Online Gaming Draft Rules
GS Paper- II
Context– The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) recently suggested a change to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
Concerning the Draft Rules
Mechanism for resolving disputes:
- A three-tier dispute resolution structure, similar to that required by the Information Technology Rules, 2021 for online streaming services, consisting of: a grievance redressal system at the gaming platform level, an industry self-regulation organisation, and a government-led monitoring committee.
A self-regulatory body:
- Online games would be required to register with a self-regulatory agency, and only games approved by the authority will be permitted to function lawfully in India.
- The self-regulatory agency will include a board of directors comprised of five individuals from various professions such as online gaming, public policy, information technology, psychology, and medicine.
- It must ensure that the registered games do not contain anything that is detrimental to India’s sovereignty and integrity, defence, security, cordial relations with other nations, or public order, or incites the commission of any cognizable offence connected to the aforementioned.
- There may be more than one self-regulatory organisation, and all of them must notify the Centre about the online games they have registered, along with a report outlining the criteria for registering a specific game.
- Verification requires mandatory know-your-customer standards (KYC)
- According to the proposed guidelines, online gaming organisations would be prohibited from wagering on the outcome of games.
India’s Online Gaming Industry
- With over 13 crore players participating across over 200 platforms, India is the world’s largest market for fantasy sports.
- The government has observed an increase in the number of persons participating in online rummy.
- To separate the games, India divides them into two basic groups.
- The game is classified as either a game of chance or a game of skill.
- Games of chance are any games that are played at random. These are chance-based games. These games may be played without any prior knowledge or comprehension. For example, dice games, number selection, and so on. In India, such games are deemed prohibited.
- All games of skill are those that are played depending on the player’s past knowledge or expertise with the game. Analytical decision-making, logical thinking, capacity, and other abilities will be required. Some games may also need some preliminary training in order to be successful. Most Indian states consider such games to be lawful.
- In India, such rules are required.
Protecting the Users:
- Protecting consumers against potential danger from skill-based games.
- The idea is to regulate and impose due diligence obligations on online gambling sites as middlemen.
- It will boost the online gaming industry and foster innovation.
- Around 40 to 45 percent of gamers in India are women, making it all the more crucial to maintain the gaming ecosystem secure.
Because they generate revenue, they must be regulated:
- The Indian mobile gaming industry’s revenue is predicted to exceed $1.5 billion in 2022 and reach $5 billion by 2025.
- Between 2017 and 2020, the industry increased at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 38% in India, compared to 8% in China and 10% in the United States.
- It is predicted to expand at a 15% CAGR to Rs 153 billion in sales by 2024.
Transparency and Credibility:
- This framework will help the legitimate domestic online gaming business by increasing transparency, consumer protection, and investor trust.
- Online gaming is a critical component of the startup environment and a component of the trillion-dollar economy’s ambition.
Problems with Online Gaming Addiction:
- Many social activists, government authorities, and law enforcement officers fear that internet games like rummy and poker are addictive and, when played for monetary stakes, can lead to further problems.
- Some people are losing money and becoming indebted. Some of the victims committed suicide.
- The study found that internet games are addicting, regardless of whether they require talent or are merely techniques.
- It has been reported that a few instances have occurred when young people, burdened with increasing debts as a result of losses in online games, have committed other crimes such as theft and murder.
- Shifting users to grey or illegal offshore online gambling applications not only leads in a loss of tax revenue for the state and job prospects for locals, but it also results in users being unable to seek remedies for any unfair behaviour or refusal to pay out wins.
- Some experts feel that online games might be manipulated by the websites that host them.
- It is possible that users are not playing such games against other players, but against automatic computers or ‘bots,’ with no reasonable chance for an average user to win.
- Law established by the Supreme Court in 1957 (Chamarbaugwala cases) – competitive games of skill are commercial activities protected under Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution.
- The courts have categorised rummy and horse racing as skill games that are not subject to gambling legislation.
