9 PM Daily Brief – September 11th, 2020

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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

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9 PM for Mains examination

GS-2

  1. Issues with Health data collection
  2. Question Hour in Parliament
  3. Regulation of Online games

GS-3

  1. Aatmanirbhar bharat in toy making
  2. GST council meeting

9 PM for Preliminary examination

FACTLy


1.Issues with Health data collection

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-2- Polity

What’s in News?

The national digital health mission is useful in delivering development outcomes, but technology has to be deployed carefully.

National Digital Health Mission (NDHM)

  • Every Indian will get a Health ID card and every time you visit a doctor or a pharmacy, everything will be logged in this card.
  • The NDMH seeks to create an ecosystem under which health records will be digitised.
  • The government has clarified that this would be voluntary, data will be stored locally and only anonymised data will be shared upwards. 

Technology and data collection

  • The real intent of this policy is to transform health outcomes, access and care, and not just separate data alone.
  • The U.S. has had this electronic health records initiative for a while.
  • Technology at the population level: it can be used effectively to control the outbreak of a pandemic.
  • Accessibility:NDHM provides accessibility to millions of people don’t have access to quality healthcare.
  • Addressing connectivity issues: Computing devices that can use ‘store and forward’ type architecture can overcome connectivity challenges.
  • One can control digitised data through many methods such as pattern matching and looking for trends, all real-time. 
  • Data protection: AI algorithms can help in building layers of anonymisations to protect data and prevent theft.
  • Easy data collection: The use of technology is the cheapest and easiest way forward, in collection of data and monitoring the quality. In the 1970s, it used to take years before Census data and family health survey data could be tabulated until the technology came in the 1990s.

Problems associated with demographic and health data and other issues

  • Cost is a big factor in addressing sampling size, sampling errors, non-sampling errors, how frequently we collect data.
  • The organisations that handle the existing legal framework for protecting census and other survey data are not strictly independent regulatory authorities.
  • For example, the Census Commissioner of India has the power under the Indian Census Act to say no and so an independent commission is needed.
  • There is a risk of malicious action by state agencies or other private agencies who might be able to access data for political, economic or ideological reasons.
  • Private data used for analysis and policy making: With anonymised data, people have less of an issue but in some cases it may not be anonymised — for instance, in contact tracing.
  • When you go beyond health, we have other interesting issues in this public health crisis, policy issues — pensions, loans that were given to businesses.

Steps to be taken

  • A legal framework that acts as a warning for anybody who is caught stealing or misusing personal health data.It must be independent of any political machinery. So, possibly, create an independent commission, like the Election Commission.
  • There should be some provision to resolve the conflict between private and public good.
  • Improve the system of our birth and death and marriage registration and registration of other statistics for real-time capture of demographic data.
  • The other types of data which are also collected in the Census regarding culture, language, economy could be collected at longer intervals.
  • Traceable technologies: Traceability here implies that you should be able to understand exactly what happened at the individual level in the use of the technology.
  • An independent agency outside of the government to ensurequality of data and sharing of data only at the broader units such as the State or district level.
  • Technology could make data capture and analysis possible in smaller units but at the same time, one has to be very judicious doing that.

Way forward

  • Technology can do a world of good in delivering health, education and other development outcomes, but one has to be very careful and judicious in its organisation, and there should be an independent and healthy regulatory mechanism to oversee that process.

2.Question Hour in Parliament

Source- The Indian Express 

Syllabus- GS 2- Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these

Context- The Question Hour is the heartbeat of democratic accountability.

Democratic Government

  • There are two type of democracy i.e. direct and indirect democracy.
  • Direct Democracy- Nations which have direct democracy, peopleexercise their supreme power directly through the referendum, initiative, recall, plebiscite. Such as Switzerland.
  • Indirect Democracy-Nations which have indirect democracy, the representatives elected by the people exercise the supreme power. Thus, carry on the government and make the laws. Such as Parliamentary and Presidential.
  • India is an indirect democracy where the questions are asked from the civil society platforms, the mass media, community gatherings and ultimately within the highest temple of democracy, the legislature itself.

