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Daily Briefing: CEC, ECs interact with PMO; Report on Data Protection Bill says notify data leak in 72 hrs

Following the death of General Bipin Rawat, the country’s first Chief of Defence Staff, the process to identify the next CDS has been set in motion, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
December 17, 2021 7:48:55 am
A look at the top news today, December 25, 2021.

Good morning,

The Big Story

An unusually worded letter from an official of the Law Ministry ‘expecting’ the Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra to be present for a meeting chaired by the PMO caused a flutter across the poll panel, The Indian Express has learnt. Despite making his displeasure known to the Ministry, the CEC joined an informal interaction with the Principal Secretary to the PM. According to officials, they discussed issues related to the common electoral roll and nothing pertaining to the upcoming Assembly elections.

However, the move raises questions of propriety as the EC is a Constitutional authority whose functioning is insulated from the Executive and the three Commissioners ensure that they maintain a distance from the government. Moreover, a former officer of the Commission says, “An officer of the government, no matter how senior, cannot call the CEC for a discussion.”

From the Front Page

A report of the Joint Committee of Parliament on the Personal Data Protection Bill tabled in both the Houses left stakeholders seeking more clarity as it recommended that social media platforms, which do not act as intermediaries, be treated as content publishers and held accountable for the content they host. It also said that in case of a data leak, the Data Protection Authority (DPA) should be notified within 72 hours of the company becoming aware of the breach.

With the ruling BJP government pushing for a stringent law to prevent religious conversion in the state, its Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill 2021 proposes a maximum punishment of 10 years of imprisonment for forcible conversion of persons from Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe communities, minors and women, to another religion. The state government is set to introduce the Bill in the Karnataka Legislature Assembly during its winter session in Belagavi.

The process to identify the next Chief of Defence Staff has been set in motion, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, reserving to comment on any timeline for the exercise. Following the death of General Bipin Rawat, the country’s first CDS, in a helicopter crash on December 8, Army chief General M M Naravane had taken over some of his responsibilities as Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) by default. His seniority, sources said, also made him the “natural choice” for the next CDS.

Only in the Express

In an interview with The Indian Express, Manish Tewari, a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Personal Data Protection Bill, said there is an “inherent design flaw in the Bill.” He tabled a dissent note, which “rejects the bill in its entirety” as it “cleaves the personal data universe into two halves.” Tewari asserts, “This Bill is quite an oxymoron. It exempts the government completely and it seeks to enforce all the provisions of the bill qua the private space.”

Must Read

Last year, a group of Class 11 girls from Kerala’s Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Balussery, Kozhikode, demanded gender-neutral uniforms. They argued that if they could wear shirts and trousers at home, why not at school? On Wednesday, they got what they wanted — a “gender neutral” uniform, the same purple trousers and striped white-and-blue shirt as the 60 boys in their class. However, the decision has irked some Muslim organisations, who recently led a protest march near the school premises.

Hit by high prices of diesel and fertiliser, and with produce realisations failing to keep pace with rising input costs, some UP farmers have come up with a solution — intercropping. This technique aims to raise farm incomes per acre by growing more than one crop simultaneously on the same piece of land. “My sugarcane will be ready only next November-December. The other crops I can harvest by March,” said one such farmer, Prakash Vir Sharma.

On the morning of December 13, 1971, the officers of 26 Madras Regiment met in a half-finished cinema hall to discuss the mammoth task before them — capturing Siramani town in Khulna district, in what is now Bangladesh, from the Pakistan army, by the end of the day. “On our left was the Bhairab river, on the right was marshy land with a railway track. In the front, where the cinema screen should have been, the hall was open, showing a jungle and a water tank, from where the Pakistanis were directing airbursts at the troops,” recalls Binay Kumar Sinha, then a 19-year-old Second Lieutenant.

Suhas Palshikar writes on PM Modi’s recent visit to Kashi, and how it reaffirmed that he is ‘indeed prime minister of a Hindu state’: “The PM has given out a message that being Indian is coterminous with being Hindu. Then, there is a mixing of state authority with Hindu identity. Third, wearing one’s religious faith on the sleeve is a hallmark of both religiosity and political prudence. Fourth, just like its politicisation, the monetisation of the monument was unmistakable.”

And Finally

Good, better, beast. Reigning World Champion PV Sindhu can operate on any of those three modes, while continuing her steady march deep into the treacherous draws of a big tournament. You’d struggle to know which. Against Tai Tzu Ying in the quarterfinals at Huelva, she’ll need to hit beast-mode – 20 percent more – a super-human expectation out of arguably India’s finest all-time athlete, who’s already achieved more than anyone from her country.

Delhi Confidential: The Congress on Thursday appointed senior party leader from Jammu, Raman Bhalla, as the party’s working president of J&K Congress. The move is interesting since Bhalla, once a loyalist of party veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad, is now considered close to state Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir.

In today’s episode of the ‘3 Things’ podcast, we discuss the government’s decision to raise the legal marriage age for women, Gauhati HC’s intervention in a case related to a Foreigners Tribunal in Assam declaring a woman an Indian first, and then a foreigner, and the rising instances of threats and violence against Christian institutions in MP.

Until tomorrow,
Rahel Philipose and Sonal Gupta

Express Cartoon by EP Unny.

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