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Saturday Webinars @ CVV in April 2021

Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, GoI, recently notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. The proposed rules are deemed to be progressive as they attempt to fix the responsibility of intermediaries and digital media publishers while facilitating and creating their content. It also extends its approach to instil accountability against misuse and abuse by significant social media intermediaries by introducing a prompt grievance redressal mechanism. As per the Press Information Bureau, the rules have been formulated keeping in mind the importance of free speech and creative freedom. Regardless of the political connotations, the enactment of these Rules puts India at par with international regimes on digital media regulation, providing more comprehensive and holistic protection to its users.

In the Saturday webinar held on 03 April 2021, the student panel’s discussion primarily focused on the ‘Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021’ with the lead focusing on various Indian and international issues which have been faced in the light of Over The Top (OTT) platforms with regard to freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed by the Constitution of the countries, followed by critically examining various sections of the rules and the necessity of such rules in the current times.

The three-member panel consisted of Ms. Sivapriya Ambalavanan (Year 1, M.A.PPG, Student) as the lead speaker and Mrs. Veena Mahor (Year 1, M.A.PPG, Student) as the first discussant and Mr. Arun Kumar (Year 1, M.A.PPG, Student) as the second discussant.

The moderator for the session Mr. Arth Mishra (first-year M.A.PPG), welcomed the audience and provided a brief background of the Rules, providing insight into new developments like the grievance redressal system and the new classifications of media as described in the Code. He shared insights on the evolution and working of the Code thus educating the audience on the implementation aspects of policy. He also provided a comprehensive analysis of the Policy and the aspects which required further research. He concluded by stating the importance of the Rules for regulating the upcoming OTT and digital media platforms as a result of the pandemic.

The lead speaker Sivapriya Ambalavanan (first-year M.A. PPG) provided insights into the importance and the evolution of the Rules with regard to the IT sector. She focused on the highlights of the new Code and shared a legislative analysis of certain provisions which highlighted some grey areas of the rules. She spoke about the general advantages and disadvantages of the Rules, the common criticism on the freedom of speech and expression and the way forward, with suggestions for implementation.

Arun Kumar (first-year M.A. PPG), the first discussant, emphasized the importance of the Rules from two perspectives focusing on social media as a boon or bane. He focused on how social media and its impact on terrorism quoting examples of Al -Qaeda and ISIS. He also spoke on the positive aspects of social media and the increasing internet penetration leading to global connectivity, emphasizing the need for all to understand digital literacy policies.

The second discussant Veena Mahor (first-year M.A. PPG) focused on the nature of the grievance redressal system which is to be implemented and its criticisms. She also focused on the lack of administrative linkages in the three levels of the system and the lack of appropriate job descriptions for the officers to be appointed. She concluded by saying these rules require further elaboration as otherwise the outcome would be deeply impacted.

The discussion saw active participation from the audience and many areas were discussed in-depth to uncover the merits and demerits, and the Rules in relation to the other previous policies. The audience also pointed out how the new rules would regulate the already existing systems and provide for accountability, especially in the case of online streaming platforms and digital media, as it is growing multi-fold with the advent of the pandemic.


Saturday Webinar on ‘Consumer Protection Act, 2019’

In the Saturday Webinar held on 10 April 2021, the student panel discussed Consumer Protection Act, 2019’. The three-member panel consisted of Ms. Priyanka (first-year M.A. PPG) as the lead speaker, Ms. Aswathi Prakash (first-year M.A. PPG) as the first discussant and Mr. Arth Mishra (first-year M.A. PPG) as the second discussant. The discussion was moderated by Ms. Veena Mahor (first-year M.A. PPG).

Veena welcomed the audience, and provided a brief background of the Act, providing insights into the importance of the new Act, highlighting the focus of the Act on e-commerce, the emergence of global supply chains and the constant rise in global trade. The lead speaker brought in insights on the evolution and the working of the Act, thus educating the audience on the implementation aspects of the policy. She also mentioned a comprehensive analysis of the policy with a focus on Consumer Awareness programmes like ‘Jago Grahak Jago’ and others. Further, the aspects of grievance redressal mechanisms and complaint filing procedures were elaborated upon. She concluded by stating the importance of the Act in the current times, with prolonged lockdowns and the increasing emergence of globalised markets.

Priyanka spoke on the various sections of the code and the gaps within, followed by the general advantages and disadvantages of the rules. She also shared suggestions for implementation. Aswathi shared her perspective of why the rules do not seem necessary and the loopholes in the Act. She stressed the need for more specific provisions concerning filling of vacancies, transparency on the number of cases filed and the importance of including medical negligence within the Act.

The discussion saw active participation from the audience and many areas were discussed in-depth to uncover the merits and demerits of the Act in relation to previous policies. It was pointed out by someone from the audience how the new Act would provide for more reform in the consumer protection system in the form of structural reforms by establishing a new regulator, introducing mediation for speedy disposal of cases and enhancing pecuniary jurisdiction of the authorities along with enabling them to exercise administrative control over subordinate authorities and societal reforms by placing greater responsibility on product marketers and endorsers to promote the actual usage and idea of products, imposing stricter penalties to act as deterrents and holding sellers at every level liable for action.


Saturday Webinar on ‘Jal Jeevan Mission – Output and Outcome’

In the Saturday Webinar held on 17 April 2021, the student panel discussed the Jal Jeevan Mission, and the difference between its output expected and the outcome received. The three-member panel consisted of Mr. Arun Kumar (first-year M.A. PPG) as the lead speaker, Ms. Priyanka (first-year M.A. PPG) as the first discussant and Ms. Veena Mahor (first-year M.A. PPG) as the second discussant. The discussion was moderated by Ms. Aswathi Prakash (first-year M.A. PPG).

Ms. Aswathi Prakash welcomed the audience and provided a brief background on the Jal Jeevan Mission, elaborated on the mission’s goal and the promise to provide to all households in rural India safe and adequate water through individual household tap connections by 2024. The lead speaker brought in insights on the evolution and working of the water mission thus educating the audience on the implementation aspects of the mission. He also shared a comprehensive analysis of the mission and the aspects which required further research. He concluded by stating the importance of such missions not only for providing drinking water to all but also to address social issues related to gender.

Arun provided insights into international institutions concerned with water management, and the evolution of gender around the policies of water security. He also elaborated upon the features of the Jal Jeevan Mission such as it being decentralised, demand-driven and community managed. Arun also highlighted the desirable and undesirable outcomes of the Mission and the role of politics in creating a predominant issue.

Veena the first discussant emphasized the implementational aspects of the Jal Jeevan Mission particularly with regards to Gujarat and Rajasthan. Priyanka focused on the Jal Jeevan Mission and its implementation in Bihar. She concluded by emphasizing the importance of focusing on not just water missions but also the issues that have to be taken care of for the sustainability of the mission.

The discussion saw active participation from the audience and many areas were discussed in-depth to uncover the merits and demerits, and the rules in relation to previous policies. The discussion brought forth that India is facing one of its most serious water crisis according to the NITI Aayog's Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) 2018, and this is seen to be growing in the northern parts of India. The southern parts have an edge as water was seen as important even during earlier times and hence there exists a water management system.

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