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28th October 2022

Coinage with images of gods and goddesses dates back to Kushans

Context

Recently, the coins used in the Kushana Empire have been found with images consisting of God and Goddesses and are considered the first to use the image of ‘Goddess Lakshmi’ on their coins.

Background

  • India has a long tradition of coinage with images of gods and goddesses.
  • The Coinage of India began anywhere between the early 1st millennium BCE to the 6th century BCE and consisted mainly of copper and silver coins in its initial stage.
  • The coins of this period were ‘Karshapanas’ or ‘Pana’.
  • The kingdoms that minted their own coins were; Gandhara, Kuntala, Kuru, Magadha, Panchala, Shakya, Surasena, Surashtra, and Vidarbha, etc.
  • The Vijayanagara kings also used coinage with Hindu idols.
  • Harihara –II (1377-1404) introduced coins that had Brahma-Saraswati, Vishnu-Lakshmi, and Shiva-Parvati.
  • The tradition of minting coins to win the confidence of local people continued when the French and Dutch minted coins showing Vishnu between 1715 and 1774 and Goddess Kali till the late 17th century.

Do you know?

The tradition of ‘Indian coinage’ in the 2nd millennium evolved with Indo Islamic rule in India and the British Raj in the 19th century.

About


The Coins discovered:

  • According to historians, the Kushans, who hailed from the Central Asian region and ruled till the 3rd century AD, were the first to use the image of Goddess Lakshmi on their coins, along with ‘Ardochsho’, the Iranic Goddess of wealth.
  • The Kushans also depicted Oesho (Shiva), moon deity Miro and Buddha in their coinage.
  • Evidence found: A specimen is now in the British Museum repository which mentions that coins were fundamental to their acceptance and success as currency, and Mohammed bin Sam issued these coins which maintained a visual tradition begun in India.

The Kushana Empire:

  • Kushanas were descended from the Yuezhi, a people that ruled over most of the northern Indian subcontinent, Afghanistan, and parts of Central Asia during the first three centuries of the Common Era.
  • The Yuezhi conquered Bactria in the 2nd century BCE and divided the country into five chiefdoms, one of which was that of the Kushans (Guishuang).
  • Under Kaniska I (flourished 1st century CE) and his successors, the Kushan kingdom reached its height.
  • It was acknowledged as one of the four great Eurasian powers of its time (the others being China, Rome, and Parthia).
  • The Kushans were instrumental in spreading Buddhism in Central Asia and China and in developing Mahayana Buddhism and the Gandhara and Mathura schools of art.


Role of TRAI in regulating country’s Telecom industry

Context

Recently, the Government released the draft of The Indian Telecommunication Act, 2022 against which the experts had pointed out that it aims to take away the TRAI’s statutory independence, and seeks to make it subservient to the government.

The Draft Telecom bill:

  • The Bill is an attempt by the government to update the extant regulatory frameworkin keeping with the advancements and challenges in the sector.
  • The Indian Telecommunication Bill looks to repeal the old legislation and “restructure the legal and regulatory framework” for the telecommunications sector.

Need for the change:

  • This was much needed given that the three main legislationsthat occupy this domain are considerably out-dated, with the most recent of these having been enacted more than 70 years back. These legislations are:
  • The Indian Telegraph Act enacted in 1885
  • The Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act enacted in 1933
  • The Telegraph Wires (Unlawful) Possession Act in 1950

What ways it impacts the position of the TRAI?

  • Dilutes the Position: The current draft considerably dilutes TRAI’s position in a number of ways reducing it from a regulatory to a ‘recommendatory body’.
  • The government would no longer be required to seek recommendations from the TRAI before issuing licenses.
  • It also removes the power of the TRAI to requisition from the government information or documents that are necessary to make such recommendations
  • The Department of Telecommunications (DoT)will no longer be required to refer back to TRAI the recommendations for reconsideration. Removal of such powers would not be in keeping with international practice.
  • Significance:
  • As a facilitator: TRAI's mission is to ensure that the interests of consumers are protected and at the same time nurture conditions for growth of telecommunications, broadcasting and cable services in a manner and at a pace which will enable India to play a leading role in emerging global information society.
  • As a regulator: It is the issuing authority in the country for telecom services networks the permit to work for public service delivery.

