Daily News Analysis 21st feb 2023

India and Italy eye defence pact during Meloni visit

Relevance in UPSC: General Studies paper -2:  Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.


  • India and Italy are expected to put nearly a decade of tensions over the arrest of Italian marines and other issues firmly behind them with discussions about bilateral defence cooperation that is likely to be announced during Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni’s visit to India.

India-Italy Bilateral Relations 

  • Historical: 
    • India and Italy are ancient civilizations but young states (Italy having been reunified only in 1861).
    • The classical languages, Sanskrit and Latin both belong to the Indo-European language family.
    • People of these two ancient civilizations have known, interacted and traded with each other for over 2000 years.
    • Italian port cities were important trading posts on the spice route.
      • The Venetian merchant Marco Polo, during his travels to the east, also travelled to India in the 13th century and wrote about his Experiences.


  • Political: 
    • Political relations between India and Italy were established in 1947.
    • The two countries enjoy cordial relationships. There has been a regular exchange of visits at political and official levels between both countries.
  • Trade and Investment:
    • Italy is among India\’s top 5 trading partners in the EU. The balance of trade has been in India’s favour since the early eighties.
    • India ranks 19th as the country of origin of Italian imports, accounting for 1.2% of Italian imports.
    • Main items of Indian exports to Italy are ready-made garments, leather, iron ore, motor vehicles, textiles, chemicals, gems & jewellery.
    • Main items of import from Italy are general and special purpose machinery, machine tools, metallurgical products, and engineering items.
  • Cultural Exchange:
    • The agreement for cultural cooperation was signed in 1976.
    • It was replaced by a new Agreement in July 2004.
    • The Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) between Italy and India entails exchange of students in language programmes as well as other academic courses.
    • The Embassy of India launched the year-long Festival of India in Italy ‘Srijan’ on 18 Jan 2021.
  • Scientific Cooperation:
  • An Agreement on S&T Co-operation has existed since 1978.
    • The Agreement envisages three yearly action plans under which a maximum of thirty joint research projectscan be undertaken.
    • This agreement was replaced by one signed in Nov 2003.
  • Some of the prime areas of joint research are Electronics, Biotechnology, Design Engineering Automotive Technologies, Energy, etc.
  • Defence:
    • Defence cooperation has traditionally been an important pillar of India-Italy relations. An MOU on Defence Cooperation was signed in November 1994.
    • The Indian Army has a historical connection with Italy.
    •  The 4th, 8th and 10th Indian Divisions, with more than 50,000 troops, played a significant role in one of the bitterest advances of the allied forces for the liberation of Italy in the Second World War.
  • Indian Community:
    • The Indian community in Italy (estimated at 2.4 lakhs and 25000 PIOs) is the third largest community of Indians in Europe after the UK and the Netherlands.
    • According to official Italian data, there are 1.65 lakhs legal Indian migrants year 2020 (As per official data with the Italian Ministry of Labour and Social Policy: Year 2020) accounting 4.4% of the non-EU citizens and 5th largest foreign community in Italy.

India is ‘first responder’ during natural disasters: PM

Relevance in UPSC: General Studies paper -2:  Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests. General Studies paper -3:  Disaster and Disaster Management.


  • India has emerged as the “first responder” to countries hit by natural disasters in “any part of the world”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.
  • Modi congratulated the 99-member self-contained Indian team that returned from quake-hit Turkey where it operated a fully-equipped Field Hospital in Iskenderun, Hatay, and treated 4,000 patients.
  • The country had also dispatched aircraft carrying relief material and medicines to Syria under the move officially named as “Operation Dost”.

India – The First Responder

  • Underlying Vision: India’s vision for the Indian Ocean encapsulated by the concept of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region).
  • Enabling Factors: India’s unique position in the Indian Ocean Region, complemented by the capability of the Armed Forces, enables it to contribute significantly in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) situations.
  • Need: Challenging geo-political landscape and the traditional and non-traditional threats including natural calamities like Covid-19 faced by the world.


India’s Role as a Foreign Disaster Relief

  • India is an emerging donor that has provided a substantial amount of foreign disaster relief, as well as foreign development assistance, to other countries.
  • India’s foreign humanitarian assistance has increasingly included its military assets, primarily deploying naval ships or aircraft to deliver relief.
  • In line with its diplomatic policy of “Neighbourhood First,” many of the recipient countries have been in the region of South and Southeast Asia.
  • In the last two decades, India has given foreign humanitarian assistance bilaterally to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and others.

