1. A Shelter in the Pandemic
- The 2011 Census of India reveals that the urban population of the country stood at 31.16 per cent.
- Though shelter is a basic human need, migrant workers live in extremely precarious conditions.
- Most of the migrants are employed in construction, small industries, hotels, and other informal activities. Often such places are unhygienic and poorly ventilated.
- Most construction workers stay in makeshift arrangements.
- When the pandemic struck and the national lockdown was announced, most workers lost their shelter because workplaces were shut.
- Migrants living in rented apartments could not maintain social distancing.
- In suburban regions with a sizeable number of migrants, the local population wanted them to vacate houses as soon as the pandemic began, citing the lack of hygienic conditions in these dwellings. EG: Up to 88 per cent of migrants reported that they could not pay the rent.
- The absence of dignified housing is further aggravated by a lack of adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities.
- Even though there has been an installation of public toilets through Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, their availability may not be adequate in migrant-dense clusters.
- AMRUT launched in 2005 was intended to make the process of urbanisation smooth; it has now entered its second phase to make cities water-secure and provide better amenities for the marginalised.
- The Rs 20 lakh crore Atmanirbhar Bharat package announced by the government included the provision of affordable rental housing complexes (ARHC) for migrant workers/urban poor.
- NITI Aayog has recommended that rental housing in the public sector could be expanded through the provision of dormitory accommodation.
- While developing social rental housing, the state should ensure that the location has proper access to transport networks, education and healthcare.
- In order to ensure good urbanisation, it is important to equally focus on the small and medium cities and address the issues of inadequate housing and lack of basic facilities in these cities too.
These policy initiatives must be in sync with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8.8 which stands for providing a safe and secure working environment for all workers, particularly migrants.
2. Control rather Than Privacy
- Puttaswamy judgment and the Justice B.N. Srikrishna committee report led to the Personal Data Protection Bill of 2019 which was later sent to the Joint Parliamentary Committee.
- Joint Parliamentary Committee report on the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 has failed to provide robust draft legislation ensuring the privacy of citizens.
- The report is based on the presumption that the question of the right to privacy emerges only where operations and activities of private entities are concerned. However, fundamental rights are generally enforced against the state and not against private bodies.
- Clause 35 exempts government agencies from the entire Act itself: seen as arbitrary.
- Clause 12: says personal data can be processed without consent for the performance of any function of the state: The government can use these provisions as a means of control and surveillance.
- Data protection authority (DPA):
- It is doubtful whether a single authority will be able to discharge so many functions in an efficient manner.
- The Bill entrusts the executive with the appointments.
- Violates the principle of federalism: The proposed central authority issues directions to allow processing of data on the grounds of ‘public order’, ‘public order’ is an entry in the State List.
- Issue with Mandatory data localization: it is estimated to squeeze the economy by 0.7-1.7%. This may also invite similar measures by other sovereign countries which will hamper the smooth cross-border flow of data.
- While ensuring the protection of citizens’ fundamental rights, it is necessary that the DPA is entrusted with the responsibility should work independently.
- If the pith and substance of the legislation are related to the State, then it has to be monitored by the State Data Protection Authority.