India Fast Facts

The Monsoon Session Update

The Monsoon Session Update

The monsoon session of the parliament will start from 18 July 2022 and continue till 12 August 2022. The Election  Commission of India also announced that the presidential election will be held on 18 July and the vote count will  take place on 21 July, a few days prior to when President Ram Nath Kovind’s tenure comes to an end on 24 July. The ruling party’s (Bhartiya Janta Party) candidate for the Presidency is Ms. Draupadi Murmu, former Governor  of the state of Jharkhand and the opposition’s candidate is Mr. Yashwant Sinha, a former BJP leader and former  Finance Minister. In addition to the presidential election, the vice-presidential election will also take place during  the session. 

The government is anticipating a busy session, with at least 25 bills pending. These include the Personal Data  Protection Bill, 2019; the Weapons of Mass Destruction and Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities)  Amendment Bill, 2022 (the bill prohibits individuals from funding any unlawful activity involving weapons of mass  destruction or their delivery systems); the Mediation Bill, 2021; The Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021; the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021; and, the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens  (Amendment) Bill, 2019. 

The Bank Privatisation Bill, a legislation for privatisation of select public sector banks, which has been in the works  for several months is also likely to be presented in the monsoon session. The centre wants to maintain a minimal  presence in the financial sector by lowering the minimum stake in Public Sector Banks (PSBs) from 51 percent to  26 percent. However, the government will only exit those PSBs that have been identified for privatization. These  include the Indian Overseas Bank, the Central Bank of India, and UCO Bank. 

The government is also expected to introduce a new law to replace the current SEZ Act, 2005, which governs Special Economic Zones (SEZ), with the Development of Enterprise and Service Hubs (DESH) Act in order to bring  SEZs in compliance with the norms of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The proposed regulation also  proposes to allow development hubs to house offshore banking entities, subject to the approval of the Reserve  Bank of India. 

In this session, the opposition is expected to raise several issues such as inflation, the overall economic situation (unemployment, fall in rupee and slow recovery of labour markets), the Agnipath scheme and the demand to  extend the GST compensation period (An act which was introduced by the government in 2017 to compensate  the states for the loss of revenue arising due to the implementation of GST). The recent political crisis in  Maharashtra which resulted in change in the government is also likely to be raised in the parliament. 

Gateway Consulting is a public policy firm headquartered in Gurugram, India. For more information,  please contact Tushar Gandhi, CEO on +91 8879004364 / 


Political Situation In Maharashtra

Political Situation In Maharashtra

On the evening of 30 June 2022, Mr Eknath Shinde was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Mr  Devendra Fadnavis became the Deputy Chief Minister. The development came a day after Mr Uddhav Thackeray,  who led the coalition of Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress, resigned as the state’s Chief  Minister, after just two and a half years of being in power. This took place in the backdrop of a political crisis which  started on 20 June as the Shiv-Sena led coalition faced a setback where they won just two seats out of 10 in the  Legislative council elections against Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) winning five seats. 

The turning point came when Mr Eknath Shinde, who was part of the Shiv Sena led coalition and Minister of  Maharashtra’s Urban Development and Public Works (Public Undertaking), staged a walk out from the party along  with 40 other Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs). Mr Shinde received simple majority of 37 Shiv Sena MLAs,  out of the total 55, who pledged their support to him through a written letter to the deputy speaker of the  Legislative Assembly. 

In a series of tweets, Mr Shinde expressed that the alliance of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress in the state of  Maharashtra was unnatural, where only NCP and Congress had benefitted from it. In a statement, he said that they  will continue to carry forward Mr Balasaheb Thackeray’s Hindutva ideology. Mr Balasaheb Thackeray was an Indian  politician who founded the Shiv Sena, a pro-Marathi and Hindu nationalist party active in the state of Maharashtra. According to news reports, Mr Shinde also felt side-lined since the formation of Uddhav Thackrey led government in Maharashtra. 

After the walk out of the MLA’s, Shiv Sena moved a petition to impeach 16 MLAs, who supported Mr Shinde, for  missing a party meeting on 22 June. On the same day, two independent MLAs backed a no-confidence motion filed  by the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), which was singed by 34 other MLAs, against Mr Narhari Zirwal, Deputy Speaker  of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly. Mr Zirwal rejected the no-confidence vote which led to the Maharashtra  parliamentary office summoning and sending disqualification notices to the 16 dissident Shiv Sena MLA’s and  demanding written responses to the allegations by June 27. Challenging the disqualification notices, Mr Eknath Shinde moved the Supreme Court. 

On 29 June, Maharashtra’s Governor Mr Bhagat Singh asked the Maharashtra Legislature Secretary to hold a floor  test of Shiv-Sena led government on 30 June. This was challenged by the Shiv Sena in the Supreme Court, which  was rejected. Immediately after the Supreme Court’s refusal to intervene, Mr Uddhav Thackrey resigned from his  position of the Chief Minister. 

