Polity & Governance
- TRAI rules in favour of Net neutrality
- RBI buys Rs 10,000 crore via open market operations (OMOs)
Environment & Ecology
- Delhi’s air not worst in India: CPCB data
- INDO-Nepal Combined Military Exercise Surya Kiran IX
Polity & Governance
TRAI rules in favour of Net neutrality
Ruling in favour of net neutrality, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has barred telecom services providers from offering differential pricing for data services.
- The TRAI has ruled in its Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations, 2016.
According to TRAI, the prohibition was necessary to keep the Internet open and non-discriminatory.
Key Points of the rulings:
- No service provider can offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content.
- No service provider shall enter into any arrangement, agreement or contract, by whatever name called, with any person, natural or legal, that the effect of discriminatory tariffs for data services being offered or charged by the service provider for the purpose of evading the prohibition in this regulation.
- It is important to note that this prohibition would not apply to other forms of tariff differentiation that were entirely independent of content. For instance, providing limited free data that enables user to access the entire Internet is not prohibited.
- Reduced tariff for accessing or providing emergency services, or at times of public emergency has been permitted.
- Financial disincentives for contravention of the regulation have also been specified
- TRAI has ruled that a fine of Rs. 50,000 would be levied per day, subject to a maximum of Rs. 50 lakh, for any violation of these regulations by the service providers. An exemption, however, has been made for offering emergency services.
- TRAI may review these regulations after a period of two years.
- The TRAI 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 suspension, post a TRAI order to this effect.
- 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.
- While the move was cheered by Net Neutrality activists and industry bodies, telecom operators, who had been pushing for allowing of differential tariff for data service, expressed disappointment saying the ruling would impact the Narendra Modi government’s ambitious Digital India initiative.
Significance of this order:
- The TRAI notification favouring 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 favour of treating all Internet traffic equally. Though some of their amendments allowed for differentiation and have been a subject of intense criticism.
What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality is a concept where content application providers get equal treatment by telecom operators, including access to all websites, and no differentiation in speed of access.
RBI buys Rs 10,000 crore via open market operations (OMOs)
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has 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.
About open market operations (OMOs):
- An open market operation(OMO) is an activity by a central bank to give (or take) liquidity in its currency to (or from) a bank or a group of banks. The central bank can either buy or sell government bonds in the open market
- A central bank uses OMO as the primary means of implementing monetary policy.
- The OMO was done to ease liquidity in the bond market.
- The RBI conducts OMO purchases in order to infuse liquidity into the system whenever there is a deficiency, while it conducts OMO sales to suck excess liquidity from the system.
- OMOs are also intended to keep the short-term interest rates close to the policy rates.
Environment & Ecology
Delhi’s air not worst in India: CPCB data
Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) has published air quality indices (AQI) for 24 cities across India for the month of January.
Key points of the reports:
- The reports suggests that in January, Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) and Muzzafarpur (Bihar) were on the top with an AQI value of 409 points each and were coded as ‘severe’ in terms of air pollution in January 2016.
- Even neighbouring Faridabad (Haryana) was worse with an AQI of 399.
- The national capital Delhi was placed at the 6th position with 362 points and was coded as ‘very poor’ in terms of air pollution. Earlier in December 2015, it was coded as ‘Poor’ in with 293 points. Earlier in September 2015 and October 2015, Delhi was at the top in the AQI i.e. in terms of air pollution chart.
- Only three cities—Bengaluru, Haldia and Panchkula—had moderate air quality during the period.
- The National AQI is published for every month by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
- AQIs help in comparing pollution levels at a glance with a colour code and a numerical value.
- There are six AQI categories, namely Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very Poor, and Severe.
- In India, AQIs are determined based on the concentrations of seven pollutants, including 5 (fine, respirable particles), sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and carbon monoxide (CO).
INDO-Nepal Combined Military Exercise Surya Kiran IX
The 14 day Indo-Nepal Combined Military Exercise Surya Kiran IX has commenced at Pithoragarh (Uttarakhand).
- This is the Ninth Indo-Nepal Combined exercise.
- During the next 14 days of combined training, emphasis would be laid on upgradation of tactical and practical skills by sharing each other’s experiences and also on enhancing interoperability in Jungle Warfare and Counter Terrorism operations in mountain terrain.
- The role and importance of Armed Forces in disaster management in both the countries has assumed increasing significance in recent years.
- Focus will also be laid on Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief Operations which also includes medical and aviation aspects.