Insights Daily Current Events, 09 February 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential.
TRAI rules in favour of Net neutrality
TRAI has ruled against differential pricing for data services in a major support to Net Neutrality. The TRAI ruling can be seen as a blow to Facebook’s Free Basics, Airtel Zero and other similar data services which offered access to some websites and content for free.
- TRAI has ruled against differential pricing in order to keep the Internet open and non-discriminatory for users.
Highlights of the order:
- TRAI has ruled that no service provider shall offer or allow discriminatory pricing for data services based on content.
- It has ruled against any arrangement or agreement between any service provider or any person that adheres to differential pricing for data services.
- TRAI has allowed for special reduction of tariff for accessing or providing emergency services during times of public emergency. The authority has asked for the same to be reported within seven working days.
- The telecom regulator has ruled that if a service provider is found violating the regulation, there will be a penalty of Rs 50,000 for each day of contravention, subject to a maximum of Rs 50 Lakhs.
- TRAI has also exempted intranets or closed communication networks from this regulation, but has added a caveat saying if a closed network is used for the purpose of evading these regulations then the prohibition will definitely apply.
- TRAI has stated that it may review the regulation after two years.
The regulator and Facebook have been at loggerheads over the issue with the authority terming the social networking giant’s attempt to lobby for its Free Basics initiative a “crude” attempt at turning the consultation over differential pricing of data services into an “orchestrated opinion poll” on Free Basics. Facebook had partnered with Reliance Communications in India to offer Free Basics service. However, the services were put in abeyance, post a TRAI order to this effect.
- Critics had argued that allowing access to a select few apps and web services for free violates the principle of net neutrality – the principle that all websites and data on the Internet should be treated as equal.
Significance of this order:
The TRAI notification favoring net-neutrality is in line with what was seen in the US in 2010 when FCC favoured an ‘Open Internet’ and then came up with an ‘Open Internet order’ in early 2015.
- The European Union also ruled in favor of treating all Internet traffic equally. Though some of their amendments allowed for differentiation and have been a subject of intense criticism.
Way ahead for the government:
Now, it is up to the government to find innovative ways to actually get all citizens access to this Internet as India’s ranking in universal broadband access is abysmally poor and the digital divide continues to widen.
Way ahead for the Telecom Service Providers:
Telecom service providers may not be happy with this notification. However, they still have the ability and freedom to create different kind of Internet access packages; as long as content is not a parameter to provide or bar access to anyone.
- Such practices have already started elsewhere with products such as bandwidth on demand, bandwidth calendaring etc. to create premium products. Obviously, it will require changes in network and operations but that’s where the telecom roadmap goes.
sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: pollution.
Delhi’s air not worst in India: CPCB data
CPCB has published air quality indices (AQI) for 24 cities across India for the month of January. AQI help in comparing pollution levels at a glance with a colour code and a numerical value.
- The reports suggests that in January, while air quality indices in Varanasi, UP and Muzaffarpur, Bihar had ‘severe’ values of 409, Delhi scored a ‘very poor’ with 362.
- Faridabad was worse with an AQI values of 399.
- Bengaluru, Haldia and Panchkula are the only three cities out that had moderate air quality during the period.
In India, AQIs are determined based on the concentrations of 7 pollutants, including PM2.5 (fine, respirable particles), sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and carbon monoxide (CO).
sources: the hindu.
Paper 1 Topic: Role of women and women’s organization.
Lack of ‘suitable’ jobs holding back women employment
A report by the International Labour Organization has placed India at 120th position among 131 countries on women labour participation.
Reasons for low participation:
- The report blames a “jobs deficit” for the decline in female labour force participation over the past decade.
- It says a scarcity of “suitable job opportunities” outside farming and close to the place of residence are the main reasons why fewer women have joined the workforce.
- A culturally patriarchal society and rising family incomes, which allow more women to stay at home, are also to be blamed.
What the NSSO data says?
According to National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), employment surveys, women participation rates in India fell sharply after 2004-05. Between 2004-05 and 2010-11, women labour participation in rural areas fell 12-14% points. To a large extent, this was because of a fall in agricultural employment.
- In the preceding five years (1999-00 to 2004-05), women participation had firmed up, increasing by roughly 14.6 million. Economists have argued this increase was in response to rural distress. Agricultural growth during these years had slowed to less than 2% annually, putting pressure on farm incomes. This prompted women’s entry into labour force, boosting household incomes.
- The situation reversed after 2004-05. The conventional explanation for reversal rests on the “income effect“. With rural incomes steadily increasing because of a combination of rising commodity prices and government support, female labour force participation fell sharply.
- According to the WHO, part of the decline could also be because women are staying in educational institutions for a longer period. Other reasons for their low participation include greater involvement in domestic duties and care work, poor skills training, lack of support for women entrepreneurs, occupational segregation and informality of work.
Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
RBI buys Rs 10,000 crore via OMOs
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently bought Rs 10,000 crore of bonds through its open market operations (OMOs). This is the third OMO purchase this financial year and fourth overall. The OMO was done to ease liquidity in the bond market.
OMOs are the market operations conducted by the Reserve Bank of India by way of sale/ purchase of Government securities to/ from the market with an objective to adjust the rupee liquidity conditions in the market on a durable basis.
- When the RBI feels there is excess liquidity in the market, it resorts to sale of securities thereby sucking out the rupee liquidity.
- Similarly, when the liquidity conditions are tight, the RBI will buy securities from the market, thereby releasing liquidity into the market.