09 October 2020

  • Essay Test Series and QIP
  • Should Indian start-ups take on global Internet giants? (Indian Economy)
  • Freeze Assam ST list for good, says tribal body: Identification of STs (Social Issues)
  • Q2 records 107% surge in fresh investments: Concept of Gross Capital Formation and Trends
  • Keeping vigil even during unusual times- CAG ( Article)- (Polity & Governance)
  • Avoidable uncertainty- Editorial: Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)- (Economy)
  • Question for the day

Prelims Quiz

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    UPSC Current Affairs: Should Indian start-ups take on global Internet giants? | Page - 07

    UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper III – Indian Economy

    Sub Theme: Domestic App Ecosystem | Digital Sovereignty | Monopoly of MNCs in Mobile App ecosystem | UPSC      

    Background

    Recently, Paytm app was briefly removed from the Google play store and was unavailable for being downloaded for few hours. The Google company stated that it removed the Paytm app from its play store because Paytm app did not comply with its policies related to Gambling.

    Earlier, Paytm company had started a campaign known as Paytm Cricket league on Paytm app. This campaign allowed the users to get scratch cards after every transaction on Paytm. These scratch cards enabled the users to get cash backs. Now, the Google company interpreted this campaign as Gambling, a violation of its policy and accordingly decided to remove the Paytm app from its play store.

    In response, the Paytm company has decided to launch its own "Android Mini-App" store to provide support to Indian app developers. It is considered to be a direct challenge to Google's play store.

    Usually, the app developers pay charges to get listed on play store. However, the Paytm has stated that it would not charge app developers to get listed on its Mini-App store.

     Hence, in order to ensure digital sovereignty and Aatma Nirbhar Bharat in App ecosystem, some of the experts have pointed out that India needs to have its own home- grown appstore like Playstore or istore. This will enable us to combat the monopoly of these technological giants and give push for digital economy 

    Why do we need home-grown Appstore? 

    Abuse of Dominant Position by Google and Apple: Presently, there are more than 300+ app stores from where one can download mobile apps. Some of these Appstores are Google's playstore, Apple's istore, Samsung's Galaxystore, Amazon Appstore etc. Inspite of availibility of so many choices, most of us use either playstore or istore to download apps depending upon the operating system of our phone. Why is that? It is because our phones come pre-loaded with these in-built app stores and hence this in a way limits our choice of Appstore to download mobile apps.

    Unfair Practices:

    This clearly shows that the dominance enjoyed by Google and Apple in their OS has enabled them to extend their dominance in other aspects of mobile ecosystem such as Appstores, mobile apps etc.

    Developed your own OS--> Force smart phone manufacturers to incorporate your appstore--> Control which apps would get listed/delisted--> Charge fee for the listing of apps--> Force payments through your own apps--> Charge commission for in-app purchases--> Collect, Store and Analyse data to make Profits--> Stifle competition and hinder growth of rivals--> Pervasive influence on Society Politics and economy.

    Lack of Choice to Consumers and App developers

    Out of a population of 1.3-1.4 billion, India has 700 million unique mobile subscribers. While the global growth in app downloads has been 45% in last the three years, India witnessed a mindboggling growth of 190% since 2016 reaching around 40 billion app downloads by 2019. Mobile apps are touching every aspect of human life, right from managing finances, planning travel, maintaining fitness to even finding a life partner

    As entrepreneurs and developers of mobile apps, we should have a choice in terms of listing of our apps. As users, me and you must have choice as to from where we would want to download our mobile apps.  While making payment, we should have a choice in terms of which payment platform we would want to use to make payment. However, all these choices to consumers and developers of mobile apps are presently not available. 

    Set back to Domestic App Ecosystem: The Indian Domestic mobile app Industry has been growing by leaps and bounds.  PM Modi has recently highlighted that digital gaming has a huge potential at the international level and called upon Indian entrepreneurs to take a lead and develop apps to boost mobile app ecosystem. But, in the present ecosystem, an entrepreneur faces multiple costs as well as risks:

    1. He is required to pay charges to Apple istore/ Google playstore to get his app listed. If he is listing his apps on other appstores such as Samsung store or Amazonstore, he may not get necessary visibility.
    2. He is required certain commission to these Appstore's for the purchases done by customers.
    3. He is required to comply with the unfair rules and conditions laid down by MNCs.
    4. In absence of regulation, he faces the risk of his app being down without any mechanism for redressal of his grievances.

    So, having an Indigenously developed Appstore would help us address these problems faced by app developers. Further, the regulation of Appstore through an Independent authority would help us lay down clear rules and guidelines over aspects of listing of mobile apps. 

