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Current Affairs 15 March 2022

CONTENTS

  1. Retail inflation climbs to 6.07%
  2. Man-Portable Air-Defence Systems
  3. Mumbai Climate Action Plan
  4. Blockchain gaming in India
  5. Maternal Mortality in India

Retail Inflation Climbs to 6.07%


Context:

India’s retail inflation inched up to an eight-month high of 6.07% in February from 6.01% in January, with rural India experiencing a sharper price rise at 6.38%. For urban consumers, the inflation rate, in fact, fell from 5.91% in January to 5.75% in February.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (Growth and Development of Indian Economy, Fiscal Policy, Taxation)

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. What is Inflation?
  2. Types of Inflation based on rate of Increase
  3. What is Consumer Price Index (CPI)?
  4. About the Latest inflation data

What is Inflation?

  • Inflation refers to the consistent rise in the prices of most goods and services of daily or common use, such as food, clothing, housing, recreation, transport, consumer staples, etc. Inflation measures the average price change in a basket of commodities and services over time.
  • A moderate level of inflation is required in the economy to ensure that production is promoted. Excess Inflation is indicative of the decrease in the purchasing power of a unit of a country’s currency. This could ultimately lead to a deceleration in economic growth.
  • In India, inflation is primarily measured by two main indices — WPI (Wholesale Price Index) and CPI (Consumer Price Index) which measure wholesale and retail-level price changes, respectively.

Types of Inflation based on rate of Increase

There are four main types of inflation, categorized by their speed. They are creeping, walking, galloping, and hyperinflation.

I. Creeping Inflation

  • Creeping or mild inflation is when prices rise 3% a year or less. According to the Federal Reserve, when prices increase 2% or less, it benefits economic growth.
  • This kind of mild inflation makes consumers expect that prices will keep going up. That boosts demand. Consumers buy now to beat higher future prices. That’s how mild inflation drives economic expansion.

II. Walking Inflation

  • When prices rise by more than 3% but less than 10% per annum (i.e., between 3% and 10% per annum), it is called as Walking Inflation.
  • It is harmful to the economy because it heats-up economic growth too fast.
  • People start to buy more than they need to avoid tomorrow’s much higher prices. This increased buying drives demand even further so that suppliers can’t keep up and neither can the wages. As a result, common goods and services are priced out of the reach of most people.

III. Galloping Inflation

  • When inflation rises to 10% or more (i.e., prices rise by double- or triple-digit inflation rates like 30% or 400% or 999% per annum), it wreaks absolute havoc on the economy. It is also referred as jumping inflation.
  • Money loses value so fast that business and employee income can’t keep up with costs and prices.
  • Foreign investors avoid the country, depriving it of needed capital. The economy becomes unstable, and government leaders lose credibility.

IV. Hyperinflation

  • Hyperinflation refers to a situation where the prices rise at an alarming high rate – i.e., more than 50% a month.
  • The prices rise so fast that it becomes very difficult to measure its magnitude. However, in quantitative terms, when prices rise above 1000% per annum (quadruple or four-digit inflation rate), it is termed as Hyperinflation.
  • Most examples of hyperinflation occur when governments print money to pay for wars.
  • Examples of hyperinflation include Germany in the 1920s, Zimbabwe in the 2000s, and Venezuela in the 2010s.
  • During a worst-case scenario of hyperinflation, value of national currency (money) of an affected country reduces almost to zero. Paper money becomes worthless and people start trading either in gold and silver or sometimes even use the old barter system of commerce.

V. Chronic Inflation

  • If creeping inflation persist (continues to increase) for a longer period of time then it is often called as Chronic or Secular Inflation.
  • Chronic Creeping Inflation can be either Continuous (which remains consistent without any downward movement) or Intermittent (which occurs at regular intervals).
  • It is called chronic because if an inflation rate continues to grow for a longer period without any downturn, then it possibly leads to Hyperinflation.

VI. Moderate Inflation

  • Concept of Creeping and Walking inflation clubbed together are called Moderate Inflation.
  • When prices rise by less than 10% per annum (single digit inflation rate), it is known as Moderate Inflation.
  • It is a stable inflation and not a serious economic problem.

VII. Running Inflation

  • A rapid acceleration in the rate of rising prices is referred as Running Inflation.
  • When prices rise by more than 10% per annum, running inflation occurs.
  • Though economists have not suggested a fixed range for measuring running inflation, we may consider price rise between 10% to 20% per annum (double digit inflation rate) as a running inflation.

What is Consumer Price Index (CPI)?

  • Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures price changes from the perspective of a retail buyer.
  • CPI is released by the National Statistical Office (NSO).
  • Base Year for CPI is 2012 and the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) uses CPI data to control inflation.
  • The CPI calculates the difference in the price of commodities and services such as food, medical care, education, electronics etc, which Indian consumers buy for use.
  • The CPI has several sub-groups including food and beverages, fuel and light, housing and clothing, bedding and footwear.
  • Four types of CPI are as follows:
    1. CPI for Industrial Workers (IW).
    2. CPI for Agricultural Labourer (AL).
    3. CPI for Rural Labourer (RL).
    4. CPI (Rural/Urban/Combined).
  • Of these, CPI for Industrial Workers (IW), CPI for Agricultural Labourer (AL) and CPI for Rural Labourer (RL) are compiled by the Labour Bureau in the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
  • CPI (Rural/Urban/Combined) is compiled by the National Statistical Office (NSO) in the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

About the Latest inflation data

  • Food prices saw an upward trajectory, with inflation measured by the Consumer Food Price Index rising to 5.85% in February from 5.43% in January.
  • This trend was divergent for rural and urban India, with the latter seeing a slight moderation in food inflation, while rural food inflation shot up by 0.7 percentage points to 5.87%.
  • Food and beverages inflation hit a 15-month high, and the rising prices of edible oils are likely to pose a challenge in coming months, ICRA chief economist Aditi Nayar pointed out.
  • The RBI has projected an average retail inflation of 4.5% for the coming year.

-Source: The Hindu


Man-Portable Air-Defence Systems


Context:

Recently, United States President approved a $200-million arms package for Ukraine, which would include U.S. made Stinger Missiles, which are a type of shoulder-fired Man-Portable Air-Defence Systems (MANPADS).

Relevance:

GS III- Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:
  • What are MANPADS?
  • When were MANPADS used in the past?
  • What are the common variants of MANPADs?

What are MANPADS?

  • Man-Portable Air-Defence Systems are short-range, lightweight and portable surface-to-air missiles that can be fired by individuals or small groups to destroy aircraft or helicopters.
  • They help shield troops from aerial attacks and are most effective in targeting low-flying aircrafts.
  • MANPATs or Man-Portable Anti-Tank Systems work in a similar manner but are used to destroy or incapacitate military tanks.
  • MANPADS can be shoulder-fired, launched from atop a ground-vehicle, fired from a tripod or stand, and from a helicopter or boat.
  • Weighing anywhere between 10 to 20 kilograms and not being longer than 1.8 metres, they are fairly lightweight as compared to other elaborate weapon systems, making them easy to operate by individual soldiers.
  • Operating MANPADS requires substantially less training.
  • According to U.S.-based policy think-tank, the RAND Corporation, MANPADS have a maximum range of 8 kilometres and can engage targets at altitudes of 4.5 km.
  • Most MANPADS have passive or ‘fire and forget’ guidance systems, meaning that the operator is not required to guide the missile to its target, enabling them to run and relocate immediately after firing.
  • The missile stays locked-on to the targeted object, not requiring active guidance from the soldier.
  • The missiles are fitted with infrared (IR) seekers that identify and target the airborne vehicle through heat radiation being emitted by the latter.

When were MANPADS used in the past?

  • The first MANPADS were introduced by the United States and Soviet Union in the 1960s.
  • Russian and U.S. MANPADS were also used during the Vietnam war.
  • The U.S. supplied MANPADS to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s, which the latter used against the Soviet forces.
  • Countries such as India, Pakistan, Germany, U.K., Turkey and Israel have also used MANPADS in their defence efforts.
  • As of 2019, 20 countries had developed the wherewithal to manufacture MANPADS and have together made 1 million such systems for defence and export purposes.
  • Over time, non-state actors such as rebel and terrorist groups have also illicitly acquired MANPADS, using them during civil wars and other high-intensity conflicts.
  • MANPADs have been used in the Syrian war and in Libya.
  • Non-state groups in African countries like Sudan, South Sudan, Angola, Somalia and Congo have also acquired and used MANPADs.
  • Russia is by far the biggest exporter of MANPADs, having sold over 10,000 such systems between 2010 and 2018 to various countries including Iraq, Qatar, Kazakhstan, Venezuela, and Libya.

What are the common variants of MANPADs?

  • The most common make of MANPADs is the U.S.-made Stinger missiles.
  • These weigh about 15 kg, have a range of 4,800 metres or 4.8 km, and can engage low-flying aircrafts at an altitude of 3,800 metres.
  • They have a passive guidance system, which uses infrared technology.
  • Stingers have been sent or are currently being sent to Ukraine by the U.S., Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark.