Betting and Gambling:
- In India, gambling is a non-cognizable and bailable offence.
- Part II of the State list includes betting and gaming.
- They are specifically listed in the seventh schedule of the Indian Constitution.
- In other words, the state government can exert complete control over betting and gaming operations in their jurisdiction.
- They can also create state-specific legislation.
- Any domestic or international online gaming platform that offers real money online games to Indian customers must be a legal corporation formed under Indian law.
- These platforms will also be considered “reporting entities” under the 2002 Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
- They would be compelled to notify the Financial Intelligence Unit-India of any questionable transactions.
- Online gaming platforms, like social media and e-commerce companies, will be required to appoint a compliance officer to ensure that the platform follows the norms, a nodal officer to act as a liaison official with the government and assist law enforcement agencies, and a grievance officer to resolve user complaints.
- The government would work hard to ensure that Indian start-ups have access to all opportunities.
- Gaming firms must also get a random number generation certificate, which is commonly utilised by platforms that provide card games to verify that game outputs are statistically random and unexpected. They will also be required to get a “no bot certificate” from a reputable certifying agency.
Source: The Hindu
Forest (Conservation) Rules (FCR) 2022
Context – The government and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes are at odds over the Forest (Conservation) Rules (FCR) 2022.
According to the Commission, the new guidelines are in violation of the Forest Rights Act of 2006.
What is the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes?
- It is a statutory organisation in India that strives to preserve the rights and interests of Scheduled Tribes (STs).
- The NCST conducts inquiries, examines complaints, and offers recommendations to the government on ST-related matters.
- It is the Commission’s responsibility to intervene and suggest remedial actions whenever any rules threaten indigenous people’s rights.
- The 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 adds “forests” as Entry 17A to the Concurrent List, and “protection of wild animals and birds” as Entry 17B.
- According to Article 51A(g), it is the obligation of every Indian citizen to safeguard and develop the natural environment, especially wildlife, and to have compassion for all living beings.
- Article 48A of the Indian Constitution lays a duty on the state to maintain and develop the environment, as well as to protect the country’s forests and animals.
What exactly is the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980?
- It is the primary piece of legislation that governs deforestation in the nation.
- It forbids the destruction of forests for “non-forestry” purposes without prior approval from the national government.
- The clearance procedure includes obtaining permission from local forest rights holders as well as wildlife officials.
- The Centre has the authority to deny such petitions or to grant them with legally enforceable restrictions.
- The approval process for forest land diversion concludes with the issuing of a final diversion order by the State Government or UT involved, which authorises the use of forest land for the stated purpose and gives over the property to the user agency.
What exactly is the Forest Rights Act of 2006?
- It is an Indian legislation that seeks to recognise and protect the forest rights of traditional forest-dwelling people, including Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers who have lived in and relied on forests for their livelihoods.
- The FRA affirms these communities’ rights to access, use, and conserve forests and their resources, as well as to safeguard their environment.
- The legislation also includes provisions for the formation of Gram Sabhas (village assemblies) to aid in the process of recognising and vesting forest rights.
What are Forest Conservation Rules 2022?
- The guidelines will make it easier for private developers to destroy forests without first getting approval from forest inhabitants.
- It indicates that the Union administration has the authority to remove a forest without telling its legitimate people.
- Residents will have no rights to their forest land if it is diverted to non-forestry activity.
- Compensatory afforestation: According to the rules, those applying for diverting forest land in a hilly or mountainous state with a green cover of more than two-thirds of its geographical area, or a state/UT with a forest cover of more than one-third of its geographical area, would be able to undertake compensatory afforestation in other states/UTs where the cover is less than 20%.
Significant Difficulties Associated with the New Rules
- Concerns have been raised about a section in the new rules that aims to eliminate the consent clause for the diversion of forest land for other uses.
