Fake news on social media

In Context

  • Recently, Election Management Bodies (EMBs) expressed their expectation from social media sites to proactively flag fake news.

More about the news

  • International conference for EMBs:
    • The Chief Election Commissioner was addressing an international conference for EMBs hosted by the Election Commission of India (ECI). 
      • The conference was held under the aegis of the United States’ ‘Summit for Democracy’ platform.
  • Chief Election Commissioner on managing fake news:
    • He stated that Election management bodies (EMBs) expected social media sites to use their “algorithm power” to proactively flag fake news
      • He said social media platforms proclaim to have content policies but added that they do also have such “algorithm power”.
      • According to him, a proactive approach by these platforms to counter fake news would facilitate “credible electoral outcomes”.
Summit for Democracy‘Summit for Democracy’, was an initiative of the US President hosted in December 2021.It brings together leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector in a shared effort.It aims to set forth an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal and to tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today through collective action.The Summit also developed two platforms – ‘Focal Groups’ and ‘Democracy Cohorts’ to facilitate participation in the Year of Action.

More about the Fake News

  • Fake news, broadly termed as false news or misinformation disguised as credible news, which is very persuasive and has serious consequences for democracy.


  • Influencing opinions: It can be used to influence public opinions, to gain popularity or to malign the image, character of certain individuals or opponents or to defame them.
  • Issue of fake news during elections: During the 2016 US Presidential elections,  a bipartisan Senate committee found that before and after the 2016 election, the Russian government used social media advertising to spread misinformation and conspiracy theories.
  • On similar lines, there has been talk of Facebook interfering with India’s electoral democracy. 
  • Disturbing harmony:
    • It affects social & communal harmony by spreading extremists’ ideologies especially in sensitive areas like radicalization of youths, inciting violence and hatred among the communities, swinging public opinions etc.


  • No standard definition: 
  • Lack of regulation

Legal remedies to tackle fake news

  • Indian Broadcast Foundation (IBF): 
  • The Press Council of India: 
  • IPC Sections 153A and 295: .
  • Broadcasting Content Complaint Council (BCCC): 
  • Defamation Suit: 
  • The Information Technology (IT) Act: 
  • Contempt of Court laws: 
  • Constitution:

Way ahead

  • Policy-makers: Although the policy-makers’ steps and regulations are in the right direction, the existing loopholes need to be filled.
  • All the stakeholders- lawmakers, online intermediaries, and citizens have a collective responsibility to curb fake news. 
    • Lawmakers:  While lawmakers can keep amending the laws, the citizens’ duty lies to gain awareness about media literacy. 
    • Online intermediaries: On the other hand, tech platforms need to ensure the use of a sophisticated algorithm to present the public with correct, accurate, and truthful information.

Citizens:  The responsibility lies equally among the general public to educate with the necessary information to critically analyze information and then make deductive conclusions.

Decentralising MGNREGS

In Context

  • Recently, an internal study commissioned by the Ministry of Rural Development has advised the decentralisation of MGNREGS.

