Online Gaming Draft Rules

In News

  • Recently, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) proposed an amendment to bring online gaming under the ambit of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

About Draft Rules

  • Dispute resolution mechanism:
    • A three-tier dispute resolution mechanism, similar to that prescribed under the Information Technology Rules, 2021 for online streaming services, consisting of:
      • A grievance redressal system at the gaming platform level, 
      • Self regulatory body of the industry, and 
      • An oversight committee led by the government.
  • A self-regulatory body:
    • Online games will have to register with a self-regulatory body, and only games that are cleared by the body will be allowed to legally operate in India.
    • The self-regulatory body will have a board of directors with five members from diverse fields including online gaming, public policy, IT, psychology and medicine. 
    • It must ensure that the registered games don’t have anything which is not in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order, or incites the commission of any cognizable offence relating to the aforesaid.
    • There could be more than one self-regulatory body and all of them will have to inform the Centre about the online games they have registered, along with a report detailing the criteria for registering a certain game. 
  • Mandatory know-your-customer norms for verification (KYC)
  • Online gaming companies will not be allowed to engage in betting on the outcome of games, as per the proposed rules.

Online Gaming in India 

  • The country is the biggest market for fantasy sports globally, with over 13 crore users playing across over 200 platforms.
  • The government noted that the number of people involved in playing online rummy are on rise.
  • India mainly puts the games into two broad categories to differentiate them. 
  • The two categories are that the game is either a Game of Chance or a Game of Skill.
    • Game of chance (Gambling): Games of chance are all those games that are played randomly. These games are based on luck. A person can play these games without prior knowledge or understanding. For instance, dice games, picking a number, etc. Such games are considered illegal in India.
    • Game of skill (Gaming): Games of skill are all those games that are played based on a person’s prior knowledge or experience of the game. A person will require skills such as analytical decision-making, logical thinking, capability, etc. Some games might also require some initial training to win. Such games are considered legal by most of the Indian states.

Need for such Rules in India

  • Safeguarding the Users:
    • Safeguarding users against potential harm from skill-based games. 
    • The attempt is to regulate online gaming platforms as intermediaries and place due diligence requirements on them.
    • It will promote the online gaming sector and encourage innovation.
  • Safety of Women: 
    • Around 40 to 45 percent of the gamers in India are women, and therefore it was all the more important to keep the gaming ecosystem safe.
  • Revenue generating, so need to be regulated: 
    • The revenue of the Indian mobile gaming industry is expected to exceed $1.5 billion in 2022 and is estimated to reach $5 billion in 2025. 
    • The industry grew at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 38 percent in India between 2017-2020, as opposed to 8 percent in China and 10 percent in the US
    • It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 15 percent to reach Rs 153 billion in revenue by 2024.
  • Transparency & Credibility: 
    • This framework will boost the legitimate domestic online gaming industry, ensuring greater transparency, consumer protection and investor confidence.
  • Encouraging Startups:
    • Online gaming is a very important piece of the start-up ecosystem and a part of the goal of the 1-trillion dollar economy.

Issues with Online Gaming

  • Addiction issues:
    • Many social activists, government officials and those in law enforcement believe that online games like rummy and poker are addictive in nature; and when played with monetary stakes may lead to other issues.
    • Some people are losing money and falling into a debt trap. Some of the victims took their own lives.
    • The study shows that online games are addictive whether these games really involve skill or mere tricks.
  • Social Risks:
    • Reportedly, there have been a few instances where youngsters, faced with mounting debts due to losses in online games have committed other crimes like theft and murder.
  • Loss of revenue:
    • Shifting of users to grey or illegal offshore online gaming apps not only results in loss of tax revenue for the State and job opportunities for locals but results in users being unable to avail remedies for any unfair behaviour or refusal to pay out winnings.
  • Manipulative websites:
    • Some experts also believe that online games are susceptible to manipulation by the websites operating such games.
    • There is a possibility that users are not playing such games against other players, but against automatic machines or ‘bots’, wherein there is no fair opportunity for an ordinary user to win the game.

Legality of Online Games in India

  • Gaming:
    • Law laid down by the Supreme Court in 1957 (Chamarbaugwala cases) — competitive games of skill are business activities protected under Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution.
    • Rummy and horse racing have been classified by the courts as games of skill that do not come under the purview of gaming laws
  • Betting and Gambling: 
    • Gambling is a non-cognisable and bailable offence in India.
    • Betting and gambling can be found in Part II of the State list.
    • They have been mentioned in detail in the seventh schedule of the Indian Constitution.
    • In other words, this simply means that the state government can exercise full control over betting and gambling practices in their state.
    • They can also formulate their state-specific laws.
  • Others: 
    • Any online gaming platform – domestic or foreign– offering real money online games to Indian users will need to be a legal entity incorporated under Indian law. 
    • These platforms will also be treated as ‘reporting entities’ under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.
    • They will be required to report suspicious transactions to the Financial Intelligence Unit-India.

