Editorial 1: Accidental drowning: restraint and awareness at the waters edge


  • World Drowning Prevention Day is on July 25, here is an attempt to study the subject and implement various expert advisories on safe spaces; in 2021 there were36,362drowning deaths reported of which children were a large number.

Drowning deaths

  • Drowning deaths capture headlines from time to time, when they involve large numbers, or larger-than-life people, but what is less frequently mentioned, is the many drownings, predominantly of children that take place in India every day.
  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s statistics for 2021, there were 36,362drowning deaths reported, forming 9.3% of accidental deaths in the country.
  • Prevention, say experts, is the key to curbing drowning deaths in India as rescue and resuscitation efforts may not always be timely or feasible.
  • And prevention involves several measures, at the safe behaviouralism’s infrastructural levels.

Children at high risk

  • Children are at the largest risk of drowning in India, and even reported figures are an underestimate, as most cases never make it to the hospital and are not recorded.
  • The risk is highest in the one to six year age group, followed by the 6 -14 age group in India, especially in rural and remote areas.
  • There is this perception that if a child grows up near a waterbody, he or she will automatically learn how to swim, but this is emphatically not true as there are two key aspects-in the drowning deaths of children: the lack of supervision and the lack of physical barriers on waterbodies.

Reasons associated and Mitigation

  • Safe space- Access to and availability of safe spaces could go a long way in preventing drowning.
  • Barricading – The other issue is the safe storage of water and barricading access to it where necessary. Safe storage needs to begin at home. Actionable awareness on this, for communities, is essential.
  • The barricading of wells and, ponds and other small water bodies by government authorities and the prevention of unauthorised access are also necessary steps towards building safer environments and communities..
  • Awareness- While accidental falls into water bodies account for-about 70%of all drowning deaths as per the NCRB, there have also been multiple cases of young people and families going for a pleasure dipor to bathe, with these outings ending in tragedy.
  • Avoiding selfies- Selfies, she says, are another hazard: in an effort to get the best photograph of a scenic dam or a brimming river, many young persons have tragically lost their lives.
  • The highest number of ‘selfie-deaths’, from a global search has been reported in India and drowning was amongst the topmost reasons for deaths caused while taking selfies states the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s status of drowning in South-East Asia: Country reports’,2022.
  • Flood casualties– Another major cause of concern is drowning due to floods. A total of 656 people in India lost their lives due to flooding in data of NCRB.
  • There is urgent need for better civic infrastructure and measures to tackle climate change.
  • Post-event recovery and rehabilitative measures are also important as drowning deaths may even occur due to water-logging..
  • State-specific policies that can be targeted to regions where interventions are needed like coastal villages, low-lying areas and wetland regions for instance.


  • It may not always be accessible as a drinking source, but there’s water everywhere in the country: along our long coastline, in our meandering rivers and lakes and pooling in our wetlands, all crucial for survival. While we rightly work hard to safeguard these natural resources, we must also, simultaneously, safeguard people around them.

Editorial 2: India’s data protection law needs refinement


  • India is no Europe, and this seems especially true in the face of a task such as drafting and conceptualising a data protection law for over 1.4 billion Indians. The European Union’s (EU) data protection law, i.e., the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), came into force in the middle of 2018 and achieved widespread popularity as arguably the most comprehensive data privacy law in the world. Although the EU’s challenges may be due to its unique legal structure, India must guard against the risks of enacting a law that is toothless in effect.

Issues around data use

  • This deliberation becomes increasingly relevant as the Indian government is likely to table India’s fresh data protection law in the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament (July 20-August 11).
  • Late last year, the government released the Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Bill, 2022 for public consultation.
  • Considering this, critical gaps remain in the DPDP Bill that would affect its implementation and overall success.
  • In its scope and definition, the DPDP Bill only protects personal data, that is any data that has the potential to directly or indirectly identify an individual.
  • In the modern data economy, entities use various types of data, including both personal and non-personal data to target, profile, predict, and monitor users
  • Often, this non-personal data when combined with other datasets can help identify individuals, and in this way become personal data, impacting user privacy.
  • This process of re-identification of non-personal data poses significant risks to privacy.
  • Such risks were accounted for in previous versions of India’s draft data protection Bill, in 2018 and 2019, but do not find a place in the latest draft.
  • By not recognising these risks, the DPDP Bill is very limited in its scope and effect in providing meaningful privacy to Indians.
  • A simple and effective solution — as in the earlier versions — would be to add a penal provision in the Bill that provides for financial penalties on data-processing entities for the re-identification of non-personal data into personal data.

Limited reach of data protection board

  • Another gap is the inability of the proposed data protection board to initiate a proceeding of its own accord.
  •  Under the Bill, the board is the authority that is entrusted with enforcing the law.
  • The board can only institute a proceeding for adjudication if someone affected makes a complaint to it, or the government or a court directs it to do so.
  • The only exception to this rule is when the board can take action on its own to enforce certain duties listed by the Bill for users.
  • This is for the adjudication of disputes between the law and users — for example, an obligation on users not to register a false or frivolous complaint with the board, and not between users and data-processing entities.

Way forward

  • In the data economy, users have diminished control and limited knowledge of data transfers and exchanges.
  • Due to the ever-evolving and complex nature of data processing, users will always be a step behind entities which make use of their data.
  • The Competition Commission of India, which is responsible for the enforcement of India’s antitrust law, has the power to initiate inquiries on its own (and utilises it frequently).
  • These are not the only gaps in the DPDP Bill, but finding solutions to them would help address challenges in implementation in a significant way and make for a more future-proof legislation.


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