    Digital Sovereignty: Both Google as well as Apple are able to collect lot of data from their appstores such as what kind of apps have you downloaded? How much money have you paid for these apps?. All this data including the critical payment related data gets stored in overseas servers. This data is then used to target ads towards the users.

    This is problematic for mainly two reasons:

    1. Against the policy of data localisation
    2. Against the interests of domestic app developers.

    What should be done to break the monopoly of MNCs in Mobile App ecosystem?

    Mobile Seva App Store: M-Governance application store hosts the various mobile applications for government services as well as private sector mobile apps. Applications can be developed by independent developer or Department, which after testing and verification processes, can be hosted on Mobile Sevaapp store free of cost. Citizen can download applications from on their handsets and using these applications they can access various government services anytime from anywhere. Need to be developed as viable alternative to appstores of Google and Apple.

    Encouraging development of Mini-App Stores: As highlighted before, PayTM has recently launched Mini-App store. How is this different from normal Appstore?. In normal Appstore, one needs to download the application in the phone to access it. However, the Mini-App store is a web-based service that provides access to various apps as if they are downloaded on your mobile. For example, if you want to access Uber, ola or swiggy, you can download it from Google playstore. Or in case of Mini-app store, you need to go to Paytm app and click on the link to the concerned app, then these apps would open within the web browser without getting installed on your phone.

    Two advantages here- Saves phone memory and saves Data which otherwise gets used up for downloading the mobile app. In a way, Mini-App store can be considered as "Super-Apps" which provide web-based access to other apps without downloading them.

    So, need to encourage companies with large traffic such as Amazon, Flipkart, Swiggy, Uber etc. to have their own Mini-App stores.

    Encouraging development of local handsets: We have to realise that we cannot be self-reliant in the field of Mobile app ecosystem without being self-reliant in Mobile manufacturing. Most of the mobile phones sold in India are chinese and these come pre-loaded with their own apps and playstores. So, we need to boost the indigenous manufcaturing of Mobile phones. Just like how the Android OS comes pre-loaded with Google applications, we can ensure that mobile phones manufactured in India come pre-loaded with our appstore such as MobileSeva App store.

    Strengthen the role of CCI to handle abuse of dominant position by Google and Apple

    Breaking the technological companies

    • Platforms should evolve into separate companies
    • Reversal of past acquisitions
    • Restrict the products which they can offer

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: Freeze Assam ST list for good, says tribal body |Page 04

    UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper-II - Polity & Governance

    Sub Theme: Scheduled Tribes | Criteria to designate as ST | UPSC  

    Context: An umbrella organisation of tribal bodies has advised the Assam government to freeze the list of Scheduled Tribe (Plains) “for good” and satisfy six communities demanding tribal status in a way that does not infringe up the rights of the existing tribes. The six communities demanding Scheduled Tribe Status are Chutia, Koch-Rajbongshi, Matak, Moran, Tai-Ahom and ‘Tea Tribes’. Assam has two categories of Scheduled Tribes (ST) – ST communities from Plains and ST communities from Hills.

    Scheduled Tribes

    • The framers of the Constitution realised that certain communities in the country were suffering from extreme social, educational and economic backwardness on account of the primitive agricultural practices, lack of infrastructure facilities and geographical isolation.
    • The Constitution of India in Article 366 (25) prescribe that the Scheduled Tribes means such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 of the Constitution to be Scheduled Tribes.

    Article 342 (1)

    • The President may - with respect to any State or Union Territory,
    • and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor thereof,
    • by a public notification,
    • specify the tribes or tribal communities or part of or groups within tribes or tribal communities as Scheduled Tribe

    Article 342 (2)

    • Parliament may be law
    • include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled Tribes (prepared through Presidential notification)
    • any tribe or tribal community or part of or group within any tribe or tribal community

    Based on Article 342, Parliament enacted THE CONSTITUTION (SCHEDULED TRIBES) ORDER, 1950 which contains a list of tribes or groups designated as Scheduled Tribes. This Order is amended from time to time to include more groups or communities within the ST Fold.