Way Ahead

  • Similar to social media and e-commerce companies, online gaming platforms will also have to appoint a compliance officer who will ensure that the platform is following the norms, a nodal officer who will act as a liaison official with the government and assist law enforcement agencies, and a grievance officer who will resolve user complaints.
  • The government will work hard to ensure all opportunities are provided to Indian start-ups.
  • Gaming companies will also have to secure a random number generation certificate, which is typically used by platforms that offer card games to ensure that game outputs are statistically random and unpredictable. They will also have to get a “no bot certificate” from a reputed certifying body.

India Assumes Wassenaar Arrangement Chairmanship

In News

  • India assumed Chairmanship of Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) Plenary starting from January 1, 2023.
    • India will hold the Chairmanship for one year.

Wassenaar Arrangement (WA)

  • About:
    • It is a voluntary export control regime formally established in July 1996.
    • The name comes from Wassenaar, a suburb of The Hague, where the agreement to start such a multilateral cooperation was reached in 1995.
    • It is an elite club of countries that subscribe to arms export controls, similar to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Australia Group (AG) and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
  • Objective: 
    • The WA monitors transfers of conventional weapons and dual-use goods and technologies through regular exchanges of information among its members.
  • Aim: 
    • To promote “greater responsibility” among its members in exports of weapons and dual-use goods and to prevent “destabilizing accumulations.”
  • Two Control Lists:
    • To promote transparency, Wassenaar calls on states to make a series of voluntary information exchanges and notifications on their export activities related to weapons and items appearing on the arrangement’s two control lists.
      • The Munitions List (Conventional Weapons)
      • The Dual-Use Goods and Technologies List
  • Structure:
    • Secretariat is located in Austria’s capital Vienna.
    • The plenary of the Wassenaar Arrangement is the main decision-making body that operates on consensus
  • Membership:
    • It has 42-member including France, Germany, Japan, Russia, the UK and the USA.
    • The European Union and NATO are member states.
    • India joined the Wassenaar Arrangement in 2017 as its 42nd participating state.

Importance of the Wassenaar Arrangement

  • It contributes to regional and international security and stability.
  • The WA promotes transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies
  • The Arrangement complements and reinforces the export control regimes for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery systems.
  • The WA is not directed against any state or group of states.
  • It uses export controls as a means to combat terrorism.

Significance of India’s Chairmanship of WA

  • Democratising Access to Processes & Technologies: 
    • India is expected to play an important role in democratising access to processes and technologies that are likely to play a critical role for the emerging space and defence manufacturers in the country. 
  • Benefits for India’s Defence Sector:
    • Membership of the WA has bolstered India’s efforts to gain access to sensitive goods and technologies from leading players in the West.
    • Now, Chairmanship is of significance for India due to the recent spurt in activity and investments in defence and space sector.
  • Impetus to India’s Global Credibility:
    • This will help establish India as a responsible stakeholder in the global non-proliferation architecture.

Way Ahead

  • India should work in close cooperation with other members to further the Wassenaar Arrangement goal of contributing to regional and international security and stability.
  • India’s focus needs to be on discussing and resolving global and regional issues.
Slavkov FormatThis is also known as “North-Trilateral”, “Austerlitz format”, or “Slavkov trilateral”It is cooperation between three Central European Nations – Czech Republic, Austria and Slovakia.Dual-use It refers to the ability of a good or technology to be used for multiple purposes – usually peaceful and military.

Supreme Court Upheld Demonetisation

In News

  • Recently, a majority of four judges on a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court (SC) found no flaw in the government’s process to demonetise ?500 and ?1000 banknotes through a gazette notification issued on November 8, 2016.

Views of the Constitutional Bench

  • A Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court in a 4:1 majority verdict has upheld the government’s demonetisation process and has held that the decision-making process was not flawed.
  • The Supreme Court’s judgement came on a batch of 58 petitions that challenged the demonetisation exercise of 2016.
  • The majority verdict rejected the two main contentions of the petitioners that:
    • The expression “any” in Section 26(2) of the Reserve Bank of India Act of 1934 (RBI Act), cannot be interpreted to mean “all” to empower the government to demonetise currency notes of all series of any denomination.
    • The proposal for demonetisation should be initiated by the RBI Central Board and not the Union government.
  • The petitioners had also argued that the decision-making process employed while announcing demonetisation was “rushed” and “fatally flawed”.