Impacts of the legislation on Stakeholders’

Unhappiness among Telecom Service Providers (TSPs):

  • Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) allege that parallel features provided by OTT communication services have resulted in a cut in their sources of revenue(voice calls, SMS).
  • At the same time, they don’t have to deal with infrastructure and licensing coststhat they have to undertake. Therefore, TSPs have been demanding a level playing field with OTT services.

Possible outcomes of the draft telecommunication Bill on over-the-top (OTT) communication services:

  • Expands the definition: The current draft of the Bill expands the definition of “telecommunication services” to include OTT communication services.
  • License Requirements: This might bring OTT telecommunication services under the same licensing conditions as TSPs.
  • TSPs have to be issued the Unified Access Service License (UASL) for them to be able to provide telecom services in India.
  • Fulfilling Requirements: If OTT communication services are required to obtain the same license, they would also be subject to a number of conditions:
  • Maintaining ‘know your customer details of their users
  • Adhering to certain encryption regulations
  • Allowing lawful access to the government of their equipment and networks

Consumer protection measures:

  • Spam calls and frauds:The draft Bill proposes that the identity of the person communicating using any form of telecommunication services shall be available to the user receiving such communication.
  • User Identification:The draft Bill obligates license holders to identify the users of its service through a verifiable mode of identification.
  • Penalties: The draft Bill penalizes providing wrong identification details with a ?50,000 fine and suspending the operation of the specific mobile number.

Boost to Telecom service providers:

  • Clarity over Allocation of the spectrum: It has clearly laid down that, the primary route for allocation of the spectrum is the auction, and mentions the administrative process that needs to be followed in cases where the spectrum needs to be allocated for defense or transportation.
  • Utilization of the spectrum to the fullest: The laid provisions allow the TSPs to exploit the spectrum by enabling sharing, trading, leasing, surrendering, or returning unutilized spectrum.
  • Issue of the right of way: It is about the legal framework for setting up telecom towers. It mandates that land owned by a public entity should be available expeditiously unless there is an express ground of refusal.
  • The Bill also simplifies the process for restructuring, merging, or demerging.
  • Broadening the scope of “Universal Service Obligation Fund”: The said fund is to be utilized for other purposes such as urban areas connectivity, research, etc., thereby expanding its current mandate from the limited aspect of enhancing rural connectivity.

How the State’s room for Expenditure is related to growth in the economy?

Context

With the global economic scenario and slowing down demand in advanced economies with continued aggressive monetary tightening by central banks, the States’ effective investments can ramp up their spending which will have a critical bearing on the pace of the Indian economy.

About

The States and Expenditure:

  • The States’ ability to ramp up capital expenditure and take advantage of the fiscal space can become a key determinant of the aggregate fiscal impulse to the economy at this time in the country.
  • The analysis has been made among growing state economies including Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal — that account for 85 percent of India’s GDP.

How State Expenditure can help for growing Economy?

In response to the financial slowdown and its impact on the economy, the government plays a key role by increasing its spending in order to boost economic growth. Some of the roles include;

  • Provides a well-functioning legal and political system: - Any economy facing political or economic turmoil is not conducive to economic growth since it has very little trust in the economy. Moreover, there is uncertainty in the economy and people are also unwilling to invest.
  • Lays regulatory role to provide a competitive market: - There should be certain regulations to ensure that the economy does not drift to a monopolistic situation. The government needs to think about trade policies with foreign countries, regulations on natural resources available in our country, etc.
  • Stimulate the economy by increasing government spending: - This was one of the philosophies given by one of the renowned economists John Maynard Keynes. He was of the view that the government’s role is very important “when the economy is in recession or depression-like situation and the government should increase spending to have a pickup in the economic activity.”

Impact of government spending on the economy

  • Rise in Expenditure and Growth: There is a high possibility that the rise in taxes will negate the impact of rising government spending which would leave Aggregate Demand (AD) However, it is possible that increased spending and a rise in tax could lead to an increase in GDP.
  • During downfalls in the economy: In a recession, consumers may reduce spending leading to an increase in private sector savings. Therefore a rise in taxes may not reduce spending as much as usual.
  • The Multiplier Effect: Increased government spending may create a multiplier effect. If government spending causes the unemployed to gain jobs then they will have more income to spend leading to a further increase in aggregate demand. In these situations of spare capacity in the economy, government spending may cause a bigger final increase in GDP than the initial injection.