It was anticipated that Mr Devendra Fadnavis, leader of opposition and former CM of Maharashtra, would become  the CM for the third time. However, he announced that Mr Eknath Shinde would become the new Chief Minister and took the position of Deputy CM. 

Gateway Consulting is a public affairs firm headquartered in Gurugram, India. For more information,  please contact Tushar Gandhi, CEO on +91 8879004364 /

Product Commercialisation and Strong Govt-Industry-Academia Collaboration Needed for India’s Progress on Quantum Tech

Product Commercialisation and Strong Govt-Industry-Academia Collaboration Needed for India’s Progress on Quantum Tech

The term, Quantum Technology (QT), has become immensely popular and is oft-used beyond doubt. A simple search on Google’s News section yielded about 75,00,000 results; the top news being Google and Amazon scheduled to attend a White House forum on Quantum Technology.

Now, before we get into the whys of QT, let us take a step back to understand its origins. QT is based on Quantum theory, which is the theoretical basis of modern physics that explains the nature and behaviour of matter and energy at atomic and subatomic levels. Interestingly, the concept of atoms is more than 2,000 years old and we owe it to ancient Greek philosophers, who introduced it. Atom means ‘one that is uncuttable’. 

The 19th century saw the formulation of hypotheses about subatomic structure and finally in the initial years of the 20th century, scientists including Max Planck and Albert Einstein immensely contributed to our understanding of Quantum theory. The etymology of the term, Quantum, is itself fascinating; it is derived from Latin, meaning ‘how great’ or ‘how much’.

Indeed, the potential of Quantum Technology is limitless. Countries and companies are investing billions of dollars in research and development, and building quantum communication networks to secure their cyberspace especially in the areas of sovereignty and defence. Quantum computing is an important application of QT. Quantum computers fundamentally process information differently than classical computers. Instead of using transistors that can only represent either the ‘1’ or the ‘0’ of binary information at a single time, quantum computers use qubits that can represent both ‘0’ and ‘1’ simultaneously. Since the system operates beyond regular logic, reason and predictability, its randomness of possibilities give access to an exponentially larger computational space.

QT can be used in the areas of computing, supply chain logistics, cryptography, sensing, biology, meteorology, cyber security, artificial intelligence, telecom, banking, internet-of-things, defence, and healthcare. In short, QT is tipped to come up in a big way in our everyday lives in the course of the next 10 years.

This is why according to Gartner, almost 90 percent organizations will be active in quantum computing projects and will utilise quantum computing as a service by 2023. The overall quantum market is forecast to reach $240 million by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 48 percent.

Technology giants such as Google, IBM, Amazon, Toshiba and Microsoft have invested heavily in QT. Google recently achieved quantum supremacy by solving a problem in 200 seconds that would take a classical computer 10,000 years! IBM, in June 2021, launched ‘IBM Quantum System One’ in Germany, the most powerful quantum computer in Europe. IBM has a network of 150 organizations, including research labs, start-ups, universities and enterprises that are able to access its quantum computers via the cloud. 

Governments across the world, including the U.S., UK, Germany, Japan and China, are showing immense interest and progress in QT’s future potential. For instance, China established a 4,600 kilometers quantum communications network across the country and is also switching its key defence, banking and financial transactions on quantum communications network. In the U.S., QT is one of Pentagon’s top modernization priorities which has potential to be leveraged for a variety of military applications. These countries are also providing fiscal and skill-based support, and are partnering with private organizations to build their quantum technology infrastructures.

India too is taking steps towards adopting QT. In the Union Budget 2020, India allocated over $1 billion, over five years, towards the National Mission on Quantum Technology and Applications (NMQTA). Areas of focus include fundamental science, technology development, human and infrastructural resource generation, innovation and start-ups to address issues concerning national priorities.

Separately, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) plans to build a national quantum communication network in collaboration with Department of Telecommunications. The Department of Science and Technology, which is overseeing disbursement of the allocated $1 billion fund, has identified government institutions to work along with the private sector on areas such as product development, R&D and skills development.

India has, so far, achieved approximately 100 kilometers of quantum network, lagging far behind other countries that have managed to develop thousands of kilometers of quantum network. To quickly progress, India will need to focus on product development and commercialisation, in addition to new, more intensive and sustained R&D efforts. Its impetus on indigenous manufacturing of semiconductors will also go a long way, as these are critical and essential components for development and commercialisation of quantum technologies.

Most countries that have achieved significant progress in quantum have one thing in common – strong collaboration among the government, industry and academia. India, too, will need to have these three elements work closely on specific programmes and projects to develop indigenous or ‘Made-in-India’ QT and networks to make its mark on the global map.

Tushar Gandhi, CEO and Shreya Kamath, Researcher at public policy firm Gateway Consulting contribute this article on the World Quantum Day.