  • About:
    • On 8th November 2016, the Government of India announced the demonetisation of all ?500 and ?1,000 banknotes of the Mahatma Gandhi Series. 
    • It also announced the issuance of new ?500 and ?2,000 banknotes in exchange for the demonetised banknotes.
    • There were three main economic objectives behind demonetisation:
      • Fighting black money, 
      • Fake notes and 
      • Creating a cashless economy by pushing digital transactions. 
  • Outcomes of the exercise:
    • Black money:
      • Among those targets, the biggest one was tackling black money. 
      • Black money refers to cash that is not accounted for in the banking system or cash for which tax has not been paid to the state.
      • According to RBI data, almost the entire chunk of money (more than 99 percent) that was invalidated came back into the banking system. 
      • Of the notes worth Rs 15.41 lakh crore that were invalidated, notes worth Rs 15.31 lakh crore returned.
      • Thus, data suggests that demonetisation was a failure in unearthing black money in the system. Meanwhile, instances of black money seizures continue.
    • Fake Notes:
      • RBI’s annual report, submitted that Rs.15.44 lakh crore worth of currency was demonetised. 
      • The withdrawn money amounted to 86.4% of the currency in circulation at the time. Only Rs.16,000 crore out of the Rs.15.44 lakh crore was not returned. 
      • Only .0027% fake currency was “captured” following demonetisation.
    • Digitisation of economy:
      • As per RBI report, demonetisation has made India a lesser cash-based economy. 
      • In the initial days of trouble conducting business in the face of an acute cash crunch, more and more entities had to shift to digital to do business.
        • After the return of the cash, the growth in digital payment had been modest.
    • Supported in the Pandemic:
      • The creation of digital infrastructure post-demonetisation helped India in coping with the pandemic. 
      • As the tools for faceless transactions were mostly in place, it became easier to move towards contactless transactions.
  • Major Issues associated with the demonetization exercise:
    • No separate Acts:
      • Demonetisation in 1946 and 1978 were implemented through separate Acts debated by Parliament. 
      • In 2016, it was done through a mere notification issued under provisions of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.
    • Central Bank had rejected key justifications:
      • The Central Board of the RBI gave its approval to the scheme but also rejected, in writing, two of the key justifications — black money and counterfeit notes.
    • Other:
      • 11 crore people stood in queue to change their own money. 
      • Farming community was at a loss. It was sowing season. 
      • Wholesale markets shut down. Prices crashed. Retail saw a “calamitous” drop in sales. 
      • Industry halted and 15 crore daily labourers were left without work.
      • Some say demonetisation broke the back of the rural economy where cash was dominated and disrupted supply chains. 
      • It is estimated that 1.5 million jobs were lost.


  • Many are still to shift or adopt digital payment systems, maybe because it is more convenient to pay cash for purchase of fruits, vegetables or a few items of grocery from a store, or due to other reasons including voucher payment.
  • While there certainly has been a discernible uptick in digital payments, it is doubtful whether the elaborate exercise to unearth black money — the stated and primary goal of demonetisation — was worth it. 

Forest (Conservation) Rules (FCR) 2022

In News

  • There is an ongoing conflict going on between the government and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes over the Forest (Conservation) Rules (FCR) 2022.
    • The Commission says that the new rules are violative of the Forest Rights Act, 2006. 

What is the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes?

  • It is a statutory body in India that works to protect the rights and interests of Scheduled Tribes (STs).
  • The NCST conducts inquiries, investigates complaints and makes recommendations to the government on issues related to STs.
    • It is the Commission’s duty to intervene and recommend corrective measures whenever any rules run the risk of violating rights of tribal people. 
Constitutional Provisions42nd Amendment Act 1976 of the Constitution: “Forests” was added as Entry 17A in the Concurrent List and the “protection of wild animals and birds” was added as Entry 17B.Article 51A(g) states that it is the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including the wildlife and to have compassion for the living creatures.Article 48A of the Constitution of India imposes a duty on the State to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forest and wildlife of the country. 

What is the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980?

  • It is the principal legislation that regulates deforestation in the country.
    • It prohibits the felling of forests for any “non-forestry” use without prior clearance by the central government.
    • The clearance process includes seeking consent from local forest rights-holders and from wildlife authorities.
    • The Centre is empowered to reject such requests or allow them with legally binding conditions.
  • Process of approval for diversion of forest land culminates after issuance of final diversion order by the State Government or UT concerned which authorises use of forest land for intended purpose and hands over the land to the user agency.

What is the Forest Rights Act 2006?