Major highlights of the study 

  • The study argued for decentralisation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) which will allow for more “flexibility” at the ground level. 
  • It was the report of the sixth Common Review Mission 
    • The report surveyed seven States — Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Nagaland, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh — and the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir
  • The report aimed to assess the implementation of all rural development schemes, including the MGNREGS.
  • Issue:
    • Centralised fund management:
      • In the past few years, the fund management has been centralised instead of paying the gram sabhas an advance. 
    • Delay in fund disbursal:
      • The internal study also flagged the frequent delay in fund disbursal. 
    • Wages below the market rate:
      • The study also noted that the MGNREGS wages were far below the market rate in many States, defeating the purpose of acting as a safety net.
        • For example, 
          • At present, the minimum wage of a farm labourer in Gujarat is ?324.20, but the MGNREGS wage is ?229. 
          • In Nagaland, the wage is ?212 per day, which does not take into account the difficult terrain conditions. 
  • Recommendations:
    • Diversification of permissible works:
      • According to the study, there should be a greater diversification of permissible works instead of listing the types of permissible works.
        • The broad categories of works may be listed out and flexibility should be given at ground level to select the type of works as per broad categories. 
    • Paying gram sabhas an advance:
      • Paying the gram sabhas in an advance will enable them to decide the work they want to undertake. 
      • The gram sabhas can take into account the local conditions and the community’s requirement instead of chasing a target set for them.
    • Revolving fund:
      • To deal with  the frequent delay in fund disbursal, the report suggested a “revolving fund that can be utilised whenever there is a delay in the Central funds”.
MGNREGSAbout:Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (Mahatma Gandhi NREGS) is a demand driven wage employment Scheme. Aim:To provide not less than 100 days of unskilled manual work as a guaranteed employment in a financial year to every household in rural areas as per demand, resulting in creation of productive assets of prescribed quality and durability.Features:Legal Right to Work: The Act provides a legal right to employment for adult members of rural households.Women:At least one-third of beneficiaries have to be women. Time-Bound Guarantee of Work: Employment must be provided within 15 days of being demanded to fail which an ‘unemployment allowance’ must be given. Decentralised Planning: Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) are primarily responsible for planning, implementation and monitoring of the works that are undertaken.Gram Sabhas must recommend the works that are to be undertaken and at least 50 percent of the works must be executed by them.Transparency and Accountability: There are provisions for proactive disclosure through wall writings, Citizen Information Boards, Management Information Systems and social audits (conducted by Gram Sabhas).

Other Challenges faced by MGNREGS

  • Corruption and Irregularities: 
    • Funds that reach the beneficiaries are very little compared to the actual funds allocated for the welfare schemes.
  • Discrimination: 
    • Frequent cases of discrimination against women and people from the backwards groups are reported from several regions of the country and a vast number goes unreported.
  • Non-payment of Unemployment Allowance: 
    • There is a huge pendency in the number of unemployment allowances being shown in the Management Information System (MIS).
  • Lack of Awareness: 
    • People, especially women, are not fully aware of this scheme and its provisions leading to uninformed choices or inability to get the benefits of the scheme.
  • Poor Infrastructure Building: 
    • Improper surveillance and lack of timely resources result in poor quality assets.
  • Non-Purposive Spending: 
    • MGNREGA has increased the earning capacity of the rural people but the spending pattern of the workers assumes significance because there is hardly any saving out of the wages earned.

Suggestions & way ahead

  • Social audits: 
    • There is a need to carry out social audits as per rules and effective implementation of the delay compensation system.
  • Utilization of funds: 
    • Reasons for poor utilization of funds should be analyzed and steps must be taken to improve them. In addition, actions should be initiated against officers found guilty of misappropriating funds.
  • Raising awareness: 
    • The participation of women and backward classes must be increased by raising awareness and making it more inclusive.
  • National Level Monitors: 
    • The frequency of monitoring by National Level Monitors (NLMs) should be increased and appropriate measures should be taken by States based on their recommendations.

India-GCC Free Trade Agreement (FTA)

In News

India and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries are expected to start negotiations for a free trade agreement next month to boost economic ties between the two regions.

  • India has already implemented a free trade pact with the UAE in May this year. Terms and Conditions for this one are also being finalised.

About Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

  • GCC is a union of six countries in the Gulf region — Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain.
  • It was established by an agreement concluded in 1981 among Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE in view of their special relations, geographic proximity, similar political systems based on Islamic beliefs, joint destiny and common objectives.
  • The Secretariat is located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
  • It is a political, economic, social, and regional organisation according to its charter.