-Source: The Hindu


Mumbai Climate Action Plan


Context:

The Mumbai Climate Action Plan (MCAP) has laid down a 30-year road map for the city to tackle the challenges of climate change by adopting inclusive and robust mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Relevance:

GS III- Environment (Climate change)

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. About MCAP
  2. Why does Mumbai need a climate action plan?
  3. What is the city’s current greenhouse gas emission?

About MCAP

  • The MCAP has defined short-, medium-, and long-term climate goals targeted at achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
  • It focuses on six strategic areas with a focus on priority:
    • Sustainable waste management
    • Urban greening and biodiversity
    • Urban flooding and water resource management,
    • Energy and buildings
    • Air quality and
    • Sustainable mobility
  • The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) prepared the plan with technical support from the World Resources Institute (WRI), India and the C40 Cities network.
  • It concentrates on the city, its ecological, cultural and economical landscapes.
  • The plan throws light on the current climate of the city called Baseline assessment—climate and air pollution risks, greenhouse gas inventory.
  • The plan then assesses future trajectories in the business-as-usual scenarios and assesses future emission reduction scenarios to make Mumbai net-zero by 2050.
  • Then it lists down Sectoral Priorities and Plans, including ongoing initiatives in the departments, gaps, short-, and long-term action points and the plan deals with the road map to achieve the set targets.

Why does Mumbai need a climate action plan?

  • As per a study conducted by WRI India on Mumbai’s vulnerability assessment, the city will face two major challenges—temperature rise, and extreme rain events which will lead to flooding.
  • As per the vulnerability assessment of greenhouse gas and natural green cover, the city has witnessed a warming trend.
  • The analysis has revealed a warming trend over 47 years (1973-2020) with an increase of 0.25°C per decade for the city.
  • Mumbai’s climate action plan has set a vision and strategies to fight these climate challenges with mitigation and adaptation steps.

What is the city’s current greenhouse gas emission?

  • In 2019, which is taken as a base year, Mumbai’s GHG emissions were 23.42 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emission, which is 1.8 tonnes CO2e per person.
  • Out of which, 16.9 million tonnes or 72 per cent is from the energy sector, followed by 4.56 million tonnes of CO2 e or 20 per cent from the transportation sector.
  • The city’s waste sector contributes to a total of eight per cent of the total emissions.
  • Most of the city’s emissions come from energy use in residential buildings followed by commercial buildings and transport.
  • Electricity consumption contributes significantly to total emissions (64.3%), due to the city’s predominantly coal-based grid.

-Source: Indian Express


Blockchain Gaming in India


Context:

In the foreseeable future, many Indian gaming companies have expressed interest in incorporating Blockchain technology into their games.

Relevance:

GS III- Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. What is blockchain? 
  2. What is blockchain? 
  3. What is legality of Games in India?
  4. Where does blockchain gaming lie within this framework?
  5. What intellectual property protections may be available to blockchain games?
  6. Way forward 

What is blockchain? 

  • Blockchain is a decentralised database that stores information.
  • It relies on technology that allows for the storage of identical copies of this information on multiple computers in a network.

What are blockchain games?

They are online video games that are developed integrating blockchain technology into them.

NFTs

  • NFTs represent in-game virtual assets that can be owned by players, such as maps, armor or land.  
  • These NFTs act as asset tags, identifying ownership of the in-game assets, and are stored on the blockchain. Being on the blockchain allows the player to have a secure record of ownership of the in-game assets and also gives the assets the ability to outlive the game itself.
  • Based on the manner in which the games are designed, it also allows for the in-game assets to be transferred from one game to another.
  • It also creates transparency, since ownership records can independently be verified by any third party as well.
  • In doing so, it makes in-game assets marketable and creates a decentralized market, where they can be bought and sold by people. 

Cryptocurrency

  • Cryptocurrency, such as tokens based on the Ethereum blockchain, may be used for the purchase of in-game assets.
  • These in-game purchases usually enable gamers to buy items like extra lives, coins and so on directly from the game.

Gaming coins

  • Gaming coins, such as Axie Infinity (ACS) and Enjin Coin (ENJ), are in-game cryptocurrency which may be acquired and then used for the purchase of in-game assets.
  • These gaming coins may be purchased from crypto exchanges (and eventually be traded on these crypto exchanges as well) or, in certain cases, be acquired as winnings in games that have adopted the ‘play-to-earn’ model.
  •  In such games, gamers are rewarded for dedicating their time and skill to play the game with gaming coins and in-game assets (and, in certain cases, with cryptocurrency as well).

What is legality of Games in India?

