Daily Current Affairs : 13th January 2022

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Retail Inflation
  2. GSLV MK III
  3. BARC
  4. Facts for Prelims

1 . Retail Inflation


Context : Retail inflation accelerates to 5.59%

About the News

  • Retail inflation quickened to 5.59% in December due to an uptick in food prices, while India’s industrial output grew at a subdued 1.4% in November 2021, according to data from the National Statistical Office (NSO).
  • The inflation based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) compares with 4.91% seen a month earlier and 4.59% in December 2020. Consumer food price inflation accelerated to 4.05% in December, as against 1.87% seen in November 2021.
  • The increase relative to the previous month was primarily led by food and beverages, and clothing and footwear, with a welcome moderation in the prints for fuel and light
  • Unfavourable base led the inflation for food and beverages to jump to 4.5% in December from 2.6% in November, driven by vegetables and eggs, and that early data pointed towards a ‘broad-based moderation in prices of many food items’ this month.

How does India measure retail inflation?

  •  Rate of inflation based on the consumer price index (CPI) is called as Retail Inflation
  • The CPI monitors retail prices at a certain level for a particular commodity; price movement of goods and services at rural, urban and all-India levels.
  • The change in the price index over a period of time is referred to as CPI-based inflation, or retail inflation.

What is Consumer Price Index

  • Consumer Price Index is a measure of change in retail prices of goods and services consumed by defined population group in a given area with reference to a base year.
  • This basket of goods and services represents the level of living or the utility derived by the consumers at given levels of their income, prices and tastes.
  • The consumer price index number measures changes only in one of the factors; prices.
  • This index is an important economic indicator and is widely considered as a barometer of inflation, a tool for monitoring price stability and as a deflator in national accounts.
  • The dearness allowance of Government employees and wage contracts between labour and employer is based on this index.
  • Consumer price indices compiled in India are CPI for Industrial workers CPI(IW), CPI for Agricultural Labourers CPI(AL) and; Rural Labourers CPI(RL) and (Urban) and CPI(Rural).

CPI(IW) and CPI(AL& RL)

  • The CPI(IW) and CPI(AL& RL) compiled are occupation specific and centre specific and are compiled by Labour Bureau.
  • This means that these index numbers measure changes in the retail price of the basket of goods and services consumed by the specific occupational groups in the specific centres.

CPI(Urban) and CPI(Rural)

  • CPI(Urban) and CPI(Rural) are new indices in the group of Consumer price index and has a wider coverage of population.
  • This index compiled by Central Statistical Organisation tries to encompass the entire population and is likely to replace all the other indices presently compiled.
  • In addition to this, Consumer Food Price Indices (CFPI) for all India for rural, urban and combined separately are also released w.e.f May, 2014.

Other Important Points

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has started using CPI-combined as the sole inflation measure for the purpose of monetary policy.

Why is faster inflation a concern for policymakers?

  • Faster retail inflation is indicative of prices of household items rising quickly. While inflation affects everyone, it is often referred to as a ‘tax on the poor’ as the low-income stratum of society bears the brunt.
  • Persistent high inflation pushes several items out of reach for this category of consumers. For example, onions and potatoes are generally a key staple in an average Indian family’s diet.
  • But, if the price of potatoes starts rising rapidly, a poor household is often forced to sharply reduce or forgo its consumption of this key source of essential nutrients, including carbohydrates.
  • Over time, if unchecked, persistent high inflation erodes the value of money and hurts several other segments of the population, including the elderly living off a fixed pension. It hence ends up undermining a society’s consumptive capacity, and thereby, economic growth itself.

What is the RBI’s role in tackling inflation?

  • In 2016, the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, was amended to provide a statutory basis for the implementation of a flexible inflation-targeting framework, where the Centre and the RBI would review and agree upon a specific inflation target every five years.
  • Under this, 4% was set as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation target for the period from August 5, 2016, to March 31, 2021, with the upper tolerance limit of 6% and the lower tolerance limit of 2%.
  • To the extent that ensuring price stability is its primary goal, the RBI through its MPC must constantly assess not just current levels of inflation and prices of various goods and services in the economy, but also take into consideration inflation expectations both of consumers and financial markets so as to use an array of monetary tools, including interest rates, to contain inflation within its target range.

2 . TRP and BARC


Context : Ratings by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) for the news channels will resume, after the organisation revised its procedures and protocols. The ratings were suspended after the Mumbai police busted a racket involving a private channel’s efforts to tamper the ratings.

What is Television Rating Points (TRP)

  • In simple terms, TRPs represent how many people, from which socio-economic categories, watched which channels for how much time during a particular period. This could be for an hour, a day, or even a week; India follows the international standard of one minute. The data is usually made public every week.
  • A consultation paper about television audience measurement and ratings in India floated by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in 2018 defined its importance as: “On the basis of audience measurement data, ratings are assigned to various programmes on television. Television ratings in turn influence programmes produced for the viewers. Better ratings would promote a programme while poor ratings will discourage a programme. Incorrect ratings will lead to production of programmes which may not be really popular while good programmes may be left out.”
  • TRPs are the main currency for advertisers to decide which channel to advertise on by calculating the cost-per-rating-point (CPRP).

What is  Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC)?

  • It is an industry body jointly owned by advertisers, ad agencies, and broadcasting companies, represented by The Indian Society of Advertisers, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation and the Advertising Agencies Association of India.
  • Though it was created in 2010, the I&B Ministry notified the Policy Guidelines for Television Rating Agencies in India on January 10, 2014 and registered BARC in July 2015 under these guidelines, to carry out television ratings in India.