India and GCC: Contours of cooperation:

  • The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as a collective entity has tremendous significance for India. 
  • The Gulf constitutes the “immediate” neighbourhood of India separated only by the Arabian Sea. India, therefore, has a vital stake in the stability, security and economic well-being of the Gulf.
  • Strategic relations:  From the strategic point of view, India and GCC share the desire for political stability and security in the region. The common political and security concerns of India and GCC translate into efforts for peace, security and stability in the Gulf region and South Asia. The emerging common security perceptions create further opportunities for GCC-India cooperation in the future
  • Economic and commercial relations: India imports predominately crude oil and natural gas from the Gulf nations like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and exports pearls, precious and semi-precious stones; metals; imitation jewellery; electrical machinery; iron and steel; and chemicals to these countries.
    • India’s exports to the GCC increased by 58.26% to about $44 billion in 2021-22 against $27.8 billion in 2020-21.
    • The share of these six countries in India’s total exports has risen to 10.4% in 2021-22 from 9.51% in 2020-21. 
    • Similarly, imports rose by 85.8% to $110.73 billion compared to $59.6 billion in 2020-21.
    • The share of GCC members in India’s total imports rose to 18% in 2021-22 from 15.5% in 2020-21.
  • Country wise : Saudi Arabia was India’s fourth-largest trading partner last fiscal. From Qatar, India imports 8.5 million tonnes a year of LNG and exports products ranging from cereals to meat, fish, chemicals, and plastics.
    • Kuwait was the 27th largest trading partner of India in the last fiscal, while the UAE was the third-largest trading partner in 2021-22.
  • Indians Diaspora: Gulf nations are host to a sizable Indian population.
    •  Out of about 32 million non-resident Indians (NRIs), nearly half are estimated to be working in Gulf countries.
      • These NRIs send a significant amount of money back home.
  • Remittances:  According to a November 2021 report of the World Bank, India got $87 billion in foreign remittances in 2021. 
    • Of this, a sizable portion came from the GCC nations.


  • The GCC region holds huge trade potential and a trade agreement would help in further boosting India’s exports to that market.
    • The GCC’s substantial oil and gas reserves are of utmost importance for India’s energy needs.
  • India has enjoyed centuries of good relations with countries like Iran, while smaller gas-rich nation Qatar is one of India’s closest allies in the region. India shares good relations with most of the countries in the Gulf.

Way Ahead

  • GCC is a major import dependent region. We can increase our exports of food items, clothing and several other goods. Duty concessions under a trade agreement will help in tapping that market. It will be a win-win situation for both sides.
  • They need to adopt an integrated and cohesive approach to develop ties in diverse areas — renewables, water conservation, food security, digital technology and skills development.

Digital Rupee

In News

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said that the first pilot in the Digital RupeeWholesale segment (e?-W) will commence on November 1, 2022. 

  • It also announced that the first pilot in the Digital Rupee – Retail segment is planned for launch within a month in select locations in closed user groups comprising customers and merchants.

What is Digital Rupee?

  • Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) or Digital Rupee is a digital form of currency notes issued by a central bank.
    • It is an electronic form of money that can be used in contactless transactions. 
  • It can be defined as the legal tender issued by the Reserve Bank of India.
  • Background: Presenting Union Budget 2022, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) would be rolling out its digital currency soon.
  • Types : CBDC can be classified into two types
    • Retail (CBDC-R): Retail CBDC would be potentially available for use by all
    • Wholesale (CBDC-W) is designed for restricted access to select financial institutions.
  • Benefits :  the digital rupee system will “bolster India’s digital economy, enhance financial inclusion, and make the monetary and payment systems more efficient.” 
    • It will reduce the transaction cost, having a digitised currency will make it easier for governments to access all transactions happening within the authorised networks. 
    • The lifeline of a digital currency will be indefinite compared to physical notes
    • “CBDC is aimed to complement, rather than replace, current forms of money and is envisaged to provide an additional payment avenue to users, not to replace the existing payment systems.
  •  Risks in adopting digital currencies
    • Cyber hacks and threats
    • Threat to privacy
Difference between digital rupee and cryptocurrencyA cryptocurrency is a decentralised digital asset and a medium of exchange based on blockchain technology. However, it has primarily been controversial due to its decentralised nature, meaning its operation without any intermediary like banks, financial institutions, or central authorities. On the Contrary, Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will be a legal tender in a digital form.The digital rupee will be different from Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies in the sense it will be backed by the government. Secondly, having an intrinsic value on account of government backing, the digital rupee will be equivalent to holding a physical rupee equivalent.