    Criteria to designate as ST

     

    The criteria presently followed for specification of a community as a Scheduled Tribe are –

    (i)     indications of primitive traits

    (ii)    distinctive culture

    (iii)  geographical isolation

    (iv)  shyness of contact with the community at large, and

    (v)    backwardness

     


    • While the Constitution is silent about the criteria for specification of a community as a Scheduled Tribe. The words and the phrase 'tribes or tribal communities or part of or groups within tribes or tribal communities" in Article 342 have to be understood in terms of their historical background of backwardness.
    • Primitiveness, geographical isolation, shyness and social, educational & economic backwardness due to these reasons are the traits that distinguish Scheduled Tribe communities of our country from other communities.
    • It takes into account the definitions of tribal Communities adopted in the 1931 Census.
    • These facts are the basis for the provision in Article 342(1) which mandates to specify the tribes or tribal communities or part of or groups within tribes or tribal communities as Scheduled Tribe in relation to that State or Union Territory as the case may be.
    • Thus the list of Scheduled Tribes is State/UT specific and a community declared as a Scheduled Tribe in a State need not be so in another State.
    • The Presidential notifications under Clause 1 of Article 342 of the Constitution are issued as the Constitution Orders. 

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: Q2 records 107% surge in fresh investments: Concept of Gross Capital Formation and Trends |Page 01

    UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper-III – Indian Economy

    Sub Theme: | Gross Capital Formation | UPSC  

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: Keeping vigil even during unusual times- CAG |Page 06

    UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper-II – Polity & Governance

    Sub Theme: | Performance Audit of Government | National Disaster Response Fund | UPSC   

    Background 

    The Government of India as well as number of State Governments are spending huge amount of money to deal with the health disaster caused due to COVID-19. During such times, certain rules and regulations have to be relaxed to expedite expenditure and ensure faster relief to the people. For example, the procurement of PPE kits, medicines, sanitisers etc. in the government hospitals may have to be fast tracked. This can lead to saving of lives and reduce sufferings.

    However, at the same time, we have to realise that disasters such as COVID-19 also presents an opportunity for the government officials to bend rules in their favour and engage in Corruption. For example, for the procurement of PPE kits, well-established rules and regulations may not be followed. There could be nexus between PPE kit manufacturers and government officials leading to procurement of inferior quality kits.

    Role of the CAG during the Health Disasters:

    Undertake Performance Audit of Government’s Expenditure 

    • Measures put in place for disaster prevention and preparedness
    • Rules and Regulations in place for the Government procurement of equipment of drugs.
    • Economy, Efficiency and Effectiveness of Government’s expenditure
    • Benefits accrued to the identified beneficiaries 

    Work in the Close Coordination with PAC – Ensure Transparency and accountability of Government’s expenditure, gives assurance to the taxpayers, enhances public confidence 

    Audit of NDRF and SDRF 

    About National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF)
    Under the Disaster Management Act 2005, a financial mechanism has been set up by way of National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) at national level and State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) at state level to meet the rescue and relief expenditure during any notified disaster. 

    The NDRF is entirely funded by the Centre through the imposition of National Calamity Contingency Duty (NCCD) on specified goods such as Cigarettes and Crude Petroleum. NDRF is maintained by Central Government under the Public Account of India.

    In case of SDRF, 90% of the funds are provided by the Centre and the remaining 10% of the funds are provided by the concerned state government. The Government of India approves the annual allocation to SDRF based on the recommendations of successive Finance Commission.

    The financial assistance from SDRF/NDRF is for providing immediate relief and cannot be used for paying compensation for loss/damage to properties /crops. At any point, the State Government has fair amount of funds available under the SDRF. In case of any natural calamity beyond the coping capacity of a State, additional financial assistance, as per norms, is provided by the Central Government from NDRF.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: Avoidable uncertainty- Editorial: Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)|Page 06

    UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper-III – Indian Economy

    Sub Theme: Monetary Policy Committee | UPSC   

    Test Yourself through Quiz: DNS 9th Oct 2020

    Sl. No

    Question

    Response

    ( True/ False)

    1.

    The Mini-AppStores enable the user to have access to Mobile Apps without downloading them.

    True

    2.

    The Indian Constitution provides for the Criteria to identify various communities as Scheduled Tribes

    False

    3.

    The Communities are declared as Scheduled Tribes at the level of the States by the Governors.

    False

    4.

    Punjab and Haryana do not have any notified Scheduled Tribes.

    True

    5.

    In terms of percentage, Madhya Pradesh has the highest Scheduled Tribe Population.

    False

    6.

    The Goods which are produced in a particular year but remain unsold are not taken into account for GDP Calculation.

    False

    7.

    The Increment in Livestock Population and Plantation is directly considered for calculation of GDP.

    True

    8.

    The Household Investment in Gold, Precious Stones etc. is considered to be part of Private Final Consumption Expenditure (PFCE)

    False

    9

    The Investment in Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) is not considered for GDP calculation

    False

    10

    The MPC is a non-statutory body formed through the Monetary Policy Framework Agreement in accordance with Urjit Patel Committee Recommendations

    False

     

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