Possible implications:

  • Can crowd out Private sector lending: However, if the economy is at full capacity, the increase in government spending would tend to crowd out the private sector leading to no net increase in Aggregate demand from switching from private sector spending to government sector spending.
  • Inappropriate allocation of funds: Some economists would argue increasing government spending through higher taxes would lead to a more inefficient allocation of resources as governments tend to be less effective in spending money.
  • Increase in Off-budget Borrowings: The off-budget borrowings by states refer to loans taken by its entities, special purpose vehicles, etc., which are expected to be serviced through the state government’s own budget, instead of the cash flows or revenues generated by the borrowing entity.

The Union government has recently clarified that henceforth; off-budget borrowings would be considered as borrowing of the state government and would be subject to the provisions of Article 293(3) of the Constitution of India.

 

Issues with online gaming apps in India

Context

With the arrival of the Cricket season including the T20 World Cup followed by the IPL, the advertisements for online gaming apps are on the rise, which can be brutal for the Indian economy.

So, let us see what are the issues of Online gaming apps in India.

About

India’s Gaming Industry:

  • The country is the biggest market for fantasy sports globally, with over 13 crore users playing across over 200 platforms.
  • The government noted that the number of people involved in playing online rummy is on the rise.
  • India mainly puts online games into two broad categories to differentiate them.
  • The two categories are that the game is either a Game of Chance or a Game of Skill.
  • Game of chance (Gambling): Games of chance are all those games that are played randomly. These games are based on luck. A person can play these games without prior knowledge or understanding. For instance, dice games, picking a number, etc. Such games are considered illegal in India.
  • Game of skill (Gaming): Games of skill are all those games that are played based on a person’s prior knowledge or experience of the game. A person will require skills such as analytical decision-making, logical thinking, capability, etc. Some games might also require some initial training to win. Such games are considered legal by most of the Indian states.

What is the Economic issue with Online gaming apps?

  • Evading Taxes: Many of these apps are operating from outside the country and are involved in tax evasion.
  • Games of skill are taxed at 18 percent GST on the platform fee, while games of chance are taxed at 28 percent GST on the contest entry amount.
  • This means such apps are expected to generate revenue to the tune of $40-50 crore, but a significant portion of this amount never lands in the public exchequer’s account.
  • Threat to Indian Gaming apps: The situation of offshore online gaming platforms is in sharp contrast to their Indian counterparts which are facing serious challenges due to a lack of government regulations, taxation, and Google’s policy changes.

It is estimated that offshore gambling sites such as Dafabet, Betway, Bet365, Parimatch, Fairplay, and 1xbet are making the Indian online gaming industry poorer by at least $25-30 billion.

Are there any regulatory measures available in India?

  • Online gaming platform as a legal entity: Any online gaming platform – domestic or foreign– offering real money online games to Indian users will need to be a legal entity incorporated under Indian law.
  • These platforms will also be treated as ‘reporting entities under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, of 2002.
  • They will be required to report suspicious transactions to the Financial Intelligence Unit India.
  • As a State Subject under Schedule 7: Online gaming so far has been a state subject, but state governments have said they find it extremely difficult to enforce certain rules like geo-blocking certain apps or websites within the territory of their state.

Issues in regulating the online gaming industry:

  • The issue in coordination: There is a concern that rules passed in one state are not applicable in another, which has caused inconsistency in how the online gaming industry is regulated in the country.
  • Also, the State governments also do not have enough blocking powers like the Centre to issue blocking orders for offshore betting sites.
  • Societal concerns: Stakeholders have highlighted a number of societal concerns that can arise from the proliferation of online games in the country.
  • There have been a number of reported incidents of people losing large sums of money on online games, leading to suicides in various parts of the country.
  • Absence of framework: There is currently no regulatory framework to govern various aspects of online gaming companies such as
  • Having a grievance redressal mechanism,
  • Implementing player protection measures,
  • Protection of data and intellectual property rights, and
  • Prohibiting misleading advertisements.