- According to NCST, the FCR 2022 removed the requirement to get Gram Sabha approval prior to Stage 1 clearance, permitting this procedure to be completed later, even after Stage 2 clearance.
- Project proponents who receive partial clearance will press State and Union Territory administrations for diversion as soon as possible, thus impacting the process of recognising rights under the FRA.
- According to the Commission, between 2009 and 2018, of the 128 applications for forest diversion for mining, 74 were cleared at Stage 2 and 46 at Stage 1, with no rejections based on FRA non-compliance.
The new Rules will only increase such violations.
- Resettlement: Once the forest is cleared, the inhabitants’ claims for resettlement will be dismissed.
The Government’s Counter-Argument
- The government claims that the new guidelines are structured under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, and that the NCST’s concern that they violate the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 is legally untenable.
- According to Rule 9(6)(b)(ii), the government claims that the FCR 2022 already provides for the diversion of forest land only after the fulfilment and compliance of all provisions, including the settlement of rights under the Forest Rights Act, and does not preclude or infringe on the operation of other laws requiring Gram Sabha consent.
- The new regulations will allow for concurrent processing of bids, therefore eliminating unnecessary operations.
- The guidelines allow private parties to develop plantations and sell them as land to businesses that must achieve compensating afforestation requirements.
- It would help India boost forest cover while also resolving the issue of states not being able to identify compensation land under their authority.
- The necessity in the 2014 and 2017 Rules for permission and recognition of rights prior to Stage I clearance offered a legal space for assuring completion of the processes for recognition and vesting of rights under the FRA in regions where forests are being diverted.
- The Supreme Court directed in the case of Orissa Mining Corporation vs. MoEFC that the proposals for bauxite mining be placed before Gram Sabha for examination on whether the proposed mining would infringe on the religious rights of the forest dwelling communities or not, and that the MoEFC make a decision in light of the Gram Sabha Resolutions in the said matter.
Source: The Hindu
Blockchain in Agriculture
Context– Natural farming in India may soon receive a technological boost thanks to blockchain.
What exactly is Blockchain Technology?
- Blockchain is a distributed, unchangeable ledger that makes it easier to record transactions and track assets in a corporate network.
- A tangible asset (a home, vehicle, cash, or land) can be intangible (intellectual property, patents, copyrights, branding).
- A blockchain network can track and sell almost anything of value, lowering risk and costs for everyone involved.
- Rather to having a single server and administrator, it distributes rights to all network participants.
- Multiple parties can then access and evaluate new database additions, boosting security and reducing corruption risk.
Applications of Blockchain in Agriculture
- It integrates aspects such as information and communication technology (ICT), the internet of things (IoT), various sensors, machine learning technologies, and a variety of data analysis and gathering equipment such as unmanned aerial vehicles.
- The agricultural food supply chain has gotten longer and more intense than ever before as a result of the sheer pressures of globalisation. By simplifying the building of trust between producers and buyers, blockchain technology contributes to the resolution of many of these difficulties.
- Farmers can select from a range of insurance policies, each with its own approach to calculating losses and making compensation.
- The implementation of blockchain technology may significantly speed up the procurement and sale of agricultural products on ecommerce platforms.
Pros of Blockchain in Agriculture
- Blockchain technology can track various forms of plant information, such as seed quality and crop development, and can even provide a record of the plant’s journey after it leaves the farm.
- The data can increase supply chain openness and alleviate worries about unlawful and immoral activities.
- They can also make it easier to trace any contamination or other concerns back to their source in the event of a recall.
- These technologies’ principal aims are sustainability and food security.
- With this level of openness, consumers may make educated purchase decisions.
- This may be used to reward farmers and producers that use appropriate farming practises.
- The lack of a central authority figure changes the transaction’s confidence. Instead than depending on an authority, trust is put on peer-to-peer technologies and cryptography.
- The use of smart contracts also makes it simple to notify any concerns in real time.