Contribution to Regional Disaster Preparedness

  • As part of its neighbourhood development efforts, India also contributes to regional disaster preparedness and capacity-building efforts.
  • Within the context of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), India has hosted DM Exercises that allow NDRF to demonstrate for counterparts from partner states the techniques developed to respond to various disasters.
  • Other NDRF and Indian Armed Forces exercises have brought India’s first responders into contact with those from states in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
Operation Dost

On February 06, 2023, a devastating earthquake happened in Turkey and Syria. The death toll has crossed 17,000 in both Turkey and Syria and is expected to rise further.

India launched Operation Dost to extend assistance to Turkey as well as Syria after devastating quakes and aftershocks in the region.

So far, six planes from India has reached Turkey. These planes carrying rescue personnel, essentials, and medical equipment for earthquake relief efforts.


Only Parliament can amend the law to provide a uniform marriage age, says top court

Relevance in UPSC: General Studies paper -2:  Structure, Organization and Functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; Pressure Groups and Formal/Informal Associations and their Role in the Polity.


  • The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a petition seeking to enhance the minimum age of marriage of women from 18 to 21, on a par with that of men.

Current Laws Related to Marriage in India 

  • For Hindus, The Hindu Marriage Act, of 1955, sets 18 years as the minimum age of marriage for the bride and 21 years as the minimum age for the groom.
  • However, child marriages are not illegal even though they can be declared void at the request of the minor in the marriage.
  • In Islam, the marriage of a minor who has attained puberty is considered valid.
  • The Special Marriage Act, of 1954, and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, of 2006 also prescribe 18 and 21 years as the minimum age of consent for marriage for women and men respectively.

Jaya Jaitly committee and its recommendations

  • The Ministry for Women and Child Development set up a task force to look into the correlation between the age of marriage with issues of women’s nutrition, prevalence of anemia, IMR, MMR and other social indices.
  • The committee was to look at the feasibility of increasing the age of marriage and its implication on women and child health, as well as how to increase access to education for women.
  • Recommendations Made:
    • Age of marriage to be increased: The committee has recommended the age of marriage be increased to 21 years, on the basis of feedback they received from young adults from 16 universities across the country.
    • Increasing access to schools and colleges for girls: The committee also asked the government to look into increasing access to schools and colleges for girls, including their transportation to these institutes from far-flung areas.
    • Sex education: Skill and business training has also been recommended, as has sex education in schools.
    • An awareness campaign: Undertaken on a massive scale on the increase in age of marriage, and to encourage social acceptance of the new legislation, which they have said would be far more effective than coercive measures.

Need for raising legal age

  • Gender-neutrality: The government decided to re-examine the age of marriage for women for a number of reasons which includes gender-neutrality.
  • Impacts on overall health and mental wellbeing: An early age of marriage, and consequent early pregnancies, also have impacts on nutritional levels of mothers and their children, and their overall health and mental wellbeing.
  • Infant Mortality Rate and Maternal Mortality Rate: It also has an impact on Infant Mortality Rate and Maternal Mortality Rate.
  • Empowerment of women: It affects the empowerment of women who are cut off from access to education and livelihood after an early marriage.


The problems with the Data Protection Bill

Relevance in UPSC: General Studies paper -2:  Indian Constitution—Historical Underpinnings, Evolution, Features, Amendments, Significant Provisions and Basic Structure.


  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has drafted a Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Bill with the stated purpose of providing “for the processing of digital personal data in a manner that recognises both the right of individuals to protect their personal data and the need to process personal data for lawful purposes”
  • A data protection law must safeguard and balance peoples’ right to privacy and their right to information, which are fundamental rights flowing from the Constitution. Unfortunately, this Bill fails on both counts.


  • The data protection Bill has been in the works since 2018 when a panel led byJustice B N Srikrishna had prepared a draft version of the Bill.
  • It is India\’s first attempt to domestically legislate on the issue of data protection.
  • The government made revisions to this draft and introduced it as the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 (PDP Bill, 2019)in the Lok Sabha in 2019.
  • Due to delays caused by the pandemic, the Joint Committee on the PDP Bill, 2019 (JPC) submitted its report on the Bill after two years in December, 2021.
  • The report was accompanied by a new draft bill, namely, the Data Protection Bill, 2021 that incorporated therecommendations of the JPC. 
  • However, in August 2022, citing the report of the JPC and the “extensive changes” that the JPC had made to the 2019 Bill, the government withdrew the PDP Bill.
  • Now, the government is expected to introduce the Bill in Parliament in the budget session of 2023.



  • Regulating online space including separate legislation on data privacy, the overall internet ecosystem, cyber security, telecom regulations, and harnessing non-personal data for boosting innovation in the country.