The UN climate Change report 2022 released

Context

A new report from UN Climate Change shows countries are bending the curve of global greenhouse gas emissions downward but underlines that these efforts remain insufficient to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

Key highlights of the Report:

  • According to the report, the combined climate pledges of 193 Parties under the Paris Agreement could put the world on track for around 5 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century.
  • It also shows current commitments will increase emissions by 6% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. This is an improvement over last year’s assessment, which found countries were on a path to increase emissions by 13.7% by 2030.
  • The analysis shows that the emissions will no longer increase after 2030.
  • Targets defined: The IPCC released earlier this year uses 2019 as a baseline, indicating that GHG emissions need to be cut by 43% by 2030. This is critical to meeting the Paris Agreement goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, including more frequent and severe droughts, heat waves, and rainfall.
  • Focused on Parties' contributions: UN Climate Change analyzed the climate action plans – known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – of 193 Parties to the Paris Agreement, including 24 updated or new NDCs submitted after the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP 26).
  • Contributing partners: Current long-term strategies (representing 62 Parties to the Paris Agreement) account for 83% of the world’s GDP, 47% of the global population in 2019, and around 69% of total energy consumption in 2019. This is a strong signal that the world is starting to aim for net-zero emissions.
  • The report notes, however, that many net-zero targets remain uncertain and postpone the future critical action that needs to take place now. Ambitious climate action before 2030 is urgently needed to achieve the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement.

Need for stringent measures against Climate change:

  • Declaration of the year 2019 as the second warmest year on record and the end of the warmest decade (2010- 2019) ever recorded.
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere rose to new records in 2019.
  • Climate change is affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives.
  • Weather patterns are changing, sea levels are rising, and weather events are becoming more extreme.
  • Saving lives and livelihoods requires urgent action to address both the pandemic and the climate emergency.
  • The Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
  • This agreement also aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change, through appropriate financial flows, a new technology framework, and an enhanced capacity-building framework.

Tuberculosis cases surged for the first time in many years: WHO

Context

According to the recently released report on Global TB Report 2022 by WHO, highlighted the concerns over the growing cases of Tuberculosis and people dying due to the disease.

The Global TB Report:

  • It was found that 6 million people fell ill due to TB in 2021 with an increase of 4.5 percent from 2020, and 1.6 million people died from TB.
  • The burden of drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) also increased by 3 percent between 2020 and 2021, with 450 000 new cases of rifampicin-resistant TB (RR-TB) in 2021.
  • This is the first time in many years an increase has been reported in the number of people falling ill with TB and drug-resistant TB.
  • The number of people provided with treatment for RR-TB and multidrug-resistant TB and multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) has also declined between 2019 and 2020.

Do you know?

  • The main source is the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria across the world.
  • The United States is the largest contributor of funding to the Global Fund and is also the largest bilateral donor; overall, it contributes close to 50 percent of international donor funding for TB.

About Tuberculosis (TB):

  • TB is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, belonging to the Mycobacteriaceae family consisting of about 200 members.
  • In humans, TB most commonly affects the lungs (pulmonary TB), but it can also affect other organs (extra-pulmonary TB).
  • TB is a very ancient disease and has been documented to have existed in Egypt as early as 3000 BC.
  • TB is a treatable and curable disease.
  • Transmission: TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze, or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air.

Treatments available for TB:

  • Drugs:
  • For previously treated cases of TB, the intensive phase is of 12 weeks, where injection of streptomycin is given for eight weeks along with four drugs FDCs (INH, Rifampicin, Pyrazinamide, and Ethambutol).
  • Second-line drugs are the TB drugs that are used for the treatment of drug-resistant TB. The second line drugs include levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, bedaquiline, delamanid and linezolid.
  • Vaccines: Currently, the following two vaccines have been developed and identified for TB, and are under Phase-3 clinical trial:
  • VPM (Vaccine Projekt Management) 1002
  • MIP (Mycobacterium Indicus Pranii)

Important Facts:

  • World TB Day is observed on March 24.
  • TB Mukt Bharat (TB-free India): India is committed to ending the TB epidemic by 2025, five years ahead of the SDG target timeline.
  • Important national and international initiative to end TB:
    • National TB Elimination Programme (NTEP)
    • National Strategic Plan (NSP) for Tuberculosis Elimination (2017-2025)
    • The Nikshay Ecosystem (National TB information system)
    • Nikshay Poshan Yojana (NPY- financial support)
    • TB Harega Desh Jeetega Campaign.
    • TB Free India Campaign
    • Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP)
    • International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union)

The Ethics linked to Ocean-Based Carbon Dioxide Removal

Context

With an aim to trap Carbon dioxide to control Global warming and Climate change effects, the Oceans are being used deliberately to lock it. However, it arises several social and ethical questions regarding this technique against the lives related to the Ocean ecosystem.

About

How Carbon can be trapped using Oceans?

