Infrastructure Development Current Affairs - 2019

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Govt releases draft e-commerce policy

The government has released the draft e-commerce policy. The policy focuses on six broad issues of the e-commerce sector, which includes data, infrastructure development, e-commerce marketplaces, regulatory issues, stimulating domestic digital economy and export promotion through e-commerce.

Features of the Policy

The important features of the policy are:

  • Every e-commerce company will have to construct a registered business entity in India as the importer on record or as the entity through which all sales in India are transacted. This is aimed at ensuring compliance with extant laws and regulations for preventing deceptive and fraudulent practices, protection of privacy, safety and security.
  • e-commerce companies are mandated to disclose seller details such as their name, address and contact numbers. Sellers will also be required to provide an undertaking to the platform on the genuineness of their products.
  • Trademark (TM) owners will be given an option to register themselves with e-commerce platforms and whenever a trade-marked product is uploaded for sale on the platform, the platform shall notify the respective TM owner.
  • The policy says that framework will be created to provide the basis for imposing restrictions on cross-border data flow from specified sources including data collected by IoT devices installed in public space, and data generated by users in India by various sources, including e-commerce platforms, social media, search engines.
  • The policy grants data the status of the capital. The policy imposes conditions on a business entity that collects or processes any sensitive data in India and stores it abroad.
  • The conditions state that all such data stored abroad shall not be made available to other business entities outside India, for any purpose, even with customer consent.
  • The policy further stipulates that the data shall not be shared with a foreign government, without the prior permission of Indian authorities.
  • The policy calls for a Suitable framework for sharing of community data that serve the larger public interest (subject to addressing privacy-related issues) with start-ups and firms. The implementation of this shall be undertaken by a ‘data authority’ to be established for this purpose.
  • The policy stresses on developing physical infrastructure for a robust digital economy and suggests steps for developing the capacity for data storage in India.
  • The policy aims to invite and encourage foreign direct investment (FDI) in the marketplace model alone.
  • The policy mandates the online marketplaces not to adopt business models or strategies which are discriminatory and which favour one or few sellers/traders operating on their platforms over others, the draft clarifies. The policy also enlists certain steps which have to be followed by all e-commerce websites/applications.
  • On the issue of taxation related issues in the sector, the draft policy mentions the current practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions must be reviewed in the light of the changing digital economy and the increased role that additive manufacturing is expected to take.
  • On export promotion through e-commerce, the policy states that there is a need to incentivise and reduce administrative requirements for outbound shipments through this medium.
  • The policy calls to raise the cap of each export order placed online and dispatched through courier or postal mode from current 25000 to make Indian e-commerce exports attractive even for high-value shipments through courier mode.

The government has invited comments from the stakeholders on the policy by March 9.

India, Seychelles ink 6 MoUs

India and Seychelles have signed six Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) including in area of infrastructure development in Seychelles, cyber security and white-shipping arrangement. The agreements were signed between both countries after bilateral talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Seychelles President Danny Faure in New Delhi.

India has announced US $100-million credit to Seychelles for augmenting its defence capabilities. It also announced to hand over second Dornier aircraft to Seychelles as promised by PM Modi during his visit there in 2015. The aircraft will reach Seychelles before its National Day on June 29, 2018.

Signed agreements are

  • MoU regarding Indian Grant Assistance for implementation of small development projects through local bodies, educational and vocational institutions.
  • Twinning Agreement on Establishment of Friendship and Cooperation between Panaji (Municipal Corporation), Goa (India) and Victoria City of Seychelles
  • MoU in the area of Cyber Security: It was signed between Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-in) and Seychelles’ Department of Information Communications Technology.
  • Cultural Exchange Programme between India and Seychelles for the years 2018-2022
  • Technical Agreement on Sharing White Shipping Information between Indian Navy and National Information Sharing and Coordination Center of Seychelles: It will enable the two countries to exchange data regarding identity and movement of non-military commercial vessels
  • MoU between Foreign Service Institute (FSI) of Ministry of External Affairs of India and Department of Foreign Affairs of Seychelles.

Key Takeaways from talks bilateral talks

Assumption Island: Both India and Seychelles have agreed to work together on project to develop naval base at Assumption Island keeping each other’s concerns in mind. Both countries are key strategic partners for each other and they respect the core values of democracy. They share geo-strategic vision of maintaining peace, security and stability in Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Defence and security cooperation: Both countries share robust defence and security cooperation. The US $100-million credit from India to enable Seychelles to buy defence equipment to boost its maritime capacity. Both countries have strategic convergence in dealing with maritime challenges. Both countries are straddled between one of important Sea Lanes of Communication and vulnerable to piracy. They face dangers of international crimes such as piracy, drugs, human trafficking and illegal exploitation of oceanic resources. India is committed to augment Seychelles defence capabilities, maritime infrastructure and increase capabilities of its defence personnel.