  • It is a law in India that aims to recognize and vest the forest rights of traditional forest-dwelling communities which includes Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers who have lived in and depended on forests for their livelihoods. 
  • The FRA recognizes the rights of these communities to access, use, and conserve forests and their resources, and to protect their habitat. 
  • The act also provides for the constitution of Gram Sabhas (village assemblies) to help facilitate the process of recognizing and vesting forest rights.

What are Forest Conservation Rules 2022?

  • Ease of snatching of forest land:
    • The rules will allow private developers to clear forests without first seeking the permission of the forest dwellers.
      • It means that the Union government has the right to permit the clearance of a forest without informing its authentic residents.
      • Residents won’t have any claim over their forest area in case of any diversion to Non-forestry activities.
  • Compensatory afforestation:
    • The rules stated that those applying for diverting forest land in a hilly or mountainous state with a green cover of over two-thirds of its geographical area or a state/UT with a forest cover of over one-third of the geographical area would be able to take up compensatory afforestation in other states/UTs where the cover is less than 20%

Major Challenges associated with the new rules

  • Consent clause: There are concerns over the provision in the new rules that proposes to do away with the consent clause for diversion of forest land for other purposes.
    • NCST says that the FCR 2022 had done away with the clause to mandatorily seek consent of Gram Sabhas before the Stage 1 clearance, leaving this process to be done later even after Stage 2 clearance.
  • Violation of rights: Project proponents receiving partial clearance will be pushing State and Union Territory governments for diversion at the earliest and it would seriously impact the process of recognition of rights under the FRA.
  • FRA non-compliance: The Commission has pointed out that between 2009 and 2018 of the 128 applications for forest diversion for mining, 74 were cleared at the Stage 2 and 46 at the Stage 1 and none of the rejections were based on FRA non-compliance.
    • The new Rules will only increase such violations.
  • Resettlement: Once Forest clearance is accorded then the dwellers’ claims of resettlement will be ignored.

Counter Argument (Government’s position)

  • The government says that the new rules are framed under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and that the NCST’s apprehension of these rules being in violation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 is not legally tenable.
  • Under Rule 9(6)(b)(ii): the government says the FCR 2022 already provides for diversion of forest land only after fulfilment and compliance of all provisions, including settlement of rights under the Forest Rights Act and does not bar or infringe upon the operation of other laws mandating consent of Gram Sabhas.
  • The new rules will allow parallel processing of the proposals and eliminate the redundant processes.
  • The rules make a provision for private parties to cultivate plantations and sell them as land to companies who need to meet compensatory afforestation targets.
  • It will help India increase forest cover as well as solve the problems of the States of not finding land within their jurisdiction for compensatory purposes.

Way forward

  • The requirement for consent and recognition of rights prior to Stage I clearance in 2014 and 2017 Rules provided a legal space for ensuring completion of the processes for recognition and vesting of rights under the FRA in areas where forests are being diverted. 
The Niyamgiri Bauxite Mining CaseIn the case of Orissa Mining Corporation vs. MoEFC, the Supreme Court had directed that the proposals for bauxite mining be placed before Gram Sabha for examination on whether the proposed mining would infringe in the religious rights of the forest dwelling communities or not and the the MoEFC should take a decision in the light of the Gram Sabha Resolutions in the said matter.

Blockchain in Agriculture

In News

  • Recently, the government plans to use the technology across all export-driven crops to increase the country’s food shipments and incentivise farmers to take up chemical-free processes.
    • India’s natural farming could soon get a technological push through blockchain. 

What is Blockchain Technology?

  • Blockchain is a shared, immutable ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network.
    • An asset can be tangible (a house, car, cash, land) or intangible (intellectual property, patents, copyrights, branding). 
    • Virtually anything of value can be tracked and traded on a blockchain network, reducing risk and cutting costs for all involved.
  • It distributes privileges to all network members rather than having a single server and administrator. 
    • Multiple parties can then access and validate new database additions, increasing security and lowering the risk of corruption. 

Applications of Blockchain in Agriculture

  • Smart farming: It incorporates elements such as ICT, the internet of things (IoT), different sensors, machine learning technologies, and a plethora of data analysis and collection equipment such as unmanned aerial vehicles.
  • Food Supply Chain: Due to the sheer pressures of globalisation, the agricultural food supply chain has become longer and more intensive than ever before. Blockchain technology contributes to the resolution of many of these challenges by facilitating the establishment of trust between producers and customers.
  • Agricultural Insurance: Farmers can choose from a variety of insurance policies that differ in terms of how losses are calculated and payouts are made.
  • Transactions of Agricultural Products: With the use of blockchain technology, the acquisition and selling of agricultural products on ecommerce sites may be substantially accelerated.

