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28.5.21 The Hindu and BS

With thanks to original sources

Speech is free, but it is a freedom that comes with responsibility. And responsible speech is not just something that does not contain abuse, defamation or incitement to violence. It is increasingly seen as expression that tends not to discriminate against or incite hatred towards groups based on race, gender, caste, religious belief, sexual orientation, nationality or immigration status. The world has moved away from a free speech doctrine based on a formal equality among different viewpoints to one that discourages the targeting of any vulnerable section. The term ‘hate speech’ and calls for laws that specifically seek to punish it arise from this inclusive understanding of the basis on which speech is restricted in modern democracies. In this backdrop, the proposal to incorporate provisions against hate speech in the penal law is quite welcome. A committee appointed by the Union Home Ministry, tasked with recommending changes in criminal law, is now seeking to formulate new provisions that will make hate speech a separate offence. The term ‘hate speech’ may not be used, but the panel is examining recommendations made by the Law Commission and the Expert Committee headed by T.K. Viswanathan, on adding Sections 153C and 505A to the IPC. The proposed Section 153C would target speech that gravely threatens any person or group with intention to cause fear or alarm, or incite violence towards them, and prescribe a sentence of two years in prison and a fine. Section 505A, on the other hand, proposes to punish speech or writing that causes fear or alarm among a group, or provokes violence against it, on grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, place of birth or disability.

The Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws attracted criticism when it was formed last year, as many feared a hurried process without adequate and wide consultation. Some lawyers and activists said it was not inclusive and questioned its ability to gather a wide range of opinion in the midst of a pandemic. While such points of criticism remain, it appears that the panel would go ahead and make its recommendations soon. In the context of the hate speech provisions, it must direct its efforts to define narrowly the sections it proposes to formulate and avoid the pitfall of using vague and overbroad terms that would fall foul of the Constitution. Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, it may be recalled, was struck down by the Supreme Court because it failed to define some terms that sought to criminalise offensive and annoying messages. Ever since this 2015 decision, some governments see a lacuna in the law concerning offensive messaging over the Internet. If at all new sections are to be introduced, it should be clear that what is sought to be punished is incitement to violence or advocacy of hatred, posing an imminent threat to public order or a targeted group. Only then will it be a valid curb on free speech.

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1.Defamation (N)-a false or malicious statement.

2.Incitement (N)-the action of provoking unlawful behaviour or urging someone to behave unlawfully. उकसाना, प्रोत्साहन

3.Hatred (N)-an extremely strong feeling of dislike. घृणा, नफ़रत

4.Backdrop (N)-the view behind something. पृष्ठभूमि

5.Hate Speech (N)-a statement expressing hatred for a particular group of people. द्वेषपूर्ण भाषण

6.Gravely (Adv)-in a serious or solemn manner. गंभीरता से

7.Pitfall (N)-a hidden or unsuspected danger or difficulty.

8.Struck Down (Phrasal Verb)-to declare (a law) illegal and unenforceable.

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🛑India’s capacity to withstand multiple, near-simultaneous shocks is being tested, with a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm, Yaas, striking Odisha, just a week after an even stronger Cyclone Tauktae wreaked havoc along the west coast. Yaas, which put up an unnerving display of tornadoes and rain, smothered the north Odisha coast as it made landfall, but the preparatory mass evacuation from habitations appears to have limited the loss of life. Yet, thousands have lost houses and property. West Bengal and Jharkhand also bore the brunt of the weather system’s force, as it punched its way inland from May 26, weakening into a deep depression. All coastal States facing the Bay of Bengal have always been in the path of severe cyclones, the majority following the withdrawal of the monsoon, but their vulnerability may be growing as pre-monsoon and post-monsoon storms increase in frequency and strength. Moreover, for the second year running, States have been hobbled by the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 season comes as another reminder that India will have to improve its resilience to cyclones. Governments are, no doubt, more sensitive to loss of life today and are raising the capacity of the disaster response forces, but much work needs to be done when it comes to protecting assets and creating fiscal instruments to help people rebuild their lives.

While the full extent of displacement and losses from Cyclone Yaas is yet unknown, past experience points to a growing threat to overall well-being from such catastrophes. The World Meteorological Organization in its State of the Global Climate 2020 report described Cyclone Amphan that hit Bengal in May last year as the costliest cyclone on record for the North Indian Ocean, with economic losses to India of the order of $14 billion. In human terms the extreme event displaced 2.4 million people. What stood out in its aftermath was corruption in the distribution of relief, putting West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in a spot. The Amphan experience should convince Chief Ministers that they must insure people against losses from catastrophes using a system of documentation that makes relief and rehabilitation funds non-discretionary. Half a century of economic wisdom postulates that governments are best placed to compensate people, since they can spread the cost of the risk of disasters across the population. But the challenge is to address the risk of cyclones and other extreme weather events using specific funds, making citizens members in a social insurance model. Moreover, considering the negative climate change impact on tropical cyclones, rebuilding should use a green, build back better approach. Cyclones will otherwise take the shine off economic progress.

