1951. The ordinance should have lapsed.


Killing Gajah

A culture of exploitation led to the painful death of an elephant in Kerala


An outpouring of grief has followed the death of a pregnant elephant in Kerala, the treacherous use of a food bomb causing widespread revulsion and anger. Scores of elephants are killed every year in India as their paths cross those of humans, but the image of a mortally wounded animal standing impassively in a river in Palakkad as life ebbed out of it will remain imprinted on the mind. Whether the booby-trapped pineapple that took its life was intended for elephants or other animals matters little, because such traps litter the troubled landscapes that surround forests across the country. The tragic fate that befell this creature, however, is a ghastly reminder of the rising conflicts between humans and animals that are only destined to grow as commercial pressures eat into already diminished habitat. The perpetrators may be prosecuted for the elephant’s death, but that can do little to mitigate the larger issue of lost ranges and blocked corridors for these wandering giants. India has thousands of elephants — just under 30,000 according to available counts — but no strong science-imbued policy that encourages soft landscapes and migrating passages that will reduce conflict. Ironically, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar invoked Indian culture to deplore what happened in Kerala, but it is the lack of a scientific culture and the readiness to spare forested lands from commercial exploitation that is eviscerating nature. Even during the lockdown in April, the Ministry convened video conference meetings of the National Board for Wildlife and the Expert Appraisal Committee to clear disruptive projects in protected areas.

Shrinking ranges and feeding grounds for elephants cause serious worry, because the animals look for soft landscapes adjoining forests such as coffee, tea and cardamom estates, and in the absence of these, wander into food-rich farms falling in their movement pathways. Research in Karnataka showed that 60% of elephant distribution was encountered outside protected areas. In Kerala, such movement along human-dominated landscapes routinely produces conflict. Unsurprisingly, politicians of many hues in the State were opposed to the Madhav Gadgil Committee Report calling for the entire Western Ghats to be classified as ecologically sensitive and spared of destructive development. With such fundamental philosophical disagreement, and a vision of verdant landscapes as nothing more than a resource to be exploited for minerals and cash crops, elephants and other creatures have little chance of escaping deadly conflict. A sensible course open to conservation-minded governments is to end all intrusion into the 5% of protected habitat in India, and draw up better compensation schemes for farmers who lose crops to animals. A culture shift to protect, rather than prospect, would genuinely enrich people and save biodiversity.


Are social media platforms the arbiters of truth?

They need to bring changes to their moderation and bring grievance redressal mechanisms

Mishi Choudhary and Rishab Bailey , [ Mishi Choudhary is legal director of Software Freedom Law Centre, New YORK  U.S ,  Rishab Bailey is a legal consultant at the National Institute of Public Finance and policy, New Delhi]

In the midst of the massive protests that have erupted in the U.S. following the death of an African-American man in police custody, social media platform Twitter decided to do something it had avoided for several years: call out some of President Donald Trump’s tweets as incorrect information and as against its policies. This prompted Mr. Trump to warn social media platforms of stricter controls via an Executive Order. It also prompted another social media giant, Facebook, to state that they did not want to take similar action since they did not want to be ‘arbiters of truth’. These developments bring into focus the level of involvement the social media giants have in the dissemination of the public discourse, and raise questions on how these platforms should regulate content. Mishi Choudhary and Rishab Bailey discuss these issues in a conversation moderated by P.J. George. Edited excerpts:

Twitter and Facebook go to great extents to avoid the ‘arbiter of truth’ label. But they apply their terms of use selectively on erring users. Even on Mr. Trump, Twitter did not act on his tweets for a long time. In this sense, are they not arbiters of truth already?

Mishi Choudhary (MC): I think truth is an accident on these platforms. They are actually creators of engagement, who wish to usurp all human attention. Their entire business model feeds on that. But inevitably the question will rise about whether you are for truth or against it. I think the action which prompted this entire brouhaha is Mr. Dorsey [Twitter CEO Jack] giving what I would call ‘ice in wintertime’. Saying that we’re going to look for more facts on a problematic tweet is only a label telling people who want junk food, “hey, come here, eat spinach.” But what most platforms want to say is what Mr. Zuckerberg [Facebook CEO Mark] has said; that they really don’t care. And that all they are here for is to serve their business model, which is based on the reactions on the post. If they are forced to take responsibility for something, they just want to bow out and tell us that they are private platforms that [have their] own rules and regulations and community guidelines. That is why society has to decide what it wants to do, now that information distribution is by people who don’t care, and who prioritise engagement over truth.

Rishab Bailey (RB): This behaviour as “arbiters of truth” arises out of four factors. First, the Communications Decency Act in the U.S., empowers intermediaries to make decisions regarding content, which is seen as avoiding government intervention and, therefore, protecting speech. Second, these entities are typically seen as private platforms that have the right to choose the content. Third, the user-platform relationship is governed by contracts that give platforms a great deal of power in deciding what they will permit. Fourth, there are practical considerations. Often decisions need to be made in real time, such as when illegal or harmful content, including terrorist attacks or suicide attempts are being streamed. Also, the sheer volume of content being exchanged on these platforms makes it difficult or impractical for external decision making.

Facebook and Twitter have a say over the self-expression of billions of people. Never before in history has so much control rested with so few people, and that too private entities. Has their clout grown too much?