  • State lawmakers have sole ability to create legislation relating to betting and gambling under Entry No. 34 of List II (State List) of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India.
  • The majority of Indian governments regulate gaming by distinguishing between ‘games of skill’ and ‘games of chance.’
  • As a result, a “dominant element” test will be used to evaluate whether chance or skill is the more important factor in determining the game’s outcome.
  • This ‘dominant aspect’ can be established by looking at whether a player’s better knowledge, training, experience, expertise, or attention has a material impact on the game’s outcome.
  • It is illegal to stake money or property on the outcome of a “game of chance,” and those who do so face criminal penalties.
  • Placing any bets on the outcome of a ‘game of skill’, on the other hand, is not always unlawful and may be permitted.
  • It’s worth noting that the Supreme Court acknowledged that no game is entirely a “game of skill,” and that practically all games contain a component of chance.
Common gaming house
  • The concept of a ‘common gaming house’ is another term that is included in most states’ gaming laws.
  • Under the terms of these state gambling laws, owning, keeping, or having charge of a common gaming house, or being present for the purpose of gaming in any such common gaming house, is usually forbidden.
  • Any home, walled enclosure, room, or area where gaming instruments are housed or utilised for profit or advantage is referred to as a common gaming house.
  • In addition, courts have previously clarified that simply collecting an additional fee to facilitate playing the game and/or to maintain the facilities is not always considered earning a profit or gain.

Where does blockchain gaming lie within this framework?

  • There is no explicit regulation of blockchain in India because it is only the underlying technology.
  • It is important to note that the majority of gaming rules were enacted before to the internet era and so only apply to gaming activities that take place in physical locations.
  • To be legally available in most Indian states, a blockchain game must first pass muster as a ‘game of skill,’ rather than a ‘game of chance,’ as the law currently stands.
  • It’s also worth noting that the Supreme Court has already rejected the notion of video games being “skill games.”
    • It was claimed that by messing with the machines used to play these games, the outcomes could be controlled.
    • As a result, player talent could not be a major impact in the game’s outcome.
  • Since developers and publishers of blockchain games are likely to earn revenue / charge fee for offering such games, it does raise questions over whether they may be seen as playing a role analogous to that played by common gaming houses under Indian law.
  • Further, the legality of blockchain games relies on the legality of cryptocurrency.

What intellectual property protections may be available to blockchain games?

Patents

  • If a blockchain game or any of its components fits the standards of novelty, inventive step, and industrial use, it can be patented in India.
  • Computer programmes are not inventions per se, according to Section 3(k) of the Patent Act of 1970, and hence cannot be patented.
  • However, previous judicial decisions have highlighted that an invention is patentable if it makes a technical contribution or has a technological effect and is not simply a computer programme.

Trademarks 

  • A trademark is a mark that is used to identify the source of a specific good or service, and it is obtained to protect the brand’s goodwill and reputation.
  • Any distinctive mark in a blockchain game or NFT that allows users to identify the game’s or NFT’s source can be trademarked.

Copyrights

  • Creative works, musical compositions, cinematographic films, dramatic works, sound recordings, and computer software can all be protected under copyright laws in India.
  • Although the Copyright Act makes no specific provision for video games, copyright protection for video games can be sought under the category of “multimedia products.”
  • The process of getting a copyright for a blockchain game would be similar to that of any other online video game, similar to the situation with trademarks.

Way forward 

  • Game developers, publishers, and gamers are likely to benefit from the adoption of blockchain technology in online games.
  • However, regulation is critical to their growth since it assures that such games are legal to offer in India and provides protection in the form of intellectual property rights.
  • Other concerns, like as privacy and cyber security, as well as the application of financial regulations to blockchain games, would need to be addressed.

-Source: Indian Express


Maternal Mortality in India


Context:

Kerala has yet again emerged on top when it comes to maternal and child health, with the State recording the lowest Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) of 30 (per one lakh live births) in the country.

Relevance:

GS II- Governance

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. What is Maternal Mortality Ratio?
  2. Trends in India

What is Maternal Mortality Ratio?

  • Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) is the annual number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.
  • Maternal death is the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy.
  • It is a key performance indicator for efforts to improve the health and safety of mothers before, during, and after childbirth.

Trends in India

  • India’s maternal mortality ratio (MMR) dropped from 113 in 2016-18 to 103 in 2017-19.
  • Maternal mortality is quite high in seven Indian states. Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Odisha, and Assam are the states in question.
  • Punjab, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal have a ‘high’ MMR. This translates to between 100 and 130 maternal fatalities per 100,000 live births.
  • In Haryana and Karnataka, it is ‘low.’
  • MMR has dropped the most in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Bihar. MMR has increased in West Bengal, Haryana, Uttarakhand, and Chhattisgarh since the last survey.

-Source: The Hindu


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