Future Prospects 

  • Going forward, other wholesale transactions, and cross-border payments will be the focus of future pilots, based on the learnings from this pilot
  • To build a CBDC ecosystem and make it sustainable, it is essential to address all existing issues and for CBDC to act as a tool for inclusion by solving the problems through innovation.
  • There is also a need for strong cooperation between government agencies and regulatory bodies so that a balance is maintained and a proper data or information collection framework is implemented that oversees the ecosystem.

The Amendments to the IT Rules 2021

In News

Recently,The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has notified amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (IT Rules, 2021).

About IT Rules, 2021

  • India in 2021 replaced its decade old regulations on SMIs with the IT Rules, 2021 that were primarily aimed at placing obligations on SMIs to ensure an open, safe and trusted internet.
    • It also aims at regulating social media intermediaries (SMIs).

Need to amend the IT Rules 2021

  • There was a need to ensure that the interests and constitutional rights of netizens are not being contravened by big tech platforms, 
  • There was also a need to strengthen the grievance redressal framework in the Rules, and 
    • Compliance with these should not impact early stage Indian start-ups. 

Major amendments

  •  The grounds in rule 3(1)(b)(ii) have been rationalised by removing the words ‘defamatory’ and ‘libellous’. Whether any content is defamatory or libellous will be determined through judicial review.
  •  Some of the content categories in rule 3(1)(b) have been rephrased to deal particularly with misinformation, and content that could incite violence between different religious/caste groups.
    • Currently, intermediaries are only required to inform users about not uploading certain categories of harmful/unlawful content. 
      • These amendments impose a legal obligation on intermediaries to take reasonable efforts to prevent users from uploading such content. The new provision will ensure that the intermediary’s obligation is not a mere formality.
  • Grievance Appellate Committees
    •  Grievance Appellate Committee(s) will be established to allow users to appeal against the inaction of, or decisions taken by intermediaries on user complaints. However, users will always have the right to approach courts for any remedy.
  • Relevant rules of the platform
    • The original IT Rules, 2021 obligated the SMIs to merely inform its users of the “rules and regulations, privacy policy and user agreement” that governed its platforms along with the categories of content that users are prohibited from hosting, displaying, sharing etc. on the platform. 
    • This obligation on the SMIs has now been extended to ensuring that its users are in compliance with the relevant rules of the platform.
  • Respecting Fundamental rights
    • The amendment requires intermediaries to respect the rights guaranteed to users under the Constitution, including a reasonable expectation of due diligence, privacy and transparency.
      • SMIs are supposed to respect all the rights accorded to the citizens under the Constitution, including in the articles 14, 19 and 21.

National Unity Day

In News

The Prime Minister of India  paid homage to Sardar Patel at the Statue of Unity and participated in the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas-related events.

About  National Unity Day

  • Every year, October 31 is marked as National Unity Day or Rashtriya Ekta Diwas in India to observe Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s birth anniversary. 
    • It was introduced by the Government of India in 2014. 
  • The day is celebrated to mark the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel who had a major role in the political integration of India. 
  • The celebration of the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel makes everyone aware of the ideas of strength and diversity of religions, languages, cultures, and traditions of our nation.

About Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

  •  He is popularly known as the ‘Iron Man of India’.
  • He was  Leader of the freedom movement and follower of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • He was Deputy Prime Minister and first Home Minister of independent India.
  • He played an important role in the integration of Princely States with India.
    • He played a prominent role in forming states and bringing them together under the Union of India after independence.
  • He was a member of important committees of the Constituent Assembly on Fundamental Rights, Minorities, Provincial Constitution, etc.


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