Reason for so many changes

    • Harm to privacy:
      • Constant interactions with digital devices have led to unprecedented amounts of personal data being generated round the clock by users (data principals).
      • When coupled with the computational power available today with companies (data fiduciaries), this data can be processed in ways that increasingly impair the autonomy, self-determination, freedom of choice and privacy of the data principal.
    • Inadequate present laws:
      • The current legal framework for privacy enshrined in the Information Technology Rules, 2011 (IT Rules, 2011) is wholly inadequate to combat such harms to data principals, especially since the right to informational privacy has been upheld as a fundamental right by the Supreme Court (K.S. Puttaswamy vs Union of India [2017]).
      • It is inadequate on four levels;
        • The extant framework is premised on privacy being a statutory right rather than a fundamental right and does not apply to processing of personal data by the government;
        • It has a limited understanding of the kinds of data to be protected;
        • It places scant obligations on the data fiduciaries which, moreover, can be overridden by contract
        • There are only minimal consequences for the data fiduciaries for the breach of these obligations.
Why is Digital Personal Data Protection Bill Significant?

·       The new Bill offers significant concessions on cross-border data flows, in a departure from the previous Bill’s contentious requirement of local storage of data within India’s geography.

·       It offers a relatively soft stand on data localisation requirements and permits data transfer to select global destinations which are likely to foster country-to-country trade agreements.

·       The bill recognises the data principal\’s right to postmortem privacy (Withdraw Consent) which was missing from the PDP Bill, 2019 but had been recommended by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC).

The microbiome link to autism disorders

Relevance in UPSC: General Studies paper -2:  Indian Constitution—Historical Underpinnings, Evolution, Features, Amendments, Significant Provisions and Basic Structure.


  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the term for a group of neurodevelopmental disorders.
  • Researchers are yet to fully understand the causes of ASD. However, they are beginning to find that a disorder in the gut-brain axis could have a prominent role

Studying the link

  • Increasingly profound exploration of the human microbiome by researchers, aided by advances in gene-sequencing technologies and high-end bioinformatic analysis, is dramatically reshaping our understanding of the connections between human health, diseases, and microbiomes.
  • The gut microbiome is believed to have a big impact on immune modulation and metabolic activities in the human body. Immune modulation refers, among other things, to the efforts of the immune system to ensure its response is proportionate to a threat.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

  • ASD refers to a range of conditions characterised by some degree of impaired social behaviour, communication, and language, and a narrow range of interests and activities that are both unique to the individual and carried out repetitively.
  • It is a complex brain development disability that makes itself visible during the first 3 years of a person’s life.
  • It is not mental retardation as people with autism may show excellent skills in spheres like art, music, writing, etc. The level of intellectual functioning in individuals with ASDs is extremely variable, extending from profound impairment to superior levels.


  • There are probably many factors that make a child more likely to have ASD, including environmental and genetic factors.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Difficulty with social communication and interaction, restricted interests, and repetitive behaviors.


  • Although autism is not curable, its symptoms can be addressed with appropriate interventions like evidence-based psychosocial interventions, behavioural treatment and skills training programmes for parents and other caregivers, health promotion, care, rehabilitation services, etc.

Global & National Initiatives to Raise Awareness on ASD

  • United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), Sustainable Development Goals deal with rights of people with disabilities including autism.
  • The Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 increased the types of disabilities from 7 to 21. It also added autism spectrum disorder among others, which were largely ignored in earlier Act.
  • In 2014, the World Health Organisation (WHO) adopted a resolution entitled \”Comprehensive and coordinated efforts for the management of autism spectrum disorders (ASD),\” which was supported by more than 60 countries.
  • In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared 2nd April as World Autism Awareness Day.


An effort to go green

Relevance in UPSC: General Studies paper -3:  Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.


  • Telangana government’s green initiatives help create awareness about the environment
  • Over the past two years, Hyderabad, which has emerged as a powerhouse of infrastructure growth in Telangana, has won multiple awards for being a green city with an improving forest cover.
  • An afforestation programme called Telangana Ku Haritha Hāram (the green garland of Telangana) is the key green initiative of the Telangana government.

Telangana Ku Haritha Hāram

  • Haritaharam for Telangana is the afforestation program undertaken by the Telangana government.
  • Haritaharam 2015 was officially inaugurated by Telangana State Chief Minister Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhar Rao on 3rd July 2015 at Chilukur Balaji Temple.
  • The Telangana Government has designed this program with the objective of planting trees and greening the whole of Telangana (33% of Telangana land area). 46 crore saplings were planted in 2016 alone.
  • Biggest plantation drive in the country and third in the world after China and Brazil.


Scroll to Top