Editorial 1 : Making this Israeli-Palestinian war the last

Context: The United Nations says 1.3 million of the 2.3 million residents of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip have been displaced, and almost half of all homes in Gaza have been damaged or destroyed.


  • All wars end. The Israeli-Hamas war will also end. When and how are still to be determined. But doing so is urgent. One outcome of a war is when both sides gain something of value to them. The Israeli-Hamas war is likely to end in that kind of scenario.
  • Israel will win in military terms, no doubt about that. But Hamas is likely to win in terms of a greatly increased following among Arab populations everywhere, including, especially, in the occupied West Bank.

Failing Palestinian authority

  • The Palestine Authority, which has been ruling there for the past 30 years, has become vastly unpopular and corruptPalestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the most moderate Palestine leader Israel could have ever hoped for, has failed singularly in making any progress towards the objective of establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank.
Emergence of HamasThe year 1987 saw the founding of Hamas, a violent wing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt that wanted to use violent jihad to further its goals.The U.S. government views Hamas as a terrorist organization. The Palestinian Authority held legislative elections in 2006, which Hamas won. In 2007, it drove Fatah out of Gaza and split the Palestinian movement geographically.1987: The First Intifada (Palestinian Uprising) began as tensions in the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank reached a breaking point. Between Palestinian militants and the Israeli army, it developed into a minor conflict.

U.N. Charters, and the rights

  • Under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, Israel has the inherent right of self-defence. The same article lays down that after acting in self-defence, the state concerned must report the action taken by it to the UN Security Council (UNSC). This does not seem to have been done.
  • In any case, self-defence does not authorise the disproportionate or indiscriminate use of force against civilians. It has been reported that Gaza’s rate of death during Israel’s assault has few precedents in this century — almost 15,000, most of them women and children. This goes well beyond the prevailing customary law of self-defence.

Feasibility of two-state solution

  • Meanwhile, the proposal for a two-state solution, long pushed aside, has come alive. Everyone seems to be repeating the two-state mantra. But how feasible is the two-state concept today?
  • The 1993 Oslo Accord envisaged Palestine to be based in the West Bank.
    • Today, the West Bank is heavily populated by Israeli settlers, 4,50,000 at latest count. No Israeli government will succeed in persuading the settlers to return. Force would be required. The land is like Swiss cheese, having settler roads and innumerable settlements, with more planned. The current Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, will never agree to a Palestinian state, however truncated.
  • What is needed, as soon as conditions permit, is to have a reality check of the two-state proposal — what is feasible and what is not. Painful concessions will be required, including land swaps, and a monitoring mechanism established to hold each side to the commitments they make.
  • The only lasting solution is for Israel to vacate its occupation of the West Bank and let a viable Palestinian state emerge.

Importance of Abraham Accords

  • To ensure Israel’s legitimate concern for the safety of its people, the new state should be demilitarised. Other measures can be thought of to assure the Israelis of their safety. Israel’s neighbouring Arab states should all be engaged in this process. The Abraham Accords provide a foundation.
  • If Israel has the vision of living in harmony in the region with its Arab neighbours, this is the only way. When that happens, Iran will lose its proclaimed reason for its anti-Israel tirades; Hezbollah will, likewise, lose its most important plank for threatening Israel.


  • For decades, Israeli-Palestinian relations have been locked in a never-ending cycle of death, destruction, and misery. The war in Gaza is the latest iteration. It should be the last. The Middle East could, finally, enjoy stable peace and security.

Editorial 2 : Broadcast regulation 3.0, commissions and omissions

Context: There are numerous apprehensions that arise from the Broadcasting Bill’s manifest scope as well as its noteworthy silences.


