India Current Affairs - 2020

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India 5th worst country in terms of invasive use of biometric data

According to a new report from Comparitech, a Britain-based tech research firm, India is fifth worst country after China, Malaysia, Pakistan and United States in terms of extensive and invasive use of biometric data.

Methodology: The study was conducted based on- 50 different countries were anlaysed to find out where biometrics are being taken, what they are being taken for, and how they are being stored. Each country was scored out of 25, with high scores indicating extensive and invasive use of biometrics/ surveillance. The low score demonstrated better restrictions and regulations regarding biometric use and surveillance. Among the factors that were used for scoring countries, the researchers looked also at whether the country failed to introduce a law to protect biometric data.

Key Highlights of Study

India scored 19 and was ranked relatively lower in the list of worst countries for biometric data collection. India was based on not permitting law enforcement to get access to national biometric database known as Aadhaar. India shares fifth position with Indonesia, Philippines and Taiwan. China was scored 24.

Countries in European Union (EU) scored better overall than non-EU countries due to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulations, which protects the use of biometrics at workplace to some extent.

5 Best Countries: United Kingdom, Portugal, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania emerged as 5 best countries in terms of collection, storage and use of biometric data.

However, despite many countries recognising biometric data as sensitive, increased biometric use is widely accepted.

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Global Diplomacy Index 2019

The 2019 Global Diplomacy Index was released by Sydney-based Lowy Institute. The index gives the latest statistics and marking about how the world’s diplomatic networks are expanding and, in certain cases, shrinking. The index ranked 61 countries across the world.

Key Highlights of Index

China now has more diplomatic posts across the world than United States in 2019. China has overtaken United States with 276 embassies and consulates worldwide, which is 3 more than US (both countries have an equal number of embassies but China has 3 more consulates). This signifies a marker of its growing international clout and ambition.

Even though China’s diplomatic expansion has been rapid and overtook US. In 2016, China was in 3rd place behind US and France, and by 2017 it had moved to second place ahead of France.

US still remains (by a wide margin) the most popular place for countries to maintain embassies and consulates. US is home to about 342 posts belonging to 61 countries included in Index but China, with 256, is a distant second.

After China and US next three spots are occupied by France, Japan, and Russia respectively.

India was ranked 12th among the 61 countries. As of 2019, India has 123 embassies and high commissions and 54 consulates globally. However, the study shows that India too has expanded its diplomatic footprint: In 2017, it had 120 embassies and 52 consulates.

Analysis of China’s Rise

China’s expansion in worldwide diplomatic presence has come partly at the expense of Taiwan, which is a self-governing democracy, however as per China it is a breakaway province. China’s gain has mostly been a direct result of Taiwan’s shrinking diplomatic presence as former intensified its ‘One China’ campaign. Taiwan saw the biggest drop in diplomatic posts, down from 22 embassies in 2016 to 15 in 2019. Moreover, China opened new embassies in The Gambia, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, São Tomé and Príncipe which were all former diplomatic friends of Taipei.

China’s diplomatic push has been aided by its economic heft as under Chinese President Xi Jinping. Beijing has pumped in billions of dollars into Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the intercontinental connectivity project aimed primarily at building trading corridors connecting China.

Significance: Establishing a robust diplomatic infrastructure is 1st practical step towards bolstering a country’s diplomatic influence. Similarly, China has also invested in its diplomatic infrastructure, which serves as a telling metric of its international ambitions.

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