Cons of Blockchain in Agriculture
- Concerns have been made that blockchain technology may be abused, jeopardising food security.
- Private blockchains, for example, are easier to hack and less secure.
- Those that lack the essential scale, technological know-how, and scalability to benefit from blockchain technology may fall behind.
- Many challenges must be addressed before blockchain technology can be fully implemented in agriculture.
- Implementation must enable sustainable and equitable food systems, giving consumers more options.
- While small farms find it easier to participate in blockchain insurance, bigger farms find it easier to collect and integrate several sources of real-time farm data. It is well known that uploading data to a blockchain is an expensive activity.
- While putting up the ledger is inexpensive, gathering data may be time consuming and costly.
- Those who do not have the necessary digital literacy to participate in blockchain technology must be educated. This is a step in the system’s decentralisation. The world’s poor may be unable to engage due to ageing infrastructure and a lack of digital literacy.
- To accommodate small farmers and rural residents, blockchain deployment must be decentralised. Otherwise, food security will continue to be an issue.
- Blockchain technology has the potential to increase security by outlawing unethical crop production and distribution, which endangers farmers’ livelihoods.
- Because of blockchain data collecting, consumers will be able to make better informed decisions, and they may even be able to assist small-scale farmers who are frequently in need of food and financial stability.
Source: Indian Express
Indian Economic Growth
GS Paper III
Context– For India, the new year begins on a little more positive tone. Global crude and food prices are falling, and the rupee has stabilised around 82-83 to the dollar after falling from 74.5 at the start of 2022, despite a recovery in government foreign exchange reserves. However, there are impediments to India’s economic progress that require prompt attention and action.
The current situation and the confidence surrounding the Indian economy
- Global crude and food prices are around 38% and 15% down, respectively, from their March highs, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- The rupee has stabilised around 82-83 to the dollar after falling from 74.5 to the dollar at the start of 2022, even as government foreign exchange reserves have rebounded to $562.8 billion after falling to $524.5 billion on October 21 from a year-ago peak of $642 billion.
- With favourable soil moisture levels, a timely arrival of winter, and increased fertiliser supply as a result of lower worldwide costs, the prospects for the 2018 rabi crop appear promising, and consumer inflation is expected to reduce further.
What is inflation?
- Inflation is defined as an increase in the price of goods and services purchased by households. The rate of change in those prices is used to calculate it. Prices often grow with time, but they can also decline (a situation called deflation).
What are the difficulties?
- The problem for India this year is going to be one of growth rather than inflation.
- It appears that China’s autocratic practises are making India a desirable investment destination: On paper, the world’s dissatisfaction with China (particularly, Xi Jinping’s autocratic practises, both at home and abroad) and its dwindling economic prospects, exacerbated by an impending demographic problem, should make India every investor’s preferred destination.
- The current government’s emphasis on improving the country’s physical and digital infrastructure, as well as schemes such as production-linked incentives to attract investments in specific sectors ranging from solar photovoltaic modules and drones to specialty steels, should have accelerated this process.
- During-leveraged corporations and banks plagued with bad loans were the most significant impediments to investment over the previous decade.
- That double balance sheet issue has mostly been fixed. Today’s issue is mostly related to tight government and family balance sheets. This, along with a growing global downturn squeezing export demand, may have an impact on India’s economic development.
What exactly is the Current Account Deficit (CAD)?
- A current account is an important component of a country’s balance of payments, which is the account of transactions or exchanges between entities in the country and the rest of the world.
- This comprises a country’s net commerce in goods and services, net earnings from cross-border investments such as interest and dividends, and net transfer payments such as remittances and foreign aid.
- A CAD occurs when the value of goods and services imported exceeds the value of exports, whereas the trade balance refers to the net balance of products export and import.
What actions should the government take?
- It should definitely avoid any fiscal stimulus to jump-start investment or promote growth. Instead of stimulus, the country requires macroeconomic stability and policy predictability.