  • Ocean carbon dioxide removal is any action designed to use the ocean to remove even more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it.
  • It spans a wide range of techniques – from increasing the amount and vitality of carbon dioxide-absorbing mangrove forests to using ocean fertilization to stimulate the growth of phytoplankton that absorb carbon dioxide to building pipelines that pump liquid carbon dioxide into formations under the seabed, where it can eventually solidify as carbonate rock.
  • There are other forms of carbon dioxide removal i.e. planting trees. But they require large amounts of land that are needed for other essential uses, such as agriculture.
  • Hence Oceans provide a large space and has the capacity to bear sustainably more carbon dioxide.

Do you Know?

The ocean covers about 70% of the planet, and it naturally takes up carbon dioxide. In fact, about a quarter of human-produced carbon dioxide ends up in the ocean.

What are the ethical Questionings related to the process?

Ocean carbon dioxide removal also raises a variety of ethical questions that do not have straightforward answers.

  • Does it force people to consider the relationship between humans and nonhumans?
  • Are humans obliged to intervene to reduce the impact on the climate, or ought we avoid ocean interventions?
  • Do people have the right to purposefully intervene in the ocean or not?
  • Are there specific obligations that humans ought to recognize when considering such options?
  • Who is responsible to make decisions about ocean carbon dioxide removal and the consequences?

Stakeholders involved:

Ethical values to keep in mind

  • Ocean as a living Entity
  • Microorganisms in the oceans
  • Fishes and Marine organisms
  • Global Government
  • Humans/ Society
  • Responsibility and Humanity
  • Sustainability
  • Morality for Living entities
  • Environmental justice
  • Collectivity

What are the ethical factors associated between Humans and the Environment?

  • It must be considered that the issue of responsible personal conduct with respect to natural landscapes, resources, species, and non-human organisms is foremost important.
  • Conduct by persons is the direct concern of moral philosophy. Moral responsibility normally implies knowledge, capacity, choice, and value significance.
  • It is also concerned with the do's and don’ts of human beings to the environment.
  • It deals with the ecological rights of all creatures present today as we are fruitful as those who will come next to live on the Earth.
  • Hence, Ethical standards are necessary for the long–term conservation and maintenance of nature and its resource

Editorial

Nutrition, not Hunger

Context:

In the recently released Global Hunger Index (GHI), India was ranked in the ‘serious’ category. However, the criteria for measuring the index are itself a questioning.

The Global Hunger Index and India’s position:

  • Aim: It measures and ranks countries on a hunger index at the global, regional, and national levels. The GHI’s stated aim is to reduce hunger around the world.
  • Criteria to analyze Hunger: It includes the infant mortality rate and health analysis for children less than 5 years of age. According to its reporting, India ranked less in all these categories.
  • Lacking behind: The methodology of the index focuses disproportionately on specific issues rather than causes and does not include data at the sub-national level where some Indian states fare better.

Hunger vs. Nutrition paradox:

  • GHI measures:
  • Hunger is associated with food scarcity and starvation. GHI uses childhood mortality and nutrition indicators.
  • But its preamble states how ‘communities, civil society organizations, small producers, farmers, and indigenous groups, shape access to nutritious food is governed’.
  • The reality behind measures: The data suggests that GHI sees hunger as a food production challenge when, according to the FAO, India is the world’s largest producer and consumer of grain and the largest producer of milk. It is, therefore, contentious and unacceptable to club India with countries facing serious food shortages.
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ThinkQ

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QUIZ - 28th October 2022

Mains Question:

Question: India is one of world’s biggest markets for online gaming, however, the biggest problem is that the industry suffers from lack of regulatory eco-system. In the light of this statement, discuss measures to properly regulate this industry, in terms of the judicial pronouncements and global practices. (150 words)

Approach 

  • Introduction- brief about increasing scope of gaming industry 
  • List out reason behind the tremendous surge:
    • growing youth population
    • explosion in volumes of mobiles and tablets
    • inexpensive data and new gaming genres offering novel thrills
  • Challenges faced by the sector
    • lack of regulation
    • blurred jurisdictions between centre and states
  • Budget 2022 provided to set up a task force to promote animation, visual effects, gaming, and comics sector (AVGC)
  • Suggest policy intervention 
    • centralized quasi-judicial body to grant, suspend and revoke licenses to gaming operators
    • regulatory architecture
  • Conclude accordingly 

 

*Note: Mention SC’s order in RMD Chamarbaugwala & Anr v Union of India that offering games of skill is a protected activity under Article 19 (1) (g) Constitution? i.e. freedom to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business. 

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