How is TRP calculated?

  • BARC has installed “BAR-O-meters” in over 45,000 empanelled households. These households are classified into 12 categories under the New Consumer Classification System (NCCS), the so-called “new SEC” adopted by BARC in 2015, based on the education level of the main wage earner and the ownership of consumer durables from a list of 11 items ranging from an electricity connection to a car.
  • While watching a show, members of the household register their presence by pressing their viewer ID button — every person in household has a separate ID — thus capturing the duration for which the channel was watched and by whom, and providing data on viewership habits across age and socio-economic groups. The panel chosen to capture TRPs must be representative of the country’s population, and the methodology must be economically viable for the industry.

How TRPs got rigged?

  • If broadcasters can find the households where devices are installed, they can either bribe them to watch their channels, or ask cable operators or multi-system operators to ensure their channel is available as the “landing page” when the TV is switched on.
  • For TRPs, it does not matter what the entire country is watching, but essentially what the 45,000-odd households supposed to represent TV viewership of the country have watched. Broadcasters can target these households to fudge actual viewership data.
  • In the 2018 consultation paper, TRAI said: “One of the biggest challenges has been the absence of any specific law through which the agents/ suspects involved in panel tampering/infiltration could be penalised”. It noted that BARC “has filed FIRs in various police stations against the agents/ suspects involved in panel tampering/infiltration” but its efforts “to mitigate panel tampering/ infiltration have been hampered due to absence of any legal framework”.

How does panel tampering affect TRPs?

  • TRAI mentioned “panel infiltration has a significant impact when the panel size is smaller” and “with the increase in panel size, infiltration of panel homes becomes challenging”.
  • A senior industry insider said BARC has filed multiple FIRs in the past “as it tracks unusual viewership behaviour and takes action”. In the current case, the insider said an FIR was filed against employees of Hansa Research, which BARC hires for certain field jobs like going to panel households. BARC hires multiple agencies so that no single agency has the entire map of panel households across the country.
  • The source cited the example of English TV news, which has a small share of the national viewership pie at around 1.5%, which means that for around 45,000 panel households, around 700 households will contribute to the viewership. “What actually happens is that while your sample is around 700, not all of them are watching English TV news every day. Actual watching will be around 350 homes.” In such a scenario, the source said, “if you manage to rig 10 among the heavy viewing homes, then you can swing the needle big time”.
  • When the sample is smaller, “manipulation becomes easier”. In a genre like English news, “because fewer homes will have larger weightage, change in behaviour of one home gets amplified at a much larger scale nationwide”.
  • Additionally, as each channel tries to project itself as a market leader in a particular segment, it slices the data into socio-economic brackets on the basis of NCCS, age, gender, time slots (primetime) etc to find the perfect data slice. This too increases relative error in the data, because of the small sample size.

3 . GSLV MK III


Context : Eminent rocket scientist S. Somanath has been appointed Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Space Secretary. Dr. Somanath has played a major role in the development of the PSLV and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk-III (GSLV Mk-III). 

About GSLV MK III

  • GSLV Mk III is a three-stage heavy lift launch vehicle developed by ISRO. The vehicle has two solid strap-ons, a core liquid booster and a cryogenic upper stage.
  • GSLV Mk III is designed to carry 4 ton class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or about 10 tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which is about twice the capability of GSLV Mk II.
  • The two strap-on motors of GSLV Mk III are located on either side of its core liquid booster. Designated as ‘S200’, each carries 205 tons of composite solid propellant and their ignition results in vehicle lift -off . S200s function for 140 seconds. During strap-ons functioning phase, the two clustered Vikas liquid Engines of L110 liquid core booster will ignite 114 sec after lift -off to further augment the thrust of the vehicle. These two engines continue to function after the separation of the strap-ons at about 140 seconds after lift -off.

What is a cryogenic engine?

  • Cryogenics is the science relating to behaviour of materials at very low temperatures.
  • Cryogenic engine makes use of Liquid Oxygen (LOX) and Liquid Hydrogen (LH2) as propellants which liquefy at -183 deg C and -253 deg C respectively.
  • Among all rocket fuels, hydrogen is known to provide the greatest thrust. But hydrogen in its natural gaseous form is difficult to handle, and therefore, not used in normal engines in rockets like PSLV. Hydrogen can be used in liquid form, but it turns liquid at a very low temperature — nearly 250°C below zero.
  • To burn this fuel, oxygen too, needs to be in liquid form, and that happens at about 90°C below zero.
  • Creating an atmosphere of such low temperatures in the rocket is difficult — it creates problems for other materials.
  • LOX and LH2 are stored in their respective tanks. From there they are pumped in to turbo pump by individual booster pumps to ensure a high flow rate of propellants inside the combustion/thrust chamber. The major components of a cryogenic rocket engine are combustion/thrust chamber, igniter, fuel injector, fuel cryo pumps, oxidizer cryo pumps, gas turbine, cryo valves, regulators, the fuel tanks and a rocket engine nozzle.

4 . Facts for Prelims


Indu Malhotra Panel

  • The Supreme Court on Wednesday appointed a committee chaired by its former judge Indu Malhotra to inquire into a security breach that led to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s convoy being stuck on a flyover in Punjab on January 5.

SUUTI

  •  SUUTI is the Specified Undertaking of the Unit Trust of India. It was formed following the restructuring of the erstwhile Unit Trust of India (UTI) into the UTI Trustee Company Private Limited and SUUTI. It came into effect on February 1, 2003.
  • SUUTI has strategic holdings in some unlisted firms, and small holdings in many listed companies
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