Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bans don’t always work the way you want them

A Note in Facebook page of…. Dr. Manmohan Singh

(wow, they’re all on FB now. That’s a good step.)

Ban on Import of Second Hand Computers

Excerpt: “Earlier, the import of second hand computers including personal computers/laptops and computer peripherals including printers, plotter, scanner, monitor, keyboard and storage units as donations by certain categories of donees was freely permitted but as per the Directorate General Foreign Trade (DGFT) Public Notice dated 13.5.2010, this provision has been deleted.”

I’ve posted a couple of comments there… just making a record here, coz I expect them to be removed from there!

First one:

This law's terminology must be modified to ensure it doesn't get outdated in the next few years. Or else we will have to waste more taxpayers' money in a long and tedious process later.
1. Does this cover any used computer one buys on ebay and other such personal shopping sites on an individual level? And how will you exclude people who are bringing their personal/work   laptop/PC/storage device with them when entering India? Are we going to ban pendrives now??
2. Does this make any difference between real e-waste and computers that are readily re-usable with years more of shelf life?
3. This decision is going to hurt millions of lower income families who are planning to buy a working condition 2nd hand comp to better their children's future. What are the provisions for compensating them?
4. Why is law not covering mobile phones which are an even bigger second-hand market and which produce more e-waste than computers do? They use the exact same chemical materials as well. What are we using to differentiate between mobile and computer, seeing that these are going to fully converge over the coming years? If the Indian Govt was really interested in environmental safety, why are a whole range of chemically similar goods not being banned as well?
5. There is a growing movement in the production of environmentally safe computing devices and companies that are tracking the full product cycle by taking back used and not-needed goods and recycling them. These practices may eventually be mainstreamed. Will this law still enforce the ban then, even when certain second hand products are guaranteed not to pollute India?

Please address these concerns, and let's have a law that's visionary and future-proof rather than reactionary.


And another comment to give an alternative:

With all due respect, if we really want to prevent toxic dumping in India, then we simply need a law that bans the entire laundry-list of hazardous materials (at their most basic description) from coming into the country without an exit path.
Ex: "Any goods containing more than x grams of mercury and so-and-so compounds containing mercury are banned from second-hand imports. These may comprise the PCB's in Computer devices and peripherals, etc etc".
This will then prevent the importers from dismantling the computers and re-branding their components, like "TV" for CRT monitor, for instance. It will also then directly provide an incentive to all companies to switch to environmentally benign PCB and component manufacturing. This law in present form is going to fail to deter the polluters, and will just prevent the aspiring common man form improving his life.


Seeing how there’s really no other critical feedback visible, I fully expect my comments to be deleted in a short time. Well, you saw them here!

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