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1.Wreaked Havoc (Idiom)-to cause great damage.

2.Unnerving (Adj)-inspiring fear.

3.Tornadoes (N)-a violent tropical storm. बवंडर, तूफान

4.Bore The Brunt Of (Phrase)-to suffer the worst part of an unpleasant or problematic situation.

5.Hobbled (V)-hamper the action or progress of.

6.Resilience (N)-the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

7.Catastrophes (N)-a great and sudden disaster or misfortune. आपदाओं

8.Stood Out (Phrasal Verb)-to be easily seen or noticed.

9.Compensate (V)-to pay someone money for something that has been lost or damaged. क्षतिपूर्ति करना

10.Take The Shine Off (Phrase)-to have a bad effect.

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🛑Paytm plans to launch India's biggest IPO, aims to raise $3 billion

Neha Alawadhi & Shivani Shinde |


Digital payments provider Paytm is all set to make its market debut as early as this year, with an aim to raise $3 billion (around Rs 22,000 crore). If successful, this could be the biggest initial public offering (IPO) by an Indian company, breaking Coal India’s 2010 record of Rs 15,475 crore.


According to media reports, the board of One97, parent company of Paytm, is all set to meet this Friday to formally approve the IPO plan.


Paytm -- backed by investors like SoftBank Group, Ant Group and Berkshire Hathaway -- is targeting a valuation of $25 billion to $30 billion, 1.5-1.8 times the current valuation of $16 billion.


Paytm has emerged as one of the largest digital payments players in the country and ranks third in terms of UPI payments with a market share of around 12 per cent.


In March, it achieved over 1.4 billion transactions, against 1.2 billion transactions in February. This growth was driven by offline and financial services, said the company. According to the firm, it continues to register, on average, 15 per cent month-on-month growth. ALSO READ: IT Rules: Legal experts weigh in on reasonable curbs to Right to Privacy


The fintech firm, of late, has been focused on increasing its reach in the market and working on top-line numbers. The company recently launched a slew of products and services aimed at helping seasoned, as well as new-to-investment users.

It aims to achieve over 10 million users and 75 million yearly transactions for Paytm Money, its stocks and mutual fund investment platform, in the financial year 2021-2022, with the majority of users from small cities and towns.


According to a recent report by Bernstein on Paytm, the company is ready to evolve into a full-fledged fintech platform from a payments business. The Paytm ecosystem covers payments (wallet/UPI), merchant acquiring, credit saving, asset management, insurance and broking services to complement its ecommerce/e-ticketing platforms. “Paytm has over 350 million installed base, 50 million active user base, and over 20 million merchant base. Around 100 million of those users are KYC compliant. Paytm’s non-payment businesses are scaling rapidly. It is aggressively working to monetise across multiple verticals to break even in 12-18 months,” said the report.


The company has also been rewarding its employees with stock options. In April, this year it added 242,904 stock options, taking the overall employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) valuation to $604 million. The addition takes the existing ESOP pool to 2.4 million equity options.


Besides Paytm, foodtech start-up – Zomato – is planning to raise Rs 8,000 crore through an IPO this year and has already filed its draft red herring prospectus (DRHP). PolicyBazaar, India’s largest online insurance company, has stated that it is gearing up for an IPO. According to reports, the company is looking to raise Rs 4,000 crore via IPO, while seeking a valuation of $3.5 billion.

🛑Maruti Suzuki ties up with three firms for production of oxygen generators

Arindam Majumder |


The country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki is collaborating with manufacturers to boost production of oxygen generators in the country.


Maruti has tied up with three small-scale companies — Airox Nigen Equipments, SAM Gas Products and Gaskon Engineers — for producing oxygen generators.


The company on Thursday said that as part of the pact, it has been able to increase the output levels of oxygen generators by over 10x.


“Maruti Suzuki decided to involve itself in scaling up production of oxygen generators by small scale units to help overcome the critical shortage of oxygen. We have, in less than a month, increased output levels by more than 10x,” said Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) India chairman R C Bhargava.


Bhargava said the reason why the company focused on manufacturing and installing oxygen PSA (pressure swing adsorption) generators was because it provided oxygen at significantly lower cost, avoiding the high cost of transportation and reduced consumption of fuel.


“The government and hospitals need to study this option carefully for the future,” he added.


Maruti is telling medium- and big-sized hospitals to install oxygen PSA generators. These generators will not only help with the oxygen shortage but also build efficiency as it will reduce the time taken for transportation and even the losses during the process.


“Since we stepped in, 70 oxygen generator plants are being produced in May; in June, it will be 150 with the partners. The backlog order with these suppliers is 225,” a company spokesperson said during a press conference.


According to the company spokesperson, a plant with oxygen production capacity of one tonne a day or 500 litres a minute roughly costs Rs 60-70 lakh.


Maruti Suzuki said it will donate 20 such plants to Haryana-Delhi-NCR and the remaining are being commercially decided between its partners and buyers.

🛑





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