  • The Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill released in November by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) is part of an arc of endeavours to regulate broadcasting in an integrated manner. The last initiative to take on this ambitious task was back in 2007, in the form of the Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill.
  • The recent rendition of a Broadcasting Bill comes on the heels of a pre-consultation paper on ‘National Broadcasting Policy’ by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), a document initiated following a reference from the MIB.
Salient features of the billThe Bill essentially provides regulatory provisions for various broadcasting services under a single legislative framework.It seeks to replace the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995 and other policy guidelines currently governing the broadcasting sector in India.The Bill extends its regulatory purview to encompass broadcasting OTT content, digital news and current affairs currently regulated through the IT Act, 2000.The Bill provides comprehensive definitions for contemporary broadcasting terms along with other important technical terms to be defined in the statute for the first time.It introduces ‘Content evaluation committees’ for self-regulation and ‘Broadcast Advisory Council’ to “advise the central government on programme code and advertisement code violations.”The Bill provides statutory penalties like advisory, warning, censure, or monetary penalties, for operators and broadcasters. Provision for imprisonment and/or fines is also there, but only for very serious offences, such as obtaining registration with a false affidavit.

Positive propositions in the Bill

  • It obliges broadcasting network operators and broadcasters to maintain records of subscriber data, and subject this to periodic external audits, as is the international norm.
  • The Bill seeks to stipulate a methodology for audience measurement, and the sale of ratings data. Both mechanisms will bring the much-needed transparency in the opaque value chain of the cable and satellite television business in our country.
    • The Bill completely lacks any guardrails to shield the privacy of subscribers and audiences in such practices of data collection.
  • The provision to permit private actors in terrestrial broadcasting will encourage competition to Doordarshan, the state broadcaster, as is in many G-20 countries.

Concerns in the Bill

  • A major concern is the Bill including Over-the-Top (OTT) content suppliers in the definition of broadcasting services — as also proposed in TRAI’s ‘National Broadcasting Policy’.
    • Intriguingly, both moves come amidst intense discussions catalysed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITy) (hitherto mandated to deal with the online media) on licensing OTT players. Now, the MIB appears to poach on MEITy’s jurisdiction — a territorial slugfest typical in countries with a fragmented regulatory architecture.
  • The Bill’s expanded definition of broadcasting constricts the conditions in which journalists and news outlets that are not a part of largemulti-lingual television networks can continue their professional pursuits.
    • While it is fruitful for a news outlet to have an oversight body, warranting a ‘Content Evaluation Committee’ takes the Bill in a questionable direction: mandating an internal body to self-certify news programming. The issue is not only of feasibility and costs but also of desirability. Since the role of an internal oversight mechanism is to maintain the accuracy of news and quality of journalism, its design is best left to individual news outlets.

Silent on some areas

  • The Bill is mum on issues of ownership. While the Bill is keen to stipulate a methodology for audience measurement, there is no desire to measure the extent of cross-media and vertical ownership. Both these forms of media power thwart the diversity of suppliers, and perhaps, consequently, that of viewpoints, in the marketplace of news.
  • The Bill is equally silent on creating an independent broadcast regulator, as hinted in TRAI’s paper. This was first mooted in the ‘airwaves’ judgment of 1995, subsequently in the 1997 Broadcasting Bill, and reiterated in the 2007 iteration of the Bill. Instead, this Bill plans a ‘Broadcast Advisory Council’ to examine viewers’ grievances and violations of the Programme Code and Advertisement Code.
    • This raises two concerns: first, the capacity of such a Council to track and address grievances, genuine or motivated, raised by over 800 million TV viewers; and second, the lack of autonomy accorded to this body, since the Bill empowers the Central government to ultimately decide on the Council’s advice.

Some more concerns

  • In addition, the Bill empowers the government to inspect broadcasters without intimating them in advance, and to impound their equipment, presumably including those issued to their employees.
  • Furthermore, violations of the Programme Code and Advertisement Code attract deleting or modifying content, in addition to existing measures such as ceasing transmissions for durations.
  • Finally, the Bill grants tremendous leeway to government to curtail broadcasting and its distribution in “public interest”, a term that is distressingly left undefined. All these intrusive mechanisms augment the vulnerabilities of professional news suppliers to external pressure groups. This should worry those who will deliberate over legislating the Bill, irrespective of which benches they occupy in Parliament.


  • As the latest extension of the arc of endeavours to devise an integrated regulatory framework for broadcasting, this Bill must not lose the opportunity to protect press freedom and diversity. To do so, it has to will its way to incorporate some startling omissions, review its intrusive commissions, and fine-tune potentially positive provisions.