- The existing budget deficit and public debt levels are simply too high to allow for any new populist plans aimed at putting money in people’s hands or imposing steep tax cuts to purportedly boost investor enthusiasm. Large government deficits always lead to current account deficits. The latter figure, at 4.4% of GDP in July-September, was the biggest for any quarter since October-December 2012, and was the precursor to the last taper tantrum-induced balance of payments crisis.
- Fiscal consolidation must be prioritised in the upcoming budget. This will allow the RBI to suspend interest rate rises and further monetary tightening, which is probably not ideal for an economy already facing many obstacles to development.
In 2023, India’s challenge has moved from inflation management to growth facilitation. The theme that would eventually succeed for India should be policy stability and credibility.
Source: Indian Express
Crypto Awareness Campaign
GS Paper III
Context – The Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF) will shortly undertake an outreach initiative to raise cryptocurrency knowledge.
What exactly is cryptocurrency?
- A cryptocurrency is a digital asset that is kept in computer databases.
- To make these digital money safe, they are recorded in digital ledgers using powerful cryptography.
- The ledgers are disseminated globally, and each cryptocurrency transaction is formalised as a block.
- On the distributed ledger, numerous blocks linked together constitute a blockchain.
- More than 47 million bitcoin users are believed to exist worldwide.
- Mining is the mechanism through which these coins are generated.
Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF)-
- The IEPF Authority, which was established in 2016 under Section 125 of the Companies Act of 2013, manages the Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF).
- The Authority is tasked with raising investor awareness and reimbursing rightful claimants for shares, unclaimed dividends, matured deposits and debentures, and so on.
- In terms of investment education, the goal is to reach out to home investors, housewives, and professionals in both rural and urban regions and educate them the fundamentals of investing.
- Among the areas of focus include primary and secondary capital markets, different saving instruments, investment instruments, raising investor awareness of questionable Ponzi and chit fund scams, and current grievance redressal systems.
- It has performed over 65,000 awareness programmes, reaching 30 lakh residents, by the end of October.
What is the source of the fear about cryptocurrency?
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed laws on the
- The crypto quandary derives from fears that uncontrolled money could destabilise a country’s monetary and fiscal stability.
- Furthermore, crypto exchanges in India are being investigated for suspected involvement in illegal activities such as drug trafficking, money laundering, breaking foreign exchange regulations, and GST avoidance.
- Cryptocurrency investment may be a complicated and hazardous venture because the market is incredibly unpredictable and operates around the clock.
Will an outreach campaign be beneficial?
- Aside from the outreach initiative, the crypto industry need a regulatory system.
- If the government takes a heavy-handed approach and declares that virtual money is not allowed in India, this will not be totally accurate.
- In India, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has prohibited banks and other regulated companies from sponsoring crypto transactions.
- The government has stated that bitcoin mining costs are considered capital expenditure rather than acquisition costs.
- The Centre presented the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021.
- Because crypto assets have no borders, any law (whether for regulation or prohibition) would necessitate international cooperation to prevent regulatory arbitrage.
- The partnership must include an assessment of risks and advantages, as well as the establishment of a shared taxonomy and standards.
Source: The Hindu
India, Pakistan nuclear installations
GS Paper – II
Context – India and Pakistan have shared a list of nuclear sites that cannot be struck if tensions escalate.
Non-Nuclear Aggression Treaty
- The Non-nuclear aggression agreement is a bilateral nuclear weapons control deal signed by India and Pakistan to reduce (or restrict) nuclear weapons.
- Both promised not to attack or aid foreign countries in attacking the nuclear sites and infrastructure of the other.
- The treaty was prepared in 1988 and signed on December 21, 1988, by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and his counterpart Benazir Bhutto; it went into force in January 1991.
- The treaty prohibited signatories from carrying out surprise attacks (or assisting foreign powers in carrying out attacks) against one other’s nuclear installations and infrastructure.