Working of Parliament during Covid- 19

  1. It will maintain physical distancing and reduce the necessity to touch surfaces.
  2. It has reduced the Zero Hour.
  3. It has cancelled Question Hour.

Challenges in front of the Government

The issue of Question Hour

Question Hour-

  • It is the first hour of a sitting sessionof India’s Lok Sabha.
  • Members of Parliament raise questions to the concerned minister about matters of public interest and administrative activity whether domestic or foreign.
  • The concerned Minister is obliged to answerto the Parliament, either orally or in writing.
  • Copies of answers given are available to members at the Notice office before the start of the day’s proceedings and on the websites.

Issue with cancelling question hour – Question Hour is one of the ways Parliament can hold the executive accountable. However, canceling it could damage our precedents and working of the parliament in future.

Way Forward

The test of a functioning democracy is its ability to face crises — social, economic, political — and seek correctives premised on institutions of democracy. A resort to what has been called ‘the politics of avoidance’ does not help the process. Executive accountability upfront cannot be allowed to become a thing of the past.

3.Regulation of Online games

Source: The Hindu Business line

Syllabus: GS-2- Polity

Context: Legalised online gaming will open up a revenue channel for governments.

More about the news

  • The Andhra Pradesh government banned online gambling by amending the AP Gaming Act 1974amid the growing and alarming popularity of  gambling websites among  youngsters.
  • The Centre has banned 118 Chinese games and apps, including the popular mobile game PUBG.
  • Andhra Pradesh government’s move was recommended by several other States which reportedly are contemplating introducing similar clampdowns.

Potential of online gaming

  • According to estimates of consultancy KPMG which along with the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports, which recently brought out a report on the potential of online gaming:
  • India’s online gaming industry is a minuscule $1 billion in comparison with $200 billion market
  • There is an influx of entrepreneurs in sectors such as e-sports, utility apps, edutainment, and more because of the powerful chips that are made available at affordable rates.
  • Gaming and simulations are now used to impart complex lessons in the education sector globally.
  • There exists a thin and blurred line between the legitimacy and the illegality of online gambling or betting.
  • Over 400 start-ups are active in the e-gaming space in India. Together, they have drawn nearly $450 million in investments (2014-2020), and the pooled money is growing faster.

Steps to be taken instead of a blanket ban on online gambling 

  • Governments can adopt a realistic approachby setting up a body to classify, legalise and regulate online gaming.
  • Introduce a proactive and transparent licensing regime to make sure online activities are monitored.
  • Reform the out dated Public Gambling Act, 1867, to sync it with the digital context.
  • For instance, State of Andhra Pradesh v. K. Satyanarayana and orsand KR Lakshmanan vs State Of Tamil Nadu And Anr: The Supreme Court observations (1996) on horse-racing bets, which it has held as a game of skill.

Way forward

  • Legalised online gambling will open up a revenue channel for governments, considering the exponential growth in the number of online gamers; like legalised liquor, it can be a sustainable source of revenue.
  • Online gaming calls for regulation with just the right sense of balance.

4.Aatmanirbhar bharat in toy making

Source: The Hindu

Gs3: Changes in Industrial Policy and their Effects on Industrial Growth

Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants India to attain ‘aatmanirbharta’ in Toy manufacturing sector and called upon the country to become a global toy hub.

Need:

  • High Domestic demand: India is home to 25 per cent of world’s children aged between 0 and 12 years.
  • Inherent capacity: India possess a rich history and culture in the field of toy making.
  • Economic value: India’s share in the global toy is just 0.5 per cent ($500 million) whereas real market, estimation stood at $90 billion.
  • Reduce import dependence: 80 per cent of the toys sold in India are imported from China.
  • Labour intensive:It offers large-scale employment to semi-skilled/unskilled workers and, especially, women.