RB: The power of the big technology companies can be problematic in a variety of ways. In the media business, for example, the advertising market is moving towards specific platforms. So, it is important to regulate online platforms. However, it is important to do this without hurting the benefits that the Internet has brought us, whether in promoting civil liberties or in enhancing efficiency. While there is clearly a problem with the way platforms handle content moderation and how they self-regulate, having the government involved in censorship is also far from ideal. This can lead to over-censorship or politically-motivated censorship, particularly in a country with a relatively low rule of law standard as India. We’ve seen, for example, how even a relatively independent body such as the CBFC [Central Board of Film Certification] has performed in India.

The primary issue appears to be a lack of transparency, accountability in decision making, and allegations of bias and discrimination. These problems are exacerbated by the monopoly that many platforms enjoy, and there has to be broader thinking on the structural problems with the digital economy. But censorship is a different issue and it is important not to try a one-size-fits-all approach, like the generic regulations in the Indian government’s intermediary guidelines of December 2018. It makes better sense to regulate procedural aspects, like the German law that requires social media companies with over two million registered users in Germany to put in place processes to receive user complaints and disable access to manifestly illegal content. Companies are also required to improve their transparency mechanisms and make public disclosures of how they handle complaints. The law fines companies not for failing to remove content, but for not having robust grievance redressal mechanisms.

So we need to look at targeted or proportionate measures that clarify what intermediaries are required to do from a procedural perspective, with an aim to make them more transparent and accountable to users. This can be done through supervised self-regulation or even co-regulatory processes. Here, it is important to understand how experiments such as Facebook’s Oversight Board will work.

MC: We all just want to tweak and fix the current system itself, whether it is the liability issues under Section 79 of the Information Technology act in India, or the counterpart DMCA [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] and Section 230 in the Communications Decency Act (CDA) in the U.S. All of us are now discussing whether it will be antitrust, or if something would be broken up, or if it could be regulation of some kind. I want to say that the companies recognise that something must change. They know that the jig is up, and that the period of unregulated behaviour is over. They know that denial is no longer going to work. And that is why they are also in negotiation mode. Everyone now knows that it is not just innovation, but it’s also harmful. And I do not think there are simple answers such as saying we want self-regulation, or that we don’t want self-regulation. That’s why Facebook has appointed an oversight board; because there has to be something more than just self-regulatory behaviour. But if you try to introduce a government into the picture, it is going to be mostly political censorship. It is also going to start a process of self-censoring, because there is fear.

I don’t have a simple answer, but I don’t think anybody does. And that’s what it leads us to this Executive Order from Trump.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) in the U.S. has been credited with having spurred innovation in the technological sphere. Do you think taking it away will throttle innovation?

MC: Despite the fact that a vast majority of Facebook’s users are now outside the United States, the discussion is still concentrated on Section 230 and what that did in the United States for the platform companies. Now, there is definitely the feeling that the companies have gone too far to the other side, and that they are not really innovating, but are mostly acquiring new products or just squishing out smaller products. At the time Section 230 was enacted, we needed such a thing. But today we live in a very different world where surveillance is the only economy or only business model that the Internet knows. People are addicted to free data. People are addicted to free services in return for free spying by the commercial platform companies. This isn’t the age we lived in at that time when Section 230 was enacted. Something has to shift, and everybody recognises it. But nobody quite knows where they want to land.

In India, the similar Section 79 of the IT Act has been continuously challenged since its enactment. We start with the Avinash Bajaj case where the industry realised you can’t have any e-commerce if you’re going to go keep arresting CEOs of companies. With Section 79, the vision is the same: that we want the platform companies to do new things, and to come and have new, innovative ideas in India, and we will have to protect them some way or the other.

But we only get to talk about the larger players like a Facebook or a Google who can afford litigation teams. But the smaller players cannot. Police harass platform companies all the time and the smaller trial courts are filled with such cases. So, I will say it is much more complicated.

RB: Before answering the question, I think it is important to keep in mind that there are differences in the intermediary liability frameworks in India and in the U.S. Section 230 of the CDA does two things. It first recognises that all intermediaries are not publishers, and second, it explicitly sets up a self-regulating system for intermediaries. In India, on the other hand, the law is primarily brought in to extend the common law of distributor’s liability to the Internet. So the idea just clarifies that intermediaries are not to be liable for illegal third party content, if they don’t actively participate in the commission of the offence, or if they take down content once they have actual knowledge of this. Now, the original version of Section 79, when it was enacted in 2000, had language under which an intermediary basically had to show that it took all relevant measures to prevent illegal content from being exchanged. This led to the CEO of Baazi.com being arrested because users had exchanged an obscene clip online. The provision was changed in 2008, and now intermediaries just have to show that they carried out due diligence under the guidelines laid down by the government. These guidelines lay down self-regulatory frameworks that companies are required to adhere to. There is however, no specific requirement to censor content and so the decision broadly remains with the intermediary on how to enforce its terms. So changing these provisions by removing or significantly diluting safe harbour provisions will certainly have a negative effect on the digital ecosystem, both in terms of innovation and, importantly, in terms of civil liberties protections. It has been broadly accepted by academic literature on courts in India and abroad, that holding an intermediary responsible for third party content could lead to a chilling effect on free speech. I mean, as Mishi mentioned, smaller platforms in particular could face significant harassment if protections were removed. You will then have to move to a system where companies are incentivised to over-censor.