Pros of Blockchain in Agriculture

  • Information: Blockchain technologies can track all types of information about plants, such as seed quality, and crop growth, and even generate a record of the journey of the plant after it leaves the farm. 
  • Supply chain transparency: The data can improve supply chain transparency and eliminate concerns associated with illegal and unethical operations. 
  • Recall: In the case of a recall, they can also make it easier to track any contamination or other issues back to their source. 
  • Food security: The primary goals of these technologies are sustainability and food security. 
  • Transparency: When consumers have this amount of transparency, they can make informed purchasing decisions. 
  • Reward: This can be utilised to reward farmers and producers that implement good farming methods.
  • The absence of a central authority figure alters the nature of the transaction’s trust. Rather than relying on an authority, confidence is placed in peer-to-peer systems and cryptography.
  • It is simple to discover and report instances of blockchain failures or fraud: The usage of smart contracts also makes it easy to report any problems in real time.

Cons of Blockchain in Agriculture

  • Misuse: Concerns have been raised that blockchain technology could be misapplied or misused, putting food security at risk.
    • For example, privately held blockchains are easier to hack and less secure. 
  • Small-scale farmers: who lack the necessary size, technological know-how, and scalability to take advantage of blockchain technology, may be left behind.
  • Lack of research: Many issues must be resolved before blockchain technology can be completely incorporated into agriculture.
    • Implementation must enable sustainable and equitable food systems, allowing consumers to make a better decision.
  • The total technological benefits of implementing blockchain may vary depending on farm size: While small farms find it simpler to engage in blockchain insurance, larger farms find it easier to gather and integrate diverse sources of real-time farm data. Uploading data to a blockchain is known to be a costly procedure.
  • Farmers that cannot afford blockchain face a significant hurdle to adoption: While setting up the ledger is very affordable, the process of collecting data may be time consuming and costly. 

Way forward

  • Educating people: Those who lack the digital literacy required to engage in blockchain technology must be educated. This is part of the system’s decentralisation process. Because of aged infrastructure and a lack of digital literacy, the world’s poor may be unable to participate. 
  • Blockchain implementation must be decentralised to accommodate small farmers and rural dwellers. Otherwise, food security will remain a problem.  
  • Eliminating unethical practices: Blockchain technology can improve security by prohibiting unethical crop production and distribution, which endangers farmers’ livelihoods.
  • Consumers will be able to make more educated decisions due to blockchain’s data collection, and they may even be able to help small-scale farmers who are often in need of food and financial security.

Savitribai Phule

In News

  • January 3, 2023, marks the 192nd birth anniversary of Savitribai Phule.

About Savitribai Phule

  • She was a woman from the Mali community and went on to become an educator, a challenger to caste hierarchies and barriers, and a writer.
  • Born in Naigaon village of Maharashtra’s Satara district on January 3, 1831, to Khandoji Nevse and Lakshmi.
  • Married off at early age, her husband Jyotirao Phule is said to have educated her at home.

Major Contributions

  • Education: At a time when it was considered unacceptable for women to even attain education, the couple went on to open a school for girls in Bhidewada, Pune, in 1848.
    • This became the country’s first girls’ school.
    • The couple opened more such schools for girls, Shudras, and Ati-Shudras (the backward castes and Dalits, respectively) in Pune, leading to discontent among Indian nationalists like Bal Gangadhar Tilak. 
  • Social reformer:  Along with Jyotirao, Savitribai started the Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha (‘Home for the Prevention of Infanticide’) for pregnant widows facing discrimination.
  • Savitribai Phule also advocated inter-caste marriages, widow remarriage, and eradication of child marriage, sati, and dowry systems, among other social issues.
  • In 1873, the Phule’s set up the Satyashodhak Samaj (‘Truth-seekers’ society’), a platform open to all, irrespective of their caste, religion or class hierarchies, with the sole aim of bringing social equity. 
  • As an extension, they started ‘Satyashodhak Marriage’ – a rejection of Brahmanical rituals where the marrying couple takes a pledge to promote education and equality.
  • Savitribai became involved in relief work during the 1896 famine in Maharashtra and the 1897 Bubonic plague
  • Literary works: Savitribai Phule published her first collection of poems, called Kavya Phule (‘Poetry’s Blossoms’), at the age of 23 in 1854.
    • She published Bavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar (‘The Ocean of Pure Gems’), in 1892.
    • Besides these works, Matushri Savitribai Phlenchi Bhashane va Gaani (S’avitribai Phule’s speeches and songs), and her letters to her husband have also been published.


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