Personal Data Protection Bill Likely to be Tabled in the Budget Session

Personal Data Protection Bill Likely to be Tabled in the Budget Session

Current Winter Session
The Winter Session of the Parliament began on 29 November 2021 where the government had a few points on their agenda to complete, like introducing and passing the Farm Repeal Bill, before they could introduce and discuss the other 26 listed bills. This week the government had five bills to be introduced, but as of today, 13 December 2021, the session in the upper house was adjourned until afternoon as opposition members insisted the government to revoke suspension of 12 MPs. 

With the winter session running till 23 December 2021, there are approximately 8 days left to introduce important bills, as well as the Joint Parliamentary Committee’s report on Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 (PDP Bill 2019), which is expected to be tabled sometime between 20 – 23 December 2021.

Personal Data Protection Bill 2019

PDP Bill 2019 was first tabled in the Lower House of the parliament in December 2019 and covered mechanisms for protecting personal data, setting up of a Data Protection Authority, specified flow and use of personal data, cross-border data transfer, framework for processing data, norms and liabilities for social media intermediaries, and accountability of entities processing personal data. The bill also had an important provision which proposed exempting central government and any governmental agencies from the bill.

Though considered as a welcome step towards digital security and protection, certain sections of the industry had their reservations. Civil society citied that the open-ended exceptions given to the government, allowing for surveillance was unacceptable. The bill faced criticism even by Justice B. N. Srikrishna, drafter of the original Bill, who said that the bill had the ability to turn the country into an ‘Orwellian State’. The technology industry and industry bodies raised concerns that the bill did not mention any clear mechanisms on the processing of personal data.

The bill was then given to a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to prepare a report. As per the Lok Sabha website, the JPC met 78 times over the last two years, conducted many deliberations and proposed over 200 amendments. It is likely that some the key proposed amendments also have inclusion of Non-Personal Data – information which cannot be used to identify a natural person. With this the bill may now be called the ‘Data Protection Bill’ instead of ‘Personal Data Protection Bill’. The JPC finally approved the report, with some dissent from opposition MPs, and asked for tabling it towards the end of this parliament session.

It is likely that the JPC has also recommended retention of the controversial clause which allows the government and governmental agencies to remain outside the purview of the bill. The opposition leaders are against this section as they are of the opinion that the bill creates two parallel universes — one for the private sector where the law would apply with full rigor and one for the Government where it is riddled with exemption, carve outs and escape clauses. Further, the JPC report may have stricter regulations for social media platforms, and for those social media platforms which do not act as intermediaries may be treated as publishers and held accountable for the content they host.

While the draft report by JPC was adopted by the Parliamentary panel on 22 November 2021, several opposition MPs including Mr. Jairam Ramesh, Mr. Manish Tewari, Mr. Derek O’Brien and Ms. Mahua Moitra submitted their notes of dissent.

The point on exempting government and governmental agencies from the bill continues to be a point of contention and may attract discord not only from the opposition but also protests from the civil society.

Given the present scenario, the government seems to be taking a cautious and slow approach rather than rushing with the bill so as to avoid a similar fate and criticism seen during the previous time with the three farm bills.

With this, while the JPC report is expected to be discussed in this winter session, the Personal Data Protection Bill may be tabled in the budget session, which is scheduled in February 2022.

India’s embargo on 101 defence equipments

India’s embargo on 101 defence equipments

On Sunday morning of August 9, the Indian Defence Minister, Mr Rajnath Singh announced an import embargo on 101 defence equipment to be implemented in phases from 2020 to 2024. This is seen as a major step towards making India ‘Atmanirbhar’ or ‘Self Reliant’, save on valuable foreign exchange and bolster the domestic defence manufacturing industry. The announcement comes a few days after India released a new Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy 2020 (DPEPP 2020). The policy identified defence manufacturing as one of the key strategies to kickstart the overall economy.

This move is expected to bring in contracts worth an estimated $53 billion to the domestic industry over the next seven years in addition to $7 billion which the Defence ministry had already allocated for purchase from the domestic industry in 2020. India’s current defence budget per year is $70 billion, which is likely to reach $112 billion by 2027.

The domestic defence industry comprising both state run and private companies like Bharat Electronics, Bharat Dynamics Limited, Hindustan Aeronautics and Bharat Forge, are likely to get these contracts. This embargo provides an opportunity for these companies to manufacture equipment using their own design and development capabilities or adopting technologies designed by the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO). DRDO is a research and development organisation under the Ministry of Defence.

The announcement implies that India will have to compulsorily develop the listed technology for defence systems and platforms expecting more investments by technology partners into India.

Apart from small items like bullet proof equipment, ammunition and small arms, the list also has sophisticated items like light combat helicopters, wheeled armored vehicles, corvettes, sonar systems, radars, artillery guns and assault rifles. More such equipment for import embargo is expected to be identified by the government in future along with putting in place a system for promoting the domestic industry.