Challenges in Toy making Industry

  • Seasonal: Shelf life of a toy is limited. For example, a Transformer Toy sells good during the movie releases and slows down soon thereafter.
  • Inflexible Labour laws: Indian laws do not permit recruitment or retrenchment based on demand thereby reducing the potential of the firms to grow big.
  • Small firms: Hamper the advantage of economies of scale make it less attractive in market.
  • Shying away by big players: Unfriendly business laws prevented large corporate player to emerge in the sector.
  • Inefficient supply chain: Owing to fragmented nature of the sector.
  • Input Dependence:Every time a new toy is to be made it needs different tooling but tooling in India is costly leading to over dependence on China.

Way forward:

  • Flexible labour laws: Government should allow companies to hire and retrench employees based on demand and to protect workers the government can fix minimum wages.
  • Labour pooling:It can allow women to work at night with adequate safeguards.
  • Leveraging technology: The domestic toy sector needs to tap into India’s expertise in information technology to offer games that capture the imagination of the children.
  • Ensure quality: A large-scale skilling programme is key to ensure of global quality
  • Branding:Producing toys in an eco-friendly manner will help Indian toy making industries to command a premium for their toys

The ₹5,000-crore toy cluster at Koppal in Karnataka is a step in the right direction. For India to become a toy hub, the government needs to create large scale special economic zones focussed on toys with plug-and-play infrastructure.

 5.GST council meeting

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 3- Government Budgeting

Context– Union Finance Minister, after the 41st GST Council meeting, proposed two options to states to resolve the issue of compensation cess shortfall under the GST regime.

Distinction in shortfall

  1. Pending payment– GST compensation payments to states have been pending since April, with the pending amount for April-July estimated at Rs 1.5 lakh crore.
  2. GST revenue gap– The GST compensation requirement is estimated to be around Rs 3 lakh crore this year, while the cess collection is expected to be around Rs 65,000 crore – an estimated compensation shortfall of Rs 2.35 lakh crore

GST [Compensation to States] Act, 2017

  • States are guaranteed compensation for loss of revenue on account of implementation of GST for a transition period of five years (2017-22).
  • The compensation is calculated based on the difference between the states’ current GST revenue and the protected revenue after estimating an annualized 14% growth rate from the base year of 2015-16.

Outcome of the 8th GST council meeting

  • In case the amount in the GST Compensation Fund fell short of the compensation payable, the GST Council shall decide the mode of raising additional resources(including borrowing from the market). It could be repaid by collection of cess in the sixth year or further subsequent years.

Challenges for the Centre

  1. Borrowing challenge-
  • Hike in interest rate– Borrowings by the Centre would push up the bond yield rates, which in turn would push up the bond yield of the states setting off a spiral leading to hike in the interest rates for businesses and individuals.
  • Borrowing limit-The Centre has already breached the budgeted borrowing limits for the current year in the first four months.
  1. According to Attorney general statement-Compensation gap cannot be bridged using the Consolidated Fund of India [CFI].

Options made by the Centre

Option 1 –

  • To provide a special borrowing window to states, in consultation with the RBI, to provide Rs 97,000 crore at a “reasonable” interest rate and this money can then be repaid after 5 years by extending cess collection.
  • A 0.5 percent relaxation in the borrowing limit under the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management [FRBM] Act would be provided.

Option 2

  • To meet the entire GST compensation gap of Rs 2.35 lakh crore this year itself after consulting with the RBI.
  • No Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act relaxation has been mentioned for this option.

Possible solution-

  1. Low borrowing rate for the States-The single window under option-1 being arranged by the Centre and the entire debt being serviced from future cess receipts will ensure that the cost remains close to the G-sec rate.
  2. Attorney General suggestion– Compensation cess levy can be extended beyond 5 years, to meet the shortfall.

Way forward

Center needs to renege on its promise to find ways to compensate the state for loss of revenue. States should come forward and work with the Centre in the true spirit of cooperative federalism that the Council has come to be known for these past few years.


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