- Since January 1992, India and Pakistan have exchanged lists of their respective military and civilian nuclear-related facilities on a yearly basis.
The necessity of the treaty
- The Indian Army conducted the major drill ‘Brasstacks’ in 1986-87, prompting concerns of an Indian strike on Pakistan’s nuclear installations.
- Since then, the foreign ministries of both nations have been negotiating an agreement on nuclear weapons control.
Significance of the agreement
- The pact prohibited signatories from carrying out surprise attacks (or assisting foreign powers in carrying out attacks) against one other’s nuclear installations and infrastructure.
- The pact creates a secure environment that fosters trust.
Other: Information sharing about prisoners
- Both countries exchange a list of detainees in each other’s custody at the same time.
- These lists are shared in accordance with the terms of the Consular Access Agreement, which was signed in May 2008.
- According to the terms of the agreement, the two nations must exchange detailed lists on January 1 and July 1 of each year (i.e. twice a year).
Source: Indian Express
Facts For Prelims
“VIRAASAT”- Celebrating 75 handwoven Saris of India
Context: The Ministry of Textiles is organising the “VIRAASAT” Sari Festival’s second phase.
To encourage our handloom weavers, a social media campaign with the hashtag #MySariMyPride has been established. During the 75th anniversary of India’s independence, “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav,” there will be an exhibition and sale of handloom saris by 75 handloom weavers. For the visiting public, a variety of events are planned, including:
- Viraasat-Celebrating the Heritage: Curated exhibition of handloom saris.
- Viraasat-EkDharohar: Weavers’ direct retail of saris
- ViraasatKeDhage: Live Weaving Demo
- Viraasat-kal se kaltak: Sari and sustainability workshops and lectures
- Viraasat-NrityaSanskriti: Famous Indian Folk Dances
‘SMART’ program for Ayurveda professionals
Context:Under the Ministry of Ayush, the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine (NCISM) and the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) have launched the ‘SMART’ (Scope for Mainstreaming Ayurveda Research in Teaching Professionals) programme, which aims to boost scientific research in priority healthcare research areas via Ayurveda colleges and hospitals.
- Identify, support, and promote novel research ideas in healthcare.
- This will cover osteoarthritis, iron deficiency anaemia, chronic bronchitis, dyslipidemia, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, diabetes mellitus, psoriasis, GAD, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Context:Elon Musk tweeted about shedding 13.6 kg (30lbs) due to the Olympics/Wegovy, fasting, and avoiding ‘tasty food’.
The medication is also gaining popularity as an easy method to reduce weight on social media sites such as TikTok.
What exactly is Ozempic?
- The brand names for semaglutide, an anti-diabetes drug, include Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus. The medicine, developed by the Danish pharmaceutical firm Novo Nordisk, is used to treat type 2 diabetic patients.
- Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1 RA) medication that enhances insulin secretion (which helps lower blood sugar levels) after a meal while decreasing glucagon synthesis (which helps increase blood sugar levels)
- The medicine, in addition to managing glucose levels in the body, assists in weight reduction, reduces the risk of hypoglycemia, and improves heart health and renal function.
- In India, no diabetic medicine has been licenced for weight loss.
Novel water filter quickly removes 99.9 per cent of microplastics
Context:Scientists have created a new water filtration device that can swiftly and efficiently filter out microscopic plastic particles as well as other contaminants.
Concerning the new technology:
- The method has the best purification efficiency in the world, eliminating more than 9% of phenolic microplastics and volatile organic compound (VOC) pollutants in water at ultra-high speeds.
- By reacting with an affordable and efficient precursor, the researchers created a porous polymer with good adsorption and photothermal characteristics.
- It allows for the rapid adsorption of micropollutants in the aquatic environment.
- The oxidised polymer-coated water treatment membrane was shown to filter phenolic pollutants using sunlight.